Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

2020 Brant to Missing Link Solo Loop
by petzval

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/14/2020
Entry Point: Brant Lake (EP 52)
Exit Point: Missing Link Lake (EP 51)  
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
This was my fourth trip in the Boundary Waters and my second solo. I got a somewhat-purposeful late start on planning, and higher than normal BWCA usage in September helped me settle on the Brant Lake entry point. I knew that I would be spending as many as five nights in the wilderness with a goal of exiting through Missing Link Lake via one of several possible routes. I had spent the summer acquiring most of the equipment that I would need other than a canoe and emergency satellite device which I rented from Tuscarora. I ended up really lucking out with the weather, and this has been my favorite trip yet! I feel like I added a few more skills, and I've gained confidence in my navigation skills. I pushed myself a bit out of my comfort (but never safety) zone, and I feel like I've really learned about the type of trip I like to do and what is optimal for my enjoyment.
Part 1 of 7
Day 0 September 13, 2020

I left my home in the Twin Cities right around 10 AM, wanting to give myself time to get to Tuscarora before they closed so that I could get an early start the next day. It was fairly overcast at home, but the weather really got beautiful once I got north of Duluth. I thought to myself, “if I can just get one day like this in the wilderness, I will be very happy.” Just north of the Temperance River State Park parking area on Highway 61, I saw a black bear cub crossing the road. That would prove to be my most significant wildlife encounter of the trip, but it was still such a thrill!

I got to county road 47 just before 4 PM and stopped at the Cross River put-in point for a quick gander before settling up with Andy at Tuscarora. It was still a beautiful day, and I counted 11 cars in the Cross River parking lot (there were only two or three the year before). Andy was able to sell me a few partially used camp stove fuel canisters as there was no stock anywhere in the Twin Cities (and even he didn't have full canisters available to sell). I told him about my potential routes and contingencies, and he mentioned that making it to Little Saganaga would definitely be worthwhile with the amount of time I had. I got the satellite device functioning and connected to by wife and kids back home and had a simple dinner out of my cooler (that was staying in the truck during my journey) before retiring shortly after sun-down.

My most crucial preparation.

Fall colors stating to pop at Tuscarora.

Wish I had brought another blanket...

Hope I'm bringing enough stuff...