Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

by CanoeingWithKids

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/17/2022
Entry & Exit Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
People on this trip: Me (mom) Daughter (17) Son (14) Squirt (9)
We drove up from the cities on Tuesday afternoon. We stopped to eat in Grand Marais, and then up the Gunflint we went to start our trip! We made it to Tuscarora Outfitters after hours, but they had a sign out directing us to our bunkhouse. I am thankful we decided to stay in the bunkhouse instead of our tent because it started storming in the wee hours and continued until 8 am. We went to the Outfitters to pick up the canoe, and they said the forecast had called for 1/10 of an inch of rain but it rained 2 inches! They dropped the canoe off for us at the entry point and we loaded up. We had a 21 ft., 3 person canoe, with squirt sitting on a mat in front of my (farthest back) seat, Son (14) in front, and daughter in middle. The plan:make it to Long Island Lake, set up a Basecamp, and explore on daytrips until Sunday, when we had to leave. Day 1: Wednesday We headed out around 8:40 am through an un-named lake. The first portage said 66 rods, but it felt longer. Then another short paddle through another un-named lake to a short portage (30 rods) to Ham Lake. Son decided to carry the canoe for this one and I bet he regretted that decision. The rain left deep, unavoidable puddles and he went calf deep, tennis shoes, socks, and all into several puddles. We paddled across Ham Lake and at the 24 rod portage to Cross Bay Lake, daughter decided to carry the canoe. She didn't warn us that she was turning and cracked me upside the head with the back of the canoe. Man, I got a headache! Easy trek to Cross Bay Lake and off we went. Squirt loved all the lily pads and flowers and tried to touch them as we passed. Next was the 58 rod portage to Rib Lake with me hauling the canoe. Wow! We decided Rib Lake was pretty so we took some pictures before going to check out the campsite. It was empty and we were hungry so we decided to stay for the night and make it to Long Island Lake tomorrow. It was about 1:15. We ate and set up camp. The site was average with 2 acceptable tent pads. Lots of firewood was stacked by the grate, but soaked from the rain. Day 2: Thursday We got up, ate bars and coffee (for me) and hot chocolate (for the kids). We packed up and headed to the portage to Lower George Lake. 35 rods with me under the canoe and we were on our way. From there, we portage 28 rods to Karl Lake. We decided to paddle down the east side rather than portage to the west side. The kids prefer paddling to portaging. We checked out the island site, the next site on the point, the west side of the island site, and the west point on the peninsula, all of which were empty. We loved the last one and made camp. Great views, at least 4 good tent pads, trails, steps up from the canoe landing, this site was amazing! We sat on the rock watching the loons and beavers. There was tons of firewood so we built a fire and looked at the stars. It rained over night, but no lightening. Day 3: Friday We decided to stay put because the site was great and we were tired. It rained off and on all day. We decided to take an afternoon paddle to check out the west side of the lake. Most of the sites we passed were occupied. The weather started to look bad again so we started back to camp. It started raining and the wind picked up a bit. I said we need to hurry in case it storms. Son decided to power paddle like a maniac! I didn't realize how strong he has become. We made it back just in time for the rain to taper off...of course. We ate a quick meal and spent the evening in the tent playing cards and reading since the rain wouldn't give up. We decided we would pack up in the morning and move closer to the exit, since we realized it would probably take us 6+ hours to get back before a long drive home. We discussed Ham or Snipe Lake. Kids didn't want to do the 80 rod portage to Snipe, but I wanted to see it so we slept on it. Day 4: Saturday I talked the kids into heading to Snipe Lake by saying I would carry the canoe both ways. So we packed up and headed out. We passed some guys on the portage to Cross Bay Lake who were wondering about mushrooms. I am no expert so I couldn't help, but they did say Snipe had at least 1 open site. I showed them our site on Long Island since that's where they were going and we were off. The portage to Snipe was a rock climb, but still seemed easier than the very first 66 rod between the un-named lakes. We found the first site on Snipe empty and took it. It was nice, except the fire grate was on top of a rock with no seating. Only 1 good tent pad. We found minnows at the canoe landing and the kids spent hours trying to catch them and swimming. The weather was warm and sunny again. We ate and then went on an evening paddle around Snipe. We had another beaver friend swimming around the site. The kids were sad at bedtime because it was the last night and Noone wanted to go home. We watched the stars, but it got cold, so we went to bed. Day 5: Sunday We woke up to a very chilly morning with fog over the lake. It was beautiful. I could hear the beaver, but the fog was too thick to see him. We ate and packed up. It got sunny and warm in that time and we headed out. We saw a bald eagle over Ham Lake and then made it back to the Entry Point. The kids decided if we don't paddle, we can't leave. We reluctantly unloaded the canoe and loaded the truck. The Tuscarora guys were there to load up the canoe before we even finished loading the truck. We stopped to get souvenirs before the long drive home. This trip was so much fun! The kids decided they like moving and changing campsites rather than basecamping. They like paddling more than portaging. They love the BWCA and can't wait to go back. There was talk of summer jobs at Outfitters. Mission accomplished. Thank you BWCA! Can't wait for next year!