BWCA - Kekekabic Trail
Daylight came quickly Saturday morning. I was up at about 6:00 am to get my stuff together. Matt was up shortly after I was out of my car moving around. We got our stuff together and headed over to Smitty's on Snow Bank. Great people Smitty's. As soon as we walked in we were offered coffee and breakfast while we waited for Denis (who would be shuttling us over to the trail head on the Gunflint). Just so as not to create any confusion - we did pay for breakfast :) Matt chatted for a bit with the trail crew that was in having breakfast (they were out clearing trail around Snow Bank). I headed out and started getting gear over to the shuttle and getting fees etc. squared away with Denis. Matt and Denis squared away the permit paperwork and before we knew it - we started out. Shuttle took 4 hours. Denis was great company and very accommodating if we needed to stop. We were at the trail head by 11:15 am and hiking by just a little after 11:30 am.
All in all we would end up hiking about 9.5 miles on Day 1. Temps were a little cool and we would see some snow flurries when we first hit the trail. Later in the evening it did sprinkle off and on a little but there was no real precipitation. It was really the perfect hiking weather to be honest. Hiking for the most part throughout the first day was pretty easy (in relation to terrain difficulty). But I will be very honest with everyone, had the trail crews not been out a day or so ahead of us and flagged the trail - our trip would have been drastically different. I want to make sure to express my deepest appreciation for all of their hard work. More than once during this trip I reflected on the fact that many of the wonderful trips I have enjoyed the past few years would not be possible with out the hard work and dedication to the many people that keep those trails open. Even with all of their efforts - the trails are riddled with dead falls!!! So if they were not out there - the trails would be lost.
The trail was not an issue to follow up until the time that we reached Bingshick. Once you reach Bingshick you move into the area affected by fires the past couple of years. The terrain was literally devoid of life. Keep in mind, we did hike the trail prior to much of the greening of spring and stuff - but there is literally nothing left. We saw no signs of life throughout the entire day. I mean nothing - not even an insect!!
Ok, so thoughts on Day 1: Terrain as mentioned before was not bad at all. It was very wet (but there was also still snow melting in some places). After Bingshick Lake and through the rest of the day the trail is tough in spots. In other spots it is gone. If you are hiking through this area watch for the flagging. I'd also recommend a compass and GPS. Matt and I both had a GPS. There some stream crossings but nothing that I recall as being real major. Not a ton of views (overlooks). In comparison to Snow Bank Lake and the trail system in that area, Snow Bank is a little more scenic (especially around the northern end of the lake). Dinner was fantastic. Tenderloins and Veggies - which is becoming a tradition for the first nights dinner of our spring hikes. We both agree one thing has been missing, a beer for the first night. We plan to correct next year.
There is not a ton of room at the Gabimichigami site but it is a nice little site. The fire grate and lounging area is literally within three feet of the lake. We were pretty well protected from the wind. One note of interest on Day 1 ---- while we saw no life, no animals; we did see a ton of moose sign. I cannot figure that one out for the life of me. What the heck would moose be doing in that burnout?
Some campsite notes that we looked at: Bingshick looked to be a pretty nice site, Howard Lake is terrible. Gabimichigami nice.