BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

October 20 2018

Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River (North of Echo Trail)

Moose/Portage 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 27 miles. Access is a 160-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.

Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1348 feet
Latitude: 48.1230
Longitude: -92.0991
A favorite route offering many trip options and memorable things to see including;

World Class fishing for all four BWCA Species
Pictographs
Soaring granite hills and cliffs
Small lakes
Small rivers
Tumbling rapids and waterfalls
Wildlife, including Moose
Vistas from high points across the region if you're willing to climb. Rating Easy to Moderate. Day One. Get to EP16 off of the Echo Trail early. The initial portage is long, but well worn and smooth, sloping gently downgrade to the launch area. Load your canoe and head North. You'll be paddling with the slight current on this narrow winding river. The water is clear and make sure to tell the bowperson to watch for looming rocks!

8 day 7 nights EP16 Boulder Bay, LLC, Ge-be-on-e-quet, Oyster, Agnes

by EasyFisher
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 15, 2018
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 9

Trip Introduction:
Day 00 Friday 7/13/2018 Today was my wife’s birthday (she was born on a Friday the 13th, and 13 was always my number when I played soccer, so we take our Friday the 13th’s as good luck!) and we work up, said bye to our kids, and got on the road at 7:20am EST from Indianapolis Indiana. We bypassed Chicago taking 74 to 39 and up. We stopped for an awesome birthday lunch at Subway in Wisconsin and continued to Ely. We made it to our outfitters Canoe Country Outfitters (CC0) by 6:30 CST making good time. We were supposed to stay in one of their little rooms for the night and stay in a rental house the next day when the rest of our group arrived. But CCO with the awesome customer service they always show us, put us in the big rental house our first night since no one else reserved it. We went to the Boathouse Brew Pub for a birthday dinner, tasty food but we really enjoyed the beer. I had an IPA and my wife was excited that they had a brown beer this time of year, and she really enjoyed it, good birthday luck. Day 0 Saturday 7/14/2018 Tara and I woke up and walked down the street to Front Porch Tea Co. to get a little coffee and hot chocolate as we watched the little sleepy town of Ely wake up. This year we decided to go up an extra day early instead of driving up the day before we went out, and we really liked being able to relax and take our time getting packed up and enjoy Ely a bit more. The rest of our group drove through the night and arrived at the outfitter in Ely around 9:30 in the morning. This was our second family trip to BWCA. The group of nine consisted of Myself, my wife (Tara), my mother-in-law (Julie), three brothers in laws (Matt, Travis, Trent), one sister in law (Danika), and one nephew (Ben 9), and niece (Lucy 7). All but Lucy had went on our BWCA trip two years prior. After the last trip and the family meltdown on day 3 we were more prepared this year assigning camp chores, pre-determining who was carrying what for portaging, and how we were going to portage. We were confident we would do much better this year. This year we also decided to pack in all of our own food for the first time as well. So we went to Zups to buy our steaks fir the first night and they were awesome. The lady vacuum sealed, wrapped, and labeled our steaks for us. We took them back to the rental house to put in the freezer. We got our gear packs from the outfitter and started packing. We headed to lunch at around 12:30 at the Rockwood bar and grill. The food was good, but the service was awful. The waitress brock a glass over my sister-in-laws back and got her all wet. The manager came out to help clean up the mess and offered a towel. We waited and waited for our food, like I said it was good but it was after 2pm when we got out of the restaurant for lunch, and it wasn’t that busy. I was shocked when we got the bill, the waitress nor manager offered to comp my sister in laws meal, give her a dessert, nothing. She ate lunch we a wet back at full price. Won’t be returning there. We walked around town visited the shops, got some shirts and gifts. Stopped at the bait shop for a lb of leeches. And headed back to finish packing. We were taking 3 canoes (2 three man, and 1 two man). CCO loaded the canoes onto a trailer for us to take in the morning as we planned to head out by 5:30am. We had two gear packs about 36lb a piece, 2 food packs 55lb and 60lb, 5 personal packs, 3 day packs, and fishing poles. Once we finished packing we headed to DQ for a little light dinner and dessert for the night. Then to bed.

Day 1 of 8


Sunday, July 15, 2018 “Going the Distance” EP16 to Boulder Bay

The group woke up at 5am and left the house by 5:47am, not too bad. We loaded up the van and headed up the Echo Trail and arrived at the Moose River North portage EP16 at 6:45am. As Matt and I unloaded the canoes and put on our seat backs and shoulder pads on the yokes, everyone started portaging gear. Not soon after we go the canoes unloaded another outfitter dropped off about 3-4 other groups at the entry point at the same time probably 8-10 canoes. My first thought was is this a Boy Scout Troop, do they know you can’t have more than 4 canoe’s at a portage point at one time. I would be so upset if I went through an outfitter and they dropped us off with 4 other groups to the same entry point to all fight each other on the trail and on the tiny river we were entering on, I won’t be going with any other outfitter other than CCO if going out of Ely. But we had a head start. The portage trail was full, but we finished our double portage, said a quick family prayer, and got on the water at 7:30am. We had one canoe who we passed us and they quickly single portaged and got out of our way at the first portage. We were able to basically send 2 people back to finish double portaging while the rest of the group loaded up the canoes and got moving. We were doing sooo much better at portaging than we did on our last trip. We made good time getting to Agnes, we decided to take the single 115rd portage to the south with a goal of getting a site in boulder bay or tiger bay. The 115rd portage was pretty easy until the end, as the outfitter told us the water was the highest they had seen it in July in a long time. I already knew the end of that portage was muddy but now it was under water. Everyone had to sludge through the mud to get in the canoe, but that’s all part of the experience. We got out lunch (trail mix, beef sticks, and fruit bar) and ate it as we paddled down the boulder river. The wind wasn’t too bad as we paddled up the boulder river into boulder bay. It’s a really beautiful paddle. I began trolling a F-18 black and silver once we got into boulder bay. We passed the first two campsites as they looked good but we wanted to push as far as we could and it was still relatively early. Right before we got to the 3rd campsite in boulder bay (furthest north) I caught the first fish of the trip. A nice eater walleye. As we stopped to net and land the fish we ended up in front of a rope swing that someone made. Though we would never make a rope swing in BWCA, my brother in law Trent really wanted to do the rope swing, so we let him go do it. Then noticed the campsite nearby. It was 1:11pm and we just caught a walleye and found a rope swing so we decided to check out the campsite. It was a really nice campsite with lots of tent pads and lots of trees for hammocks, so we set up camp. After getting set up some decided to go swimming at the rope swing. Matt was the next to try to rope swing, and on his first swing the rope snapped. He went splashing into the water. That was the end of that, we took down the rope swing, Leave No Trace!! We did a little more fishing in boulder bay. My niece Lucy caught her first walleye! Managed to catch a couple of small walleye and a nice 2.5-3lb SMB all on crawler harnesses with leaches, using 3/4oz bottom bouncers. We went to pull out the steaks for dinner, and they were frozen solid. I guess next time we will plan to do steak on day 2. So we moved meals around and had Patriot Pantry’s Traveler’s Stew 12 servings for the 9 of us. It was the perfect amount of stew with one nice eater walleye pan fried to share. We had Patriot Pantry 5 servings of chocolate pudding for dessert. Someone carried in some M&Ms as well, so we mixed in M&Ms with the pudding and it was really good. We decided that we could have done a little more pudding. We also roasted marshmallows later that evening. But everyone had plenty to eat and we all enjoyed the meal. The kids fished from shore with leeches catching a few little SMB. And Ben was casting a F-13 black and silver and caught a number of small walleye and SMB from shore. After dinner, we went out to do a little more fishing as the sun was setting. My wife and I went and through top waters and spinners looking for the SMB but had no luck. The other canoe went trolling raps and had no luck as well. Tara and I switched tactics and started trolling raps on the way back and Tara landed a 17” walleye on a Gold and Black HJ14. Travis and his wife Danika and brother Trent were in one tent. Matt and his two kids Ben and Lucy were in the other tent, so yes, I slept in a tent with my wife and mother-in-law for 7 nights. ~Nina Moose Lake, Agnes, Lake, Lac La Croix

 



Day 2 of 8


Monday, July 16, 2018 “The Wind” Travel to Fish Stake Narrows on LLC

It was a cool breezy morning as we at our oatmeal and rains for breakfast. We knew it was going to be a challenge today on LLC. It was forecasted for winds up to 10 mph out of the west, but our outfitter told us we should be fine as long as we stayed near the west shore. Our goal was to get a campsite on the western end of Fish Stake Narrows or over closer to the portage near pocket creek. We left camp at 8:30am and the wind was coming out of the NNW. We paddled up through Never Fail Bay and trolled some lures. We caught a few pike and walleye trolling through NFB. The wind was picking up and the waves were getting heavier. I had seen the pictos before but wanted the kids to see them. Two canoes decided to go over to the pictos and the other decided to stop at the first campsite in fish stake narrows where we were going to stop for lunch. So we sent them with a walkie talkie and headed to the pictos. We kind of saw them but we were in 1-2 footers at this point. We hid around the cliff from the wind for a minute then proceeded to head into across the lake. I have Trent (The Power) in the front of my canoe and my mother in law in the middle. My wife was in the front of the other three man with the two kids in the middle and Matt in the back. As we were charging across LLC in 2 footers I told Trent this is not 10 mph!! We say Travis an Danika still trying to get to the first campsite in FSN. They radioed us and told us they got blown out to see an barely could make it to the first campsite. We made it across LLC and were hugging the western shore. The wind had shifted to coming dead out of the west at this point. Tara and Matt were making it across LLC and not too far behind us. Trent and I went for it quartering into the waves giving it nearly everything we had to get across that short distance and made it to the 1st island campsite in LLC. We turned around to look at Tara and Matt and they were nearly blown over to Canada. Trent and I were gassed as Trent pulled out some left over trail mix from the day before for a quick protein boost. Travis was also spent after barely getting to shore with his wife, and was reluctant to go out on a rescue mission. As we were looking at Tara and Matt in the distance now, we were pretty sure there canoe wasn’t even pointed the right direction. Quick protein boost and we sent out the rescue boat. Tara and Matt managed to get back to the western shore on LLC where Travis, Trent, and I met them. And we swapped Travis and Tara between canoes. Both canoes were able to make it across the narrows and all at the campsite at 12:30pm. I cleaned a couple of walleye we picked up on the way, for a good protein boost for lunch along with summer sausage, crackers, cheese, and cookies. The group really didn’t like the island campsite, it was a little small was getting blown pretty good by the wind and wasn’t as far as we had of liked to have gotten. We knew there was another 5 star campsite not far away so we sent out a scout mission. Matt, Trent, and myself quartered our way across the lake from island to island hiding from the wind taking quick breaks along the way. We made it to the second island campsite in FSN to find it taken. We knew there was one across the was on Coleman Island but from my research it wasn’t worth checking out, but there was another one through FSN on Coleman Island that I didn’t know anything about. We decided that was our next mission. A guy on the back side of the campsite was warning us, as soon as you turn this corner into FSN narrows you won’t be able to go anywhere. We told him thanks and continued our way. As we made our charge across FSN we had a whole group of 9 people on that other site just watching an gawking at us as if they were hoping or expecting us to fail. But we did not. We had a little water splash into the canoe, not nothing serious. We made it to the campsite got up to look around. It was defiantly out of the wind but tent pads were not very good and it had a huge tree blown down through the middle of the campsite. We decided this was not the campsite for us. Our last option, was the campsite on the island SW of FSN. We again pushed across the lake hid behind the island, hoping the campsite was free as this was one of the sites we were really shooting for. We turned around the corner and a nice old lady came down to great us, she was excited to see us and ask us if we had been catching any fish, but with our dejected look on our faces we told her we caught fish earlier, but we were just looking for a campsite. We drudged back to camp, had a couple of big rollers really rock the canoe. We made it past the FSN with the wind at our back so we did what anyone else would do, right. We started fishing. It wasn’t but a 100 yrds from our campsite and Trent landed a nice 21” walleye on a HJ-14 Transparent Firetiger. We put him on the stringer back at camp. We set up camp at 3pm on the island and decided to call it a day. After setting up camp the wind calmed down a little bit and myself, Matt, and Travis went back out fishing. We could only troll from our island campsite to the other island campsite. I landed a personal best 37” Pike on a reef runner black white and polka doted lure. We caught another small pike and ben caught a SMB from shore using his F-13 silver and black. Didn’t really have a good spot to fish from shore with leeches from this campsite. Our steaks had finally thawed out, we cooked 6lbs of ribeye and sirloin steaks and Patriot Pantry Mashed Potatoes. The mashed potatoes were awful, that is the only cooked food we really had to pack out the whole trip. The steaks were really good and a great dinner. But I think the whole group agreed that next time we would just do sirloin steaks so that there isn’t as much fatty left overs that had to go back into the back. But everything was in zip locks in side of zip locks. All meals were packed in a 2.5 gallon zip lock which became our trash bag for the day. Help keep smells down. Lucy, Tara, and Julie picked lots of blueberries on the west point on the island. Matt, Lucy, and Ben went hiking and found a marker on the island designating it as a US inhabitable land. Myself and my wife went out in the canoe to paddle around a fish a little bit at sunset as Trent took pictures of us. We had a fire and tried to make jiffy pop, but it didn’t really work not sure why it was a defective batch. So we roasted marshmallows. Today was my daughter’s 1st birthday (we had a party Thursday before we left), so we brought a candle and celebrated it with a marshmallow in honor of her. We were supposed to have a layover day on LLC, but the group wasn’t overly excited about our campsite and more so worried about the distance we needed to travel to Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake (Gebe) for our next destination since we didn’t get as far as we wanted to go, if we laid over then had another windy day, we would never make it. So we planned to head out early the next morning and headed to be as the mosquitos began to come out. ~Lac La Croix

 



Day 3 of 8


Tuesday, July 17, 2018 “BWCA – Where Every Day is Arm Day” Travel to Gebe

I woke up at 3:30am to the sound of snoring from the tent next to me. I got out of the tent at 4:30, fished a little top water and watched the sun rise. It was a beautiful glass calm morning. Didn’t catch any fish but had to hits. I let the walleye go, as we had enough steak for dinner last night and were going to be traveling today. Little did I know that was going to be the last walleye we could have ate on this trip. We left camp at 7am on glass water on LLC. As we paddled through LLC Tara caught a nice pike about 25” and Ben caught a huge SMB. I wish I was in his canoe, so I could have got a measurement or an approximate size, but I honestly think it was pushing 4lbs, but we couldn’t get him to even hold it for a picture or smile. The thing put up a huge fight taking line and jumping a couple of times. I was perplexed at why Ben was so disappointed, he said he just really wanted to catch a pike and he hadn’t caught one yet (he caught his first small pike ice fishing this past winter and was really excited to catch on this trip). We paddled pocket creek to Gebe creek and made it to camp around 9:30am. At this point we had paddled 25miles in 3 days, not including scout, fishing, and rescue missions. We were really excited that the campsite on the north central campsite just west of the portage on Gebe was open. It was a really nice with three good tent pads and a good landing area. Tara, Trent, and myself went to check out the rock chairs (super comfy after paddling) and see if any of the other campsites looked any good but we were on the best sit on the lake and broke camp. For the next 30 hrs we had the lake to ourselves and didn’t see another person. Everyone took a nap and Matt and Jeff went out fishing. We pulled bottom bouncers, with harnesses and leeches. We caught some SMB and a bluegill. I noticed the bottom wasn’t too rocky so I decided to jig a jigging rap #9 perch pattern and caught a 32” super fat pike. The lure was brand new and the pike bent the hook, crack the lure in half, and broke off the plastic fins in the back. We came back to pick up Ben to take fishing and saw a big smallie cruising the shore I threw a leech on an orange jig a he hammered it. We proceeded to catch 3 big smallies and a number of smaller ones. Both kids caught all the SMB their hearts could desire from this campsite using leeches and bobbers. Most were really small but there would be some really nice fish mixed in occasionally. As I was putting leeches on hooks for the kids, I turned around to see Trent fall out of Tara’s hammock, the thing just ripped in half, and he fell flat on his back onto the rock. Luckily, he was fine. We are not really sure why it broke other than maybe we pulled it too tight, it’s a two person hammock and he isn’t a big guy. For Lunch we ate summer sausage, cheese, crackers, and trail mix again. Everyone was full, I saved my trail mix to snack on the rest of the day. Later everyone went swimming. For dinner we had 12.5 servings of Mountain House Pasta Primavera, this was a hit. Everyone got enough to eat, but wanted more as they loved this dinner option. We had a Mountain House 4 serv Raspberry Crumble to share (last trip we had way too much dessert), this time not enough. Probably should have done one night of Raspberry Crumble and made all 8 servings. We had one packet of jiffy pop and finished the marshmallows that evening. We stayed up to watch the stars that evening as it was a clear night and we had a layover the next day on Gebe. ~Lac La Croix, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake

 



Day 4 of 8


Wednesday, July 18, 2018 “The Moment I’ll never Forget” Layover day on Gebe

Everyone slept in after our 25miles of travel the first 3 days. And everyone is in their routines of camp chores. Trent (firewood), Travis (purify water), Julie & Lucy (dishes), Matt (cooking), Myself & Ben (fish cleaning/cooking), Tara and Danika were floaters. Matt made half a box of blueberry pancakes for breakfast then we decided to paddle to the rock chairs for swimming, lounging, blueberry picking, and lunch. It was a hot day and a good day for swimming. The adults had Tuna, crackers, and cookies for lunch and the kids and Trent had PBJ and cookies. After lunch people headed back to camp. Tara and I took Lucy and Ben with us to fish the bay north of the rock chairs on our way back. Ben was still really wanting to catch a pike, so we put on some pike lures and trolled. I thought I had a snag at the same time Tara tells me she has a fish on, as Tara is reeling I soon realize we have each other, but I think mine is still hung up. I get Tara’s lure up and untangle it with my line then felt a head shake and the fish ran. I knew it had to be a pike at that size. I quickly gave the pole to Ben, yet had to hold on to the pole with one hand to begin with, as he wasn’t used to reeling with his left hand and the fish had the pole bent in half. I had Lucy get the measuring tape out and Tara kept the canoe from going toward a tree sticking out of the water as I told her it would break it off as it was only 8lb test. As the fight went on I was able to let go of the pole and Ben took over, fought the fish perfectly. Followed directions kept pressure on the fish but didn’t horse it, reeled down, slowly pulled the fish up. Then the fish surfaced before making another run, I knew it was a true giant and I wasn’t going to be able to fit it in the net. I contemplated going to shore but weren’t in a good place for that. As Ben got the fish back to the boat I noticed the fish only had the back treble still in his mouth and I was able to gill the big girl at the side of the canoe. I picked her up and we got a quick measurement 40” and 18” girth. We snapped a couple of quick pictures and got her back in the water. She revived pretty quickly and slowly swam off back into the depths. High fives all around, everyone just in aww hearts racing. Ben says “I’m never going to forget this moment the rest of my life!” I asked him how old are you, 9? I went on to explain to him that many guys go fishing their whole life trying to catch pike and never catch a 40” pike. And it’s truly a fish of a lifetime. The kid was grinning from ear to ear. So we continue to troll back to tell the rest of the group. I let Ben keep using my pole with the “lucky” lure (DHJ-14 firetiger) and we didn’t get too far before Ben had on another fish, and he hooked this one. I looked at him and asked him if he wanted to give this one to his sister. With a smile from ear to ear he looks at me and shakes his head no. I didn’t help him at all. He hooked, fought, and got the fish to the boat. We were able to net and land another heavy 33” pike. This pike had the middle treble hook broke off in his mouth, between the two fish they straightened the O ring on the middle treble hook and did a number to the back treble as well. A couple of pictures and a bit of reviving and she swam off. We came back to camp to tell the fish stories, the kids fished some more with leeches (day 4 and they are hooking their own leeches), and we planned the next days journey to Oyster. Later Matt also landed a 32” pike on a deep diving Shad Rap. We had 12.5 servings of Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki. It was a good amount and again tasted really good. No fish for dinner, all the pike we caught were over 30”. What an awful problem to have. I had graphed a number of fish earlier out deeper in 30ft of water and Tara and I went back out to jig for walleye, but had no luck. We had Raspberry crumble for dessert, again needed more and should have combined the two desserts. A couple groups passed through during the day, but again had the lake to ourselves. ~Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake

 



Day 5 of 8


Thursday, July 19, 2018 The Campsite” Travel to Oyster

Matt, the kids, and myself packed up and left camp at 6:30am with a walkie talkie in hopes of getting the peninsula site on Oyster. We let the rest of the group tear down camp, and they weren’t too far behind. The portages were steep and Rocky. We had to 1.5 portage the first portage and we single portaged the 2nd and 3rd portage. Ben was excited as he was now able to carry the food pack that was now pretty much the trash pack. We stopped briefly on Rocky Lake in order to look at the pictographs on the west side. Just after you get past the peninsula with the large boulders, the cliff just south of the boulders has some pictos. I knew from reviews they weren’t too exciting, but I was glad we got to see them. They were easier to find than I thought as we were told by others they looked for them but couldn’t find them. They looked like a bunch of crosses and lines. We portaged into the north bay on Oyster in hopes for the first campsite the borders both sides of the peninsula and it was open! We arrived at camp at 9am and radioed the rest of the group who was now getting onto Rocky and could take their time looking for the pictos. The rest of the group arrived at 10am. There were plenty of tent pads, access to water on both sides, and it was just a very large campsite. It was really nice. Again we were the only ones on the lake when we arrived. We set up camp and went out to do a little fishing. An hour or so in and we caught our first and only lake trout. It was about 18-19” and was caught on a purpledesent deep diving Tail Dancer (large one). We had PBJ on tortillas for lunch with Patriot Pantry Banana Chips and the first pick me up of the trip Snickers bars!! These were a hit and stayed solid buried in the pack. People took naps, camp chores, and fished. A number of us put in a lot of hours trolling for lakers but only were able to mustard that one. Tara caught a 29 ¾” pike, which was perfect as we really wanted to eat some pike and we haven’t had an eater size pike on the trip when we weren’t traveling. We put him on the stringer and started back to camp. I had the funny feeling that the fish was going to get off the stringer. I asked a couple times if everything was tied down tight, hooked, locked, etc. Nothing we could do about it, but one big flop and the pike broke the stringer and away he swam with a stringer in his mouth. One other group had joined us across the lake, but it was a very peaceful lake with very little activity on it. The kids swam and jumped off the rock. Ben said “I can see a fish but I can’t stay under water with my lifejacket on.” “You want me to jump on you” said Lucy. “ya ya, jump on me”. “you want me to jump on you again.” “no you jumped on my butt, and it kind of hurt.” You want me to jump on you right here,” Lucy said pointed to the padding from her lifejacket on her back. “ya ya, do that!” as they continued jumping, swimming, and playing. We cooked patriot pantry mac and cheese (really good) and one MH mac and cheese to make a total of 11 serv. This is one meal that we voted that Patriot Pantry out did MH. The bugs came out and we moved to the tent to play cards. ~Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Green Lake, Rocky Lake, Oyster Lake

 



Day 6 of 8


Friday, July 20, 2018 “The Storm” Layover on Oyster

7:30am Matt, Ben, and Jeff out to go fishing, one bass got off, no other bites. We went back to camp to make the rest of the pancakes. Pancakes with some blueberries were another hit meal for the trip. We finished up a late/lazy breakfast trying to decide what to do for the day. We saw a mink run through our campsite. The kids, Matt, and Julie were going to play hide and seek, Dankia was going to read and others were going to relax around camp. For lunch was PBJ, tortilla, cookies, and MilkyWay/3Musketeer bars. Tara and I grabbed some protein bars for lunch and fish cleaning stuff and headed to the Hustler portage to do a little hiking and fishing over at Hustler. We portaged the canoe to the Sioux-Hustler trail, where we dropped it and the fishing stuff and headed north on the trail. We didn’t get very far before we came to the creek coming out of Weeny Lake and could not cross without getting seriously wet. So we back tracked and decided to head south toward Emerald Lake. The hike quickly became a blueberry harvesting trip. I told my wife if I knew that we were going to just pick blueberries and not hike I wouldn’t have come, but I helped pick otherwise we wouldn’t have got anywhere. As we were on the trail we saw lots of signs of bears and moose. We saw multiple piles of moose scat. Bear prints in the mud, blueberries scattered on the trail, and claw marks on the roots of the trees on the trails. I saw what I am pretty sure was a Turkey scurry across the ground, it was to big to be grouse. We picked our blueberries and made our way to Emerald Lake. I wanted to see the campsite, but also wanted to get back to fish Hustler. We hiked back to the canoe launched and before I could get my line in the water Tara caught a SMB. We paddled past our campsite on the north central part of the lake and Tara caught a perfect eater sized pike right in front of it. She was fishing with a black and gold HJ-14. She caught 3 more bass and I caught a 25” fat pike on a big wood silver stick bait. Clouds looked like they were getting darker over Oyster and we both just realized we forgot our rain gear for the first time in BWCA…. We filleted the pike and headed back to the portage. Not far along the portage and it started lightly raining, and we were fine with that, then the thunder boomed, and it opened up on us. We made it to the end of the portage and radioed back to camp to let them know we were okay and we would just have to wait it out here. We got drenched, but luckily it wasn’t cold, but the rain came and came. So Tara and I went back to the beaver pond on the portage and found a raspberry patch and pick raspberries. Once the thunder stopped and the rain lightened up we canoed back to camp in the light rain and began cooking the pike for the group. Since we had fish we decided to make out MH Chili Mac & Beef as we only had 10 serv of that meal. The fish was really good as was the chili mac. Again the MH meal was another hit. After dinner Matt, Jeff, and Ben went back out to try for lake trout again, but no success. One more group joined us on the lake, and a few groups passed through. But to this point we have seen relatively very few people this whole trip. For dessert we had a couple of jiffy pops and opened the pack of twizzles and jolly ranchers. We had a nice sunset after the rain and took some family pictures. With the fishing being poor on Oyster we decided to portage to Agnes for our last night to get a little closer to our exit and in hope to catch some walleye before we left.

~Oyster Lake, Emerald Lake, Hustler Lake

 



Day 7 of 8


Saturday, July 21, 2018 “The Drama” Travel to Agnes

At the end of the last BWCA trip, the whole group was at ends with each other and had our family melt down on day 3. I thought we had done so good at remediating all the things that we had fought about last time. Portaging, who’s carrying what, camp chores, etc.

We left camp around 8:30am. The first portage 65rds was pretty easy, but we had lots of loose stuff. We were almost able to single portage, but Tara and I went back to pick up one of our packs and the rest of the loose items. On the 2nd portage was 160 rds and I lost my shoe in the muck at the beginning of it. I had to dig for it and for a moment I didn’t think I was going to be able to find it. That would have made the portage interesting. We gave Julie (who had been carrying personal pack and lose items) my mother in law my personal pack, and I took the girls (heavier) pack and the canoe, and Tara took the gear pack, day pack, and fishing poles. I told Julie to drop the pack if it got to heavy, but she did almost the whole portage until I dropped the canoe and came back and released her of her pack and she help Tara with the personal pack and loose items. I was feeling pretty good after single portaging that tough portage. The group split and we went ahead to look for a campsite across the lake. Agnes was already busy we could tell the peninsula sites to the NE were all already taken. We were heading to the site on the south central peninsula on Agnes. We arrived at the campsite, it was pretty good, had good enough tent pads with some rocks we would sleep on that we could make work. It had a huge rock by the fire to lean against and I could tell Tara was set on the site. I was not. It was left destroyed by the previous attendants. There was trash everywhere to include bug spray cans, plastic baggies, mesh bag, socks, shoes, hat, pillow, air mattress, tent wrapped up, and other stuff in the fire grate. They obviously got soaked last night and decided to leave everything. Julie also found another area with more space and tent pads. We sent the other group to check out the first site south of the portage on the north end NW portion on the lake. Our rule was we would never occupy two sites if sending a scouting group out (we broke our own rule on this one). As they were scouting the other site we picked up the trash that we could, basically everything but the air mattress and pillow. Trent & Matt came across to our site as Danika/Travis and the kids stayed at the other site. Trent was the only one to see both sites so we asked Trent to make the decision and he picked the site on the southern peninsula. Matt and I went back to get the kids and Travis and Danika. Travis radioed that they found another tent pad on that site. We arrived and Travis, Danika, and the kids were adamant that we stay there and Matt was just asking them to get in the canoe and to not do this, let’s just go, he was sick of paddling back and forth across the lake. I told him we were going, but asked if I could get out to look at the site for future reference. I looked around and to me the tent pads looked way better, the site was open & sunny and our gear was all wet. But I was just going to check out the site. I walked back down with every intention of getting back in the canoe and Travis asked me which one was better and I pointed back up the site I was walking away from. They were then like lets stay, they were adamant about it. I looked at Matt and said we could do it, but we would have to go back and get the girls. Matt said he was done, he was not canoeing back across the lake, he stood up and got out of the canoe. I told them all but we are going to really piss off the rest of the group at the other site. They all said someone is going to be pissed no matter where we go. I was sick of the bickering and just wanted to set up camp and be done, it was just for one night. So I told Travis he would have to go back across the lake with me if that is what we were going to do. Selfishly I probably wanted the site we stayed on, but just really wanted to be done with the bickering and pick a camp. I radioed back across and in a decisive tone told them to pack up we are staying at this site. Tara radioed back and argued with me. But I knew how stubborn my wife was and wasn’t too worried about her being pissed at me. She would eventually get over it, though it might be a long ride home. Travis and I canoed back across the lake to get the gear and people. Tara and Trent were having a sit in and said they were staying. I said that’s fine then stay, we’re going back. While I was gone to pick up the kids and Travis and Danika. Tara/Trent/Julie began filtering water and doing whatever they could around camp, even though they didn’t have the tent bags (I didn’t know this until later). We got the whole group back across the lake and Matt, Danika, and the kids were all sitting on the rocks and not breaking camp. They had the tents and food, it was lunch time and they were just waiting and this even more furiated the other half the group that had started unpacking on the other side and doing camp chores. I proceeded to take all the blame for the decision, and that was fine. I had been unofficially the group leader this whole trip, but never wanted to be a dictator. The decision was made but in the end I regret the decision that I made. I wish I never got back in the canoe with Matt to get the kids. I should have never got out of the canoe to check out the site and stuck with the original decision. In the moment I was seeing a stand off between my wife being stubborn and a fight with her brother wanting different sites and wasn’t as worried about making her mad. What I neglected to realize in the moment is that we had asked my brother in law Trent to make the call on which campsite to take. And I negated, vetoed, and over road his decision. Trent is usually so easy going and he was visually upset. After camp had been broken, I realized I had made a mistake and went to apologize to him. I told him there wasn’t really any excuse, I made a mistake and I was sorry. He told me it was fine. After lunch, Tuna and mayo, trail mix and an assortment of leftovers, my wife Tara said she would go out fishing with me. I thought things were looking up if she was willing to go fishing with me. We trolled all over Agnes and couldn’t find the fish, shallow, deep, in between. On the way back, the bickering began. She told me to stop using my sonar, as she said I don’t paddle when I look at it, and we never catch fish when we use it (both totally wrong). That bickering turned into us arguing about me ruining the trip and being the reason we changed campsites. I asked her to move on, as the decision has been made and it doesn’t help to continue to fight about it and try to throw fuel on the fire. She went on to tell me that everyone was upset with me, but she was the only one that would say anything to my face. Things escalated and she pushed me past my breaking point. I threw a paddle and bent it, it snapped when I tried bending it back into place. The two of us struggled to get back to camp. I cried for a few hours (I’m not a crier). I really thought I had ruined the trip for everyone. I was really upset with myself. I hoped this wouldn’t be the last family vacation to BWCA and hoped Trent would truly forgive me. My wife came to apologize and console me, she told me she took all her frustration with everyone out on me that had been building for the entire week, and that I didn’t ruin everyone’s trip. But I still took it pretty hard. The group ate the last MH Fajita Chicken bowl with tortillas for dinner 12.5 servings and we couldn’t finish it. It was really good. Matt and Travis went back out fishing, Trent finished his book, the girls picked blueberries and blackberries, and Lucy played with her dollhouse. Yes she made a dollhouse out of rocks, and could tell you what/who every rock was and what they were doing. It was great. Ben and Lucy ate a whole 5 serving mix of Patriot Pantry Chocolate pudding, finished the bag of liquorish, jolly ranchers, jiffy pop, and Kool-Aid. The whole family played cards together that night, and no one ever mentioned anything about the broken paddle to me. ~Oyster Lake, Agnes, Lake

 



Day 8 of 8


Sunday, July 22, 2018 “The End” Travel to EP16

We took our time waking up and tore down camp. We had oatmeal and fruit bars for breakfast and left camp at 9am. We made it to the first 96rd portage Ben and Julie carried the lightened food packs and single portaged passing groups that were double portaging back. This really made me feel good and I think boosted the groups morale. It was great seeing people’s face when a 9 year old hikes past them with a #3 Granite Gear pack on his back. We single portaged the 70rd portage again making great time. Tara and I trolled through Nina Moose as it was our last chance to do some fishing and I caught one more eater walleye (where was that the past 4 days) on an F-13 silver/black. We fell a little behind the group and caught up to them at Top of the World rock that we climbed last year. Tara who was at ends with some people already told us we were stopping weather or not the other two canoes stopped. As we pulled up we saw her brother Trent on top the cliff, but her brother Travis and Danika in their canoe pushing on (not sure what they planned to do since they didn’t even have keys to the car). So we stopped at 11:30am, climbed the rock cliff, pick some blueberries, had a quick lunch (trail mix, beef sticks, granola bar), snapped a couple of pictures and then were back on our way. A group that we passed earlier while single portaging passed while we were on the rock cliff and we caught and passed them on the last three portages as we single portaged. Tara carried a canoe for the 25rd and 20rd portage. We single portaged all but one pack for the last 160rd portage and sent Tara back for the last pack as we packed up the van and loaded the canoes onto the trailer. We snapped a couple of family pictures and were on the rode by 1:20. We arrived back at the outfitter, unpacked, and took a long hot shower. I tried to pay them for the paddle I broke but they insisted that it was okay and that’s why you take an extra paddle. I still felt really bad as it was broken due to neglect. We settled up with CCO, again I can’t say enough about their customer service. We were supposed to stay a night in the rental house but the whole group agreed to get on the road to get home a little early. The guys all gave a firm handshake and we parted ways. We were on the road by 3:40PM. Though there was a little sour taste in my mouth from the end of the trip, I was another enjoyable trip to the BWCA with lots of life long memories, and I can’t wait until I get to plan the next one. I just hope that the family all had an enjoyable trip, and sometime in the future we’ll get to do it again. ~Agnes, Lake, Nina Moose Lake

 

Lakes Traveled:   Agnes, Lake, Nina Moose Lake,

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