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

2020 Trips - Like Old Times

By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:August 31, 2020 - September 2, 2020
Entry Point:58 - South Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Bearskin, Duncan, Gunflint, Little Gunflint, North, Rat, Rose, South

For this trip, we put in at South Lake with a heavy tailwind. There was large chop rolling down Gunflint Lake. Somewhat nerve-wracking to be sure, but I was confident in my ability to keep the craft straight. We rode the tailwind with incredible speed, reaching the beach at the far end of Gunflint in just under an hour and a half! It was an evening start and our entry permit was the next day so we happily took our site on the railway portage as a place to spend the night.

The next morning, we worked our way over into North Lake before taking Height of Land into the BWCAW. It was incredible to see the amount of storm damage here: nearly every tree on South seemed to be blown over. We worked out way east little by litte, first through Rat and then into Rose. On Rose, we took the same site I stayed at earlier in the summer with big trees, a small beach landing, and a wonderful view of the palisades across the way, it’s a Boundary Waters classic. We took afternoon naps before heading out unsuccessfully for fishing.

Come daybreak, the wind was whipping which only sought to reinforce the story from my childhood that Duncan Lake is always windy. Every time we had been there together it was windy and he has strong memories of our canoe spinning there. It was amusing to see the weather cooperate with this notion. We spent some time at Rose Falls, hiking up to one of the overlooks, and enjoying the sunny morning. Duncan, not to disappoint, was well into whitecaps by the time we arrived. The waves were coming sort of out of the northwest this day, partially a tailwind and partially a cross. I had some work ahead to keep us moving towards the portage. Little by little, we bobbed and bounced all the way towards the portage. Just offshore, it became apparent that we would not be landing safely. I gave the order to abandon ship at about 10 feet out and we walked it in to avoid the outfitted kevlar becoming boulder bait! The portage out of Duncan is another classic and a personal favorite of mine. It was fun to reminisce about childhood especially as we paddled into the landing on Bearskin where I carried a canoe for the first time those years before. We passed through this lot on all of our trips during my childhood and being back was certainly a fun way to wrap up the adventure. It was another wonderful couple of days in Canoe Country!

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