Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

EPIC winter crossing 2021
by SoMNDan

Trip Type: Snowshoeing
Entry Date: 01/30/2021
Entry Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Exit Point: Saganaga Lake Only (EP 55A)  
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Let me start by saying our group has a history of trips that commonly elicit the phrase, “You’re going to do what?!” Not that we are claiming to be all that extreme-We’ve met quite a few along the way doing things we never would nor could. Roughly 20 years ago, our trip leader started talking about winter camping, even in the BWCA, maybe even a long-distance crossing. The rest of us hadn’t seriously considered a winter night in our backyards and poo-pooed the crazy talk. Yet here we were, van dropped at lake Sag and spending one last night in a hotel in Ely, going through gear and stowing anything non-essential, making sandwiches at a feverish pace.
Day 1 of 4
Saturday, January 30, 2021: Day 1 - Fast Start - Moose to Knife

After scouring the streets of Ely for a cafe that failed to mention they weren’t really open at 5 AM after all, and loading up on Deli Express goods at a local convenience store, we headed Northeast for Moose Landing. Having the sleds packed the night before, loaded and ready to go meant we were able to unload quickly, strap on the backcountry skis and pulks and hit the lake by 8:30. Lighter pulks and the great ice we had been hearing about helped us cover the length of our 2020 base camp trip to the crossover to Newfound in just over an hour. As in 2020, we saw open water where Moose meets Newfound but were able to ski over the land crossing and avoid the soft water. Continuing to follow the sled dog trails through Newfound, over the winter use trail into Splash Lake went well and our hopes were high to at least get to the end of Ensign. Several sandwiches, energy bars and a few water breaks later, let’s just say Ensign is another big lake and we were seeing some light snow as we reached the end and hit the winter use trail through the swamp to Vera. The snow continued to fall so we pushed on through Portage Lake as the hotspots started on the heels signaling the blister making. Although we were starting to feel like the 50 year olds we are, we thought it would be best if we could reach Knife, where we expected the dog sled tracks to end, before the snow covered them overnight anyway. Vera was a tough go and we were really pushing by the time we saw the bay back to the winter crossing to Portage Lake. Since we had set a goal of 3 PM layup regardless, we decided to push on, needing to be able to say we made Knife in a day and after a short crossing, slid down the portage wiped out, but proud to set up camp on Knife. ~Moose Lake, Newfound Lake, Splash Lake, Ensign Lake, Vera Lake, Portage Lake, Knife Lake