Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

The Long Trip
by Spartan2

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/15/1992
Entry Point: Meeds Lake (EP 48)
Exit Point: Lizz and Swamp Lakes (EP 47)  
Number of Days: 22
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
It was 1992. We were 46 years old, and we didn't realize that this would be the canoe trip before Spartan1 discovered that he had kidney disease. Our children were grown and didn't need "sitters" anymore. Handling type1 diabetes was a challenge. This was before the insulin pump and continuous glucose sensor that he has now--it was syringes, a bottle of insulin, and finger sticks for testing. Still, I think that June we felt invincible. We had planned "the trip of a lifetime" and we were ready to savor the experience. After 21 years of canoe-tripping in the BWCA, a couple of trips in Quetico, also a couple in Algonquin, and most recently an excursion into Temagami, we needed a new challenge. "We have never taken a trip off the Gunflint, so let's try that!" "How about being out in the BWCA for three weeks?" "Sounds like a plan!" I will transcribe my notes verbatim from the typewritten pages in our big album, (even though the mixed tenses in my writing bothers me) but also add a comment or two as we go along. Current comments will be set off with brackets. [ ] Remember please, this is before digital cameras, before cell phones, before we took a camp stool or chair, and before GPS (which we never used anyway.) We navigated with Fisher 100-series maps, and a compass. But it also wasn't back in the days of canvas tents. And before you tell us, we do know that we broke the rules by stopping mid-trip at Sawbill Outfitters for a few items and a quick shower. We had a Grumman aluminum canoe, and Spartan1 had no trouble carrying it. Our packs were huge at the beginning and at least the food pack got lighter! I carried the main food pack. ;-) We have always double portaged and we did on this trip as well. The memories from this trip, in spite of the fact that we didn't do the Louse and Frost Rivers as we had planned. . .well, they are just very special. Even after all of these years, this was my favorite canoe trip. So now we take you back to 1992, perhaps before some of you were born, for our "Trip of a Lifetime".
Part 1 of 24

We left home on June 13 at 6:30 AM, leaving our son, age 20, in charge of the house, sheep, yard and garden. [He had an internship position that summer with Consumers Power in Jackson, so he was spending the summer break from MSU at home, and working days.]

We enjoyed our traditional pasties in view of the Mackinac Bridge, and supper at Grandma Grooter's near Bruce Crossing, Michigan. Stayed at the Crest Motel in Ashland, Wisconsin, which has a nice view of the bay. We took a one-hour walk in the evening along the bay, and saw a little bit of Ashland. [Note: according to the motel sign, "two people, one double bed, $27.95.]

Breakfast on the 14th was at Rustic Roost, Iron River, Wisconsin. By lunchtime, we had traveled through Grand Marais and were at Devil Track Lake, where we had a sandwich at the Skyport Lodge. The significance of this place is that it is the site of Neil's only flying lesson, back in 1967. He was pleased to see the little yellow airplane was still there.

We continued up the Gunflint Trail, which is quite a nice highway, and not a "trail" at all, until arriving at Rockwood Lodge. [This was our first experience in the Gunflint area.] We had arranged to stay at the Rockwood bunkhouse the night before our trip, and to park the car there. I was quite impressed with the main lodge, a lovely old log structure with a magnificent stone fireplace. The bunkhouse is OK, but I was expecting linens. The sleeping bag will be used enough in the next three weeks!

Time was spent driving around looking for our last-minute supplies, more freeze-dried food, post cards, and such. We purchased food from Rockwood, from Poplar Lake Resort, and from Gunflint Outfitters. We also paddled on Poplar Lake for a warmup, and located the portage to Meeds Lake, which would be our entry into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the morning. [Photo is of Rockwood Lodge from Poplar Lake.]

We enjoyed a lovely steak dinner at Rockwood Lodge. The atmosphere is so warm and the people who run the resort are very friendly. I always experience apprehension before a wilderness trip, and staying in such a relaxing place is a really good idea for the night before. [Photo is a post card--the only interior shot we have of the lodge.]

To bed early, for a good night's sleep before the "Ultimate Trip" begins!