Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

East Bearskin to Clearwater quasi-loop; and a lost kid
by bsolak

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/07/2013
Entry Point: East Bearskin Lake (EP 64)
Exit Point: Clearwater Lake (EP 62)  
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 9
Trip Introduction:
So this trip was to be a semi-relaxing qausi-loop trip through an area of the BWCAW area that I'd never been in (namely - east of the Gunflint Trail). This was probably my 15 or so trip the BWCAW. There would be a group of 9 of us. The wife (5th or 6th trip), my three kids (13, 11, 8 all their 3rd trip), and my sister and three kids (17, 16, 14 - all their 2nd trip). Weather was predicted to be pretty good, mostly cloudy and in the 70s to upper 70s with a day or two of possible rain. It worked out approximately that way. We did a "partial" outfitting at Clearwater Lodge, renting a cook kit, two canoes, and a couple Duluth packs. The rest of the equipment is all our own and we did our own food. We spent the night before at the Wedgewood Motel just north of Grand Marais, an economical choice that is small, quiet, clean, and no frills. What more do you want when you're pulling in late and heading out early? On Saturday the 6th we started out getting our permit from the Rangers station in Grand Marais, and then had an obligatory lunch at the Angry Trout, followed by shopping in Grand Marais, and a dinner at the Harbor House Grill. Both restaurants get the thumbs up. After a stop at the IGA and Buck's hardware to get last minute essentials, it was off to bed.
Day 1 of 6
Sunday, July 07, 2013

The day began with a breakfast at the Blue Water Cafe in downtown Grand Marais, a place that is becoming a traditional "last meal" in civilization before we head up the Gunflint.

One of the benefits, I found, of tripping in the "east end" of the BWCAW is getting to the entry points quicker. By time we got to the outfitter, got our rental gear, and reorganized/repacked the packs for the 10th time, we were in the van getting dropped off at the East Bearskin drop off point by 10:30. Which for us is some kind of record. The Clearwater folks were very nice. Our driver dropped us off toward the west end of East Bearskin. I'm not sure if there is a public put-in toward the east end of the lake, but that is what I was picturing so as we started our paddle I had a couple "this doesn't seem right" moments and then figured out that we were "off the map" (F-14). So we had a couple more miles on our paddle than I'd originally anticipated.

No matter, as we weren't going very far. Per the recommendations on the forum, we used the southern arm portage into Alder, which was a cake walk. There is a pinch in the lake right after the portage but we were able to paddle through it. If water level had been six inches lower I think we'd have had to walk it.

We found the 4th campsite from the west along the north shore available and claimed it right around lunch time. The site has a nice little "beach"-ish entry and a lot of shallow water to wade in for the afternoon swim. Given the rain recently, the site (and most of the trip) was pretty buggy, with mosquitos out all day - something I haven't had much of before during the July/August months. There is also a low area on the east side of the campsite that was flooded with rain water - perfect breeding ground.

Fishing directly from camp is a non-starter at this site, but there is a peninsula jutting out right next to camp that has some dropoffs toward the south, so just a short paddle. I pulled a small bass out of there in the late afternoon. 

Steak over the open fire hit the spot at night, as did some rehydrated frozen veggies. Since I usually enter the BWCAW from Missing Link Lake (and the dreaded Tuscarora portage), this was probably easiest first day I've ever had.

East Bearskin Lake, Alder Lake