Seagull Creek

A couple years ago, the kids and I set out one June afternoon to conquer Seagull Creek, where it runs from the north side of the Gunflint Trial, eventually passing under a culvert and flowing into Seagull Lake near Blankenberg beach. It looked intriguing, we had a lovely day,a map, and a few hours before dinner. We took a canoe and gave it a shot. Water levels had come down since early spring when we first had this idea—but really this was the first afternoon with time for an adventure, so we were off.
A few beaver dams later, we realized we should have packed head nets or mosquito repellent. Oops. A few more beaver dams in, we tried to figure out exactly how far we had come. Maps with spidery creeks on them can be deceiving. Should this take an hour? Two hours? Will we be able to get through? We knew that we didn’t want to go BACK over those beaver dams—-2 nasty buggy portages later the water started getting really shallow. Surely we would come to the lake soon??? Another bad portage, plus some major slogging through water too shallow to paddle, but mud as deep as my waist; then we started wondering about time. We were 3 hours in: it would be dark in 3 hours. The lake must be around the corner???? ……we all had lumps in our throats as we decided it would be smarter to turn around and head back through the misery. The only thing worse than the torture of turning back would be to spend the night in this muddy hellhole. At dusk we made it to the car, maybe a little better for it, maybe just bitten and crabby. Daniel declared the experience to be the low point of his life, so far. Shelby was quiet. I vowed never to talk them into paddling Seagull Creek again. I promised that I didn’t purposefully SEEK nasty adventures, even if they might build character…

The next season: heavy rains came in June. We would drive over Seagull Creek and remember the misery of it. Daniel was absolutely relieved –NEVER AGAIN. Shelby and I were quiet. Finally we admitted that we still wanted to conquer it: we were constantly reminded that we lost that battle. So, early one afternoon the two of us packed plenty of water, snacks, head nets, bug dope, sunglasses….everything we thought we might need, and went equipped to take it on. In high water, well prepared— a great adventure, beautiful, easy. We expected the worst, and we couldn’t have been more delighted. Yippee! I’m posting photos from this year’s Seagull Creek trip with staff members Stefan and Ryan. It remains a charming 3 hour trip! The beaver dams are mostly washed out, the portages are almost non-existent. Apparently when it rains enough to paddle across the parking lot in Grand Marais, the impossible Seagull Creek becomes paddleable too.
It just goes to show you—- I know it must show you something. There must be some great life lesson wrapped in this experience. Fun afternoon memory OR mosquito misery, low point. It just depends upon the head net and the water levels.