Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

The Little Brothers Trip - Maraboeuf and Saganaga Falls June-July 2015
by SaganagaJoe

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/27/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Saganaga Lake (EP 55)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
I call this trip the “Little Brothers” trip for a good reason. During one of our many walks around Chambers Bay back at my house, I made a suggestion to Grandpa. “Why don’t we ask your brother Jon to come with us?” Jon spends every spare minute fishing whenever he is up at the lake home that he and Grandpa own together with their other brother and sister-in-law. He agreed to come with us. I also planned to bring my little brother Jesse, who had come along on my first adventure and was champing at the bit to go again. So Grandpa and I were each bringing our little brothers, and hence the name. I continue to love the Saganaga Lake area of the Boundary Waters. This year marked my third trip to the area. Neither of my trips had held particularly successful fishing, although I had caught some beautiful small mouth bass. Per the advice of my outfitter Deb and Grandpa’s good friend Don Germain, the erstwhile owner of Saganaga Outfitters, we selected Maraboeuf Lake as our destination, two short portages in from Saganaga.
Part 1 of 8
My family (my mom, eleven siblings and me) had decided to drive out from Seattle to Minneapolis to visit my family. Both of my parents’ families live there. My dad remained at home to work and would join us over the Fourth of July. We drove straight through from Seattle in our Sprinter van, a trip that took 26 hours. I was tired but was able to enjoy two good nights of sleep and a day spent packing everything with Grandma. We loaded up my Duluth #270 pack and CCS #4 pack with all of my gear and packed everything in Grandpa’s new Subaru Forester. On Friday morning, Jon drove over to Grandpa and Grandma’s and loaded all of his stuff. After a short devotional and prayer we were off. As always, our trip would have a strongly spiritual element to it.

It became clear throughout our trip that God had his watchful eye on us right from the get go. We decided to take an alternate route to the freeway that Jon quipped would only save about twenty seconds. As we drove down MN 252 a deer pranced in the median as we drove by. “Think about what might have happened if we had been twenty seconds later,” I said. “Quit sending chills up my spine,” Jon responded.

We stopped for breakfast at the Village Inn in Wyoming and an ice cream cone in Grand Marais. After looking around Lake Superior Trading Post, skipping a few rocks in the bay, and buying some minnows at the gas station, we headed up the Gunflint Trail. The drive was uneventful and beautiful, and we enjoyed our fifties and sixties folk and John Denver on the way along with great conversation.

As we neared the outfitters, let’s just say the little brothers were bouncing off the walls. Grandpa and I were sitting in front. Jesse and Jon were in the back seat all pumped up about the good fishing they were going to experience. As we rounded the last curves, Jesse exclaimed, “This is going to change our lives!” I turned to Grandpa with a huge smile on my face and said, “I think our little brothers are getting excited back there.” I knew we had done the right thing bringing them along.

We arrived at Seagull Outfitters around 4:30 PM, settled up with them, and unloaded our car. Once again we were impressed by the staff Debbie had hired. Along with our canoe and bear barrel, I purchased a used #4 pack to hold all our sleeping bags and pads. Seeing as our portages were small and short, we had consciously packed a little heavier. We also bought leeches from them. After we had finished settling up, we headed back down the Gunflint Trail to Gunflint Lodge for dinner. The food and service was wonderful, and we enjoyed looking out over the lake and beach.

Returning to Seagull Outfitters, we got our things organized in the bunk house. Earlier Jon had been a little depressed because he thought he left his rain suit and tennis shoes in his car. I was positive and bet Jon an ice cream cone that they had been packed. Sure enough they turned up in his stuff. The humor that so defines Grandpa and his brothers also began to emerge. As I was packing, Jon asked me why I had brought three harmonicas. “So I have one in each key,” I responded.” “Of course, why did I even ask?” he responded, and we all laughed. After a card game of five hundred, we turned in for the night. I once again enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of the Minnesota North Woods. There is no shortage of beautiful woods where I live in Washington. You can find mountains within an hour from Seattle. However, others have commented that the Minnesota woods and lakes are more intimate, and I agree. I identified the song of the white-throated sparrow immediately as well as a bittern booming from the marsh behind the outfitters.