Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Happy 75th Birthday Grandpa - Saganaga/Ester August 2016
by SaganagaJoe

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/12/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Saganaga Lake (EP 55)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
I have had the privilege this summer to enjoy some incredible outdoor experiences in my home state of Washington. I’ve listened to high winds in the Cascades, looked upon emerald green lakes in the Olympics, and shivered in the nighttime polar vortex flowing off of the glaciers of Mount Rainier. I live in a place filled with majesty. Still I find myself returning again and again to northern Minnesota to a lake-studded forest that I consider intimate, a place of quiet waters where solitude and silence is within reach. This was my fourth trip to the Boundary Waters. This year also marked my tripping companion’s seventy-fifth birthday. Grandpa Tom Hall is my mentor, spiritual father, and best friend and the man who introduced me to the BWCA at age 17. Three years later, we returned to Saganaga Lake, a place that holds some of my most precious memories, to celebrate his birthday together.
Part 1 of 7
We left Minneapolis at about 8 AM under overcast skies with Grandpa’s Subaru Forester filled with loaded packs, paddles, and life jackets. Grandpa and I have our traditional stops on our drive up the North Shore and we enjoyed them all – breakfast at the Village Inn in Wyoming, the hilltop rest stop just outside of Duluth, and the gas station in Grand Marais. The drive went fairly quickly with Randy Travis, Anne Murray, Alan Jackson, and Peter, Paul, and Mary keeping us company on the radio. The Gunflint Trail was scenic and beautiful as always.

We reached Seagull Outfitters by 3:30 PM, signed our permits, and paid our bill. This is our fourth year in a row with Seagull Outfitters. Their service is exemplary. We rented a canoe and bear barrel from them and used their tow and bunkhouse services. Grandpa and I enjoyed catching up with Deb Marks before heading over to the bunkhouse to get organized.

After that, we headed back down the trail to Gunflint Lodge for dinner. Before eating, we stopped by Gunflint Northwoods Outfitters and had the pleasure of meeting Sheryl (aka Mocha on this message board). With a delicious burger under our belt, we headed back to the outfitters and played a few card games before hitting the sack at a record early time of 7:30 PM.