BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 21 2017
Moose Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 21 miles. Access is an boat landing or canoe launch at Moose Lake. Many trip options for paddlers with additional portages. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.
Number of Permits per Day: 27
Elevation: 1356 feet
Moose Lake - 25
Number of Permits per Day: 27
Elevation: 1356 feet
Moose Lake - 25
Amazing! You Just Can't Be Too Careful!
August 17, 2012
Number of Days:
This trip was geared to be a reincarnation of my tripping after a tough year of medical issues. I've had a proximal row carpectomy on my wrist. Losing 3 bones next to your arm is a huge change with muscle and nerve issues still lingering after 8 months. I had a rotator cuff worked on in January, and the soreness still bothers me at times, depending on what I'm doing. I've had my knees worked on, and after 5 scopes, 3 series of synvisc injections, cortisone, and finally steroid medication, I now take anti-inflammatory to avoid knee replacement. Then this spring I was diagnoed with spinal stenosis, leading to chiropractic work, and then I was treated for fibromyalgia, which seems to be my biggest challenge. Medication helps and the stiffness/soreness is relentless. I have learned that exercise is good for me, and I'm on lyrica, a nerve block, and also a muscle relaxant, carisopodol, so now I sleep well and get through one day at a time. My goal was to reassure myself that I could still do this at 62 years old with these medical issues.
Part 1 of 4
Packing was pretty normal, and as usual, I tried to pack lighter but didn't seem to do what I'd hoped. Solo trips seem to require much of the same gear as the multiple partner trips. I got my car tied down; my Boundary Waters Wenonah secured on top with foam blocks and tie downs on the front and back. I felt good about my 840 mile trip to LaTourell's, so I got started at about noon. After driving about 7 hours I noticed a really neat roadside park with beautiful rock formations. Awhile later I was near Eau Claire and planning on stopping at a rest area on Hwy 53 to sleep for as long as I could sleep. When I got to a rest area about 35 miles north of Eau Claire, I discovered a pretty nice place, but I was the only car in the area. I didn't feel comfortable there, so I drove a few more miles into Rice Lake and checked into a Super 8 on their Main Street. My car was parked right outside my room window and in a very well-lit area near the office, so I felt like my canoe was safe there. Slept until ~ 7:00, then got started after a little continental breakfast - not at all like the Super 8 in Evelyth, MN, but I did get some food in my body. This morning was pretty nice, with some clouds and a little more wind. As I got near Duluth, the wind picked up significantly with some rain, and I learned quickly that the foam blocks without a rack on top the car just weren't very good at all. This was my second trip with this newly-bought used canoe, so I was still in the learning faze of canoe hauling. The canoe was moving sideways some with wind gusts as I went over the bridge, and I needed to pull over and adjust my canoe, tightening my straps and tie downs as bast I could. I continued to have this problem as the wind continued to gust, and I probably had to stop ~ 5 times to make adjustments. Once north of Evelyth I pulled over and discovered that one of my foam blocks was gone. I walked back ~ 300 yards and luckily found it in the weeds off the shoulder of the highway. Next time it happened I was able to see it blow off in my rear view mirror and find it quickly. This was becoming a difficult scenario for me to travel. I knew by now that I really needed to have a rack on top or go back to rental canoes as in the past. I got to Ely at ~ noon and parked to do some walking around and have lunch at Subway. I bought a foot long, and I saved half for my dinner, which I would do during my bunkhouse stay that night at LaTourell's. I decided to purchase an extra foam block at Voyageur's North. I needed to be better-equipped for a windy trip back home after my paddle. Drove on to LaTourell's, got there by 3:30, checked into a very nicely renovated bunkhouse room with small fridge, air & heat, and 2 bunk beds. Would have been great for up to 4 people. Got my canoe off the car and stowed it under their canoe racks for the night. Mindy helped a foursome that came in early with one tripper's broken wrist. I learned that they were also from St Louis. I will look them up when I get home, as they live not too far away from me. Amazing coincidence! I spent the rest of the day checking my packs and gear and reading "The Affair," a good Jack Reacher mystery. I also double-checked my planned route, which I have done many times before. I chose a very simple route, getting a tow to the portage to Splash Lake, then paddling either to the only campsite on Splash or into Ensign and finding a good open campsite there to base camp for a few days of fishing. Settled up with Bob, bought my fishing license, ate my sandwich with my last soda for awhile, and by 8:00 was ready for a good night of sleep. With my 4 medications I do sleep pretty well!
Part 2 of 4
[paragraph break]The weather cleared during the night as it was supposed to. Everything was looking good for a few nice weather days, as I was hoping. I slept well, and I was up at 5:00, getting all done to prepare for my tow and taking my medications. Missy was going early to work at the border check station, so she drove me. I got towed at 6:30 am and was done portaging (I quadruple portage) by a little after 7:15. I started paddling and immediately saw 3 canoes to my left fishing Splash. I struck up a conversation with the first canoe with 2 fishermen, and they were very nice to me with info. The campsite on Splash was taken until that afternoon, so I decided to paddle up into Ensign and find another campsite, knowing that they would leave their campsite at 3:00 if I needed to come back for that campsite. As I was paddling up the small narrows before the tiny portage/paddle into Ensign, I saw a moose jump into the narrows, swim across for a few seconds, and get out quickly, scampering into the woods! I had never seen a moose on Ensign or Splash before in ~ a dozen trips, so I felt very lucky. The water was high, so I paddled hard and made it through those tiny rapids without getting out. The first campsite right near that 5 rod portage/paddle was open, so I took it. I planned to fish in Splash that day, so I felt like that site was fine. I wanted to fish the northwest bay of Ensign on Day 2, so I could get there easily from that site, or I might move over to the island site if it was open the next day. I had caught an 18 pound pike a few years ago over there, as well as a big smallmouth and a lunker largemouth, so I really like that bay. Many people go to the east end for walleye, but I stay on the west end.[paragraph break]I paddled into that rocky camp site and spent the next few hours setting up camp. I started with getting my 12 x 12 tarp tied up, my tent up, and then walked well back into some areas with downed birch to cut firewood for a campfire that night. I was lucky to find some good wood down for cutting, so I gave my saw a good workout and had more than I needed for a few days. It makes me feel good to leave a pile for the next campers, so I felt good about that. This site I've used on my last day a number of times, and it is usually hard to find some good firewood. I ate some gorp, an orange, and a granola bar and was ready to gear my canoe for a short fishing trip back into Splash for the afternoon.[paragraph break]I took some rapalas, rattletraps, a couple rods, some snacks, a water bottle, a water bag filled with ~ 30 pounds of water to help trim my canoe, and my little tackle box with stringer and fish-cleaning tools and bags. I like to clean fish before returning to camp so I can put the remains far away from my camp site. I paddled down past the narrows and began fishing, immediately catching some small pike. During the next couple hours I caught 7 pike, 2 smallmouth, and 1 largemouth. I kept 4 eater sized and cleaned them on a rock before returning to camp. Walked the remains away from the water and dropped them. Got back to camp by ~2:30 and lit up the cooking stove for a fish fry. I got a recipe for fish batter off this website a couple years ago and used it. I feasted on fish, not wasting any of those fillets! I sat there and read a little, and dozed off for ~ an hour.
Part 3 of 4
[paragraph break]By 5:00 that afternoon I was ready to go back out for some more of the same - fish and another fish fry was my goal for the day! I once again caught some small pike and stopped to take my medications which are prescribed for twice a day. As much as I have done this, I then made a forgetful mistake of casting my line in before putting the cap back on the container of my lyrica medication. My canoe was resting against a log that was under the water, and when I stood up to cast, the canoe did not move freely to balance and tipped over immediately. I fell in sideways and hit my shoulder on another log. This was my rotator cuff that I had worked on in January, and I felt a little crunch when I hit the log, so I immediately anticipated I'd have a problem. Surprisingly, I got back into the canoe without any severe pain, so I felt lucky. I then realized that my medication was ruined when the canoe tipped - I was bummed out and now strategizing what I would do without my lyrica. I fished a little more, felt a little sore and decided to paddled back to camp and spend the rest of the evening with a campfire and sunset in front of me. I decided to boil some water and make a Mountain House dinner - Chicken Teriyaki with Rice. It's so easy - just put 2 cups of boiling water into the bag, close it up, and let it cook for 10 minutes - and you can eat it right out of the bag, making clean up so nice. It's a 2 serving meal, so I was stuffed before the bag was empty. Had to start a trash bag for food that I couldn't eat. It was a beautiful night with the temperature going down into the 40s. The sunset was gorgeous and my campfire was beautiful. Sleeping in the tent that night was very peaceful - only sounds of the loons nearby during the night.
Part 4 of 4
When I awoke it was ~ 3:00 in the morning. I was stiff and sore in my shoulders, arms, neck, and back as always. Tried to go back to sleep and did for a little while at a time until about 5:30 in the morning. I now realized that 4 more days without my lyrica just wasn't going to cut it. I decided at this time to pack up and paddle out. I could make a call and get medicated, but my trip would need to end to do so. I spent about 90 minutes breaking down the camp site, having a breakfast of an orange, granola bar, gorp, and peanut butter with strawberry jelly on tortilla. As I paddled out through the tiny rapids, there were some otters playing around that were not very happy I was visiting their playground. I just steered right through them as I left Ensign. I paddled over to the portage, and there was a busy group from Mankato that were also on their way out. They were high -school aged young men being supervised by some really nice men that had done this before. I could relate to them very well, having brought students into this area many times before my retirement from teaching. They were through the portage and gone well before I did my quadruple-portage process, so I then was alone. About a half hour into the long paddle through Sucker Lake, Newfound Lake, and Moose Lake, it started to rain. I put on my raincoat and really enjoyed the light rainfall on the calm waters. My shoulder was performing well after the mishap the day before, so I felt good about that. The fibomyalgia discomfort was my challenge for the paddle, and I worked hard on focusing on other things. During a short break in the drizzle, a rainbow filled the sky to the northwest. My paddle back to LaTourell's was normally a 2 hour paddle, but I took 3 hours this day, easing up to be careful of my shoulder.[paragraph break] As I neared the end of my paddle, I passed the Boundary Waters entrance sign on the island near LaTourell's. When I got back to LaTourell's they were surprised to see me but very understanding when I told them about my predicament. Mindy offered me a free shower to cheer me up, and I talked with Bob about my worries of driving with the foam blocks and no rack. I had purchased my wonderful canoe from them the year before, and this was only the second time I used it. I asked Bob what he thought it was worth, and he told me (almost the same as what I bought it for). I then asked Bob if he could sell it for me, offering him a good percentage of the purchase price for doing do. He and Mindy were more than willing to do that for me. Now I didn't need to worry about driving home with the canoe on the foam blocks. I learned that those foam blocks without a rack are great for short trips, but my 840 mile trip with potential wind gusts and rain was too long and a gamble driving that far.[paragraph break]I then showered, said my good-by and see you next year, and left at almost noon. An uneventful drive home got me there by 2:30 am. I was exhausted but felt like I was still a tripper. I had a wonderful fishing experience, great fun gathering wood and doing the campfire bit, set up and broke camp, experienced a long paddle (~ 7 miles back without a break including portaging), had 2 fun cooking events, and saw some wildlife. I learned quite a bit about being more careful with my medicine and I also learned that renting a canoe might be best for me until I get a car with a rack. I felt like this fibromalgia has a lock on me but doesn't keep me from doing what I want to do, as long as I have my medicine. I also was once again so impressed with the LaTourells and how understanding and helpful they are.
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