Big Moose to Cummings

Boundary Waters portage
Posted by: MTSabbath
Season/Year: Summer 97
Water Level: unsure
Length: long! rods
Rating: never again
Additional Perspectives:

Portage Description:
This my first trip back to the BWCA since I was 13, so I was a little green.

We were base camped on Big Moose lake and even though the fishing there was great, my goofy buddy insisted that he had a gut feeling about the fishing on Cummings being even better. So we decided to scout out the imposing looking portage, and carry just our packs over. It was brutal. Downed trees all over. Some we had to climb over, some under. In some places we guessed where the trail was supposed to be. It was in the 90's and I was sweating off my jungle juice as fast as I could slap it on, so the bugs were having a feast at my expense. There is a low swampy area that reminded me of pictures I have seen of Vietnam. While crossing some boards that were set up over the water, they gave way to my body weight combined with my 60# pack and I was lucky not to take a full body soaking in the muck.

On the way over I came across a snake sitting on the trail with a big bulge in it's mouth and some frog legs sticking out of it's yapper. (pretty cool)

Once we finally bushwhacked our way to the Cummings side, we stopped for a rest and were assaulted by ticks that were basking in the sun. If I looked at anything very closely (tree, rock, ground etc.)I could see ticks slowly moving all over the place.

Call me a sissy, but I have a huge aversion to ticks and this was making me crazy.

I tried to convince my buddy that this portage was too rugged with the type of gear that we had brought (canoes he borrowed from his dad). One of the aluminum canoes had the motor mount on the stern. I can't imagine what it weighed.

He called me a wuss and said that we could do it, and that he didn't want to be a quitter. I said that there was no way that we could get across the portage, but I agreed to at least try, thinking that he would quickly come to his senses once he felt the stinging down his spine from carrying a +70# canoe over this terrain.

Well I was wrong, and he insisted that with rests every 100 ft that we could make it. I told him that it may be possible but that we would have to come back out after a day to get back to our entry point anyway so why waste 2 full days on a portage.

He and his sister disagreed, and sad that they could do it. I told my wife that they were crazy and that there was zero chance that they would make if before night fall. So we basically had a mutiny. I refused to go and they refused to stop. They then decided to split up the gear and food and head off on their own.

I was so pissed. A group does not split up when there is only one set of gear.

So we bid them good-bye, and my wife and I took a swim near the portage, knowing that they would have to turn back. About an hour later, they came trudging back, defeated and exhausted.

I will never take that portage again, even considering that I rent a Kevlar canoe for my trips now. Some of my dislike is for the portage itself. Some is undoubtedly due to the mutiny.

Lake after portage: Cummings
Known campsites: 8+
Lake Description:

Portage from Cummings into:
Korb River

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BWCA Portages

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