Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Seagull to Knife to...Seagull
by GraduateSlave

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/16/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Seagull Lake (EP 54)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Trip was originally planned as a loop from Seagull through Knife and Saganaga, but the weather had other designs. This was the first trip I ever planned on my own. It was taken with two of my buddies from college in a three man canoe. I quite purposefully picked an easy route, owing to our general inexperience.
Day 1 of 7
We put in on a gray misty morning from the dock at Seagull Outfitters. With all the damage from the Cavity Lake fire, the lake looked like the face of the moon through all the gloom. Wind picked up as we were crossing the most open section of the lake on the way to the Alpine portage. It naturally thundered a couple of times, too, just then. The thunder quit as we made our way toward land, but it was pretty breezy and the waves were starting to whitecap. We reached the portage just as a ridiculously large group of teenagers were coming down from Alpine. I winced a little as a girl threw down an aluminum canoe on the rocks are the side of the portage and started complaining loudly. The portage climbs over a rather low hill, and is for the most part flat and dry. No trouble there. Ran into a group of kids I had known before I graduated from college at the end of the portage. Very random encounter.

We shoved off from the portage to a calm lake, and had a scenic paddle around the west end of the lake on the way to the portage. It was starting to rain. There was a little confusion as we reached the Jasper portage. The portage was somewhat washed out at the base of the falls, and looked suspiciously like a fifteen foot drop of steep rock. Finally decided it was the portage and landed on some very slick loose rocks just as another group was coming down. We were all sliding around, trying to unload the canoe, and generally get the heck out of the way. One of the guys in the other party came down and dragged out our gear pack to give us a hand. I was grateful. The landing was very shallow and slimy, full of rocks that were just waiting to eat the kevlar canoe. So if you every end up reading this, thanks again!

Aside from the bit with the exposed rock, the portage was somewhat muddy but overall short and easy. We discovered on this portage that it was going to be up to me and my stern paddler to carry the brunt of the weight, as the girl we had along couldn't even handle the kevlar canoe. We paddled halfway up Jasper into a headwind. It was getting rougher and the light was getting lower as the cloud cover intensified. We opted to stay on Jasper. Jasper was also pretty toasted by the fire. With no real trees to hang our tarp, we slung it low from the few saplings remaining, aided by a paddle. Just in time. It started to pour. We crouched together under the tarp eating sausage and cheese. During a lull, I located the latrine, which was way up the shoreline, past a long stretch of wet, widowmaking boulder. With no trees to hang from, I stashed the food pack far away, a la Cliff Jacobson. We pitched the tent and fell asleep in the rain early.