BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 16 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Little Vermilion Lake - 12
Four Solos 2008
October 03, 2008
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days:
Jim and I both took the day off work to travel up to Ely. The drive up went without incident. It was a nice pleasant drive that took about 7 hours; from 9 am – 4 pm.
Our first stop was at Voyageur North Outfitters to check-in; both for our bunkhouse and with Lynn O’Kane. Lynn told us that Kevin got called home for an emergency. The Four Solos trip this year would be only three. One of the nice things about traveling as four solos is the flexibility when something like this happens. We’d make minor adjustments with the food and be fine.
Lynn gave us the "Lower Loft" to ourselves. Cool. She also gave us directions to Wilderness Mama and Papa’s new home. So, we dropped some stuff off at the loft and headed to their new home for an inspection.
The pre-fab house has just recently been delivered and dropped on the full basement. What a nice place! The house made the trip there without even a crack in the plaster. Wilderness Mama and Papa gave us the grand tour of not only the house but the entire property as well.
Nice spread and a place to be proud of. It is situated in a woodsy, though not totally isolated area. It is close to a major road, but you have to drive a short distance on gravel. It’s close to town, but not too close. It really is ideal.
Jim and I had to meet up with Bogwalker at Vertins for supper. Wilderness Mama and Papa joined us.
After we made our goodbyes the three of us headed back to the bunkhouse. We had a few beers and watched some of the World Series and then to bed.
We got up about 5:00 am and got ourselves and our gear ready for our trip. But before we put in we had a date with Timbergirl (Ruthanne) at Brittons’s at 6:00am.
Brittons is a great breakfast place! Nice atmosphere (a place where you can wear dirty boots) and great food at a great price. I love their sausage links. They are like small bratwurst! They have great pancakes, too. Oh! And apple jelly! Mmmmm.
Bogs likes the homemade wheat toast. He nearly cried when he was told they were out.
We had a great visit and then we took the one hour drive to the Little Indian Sioux River North entry point (LIS). We arrived about 8:00 am.
It took us another hour to double portage to the river, get organized, and launched. We were sharing the portage and the put-in with another group. I guess it is a popular entry even in October. We exchanged pleasantries and we launched at 9:00 am, just ahead of them. They either gave us some distance or we pulled ahead of them because we didn’t see them again.
I was out in front (pretty rare) and spotted two otter curiously checking me out. I stopped and tried to not spook them so that Steve and Jim could see them, but they disappeared just as soon as Jim pulled up. I hoped he had seen them, but he didn’t.
Soon we came to a big beaver dam. Ninety percent of them aren’t a big deal to cross, but this one was one of the other ten percent. It was challenging to find a good spot to cross but we finally made it.
We crossed Elm Portage and saw the waterfall, took the longer portage from Upper to Lower Pauness, and took our time on the Devil’s Cascade Portage. We admired the Cascade, and took some pictures. We also dropped our load halfway across the portage so that we could have lunch at the hikers’ campsite.
I saw a pine martin and a few grouse, but the surprise sighting were bugs! Don’t they know they’re not supposed to be out and about in October?! We had both mosquitoes and gnats. It was a pretty nice day – probably close to 50 degrees.
We paddled more of the LIS to Loon Lake, up through East Loon Bay, to Little Loon, and reached the northern campsite (#23) by 4:00 pm. It was a nice site. Plenty of room though most of the tent sites have a slight slant to them. Not a big deal, however.
Jim brought great beef stew for supper. We had a nice first evening. It was cool at night but not too bad. It didn’t freeze. But my feet did get cold. Even in my 20 degree bag. Socks to bed from now on.
Today the plan is to make for Steep Lake. We made a short, little hop in our canoes from our campsite to the portage. The first couple of rods of this portage is beautiful. It goes through a stand of cedars. Then it starts to go uphill. It didn’t seem all that steep or all that hard but for whatever reason that portages really hit us. I guess I’d have to say it is deceptively hard.
It turned out to be another warm day, so warm I had to strip off my long johns. I decided it was tee shirt weather. We had a nice paddle down Slim and Section Three Pond and the portages were not memorable.
We reached the southern campsite on South Lake (#79) by 2:00 pm. We were all kind of worn out and Steve was not feeling well, so we decide to stay there for the night. It was a very nice site (though the latrine is very close to camp). Jim picked the spot near the kitchen area to pitch his tent, while Steve and I went to the north side of the peninsula to pitch our tents under the pines and amongst the pine needles. The site is perfect for three.
Jim made Chicken fetticinni with added vegetables for supper. He always makes good meals.
We had a very nice night. Jacket weather. We watched stars for awhile and then to bed.
I was up at 7:30. It is another beautiful day -- sunny and warm with just a bit of a breeze. It is completely opposite from last year’s Four Solos Trip where it was very windy, cold, and wet.
There is lots of firewood around camp, so I busy myself gathering, breaking/sawing, and stacking wood. Also, the fire grate is high and not good for the reflector oven as is. So, I build up a rock hearth in front of it for the reflector oven to sit on.
We decide to keep camp where it is and day trip to Steep Lake. The 120-rod portage to Steep is tough. It is uphill and wet.
Steep Lake is nice. We checked out the campsite (#80) next to the portage. Steve goes in search of the "Tablets" left by CCBB & BWCA.com member "Howard Sprauge". He finds one. We putz around the camp, relax a little, and then Jim and I decide to go on to Eugene Lake. Steve is still not feeling himself, so decides to stay at Steep for awhile and then head back to camp on South on his own.
Eugene is a family name. My father’s name is Eugene, and many of the boys in my family have Eugene as a middle name, so I wanted to see the lake. It is a very pretty lake. Jim and I had lunch at the campsite by the narrows (#87). It is a steep climb from the water to the site, and there weren’t many canoe landing or storing options, but the rest of the site is nice. It has a nice fire pit, good tent sites, and a nice view. We took a long break there. We didn’t bring our chairs, so we sat on the grassy ground with our backs against a tree. We sat there half sleeping, munching GORP, and soaking in the sunshine.
After our extended break we went back to Steep, and circumnavigated the lake. Our maps showed two campsites but we only found the one we were at earlier. Perhaps the other was closed. Still, if the site was where it is shown on the map it would have been pretty inaccessible up a cliff face, so maybe it was a mapmaker mistake.
There are some nice rocks formations on Steep. One formed a sort of cave. It was an undercut of a cliff face that you could paddle under. Jim and I paddled under it and explored it some.
The wind must have been blowing the leaves off the trees, because the portage from Steep back to South was covered with leaves that weren’t there before. This is the downhill direction and so should have been easier for us, but the leaves made the trail very slippery.
Jim decided he needed to rinse off and so took a dip in the lake - in October! I told you it was a nice day. When he got out he posed for a picture reminiscent of “The Pac Towel Girl”. Remember her? Twenty years ago she had a lot of guys contemplating buying a Pac Towel … at least that is what they told their wives’ when caught looking at the advertisement. I don’t suppose they’d sell as many Pac Towels with Jim. Jim made penne pasta for dinner and I contributed cheese& garlic biscuits and brownies made in the reflector oven. The brownies didn’t come out so good, but we ate them anyway.
It was windy during the night but warm. I woke to overcast skies. The sun never came out all day and it was very windy.
We got up about 7:00 am, ate breakfast, packed up, and left camp by 8:30. It was windy paddling though relatively uneventful until East Loon Bay. Once on East Loon Bay the water got very rough, the wind very strong, and waves quite high. Of course we were paddling directly into the wind (from the south).
That was tough going. I was never really scared, but I sure was getting worn out quickly. I kept great control of my boat and never felt that I was going to swamp, but neither was I making much headway. I just kept telling myself, "One stroke at a time … quarter the waves … don’t get broadside ... you are making SOME headway." I’m sure Steve and Jim were having similar mental conversations in their canoes. It seemed forever but I finally made it to calm water. WHEW! That was tough going!
We made it to the south shore and had lunch on a sand beach about 1:30. I think we were close to the seldom-used portage to Heritage Creek. We set up our chairs and took a long, well-deserved rest. It was hard to get ourselves back in gear and moving again.
Paddling was much easier now, finishing up the rest of Loon and up the LIS. Then we had Devil’s Cascade Portage again, this time going in the hard direction. We made it to Lower Pauness campsite (#43) at 5:30.
This is the campsite on the point. It is a nice site but has a poor landing. I was paddling the north side of the campsite looking for a better landing spot when I hit a submerged rock hard … very HARD! It rattled my teeth and took a nice chip of gel coat out of my bow. I’m going to have to repair it. It has a duct tape repair now.
We were pretty beat after battling the wind all day and having finished the uphill Devil’s Cascade portage. It took us awhile to get camp set up and for us to get settled in. We were just dragging. We had supper about 8:15 pm. I don’t remember what.
It looked like the sky was trying to clear. There were a few stars trying to poke through. I went to bed at 10:00 pm.
We woke to a totally overcast day. It was gloomy with a bit of a breeze. We had a quick breakfast, packed wet gear, and got a pretty early start.
We took the longer portage again into Upper Pauness. At the end of the portage, an immature Bald Eagle roosted in a nearby tree.
The day was very cool but not cold. For most of the trip back it was misty, but the last hour or so we had a light rain.
We made it back to the entry point, loaded up, and said goodbye to Steve. He was heading back to Ely to spend some time, while Jim and I were heading the other direction through Orr.
We arrived in Orr just as school was letting out for the day. We saw lots of high school age kids doing high school age kid stuff when we stopped for lunch at the A&W in Pelican Bay. Pelican Bay is one of those places that has it all – a one-stop shop. In addition to the A&W there was a gas station, IGA grocery store, pharmacy, and a bank (I think). If they don’t have it, you don’t need it. :)
The rest of our trip home was uneventful.
Another great trip.