BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

December 17 2017

Entry Point 12 - Little Vermilion Lake

Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (Unlimited max). This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Cook, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 45 miles. Enter from Crane Lake. Note: Not the entry point to use for Trout Lake (#1)

Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Latitude: 48.2995
Longitude: -92.4268
Little Vermilion Lake - 12

Nor'western waters

by TuscaroraBorealis
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 18, 2012
Entry Point: Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake)
Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
Even though this would be our 14 month old daughter Auroras fifth trip, there would still be several significant precedents set on this journey. In a nutshell, this would be our longest, most aggressive trip with her to date. Also notable. Her mini pea pod tent would be left at home. Although, the pack vacancy this created was immediately filled with the extra diapers & wipes etc. that would be needed. The added distances & time away obviously meant that help would be further away & take longer to arrive if something were to go wrong. So Vickie researched various forms of wilderness communication, finally settling on a SPOT. Which, besides emergency notification, can send pre- determined messages and allows your progress to be tracked by anyone you choose. Of course we hoped we didn't need to use it but, it was a comforting measure of extra security. Our route would lead us through the "Nor'west" quadrant of the BWCAW. Paddling through the smaller lakes just under the horn of Lac La Croix. Eventually working our way out through the Moose river entry point #16.

Day 1 of 8


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We were able to make it to Crane lake by about 3:00. Of all the areas that serve the BWCAW, I think Crane Lake does the best job of paying homage to the Voyageurs of old.[paragraph break]

Checked in at Anderson Outfitters, & took care of everything so we'd be ready to go in the morning without having to scramble with last minute details. Even though it was a totally separate enterprise, they also handled our bunkhouse accomodations just across highway 24 at the Pine Ridge motel.[paragraph break] [paragraph break]

Since it was still fairly early we decided to explore the surrounding area.First, we motored to the Vermilion falls recreation area. Stairways & platforms have been constructed here for ease of viewing the rapids & falls. A very nice, easy spot to get to. [paragraph break]

Next we headed east down the Echo Trail. There is a scenic section of the Little Indian Sioux river just north of the Echo Trail that has a nice hiking/portage trail running along the west side of the river. As popular as the Little Indian Sioux north is, this particular stretch likely gets overlooked. [paragraph break]

It became immediately obvious that the river was desperately low. At any point throughout this section you could easily walk right across the river without getting wet. This didn't bode well for our proposed route as we planned on paddling many creeks & rivers. Still, it was enjoyable to be in the woods on a beautiful autumn day. [paragraph break]

It was getting to be about supper time. The folks at Andersons Outfitters had told us about Trails End on Echo lake. They technically are not at the end of the trail. But, they offer a full menu so we were able to get supper as well as order some take out food for breakfast the next morning.[paragraph break]

Afterwards we settled in for the evening at the bunkhouse. We brought separate bedding so we didn't have to unpack, then repack our bags in the morning. This would also be Auroras last chance to get her Barney fix for awhile. [paragraph break]

 



Day 2 of 8


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Anderson Outfitters didn't open until 6:30. Never the less, we were up at 6:00. Packed away our overnight gear & double checked our travel packs while we waited. At 6:30 we headed over for fresh coffee & to use the microwave to warm our breakfasts. Our tow wasn't scheduled to leave until 7:30, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.[paragraph break]

Took the short drive up to Crane lake to load up. I then brought the van back to Anderson Outfitters so they could shuttle it to Moose river EP #16 where we planned to exit. [paragraph break]

It was a gray gloomy morning but, at least the wind was staying down. Our tow boat driver Darren had checked the radar & said it looked like we were gonna get some rain. As desperately as the area needed it, I hoped it would hold out for awhile. Regardless, we were loaded up & it was time to go. [paragraph break]

I'm sure there are those who would say getting a tow is akin to cheating. And, from a certain perspective, I guess I'd have to agree with them. But, we were saving at least 2 days worth of paddling across a motorized route. And, more important to us was the fact we wouldn't have to contend with the large expanses of open water on Crane, Loon & Lac La Croix.[paragraph break]

Fortunately, as we set off, Crane lake was mostly placid. Naturally, across the large lakes, we presumed we'd be traveling at full throttle. It came as a shock when we neared the Loon river and Darren told us there are gonna be some sharp turns ahead as he kept the hammer down. It was really a wild, exhilarating ride. If you have the occasion? I strongly recommend it. [paragraph break]

Near the old logging camp Darren finally throttled down before the narrows of 56 rapids and we slowly progressed up the river from there to the Loon Falls portage. [paragraph break]

We got out at the dock and walked our way up along the portage trail. Even though the skies were gray, there was still some black-eyed susans in bloom to brighten our mood. Darren said that Loon Falls & Beatty were 2 of only 3 railway portages of this type in the world. Definitely a neat, very convenient setup. [paragraph break]

In quick succession we made our way across Loon lake to Beatty portage, then on up Lac La Croix to our small rock island drop off just NW off of campsite #9 at the southern side of the entrance to Snow bay. [paragraph break]

After unloading, Darren wished us well and was quickly on his way back. Slowly the drone of the motor faded & the realization that we were, indeed, truly alone settled in. Fortunately no rain yet & the wind was still manageable. We loaded up and pushed off tracing the southern shoreline of Snow bay towards North lake. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

I'd been through here with my brother Clay about a half dozen years earlier. At that time, near the entrance to North lake, we encountered a colossus of a beaver dam. In planning this route I'd heard differing reports that the dam had given way a few years ago. Well, as we came around the large boulder shrouding the entrance to North lake, it was clearly evident that the dam was still intact(or had been reconstructed). [paragraph break] [paragraph break]

As we paddled through a weedy North lake, I was reminded why my brother & I had chosen the mainland site over the little used island camp just north of it. After briefly reminiscing about that trip it was on to South lake, which is merely an equal sized lob of North lake that requires no portage. There are some steep scenic cliffs jutting out of the lake on the far eastern shore near our first portage to aptly named Steep lake. [paragraph break]

Dugout some Clif bars before tackling this portage. It was listed as a manageable 120 rods but, did go up and over a substantial hill. It figured to be the toughest portage of our proposed route. Indeed, the hill was as advertised. Adding to the challenge was the fact that every once in awhile it felt like there were marbles on the trail. Alas! A canoe country oddity. Countless acorns were scattered about. Further investigation revealed that they originated from the several oak trees along the trail.[paragraph break]

As expected, I tripled while Vickie stayed back to keep an eye on Aurora as she napped. On my last return trip I ran across some fresh, still steaming, wolf scat. I briskly completed the last 40, or so, rods back down to Steep lake. Upon my arrival Vickie told me she had heard "something" back in the woods a ways & was wondering if it was me trying to scare her. We let Aurora finish her nap, keeping an anxious, ever watchful eye & ear out.[paragraph break] [paragraph break]

Steep was a nice lake. Of course the shoreline was rocky, and, well...steep. Even paddled past a unique little rock knobbed island complete with some decent sized trees on it. Once we entered the bay leading to the Eugene portage the shoreline leveled off noticeably. [paragraph break]

The portage to Eugene was a easy, non technical up and over. Oaks were also present along this shorter trail. [paragraph break]

If we weren't so anxious to get to camp, we might of stopped in for a closer look at the northern most site on Eugene. From what we could discern from paddling by, it looked very nice. We pushed on to the northern narrows. I believe even at normal water levels you'd be able to paddle right through. But, during this very dry period, we had to get out and walk the loaded canoe through & around the various logs and rocks.[paragraph break]

As we reached the portage to Gun lake the first real rain showers of the day greeted us. I always bring the canoe across on my first carry. A benefit of this strategy was that Aurora could hide out underneath while I finished portaging the rest of our gear across. Which she did quite contentedly. [paragraph break]

This portage wasn't all too bad. For the most part it was level, dropping down once it neared Gun lake. There were some nice moose tracks long since baked into the old mud holes along the way. And, a small cluster of feathers apparently indicated a grouse had met it's gruesome demise just off the trail? [paragraph break]

As I finished the portage the rain let off. We pressed on towards the narrows site which, from the portage, appeared to be vacant. There are some incredibly scenic & impressive cliffs along the northern shoreline just before the narrows which we stopped to contemplate and appreciate before laying claim to our campsite. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

The narrows site was elevated some 20+ feet providing great multi-direction vistas. Though a little on the exposed side; the firegrate had very nice log seating, there were a few decent level tent pads, plenty of nice trees for tarps and hanging, and, as an added bonus, a rock live well down by the rocky but, manageable landing. It would serve us well as our home for the next few days. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Arrived in camp not a moment too soon. As we were still unloading the canoe the wind really kicked into high gear. Getting the tent and, especially the CCS tarp, setup was a real adventure. Still, these were welcome struggles versus being out in the middle of some lake still searching for a camp.

We took turns watching Aurora while the other worked at various chores getting camp setup properly. It was pork chops & cheesy potatoes with onions for supper. The wind finally relented as the sun went down giving way to a good ole fashioned soaking rain. For the most part we were happy the way the day had gone. The really disagreeable weather had held out long enough for us to get to camp. And now the area was getting some rain that it desperately needed. Contentedly we retired to our warm, dry beds for the night.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Crane Lake, Little Vermilion Lake, Loon Lake, Lac La Croix, North Lake, South Lake, Steep Lake, Eugene Lake, Gun Lake

 



Day 3 of 8


Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm not a coffee drinker. So the morning routine we settled into was that Vickie would get up and boil water for her coffee, as well as Auroras bottle. While I stayed in the tent waiting for Aurora to wake up & giving her a warm bottle and getting her ready for the day once she did. [paragraph break]

The rain had quit at some point during the overnight but, the wind had picked up. Making for a very cool reception once exiting the tent. A cup of hot chocolate kept the internal furnace burning while I prepared pancakes & fresh bacon for breakfast.[paragraph break]

The sustained intensity of the wind meant we weren't going to stray too far from camp until it relented. So I set about processing firewood. Eager to help, Aurora chipped in where she could. Fortunately the air temperature warmed up quickly. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Perhaps our greatest realistic fear going in was how Aurora was going to handle getting around camp. As anyone who has seen a typical canoe country campsite knows, most are littered with annoying protruding roots & rocks. Potentially making walking through camp a hazardous affair even for adults, much less for someone who literally only learned to walk a few months prior to this trip. To our absolute astonishment, our little girl stubbornly refused any guidance or assistance. (I'm told she gets that from her dad???) To watch her carefully weave her way around each obstacle was both incredibly cute & inspiring at the same time. I don't think we could've been prouder?

We were always close at hand but, she was so sure footed that we even mostly let her go it alone in the woods. Watching her marvel at the various treasures that lay at her feet, then proudly offering them to us as a gift for her new found freedom. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

The day was spent in & near camp. Everything in camp was as we wanted it. Firewood was chopped, plenty of water had been filtered, Auroras play area had been arranged. Really there wasn't much more to do but wait out the wind. Conceding that we weren't gonna be able to get out anymore today, I retreated to the tent to lay Aurora down for a nap & maybe catch one myself.[paragraph break]

Vickie took this opportunity to do some exploration on her own. As per usual, seeking out unique rocks dominated her discoveries. [paragraph break]

Upon Vickies return to camp, Aurora had woken up. She also informed me that the wind had pretty much died down and the lake looked very placid. Perhaps we could still get out for a short while yet today?![paragraph break]

There was only a couple hours of daylight remaining. What with being cooped up in camp all day, it took us no time at all to get out on the water. Initially we paddled south to check out the southern lobe. I thought the area just under the majestic cliffs looked to be a promising spot to start fishing. So I threw out my rapala and let out some line. I guess my reaction was a fitting testament to how things had went that day? No sooner had I closed the bail, when my rod doubled over. I exclaimed out loud, "You gotta be kidding me! Snagged already!?" I grabbed my pole and gave it a frustrated tug trying to extract my lure. Thing was, this snag tugged back. Fish on! How 'bout that?! Had a nice battle with a 20+ inch lake trout. We didn't have a net, so finally getting him in the canoe was something of a comical effort. Our supper menu for the evening was suddenly substantially upgraded. [paragraph break]

Afterwards, we continued our exploration. As we came back around to the narrows & our campsite, I figured to put our rock live well to a most meritorious, and intended, use as we then continued paddling around the northern lobe. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

There were also some neat cliffs in the western bay near where the other campsite was supposed to be. Never did see exactly where that campsite was located. It wasn't plainly visible from out on the lake so we surmised it must not get a lot of use. With daylight running out, we worked our way clockwise around the lake back to camp. Enjoying a lovely, if all too brief, serene evening paddle.[paragraph break]

Back in camp I set about preparing the trout & getting the fire going to cook it. Once the sun went down it cooled off quickly. So the fire served the dual purpose of providing some welcome warmth as well. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Thoroughly enjoyed the bounty that canoe country had provided us today, with the tasty trout supper. We were both thankful for the opportunity to get out on the lake today. Retired to our tent with satisfyingly full bellies, hoping tomorrow would provide us with a greater offering of safe exploration.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Gun Lake

 



Day 4 of 8


Friday, September 21, 2012

It appeared that the gray, gloomy clouds had finally moved on. A quick oatmeal breakfast & we were ready to go. Hoped to make it to Trygg lake to try some fishing today.[paragraph break]

We had scouted out the location of the portage to Tesaker last night. The landing was a bit tight & rocky. For the most part it was a slightly overgrown, somewhat rocky, level path with a couple of short boardwalk sections. At about mid trail there is a impressive double white pine towering over the trail. The Tesaker end is quite swampy & muddy.[paragraph break]

Once out past the swampy landing, Tesaker lake shows that it's cliffs have a majestic feel to them much like the one's found on it's surrounding, larger neighbors.[paragraph break]

The portage to Takucmich was a little tricky to find. Not being clearly visible from the lake, it's in the extreme NE corner at the far right (east) end of the age old beaver dam located there. It drops down to Takucmich along a rocky trail, terminating at an equally rocky landing. [paragraph break]

The portage to Trygg lake was about half way between that landing and the campsite straight north of there. We passed right by it before realizing the err of our ways. So, we took advantage of the situation & pulled into the campsite to change Aurora & take a breather.[paragraph break]

The portage up to Trygg starts off with a bang. A steep, somewhat slippery, landing is followed by a steep climb for the first half before leveling out to a nice trail the remainder of the distance to Trygg. There is a marginal overlook of Takucmich at this point as well.[paragraph break]

It was about lunch time so we paddled over to the lone campsite on the lake. I did not see a landing so we just pulled the canoe up through the shoreline shrubbery. There were 2 very faint & small tent pads right on the lake. We claimed one as our makeshift picnic area, using our redneck spray skirt (tarp)as a makeshift picnic blanket.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break] [paragraph break]

This site was definitely nothing to write home about but, at least we had gotten out of camp. We alternately took turns exploring while the other kept an eye on lunch. [paragraph break] [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

After lunch Aurora instantly feel asleep in her spot at the front of the canoe. It looked as if we would have the next hour or so to ply the waters of Trygg lake for some brook trout. Just as we started to, the rain began falling. Aurora was covered with the tarp. But, not knowing how long the rain might last or if it would intensify? The decision was immediately agreed upon to start making our way back to camp. The brookies of Trygg would have to wait until another time.[paragraph break]

As we worked our way back to Gun lake, Aurora had woken up. The rain stopped & started up several times. Aurora was sure to make sure daddy was still in the back of the canoe. Then, much like in the movie Titanic, she stood at the absolute front of the canoe & occasionally held her arms out. Silly girl. [paragraph break]

We both agreed, for being such a small lake, Tesaker was worth some extra exploration. So we took a little extra time making our way across this diminutive jewel. [paragraph break]

Once again we made it to camp in the nick of time. The rain had come to stay for awhile accompanied by a chilly north wind. Since it was a little early for supper, we ducked into the warm sanctuary of the tent for some quality family time together.[paragraph break]

Supper this evening would be our first foray with dehydrated hamburger. We were mightily impressed.Instantly it has became a staple item that will be brought along on all future trips. Especially since Aurora also gave it 2 thumbs up. With the rain continuing to fall, we called it a day fairly early hoping to move on tomorrow.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Gun Lake, Tesaker Lake, Takucmich Lake, Trygg Lake

 



Day 5 of 8


Saturday, September 22, 2012

While it had been windy & rainy more than we would've liked. Gun lake had been a majestic scene of visionary enchantment that provided the backdrop of many lasting memories that have been seared into our subconscious for all eternity. With it's 2 seperate lobes, majestic cliffs, awesome day trip opportunities & great campsite at the narrows; I don't think it's too far off the mark to call Gun the Cherry lake of the Nor'western BWCA.[paragraph break]

So from one point of view, being able spend more time here would be construed as a blessing. But, we needed to move camp to better ensure we reach our take out point in the time we have allotted. And the wind & waves currently reeking havoc out across the lake this morning were definitely putting those plans on hold. We certainly didn't want to force a bad situation, especially with Aurora along. So we hoped & waited.[paragraph break]

Aurora was able to take a long nap. After she woke, we packed everything away ready to travel. It was nearly one o'clock & I was about ready to set everything back up when, against all odds, the wind broke.[paragraph break]

Of course this would be a painfully late start. But, we needed to put some miles behind us. So, just when we would normally be pulling into camp, we pushed off. [paragraph break]

We paddled for the Little Beartrack portage. This was a really neat portage with very little elevation change. It followed along the base of some impressive cliffs. Problem was, it also had an impressive collection of various sized boulders along most of the trail. At the Little Beartrack end there was some old, weathered lumber back in the woods. Also, some neat moss which contrasted with the club moss along most of the trail.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

From the landing Little Beartrack appeared to be an impressive lake. The high cliffs that we passed under along the portage continue on out along the eastern shoreline. Due to a navigational error on my part we paddled right past the next portage but, quickly remedied the situation. Other than the very rocky landing, it was a very easy up & over to Beartrack lake. Vickie even let Aurora get out & stretch her legs a bit.

[paragraph break]

Once on Beartrack we paddled in a southerly direction. As we were nearing the small bay in the SE corner of the lake, the wind really whipped up out of the west. We needed to paddle north to get around the small peninsula guarding the back bay where our next portage was located. But, not wanting to to risk the canoe being sideways in the trough of the waves, we decided to portage the couple of rods across the peninsula (where we ran ashore) to the calm waters on the other side.[paragraph break]

If there was any doubt where the portage landing to Thumb lake was??? A bright white tennis shoe tied to a tree was there to guide us in. My Voyageur map indicated that this was a 200 rod portage. It passed through some really neat areas of moss blanketed forest floors. There really wasn't much in the way of elevation change until it dropped down on the Thumb lake end. There were a few rocky & muddy areas at that point too. In the final analysis, I don't think a person could realistically expect a 200 rod portage to be much easier. [paragraph break]

Fortunately, upon completion of this portage, the wind had subsided so our paddle across Thumb was pleasant. There is a small creek between Thumb & Finger lakes. If the water level had been closer to normal? We likely would've just had a quick pull over at the beaver dam located there. As it was, we wound up doing a short portage of 3-4 rods.[paragraph break]

While planning this trip; besides relying on my own experiences & memory, I also extensively researched this area on BWCA.com and, finally, had Stu fill in the remaining blanks with the BWJ T.R.I.P.S program. There have been those who have questioned why anyone would want to know this type of information prior to a trip. Well, since it was nearly 6:00 when we arrived on Finger lake, there was only about an hour of daylight remaining. So spending the extra time searching out the best, or perhaps even an adequate, campsite would've eaten up the precious daylight we had remaining. Instead we were able to paddle right up to the SW island site, knowing full well that it was certainly the best site on the lake if not the whole of this immediate area. [paragraph break]

Not trying to rub anyone's nose in it. But, I think the way this scenario played out for us is a perfect example of why I research a trip. Certainly we would've survived at a less than desirable site if we had to. But why not, if possible, know what you're getting into portage wise & have the best site available? For me, spending time at a great site ALWAYS enhances a trip. [paragraph break]

Got camp setup & situated before night fell. With the late start, it had been a long day. Supper was a couple of Clif bars & snacks. Mommy put Aurora down shortly after our quick supper, while we sat up & enjoyed gazing at the moon and stars for the first time this trip. With only the occasional splashing of a beavers tail shattering the calm silence. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Gun Lake, Little Beartrack Lake, Beartrack Lake, Thumb Lake, Finger Lake

 



Day 6 of 8


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Up until this point the Under Armour top & long johns I slept in had kept me sufficiently warm. But, for the first overnight this trip I had to cinch my Marmot sawtooth sleeping bag all the way up. (I later heard it had dropped to the mid twenties.)[paragraph break]

We were hoping to get an earlier start today to make up some ground. Still, we lingered a bit in camp giving the air ample opportunity to warm up. As, finally, the sun was out in full force.[paragraph break]

This truly was a special campsite. Red pines dominated the skies and allowed easy passage through this elevated site with an awesome kitchen & fire grate area. There were trails running everywhere, making the latrine a little tough to find. Some nice cliffs rose up just south across the channel & right in camp were several humongous boulders. (we later learned there are palm pictographs on the large boulder) [paragraph break]

Just as I was rolling the tent & finishing packing up, someone called out to us from the lake. It was Ben! nctry from BWCA.com. (for those of you keeping score at home, nctry is an abbreviation for north country NOT nice try.) He was on day 35 of his epic 40 day journey across the BWCAW & had mentioned before the start of his trip that he would be passing through the area about the same time as us. Needless to say it was a very special treat to actually run into a familiar, friendly face this far out in the wilderness. I guess the late start yesterday wasn't totally a bad thing? [paragraph break]

Naturally Aurora & Ben's dog Bernice hit it off right away. We offered Ben some fresh coffee, a real chair to sit on & listened while he told us of his many adventures so far on his trip. He even had a weather radio along and we listened to the, very encouraging, latest updates. [paragraph break]

How time flies when you're having fun! It didn't seem like it at the time, but we killed nearly 3 hours chatting & enjoying each others company. Aurora was even able to sneak in a nap! Looks like another 1:00 departure for us. Oh well, it was worth it. Besides, it was a beautiful day for paddling. As we pushed off, we turned the keys to this "mansion on the hill" over to Ben & told him to lock up when he leaves.[paragraph break]

On to the Finger Creek portage we paddled. This one had a few narrow twists & turns before straightening & leveling out to follow along the creek (or, what was left of it.) to a marshy landing on the other end.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

A short paddle after reloading we encountered a small beaver dam. Even though there were some spots that looked to be too shallow, we were able to paddle unobstructed the rest of the way to Pocket lake.[paragraph break]

My Voyageur map shows a 18 rod portage at the south end of Pocket lake into Pocket creek. Just as Ben had advised us, even in this low water we were able to just paddle through with minimal maneuvering. [paragraph break]

A natural rocky out cropping indicates the confluence of Ge-be-on-e-quet creek. Once again we encounter a small beaver dam shortly after entering. And, just like Finger creek we are able to paddle the rest of the distance without obstruction. Although, at this point in the year the shallow creek is choked with vegetation, making paddling a most arduous affair. [paragraph break]

A muddy landing greeted us at our next portage. Perhaps it was due to the extra exertion required to paddle the creek? But, I thought the portage up to Ge-be- on-e-quet was the toughest we encountered on our trip. It was short (35 rods) but, was nearly all up a steep, rocky hill. As had been the case all along our route so far, where we passed by running water, we were cheated out of getting to see the waterfall that ran alongside the trail. We could hear the water running but, would've needed to throw a bag of flour down to see just exactly where. At least Aurora enjoyed the lake side landing. [paragraph break]

Wanting to get a campsite a little earlier today we decided to camp on Ge-be-on- e-quet tonight & try to make up the difference by making it to Agnes tomorrow. There is a campsite at the entrance to the south bay closest to our first portage tomorrow. But, if we were gonna spend a night on Ge-be-on-e-quet? I figured we might as well grab the recliner site.[paragraph break]

The rock recliners are kind of the BWCAW version of Easter Island. Who built them & why? :) The actual campsite itself isn't too bad either. The landing is a bit tight & rocky but, you'll be hard pressed to find a nicer kitchen and fire grate area. Though compact, it has very convenient flat stones for keeping things organized as well as very good log seating that is actually at the right height. The biggest drawback is the tent pads. Ours was noticeably slanted towards the lake. This was remedied by placing currently unused items such as the tarp, rain gear etc. under the downhill side of our air mattresses to level them out. Worked like a charm. [paragraph break]

Vickie later admitted that of all the sites we stayed at along this route, this was her favorite. High praise indeed, when you consider the caliber of the sites we'd had the privilege of calling home. But, added that she probably would've had a different opinion if we had a larger group.[paragraph break]

As evening fell, for the first time, there was actually some color in the sky. We both agreed it had been a good decision to stop early and be able to enjoy the campsite. Cooked up the last of our fresh bacon tonight for supper, chopping & mixing it with some foil pouch chicken and creamy garlic & alfredo noodles. Was a mighty tasty supper, if I do say so myself. [paragraph break]

A perplexing development surfaced tonight. Vickie had been sending an OK signal every night from the SPOT. For some reason, tonight it didn't go through. We tried changing batteries but, to no avial. We were certainly OK. But, didn't know how they would take not hearing from us back home.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Finger Lake, Pocket Lake, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake

 



Day 7 of 8


Monday, September 24, 2012

Well, today we finally were able to strike camp before 1:00! Our great hope was to be able to make it to Lake Agnes to somewhat minimize our travels tomorrow. Vickie tried the SPOT again with no success. [paragraph break]

A consequence of camping where we did was that we would need to complete our largest open water crossing of the trip thus far if we wanted to most expediently get to our first portage of the day. Fortunately there was only a mild breeze this morning, so our knuckles were able to retain their pinkish hue for the duration of the crossing. [paragraph break]

The skies were overcast as we reached the portage to Green. This was a good path that had a decent climb up out of Ge-be-one-quet for about the first quarter of the trail tapering off then eventually dropping back down to Green. [paragraph break]

By this time the sun was winning it's struggle with the clouds and brilliantly highlighted the fall colors which were really starting to hit their stride. [paragraph break]

After a thankfully uneventful paddle across Green, the next portage was a shorter trail to Rocky lake. There is a neat swampy area at about mid trail that the trail passes by. The Rocky end is just that....Rocky. We stopped here and grabbed a snack. [paragraph break]

Before tackling the next portage, we paddled over to the cliffs along the western shoreline to check out the pictographs. It is my understanding that no one has been able to determine who made the pictographs, or what they actually mean. So, for all we knew, we could have been looking at ancient markings that were merely saying, "Class of 73". Never the less, we briefly paid our respects & contemplated possible - more significant meanings. As we paddled away we passed some large rocks with water line marks that showed just how low the water was. [paragraph break]

Another rocky landing. While unloading here I slipped waist deep into the lake. It was warm and sunny & my Mountain Hardware Talus pants dried before we finished the portage. So it really wasn't an issue.[paragraph break]

If you haven't been able to tell by now? I really like running across old growth mature trees of all sorts. This trail was quite level & blessed with several large specimens. So this was, perhaps, the most enjoyable portage of the whole trip for me. [paragraph break]

Upon completion of this portage, Vickie frankly admitted she'd had enough. Aurora had really been a Daddy's girl this trip. Almost every time I'd disappear down a portage trail she would more often than not throw a fit until I returned. This, understandably, really wore down Mommy's resolve. I told Vickie we likely wouldn't make it much farther anyway. Even here behind the Oyster lake peninsula, the wind was really pushing up some waves. I hoped the 5 star site at the "pinch" would be available.[paragraph break]

The wind was really something, even blowing my hat off. Let the waves push us across the narrow finger of water in a nor'east direction until we reached the west side of the peninsula. Then turned & battled the waves head on back SW to the, mercifully open, 5 star peninsula site.[paragraph break]

This is one of my all-time favorite campsites in the BWCAW. Nice landings on either side of the peninsula where you can alternately view the sunrise & sun set, awesome fire grate & kitchen area, several flat tent pads & plenty of room to explore. As an added bonus the way the log seating was constructed around the fire grate made for a great natural play pen for Aurora. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

As noisy as the wind was when we set up, we didn't claim the premo tent pad behind the base of the large sloping rock face tucked under the cedar trees. Instead we setup near the fire grate so, if necessary, we could hear Aurora while we were sitting by the fire later that evening.[paragraph break]

After supper Vickie took the time to bake some banana nut bread. As we enjoyed a great dessert, the wind had receded to only a trace. We sat up and savored the warmth & crimson glow of the camp fire on what we hoped was our last evening, while wolves hauntingly howling from the direction of the Oyster river intermittently echoed across the night.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Green Lake, Rocky Lake, Oyster Lake

 



Day 8 of 8


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'll be the first to admit my photography knowledge & skills are very limited. My train of thought in this regard is; if I take enough photos, the law of averages would suggest that a few of them will be keepers. Well, this was one of those magical canoe country mornings where you just needed to point the camera & shoot. [paragraph break]

While making her coffee this morning, Vickie even had a grouse walk right through camp. Our neighborhood wolves were still at it even after the sun had risen. Vickie frankly admitted that the wolves howling throughout the night had made for a fitful night of sleep. And, in no certain terms, told me to stick close to her today while portaging.[paragraph break]

As we were eating breakfast we were joined by a triumvirate of Whiskey Jacks. This trip wasn't the most noteworthy for wildlife sightings. But, to watch Aurora excitedly marvel at the various common birds & animals that we did see was quite a treat. Getting to see the birds & squirrels through her young, unfiltered eyes revealed anew, the exuberant youthful wonder & curiosity that often remains dormant in our observation. Of course she tried to emulate them by eating right off the ground too.[paragraph break]

Another big advantage of the beautiful morning was that Oyster lake was virtually a mirror. So we could paddle across directly to the portage. Also, once we were in the middle of the lake, Vickie tried the SPOT one last time with no success. As we pulled up to the portage, a group of four pulled in just behind us. They must've come from Hustler lake. Believe it or not? Excepting Ben, these were the first people we had seen on our route since Darren had dropped us off 6 days ago! [paragraph break]

I volunteered to let them "play through". One of the guys thanked me & said, "We only do one carry, so we'll be out of your way quickly". I said, "I do one carry too......One after another". I think my humor was lost on him?[paragraph break]

A benefit of these others simultaneously portaging with us was that Vickie felt much more relaxed about possibly seeing a wolf. We wished each other a good trip & they were on their way while we finished portaging & got Aurora changed for the Oyster river paddle. [paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

As had been the custom so far, once again there was a beaver dam shortly after starting down the river. And, Aurora was sure to keep a close eye on Daddy as we paddled along. [paragraph break]

With as low as the river was it was no wonder that the landing to Agnes was an absolute quagmire. Initially it was difficult to discern where solid footholds would be. Fortunately (for me)Vickie found where NOT to walk. [paragraph break]

One would think the closer you get to the entry point, the better the trail would be maintained. Quite the contrary in this case. Nothing unmanageable but, there were several trees and branches down across this trail. Some precariously so. Never the less, Aurora really enjoyed the sandy beach on Agnes while we took a break & finished off the banana bread Vickie had baked last night. [paragraph break]

Met a friendly soloist heading for Oyster lake before we pushed off. All the campsites before we reached the Moose river were occupied. As well as several groups coming down the river. Reminded me why I try to avoid this area. Oh well, we couldn't complain, we'd just had 6 days of complete solitude.[paragraph break]

Upon entering the Moose river it was immediately evident that the water was very low. First we had to maneuver our way through a maze of barely submerged rocks. Then we ended up having to pole the canoe from about the confluence of Ramshead creek all the way to the 95 rod portage. Eventually having to just get out and walk the loaded canoe the last 30 yards or so to the landing. Vickie thought it was neat the way a branch on the old,dead tree still standing there seemed to be pointing where the portage was. [paragraph break]

No where was the evidence of low water more stark than along the portages where the running water is usually located. Hopefully this area gets some serious moisture soon. [paragraph break]

There was a large beaver dam just before Nina Moose as well as several smaller ones all along the way back to the entry point. The weather didn't seem to know what it wanted to do. Sunshine was quickly followed by light showers & vice versa. It had already been a long day, so we paddled right past "Top of the world" without stopping. There was an old Hamms beer can someone had unearthed along one of the portages. [paragraph break]

Through the grace of God, Aurora had been a real trooper today. She hadn't fussed or complained at all. Never the less once we reached the sidewalk like half mile portage back to the parking lot, Vickie let her pin her ears back and go. After being cooped up in the canoe most of the day, her gleeful laughter & squeals echoed through the woods. [paragraph break]

It had taken us over 8 hours to make it back to the entry point today. We each had a heavenly cold caffeinated drink waiting for us in the van. The drive down the Echo trail was picture perfect. A seemingly unending canopied kaleidoscope of colors elegantly hung over the trail as we motored past. While very relieved to be out, Both of us were overcome with a deep sense of accomplishment & satisfaction for having completed this route with Aurora along.[paragraph break]

Having devoured our third meal from Trails End. I feel qualified to put them on equal footing with any eatery that serves the BWCAW such as Trail Center, Ely Steakhouse etc. Very good food & menu. We even ran into Mark Anderson (of Anderson Outfitters) and shared our story. He was quite impressed with Little Miss Aurora & was glad we'd had a good time. From there it was just the beginning of another long journey.......The ride home![paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

Oyster Lake, Agnes Lake, Nina Moose Lake

In the final analysis, we both agreed this was a very memorable trip. But, in planning this route, I should've added at least another day. At times, especially on days we moved, Aurora was a handful. As with most kids, she just wanted to get up and go. Sitting in a canoe was just too sedentary for her. And, as I mentioned in the report, this wore on Vickie. [paragraph break]

Still, watching Aurora marvel at the various animals, birds, loon calls are priceless memories. Not to mention how she deftly made her way around camp or rode carefree at he front of the canoe, or peeked around to the back of the canoe to ensure that I was still there. I guess what I'm trying to say is, that even though there were difficulties along the way, it was worth the struggles to achieve those type of payoffs that only the wilderness could provide. To put things into perspective. Even had we driven in a car for hours, Aurora still would've fussed & carried on at times. That's just what kids do. [paragraph break]

As I mentioned earlier we felt a real sense of accomplishment completing this route. I certainly think we spent time at 4 of the nicest campsites along the way in virtually complete solitude & the fall colors really started to show as we passed through. It would've been nice to have a little more time for exploring & fishing but, it was great to have met up with Ben and Bernice along the way. It was a tough but, very satisfying adventure. Looking forward to the next one.[paragraph break]

[paragraph break]

 

Lakes Traveled:   Oyster Lake, Agnes Lake, Nina Moose Lake,

Routes
Trip Reports
a
Routes
Trip Reports
Routes
Trip Reports
Routes
Trip Reports
Routes
Trip Reports
Routes
Trip Reports
x
Routes
Trip Reports
fd
hgc
Routes
Trip Reports