Tagged: Cross Bay

Frost River Adventure

What do Tuscarora staff members do on their days off? Some of us go fishing; others sleep in or hike on a nearby trail or drive to Grand Marais for time on Lake Superior. And this past week four of us decided to spend two nights and a day off in the best way that I personally can imagine: exploring the lakes and rivers that make up our wilderness backyard. Elizabeth was pretty excited too:


We decided on a Frost River loop, which started down our driveway at Cross River public access and took us south through Ham, Cross Bay, Long Island, and Frost Lake to the Frost River before turning back north through Mora, Crooked, and Gillis and taking us home through Round. We felt like the Lewis and Clark expedition as we paddled through this relatively remote area of the Boundary Waters.


Soon after starting on Monday afternoon, we discovered that our equipment pack was a LOT heavier than we remembered packing it. Good thing Shelby’s brother Dan had remembered to slip in one of these rocks for us…they come in so handy out on trail.


We camped at Long Island Lake our first night and woke up to sunshine, oatmeal, a gentle breeze, and syrup shots (we ended up making a little more than we needed and didn’t want to leave a trace!).

LongIslandBfast LongIslandCampView

Once we got to the Frost, it started feeling really Lewis-and-Clark-y. Anything could be waiting around each grassy bend of the river.


Most often, it was a portage. We calculated that there were 36 portages on this particular trip. They were usually short and around beautiful rapids rushing from all of the recent rain.


…but we also did encounter a little bit of mud:


After a day of paddling, portaging, singing voyageur songs, and seeing new places, we found a great campsite on Gillis Lake. Swimming and jumping felt wonderful, and we slept very well that night. It was a perfect way to spend a day off, and we’re excited for our next one! – by Amy





Lightening Strike!

Thunderstorms blow in and out quickly around here.  Yesterday morning dawned hot and humid and even at 6 am you could feel a thunder storm brewing.  The sticky humidity blurred the far side of Round Lake as thunderheads grew in the north-west.  Around 3 the wind started to pick up and distant rumbling heralded the start of the rain.  The wind grew fierce forcing curtains of rain across the lake so dense the far shore was obscured.  Lightening and thunder crashed over head as Denali cowered in the corner.

Within an hour the storm had blown over.  The air was cool again and smelled fresh with the rain.  It was time to play the “what’s missing” game.  The joy and curse of living in a forest is the trees.  Trees provide shade, sing in the wind, and house the birds.  Trees also tend to come down at inopportune times and usually in the wrong place.  Walking around looking at the canopy after a storm, it can be difficult to tell if something is missing.  Yes, you look out the same window every day, but will you really notice when a tree is suddenly not there when it is surround by a forest?


The first clue was a snapped off poplar trunk.  The freshly splintered wood was white and stood out against the wet dark green leaves.  A dead tree that had been standing for a few years had lost the top 20 feet.  A quick walk about discovered the top had fallen cleanly in the brush and would not need any clean up.  Perfect!

Walking back, a large spruce top was laying across a path.  The top had popped off in the high winds and fallen, missing two roofs.  A small 10 foot chunk, no problem.  Toss it in the back of the pickup and done.

The next problem was a tree across one of the driveways.  Slightly more substantial but a quick chainsaw job and a full pickup load of wood and the road is clear again.


The more serious report comes from down the road near the Cross Bay parking lot.  A large white pine had been struck by lightning.  The tree still stands, but a long spiraling crack has formed all the way down the trunk.  Chunks of bark have been blown off and charred.  Although not a problem right now, it is a tree to be monitored.  Lightening strikes can start trees and duff smoldering.  The heavy rainfall will prevent flare ups initially, but a few days later when the forest starts to dry again, small embers can ignite new fires.


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We had some guests out in the storm paddling.  The rain was so heavy at one point they could not see the shore of Brant Lake!  When storms like that blow in, it is best to get off the water and hunker down in the safest place you can find.  It is awe inspiring part of wilderness travel to watch storms roll across the lake as long as take precautions to keep yourself safe!


Suddenly, spring is in a big hurry to get here.  Starting Thursday, the temperatures have been up into the high 50’s, low 60’s.  The sun is shining warmly, the birds are singing, and Denali is basking on the deck.  The 2 feet+ of snow that is on the ground has been melting with force.  Round Lake road is suffering a bit from the rapid melt.

2013.04.27 washed out road (7)

The driveways and outfitting yard are clearing nicely.  At first the melt was dammed in by the snow banks creating a slushy pond in the center.  This morning things are looking much better.  The mud is pretty thick but at least everything is flowing in the right direction now.

2013.04.28 spring melt (1)
The Cross River, just down the road, is open and flowing down the center.  The ice is still around the dock, but it is looking more and more slushy each day.  The open water is attracting all sorts of birds who arrived looking for spring but are now forced to wait it out with the rest of us.  So far I’ve noticed common & hooded mergansers, common goldeneyes, Canada geese, mallards, a kingfisher, bald eagles, and a turkey vulture all hanging out around the open water.

2013.04.27 cross river (5)

Round Lake is covered in watery slush.  Almost a good foot of it.  Ice reports in the area still are in the 20″+ range, but at least things are starting to move in the right direction.  The snow may be in a hurry to melt, but the ice can’t be rushed.  We still can’t tell when the ice will be out for sure.  The forecast calls for rain and wind, both will help.  If the temperatures stay warm, that will help as well.  We need to wait and see how things progress, but it is feeling decidedly spring like around here!  ~Rachel

2013.04.26 spring melt (9)

2013.04.26 spring melt (7)