A Paddling Partner for Life, Part 4. Cross Bay to Poplar.
by Kiporby

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/23/2010
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Exit Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes (EP 47)  
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
This would be the 3rd visit to the Gunflint Trail this year for Lauren and I. In early May, we participated in the Gunflint Greenup. In late June, our intended trip was modified due to an broken portage yoke on the "Tusky" portage. We were eager to cover some ground this time and planned a route starting at Ham Lake and ending at Poplar Lake. This time, we would encounter the "Muskeg" portage, cross the Laurentine Divide, paddle long Winchell Lake and pass through several small lakes. As usual, we booked a bunkhouse stay and shuttle ride with our friends at Seagull Outfitters. The night before we dined at Trail Center. So, with a brand new portage yoke in tow for the Bell Northwind, we were set for another adventure. Off we go....
Day 1 of 5
Friday, July 23, 2010

Ham Lake, Cross Bay Lake, Rib Lake, Lower George Lake, Karl Lake, Long Island Lake. 7.7 miles.

6 portages. 65 rods, 35 rods, 24 rods, 50 rods, 37 rods, 28 rods.

Lauren and I woke at 6:30am in the comfy confines of the bunkhouse at Seagull Outfitters. It had rained last night and the skies were still looking ominous. After a quick breakfast of muffins and cereal, we loaded up the truck and Dave shuttled us down to the entry point, Cross Bay.

We hit the water around 8:30am. Since we had been through this area a month ago, we made quick work through the first two portages into Ham Lake. A nice tail wind pushes us across Ham Lake to the portage into Cross Bay Lake. We met group with a kayak on this 24 rod portage who had just left Long Island Lake this morning. They informed that they pretty much had the lake to themselves, so I was optimistic that we wouldn't have any issues finding a camp by the time we arrived. Cross Bay Lake is very cool. It starts with neat twists and turns while passing high cliffs on either side before the topography flattens out and the lake becomes more marshy. We encountered many ducks, lily pads, mergansers, and flowers along the way. The nice camp site on Cross Bay Lake is taken, so we forgo a break and push on.

Rib Lake is neat with lots of grassy / shallow water on the south end. A short stream was paddled to reach the portage to Lower George Lake. This lake was crossed in a blink of an eye and soon we were at our last portage for the day.

Today's travels were pretty easy and Lauren did a great job. She carried her pack the entire way on each of the portages. We reached Long Island lake around noon. We explored several of the camps before picking an elevated site on a point. The camp is a nice, breezy site with good views of the west. There are many trails to explore, a nice fire pit area, and lots of tent pads.

After lunch and setting up camp, we lounged the afternoon away enjoying the sun. The first night's dinner would be our usual brats and hot dogs. We tried fishing a bit from shore, but didn't catch any. The great sunset and a nice fire made up for that. Finally, it was Uno and cards in the tent and then sweet slumber. What a great day.