Part 1 of 6
Thursday, October 7, 2010[paragraph break]
Jim picked me up at my home at 10:00am. Jim and I have ridden to the BWCA many times together and have a general routine – take the same route, make certain stops, etc. But at the same time we often do something new. This time it was a stop at The Canoeist in Two Harbors. Neither of us had been there before. Nice place that does summer and winter outfitting in the Superior National Forest/BWCA and surrounding area. Jim and I each bought a map and visited with the owner for about a half-hour.[paragraph break]
We arrived in Ely at 5:00pm. With breaks, it takes us between six-and-a-half and seven-and-a-half hours to make the BWCA whether it is Ely, Grand Marais, or Sawbill. This time -- seven hours. Good time.[paragraph break]
Voyageur North Outfitter (VNO) was already closed, but Lynn was there and let us in. She got us set up for the bunkhouse. We shared our plan with her of entering at Lake One and maybe heading to the lone site on Rifle Lake. She told us of bear problems on Lake Three and that the Rifle Lake Campsite was occupied by moose hunters. We’d have to discuss our plans with Steve and Greg when they arrived later. In the meantime, Jim and I headed to the Ely Steakhouse for dinner.[paragraph break]
We had VNO’s “Lower Loft” bunkhouse. It’s nice with cable TV. We had a beer and stayed up for awhile, but neither Jim nor I could wait till Steve and Greg, who was riding together, showed up – too sleepy with an early start in the morning. We hit the sack before they arrived. They got in about 11:00pm
Part 2 of 6
Friday, October 8, 2010[paragraph break] We got up at 5:30am at which time Jim and I got to meet Greg. First stop of the day was Brittons for breakfast at 6:15am. I don’t remember what I, or anyone else, had. It’s always good though and gave us a chance to get further acquainted with Greg and catch up with Steve. [paragraph break] After breakfast we headed over to VNO (7:15am). We visited with John for a bit. He, too, told us of the bear problem on Lake Three and the moose hunters in the area. We decided to enter at Little Indian Sioux River (LIS) South instead. LIS South was of interest to me because I have never done that entry point and I like paddling the BWCA rivers. [paragraph break] We arrived at entry point at 8:30am and were on the water by 10:00am. Well, those times are just guesses because there wasn’t a watch among the group. Later in the trip we discovered that Greg’s GPS had a clock so some of our later time estimates are better.[paragraph break] There was a car and a truck with a boat trailer in the parking lot. We may see other people. It’s ironic because during the “Season”, there is only one permit available every other day for LIS South. It could actually be more crowded in October that in July. Between October 1st and May 1st.the quota does not apply. All we needed to do was to fill out a self-issued permit. [paragraph break] LIS South, like LIS North, is a beautiful paddle, perhaps more so because it is used less. We paddled quite awhile before we came upon a hunting camp just before the BWCA proper. A motor boat was pulled up on shore and there were two tents – a larger cabin tent and a smaller four-man tent. We didn’t see any people. We figured they were out hunting.[paragraph break] Shortly after the hunting camp we came upon a sign stating that we were entering the wilderness. We took notice that in addition to bikes and motors, the sign stated that hang gliders were forbidden.[paragraph break] Next came Sioux Falls, which was the first portage of the trip. I should say that there are few opportunities to get out of the canoe because much of both the Little Indian Sioux and Little Pony Rivers are through swampy bogs – i.e. no solid land. The Falls are beautiful and the portage around it short. It is slightly tricky exiting on the downstream side of the falls, but we did OK.[paragraph break] The branch off LIS to the Little Pony River was easy to spot. However, the Little Pony is much narrower than the LIS and things got tough. In many places the water was very shallow and we were poling with our paddles to get through the muck. There were also thick weeds to fight through and narrow spots and very tight bends, all of which made for tough going. But the worst part was the false portage. We obviously weren’t the first people to try to take it, the landing was so worn. This false portage took us through a bog. It was exhausting work. Then we had to backtrack and walk our canoes upstream through a very narrow, rock-lined opening, reload our packs at the bog, and then continue for a few rods before we landed again to take the real portage. [paragraph break] That portage was very tough. The map said it was 60 rods, but I believe it is at least twice that long. I think all of our strength was pretty zapped by the time we finished and we still had a good distance to go before we reached Bootleg Lake. [paragraph break] By the time we reached the last portage, another 60 rods, we were exhausted from heat which must have been near 80 degrees. That’s right, an October trip and we had 80 degrees and were wearing tee shirts. The portage was a little uphill, but not too tough – thank goodness.[paragraph break] We made it to Bootleg Lake about 5:00pm and took the north campsite. I was dragging, but the site had a nice sand beach landing which made things easier. I liked the camp site. It was in among trees and had plenty of room for our four tents, though they were fairly close together. There was room for a tarp. The legs on the fire grate were broken, but we just supported it with rocks. Someone had built a small camp table big enough for a small camp stove and work area. The latrine was close to camp, perhaps too close for some, but it didn’t bother us.[paragraph break] We took it easy setting up camp. We needed to rest a bit and get rehydrated. Still we were set up by dark.[paragraph break] At one point I looked up and saw another canoe heading to other site. So much work to get here, and in October no less, and we didn’t have the lake to ourselves. [paragraph break] We ate dinner by headlamp. Jim’s wife had made beef stew for us. It was delicious! And Jim had carried it in frozen. Thanks Jim and thanks Rachel![paragraph break]
Part 3 of 6
Saturday, October 9, 2010[paragraph break] We had a little bit of wind and a lot of big wind gusts during the night, but today is a beautiful day – sunny and warm with a little wind.[paragraph break] For breakfast Greg supplied bacon and Steve made pancakes. After our workout yesterday, I think we are taking it easy today. We also discussed which way we should exit and decided that the 200 rod portage and longer paddle on the Little Indian Sioux would be preferable to the way we came in. [paragraph break] We took a day trip around the lake. Since we all had solo canoes, we mostly did our own thing. I paddled by the other campsite on the lake and spoke to the residents – the occupants of the canoe we saw late yesterday. They were moose hunting. They came in last night the same way as us. I asked which way they were going out -- the same as us – the other way. This was a spike camp for them for one night. The came we passed earlier was their base camp.[paragraph break] Steve paddled to the 200-rod portage to scout it out. We were grateful he did. He traveled it without a load and marked the tricky parts with rock cairns, which was a huge help when the time came.[paragraph break] As I paddled the lake I noticed that the loons had already gone, but there were lots of mergansers that were flocking up.[paragraph break] Once back at camp, drinks included Makers Mark straight up and vodka over raspberry Crystal Light. Nice happy hour.[paragraph break] Dinner was teriyaki noodles with hamburger and bannock.
Part 4 of 6
Sunday, October 10, 2010[paragraph break] Oatmeal and bacon for breakfast.[paragraph break] The day was warm although clouds moved in. The day was a day for chillin’ out. Saw an eagle, red squirrel, and chickadees. Jim caught a largemouth bass right in front of camp and later caught a smallmouth. I fished for about 30 minutes from shore and caught nothing.[paragraph break] We saw the largest mink I ever saw along shore. It was so big that at first I thought it was a small otter. I also saw grey jays and geese. I heard grouse drumming and owls hooting. Steve heard wolves.[paragraph break] Dinner was chicken fettuccini, bannock, and chocolate chip muffins. Later we had cider & rum while star watching. It was a dark night.
Part 5 of 6
Monday, October 11, 2010[paragraph break] We got up, had breakfast, packed up and were on the water by 9:00am. There were a few sharp turns and burnt areas that would have made following the 200-rod portage a challenge except for the rocks cairns that Steve made.[paragraph break] Following the Little Indian Sioux was much easier than the Little Pony even though we had a longer distance to cover. The biggest challenge for me was spending so much time in the canoe without the opportunity to stretch my legs.[paragraph break] Steve and Greg pulled out in front of Jim and me. We didn’t see them until the parking lot even though they made the take out maybe 15 minutes ahead of us. An otter popped up on the river to say hello. Later I spotted a goose along shore. He was letting me approach surprisingly close. Then I realized that it was wounded. It must be goose season as well as moose season.[paragraph break] As I was paddling I had an eagle circle me like a vulture. I have to tell ya, I was a bit concerned. Jim was close by but it left him alone. It was definitely interested in me. I hoped that it was anticipating that I would scare up its lunch and not considering me as easy prey. Neither thing happened.[paragraph break] Jim and I got to car at 5:45 – 8 hours and 45 minutes. It took us about 15 minutes longer coming out than going in even though we were heading downstream. So the Little Pony Route is shorter and faster, but the LIS route is definitely easier.[paragraph break] We made our goodbyes to Steve and Greg in the parking lot. Jim and I loaded up and headed to Orr hoping to stop at the Pelican for gas and something to eat. The gas pumps were opened by the store closed at 7:30. So we continued on to Virginia and ate at the Pizza Hut. [paragraph break] It was late. We had worked hard that day, done some driving, and had a lot more driving to do, so we decided we better find somewhere to spend the night. We needed (wanted) something cheap. The people at Pizza Hut recommended the Lakeshor Motel. It fit the bill perfectly. No frills Mom-&-Pop type place.
Part 6 of 6
Tuesday, October 12, 2010[paragraph break] We asked the folks at the Lakeshor Motel where they suggested for breakfast. They recommended Northgate Café. It was perfect. Good food. Good price.[paragraph break] Neither the Lakeshor Motel nor the Northgate Café are places you’d find passing through Virginia. One of the locals has to point you to them. [paragraph break] We made a gas stop in Duluth, crossed the bridge into Wisconsin, and headed south on Highway 53. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. We had a nice drive. We made another sightseeing stop at the Gordon Dam on the St. Croix River. I had never been there so it was nice to see. I’m glad Jim knew where he was going because I would have never found it on my own.[paragraph break] As we continued down Highway 53 we hit a detour at Minong, and it was a loooong detour. It took us east on Highway 77 all the way to Hayward, and then on highway 27 to Spooner. The scenery was nice and we saw a windmill in Hayward, but it was a lot of extra driving.[paragraph break] We made a few “regular” stops at the Veterans’ Rest Stop and the Arcadia Kwik Trip. Jim had me home by 5:00pm. [paragraph break] Great trip! Thanks Steve and Greg and especially Jim.[paragraph break] Oh yeah, why was this trip called “The Visions of Sin Trip”? Well in camp on Bootleg the conversation turned to rock bands of our youth. Jim was in a band called “The Visions of Sin”. The name tickled us and we decided give our trip that name. Sorry to say there wasn’t much sinning or even visions of sinning. Catchy name though, eh?[paragraph break]
Photos are at http://www.bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=photos.view&catid=2269&journalname=Visions%20of%20Sin%20Trip