May 2021 Father-Son Trip to Crocodile
And so it began. We departed home at 9am, with my wife and daughter giving us a sweet sendoff. Josef was immediately on his laptop, fully engaged in school. We stopped in Hinckley to fill up, grab coffee, and check canoe straps, and then again in Two Harbors over his lunch period for his favorite Subway sandwich.
All the way up the shore, the big lake was virtually hidden by a wall of fog while we drove in perfectly sunny and clear conditions on Hwy 61. Pretty cool effect, though I missed seeing the vast expanse of the lake.
Another brief stop at Fika in Lutsen (a must-stop for our Swedish-heritage family) before hitting the Gunflint Ranger Station. Following protocol, we called when we arrived in the parking lot and the ranger met us outside. After assuring the ranger we had dutifully watched all of the videos, she administered an oral exam (which Josef aced) and we drove off with our permit. We stopped briefly at the Trading Post and Johnson’s Foods for a few last-minute items and enjoyed some time skipping rocks and hunting for beach glass at the harbor. The lake fog we encountered all the way up the shore hung thickly over the harbor and encroached on the town.
We made our way up the trail and arrived at HJO at 4:30pm. Mayflies were flying on Hungry Jack and we wondered what that might mean for fishing on Croc (turns out, we encountered no mayflies on Croc).
We met Nancy for a friendly chat and check-in. Looking around their main office, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of familiarity, and not just because we’ve stayed there before. Then it hit me, this is the same office as the one in the permit video. And Nancy was in the video, playing the mom character!
After checking in, we made an immediate beeline to Trail Center for our long-awaited fish and chips and ribs. Due to our schedule, we knew we wouldn’t get the classic post-trip meal, so we took the opportunity to treat ourselves prior to entry. Indulgent, yes. Delicious, absolutely. Regrets, none.
Eyelids were heavy after a big meal and a long day of driving, so we organized our packs and settled in for a surprisingly good night of sleep.