BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

December 14 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

International Falls to Lake Superior, Solo

by Sjlubner
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 28, 2015
Entry Point: Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake)
Exit Point: North Fowl Lake (70)
Number of Days: 10
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
I experienced the beauty and vastness of the Superior- Quetico region by traveling, a long distance, similar to the fur traders of the eighteenth century. I traveled waterways and trails rich in history. This same route was being traversed by Europeans nearly 300 years ago and undoubtedly by Native Americans untold hundreds of years before that. I wanted to have a small experience of the lifestyle the fur traders of the eighteenth century would have been subject to.

Day 1 of 10


Monday, September 28, 2015 [paragraph break] Just to be clear, I left from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center on the western edge of Voyageurs National Park. Starting there is about 8 miles east of International Falls. The day consisted of big water on a windy day, albeit a favorable wind direction. I ended up cutting across Kabetogama peninsula from Browns Bay on Rainy to Mica Bay on Namakan. This was done because the waves on Rainy Lake had increased to an unsafe level by late afternoon (3-4 foot swells), but I still wanted to travel. After the portage I camped on Mica Island on Namakan Lake. I saw a fair number of big fishing boats and a couple house boats while paddling. There are many private in holdings within the park. I also met Al and his dog on his island, Harbor Island; best of luck to Al on his continued search for gold on his island. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Rainey, Brown, and Namakan [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Sunny, Increasing winds as day progressed, WNW 15-25mph, High 62, Low 35 [paragraph break] Number of portages: 2 [paragraph break] Length of portages: 3.5 miles or 1140 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 29.75 miles

 



Day 2 of 10


Tuesday, September 29, 2015 [paragraph break] Day 2 consisted of exiting Voyageurs National Park and entering the BWCA. For me, big water is enjoyable with favorable conditions. I enjoy navigating through the islands and the many varied options it provides. I used Grassy Portage on Namakan to reduce distance by about 3 miles. The Voyageurs area would provide the most bald eagles I would see throughout the trip. I also was able to observe a big old snapping turtle (80lbs?) lounging in the sun as a came around a point and it quickly slid into the water. The grassy cliff area was quite striking too. I camped on the south end of little Vermillion Lake. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Namakan, Sand Point, Little Vermillion [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Sunny, Winds W 10-15mph, High 59, Low 33 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 1 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 0.3 miles, 107 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 25.8 miles [paragraph break]

 



Day 3 of 10


Wednesday, September 30, 2015 [paragraph break] On this day overall tiredness and muscle fatigue really seemed to set in. The day still consisted of continued motorized waters as I traveled to the middle of Lac La Croix. The day was generally calm, but transitioned to the first day of an east wind. The Loon River was beautiful and provided a great chance to observe beavers early in the morning. I camped on the SE campsite of 27 Island. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Little Vermillion, Loon River, Loon Lake, Lac la Croix [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Sunny, Winds light and variable early, changing to E 5- 10mph, High 63, Low 36 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 2 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 0.3 miles, 130 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 23.5 miles

 



Day 4 of 10


Thursday, October 01, 2015 [paragraph break] I finally left motorized waters as a paddled to Crooked Lake. As I was leaving my campsite in the morning, I observed a 3 foot sturgeon jump out of the water, my first time seeing that species. I saw my first other canoe group on this day as I was leaving Lac La Croix. I camped on an island between Friday and Thursday bays. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Lac la Croix, Bottle, Iron, Crooked [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Sunny, Wind E 8-12mph, High 56, Low 32 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 2 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 0.7 miles, 220 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 23.75 [paragraph break]

 



Day 5 of 10


Friday, October 02, 2015 [paragraph break] A highlight of the day was observing the pictographs on Crooked Lake. It was calm and I studied the images in silence for quite some time, before continuing on. This was my first time laying eyes these pictographs. They seem to have a timeless sense of appeal to us, as we revel in the mystery and wonder about the makers. I was able to observe a family of otters on the Basswood River on this day. I continued around American Point and camped across from Norway Point. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Crooked, Basswood River, Basswood Lake [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Sunny, Wind E 5-10mph, High 58, Low 35 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 4 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 1.6miles, 510 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 24.75miles [paragraph break]

 



Day 6 of 10


Saturday, October 03, 2015 [paragraph break]

This was the fourth consecutive day of an east wind and the strongest of the four. I paddled for a little over half the day, until forward progress required too much energy output per mile. I passed Isle of the Pines on this day and observed my only painted turtles of the trip. I camped on an island outside of the South Arm of Knife Lake. I actually shared the campsite with two fellow soloists, Dan and Blake, as we both arrived on opposite sides of the campsite at similar times. It was very nice to share both conversation and campfire; really the only of either I would have on the entire trip. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Basswood, Birch, Carp, Melon, Seed, Knife [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Partly cloudy early, Sunny later, Winds E 10- 20mph, High 59, Low 33 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 7 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 0.65 miles, 205 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 14 miles [paragraph break]

 



Day 7 of 10


Sunday, October 04, 2015 [paragraph break] The day was highlighted by waking early at 5:15am to a chorus of howling wolves from across the lake. This day provided my largest single day distance traveled. This due to the ideal paddling conditions provided. This allowed me to take the big open water crossings on Saganaga with a direct line as I traveled west. The Granite River system was very low as to be expected this time of year, but only caused two extra short portages. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Knife, Ottertrack, Swamp, Saganaga, Maraboeuf, Gniess, Granite River, Clove Lake [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Mostly Cloudy, Winds light and variable, High 60, Low 34 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 11 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 1.2 miles, 384 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 32.5 miles [paragraph break]

 



Day 8 of 10


Monday, October 05, 2015 [paragraph break] I really enjoyed the area traveled on this day. Even though Gunflint Lake is large and motorized, it was a calm and quiet paddle across. This day included a fair amount of the water was outside the BW, so it feels like it sees fewer visitors. I experienced my only rain of the trip, a brief 20 minute rain shower. Other than that, it was completely dry for 10 consecutive days. That is pretty amazing. I also started practicing my border jumping here. During lunch breaks, I would try to jump from the U.S. to Canada on the small water flowage between lakes (insert Scott Walker joke here). I camped on the 2nd eastern most Rose Lake campsite. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Clove, Pine River, Magnetic, Gunflint, Little Gunflint, Little North, North, South, Rat, Rose [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Mostly cloudy, Brief afternoon rain shower, Wind WSW 5- 10mph, High 56, Low 35 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 6 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 0.95 miles, 304 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 23.5 miles [paragraph break]

 



Day 9 of 10


Tuesday, October 06, 2015 [paragraph break] These long east-west running lakes are a stark contrast from the island riddled lakes of the western part of the border route. I fortunately had a favorable wind direction on these days. I was able to observe some Trumpeter Swans while paddling. The days had become noticeably shorter as daylight now approaches 11 hours. I camped on South Fowl Lake, near the mouth of the Pigeon River. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: Rose, Rove, Watab, Mountain, Vaseux, Moose, North Fowl, South Fowl [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Partly Sunny, Wind W 10-20mph, High 57, Low 34 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 6 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 3.7 miles, 1175rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 22.75 [paragraph break]

 



Day 10 of 10


Wednesday, October 07, 2015 [paragraph break] I knew the final day was going to be tough. The first couple miles on the Pigeon were fine, but then river became filled with small rapids, rocks, and just general low water. This occurred just upstream of the English portage (of which I was not able to find). I knew it would probably be like this going in, due to the river flowing at fall levels- 100cfs. This compared to spring or early summer levels between 1000cfs- 2000cfs. I did some overhead portaging and some floating of my canoe empty down the river for maybe a total of a mile. This was very slow going. I avoided most rocks, but still did receive a few scratches on the boat. I did waist deep immersion for this portion, but had a warm enough of a day to make it pleasant enough. I then arrived at Partridge Falls. Extremely scenic and remote waterfall and easy enough portage trail. Upon arriving at the paddling end of the Pigeon River, I commenced sugar loading and a mental psyche up for the next 8.5 miles. The Grand Portage Monument trail is maintained by the National Park Service. It is extremely well maintained by boundary waters portage standards. It has multiple footbridges over large wetland areas and many sections are lined with the 2-12 boards to stay above the, at times, wet and muddy earth. Exactly 3 hours later I made it to Northwest Company Stockade and Lake Superior, a beautiful sight. I then camped at the Grand Portage Marina Campground and waited for my ride. [paragraph break] Lakes Traveled: South Fowl, Pigeon River, Lake Superior [paragraph break] Observed Weather: Sunny then Cloudy, Wind W 5-10mph, High 55, Low 28 [paragraph break] Number of Portages: 4 [paragraph break] Length of Portages: 10.3 miles, 3,300 rods [paragraph break] Total Day Mileage: 21 miles [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Total Mileage: 241.25 miles [paragraph break] Total Portages: 45 [paragraph break] Total Portage Length: 23.4 miles, 7475 rods [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] The route was almost entirely following arguably the most interesting international border of the United States. I varied from the U.S.-Canada border in three main instants. 1: I portaged/ paddled across Kabetogama Peninsula traveling from Browns Bay to Brown Lake to Mica Bay on Namakan Lake. It should be noted that portaging to some interior lakes in Voyageurs National Park is illegal. This was done entirely because of the adverse wind conditions on Rainy Lake, but however saved an estimated 6 miles from trip length 2: I used Grassy portage on Namakan to cut another peninsula and save 3 miles. 3: I went south of Coleman Island on Lac La Croix to save 5 miles. The voyageurs would have certainly not taken the two extra portages, as they greatly despised them, but I certainly do not mind them at times. [paragraph break] In early route planning I had estimated the trip to be 250- 265 miles (Rainy Lake Visitor Center- Lake Superior). My end of trip mileage came out to 241.25 miles. This shorter distance was accomplished by the said three major shorter routes taken as well as a slight disregard for the international border. Instead I took the route that offered the safest path of travel and most efficient line of travel. I completed 45 portages totaling 23.4 miles or about 9.7% of total distance traveled, though about a third of that total comes from the last portage. [paragraph break] The trip was done west to east for two reasons. One: Take advantage of predominate westerly winds. Two: Longest portages would occur near the end of the trip when weight of food rations were lightest. This trip also had two stark differences from other past Boundary Waters trips: no fishing and a possession of a watch. I love to fish, but this trip was too distance orientated to have time. This is similar to the Voyageurs as they paddled too long of days to hunt or fish. I generally prefer not to have a watch for a paddling trip. This allows me to fall into a more natural state and develop a keener sense of the rhythm of days. [paragraph break] A large obstacle of the trip was the dwindling amount of day light each day, about 11 hours by the end of the trip. This required me to be efficient with the given daylight throughout the trip. I was mindful of the time spent for lunch and paddling breaks. Most days I was paddling around dawn and continued to an hour and half before the sun set or so. [paragraph break] My pack started the trip weighing at 52 lbs. with 14 days of food, consuming 3,500 calories a day. My canoe plus extras (paddle, life vest, and portage yoke) totaled 36 lbs. This brought my total weight to 88lbs; certainly a far cry from the voyageurs load of two 90lbs packs. I can provide a more detailed account of gear/ food list if anyone is curious. [paragraph break] All considered it was a great trip. I was blessed with some amazing weather. Some may not understand the desire to complete such a journey in compressed small amount of time. The yearning the push myself physically and mentally comes from my background in endurance-based sports. This was also my third boundary waters trip of the year. I did a fishing orientated trip in May and as well a more relaxed, enjoyment type trip in September as well. I loved the vast terrain experienced in this trip. [paragraph break] Packing List [paragraph break] https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-hFgVS9QiGQNUx1MWx2blNlX0U/view? usp=sharing usp=sharing [paragraph break]

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