Thursday, 9/22. Day 5
Today marks the halfway point of our trip. We are leaving Iron lake today and headed for the expanses of Lac La Croix. This is a monster of a lake, definitely top 5 in terms of size. Canada will be off our right shoulder for much of today’s paddle
Today starts partly cloudy. Winds are supposed to be out of the north today, but more importantly is they’re supposed to be under 10mph and no mention of gusts. Camp gets torn down fairly quickly today except for the tarp. A lot of the rigging that went into our wind wall involved knots tied to the loops on the tarp, and some of the cord we’re using for pulling it away from the fire is a single piece looped around several times. The tarp is one of the last things to be packed because of how long it takes to take it down.
The paddle out of Iron is good, the winds are pretty calm, and so we can take more of a direct line towards the portage versus having to jog into the wind or duck for cover in the lee of the many islands we pass.
The portage landing on the Iron side is a granite slope. The trick for finding portages isn’t so much looking for what appears to be a landing, but rather the trail leading away from the landing into the woods. We have two portages in total today – this one going out of Iron, followed by a 5 minute float across a beaver pond, and then the rest of the hike to LLC. The trail is pretty decent for a portage, and we make good time getting to the beaver pond. Across the pond the landing is maybe an old dam, there’s a log that we use to haul the boat out of the water before unloading, the footing is pretty crappy here.
The Lac La Croix side of the landing is combination rocky & sandy, and deposits you in a bay directly across from one of the few ranger cabins still in existence within the BWCA. I don’t know much history about the cabin, possibly it was part of a resort that existed in the 1960s prior to the Wilderness Act?
To our North is Irving Island, a gigantic hulk of land that is less island and just a giant landmass within Canada. There is a large bluff on a south facing slope called Warrior hill – legend has it that running to the top as fast as you can. will prove your strength,
Not too far around the corner from Warrior Hill is probably one of the most expansive & incredible pictographs within the Quetico-Superior region. People & creatures both normal and mystical are represented there. These pictos are fully within Canada, and while its OK for us to hang out, we can’t land or anything like that there.
After 30 minutes or so with the pictos we continue on towards Fish Stake Narrows. A brief pit stop is had at the campsite across from the pictos where I camped with the Scouts in 2020. I tie on a new lure that I got in town, a Little Cleo spoon, and my plan is to let it out behind us while we search for a campsite. 20 minutes later I’ll lose this lure to some rocks on the bottom. D’oh!
We check out the campsites in Fish Stake Narrows and find them all to be lacking. We keep moving. The next campsite on our list is on it’s own island just across from the Toe Lake portage. We land, and after a little bit of looking around the site is declared suitable for our needs. Whomever was camped here previously left a bit of a mess around the fire, though, and so we spent our first hour or mora at the site just cleaning up around the fire.
It’s a very rocky campsite, with lots of stones jutting out of the ground at weird angles.
9.7 miles paddled today, 27.9 total; 2 portages today, 12 total; 288 rods portaged today, 1547 rods total; 0 additional beaver dams encountered today.
Iron Lake > pond > Lac La Croix