BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 23 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 17
Elevation: 1184 feet
Saganaga Lake - 55
2019 Photography Trip
August 08, 2019
Seagull Lake (K)
Number of Days:
Our trip starts at about 2 in the morning. This isn't for everyone but driving up during the night saves on staying overnight and it's a lot quicker from the cities. At this point it's a norm for our group. This time we have 4 people. Most of us sleep during the ride. We'll wake up once in Duluth and again for Breakfast in Grand Marais. We usually eat at South of the Border Cafe. After this we're all up for the drive up the gunflint trail. I love this windy scenic route.
This year we used Seagull outfitters for our permits and canoes. We might rent a larger bag and some fuel but all of us have packs now and have bought lots of gear over the years. My personal pack is the Gregory Baltoro 65L. We also do our own food prep.
Our entry point was Saganaga just north of Seagull Outfitters. We are going to do the Alpine Route. It's going to be a shorter trip but we plan on moving every day. I like base camping an extra day or two if it's a longer trip but it's also nice to try new places on shorter trips. This gives me a lot of photo opportunities.
A couple hours later we found our first camp. We set up shop on the bigger island just south of Cooper Island on Lake Saganaga. Someone even left some kindle and wood for a fire. This is always appreciated. We try to do it when we leave camps as well.
One of the best investments you can get is a bug out tent. We always set one up and use it as a food/handout hub. We have our chairs and small fold out table. It's also nice if it rains and the regular tent is too hot.
After setting up, our group usually disburses. Some relax and read a book, some explore camp and myself, I take photos. I spend rest of the day/night looking for good compositions. Sometimes I just take random photos. Two in our group getting water. Eventually a hammock will go bad. This was the year for that. My favorite part of any bwca trip is when the sun starts going down. I enjoy the sunsets the most. After the first day we finished up the night with a calm fire.
Sips coffee. There is always something about that first drink on a calm morning. I recommend not skimping out. It's worth bringing good coffee and a french press. I recommend the Snow Peak Titanium for 1-3 people. I bring mine and our group has another larger press.
After sleeping in, coffee and more relaxing we set out for our second day. We passed a nice rock formation with some colonies orange lichens growing. Passed another camp site with a canoe in the water. I just liked this longer composition.
After a couple of hours and one short 48 rod portage, we found an island site on Alpine Lake. There was lots to do so I missed photographing setting up camp. Although once we were settled in I started taking photos. A few squirrels on this island. This year I got a 10/stop filter to allow me to take daytime long exposures. I tried it out a few times. This one turned out well. Got this nice landing shot with the canoe and a few other photos. Finally the sun was starting to set. We had another small fire but the bugs were getting bad. We checked out the moon for a little bit and then went to bed. My plan was to wake up around 2:30am after the moon had set so I can do some astrophotography. Here are some of the shots I got. After getting a little more sleep I woke up again for the sunrise. This was around 6am. The sky was gloomy and the light wasn't that great. I was hoping to catch some fog. There was just a little across the lake. I made a panorama of that. Got another shot of the sunrise.
We had a long day ahead of us. We knew Seagull was going to busy so finding another good site might be troublesome. One of our favorite spots is on Miles Island. There is also a nice beach site on the north west side. Before getting into Seagull we had a choice of a 105 or 20 rod. We took the 20 but it was little more canoeing. When we got there It was a busy narrow portage. There were two parties ahead of us. One decided to turn around and go back to the 105. Not sure why but In the end it saved us time. This portage had a long creek. We couldn't canoe down it though, the water was too low. We were able to do the second half with some rapids. This reminded me of the Kettle river. After that we were on Seagull.
We canoed on Seagull for sometime looking for a site. Both spots on Miles were taken and the beach site. I used my telephoto lens to check other sites. It's hard to tell from across the lake but I was able to make out some fishing rods on the beach site when I zoomed in on the photo on my camera. We ended up backtracking a little on Seagull and checked out another island we originally passed up. It was a good thing because it was a pretty good site. Not long after another party came by looking for a site also. This camp had a nice large rock face on the south east side of the landing. It's climbable but very steep and has a lot of loose rocks. I remember coming to this site years ago and climbed it. This year I only admired it from a distance. There are other trails to get to the top west part of the island though. A nice burch tree grows off the island in the foreground of the cliff. It was a warm sunny day and the water wasn't bad for this time of the year. A few of us went swimming. The good thing about this site is the huge downed tree. Great for drying your wet cloths. The only thing bad about swimming here was all the sharp shore rocks. Wet shoes were a must. After swimming we started a small fire to cook some summer sausage. We usually mix this with rice and put it in a tortilla. After dinner I went around and took a few more photos while the others relaxed or took a nap. Soon the sun started to go down. We all planned to get to the top of the island for the sun set. There is a path behind the latreen on this site that will lead you to the top. Year after year it gets harder to find since the burn down is growing. Once on top it's one of the best views on Seagull. As usual I set up my camera and took some shots of the sunset. The sun never peaked out but there were some nice clouds. It's was very peaceful. The moon was out just behind us too so I captured a quick shot while it was clear. After the sun set I went back down and shot a long exposure of the lake and tree line. It was time to settle in for the night. We made a fire and relaxed some more. Like the night before I woke up again to do some night photography. This time I wanted to get a moon set. Not something people see often. This is just before 2am. The first photo didn't turn out like I wanted. I didn't realize how much the atmosphere affects the moon. The next two images are just after and turned out great.
Day 4. Later in the morning I woke up again for the sun rise. Unfortunately it was on the other side of the island. I went to the top where we watched the sunset but there is another peak that's too high to get the sunrise. I went back down and shot a photo of the edge of the island. The subtle morning colors made it look nice. After the sunrise I went back to bed. Waking up at 2am and again at 5-6 takes a toll. I slept in for a little while but we ended up breaking down camp pretty early. It was going to be a long drive back so we wanted to finish up and get back to Seagull Outfitters. On the way we did stop at the cliffs for some last photos. This is just east of Miles Island. We climbed to the top and took in the view. 3 miles later we were back at Seagull Outfitters. We drove down the gunflint trail back to society. We did see that a new place opened up called Hungry Hippie Tacos in Grand Marais. They were open on Sundays. FYI, best Tacos I've ever had. Until next time....