The trip consisted of 7 people, and most had not met prior to the trip.
Aug. 20th 2013 6 of the members carpooled out of Scandia, MN after a visit to the Rover's Gear Cage. I arrangd to meet the rest of the group around Duluth. I brought along my SR Q17 Kevlar Tandem canoe & my beloved Merrimack Baboosic Kevlar / Carbon Fiber solo. I had also volunteered to be responsible for; fire, the rainfly, and water. The other canoes were 2 aluminum classic tandems.
We met at Two Harbors, at Betty's Pies, had a fantastic lunch & headed north. Stopped briefly in Grand Marais, then on to the Gunflint & points north.
Thursday night, we stayed at the Flour Lake campground (about 25 mi north on the Gunflint) It was a nice site, and we had an entheusiastic welcome by an abundance of mosquitos.
Dinner was at the Trail Center Lodge about 2 mi from the camp. The store was very cool, and the food & service was excellent. (Where else can you get a Kahlua milkshake?)
Thursday - Entered Bearskin Lake. It was an easy carry from the parking lot to the lake. Paddled across Bearskin, and portaged into Duncan Lake. The portage was pretty easy, but we found strong winds and 2 foot waves on Duncan upon our arrival. As the rest of the group finished the portage, I went solo in my Q17 to scout available campsites. The Q17 handled the wind and waves very well, though I was a bit too light. (Should have taken a pack or 2 for ballast)The first 2 sites nearest the portage were occupied, so I headed directly across the lake. The sites I found north & northwest of the portage were not suitable. Neither could accomodate our group.
I made my way back to the portage, and we prepared to scout the rest of the sites. as we looked north, we could see that the 2 sites there had people already. We prepared to scout the site near the Rose Falls Portage. As we got close to that site, we could see that it too was occupied and we began to worry! Our trip leader called us in and announced that she had met the folks at the peninsula campsite and they were leaving shortly. Turns out we were early, rather than late!
The peninsula site was wonderful. The breeze helped keep the bugs away, and we had lake on 3 sides and great views. The site easily held our 5 tents with a couple pads to spare. We turned 1 canoe over in camp to use as a food prep area, and I pitched the fly. As it was getting dark, a couple college students came by that were beginning to panic. They had climbed the Rose Falls Portage and found no open sites on Duncan with dark approaching. I suggested that we offer them a site for the night, which they gratefully accepted. They were great company and contributed to Saturday's breakfast.
Friday - Paddled to the Rose Falls portage and explored the falls & trail (though we didn't do the portage)The meals on this trip were excellent. We didn't skimp on weight and had a cooler along with fresh food. In addition was a great assortment of freezer bag meals that the trip leaders had prepared. We had Cranberry Chicken Couscous with lime, Pad Thai peanut noodles and Twice Cooked Pork, just to name a few. Pancakes on Sunday were a luxury that were appreciated!
Saturday - Woke to another beautiful day. Had a nice long swim. The group went back to the Rose Falls Portage to hike the Border Route Trail. The trail was nice, and easy to navigate. Great views of the north shore of Rose Lake (Canada) from a spectacular overlook.
Sunday - Woke to the threat of rain. Took our time breaking camp & had a great breakfast. We thoroughly policed the campsite, which is a point of pride for the MN Rovers, and left the next group in great shape. The rain held off and we had a leisurely paddle back. We headed down the Gunflint and stopped off at Stone Harbor Outfitters in Grand Marais, and a restaurant for lunch & pie.
Said our goodbyes, and I began the trek home (5 hours)thinking of the group that had been strangers just a few days before that I now felt so connected to, and was already missing!
Bearskin Lake, Duncan Lake, Rose Lake