BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 27 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 17
Elevation: 1184 feet
Saganaga Lake - 55
The Sag Seagull Loop
June 24, 2007
Seagull Lake (54)
Number of Days:
After getting Jr. and Gus Dog to the sister-in-law’s lake cabin, we are headed north about 11:30 AM for the first night in Grand Marias. After a couple of stops along the way we make Grand Marais Ranger Station about 4:00 PM. We then checked in at Nelson’s Cabins/Motel $62.00 a night. It was all we needed. We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening walking and looking at the shops in the downtown. We had pizza and beer at Sven & Ole’s. Stopped at the top of the Raven’s Nest for a nightcap and picked up a couple of Rum soaked cigars. It was a beautiful evening overlooking the harbor from the roof of the Raven’s Nest.
We woke up early and took our last showers for a couple of days. Stopped by the World Famous Doughnuts for coffee and breakfast then up the Gunflint we headed. It was amazing how green the burned out areas were getting. At the junction of Moose Pond Road and Gunflint Trail a moose was standing in the swamp not far off the road. After the Warden was happy with the pictures she took, I raced for the landing at Sag and Trails End and the outhouse. The moose delay made me a little anxious.
By 8:00 AM our paddles were working our canoe to the big water. The channel was quiet with a couple of fishing boats heading out. As we paddled, the big water was very calm except for the towboats taking canoes to their destinations. The towboats were very good about slowing down and staying their distance from us. It would be easy to get twisted on Sag, especially since it was cloudy and muggy. I took out the GPS to reinforce my confidence in my map reading skills. We made American Point by 10:30 AM. Quicker than I thought but I am sure we didn't break any paddling records.
We paddled by Cache Bay and had lunch after going through the very first narrows. A couple of canoes fished the narrows as we paddled by. We continued the trip and portaged into Ottertrack. The Monument Portage was a good break and the Warden took some pictures of the different markers. We checked out the campsite on the south side of Ottertrack at the base of the bluff but did not find it to our liking. We paddle a little farther west to the narrows and took a nice site facing east. A pair of Loons were hanging out in the area feeding their young. We had brats and wild rice over the fire. It is a nice campsite overlooking a pretty lake. I tried a little fishing with no luck. We saw more people today than I did during my solo trip a couple of weeks earlier. The first night is always a good nights sleep.
It rained early this morning, nothing too exciting, just enough to settle the dust. We took our time getting breakfast and packed. It was probably 10:00 AM by the time we started paddling.
When we made the first portage it was raining again. We waited out the rain at the portage. I managed to catch a couple of Smallies at the base of the rapids flowing into Knife. The wind was blowing from the west and we could hear thunder beyond the bluffs of Knife Lake. After the weather let up a little we moved on. The second campsite on the south shore was a nice spot. We paddled the south shore because the wind was more southwest than west.
After fighting the wind and seeing thunder heads in the distance I decided we would head down the first big bay that has an easy 30 rod portage into South Arm of Knife Lake. We paddled across South Arm to the big island but all three campsites were taken. We found the sand and gravel beach campsite northeast of the Sema Lake portage. It is a nice site, facing east, grassy, and open, making it buggy.
I set up the tarp while the Warden worked on feeding us. We could hear the thunder of the storm building and I was able to get the tarp and tent set. About 2:30 PM it started raining and kept raining for three hours. We read, relaxed and napped. After the rain ended we stretched out and tossed in the canoe and I guided the Warden while she caught a few Smallies. We pumped water and went back to make supper of Chicken Alfredo and Noodles. The chicken in the pouch did the trick. I fished for a while before bed and caught a couple more Smallies.
We woke up early with a faint hint of light to the east and dead calm on the lake. I made some coffee and watched the sunrise. After a couple of hours the wind picked up. The wind started to gust out of the west and the low cumulus clouds started to roll in. We were planning on staying two nights but we were hoping to do some exploring of Knife Lake. With the wind gusting out of the west we decided to stay close to camp. I gathered and cut some wood. We had a nice bay to our south to paddle and fish in out of the wind. We worked the bay casting different lures but catching no fish. I tied on a Mimic Minnow as a shot in the dark. As we hit the edge of the wind and waves I had a nice fish on. As we were trying to catch a glimpse of the fish we saw a loon swimming under the boat. My heart sank thinking I had caught a loon. The loon popped up next to the boat and my line was still shaking at the bottom. Another loon swims from out under the boat and popped up next to the first loon then a very nice 19-20” Smallie came up with the Mimic in its lip. The two loons dove back down and swam by the Smallie. I caught and released the Smallie and we continue. I tied a twin tailed chartreuse twister to the Warden’s line and tipped it with a black Gulp worm. We continued to drift the windy shore and the Warden caught a 16” and 19” walleye for supper. I also caught a couple of walleyes and a couple more Smallies. We went back to camp about 3:30 PM to start an early supper of fried potatoes and fried walleye. We kept the fire burning enjoying the peace, and the bugs were actually taking a day off until about 8:00 PM. We decided to paddle since the wind died down and I dragged a Purple Tail-Dancer around. I caught one Northern on the Dancer and a nice Smallie on a Shad Rap. We made it back to camp just in time, as it was getting dark and starting to rain. The wind switched out of the north and it cooled off a bit.
On this morning the wind had switched, blowing from the Northeast. It was cold, damp, cloudy and the light rain from the night before did not help. The cold, damp morning had us moving slow, but by the time we were packed a change was occurring. The northeast wind quit, the lake calmed, and the sun was pushing through the clouds. We broke camp about 10:30 AM and by the time we made it to Eddy Falls the sun was warming us. We took some pictures at Eddy Falls and then moved on to Jenny and Annie. We were in no rush just taking our time moving at a relaxing pace enjoying the day.
We floated through Ogishkemuncie by 12:30. We saw many people on this lake, and many campsites were taken. The Cavity Lake Fire burned a section of the northeast end of the lake. The portage into Kingfisher was barren with a little green around the creek. Kingfisher is so burned up that it is creepy. It is unbelievable that anything grows here at all. The only thing left is bare rock. It is unbelievable how rugged the Earth is in this area.
Jasper was really charred and all the campsites were still closed. Life goes on. As I set the canoe in the water a 2” Northern fingerling was at the landing. I wonder how long it will take for the area to fully regenerate to its pre-fire condition. 100, 200, maybe 500 years.
The falls into Alpine was really unique. I took a picture of Jasper Lake at eye level at the base of the falls. I managed to catch a couple of Smallmouth at the mouth of the stream entering Alpine. I had stayed on Alpine a few years ago with the group from school that introduced me to the BWCA. It is not as I remembered it. I found the campsite we had stayed at but it was taken and very open. Not the way I remembered it. We paddled to the far northern campsite and to our amazement it was still green. It almost looked like the fire crews dropped water on this beautiful site just to save it, or maybe by being on a peninsula kept it from being devastated. We had a very enjoyable day. The weather was perfect. The sun kept us warm while a light cool breeze kept us comfortable. We had rice and salmon for supper and took a little paddle up the bay of the Red Rock portage. I caught a couple more Smallmouth then paddled back for a little swim as the Sun was setting and the Moon was rising. Our tent was pitched on a flat grassy spot not far above the water
We were packed and ready to go fairly early. We did not want to get caught on Seagull with strong winds. We followed three guys and a dog from South Dakota and Wyoming across the portage and most of the way across Seagull. I messed up on the eastern side of the lake and missed the channel taking us back to South Trails End. We went to the next bay to the north. It probably cost us a half an hour. I walked back to the truck and we loaded up.
We stopped at the Trails End Café for lunch. I ordered a chicken sandwich and the Warden had the Mushroom and Swiss Burger. I don't know what I was thinking. The burger is definitely what I will go back for. I bought a Fisher Map and we measured our trip on their wall map. This was a nice loop that could be lengthened or shortened. There are many areas to explore around this loop. We were hoping to explore more of the western parts of Knife Lake but we will just have to save that for the next time. It is a busy area but we had nice campsites at all three lakes. This turned out to be a very relaxing trip. We were home unloading by 5:30 PM. We are fortunate to live as close as we do.