Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Daughters First Trip, Seagull, Alpine, Ogish
by johndku

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/15/2018
Entry & Exit Point: Seagull Lake Only (EP 54A)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
My 12 year old son and I have been on a few trips together. This year my 16 year old daughter joined us for the first time, so we planned a not so tough, introductory trip to the BWCA.
After some last minute grass cutting and packing, got to bed late, then up at 4:00 a.m. on Friday the 13th, (omen?) for our 1,000 mile trip to the BWCA. Summary as follows:

Friday 7/13 - Myself, Ryan (12) and Emily (16) on the road at 4:30 a.m., fairly uneventful drive, but busted our tail and drove 816 miles to Duluth, therefore ensuring we have a leisurely drive up the North Shore, through Grand Marais and to Seagull Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail on Saturday in preparation for our 7/15 entry date.

Per other BWCA member suggestions, we stopped at Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet on the way to Duluth, bought some 10 year old aged Cheddar to take on our trip, and snapped a picture or two with a big cow.

Had Dinner at Little Angie's Cantina and Grill in Duluth near the lift bridge on Friday evening, and retired to our hotel.

Saturday 7/14 - After a big "free" breakfast at the hotel, (my son loves the waffle maker), we drove the north shore, and opted to take the Scenic Route 61 rather than the highway 61 for 20 miles or so, and weren't disappointed. Very pretty drive right on the lake for most of the way. Stopped at the Two Harbors Chamber of Commerce, and found a chair that must be used by the guy who milks Ehlenbach's cow:

Also made a stop at the Split Rock Light House and took the tour, well worth the minimal cost of admission:

Spent a few hours in Grand Marais, took in the sights, purchased one more small pack at the Lake Superior Trading Post, (we overpacked), and started up the Gunflint Trail off of Route 61. We were hoping to take a picture in front of the large wooden "Gunflint Trail" sign, but found it wasn't there (?). I'm pretty sure we were in the right spot, was it relocated or damaged? Or was I in the wrong spot?

At the end of the Gunflint, about a mile from our outfitters, (Seagull), we see something we haven't seen in any of our previous trips. We've seen bears, eagles, otters, beavers, loons, etc., but never a moose. So what's on the road right near Seagull? One big cow moose and two calves. They wouldn't leave the road, and as I eventually went to pass them, slowly, they ended up jogging down the road right next to our van.

Sunday 7/15 - Finally, entry day. Nice day to paddle.

Took the tow to Red Rock Lake, paddled halfway down the lake and showed our daughter the campsite we stayed at during the July 21, 2016 storm, and showed her the trees that came down right next to our tent. This picture from 2 years ago:

Also tried out my first attempt at a home-made paddle I messed around with this winter. It was functional, and not too heavy, but needs improvement. Nobody liked the grip, and the shaft was too thick. So this one will hang on one of the kid's walls:

Portaged through to Alpine, and made our first camp at site # 478 at the Southern end of Alpine. Site was elevated with a nice view, and wide open with a nice breeze that kept the bugs out, but unfortunately had no good place to fish from shore, and being in a burn area didn't have any decent trees to hang hammocks from, which my kids really wanted to do. I managed to get mine up, but kids were out of luck.

Had the traditional first night steak dinner, (filet mignon, so no bones to carry out), and had a nice sunset:

Monday 7/16 - Woke up to a good breeze Monday morning, ready to eat again. The previous day's explorations discovered blueberries were plentiful and ready to pick, so blueberry pancakes were the order of the day, and they were great. Plenty left for the next groups coming through.

We packed up camp, loaded the canoe, and headed out towards Jasper,,,or so we thought. From the time we started to break camp down until we loaded the canoe, the breeze must have picked up by 20 MPH, and now Alpine was showing nothing but whitecaps. Knowing we didn't have far to reach Jasper, and Jasper and Kingfisher would be more protected, we gave paddling a try. After about 15 minutes of making zero progress, we put our tails between our legs, unloaded the canoe, and set up camp at the same site we just left. Monday was an uneventful day playing cards, reading, eating and prepping our fishing gear. We didn't see any traffic throughout the day in this fairly busy area due to the wind. However, this unexpected base camp day did give the kids a chance to get caught up on their required summer reading for school.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 7/17 and 7/18 - Our original plan was try and make either SAK or Kekekabic, then back track to Seagull outfitters at end of week. Mondays layover day made the itinerary a little tighter, so we decided to paddle through to Ogish and camp there for two nights, then turn around and head back the way we came.

Found a great spot on Ogish, site #792, that had 3-4 nice tent pads, and plenty of nice trees for hammocking, as well as a decent area to fish from shore. Made camp and settled in for 2 nights.

Had a couple of fun, if uneventful days on Ogish, paddling, fishing, exploring, and enjoyed another nice sunset.

Thursday, paddled back through Ogish, Kingfisher, Jasper, Alpine, and after passing a few sites on Seagull that looked like they hadn't been used in years, found a nice site, #457, in the narrow part of the lake on the East side of Three Mile Island.

Did a little fishing, caught some nice bass for dinner, retired early after a long day of travel, and relaxed on Friday just paddling and fishing on our last full day in the BWCA this year.

Saturday morning broke camp and made the short 3 mile or so paddle back to Seagull Outfitters, and prepped for the long drive home.

Though not an extremely tough itinerary, we're calling this trip a huge success. Everybody had fun, no injuries, fishing was decent, kids were able to carry their own weight, packs, put up and take down their own tent and take care of their other gear. Most importantly, my daughter loved it and is ready to go back again next year!