Day 1 of 7
Sunday, August 19, 2012 Gunflint Lake, Magnetic Lake, Clove Lake, Larch Lake Our adventure began when we left Northern IL at 3:30am the previous day to the tune of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 10 hours later we found ourselves in the town of Grand Marais at Gunflint Tavern for a quick burger and beer before we headed up the Gunflint trail to our destination, Gunlint Lodge on Gunflint Lake. That night we both only slept about an hour in the camper cabins. The walls were paper thin and we could hear people being loud all night, and we were also too excited to sleep. That morning at 7am we loaded up our two man canoe and shoved off onto the picturesque scenery of Gunflint Lake. The weather this morning was about 50ºF partly cloudy and warming quickly. We paddled at a moderate pace across Gunflint and Magnetic Lake, taking in our first sights of Boundary water. We were wildly excited as we video taped our first footage, commenting, "To our left, United States, to our right, Canada." As we neared our what we thought was our first portage, about 20 rods, we looked at the rapids and being a bit green, we decided to take the portage. As we were putting on our overpacked 90liter backpacks, a man and his son passed carelessly over the rapids we were portaging around. We looked at eachother and laughed, saying somthing like we have a lot to learn here. Moving on we were in awe of the giant boulders we could see threw the crystal clear water. Making our second portage "blueberry portage", we passed two groups and were a bit dissapointed not to find any blueberrys. I was hoping to find some to add to my pancakes.
At this point I was having trouble matching the lay of the land with what I looking at on the maps we had. Turns out I was not so good at this, we ended up passing our next portage, 115rods, and "exploring" the dangerous waters that were marked on our map. We spent a good hour and a half trying to find our way, eventually finding our portage, which then became obvious where it was, asking ourselves, how the hell did we miss that? We made the portage into Clove Lake at about 2pm, our longest of the trip, and then began scouting camping sites. This was easy since there are only two and one was already taken. I did make the portage into Larch lake to see if an island site was taken, it was I went back with the news and we finshed setting up at the first site on Clove. After setting up our Hammocks and camp we did a little shoreline fishing and had a little sip of moonshine. It wasnt long before our slip bobbers were going under, pulling in the first smallmouth and pike of our trip.
We fished until the sunset, and then made dinner. We fried up one of the small pikes we caught and I cooked what was the best steak I have had to this day. 2 20oz ribeyes seasoned and cooked right on the cast iron fire grates, along with cheddar potatoe soup.
Day 2 of 7
Monday, August 20, 2012 Gneiss Lake, Maraboeuf Lake After my first goodnight sleep in two days, I awoke at 6am to make breakfast, eggs and cheese wrapped in a tortilla, yum. We broke camp and were back in the canoe by 8:30. We made our way out of clove lake via a 48 rod portage. Clove lake to Gneiss lake was, in my opinion, the most beatiful section of the Granite river, despite the damage done by the Ham Lake fire.
We were all about covering ground today so the fishing poles stayed tucked in the canoe. We then had a 72 rod, labeled swamp portage, which wasn't bad despite the name. Then a 32 rod into Gneiss Lake. We were hoping for an island site on Gneiss, but it was occupied so we continued on thru Devils Elbow. We pulled out the fishing poles and landed on the shore in the elbow and tried a little fishing. We were unsuccesful and some clouds began to move in and it threatened to rain.
The mood changed quickly from carefree to panic, as the rain began to fall, we pulled out our rain gear and paddled quickly as we entered Maraboeuf Lake looking for a campsite. We passed the first site, which had few trees, and opted for the 2nd site on Maraboeuf that had plenty of trees and a very nice rock outcropping to pull our canoe up on. As rain still threatened we quickly set up camp and tarps, fearing the worst. Just as soon as we set up, the sun came out and we were back to blue skies. We quickly made some mountain house for lunch and decided to try our luck fishing. We canoed all over the lake with no luck, we did find this huge spider on a rock, aprox 4" long.
We returned to the small bay next to our campsite and found a drop off from 10ft to 30ft and began catching smallmouth. Sean hooked a very large pike but it broke his line when we were trying to land it. He definatelly outfished me this day at least 4 to 1.
We made dinner of fish and mountain house and broccoli soup as the light began to fade to dark, and then to the most spectacular sight you could see. The crystal clear sky was perfect for the viewing of stars and we even could see what i believe was Mars and Neptune. With no rain threatening, we took down our rain flys and slept under the starlit sky.
Day 3 of 7
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 I awoke at 5am this morning, after a fantastic night of sleep. I was a little slow getting up this morning as two days of canoeing and portaging were something i wasnt accostum to. A cup of coffee and two IbProfen later I was ready to go. The same could not be said for Sean, the night before he only slept a couple hours, so that was his 3rd day in a row with little or no sleep. I let him sleep and fished for about an hour. I decided to throw a crankbait i have had since I was a small boy and have never caught a fish on. I landed a nice 2# smallmouth moments after I began casting. At 8am, I packed up and started making breakfast as Sean was just waking up. After some coaxing and coffee, and IbProfen, i got Sean going and we were in the canoe at 9am heading out of Marabouef.
We saw someone had taken the site we passed on the day before. We made good time to Horsetail Rapids portage, only stopping once to eat some trail mix and watch a bald eagle we spotted in a tree. Horsetail Rapids portage was a little sketchy in areas but was my favorite. At the end of the portage there was a tree down that was perfect for walking out on and getting a good look at the falls we portaged around, probably not the safest thing I did on the trip.
Next was a short paddle to Saganaga Falls portage 39rods.
We looked over two campsites on an island just after the falls. After passing on the first site, that was extremly windy and had a long walk to the latrine, we settle at the later. Just after we set up camp, we planned to fish. As I walked to the canoe a group of 2 passed by our island. The girl in the front of the canoe exclaimed, "There is a bear right there!" Pointing to the north shorline of our island. I quickly alerted Sean and asked her where exactly is it and she said it was not on shore but swimming away from the island. She probably thought I was crazy because I just said thank you and we decided since it left the island, the bear wanted nothing to do with us. We did hang our food high that night to be safe. We paddled out to fish shortly after and the bear was nowhere to be found. We paddled back to the falls and some luck catching a couple snake pike. Later, Sean took a long cast into a small shallow weedy bay with a spinner tied on, with a leader this time, and thats when things took an exciting turn. He hooked something big, I immediatelly grab the video camera, catching a full body out of the water jump from what ended up being a 40" pike. We released her quickly, as it was a hot day. We were both shaking from the expierence, this being the biggest fish(aside from salmon fishing) either of us had landed, and in a canoe was something to be proud of. We felt a little redemption from the big one that got off on Maraboeuf Lake. That night was another perfect night, mountain house food and a few sips of moonshine would finish off a perfect day! That night at 1am I awoke to the sound of giant footsteps near to where I was sleeping. I yelled at Sean, he heard them, but there was no telling what it was. Kind of makes me want to bring a deer cam on my next trip.
Day 4 of 7
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 We broke camp early this morning, water quality was not great at this site. We could see a lot of micro organisms in the water. After paddling a lot and getting past our last portage of the trip we set our sites on staying 2 days at a really great site. This morning the weather was perfect again, and there was no wind to speak of, it was dead calm. We canoed past Conners island, Oskenonton Island, and then landed on Horseshoe island at what was to be the best site of our entire trip. The campsite was very large, it had some great rocks near the shoreline that we took a few leaps off of and took a swim. I found a down tree that was about 12 feet off the ground and looked to be a great spot for hanging food, upon closer inspection, we found what looked to be claw marks all over the log. We opted to hang our food somewhere else. This was the best day of the trip. The entire lake was like glass all day, not a cloud in the sky.
We had our best fishing here also, catching a large number of 2-3# smallies and I got 3 pike while trolling 30+ inches. It seemed like every point we trolled past held a big pike.
Fish dinner and mountain house that night, what a perfect day!
Day 5 of 7
Thursday, August 23, 2012 The weather took a bit of a change this day, it rained for about 5 minutes at 3am, and rain clouds and heat lightning all around us. We decided to stay at this site another night before we moved again. We also didnt do any canoeing this day because of the wind. I did manage to catch a pike from shore for dinner. And we got a little break from the wind as the sun set.
Day 6 of 7
Friday, August 24, 2012 After debating to stay a third night at our favorite site, we opted to move to an island site. We passed Campers island, for a site tucked away in a little cove on Clark Island.
This ended up being our least favorite of all our campsites we stayed at. This is only because it was over 80ºF this day and the cove was tucked in and the air was dead calm. We had some success fishing our bay, landing one smallie and a small pike.
We decided we were tired of eating fish so we just had mountain house for lunch and dinner. We were both getting a little homesick by this time, and we had drank the last of the moonshine the night before, and the heat was getting to us. We decided to break this mood by doing some exploring, we stopped and looked at all the islands surounding ours. We then stopped to reflect on all we had done and seen in the last few days as we watched our last sunset in the boundary waters.
Day 7 of 7
Saturday, August 25, 2012 We awoke early, ate breakfast and broke camp. We talked and decided there wasnt much left to see on our trip and the wind let us know we should be on our way. A vigourous paddle accross open water on Sag was a great way to exit. We paddled our butts off that morning, with boat traffic picking up and dropping off other canoers as we made our way to the boat launch.
We were picked up by Gunflint Outfitters and we made our exit, until next year.