Poplar to Gaskin - September 2017


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Dates:September 16-20, 2017
Entry Point:47 - Lizz & Swamp Lakes (BWCA)
Type:Canoeing
Lakes:Caribou, Gaskin, Horseshoe, Lizz, Poplar, Winchell

Planned and took this trip with an old friend from my hometown. Our last BWCA trip together was back in 1990. We flew into MSP from Dallas and Denver. We drove up to the North Shore and stayed at a resort on night #1. As we passed through Silver Bay an amazing lightning show began and lasted well into the night. We later learned that there was some dicey weather in the BWCA that night. On day #2 we did some last minute shopping in Grand Marais and headed up to Rockwood Outfitters by 1:00 p.m. We got situated in our bunkhouse and picked out our canoe, blue barrel, and an extra pack. I had some of my equipment shipped to them and they had it waiting when I arrived. We test paddled some canoes, repacked, and headed to the Trail Center for dinner. On day #3 we got up, showered and had a nice breakfast at the Trail Center before finally shoving off from Rockwood at 10:15 a.m. The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of the year and the mosquitoes were out. The night before we had an inch or so of rain so the portages were muddy. It had rained for 4 days and we ran into 3 groups coming out on that Saturday morning by the time we hit the 2nd portage. We paddled through Poplar, Lizz, Caribou, and Horseshoe ending up on Gaskin by 3:00 p.m. As we entered Gaskin we saw 5 canoes of people so we were a little worried. As it turned out they were all staying on other lakes and came to Gaskin to explore and fish. We ended up in one of the best campsites in the BWCA (#628) so we base camped for 5 days. That night we experienced some heavy downpours. Day #4 was as windy as I have ever experienced. We stayed put in camp all day. We moved the tent, moved the tarp and cut and split firewood. Day #5 was warm and sunny so we ventured over to Winchell. The portage from Gaskin to Winchell was a mud pit so we left the canoe on Gaskin and walked over to Winchell and back. We explored Gaskin, got some more firewood, and checked out the other campsites on the lake. There was only one other site occupied. Day #6 was another fine day. We swam, showered (Sea to Summit Pocekt Shower), read, fished (not even a bite) and tried to eat some of the food we overpacked. That night we had some pretty good thunderstorms. The lightning was again non-stop and the rain was heavy. Day #7 was our exit day so we got up and packed up our wet gear and headed back to EP #47. Gaskin was calm, but Horeshoe was windy and wet. It was raining sideways head-on and although it was only rain, it was very cold and felt like sleet. Before we exited Horseshoe the wind had died down and the temp had risen. Once again the portages were all pretty wet. Caribou was calm and was an easy paddle. Lizz was like glass. As we entered Poplar the sun came out and we had a beautiful paddle across Poplar back to Rockwood where Mike met us at the shore. We elected to spend the night in the bunkhouse again so we hung up our wet gear to dry, took a shower, and headed out to check out the end of the Gunflint. Although it was a nice drive, we ended up once again back at the Trail Center for a fabulous steak dinner. On day #8 we packed up, settled our bill, and headed to Grand Marais for breakfast and more exploring before heading down to Duluth to spend the remainder of the trip. I would choose this route again. You cannot beat the service at Rockwood by Mike, Carl and their wives; it is top-notch. This was also the first time I had used my Chota Hippes and Chota Caney Fork boots. I could never imagine tripping without them again. It is so nice to pull them off at the end of the day and have dry socks and feet! They are so light and comfortable you don't even know you have them on. It was also my first voyage in a Wenonah Boundary Waters canoe. It is the most stable canoe that I have ever paddled. Despite it's size and shape it still weighs only 42 lbs., tracks well, and is efficient on the water. With two large guys and 140 lbs. of equipment we clipped right along at about 3.5 mph. This is also my first trip utlizing a bunkhouse. This is also another must have amenity for the future.