Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Back in the BWCA : Our first adventure
by Magrockt

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/19/2013
Entry & Exit Point: Seagull Lake Only (EP 54A)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
After almost junkyard scraping my hand-me-down Grumman, I suddenly got very interested in attempting some family canoe tripping as I had done in my 20's. Things never go smooth on a first trip.
After a entire spring of gathering gear and obsessively reading the forums, I was ready for the BWCA. Packing and loading the canoe on our Pacifica without a proper roof rack proved frustrating and challenging. We made it out of Rock Creek just an hour after I had estimated. We stopped at Fitgers Brewery Duluth and were immediately chilled by the 20 degree temp drop. We picked up growlers of beer and root beer for son. Onto Cross River Lodge on Gunflint Lk for the first two nights. A beautiful little restored resort and we lucked out with the honeymoon sweet in the lodge to celebrate our first anniversary. We were enjoying some beers on the upper deck when a nasty storm rolled through. Awesome watching the hail making four foot splashes in the lake. The next morning all guest were treated to made to or breakfast cooked by the lodge owners. Delicious seafood omelets.  Back to Grand Marais to pick up our permit, an unnecessary trip to better plan for in the future.  Another thunderstorm followed us all the way back to town and just poured flooding the east end of the waterfront. Had a nice lunch at the PiePlace; owned by friends of my moms. Stopped at the beverage store only to realize my license had been expired for two weeks! Not pleased on the drive back to Crosss River Lodge. We stayed for another great omelet the next morning, then headed up the EP 54 Seagull lake. By ten am the wind had rollers about two feet high coming into the dock at the landing. We had the Grumman loaded high with my wife sitting duff and headed across the bay toward fishhook island. We checked out all the campsites along the north and west side of the lake; all were taken. Got stuck on a rock in one of the bay's and with a north wind had trouble getting unglued. We almost had to have a push from one of the nearby campers. We then tried to sneak through a creek and were warned off at the last minute by same campers. A large snake swam by freaking the wife out.  Glad I didn't see it. So back around the islands to see the palisades and on down the west side.  We ended up with a little used site near the Alpine portage. What a relief landing. 

We did some good family bonding and relaxing for the next two days. It was a bit difficult collecting firewood after the storms, but I was determined to cook all meals over a wood fire. We cooked burgers the first night. Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Brats the next night. Our point site had nice blueberry patches we enjoyed all weekend. Didn't end up fishing much as I wanted too as the wind was up both days.  Trying to avoid the wind, we packed up and were on the water by 7 am Sunday morning. I had loaded the canoe much too top heavy and once into the deep water we were very tippy. We stopped at one of the rock islands and reloaded. Much better stability. The waves had us heading in a more S.E direction and we missed the opening to Three mile island. After a couple hour tour of the south end of lake we located the two campsites, reoriented and headed north. Stopped for lunch at the south end of Three mile. Admired the views from the latrine up the hill. The rest of the paddle back to the landing was pleasant and a little sad knowing our first trip was over. As soon as we landed four other canoes converged out of nowhere so we had to rush a bit to load up.  It was a great first trip in hind sight, with lots of newbie lessons learned.