Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places

2020 Trips - Larch Creek Solo

By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:June 2-3, 2020
Entry Point:80 - Larch Creek (BWCA)

Unfortunately, the only canoe available to me on this solo outing was a royalex Wenonah. It was heavy, ungainly solo, but at least it put me in the wilderness! Larch Creek EP is little more than a bump-out on the side of the Gunflint where I headed as soon as I got off shift that afternoon. It was a late start, and I hoped to make a decent pace. The plan for the route was to work my way north, eventually to Saganaga, and then paddle back to VCO to get a ride to my car. It was a lot of mileage solo for the amount of time at my disposal, but I was optimistic. From the parking lot, I hauled gear down to the water and took an obligatory picture to commemorate the moment before pushing off. Larch Creek is narrow even early in the season and definitely has a unique feel to it. I wound my way through before finally paddling out into Larch Lake. There was a group camping on the island as I paddled past. Interestingly, I had never paddled the Granite River Route, my dad and I had missed the year that my childhood friends had taken it. I took the portage into Clove and quickly surmised that I had Clove all to myself. It was already about an hour until sundown, so I picked the site next to the portage on the eastern shore and set up before exploring. I paddled north to the sandy campsite overlooking the lake. The bugs were bad, but it definitely was a better site than the one I had picked! In any case, it was south again for me back to my campsite for a late dinner and a well-earned wilderness sunset.

Clove Lake

I woke up the next morning to a stiff wind out of the north. My mind began to swirl about the plan. I definitely wouldn’t be able to stick to my route in this weather. The other option was to explore more around Clove and head back to my car. Or I could head to Magnetic, but how would I get a ride? I could ask one of the Outfitters down there or call a friend? Something would work, right? Well, the portage is right here..... I couldn’t help myself. I set off over the portage and then southbound. The hefty canoe and the earliness of the season meant I was going to be taking multiple trips on the portages sometime today for sure.

On the other side of the portage, I followed the route and pulled off at the next campsite for some notes for the future. I then headed for the Wood Horse Portage. Moccasin Flowers were blooming mid-trail, a lovely dash of color. The infamous notch midway across had me chuckling. Good thing I was tall enough! The remainder of the route was fairly nonchalant up until Little Rock Falls. That turbulent chute of water was pounding with a good deal of vehement angst this day. Early season water levels sure change the landing! I went up the steep way, somewhat amused at the slippery face they call a portage landing. I had thoughts about bushwhacking over to explore the Kerfoot Lakes but decided to leave that for another day.

After the falls, I paddled south into Magnetic Lake and then to the landing. Now the work begins. One of my shortcomings, I suppose, is a general inability to ask for help. Somewhere in my subconscious is a disdain for inconveniencing another person for my comfort or convenience. Anyways, rather than take on the simple solution, I decided that I hadn’t had enough adventuring for the day. I tucked the gear under the canoe at the landing, decided on footwear (I stayed in my wet shoes, crocs weren’t going to cut it), and started the long trek north. It took a few hours of walking to cover the six miles from the Gunflint Landing (the one on South Gunflint Road, not the one by the Cross River) to make it all the way north to the Larch Creek Landing. At least it was a wonderful day for a walk and daydreaming about the power of the Ham Lake wildfire that scarred the surrounding hills. I hopped in the car and heading back to the landing for gear and the canoe. This certainly was not the most epic or memorable Boundary Waters Trip I have ever experienced, but it was a successful start to the season, and good to return to the wilderness when given the opportunity.

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