BWCA Canoe Trip 2008

 

Saturday May 24

 

John cut the grass and did some yard work before we headed north to the BWCA around10:30 AM and we got up to Cook (the city of) before 3PM.We were therefore able to pick up our permit.We had planned to camp at Orr, MN for the night but since the weather looked very threatening and we did not want to start our trip with wet equipment the next day, we stayed in a motel for the night.

 

Sunday May 25

 

We left Orr at about 7 am and got to our entry pointbefore 9.There was also a group entering as we were, so we sort of entered at the same time; in fact while we were all entering, a group was returning.There were quite a few canoes and people in that little area.We met that group we entered with at the first portage, but haven't seen them since.

We started on Little Indian Sioux River (we had to start off with a 40 rod portage to get to the river).Then we did a 60 rod portage to get into Upper Pauness Lake.After That an 8 rod portage into Lower Pauness Lake. Then a 216 rod portageinto Shell Lake, a 15 rod into Little Shell;John caught (and released) a smallmouth bass and got a few strikes.Then we had a 4 rod paddle-through (high water) into Lynx Lake, where we are now.John got a fish that we had for supper.

††††

On one of our portages, this very nice guy helped us carry one of our packs.Then his poor old dog had to get back into his own canoe.However since our canoe was closer and easier for the dog to get into, he jumped into our canoe and then into his canoe.

††††

The weather has been quite warm (lower 70's I think).The wind for the most part has been pushing us.

†††††

We found a very nice campsite with a wonderful breeze.There are like big gnats out.They don't seem to be biting but they are incredibly annoying and they love me probably more than anyone in the whole BWCA.I have even resorted to wearing a mosquito head net.Except for that it is quite lovely out here.Haven't seen any animals yet (we did see 3 deer along the road and a bald eagle yesterday).We have seen loons, but haven't heard them call yet.

Monday May 26

 

Today it rained. It was also really windy and cold.So we stayed at this site all day.It quit raining around 11 AM and we went behind the evergreens for a windbreak and had lunch.We then just kind of hiked around the shore.

†††

It was still quite windy so I stayed at camp and did some sudoku's and John headed off down the other shore to do some fishing.He caught 2 small mouth bass, but let them go.

††††

Meanwhile the sun would peek out every now and then.We didn't see anyone paddling on the lake today.As I type this, the sun is out and the wind seems to have died down.It is supposed to get into the 30's tonight and most probably will.Tomorrow the plan is to do 2 long portages.

†††

John is catching a fish even as I type - he was using his daredevil.It's a real scrapper........I had to run down there and take his picture.It was a small mouth bass, maybe even 4 pounds.

 

 

Tuesday May 27

†††††

It was very cold last night, but the sun was shining into the tent around 6 ish. There was fog on the lake but by 7 it was gone.We paddled across the lake and did a long portage (260 rods).Saw a young bald eagle and heard a hummingbird go zoomimg by.We put in at Ruby Lake, a very small lake, paddled across and did an 8 rod portage.Then we paddled across that lake (Hustler lake) to do the finale - a 310 rod portage!It was kind of interesting.The book said it was kind of flat, but starting out, we had a definite uphill to contend with.We ran into 2 areas where there was water all over the trail but I only got each foot wet once.Then the book said there was a steep descent at the end, but we found it to be a delightful ending.

††††

So we are on Oyster Lake.This was the only lake where we have seen anyone, the other lakes were deserted.We are at this fabulous campsite that can be accessed from the front or the back.It is huge and there is a beautiful little cedar grove here; also noisy jays and some chipmunks.

††††

John hasn't caught any fish today, but he is out trying right now.The weather has turned out to be wonderful.The wind is strange because it comes and it goes.Those pesky flies are out, John has found a few ticks on him, and there are some mosquitoes out (at 7:30 at night)

 

Wednesday May 28

††††

We got up around 6 with the sun shining, but not in our tent.We took off around 8.and had 3 relatively short portages.However to get the canoe up to the portages where you take the canoe out of the water, and then to put the canoe back into the water at the other end, was quite troublesome. The portages too were troublesome because there was a lot of downed trees that we had to step over, a lot of mud and wetness to walk through and generally not too neat.There was one portage where a tree had fallen in the water so we had to get out early to start the portage and had to carry the canoe sideways for about 20 feet because there was so much undergrowth.The good news is that there was a spectacular waterfall there that we got to see.

††††

At that point we entered Gabe......Creek.It was somewhat of a nightmare to start beause it was quite shallow and in areas there were so many big rocks that you had to dodge.From there we turned onto the Pocket River which was better.Oh! While paddling on the creek we had to cross a beaver dam.In fact John and I got out of the canoe, he tied a rope on the canoe with the packs in it and thenjust let it go over the little rapids.It worked out well.

††††

On one of our other portages, we saw a deer run across the path right in front of us.We are now camped at pocket Lake in a very nice site except there are so many ticks and one pesky chipmunk.I had one of my little oil bottles sitting out and he came and took it. I yelled at him to put it down, but he paid no attention to me.So now if he gets bit by any bugs, and can get the cap off the bottle, he can put that oil on his bites.

††††

John caught 2 20 inch Northerns, fishing from the shore.The water is getting warmer.John took a bath tonight in the lake. It would seem that the temp may have been in the 70's today plus it was very sunny.It gets very cold at night, but there was no frost this morning.

 

 

Thursday May 29

†††††

We saw a grass snake, a bald eagle that was right by our portage on Finger Creek.It flew right over us, you could almost feel the vibrations from his wings; it was so close.

††††

So we left Pocket Lake and went into Finger Creek, saw the†† bald eagle there and then went on a tough portage but got to see a beautiful waterfall.John fished a little in Finger Lake and caught a small Northern.We saw the 2 canoes, 4 people that passed by our site at 7:30 at night.

†††

We then had a short portage into Thumb Lake; nice lake (as are they all), but no fish.Then we did a 200 rod portage into Beartrack Lake (that's where we saw the grass snake).We're the only people here.We got everything set up before it started to rain.There is also a male grouse right behind our site that has been beating its wings for the last 24 hours.

 

 

Friday May 30

††††

Rained all night and into the morning.Finally got up about 8:30 in the rain and had breakfast.Spent a couple hours under that tarp that John put up.Rain stopped about 11 and we decided not to move to a new site, but went on a sightseeing tour.Did a 30 rod portage into Little Beartrack Lake, a 30 rod portage into Eugene Lake where it started to sprinkle again.Did a 60 rod portage into Fat Lake over a soggy, wet portage (beavers at work).had lunch in the rain, fished for an hour, checked out the one campsite on Fat Lake (beautiful!).

††††

Portaged back into Eugene Lake - still raining.Spent an hour fishing there and caught 5 Northern's 20-26 inches.Actually 4 of them were caught within 10 consecutive casts..

††††

Portaged back into Little Beartrack, fished on the way to the portage to Gun Lake (no fish).There were like 100 foot walls on the northeast end of the lake, so we walked on the portage a ways to see some more of those huge rock walls.It looked sort of like Devil's Lake.But the portage was also wet and soggy, so we walked back to where we left the canoe on the trail - did I say it was still raining?We decided to head back to our campsite, so portaged the 30 rods into Beartrack Lake and came home to our wet site.We had the tarp up so there was a dry spot.The rain stopped about 5PM for an hour and then started sprinkling again after supper.We'll see if it goes all night.Our tent is nice and dry.

††††

On our rainy sight seeing tour we saw 2 canoe paddles leaning up against a tree on the portage into Eugene.That portage was not placed correctly on the map and the paddles sitting there helped to figure out where in the heck the portage was.

††††

This is our 2nd night on Beartrack Lake.It's interesting that we have not seen any people since we have been here.I think since some of the portages are so long, a lot of people don't want to come this far.It's very peaceful.Just us and the loons.

 

 

Saturday May 31

††††

It did not rain this morning but the sky was overcast so we slept in til 8:30.Our first 3 portages we had done the day before on the sight seeing tour so we got through those ok.The next one was about 120 rods and was pretty tricky.The portage was right next to a cute little stream and part way through the portage we wound up walking through the stream.Over rocks, branches, logs, through mud.

†††

We thought that when we hit this lake -South Lake, that we would run into lots of people.But no; we haven't seen anyone on all these lakes that we have been on for the last 5 days.I love it.

††††

We got the tent all set up and the sun even came out!Next we decided to find out where our first porage would be for tomorrow because we should have past it by the time we got to this site, but we never saw it.Also the water level in this lake is way high. The trees all along the shore are under water and at our site there is grass that is 18inches under water.This is apparently one of the lowest elevation lakes and all the water drains into this lake.

††††

We went out looking for our next portage and John found it, exactly where it was supposed to be on the map. But it looked just like the Everglades; to get there we had to paddle through trees, for about 100 feet.It was way neat. Then we were finally able to get out of the canoe and walk.

††††

The bugs are terrible.We have both taken to wearing bug headnets. The worst ones are the gnats, that bite.It's hard to tell what I have more of, bruises or bug bites.The ticks seemed to have died down a little, although they seem to like John more than me.The mosquitoes usually come out later in the evening.

†††††

We are very near Lac La Croix, so after lunch decided to fish and head up that way.John caught 1 Northern and 1 small mouth bass.

†††††

When we got to Snow Bay, a part of Lac La Croix, we got to see a beautiful waterfall.Then John took out the binoculars because it looked like there was one or maybe 2 canoes out on the big lake.Motorboats are allowed on LLCroix.Well the canoes looked like kayaks, but then John thought they were paddle boats.So we paddled out there as fast as we could, probably almost a mile away.There were 2 of them and they are called Hobies.They are like a kayak, but they are propelled by foot, like a bicycle.The guy said it is just like biking and we could tell from watching them from afar that they really go quite fast. There is a place to stow gear behind the seat.They sit in about 3 inches of water, the guy said they are very comfortable to sit in.They weigh 58 # and cost about $1500.

†††††

As I'm sitting here typing, a beaver is swimming right past the campsite.

††††

On our way back from talking to that guy we saw another waterfall, right behind our site. You can hear it from here.We also saw another waterfall right before we went on one of our portages today (That's not counting the one we had to walk through).

††††

It's still sunny out so I am expecting a good night.†††

 

 

Sunday June 1

††††

So in reference to yesterday - as I was sitting there watching a beaver, John was out catching fish like crazy and in amongst 4 beavers, who would swim by him, slap their tails and then come back up in 10 feet and do it again.He caught 7 Northerns and 2 small mouth Bass, one being 19 in. long.And then, he was back where all the beaver were working, trying to get back to the swampy part of the lake when he looked up and saw a mama moose about 30 feet away.They just looked at each other and then she went on, followed by 2 baby moose!When he got back to our site, there was no wind and the lake was as clear as glass so we went back to that area.I got to see the beavers, but no moose.The sides of the lake had a rock wall that must have been 100 feet high, it was spectacular.

††††

So today we started out in North Lake, went through the Everglade Swamp portage, got to Section 3 Pond.This lake and the next lake were both long, slim lakes and John fished both of them with no luck.

†††††

Then we had a slightly tricky time finding the next portage as it was not exactly like the map indicated, but we did find it and also saw a Beaver on Slim Lake.Stopped at a campsite to go to the bathroom and it was wonderful - not the bathroom, but the site - it was way atop a rock ledge and you could see everything down below.

††††

From there we left Slim Lake and portaged 160 rods to Little Loon Lake where we are now.This portage started out dry, but we wound up portaging down another streambed.It was in fact quite pretty, especially at the end going through a cedar grove.It's really tough though, walking in all that wetness.

††††

We have a nice site here at little Loon, but for some odd reason, there are no loons on Little Loon Lake. We sat through one rain storm and 1 thunder storm and now it's windy but the skies are blue.John caught 1big Smallmouth (18") and 1 small Smallmouth and 1 Northern.Now we're going out fishing and looking for wildlife (it's 7 PM)

 

 

Monday June 2

†††††††

We decided to leave the BWCA today.That meant we had to paddle on Lac La Croix, which allows motor boats.The big boats didnít travel much where we did so although we got some wave action from their wakes, it wasnít bad.From Lac La Croix we went straight into the Little Indian SiouxRiver.It is probably one of my favorite rivers because itís big enough to paddle in, there are no, or at least very few, rocks and there are no beaver dams that we have to climb over.

††††††

The river took us through into Lower Pauness Lake and this is where we started to see lots of people and lots of canoes.We met 2 groups on the long portage from the river into the lake.There was also an exceptionally beautiful waterfall there called Devilís Cascade.It was truly beautiful.From there we went on to a 40 rod portage into Upper Pauness Lake and met even more groups of mostly college kid canoers.They were all so happy and excited to be out of school (I guess) and be on vacation.They were traveling in groups of 4 canoes each and it was quite comical to watch them merrily zigzag across the lake.They were loviní every minute of it.

††††

After Upper Pauness we got back onto Little Indian Sioux River again for a ways and then had to portage 60 rods to get back onto the river again andto our final destination.Unfortunately our final destination meant that we had to portage another 40 rods to get up; and I do mean up to our car.

†††††

It was a wonderful trip.I was quite surprised at the lack of people we encountered.We were also very fortunate that it only rained for 2 days or less, in a row.That meant we were able to dry things out.It was relatively warm, we stayed in some beautiful sites, and got to see lots of loons and beavers and a fair assortment of other animals (including John seeing the moose and the baby moose). The bugs were bad but then what can you expect?Itís the Boundary Waters.