Day 1 of 5
Monday, September 24, 2012 We packed everything the night before and we strived to be at the outfitters by 7:00 am. Well we didn’t quite make it, but it was not too bad. We grab our food bag and canoe and we were on our way. So we stopped at Zup’s for some pop tarts :-). After stopping to adjust a strap on the canoe we made our way out of town and this time I didn’t miss the turn for Echo Trail!!! So, just a little behind on our schedule, LOL, we made our way to our entry point. I decided to try LIS north, mainly because it provided several easy portages and the chance for us to go north and touch Canada (shhhhh, don’t tell). Miranda, our daughter, ever since we explained where the boundary waters were, she kept commenting she wanted to go to the other country! So, back to our ride to EP 14, we came around a corner and there was a bull moose in the middle of road! We were lucky enough to get some pictures and watch him for a while.
So, by being off on our schedule, we were rewarded with be able to see our first moose in Boundary Waters! Finally, arriving to our entry point we started unloading all our gear and proceeded down to the river. This would be Miranda’s first time carrying a pack. She was ready and rearing to go out on her first canoe adventure! We traveled down the river to the first portage, Elm Portage. She jumped right into things and seemed to effortlessly carry her pack to other end. I began to wonder, if I needed to pack more stuff in her pack, so she could get the whole effect of carrying heavy packs over rough portages. :-) Before I could turn around she was off exploring the rocks and waterfalls of the portage.
It was a challenge to keep up with this billy goat. We made our way down the river and entered Upper Pauness Lake. It was windy that day and we decided to take the 40 rod portage verses the up and over 8 rod. It was a little bit of struggle to get across the lake, but not too bad. We made quick work of the 40 rod and enjoyed the less windy side of Lower Pauness Lake. Our goal for today was Shell Lake, Con Island. After a slight detour on Lower Pauness, a little misguidance from the front of the canoe, we found our next portage. We called it the beaver portage. About a third of the way over; we discovered that the beavers were very very busy. The board walk had floated away and we had to float are way across.
It was a little bit of challenge, but kind of fun :-). We entered Shell Lake and searched for a site on Con Island. (BTW, does anyone know why it is called Con Island?) We saw that the south site was taken, so we headed to the north end. We searched for the north site but eventually found the middle site on the east side. Somehow we missed the north site, so back we went. I eventually, just got out and walk around until I found it. Boy is it hidden up there! We unloaded the canoe and set up camp!!!!!! It was getting cold and we were tired. We had our steaks and potatoes and decided to call it quits for the evening. All was good until about 1:00 am! Something knock over some pots we left out to dry. I was the only one to wake up, thankfully :-). I didn’t see anything at that time, but about 20 minutes later, I heard something climbing down a tree. This time I spotted a pair of eyes bouncing around the camp. They kept getting closer to me in the tent, it was really curious. Finally, about 15 ft. away I could see it was a Pine Martin. He finally spooked and ran away. Back to sleep.
Day 2 of 5
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 BRRRRR!!! was the word of the morning? After much thinking while staying warm in my sleeping bag, I roused up the girls and we started our day. Eggs and Bacon were on order for this morning. As I tried to convince them we had a midnight visitor, he decided to show himself, again, behind our tent. Miranda named it Charlie! Charlie ran around for a good half hour and then off he went. (Later, the next day, we found out he left us to visit the south site and he checked them out for the rest of the day). After breakfast, we decided to explore Shell Lake. Miranda decided she wanted to explore the small island, just SE of Con Island. After a little searching, we found a spot to land and start our trek. It was short lived when Miranda decided to head straight in! Well being on an island that didn’t seem to have any type of clearing since who knows when, we didn’t make it very far. :-) It was very thick needless to say. After hitting road blocks after road blocks, we made our way back the shore line and eventually made are way around the island. Safely back to the canoe, we continue south to the next island and headed to the campsite on the southeast corner of the lake.
We discovered a little water fall right next to it. It was great to have a little explorer with us, she wanted to go climb the rocks and the big one right next to the little waterfall. Next, we headed over to the portage to Little Shell Lake. Snack time and we met a little chipmunk while sitting on the rocks and soaking in the sunlight. Before heading back to camp, we had to visit the rock in the middle!
It is amazing how a big rock and be placed on a big rock in the middle of the lake. Miranda had been eying it all day as we toured around the lake. As usual she had to climb it. We finally made it back to the camp. The wind was still blowing so we decided to put the tarp up to block it a little. It helped and lot and made dinner bearable. Time for Pizza!!!
Day 3 of 5
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 Blueberry pancakes and sunshine was on tap for the morning.
We decided to move camp today. It sounded like a good idea at the time. We ate pancakes and broke down camp and packed the canoe and headed west. We traveled back to Lower Pauness Lake via the Beaver portage again. We met the guys that were staying on the south side of Con Island. It was a guide and a gentleman from North Carolina. They were watching a mama moose and her baby moose at the beaver dam in the middle of the portage.
Not only did we see a bull moose on Echo Trail, we now get to see a mom and her baby!!! We are starting to think our 13 year old is a lucky animal charm. :-) We stood and watch the mama moose for about 30-40 minutes. She could care less we were there. We finally moved on and finished the portage only for our lucky charm to find a box turtle!
After the advice from the guide, we looked to see if the site south of the portage was open, it was not :-), then we check the one on the point just north of the portage and it was not either. We decided to spy the last one on the lake and it was open, but we chose to check out Upper Pauness for some open sites he recommended. So we shot over the 40 rod portage and canoed north to check out the top three sites. They were full, also, so we headed south. We checked out the two southern sites and decided to try and go back the open site on Lower Pauness. We headed over the 8 rod portage at the south end. It was an up and over and not very bad at all. We were a bit surprised to run into a beaver dam on the other side, thou. Luckily the north site was still open, which was good, it was turning into a long day. We quickly sat up the tent and started supper and settled in for the night. Our lucky charm finally saw her beavers!!! Oh boy did she! Our entertainment was set for the evening, watching beavers heading to work and watching the full moon rise. We also found this spike and chain link in the rock right in the camp site.
Day 4 of 5
Thursday, September 27, 2012 Today’s goal was to day trip north. After taking about an hour to climb out of our warm sleeping bags, we finally got up, ate breakfast, packed a lunch and started our adventure. After a quick paddle to the Devil’s Cascade portage, we were quickly checking out the campsite on top overlooking the cascade, well, looking over what should be a cascade. :-( Wasn’t much of a cascade? But on the bright side, it was one spectacular view from up there.
We were back on the trail and started to head north out of Little Indian Sioux River. Then we hit a road block.
It was one of the biggest ones we have ever had to go up and over on. Miranda’s fascination with beavers just got bigger. She was amazed how they could build something so big and in the middle of a river. ;-) Finally, we were entering Loon Lake. After entering Loon Lake, we traveled west around a big island and then headed north across the lake and landed in CANADA. SHHHHH!!!! :-) She was so excited and so nervous at the same time, LOL, it was funny. This made her whole trip. After canoeing for most of the day we started to head back and stopped by a campsite in the mouth of the LIS and enjoyed a snack/lunch. Once again, she was able to find some creatures. She found five frogs on this little pool of water. She really does love animals. After our great day trip, we enjoyed our supper. We needed some water so Miranda took her turn in steering the canoe. Of course, when we head out so did all the beavers! They were all heading north for the night. We ended up about 20 feet away from one when it popped up in front of us. Her comment was, “they are so big”! We settled down for the night and Miranda decided she want try her luck at making a fire. She did a great job gathering tinder and finding two sticks to rub together. Just Kidding! But she did get her first fire lit and she kept it going and put it out on her own!
Day 5 of 5
Friday, September 28, 2012 Our last day. We hadn’t had any creatures that woke us up in the middle of the night, since the first night. So our last night would be like our first night! About 3:00 am, I woke up and looked over at a wide eyed wife!!!!! Something was out there and it just walked right past our tent! Then came the “aren’t you going to go and look and see what it was” look from her. A beaver decided to walk right by our tent and proceeded down to the shore line to finish chewing on a stick. So, of course, I made the little misses join me on this cold and crisp morning and we watched him for a bit and then crawled back into the warm sleeping bags!!! After the sun rose, we proceeded to start packing up for our trek out of the BWCA. All packed up and ready to go, we let Miranda take the stern and steer our way out!
We decided to go south and go to the 8 rod portage. This tree was blown down some time ago, but we were amazed how big it grew on top of a ROCK!!!
We continued on to the little beaver dam and then up and over the 8 rod portage. It was a neat little portage. I did see my first snake in boundary waters there. Not sure what it was, but it was really tiny, no more than 6-7 inches long and thinner than a pencil.
Miranda led us across the lower part of Upper Pauness Lake and south up the LIS. Completing our first trip over Elm Portage, we were taking a little break before heading back, and we noticed a Chesapeake Bay retriever coming down the trail. Shortly after, we met the owner wearing a flying moose hat. We spent a while talking to NCTRY and learning about his and Bernice’s trip of 40 days in the boundary waters. It was really nice to meet him and Bernice and listen to his travels. It was truly amazing to meet someone who completed such a journey. We wished NCTRY a safe trip home and we headed back to pick up the rest of the gear. With Miranda’s “short cuts” we made it the rest of the way up the river and to the entry point. We portaged our gear up the parking lot and in true captain fashion, Miranda offered to carry the canoe the last half of the portage. It was a fun trip and one I am sure Miranda will not forget anytime soon, I knew Rhonda and I will not!
Thanks for Reading Miranda, Faron, Rhonda