Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Hanging out north of the South Arm
by TuscaroraBorealis

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/18/2020
Entry & Exit Point: Saganaga Lake (EP 55)
Number of Days: 11
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I struggled some on my spring trip last year. So, in an effort to be better prepared, I hiked 3-4 miles every few days or so with my pack on my back prior to this trip. This served as a double victory as I engaged in an ongoing spiritual program (Exodus 90) in February, and one of the requirements was to get vigorous exercise on a regular basis. Ironically, a solo trip to the BWCA incorporated many of the disciplines that Exodus 90 suggests so, I kind of felt like I was cheating. Never the less, my stamina and endurance was much improved over last year as the route I chose had some fairly difficult portages which didn't pose any serious hindrance and I had the confidence to go where I wanted on this route.
Day 1 of 11
Monday, May 18, 2020

Before I head out today, Aurora has a minor episode as my parenting time comes to an end and I drop her off with her Mother. Seems she wants to come with on my trip. I tell her our trip together will be here before you know it and we will certainly have fun together but, we will need to wait until then. She begrudgingly ambles over to her Mother’s vehicle, as I transfer her backpack and belongings. Deep down, I wish she could come too.

It’s a gorgeous evening and I enjoy the solitary back roads drive up to Grand Marais. Town is all ripped up so, I turn off at the old Gunflint Trail sign in the middle of town to avoid the worst of the road construction. I must admit, for the past several years I have largely ignored the venerable marker and just driven on by without paying much attention but; I need to get out and stretch for a minute or two, so I crawl out and get a quick photo for posterity sake.

Once I hook up with the Gunflint Trail it doesn’t take long before the wilderness begins to showcase, and parade, its wonderful diversity. I encounter a couple of whitetail deer before reaching the Pincushion overlook and as I approach the Iron Lake campground vicinity; a beaver, mother fox with kits and a cow moose all cross the road in reasonably quick succession. This trip is off to quite the start!

It isn’t quite dark as I make the left turn down the winding Tuscarora Lodge road. I quickly glance at the water level of the Cross river as I pass by and make a mental note of it. Doesn’t seem too high or low. As I am pulling in, there is a helpful large sign just off the driveway directing me to my bunkhouse. It is quiet and no one seems to be about so, I take a little exploratory trek down to the lake. It sure feels good to be here and get out and stretch the legs. I cannot claim to have had many bad experiences with any of the outfitters that service canoe country. But, for me personally, there is just something extra special about Tuscarora Outfitters. Most others are situated in town or on a reasonably busy and populated lake. Tuscarora is tucked away in its own little corner of the world more so than any other outfitter I’m aware of so, there is an immediate sensation of quiet other worldliness and being ‘away from it all’ when arriving here. It doesn’t hurt that the area covered by Voyageur map #6 (which is a personal favorite) is in their wheelhouse of main areas they service or, that Andy and Ada are truly phenomenal hosts who are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure your trip is the best that it can be.

Silently retreating to my bunkhouse; I make a mental note of what I need to do and remember tomorrow morning and, fumble around getting a few things better situated for departure, before succumbing to the ever-increasing demands of my heavy eyelids.