BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 22 2013
Number of Permits per Day: 11
Elevation: 1205 feet
Seagull Lake - 54
September 08, 2010
Number of Days:
I drove the 7 hours up to Trail's end today. I didn't really get moving until about 10:00am. This included a stop at the Tofte ranger station to pick up a permit and watch the video. I did sneak into McDonald's for breakfast but skipped lunch. Supper tonight would be in the BW!! But the entire drive, I kept saying to myself "Why am I doing this? Do you really know what you are doing?" and other fun thoughts. It had been over 10 years since I had been up the Gunflint Trail. I was wondering what had changed since the blow-down.
Thankfully, the trip up was uneventful. Once I got to Trail's End, checked out the old sites I was familiar with, and got the canoe unloaded off the car and into Seagull it was about 5:45pm. I was starting to get worried about finding a site for the night. I quickly paddled west, went through the small gap onto the main lake, and continued heading west. The sun was not my friend tonight, I was afraid that it would be dark before I found an open site! After doubting my map skills, I chose to find the first site I had decided to check out (which was, fortunately, very close). Due to my unfamiliarity with my new map (Voyageur) and the unknown factor of how far I can paddle, I was starting to doubt the wisdom of coming in this late in the day. After more than a few pauses to check where I was (there are more islands on this lake than the maps show), I found it. It was empty! And it seemed like it would do for the night. I quickly found where the biff was, set up my tent, and warmed up my supper (Dinty Moore Compleat Beef Stew). This was great! I wasn't sure if this was a great site yet, but there was even a nice stack of wood waiting for me to use. Thank you, whoever did that! I hung out by my small fire while eating my meal and thanked the Lord that I was there. I had finally made it. I woke up 3x this night. The first was shortly after going to bed around 9:15pm. I was cold. My BA 15 degree bag just wasn't cutting it. I'm guessing it was maybe 50 degrees out, so I guess I'm a wuss. I put on my longjohns and crashed 'till nature called. Then it was sleepytime until daylight woke me up.
48 degree low/62 degree high. Winds E/SE 5-15 mph.
I'm not certain what time I woke this am, my cell died (I left it on to use as a watch, mine has gone AWOL since July.) I got up, filtered some water, then made coffee and breakfast (Oatmeal & some pre-made bacon). I took a few early morning pics, and tried to get a few from my firepit, facing east.
It was turning out to be a nice, sunny day.
After breakfast, I decided to explore some of the other campsites in the area. I hadn't decided if I was going to attempt a loop or just "hang out" on Seagull for a few days. But I saw these ducks taking their morning swim before I left camp.
I checked out maybe four sites before heading back for lunch. Well, three. I never did find one of them that should have been in view from the site I was on. None were as nice as mine :) I adjusted my rating up a bit for where I was at. I initially thought it was a 2, now it's definately a 3. These were the sites west and southwest of my island.
After lunch (another Dinty Moore Compleate, but this time chicken alfredo, I think) I decided to check out some of the other campsites in the area and also the portage to Grandpa lake. I also decided to troll while I was paddling around. No bites while trolling. Once I found the portage, I decided to walk it to see what I may be getting myself into. Now, realize, I have only been on one other canoe trip. The longest portage I had ever taken was from one of the Paunesses to Shell. So I was trying to rate this portage against the few I had already traversed. At least a half an hour and 1,840 steps later, I was finally looking at Gpa lake! It was beautiful. But I could see someone else camped at the eastern/southern site, so I went back to my canoe and trolled home. I figure it was somewhere between 205-240 rods. So I had walked at least what, a mile? This portage was far more challenging than the Shell portage had been, and about the same length! I am giving this one an 8. Lots of ups and downs mixed in with low boggy patches. I could see why there were boards stacked at the beginning of this portage. It looked like they were going to 'redo' some of the low spots with planks. And I was getting hungry. While on my way back, I picked up a few pieces of dry beaver wood and driftwood from the shoreline (I know, I know, but I left more than I took!) and I had 2 hits. One was maybe a perch (it threw itself off my lure, believe it or not) and the other was a smaller largemouth. He wasn't large enough for supper so I resigned myself to the fact that I would be having Dinty Moore again tonight. After supper I had another nice fire. All in all, it was a satisfying day. I could feel the worry flowing out of me. I can do this. I'll just take it easy this trip and plan something different next time.
I have seen and/or heard at least 3 motorboats today. And three groups paddling around.
I'm not sure when I went to bed tonight, the stars were beautiful. I woke up 3x (again), once due to 'nature' calling.
55 degree low/68 degree high. Winds E/SE 10-25 mph.
I woke up late again, maybe 8:45-9am? I saw two groups out on the lake during my late breakfast. Oatmeal again, yum! And at least 3 cups of coffee (I lost track). The wind is stronger this morning, still out of the east/se. GRRR. The wind has to be blowing from the ONE direction that could make this site miserable. I content myself with studying my map for a bit to see what other sites I can find today and read more Ecclesiastes. I decide that I won't go far unless the wind dies down a bit and drink yet another cup of coffee. If the sun comes out, I'll paddle around the east side of three mile island and try to check more sites off of my list. Another group comes canoeing past my site while I sit and wait for some sun and for the wind to go down. I really don't care for cold, windy days. Cold I can tolerate, wind I can't stand. At least there were no bugs to speak of so far this trip. Little did I know when I set off that my adventure was just beginning!
I finally decide to get off my butt and go canoeing. It's why I was here, right? Since I was not going to be portaging anywhere I figured that I had better make the most of the lake I was camped out on. Seagull is very interesting. It has high rocky areas, burnt out, blown down areas, and then near pristine tree laden areas also.
Overall, it was a neat place to explore. The first few sites I came across were OK. There was one on Fishhook Island that had a great sandy beach on the north side, but not very many trees. Because of that beach, tho, I'd give it at least 2 stars. I saw this group of adventurers while checking out the site on Fishhook island. After paddling around for quite a while longer (while constantly checking my map/compass) I decided that maybe I was halfway around three mile island. It was very windy on this side! My canoe loved the challenge, she kept bouncing along, happy as could be. I was grateful that I had such a seaworthy vessel. These were 1.5-2' rollers I was in now. At one point, I allowed the wind to carry me near the shoreline and spotted these markings along a cliff. Pictos? On three mile island? I hadn't heard there were any here, but you be the judge. I didn't stay long, I barely had enough time to take the one pic before the wind had almost pushed me into the rocks. About this time, I noticed the group I had taken a picture of earlier. Finally! Another campsite to check out! But alas, it looked like they were taking a lunch break. As I paddle closer, one of them flags me down. Seems like they needed some direction. I told them as near as I could tell, they were probably halfway down this side of three mile island and were standing on the first campsite on Wolf Point, according to the map. They had thought they were much farther, and were completely lost. I was amazed. Their map reading skills were worse than mine! They were heading toward Alpine lake for some fishing. I wished them luck and told them to keep heading West/SW. Once they cleared this island, there should have been a large (windy) section of lake to cross, and then the portage. They thanked me and I was on my way. I never did get a good look at that site, but it looked like it had an OK landing area (albeit all rock) and quite a bit of a slope that went up. It was still windy here. As I paddled around the corner away from them, I found two more sites. The western site on Wolf Point was beautiful! It had room for at least 3 tents, a large sandy beach, and still had all of its trees! The blowdown/fire had not damaged this site. Humanity had taken its toll (It was a well used site) but nature had not. I bumped this up to a 5 star on my list of sites, and debated with myself about how great a site I was actually on. I'm thinking 3-4 stars now. From what I had seen, I was fortunate to find such a great open site on this lake! Now if only I could do something about this E/SE wind ...
It may have been around 3pm (?) and I had gone around the SW end of three mile island when I realized something horrible! I had forgotten my life jacket at the beautiful site I had seen earlier! NOOOOOO! The wind was not a factor now, it was almost driving me home. I was making good time. So I checked my map (again) and deduced that I had 3 choices. 1: Keep going and say goodbye to Mr. Lifejacket and all that it had contained (1st aid kit, thermometer, my SAFETY while on the water). 2: Paddle back, against the wind, into the rollers, 1/3 of the way around the island (I had realized this when I was at least 45minutes to 1 hr away from the site). 3: "Bushwhack" back to that site from a site I had been at the previous day which was almost directly north of where I had left my lifejacket. It looked like maybe 120 rods. That didn't look too far, considering I had taken a 205-240 rod portage the day before. And it looked fairly flat according to my map, except for the two 'edges' of the island. I decide to bushwhack. My friends have been talking about doing one anyway, what better way to see what one may be like than trying to go from point A to point B on an island, without any gear? I found a decent place to tie off my canoe, grabbed my water bottle and some salted nut rolls and headed off. Here is a pic of the last time I could see my canoe when I headed up the cliff and into the unknown. After slowly making my way up and down a few large rocks (really not cliffs here, just huge boulders the size of a house), skirting a marsh on a moose trail, and then finally finding a game trail (HEAVEN compared to a straight bushwhack!) For those of you with a map, I went from camp 473-camp 459. I arrived at my destination (459). I ended up right in the middle of the camp I sought! And there, in all its glory, was my lifejacket! Right where I had left it. *DUH* I'll never do that again. After taking at least a 10 minute break, I slogged my way back. I never did find a decent trail after the game trail ended, but here is where I ended up when I finally reached the water where my canoe was. Not too bad for a newb with a compass! Believe it or not, it took me at least another 15-20 minutes to GET to that canoe from where I was standing in that picture. The crisis was over! I had rescued my belongings, and I was headed back toward 'home' for the night. What an interesting day this had been. I had learned that yes, I can paddle my canoe thru 2' rollers. I could use my compass competently. And I NEVER want to bushwhack somewhere with gear unless I am in much better shape! The wind started picking up as I was headed back toward my campsite, but since it was blowing my way (for once) it was a non-factor. I saw these eagles while on my way back.
Once I arrived back at camp, I had another cup of coffee (love my instant Cappuccino!) and layered up to get warmer. The sun had disappeared again and it looked like rain. Once more, I had some beef stew. Once I had started my meager fire, I took down my tarp. Why pack it up in the morning, wet, when I could do it now, while it's still dry? I didn't really need it at any time while I was there. My tent will keep me dry tonight. I sit around tonight and enjoy my last fire and contemplate what I have done, what I still have to do before heading out, and enjoy the fact that I am here. I did it. I head off to bed once it starts drizzling, and sleep fairly soundly tonight.
55 degree low/65 degree high. Winds W/SW 5-15 mph.
Today is the day! I get to pack up, head out, and then drive another 7-8 hrs down to Hudson for Wing Nite! It rained most of the night, and it looks like it will be raining again soon. I have a cup of coffee, pack up my gear and load the canoe, have ONE LAST cup of jo and then head out. For once, the wind is heading my way. My plan was to get over to the cafe at Trail's End (Way of the Wilderness Cafe?) and have a big breakfast before heading out. These are pictures of the gap I was heading toward. And this is a group putting in. I had no idea what time it was, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally checked in the car. I had packed everything up, loaded the vehicle, and strapped down the canoe by 9:30am! WOOHOO! I am guessing that I was getting up earlier than I thought I was.
This 'excursion' was important to me. The title says it all. It showed me what kind of shape I was truely in. For those of you who don't know, I had been ill since Nov 18 of last year. In late January, they decided what it was: cancer. After 6 treatments of chemo(thru June) it is now in remission and, after 3 more months, I am 'back' to maybe 90% of what I used to be. I am now 42. When I was 41, I didn't know if I'd ever see 42. I went on this trip to see where I was at, physically, and also for a bit of a mental break from the grind of being stuck at home for almost a year. The Lord has blessed me and my family by keeping me around for hopefully at least another 42 years :)