BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

October 23 2017

Entry Point 14 - Little Indian Sioux River North

Little Indian Sioux River (north) entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 32 miles. Access is a 40-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.

Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1364 feet
Latitude: 48.1466
Longitude: -92.2103

First Ever Solo- Little Indian Sioux River North- July 2017

by anthonyp007
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 13, 2017
Entry Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
I've always wanted to do a solo trip to see what it would be like, I've read that it is a whole different experience. That is totally true, and I must say, after this trip, I was hooked. I chose the LIS North entry for two reasons: 1- it offered a nice distance loop through some smaller lakes, and 2- there were Lake Trout lakes along the way. I did as I usually do the day before trips, secured my permit and drove to the entry point after some dinner to "dirtbag" it in the car the night before. I had my wife's car this time, so space was a little limited, but I slept fine on one of the kids sleeping pads and was up early at 5 am, greeted by a light rain.

Day 1 of 5


Thursday, July 13, 2017 I gathered up all of my stuff, which isn't much for this solo trip. My lone pack weighed in at exactly 53.5 pounds before I left, my canoe with paddle stowed inside weighed approximately 24 pounds. So, I was going light, and single portaging. I hit the trail at 5:30 after a clif bar breakfast and I was certainly glad I had left the rain gear near the top of my pack because I put it on as soon as I stepped out of the car. The put in and paddle to the first portage was beautiful, everything about this EP takes your breath away. The river bends and moves with the landscape and the wildlife was abundant with deer, eagles and ducks populating the way. The first portage is an easy 60 rod carry and once back in the canoe, Jeanette Creek was a raging waterfall as it dumped into the LIS. It was beautiful, but raining, so I couldn't get a pic. Right before reaching the Devils Cascade portage I ran into the first people I'd seen, it looked like they were heading out. The paddle into Loon Lake was into a pretty good headwind, and I no longer had the help of the river current, so it was a little slower, but once I rounded the corner into East Loon Bay, things got easier. I did see one motorboat, towing someone from Crane Lake up to Lac la Croix, but it was well off in the distance. It made me realize how tiny we are in this vast wilderness. Once I paddled into Little Loon Lake, I had a good laugh, as there is actually a sign posted on a tree stating something like "no motorized boats allowed beyond this point". I was kind of surprised we need a sign there, but I have read other trip reports of people who say they've seen motorboats illegally in Little Loon Lake. I paddled to the north end and saw that the north campsite was occupied and I quickly located the portage to Slim Lake, where I sat and had a drink and a Clif Bar. I was making remarkable time. It was only 9:30, I thought this would be my lunch spot. I was just about to get up and do the portage when a teenage boy comes walking up with a canoe, he was part of a family of 4 that was heading home after two weeks in the Takucmich area because they were running out of food. He said they were from Shoreview, the city neighboring my city so I wished my "neighbors" well and headed up the portage. With the 173 rod portage behind me (shoulders got a little fatigued on that one), I was on Slim Lake and I paddled up the eastern shore in search of the unmarked portage to Fat Lake. I knew it was just to the south of where a little creek empties into Slim Lake, and I was glad I was hugging the shoreline because you had to look closely to find this portage. I had heard this one was a tough portage, but it would save me a lot of time and distance if I tried it. This was the only portage I did not single as I had read that the turns can be super tight and getting a canoe through can be tricky, so I took my pack, map and compass and trudged on. The portage wasn't that bad and I made it to Fat Lake where I stopped and stood to honor its beauty. Small, but majestic and the clearest water I've ever seen. I doubled back for the canoe and I was paddling up to the lone campsite on Fat Lake at 11:30, way, way faster than I was hoping for today. I can't help the desire to push fast and try to test my abilities (I ran track in college), but I must say, I feel like I took the time to "smell the roses" and enjoyed my surroundings on the trip in and I still made it in amazing time so I was thrilled. After getting camp set up I decided to try and catch a Lake Trout since it was still overcast and I didn't mind getting back in the canoe. I paddled out and explored the lake a little, found the portage to Eugene Lake for tomorrow, and dropped a line. I've read all about "trolling" in a zig zag pattern for Lake Trout and I must say, that sounds like a lot of work so I just let the wind push me across the lake and I let out a lot of line. It was probably more luck than skill, but I landed a Laker on my first drift across the lake. I was so pumped! One trip goal achieved, and I hadn't even been in the wilderness a half day! Once I got back to camp with Lake Trout in tow, the clouds moved out and the sun appeared just in time for me to dry everything out on a clothesline. I whipped up some rice with dehydrated carrots and cooked the Lake Trout over the fire with a little lemon pepper seasoning. It was a perfect meal for a hard days work. Single portaging was tough today, but I think I worked out a system that made things smooth and efficient. I hit the hay as the sun went down after a campfire and a few shots of Fireball. What a great first day!~Upper Pauness Lake, Lower Pauness Lake, Loon Lake, Little Loon Lake, Slim Lake, Fat Lake

 



Day 2 of 5


Friday, July 14, 2017 I slept sans rain fly as the forecast was good, and I woke to a chilly morning, my gauge read 43 degrees when I got up and checked it. I had debated just bringing a blanket on this trip, but I was glad I decided on my 20 degree bag instead. After a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee I started to pack up camp while chowing on some blueberries I found in camp. I was amazed at how smoothly things went packing up to go. I was on the water at 8:30, not sure where I would end up today. The portage into Eugene, Beartrack and Little Beartrack Lakes were uneventful, but I did notice that although very clear water, these lakes had nothing on Fat Lake, the clarity was remarkable. As I got into Thumb Lake after my first long portage of the day, I realized that it had been over 24 hours since I saw the family of 4 on the Little Loon-Slim portage. I was certain I'd see somebody on Thumb or Finger Lake though. There's a little beaver dam to portage around between Thumb and Finger, and once into finger, you paddle a little channel that leads out to the main lake and it offers a beautiful view. After surveying the lake and realizing I was the only one out here, I paddled over to the south island site to see the Pictographs on one of the big glacial boulders there and decided I'd camp there. This site was a beauty, sitting up high over the water and offering great trails to view the lake. I caught a northern from camp after setting up, but it was too big for just me to eat, so back she went. I had camp set up before noon (another surprise for me) and I realized that I had underestimated the speed at which I could paddle/portage in my planning. Oh well, it just meant I could take my time a little more. After lunch of a bagel with PB, I was about to hop back in the canoe and see what "Blueberry Island" had to offer when I noticed a pretty big chip in the gel coat, on the stern end of my canoe. Bummer, but at least the fiberglass/kevlar under the chip appeared to be rock solid. So I busted out the duct tape and filled the void, put a few pieces over the chip and covered it all with a piece of "tent repair tape" made of nylon. Amazingly, this little field repair held for the rest of the trip. I don't know when the chip happened, but I must have set my pack down hard in the stern when the canoe wasn't in deep enough water. I am religious about making sure my boat is completely buoyant before loading, but I must have hit a rock when loading or something. After an hour delay, I headed for Blueberry Island and it did not disappoint, I loaded up on blueberries and tried to fish a little, but had no luck.[paragraph break] Since I didn't keep the northern from earlier, I was going to be eating garlic mashed potatoes and peas with a little beef jerky for dinner. No complaints here. A lone loon paddled by during dinner, didn't say a peep, but he/she was so huge that all I could do was sit and stare at it, totally forgetting to take a pic. ~Fat Lake, Eugene Lake, Beartrack Lake, Little Beartrack Lake, Thumb Lake, Finger Lake

 



Day 3 of 5


Saturday, July 15, 2017 Another night sans rain fly as the weather has been amazing. I was a little sore today so I popped a few Advil after my oatmeal and coffee. I decided to fish a little before moving on today and so I drifted the backside of the island with little luck, just a small SM that I released. After getting some good pics and video of the Pictographs, I packed up and started paddling towards Pocket Lake and the next leg of the journey. Around this point in the trip, I was really starting to hit my stride, I felt at one with my surroundings and was beginning to really enjoy being out here all alone. As I approached the landing for the portage into Pocket Lake, I glanced at my watch and noticed it had been 48 hours since I had seen anyone. Pocket Lake was pretty, and the island campsite has me intrigued as it looked like a nice place to camp on future trips. I heard a float plane taking off from LLC as I paddled across this lake, which, surprise surprise, was completely void of people. There's a portage from Pocket to Pocket Creek, but I didn't need it as the water level was high enough to paddle through. This stretch of creek looked like moose heaven so I paddled slow and steady, but I had no luck seeing any. At one point, Pocket Creek splits off east and dumps into LLC, and I turned south into Ge-be-on-a-quet creek which was just as pretty. The portage to Ge-be Lake has some pretty waterfalls along the way, I took a little video there. I also broke my portage yoke blocks on this portage. I heard the wood crack as I tightened my clamp (clearly with too much gusto) and after the portage, as I set the canoe down, the blocks split in half. I was going to have to do some field repairs as soon as I make camp, but I was going to have to be a real badass over the next couple of portages with a malfunctioning yoke. As I paddled onto Ge-be, I turned west to go check out the rock chairs by the western shore campsite and they were awesome. I sat down for a few minutes to take in Ge-be and all her beauty before paddling on to the portage for Green Lake. Guess what? Ge-be was completely void of people, I was the only one out there. Once on Green Lake, the only company I had were two Trumpeter Swans honking away as they enjoyed their solitude. I stopped harassing them with photos and hit the portage to Rocky Lake. Once on Rocky I wanted to see the pictos, but I couldn't find them. I made two passes by the rock face where I thought they are, but never found them, oh well. Once again, all campsites were empty and I was the only one out there. As I portaged into Oyster with the canoe resting on my pack (because of my busted yoke clamps) I was starting to get tired, so I decided I would try and camp somewhere on Oyster to fuel up and make repairs. The first campsite on Oyster was empty and I decided to see if the one on the end of the point was vacant so I paddled on and guess what, nobody was there so I hopped out and had some lunch. It was over 50 hours since I had seen anyone and within a half hour of getting to my point campsite on Oyster, two groups paddled by. Seeing people was refreshing and made me realize the apocalypse hadn't happened. I decided to stay on my Oyster sight for the night and patched up my yoke clamps with some duct tape. I had some tasty Lasagna with itialian sausage for dinner, and another couple rounds of Fireball as a nightcap. I made a fishing attempt in the evening out on the main part of the lake, but had no luck. I did notice a group occupying the other peninsula campsite, so I was not alone tonight. I turned on my radio and listened to another amazingly clear forecast before closing my eyes without the rain fly once again. ~Finger Lake, Pocket Lake, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Green Lake, Rocky Lake, Oyster Lake

 



Day 4 of 5


Sunday, July 16, 2017 I woke to another sunny morning in the BW and I was growing evermore grateful for the amazing weather with each passing day. I have rarely experienced weather like this while in the BWCA, but this was also my first July trip, so maybe this weather was average for July. After another bowl of oatmeal and some tasty Via instant coffee, I started to pack up my stuff and clean up camp. I've read how lots of times a fire is one of the things that soloists often times neglect to have on their trips, but I had one on Oyster and every other day for that matter. I never once used my saw and didn't bring a hatchet, but I found plenty of scraps to build fires with at every campsite. There's something soothing about a fire in camp, so I had one this morning as I packed up my stuff before the 310 rod portage for Hustler Lake. After dousing my fire and checking for anything left behind, I set out for the portage to Hustler. With the high waters, I was forced to get back in the canoe about 70 rods down the portage trail as the swampy area was flooded. The rest of the portage went well and I didn't even take a break halfway because getting out to paddle across the swamp was break enough. Hustler is a beautiful lake, I paddled by two empty campsites before finally finding one occupied on the main part of the lake. I took my time crossing Hustler because I knew I had plenty of time to get wherever I would end up and with the way this trip was going, campsites weren't going to be hard to come by. The portage from Huslter to Ruby is super short, but it was still kind of hard to find. It's actually easy to see once you get there, but I just thought it was much farther south than it's actual location. Reaching Ruby was cool, there's an old log ramp of some sort just below the surface of the water that looks like it's from a logging company. If anyone knows more about this relic, I'd love to hear about it. I paddled across Ruby and hit my second long portage of the day, a 280 rodder into Lynx Lake. This portage was not bad at all, but the landing on the Lynx side was super rocky and made things difficult. Once out on Lynx, which I've heard has great fishing, I noticed something peculiar. Almost every campsite was occupied. So this is where everybody's been the whole time! Lol, it's funny, but seeing all of these people immediately made me miss my time on Fat and Finger, when I could carry on a conversation with myself and people wouldn't look at me like I was crazy. There's a tiny portage from Lynx to Little Shell Lake that I could paddle right through, then another shorty from Little Shell to Shell Lake. I got to paddle out and see the cool white rock that sits on a small island like it was delicately placed there by a giant. It's strange because I've seen pictures of this rock before, but I could never really appreciate it's bizarre beauty until the moment I paddled up to it in person. After a quick stop at the south Con Island campsite for lunch, and to debate with myself whether to camp there for the night, I decided to continue on and check out some other campsites before paddling on to Lower Pauness. At the portage landing, I found a pair of prescription glasses sitting in about 6 inches of murky water, I set them on a rock up on dry land hoping the owner will come back for his/her eyes. The portage had another section that I needed to paddle across, this one surprised me a little, but was no big deal. This was the day I started to see lots of groups, the landing on the Lower Pauness end was congested with groups heading for Shell Lake. There was a father/son duo just waiting in the water for a big group with 3 canoes to get done. We chatted for a minute and the father said he was thinking about getting a solo boat and had a few questions about how much I liked mine. Seeing a father/son team got me excited for taking my son on his first trip this fall. We will be going in October for a long weekend with my dad, so it will be 3 generations tripping together. I'll be sure to write up a report for that trip as well. Anyway, I took the point campsite that's just around the corner from the portage to Shell, just as another group of "Sconnies" paddled by heading to the portage. I wished them well on their trip and they asked me how my trip was going. I couldn't believe the amount of gear some of these groups had with them, I think I actually saw a hard sided wheeled cooler in one canoe. After setting up camp, I paddled up to have another look at Devil's Cascade, because on my trip in it was raining and I didn't get any good footage during the rain as I was more focused on covering ground. I got some video and when I got to the north end of the portage there was a YMCA group unloading their 2 canoes. Since all I had in my hand was my fishing rod, I offered to carry one of their packs back with me. They said no thanks, I must have given the group leader a perplexed look, because he starting explaining that it's camp policy. I was surprised, but I tip my hat to them for doing things without any assistance. Back at camp I cooked up a Mountain House breakfast skillet and scooped it into some tortillas for some tasty breakfast burritos! Wow, that was awesome. I would have had fish with it, but I Long Distance Released two smallmouth bass in the span of 10 minutes during my only fishing of the day. There was a family camped on the other campsite on the west side of the lake from me. The seemed to be having fun swimming, and that reminded me that I wanted to take a "bath" before exiting on Monday so I hopped in. I used some camp soap back by the tent pads to suds up after getting out of the lake and dumped a couple Nalgenes worth of water over myself to clean up. That was refreshing and I smelled like citronella the rest of the night, bonus. As the sun went down, I could hear yelling and hooting and hollering and it took me a while to realize that it was coming from the next lake over, Upper Pauness. Someone over there was having one heck of a good time for most of the evening. It didn't affect my quality of sleep however, as I was sacked out by 9:30. ~Oyster Lake, Hustler Lake, Ruby Lake, Lynx Lake, Little Shell Lake, Shell Lake, Lower Pauness Lake

 



Day 5 of 5


Monday, July 17, 2017 I woke at 5:30 feeling refreshed, but a little sad to be leaving this paradise. After the last of my oatmeal and coffee, I was packed up by 6:30 and shoving off toward Upper Pauness. The lake was still and quiet as I glided up to the first of only 3 portages between me and the entry point. I was back on the water quickly and noticed that every campsite on Upper Pauness was full, there was a solo canoeist at the sight closest to the 8 rod portage to Lower Pauness. I hit the river and this marked only the 2nd time this whole trip that I had to paddle upstream (the other time was Ge-be creek which was much easier and shorter). The Northstar tracked well, even without any weight in the bow and in no time I was paddling up to the 60 rod portage. There were 4 rental We-no-nah's sitting there and a couple of teenage boys staring at me like I was some exotic bird as I coasted up. As I got closer, they snapped out of their gaze and tried to clear some of their gear out of the way. As I hopped out of the canoe, I noticed some huge wolf tracks right by the waters edge and pointed them out to the kids and boy did they come racing over. It was clear to me that this was their first trip to the BW so I struck up some conversation to see where these kids were from and how long they were heading in. It turned out to be a group of 8 with 4 adults from Ohio and they were heading in for a week. I wished them well and thanked them for keeping my canoe from banging the rocks as I unloaded my pack. Then, as I hoisted the canoe over my head to single portage, I got that deer in the headlights look from the kids again... made me feel pretty good. This portage is a beauty, with great views of the cascading water as you travel up or down the trail. Once back on the water, I made quick work of the rest of the river and landed at the EP at 8:30. Do you know what was sitting at the landing? A rental PFD and seatbacker, sitting on a rock. I'm going to get on my soapbox here because I'm a "wear your pfd all the time" guy. I take mine off and zip it to the canoe to portage, but other than that, it is always on if I'm near the water. Yes, it's for safety, but it also leaves me feeling naked whenever it's not on me....so I never leave it behind anywhere. By the time that Ohio group noticed they were missing a pfd, it was either a really long paddle back to get it, or they decide to risk continuing without it which is a safety concern and a ticket concern if they come across a DNR or Forest Service Ranger. I'm sure they turned out just fine, but I've heard enough horror stories involving lack of PFD's to know better. I made it back to the car where I had a luke warm Grain Belt Premium or "Premo" waiting for me. That was the tastiest beer I've had this summer! As I loaded the canoe and got some clean clothes on, I took a moment to have a snack before heading down the road. I made it back home by 2:00 in the afternoon and it sure felt good to see my family again. After a hard night's sleep in my own bed, Tuesday morning I began planning our October trip... see you in a couple months BWCA!~Lower Pauness Lake, Upper Pauness Lake

 

Lakes Traveled:   Lower Pauness Lake, Upper Pauness Lake,

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