Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Cross Bay solo
by nojobro

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/01/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I took a solo trip with my dog, EP 50 - Cross Bay Lake
I decided to take my first solo this year. I think my main reasons were to see if I could do it and because I was unsure who I'd take along with me. It was easier to just go by myself, I thought.

I have only portaged a canoe once before: a MN-II in Sylvania Wilderness...and even then it was only portaging to/from the car. However, I did it just fine. I intended to work on strength training a lot this spring...and then I was insanely busy and didn't do it very often...

I borrowed a Prism for this solo trip from RainGearRight. Technically it's a trade: canoe rental for time at our cabin--but I don't know when he'll claim his cabin time. His is the heavier model of Prism, around 40-42 pounds.

I put in at the Cross Bay entry at 7:45am on July 1. The entry is on a small lake off the parking lot, outside of the BW. Then there's a portage, and another small lake. Another portage and then Ham Lake...and then a portage and you're finally into the actual Wilderness.

I was gung-ho for the first portage, and then encountered very large steps. On the third step I lost my balance or could not lift my leg high enough (these were Andre the Giant sized steps!) and down I went...and down went the canoe, too. Kevlar is tougher than it holes. :)

Another group was portaging at the same time...and a teenage boy with their group grabbed my canoe and portaged it the rest of the way for me. That was great...but then in the coming days I would wonder...will I be able to get back without mishap?

The other two portages before Cross Bay Lake were no trouble at all. I decided to camp on Cross Bay if the southern campsite was open. It was! This is an awesome campsite. Lots of room, quite open but plenty of shade, too (only my tent had to be in the sun).

Booker the dog was with me. He's a great camper and really enjoys chasing dragonflies and squirrels. We had a great day setting up camp, enjoying the hammock, and exploring.

I didn't mind being there alone with Booker. That was very nice. No heebie- jeebies at night keeping me awake. Slept as well as I would in any place the first time I slept there. And that was after Booker had seen something concerning in the woods (I didn't investigate but he watched/listened intently for 10 minutes).

I brought along a twig stove: a $6 Sterno stove from Walmart. This was great!! I enjoyed using it, very simple. Not as fast as a JetBoil, but the price was right. I kept a gallon baggie full of twigs in case of rain (it didn't rain).

The next day I stayed in my camp. We took an early morning trip to check out the falls that I could hear from my campsite, and checked out the portage to Rib Lake. On the Rib side the landing is extremely rocky. The rest of the day we relaxed in camp. I wondered what to do: did I risk going farther into the wilderness given that I'd already dropped RainGear's canoe??? I decided I'd stay there one more day and then move camp to Ham Lake and stay there three days. I had heard there was a very nice campsite on Ham. I hung out in my hammock and read books most of the time. Ah, peace....

On the third day, Booker and I took a day trip around Cross Bay Lake. We discovered a hidden cascading waterfall, and went up Dawkin's Creek as far as we could go. Pretty cool. I bathed in the lake, sans soap, at the tiny beach at my campsite. The beach is about one foot wide, but the sand goes out into the water a ways, too. Very nice.

That afternoon I could tell Booker was not his usual self. I examined him more closely and saw that his bites from black flies were HUGE and he was scratching a lot, leaving hair around the site (I picked up what I could find) and overly licking himself. He was no longer chasing the squirrels or dragonflies. He looked very unhappy. I tried getting him to sit under my bug net, but he didn't like how it moved around and got tangled up and then refused to sit under it anymore. The tent was in the sun...too hot. He could not nap because he was too worried about the bugs. Poor guy. By the way, didn't think the black flies were very bad..but they loved him.

The next morning I started to pack up for Ham Lake, but Booker was still not himself at all. I decided to get him out of the bugs and finish my trip early. I didn't mind being alone/on a solo, but I also realized by this time that I'd rather go with a group. I figured I could stay on the Trail another day or two and see stuff while keeping my dog out of the bugs. So that is what we did.

I worried about that final portage...but then the portaging Gods smiled down upon me. When I got to the portage, another group was going the opposite way, and then grabbed my canoe for me while I was portaging my first pack. It was smooth sailing from there.

We stayed a Tuscarora Outfitters before and after the trip. We had a great experience there: highly recommended.

Our time on the Trail was really fun. I did some hiking along Loon Lake and saw a dead wolf, went to the Chik-Wauk Museum (great) and saw a moose right by there, and saw loons with babies and frogs in their lake. I went to the Trail's end cafe (yum) and checked out Trails End Campground (looks very cool!). Went to Trail Center, and went to Grand Marais to do my laundry and to walk along the shoreline there. The day I was there the water was extremely calm. It was gorgeous. The only thing "wrong" with Grand Marais is that there were a lot of people. On Cross Bay I didn't talk to anyone. Some people passed by on their way through but I'd say only about three groups per day went by...maybe four. If I did something particularly "buggy" I'd park my car in the shade and open the moon roof, and then cover that with my bug netting and weighed it down with my Platypus water containers. Worked like a charm and my dog was happy to rest without bugs.

I would solo again if I did a short trip...maybe one without portages, too. :) But otherwise I think I'm a group long as I can still have some hammock time. Also I think I have more confidence in a group. After the canoe drop I really questioned my abilities, even the canoeing ones. I did not have any trouble canoeing in the Prism and am quite good at maneuvering up to landings. But I worried about wind (even minor wind) and my strength and endurance.

Booker continues to have some trouble due to the bug bites: he managed to lick off fur from his forelegs and won't stop doing this. His stomach looks better though. But he's spending time in the Cone of Shame to help him stop licking his legs. It seems to have turned into some nervous thing now...there's no obvious wound or injury there but he's licking it a lot...

Here are all my pictures. The album has been made public so if you have this link, you can view them (FB account or no): set=a.10154046838344823.1073741836.715514822&type=1&l=7c31435883&hc_location=u fi