BWCA Hairy Lake Loop Boundary Waters Group Forum: PMA Paradise
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senior member (92)senior membersenior member
01/13/2021 08:51AM  
Hey all, so I'm generally the one that plans out trip routes and my friend has been pushing for a bushwhacking trip for a few years now, so I'm looking at doing some PMA routes

Here's what I'm tentatively looking at for a Hairy Lake loop. I feel generally fine with this except for if Mass to Frost is doable (July x+2 -> x+3 in the list below) via the direct south route. That feels like it could go good or bad bad. Anyone able to speak to if that's a route that's doable? Google Earth makes me question my idea ;)

July x: drive up and stay at outfitter

July x+1: hit water - Route - 6 miles
- Round Lake
- Missing Link Lake
- Snipe Lake
- Copper Lake
**Enter PMA**
- Sora Lake
**Camp on Sora

July x+2
- Din Lake
- Mass
**Camp on Mass

July x+3
- Paddle to Frost
**Camp on Frost

July x+4 - Frost to Outfitter - 18 miles
**Camp on Frost or head to Long Island

July x+5
- Gordon Lake
- Long Island Lake
- Karl Lake
- Lower George Lake
- Rib Lake
- Cross Bay Lake
- Snipe Lake
- Missing Link
- Round Lake
- Camp at Outfitter

July x+ 6
- Go home

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distinguished member(1610)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 09:43AM  
I did this route, mostly, in reverse direction, last August. So, it is doable. Came and went from Cross Bay entry, not Round. Went in and to Gordon Lake first day. Then via Frost and Octopus where I turned north up to Iris. Took my time scouting before I brushcrashed, so did not go real fast. There are traces of trail in that southern part of the route, to give hints on where to go, but not a lot of well worn trail that I could see. The route from Iris up to Mass is less clear than from Din through Sora to Copper, where you will probably more easily find trail. I had a brush camp on Iris, used an old campsite on Ell, saw another old campsite near liftover from Mass to Din, and had a brush camp at the north end of Sora. Did not see a good campsite on Sora, but maybe I missed something. It is a pretty, deep-looking lake with a lot of cedar shoreline. Get the PMA permit and enjoy the bit of extra challenge and solitude (I saw no one from Gordon through to Snipe, where there were campers again... maybe there were campers on Frost, but I did not see them, as I was busy with a good headwind). Can post more detailed info on the port's later, if desired.
distinguished member(1450)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 09:00PM  
From your map markings, it seems you are thinking of going directly from Mass to Frost. I have never heard of anyone attempting that and doubt there is anything that can be paddled through there. In 2019, we entered through Missing Link, stayed on Snipe, then went to Sora for night #2. It took us 6 hours to get from Snipe to Sora, 5 of that was bushwhacking. The first portage path from Copper to puddle #1 is faintly visible. After that we found some faint bits of trail here and there. Found a small site on Sora to tuck in for the night (2 hangers and 2 of us in a tent).

The next day we traveled to Ell. Again 6 hours of travel, 5 of that was bushwhacking. All the streams in the area are not big enough to be paddled. The travel from Mass to Ell took the bulk of the time. The next day we decided to slow down and enjoy the PMA so we only traveled to Iris which is a gorgeous lake. Only took us 3 hours to get to Iris (2 hours was bushwhacking).

The next day we traveled through Fetters into Octopus and after a detour we headed to Frost Lake. This involved 4 hours of bushwhacking, though the closer we got to Octopus the more signs of previous travelers we found.

Here is the link to our trip report: Trip Report: As the PMA Turns

Traveling from Mass all the way to Frost would be an insane amount of bushwhacking. These areas have very rocky, shallow streams with plenty of beaver action. The land around the streams is often marshy and full of knee twisting holes and hummocks mixed with deep, hip sucking muck. The best travel is through the woods which varies between fairly open and choked with tag alder so you have to explore a bit to find the best route.

But if you decide to try your plan, I would love to hear about it in a trip report. You never know, maybe there is a better way.

senior member (92)senior membersenior member
01/13/2021 10:03PM  
Thanks for the detail, and essentially backing up my fear. I think if this was maybe myself and one friend I might try it, but a party of 4 or potentially 5 seems like a recipe for some Benny Hill music with a sped up video of navigating that waterway. But thought I'd ask since I know when we look at something on sat images it can seem like there's nothing but then once you're right there it's a lot easier. There's a path, but it might be one my friends murder me on for planning that trip. They are of the heftier variety and last year I made them do the staircase portage and the two mile portage in a single day :). Love was not in the air that day.
senior member (92)senior membersenior member
01/15/2021 07:38AM  
Haha. So a funny thing happened on the way to the farm.

As is their case they put a lot of trust in me and see my overly detailed emails and plans as noise, to which apply teenage level "yeah, whatever mom" principles. Well, one of them, the one who is more attentive, finally noticed that in one of my emails I mentioned no fire rings/ open fires and said something. Then the others noted that I indicated the bushwhacking was not going to be a joke. So, finally reading my emails they're indicating an openness to a change of plans and maybe not doing a full blown PMA route this year but maybe dipping into one for a day trip.

Hahaha. Well, back to the drawing board.
distinguished member(1450)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/16/2021 08:43PM  
Yep, if they complained about the staircase portage and the long portage from Rose to Rove, then the PMA is not a great choice. That long portage is a piece of cake (flat and wide) compared to the bushwhacks. Good choice to look for the option to do as a day trip into the area, just make sure you turn around at the time you would consider halfway even if you haven't reach your goal.

I love how they finally paid attention to some of your descriptions...made me laugh.
senior member (92)senior membersenior member
01/16/2021 10:46PM  
Edit: I tried adding this link and it failed. I'll try again in the morning on a laptop

With did the two mile first, because I figured we'd find a site after that we'll enough. We did not, hence the staircase. Then I did them one better the next day by making them move across the lake. Hahaha.

Ugh... ok, I'll bounce out of this message board section now until I can rightfully join your ranks. *salute*
distinguished member(1450)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/17/2021 11:47AM  
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