Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Cross Bay, Frost, Little Sag, Bingshack
by fadersup

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/14/2016
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Exit Point: Brant Lake (EP 52)  
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
First solo canoe trip, MN opener.
I've arrived. Grabbed a burger at My Sister's Place and had a quiet night of rest, happy to be in Grand Marais.

It's cold this morning, had a late breakfast at Trail Center, picked up my permit and took my time getting on the water.

This is how I'm packed, ditchkit in my vest. I can't help but to keep reminding myself that getting wet is not a good idea on this trip.

Two portages in and I'm overdressed. Met two seasoned trippers along the way from Ottertail County, MN who'd been traveling this area since the time when you could nearly sink your canoe with moosemeat. They offered me a goosestick and told me stories of living on ducks and grouse for a week. I am excited to be here.

And I feel lucky to have snow. The flurries are constant along my route in, tiny white flecks move in uniform motion on a wind that twists and shifts ahead of me as travel.

Seven hours to Frost Lake and I have just enough time to set up camp and prepare dinner before dark.
Pork and noodle soup as everything around me begins to freeze again.

As I'm enjoying my last deep breaths of cold darkness, a light brighter than anything else in the night sky by twice is steadily twinkling it's fire just above the horizon. It's Mars and I say goodnight to night 1.

Late start again today, being zipped in the bag is so much finer when there's ice on the toilet seat. Out to fish for lakers by 10am and when I got back I decide to turn this knuckle-headed fire hazard into
this, and then
this, while looking out at
the spot where a big knuckle-headed fire hazard use to be. I'm happy to be staying on this beautiful lake for another night.

Dinner tonight is bulgar wheat with root vegetables and cheese. After eating half, I decided to head out into the light rain to hook into some extra protein for the second course.

I love a trout.

Tomorrow I'll be up at 5:10 and on the Frost River by 7 where I'll get to know Housty9 and KevinL on the trails.

The Frost River is challenging for sure but we all agree that it's beautiful. After slowly chugging away for 9 hours over plenty of beaver dams and more than one tricky landing, I was glad to be walking along the rushing water that dumps into Little Saganaga. Housty and Kevin are back there somewhere and I'm starting to feel a little whipped. Off I troll to find the best campsite I can before I use up all my gas.


Nearly 11 hours after I shoved off this morning I'm alone perched on an island in the middle of Little Saganaga. I enjoy my farro, ring bologna and asparagus with a chunk of Italian bread by a hot fire tonight and give thanks for the peaceful nature of it all. I look forward to exploring the burnt half of this lake in the morning.

I pack up while eating my peanut butter, granola and maple syrup and head toward the burn where I run into Housty, a pleasant surprise as I didn't think we'd cross paths again. He points me to a back bay where he had just spotted a cow with calves so we say our goodbyes again and I paddle in to pick a landing where the fire will allow me to take a quick hike to the highest point for a look around. No moose in sight. Rats.

I make my way to Peter Lake and drag a spoon toward my next campsite, the lake is large and I have my choice as it's just me and the critters on all this water tonight.

Good luck dinner.

My camp is elevated and exposed on a point, apparently a property in dispute between a pair of gulls and the bald eagle they bully. There's a pair of loons hanging around as well. The sky is clear tonight and everything is crisp and still as darkness falls. The water below turns black as the bare stone landscape glows in the moonlight and I feel like I'm on the moon.

Anybody else love their canoe?

Heading to Bingshick today to spend my last night fishing brook trout. As I'm trolling out of Peter the lakers are on the hit and spit but I finally managed to keep a snacker on the line. I string up my catch and continue over the portage to French Lake where I use an open site to fry up a trout sandwich.

I know that if I stop to cook that sandwich, the group of six I just passed will get to Bingshick first. There are only two campsites in the area but that trout sandwich is calling my name so I roll the dice.

This sandwich is worth the four extra portages I'll have to travel if the two sites on Bingshack are taken.

Just in time. As I was setting up another group paddled in from the other direction and were obviously not happy to find this brook trout lake was full. I've had very good fortune all week, however, the brookies on Bingshack denied all seven of us this evening.

I paddled out through Brant Lake and stopped to thank Andy at Tuscarora for the route advice. In with the snow flying and out with the temps pushing 80, good fishing and great wilderness. I'm hooked.