BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 23 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Little Vermilion Lake - 12
Pauness Lakes to Heritage, Lynx, to Shell, loop
June 07, 2009
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days:
Waking to cloudy skies and having loaded the canoe the night before, we picked up our leeches and decided to stop for coffee and donuts instead of eating breakfast. We headed East out town and to the Echo Trail and about 50 minutes later arrived at the Little Indian Sioux entry 14 parking lot. The lot was pretty full but we found a place to park the Tundra, unloaded..and headed to the starting point. The Little Indian Sioux was wider than we expected and had quite a bit of beaver activity. We saw several beaver and at one point we encountered a dam almost across the width with a narrow passage on the right side. Our first portage ran along rapids for 60rds. and ended with a small waterfall and once again into the river. The river opens into Upper Pauness and a short paddle across this lake brought us to the 40 rd portage into Lower Pauness where we paddled towards the North end of the lake to view the Devil’s Cascade, a real cool gorge cut by rapids and having a vertical drop of about 75 ft. along its course… From the sightseeing of the cascade we continued to paddle towards Shell Lake and the 216 rd portage into Shell.. This portage started out steep but leveled off and then surprised us with a short boardwalk and six inches of water over the boards for about 30 ft…The boards kind of sank down as you would walk on them…but not quite to the tops of our boots.. we could see that beaver had dammed up a waterway and formed their own little pond there. A little farther and we came to Shell entrance, a muddy bog to launch from….after throwing down a few logs, we loaded and proceeded thru Shell and then on to Heritage… This portage wasn’t long but the end into Heritage was too shallow for our MN III and its load of gear and three people….We ended up taking our boots off and walking the canoe through the rocky entrance until we could clear the rocks. Heritage lake is a long narrow lake with two campsites... the first one being occupied, we headed North to the remaining one…the one we'd hoped for.
This was our camp for the next two nights. We cooked up some real mean ribeyes and potatoes complete with Budweiser or supper. The first day ended with a very memorable sighting of two moose, a cow and a yearling, swimming across the lake in front of our camp..
More clouds and cool temps greeted us as we woke for our second day. ( So cool, that we opted to throw on the long johns) After a hearty breakfast of homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, we decided to test the Heritage Lake waters for whatever fish might await us… we fished almost the entire length of the lake picking up several pike and watching a deer swim the width in front of us…before succumbing to those increasing rain drops that had forced us to don our raingear.. The entire afternoon was spent under a makeshift tarp hung over the gear and we enjoyed our companionship. Just in time for the evening meal of Swedish meatballs and noodles, the rain stopped and we actually saw a little sun…Enjoying a nice fire we crashed early into the bags to ward off the cool 40’s.
Hot coffee and oatmeal hit the spot as we packed the canoe to push on towards Shell through Lynx….As we a rounded the corner of a small bay in Heritage we spotted a yearling moose standing just off shore and coasted within 40 feet of it before it splashed out of the lake and disappearing into the green of pines and birch. When entering Lynx we run into a family of 4 whom we had talked to on Sunday…they were heading back to Shell through Heritage. We explained the portage entrance was a walk through for us but that they might be ok because they had two person canoes and smaller packs than we had… They told us that they had nailed the walleyes right in front of their campsite and we decided then that we would return to fish Lynx after finding a site on Shell for our next two days. After passing through Lynx and Little Shell we paddled into Shell and decided on a campsite just beyond a channel and to the left of a single island site. We chose this site because the island site was wet and not too level for the tent.. On our way we spotted an eagle on the nest and another deer browsing on tender green grass in the water….Several of the deer we saw were eating grasses in the water and would stick their entire head under to reach it… After setting up camp, we relaxed and had an early supper of Mexican brats (brats wrapped in soft shell tortillas) and blueberry cheesecake.. Our adjenda for the evening was fish….. and we caught a couple walleyes and quite a few smallies… Adam landed the best one, probably about three pounds….at any rate a nice fish. We fished until almost dark and then returned to camp and enjoyed a nice fire until almost 11 pm.
This morning we tried fishing for a walleye breakfast, but catching only one, we returned to camp and fried up the bacon and eggs we’d packed along… After cleanup, we decided to go back into Lynx and try our skills or luck there… We fished Little Shell and Lynx picking up a few smallies and checking out a nice vacant campsite near the portage to Heritage on Lynx ( nice fire grate area and “Kitchen”) but no walleyes… Back on Shell we caught a couple walleyes and perch for supper and also watched the skies while cooking that evening…..They were black and full of rain all along the western horizon but luckily split and went around us on either side.
[ Sidenote on Shell: We could recommend Shell as a good lake for “buglemouth bass” but hesitate to say we came to Northern MN to catch them. So, we’ll leave it at that. HA HA]
Thursday, day 5, we once again were on the move so we ate light (coffee and oatmeal)….We pulled out of Shell and back through the portage with the submerged planks.. Through Lower Pauness and into Upper Pauness… Where we set up our last camp on the point next the Little Indian Sioux entrance and not far from the 8 rd portage on the end of that lake…. It had a good grass landing for the canoe and after walking up a short path we set up overlooking the entire end of the lake….The only drawback was not a lot of “good “ wood for a fire…(a lot of dead and rotting pine)… but beautiful sunset.. That afternoon was spent fishing along the eastern shoreline and relaxing in the sun----YES SUN, and peeling off our now permenent long underwear. Also we enjoyed our camp pets, Chimpmunks. Our last supper was great, shell macoroni and spam…and brought back memories of spam . After supper we paddled across the lake to fish the west side and had a light rain move across the lake like smoke. It didn’t last long and we barely got wet so we continued to fish, catching several nice smallmouth and a couple of small pike…and catching some good pictures of a spectacular rainbow. The sky also provided a really good last sunset and a fitting last evening for our 2009 trip…
We rose early and were packed and ready to take the last leg of the trip, back to the entry 14 parking lot…. it started sprinkling again and It continued until we got nearly to the starting point. The parking lot was a good site to see and although we were already missing the crys of the loons… I think we were all ready to shed the long johns and enjoy the shower at VNO… and a sandwich and fries at the Steakhouse.
[Postnote: We actually enjoyed this weather AND there were no bugs…only three ticks and NO mosquitoes all week….and although not as many fish as we would have liked, still a GREAT trip and as always GREAT memories.]