Frost River and Beyond with Bear, Hobbit, and Mountain Goat
by straighthairedcurly

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/22/2020
Entry Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Exit Point: Brant Lake (EP 52)  
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Originally this trip was planned for just me and my husband. However, our 16 year old joined us after his Camp Menogyn Nor'Wester was cancelled due to the pandemic. Our trip was originally going to include the Frost River and the Louse River, but we altered our route after the Frost River. Our group included: Bear = my husband who has a bear's keen sense of smell Hobbit = me, since I like to munch on small meals throughout the day Mountain Goat = my son who seems to levitate up sheer rock faces with a canoe or pack
Day 1 of 9
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

We planned to leave the house at 3am. Everything was on track until the teenager got hungry and had to make toast. So we left at 3:30am instead. We had 2 reasons for leaving that early:

1) We have been avoiding staying overnight in any indoor places due to the pandemic.

2) We were driving my husbands new Chevy Bolt EV. Since this was the first road trip with it, we wanted extra time to check out different charger locations, even if we didn't need to use them this trip. And, of course, needed time to charge at one station.

Our first stop was in Moose Lake and it took us a little bit to find the charging station in the dim early morning light. We didn't need to charge, but tried it out anyway for a bit, while hubby downed his thermos of coffee. Disappointed to find out it was rated for only 50kW when the website had it listed as higher. After 20 minutes, we decided to continue to Duluth. This was the last site we planned to use to charge up before driving all the way to Tuscarora Lodge. We picked up a breakfast to-go at the Perkins on the way into Duluth and then ate it while the car charged.

We didn't stop in Grand Marais since there is no charger there (hmm, missed opportunity Grand Marais? update: they have one planned, just not built yet) and went to Trail Center for some lunch. This year, we decided to rent a 3-person canoe from Tuscarora for the first time. We have outgrown having the 3 of us all pile into our Mad River canoe, especially for a 9 day trip. Our Old Town Tripper would be big enough, but it is just too heavy these days for taking on a trip with lots of portages. Tuscarora also had a basic outlet for us to use for charging the car while out on trail. We were the first non-Tesla EV to charge there. That resulted in a few glitches, but it all worked out fine. Wonderful people at Tuscarora!

After Bear sorted out some gear he hadn't prepped 100%, we got on the water about 1pm. While the drive up had been rainy and misty, the sun came out as we pulled away from the landing. We single portaged the 66 rodder, but that was only because Mountain Goat portaged our yellow Sealline 115L (56 lbs) on his back and the pack basket (30 lbs) on his front. I took the Earthpak 55L (41 lbs) on my back and CCS rucksack (12 lbs) on my front which was a lighter combo than I started with on my solo trip. Bear carried the canoe and quickly discovered how different it is to portage a 20 foot canoe compared to a 17 footer. Tight turns on portages were not his friend.

On the next couple portages, we decided to have one person go back for the pack basket, but on the last portage into Long Island Lake, Bear felt his muscles were warmed up enough to take the pack basket and canoe together so we single portaged again.

Wow! The 3-person canoe is very different. It is wicked fast, especially with all 3 of us paddling, but tough to turn as crisply as we are accustomed to do. As I mentioned, the turning radius on portages also required some adjustments. The seats are much lower than our canoes, but it was nice to have a seat for the center person, along with the option for them to paddle. We adapted pretty quickly.

Did I mention that they gave us a brand NEW canoe. There was only one scratch on it where they had set it on the ground for us at the landing. Big responsibility! We had a lot of boulders just under the surface on today's route, but we successfully avoided them all.

The campsite we wanted on the island on Long Island Lake was occupied, the next campsite didn't meet Mountain Goat's standards, so Bear and I reluctantly agreed to keep paddling to site 566 which was at least convenient for our route the next day. Mountain Goat liked the sandy, not so much. I have a thing about sand on my gear. The main part of this campsite is up a set of stairs. Great tree for hanging our food, a couple good hammock spots and a small spot for me to pitch my 1 person tent.

~Ham Lake, Cross Bay Lake, Rib Lake, Lower George Lake, Karl Lake, Long Island Lake

Travel time: 1:00pm-4:30pm 3 hours