Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Escaping the 'Real World' - First Timers in BWCA
by tiggy

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/29/2019
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Exit Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes (EP 47)  
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Last fall when debating where to go on vacation in 2019, my husband asked "what about BWCA"? It was a location that hadn't really been on my radar, but after some quick research looked to be a great fit for us. We both have fairly hectic jobs and wanted a chance to challenge ourselves while disconnecting from the chaos of everyday life. To avoid my habit of designing an itinerary that results in "needing a vacation from our vacation", we opted to go with an every other day is a layover day plan. After some excellent suggestions here, we settled on a one-way route from Cross Bay to Poplar.
Part 1 of 9
We began our journey flying out from the East coast after work on Tuesday. Thankfully, no major traffic delays getting to the airport and this was probably one of the smoothest trips through airport security that we’ve ever had. Apparently Tuesday evening is the time to fly! The stress of trying to get everything tied up at work and packed slowly began to recede.

After an uneventful flight and successfully retrieving the luggage, we picked up the rental car and headed off to the hotel. Priceline turned up the AmericInn Bloomington, which was perfectly fine for one night. Given the late hour of our arrival and time change, we quickly drifted off to sleep. Wednesday morning awoke bright and sunny. Attempting to avoid rush hour in Minneapolis, it was a relaxed morning. We made a pit stop at a local grocery store to pick up most of our last minute provisions and found a Lands End Inlet for a couple non-trip items. Our shopping was curtailed when ran into a computer outage at another store and didn’t feel like waiting around for the cash registers to return to service.

With traffic dying down, we started our journey northwards. We quickly cruised up to Cloquet and made a pit stop at Gordy’s Hi-Hat for lunch. The onion rings and shakes were delish. Feeling totally stuffed and finally at vacation relaxation levels, we took the scenic route north out of Duluth heading on for Grand Marais.

Sadly, World’s Greatest Donuts was already sold out for the day, but we did manage to snag some boxed wine. Also picked up steaks for our first night’s dinner and Subway for breakfast/lunch the next day. Fully provisioned, we turned up the Gunflint Trail keeping an eye out for wildlife. Sadly, the only variety we saw was of the two-legged variety.

Upon arrival at Rockwood, we quickly got checked in and dropped our luggage in the bunkhouse. We’d reserved a partial outfitting package and Mike took great care ensuring we had everything we’d need for a successful trip. We got some advice on recommended campsites, current conditions reports, and some ideas on places we might want to see on our route. Fully loaded, we headed back up to the bunkhouse get everything packed for the morning. The weather had turned greyer, windier, and a bit damp as we headed north. Forecast for Thursday morning was also a bit drippy, so we made sure the leave the raingear out for the morning. Settled and repacked, we took a quick jaunt down to the Trail Center for dinner. Upon returning, we grabbed our last shower for a week and turned in for the night.