Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Rainy day people
by TuscaroraBorealis

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/28/2016
Entry Point: Skipper and Portage Lakes (EP 49)
Exit Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)  
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
This year’s spring trip starts at Skipper Lake and takes us out through Cross Bay Lake. We’ll encounter several tough portages and our fair share of inclement weather but, also experience and create several indelible memories as well. The aptly named trip title is in homage of Gordon Lightfoot’s song.
Day 1 of 8
Saturday, May 28, 2016

Having spent the previous night at Tuscarora Lodges bunkhouse #1, we are up early doing some last minute packing before heading over for the French toast breakfast. Soon after we are loading up one of Tuscarora’s vehicles so we can be shuttled over to Poplar Lake. It’s cool and skies are gray as we push off but, at least it isn’t raining. After a brief paddle, still brimming with excitement, we arrive at our first portage of the day; the 320 rod trail to Skipper Lake.

This end starts with a climb, and there are a number of mud holes and shorter climbs along the way. I find an accommodating sitting rock (closer to the Skipper side) that provides both comforts for my long legs and has a concave depression that seems made just for my backside. Bugs are a nuisance the whole way across but, the landing proves to be even worse! All appearances suggest that Skipper is a lovely lake but, it is difficult to fully appreciate the scenery since the fog and mist are still so heavy.

A bit of luck finds us as we are able to paddle right through the ‘rapids’ that occasionally necessitate the 20 rod portage into Little Rush Lake. It is spring and there has been plenty of rain recently, so I think it’s safe to say water levels are higher than normal. Still, dependent on how particular one is about scratches on their canoes (and getting their feet wet), I think a canoe could be walked through here in all but the driest of conditions.

Our next portage, into Rush Lake, is a winding path that has a steep rocky hill to surmount. Once back in the canoe, we enjoy the beautiful scenery unfolding before us as we paddle west down this long waterway. We paddle past a couple of sites that don't overly impress us. Since our target is the west end of Banadad Lake, we just quickly note it for a possible future trip to the area. At our next portage there is a charning little bridge where the Banadad ski trail intersects this diminutive trail. Since it is so short, there is no confusion as it is obvious which path is the portage; as along with the babbling brook, it helps provide an idyllic scene. There is some fish spawn (eggs) clearly visible in the shallow water here that provide an interesting diversion/learning opportunity for Aurora. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut landing point here, it appears that people take out where ever is convenient. As it is, I take the packs across the bridge and, then carry the canoe right up the creek - bypassing the bridge.

Banadad is a narrow, almost riveresque body of water, and we are all instantly smitten with this little jewel. Unfortunately our spirits are dampened a bit as the ominous sighting of canoes near the western end of the lake indicate that those sites are occupied. Retreating, we paddle back to claim the island site near mid-lake. It is certainly nothing special but, it will have to do. The fire grate/kitchen area is severely sloped, all the tent pads are plagued with large protruding roots, and there is a precipitous drop just a few feet from the front side of the fire grate. Still, we determine to make the best of it!

Its seasoned pork tenderloin, potatoes and rehydrated green beans for supper. Afterwards, Vickie is anxious to give her new Old Scout reflector oven a try. She quickly bakes up an indulgent chocolate cake for dessert. The oven exceeds expectations, and she is happy with the speed and efficiency this method provides. Later on, the increasing intensity of the rain showers chases us to the warm sanctuary of our sleeping bags in the tent.

Poplar Lake, Skipper Lake, Little Rush Lake, Rush Lake, Banadad Lake