Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

A Passion (Re) Awakened
by callofthewild

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/22/2013
Entry Point: Missing Link Lake (EP 51)
Exit Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)  
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Back in the day when I was much younger and bulletproof, I used to travel to the BWCA and Quetico with a group of friends every summer. We started doing this when we were high school juniors and it lasted throughout my college years. Prior to this trip with my youngest son Isaac, the last time I was in the BWCA was August of 1986, when I went canoeing with my best friend from college. Somehow I let little things like work, the military and family take precedence over canoeing. Although we did plenty of family vacations, it never really dawned on me to try canoeing with the whole family. When one is younger and feeling like you are indestuctructable, you look at things from a whole different viewpoint, and you take a lot of chances and do silly things. Now I was returning to the BWCA as a father who was much wiser and less of a risk taker, and I saw things much differently. My wife and I have always made time for our children and usually do one special one on one event per year with each of them. The trip to the BWCA was Isaac's idea (he probably heard me speak of my adventures when I was in high school), so here is our story.
Day 1 of 6
Saturday, June 22, 2013

After months of planning, searching the BWCA.COM website, reading trip reports, calling outfitters, making lists, packing, unpacking and then re-packing, I think we were ready to go. We have an older Alumacraft Canoe (USS Wisconsin) that was purchased by my father in 1954, and has been to the BWCA and Quetico several times when I was younger. Being that I am not as young as I used to be, we opted out of hauling the old battleship with us and decided to rent a light weight kevlar canoe from Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters. We leave Central Wisconsin at 8:00 in the morning and head West towards Eau Claire, then turn North towards Superior. The weather is overcast and cool. By the time we reach the bridge between Superior and Duluth it is so foggy, that we can't even see Gitche Gummee and I am down to 15 mph in fear of hitting someone or driving into the side rails. Today was also the day for the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, so we were re-routed with a couple of detours and could not drive on Scenic Highway 61 along the lake as it was closed for the runners. Not a problem, we press on. We decide to catch some lunch and pick up one or two more snack items in Two Harbors. We also took about two hours to check out Gooseberry Falls. If you are coming up 61 and heading to the Eastern Side Entry Points, I strongly recommend that you take some time out to view this beautiful area. We continue on and finally get to Grand Marais about 4:00 pm, stop at the Ranger Station to update my maps and head up the Gunflint Trail. It has been 27 years since I traveled the trail. The last time I came around a corner too fast on my motorcycle and almost ended up underneath a Mama Moose. This time I drive a little more cautiously, enjoy the scenery and arrive at Tuscarora a little after 5:30 pm. We love it. Peaceful and serene. It stirs my memories from long ago when I was just a bit older than Isaac. We check in, go through the video, pick up our permit, purchase our fishing licenses and get our cabin (bunkhouse) for the evening. There are several places to have supper, but we choose to head up to the end of the Gunflint and check out the campground there for future reference, and then caught supper at the "Trails End Cafe" at the Way of The Wilderness. Once done, we do some meandering to look for moose and other wildlife and then head back to Tuscarora to make final checks and preparations for tomorrow. We are asleep by 10:30.