The Gunflint Shows Its Beauty, Again
by Boppa

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/30/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes (EP 47)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Some random introductory thoughts: 1. We flew into Duluth again this year and were able to manage better flight times but the price has jumped considerably and it was a very tight schedule. Our rental car flap with Hertz last year at the airport was averted this year. This year we used Travelocity and Alamo; everything went smoothly and much cheaper. We will use both again. 2. The ride from Duluth to Grand Marais is really quite nice. We enjoy this ride very much, as it starts to put us in a canoe tripping mode. The occasional views of Lake superior are awesome and greatly enjoyed. 3. On our last two BWCAW trips we have encountered great solitude, one time it was expected, the other time it just "happened". A concern for us this time was that we were entering the BWCAW through a very popular entry, #47. We questioned would our overall experience be diminished in encountering a larger number of other canoe trippers? Well, we are pleased to say that it did not diminish our trip experience at all. We think because a) we expected to see more people and did; b) most trippers were very respectful of each others "space". We appreciated this courtesy and I think it's a good sign overall for trippers. 4. We had a very wet summer in New England this past summer and actually chose to cancel two shorter canoe trips to the Adirondacks, as staying under a tarp the majority of a long weekend loses its luster fast. With our yearly trip to the BWCAW, canceling is not an option so we know we deal with whatever weather we are dealt. Upon our arrival in Duluth, it was raining. As we drove up the Gunflint Trail, the road was still wet and with numerous puddles. We knew the BWCAW had a wetter than normal summer as well, just from the lack of fire ban post/threads on this site. That was OK with us, since our last two BWCAW trips have been under a fire ban. But not this year; firewood gathering was on the agenda. 5. We made a couple quick stops in Grand Marais for purchases (hand sanitizer, liquor) and arrived at Rockwood Outfitters about 4:30PM. We quickly find Mike and begin to catch up, eventually Lin is able to join us. It was good to see them both, but it had been a long day for them. The two days of rain had finally stopped but the 3 " of rain had a number of trippers come out early, creating a long day for them. Also, Lin had been tending a pet cat that was in its last hours; most of us know how hard it is to lose a long time house/family pet. We felt sorry for them. 6. Our packs were ready for us to make our personal adjustments, adding and substituting some of our gear, shipped earlier to our outfitters by UPS. We want to have it already for a 6:15AM departure Sunday morning. We take off to purchase leeches at The Ugly Baby bait shop and then dinner at the Trail Center. A good meal is had, as expected, on our short drive back we see foxes at two different spots. Our first wildlife sightings... we are in bed before 10:00PM for our early start.
Day 2 of 6
It was another cold night but we were fine, socks and long undies were in place. It is always easier to awaken to sunny skies and birds singing. Stiff joints and muscles from the day before efforts are slowly stretched out with the start of the days chores, although cooking up a breakfast of coffee, eggs, bacon and bagels is a delightful chore. I did a bit of fishing from shore and nothing was interested in my varied offerings, so we decide to day trip up to Misquah Lake. We easily find the portage, the take out is fair, the portage makes you pay attention but is a gently up slope and a short 56 rods. The put in at Misquah Lake was rocky and boulder strewed, tough but very doable as all we had was 1 pack with lunch and a few travel essentials. Yes, this is a pretty, rounded lake, to the west was evidence of a past fire, I hook up a Tail-dancer with a 3-way swivel and 3/4 oz weight to see if I could tempt a Laker. Not sure how deep the lure set-up went as we slow trolled but I brought along my Polar Vision depth finder and it marked fish consistently when ever we were in 40 feet or more of water, nothing was tempted and they remain getting larger for the next pursuer.

We eventually work over to the lone campsite on the lake and decide it is time to lunch, the site has a decent canoe unloading/loading area but that's about it. The fire grate is a ways off the water and affords no real view, the ground had a lot of roots and rocks and it would have been a challenge to find a tent pad. The site had an unkempt feel about it and nothing of noteworthy mention. We question, are we getting a bit fussy or does the question of how sites are chosen continue to need to be questioned and examined? In our trip around this lake we found 3 other areas that seemed to offer greater potential for a lone site. While it is easy to see why the majority of sites are chosen and the Forest Service has done a good job with the majority, but why they don't review, renew or relocate more sites each year baffles me. It could be a more utilized tool to disperse the crowd and the pressure that many visits bring along with lessening overuse. Well enough of the analyzing. We leave the site and search for the portage to Little Trout Lake which we find easily, but we are not tempted to take this portage as it's reputation has earned our respect. We continue to troll, unsuccessfully, for a while longer and work back to the portage to Vista Lake. I was dealing with a rare but bothersome sinus headache that I occasionally get from flying and find that all I want to do is sit and deal with the discomfort. We do get back to Vista about 4:00PM and collect some firewood and read for awhile before dinner when we realized that we had seen no one else today. In fact, while we saw many foot prints on the portage while going in at Entry 47, we have seen none on the portage going into or returning from Misquah Lake. Solitude for us is enjoyable and has been achieved while traveling in the BWCAW. While traveling on popular routes certainly lessens that experience, another characteristic emerges that for us is also appealing. As long as trippers respect the space around us all, it is an acceptable reality. Enough speculation, did I mention that we did have a hummingbird nearly land on my Bow partner's shoulder and a large dragon fly landed on my hat which caused her to LOL as she said it appeared that I was wearing a hat with a whirly.

During the evening we overheard a lone howl, it was followed again a minute later, it was different than anything else I have heard. We wondered if it was a wolf trying to locate other members of the pack? The loons interrupt and take over, sleep comes quickly.