We are heading up again in two weeks, this time bringing the kids. We really want to take them to stairway portage falls on Rose lake, but by the time I got confirmation that we would be going all the permits for Duncan were gone. South lake was the next closest option.
How tough of a day 1 trip is it to get to South lake? We paddle right from GNO's dock. Looks like it's about 4-5 hours and almost all paddling with very few short portages. My GF and I have no problems together, as we have paddled and portaged more than that in a day by far, but I am assuming with 2 canoes and 3 kids we will be slower. I am hoping the wind will be at our back on Gunflint. This is the kids first trip and I don't want them to get turned off by a super hard first day, but we don't really have much of a choice. Any input or suggestions is appreciated.
Not tough unless there's strong winds out of the northwest. Gunflint, North, and South all can get big if the wind is bad. That said, the south shore of Gunflint is pretty benign, then when you go through the sandy little channel to Little Gunflint you're out of the wind. But don't forget to stop on the east side of Gunflint and walk back to Bridal Veil Falls.
Also, by sticking to the south shore of all these you should be ok. The Height of Land Portage isn't that bad, although it seems to always be muddy? And I love the vista coming down Rose from Rat, looking toward the palisades on either side. The Stairway Portage is straight up the stairs in places, but it's not that bad. Besides, with the cascades and views it's so worth it!
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