BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 06 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Little Vermilion Lake - 12
July 18, 2010
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days:
We left Minneapolis at 8:30am. Normally we leave earlier but my stupid brother works overnights and couldn't switch. Oh well. We rented a trailer from fellow board member analyzer which worked great and was a good deal. We were able to all ride in one car with my Bell Northshore and Grumman on the boat rack and all of our gear stowed in the storage compartment.
I never met analyzer as my brother made all the arrangements, but the trailer worked out great for us.
The kids dozed in back and we made good time. Our first stop was the country kitchen in Virginia. It was nothing to write home about and the air conditioner kept things so cold I was tempted to get my down sleeping bag out, but everyone was happy to have a break and fill their gullets.
After eating, it was a short drive to the Cook ranger station for the permit and then up the echo trail to our entry point.
Once on the water everyone was excited. The weather was perfect and we were happy. The paddle up the Little Indian Sioux was casual with a few stops along the way. Every year the kids get a little more patient but after 1/2 hour sitting in the boat they become restless. Such is the nature of family camping.
When we reached Upper Pauness lake, we grabbed the second site. The first appeared pretty over grown and unused. The kids went swimming, steaks were grilled and my new katadyn basecamp made water filtering a snap. After dinner, the requisite marshmallows were roasted and everyone piled into the tent before the swarms of mosquitoes devoured us. Some stories were read and everyone drifted to sleep. My brother snoring quite soundly to assure us all he wasn't to be bothered.
Back at camp we had granola for breakfast and began to pack up. Our plan was to see the devil's cascade and then make it over to Shell lake for a couple nights. The weather was calm but turning overcast as we embarked.
On our portage to Lower Pauness we met the Royal Rangers for the first time. We approached the portage slowly, as we saw there was another group there, then slower and slower. Then we waited and waited. It was a group of 3 young boys with two adult men but they had enough gear for 9 adults. Many of the packs were bigger than the kids and it was obvious they had not done this before. Eventually there was enough room to begin unloading our canoes. In speaking with the leader, I learned that it was indeed their first time and they were a church group. I'm all for portage etiquette but part of kept thinking "If only we had been there 10 minutes earlier."
Once on Lower Pauness we headed towards the devil's cascade. I was excited to see it and tried to get the kid's enthusiasm up. Unfortunately, they were distracted by fact that at any moment it was going to rain. Sure enough, as soon as we landed the down pour began. We got rain gear out and began hiking around. I thought it was great but the kids huddled together and asked when we could set up camp and eat. As much as I pleaded with them that this was an amazing wonder of nature that they would surely be telling their friends about months if not years from now, the rain had done it's damage. Cold wet kids are too distracted.
The rain eventually let up and we stopped on one of the vacant campsites on Lower Pauness to have lunch. Once everyone dried out and ate, we felt better. Which was good because the next portage to Shell Lake was 216 rods. Now I've done plenty of long portages and the kids have progressively gotten better at handling them over the years but this still felt long. By the end there was a bit of complaining but we got through gracefully. I ended up triple portaging to get everything across. Our friends the Royal Rangers showed up to remind us that we weren't doing so bad.
Memories of the portage quickly faded as we searched for our next campsite. Wee noticed that most of the visible sites were taken. We paddled around the first bend to find an empty one. It wasn't perfect but after some debate we decided to take it and get on with some needed rest and recreation.
Everyone went swimming and felt refreshed by the lake. We got camp set up and made dinner. I tried a new recipe and made tacos. I had seasoned and dehydrated black beans at home. At camp I rehydrated them and then added them to tortillas which I melted cheese on to. It was a big hit and we all ate well.
After diner my brother and I went fishing. He caught a few small smallies. We both caught a nice sunset. Soon after the mosquitoes attacked and everyone was in the tent. It didn't take long before all were asleep.
Today was our layover day, which due to the weather, was well timed. I was the first to wake up. Being that the sky looked pretty gray if not dark, I set up the tarp which hadn't yet been done. As if on cue, the rain began to fall. It was no thundering storm, just that calm, steady, almost calming continuous sprinkle. I sat out under the tarp for a while making sure all the gear was staying dry. After a while I went in the tent to visit the waking sleepy heads.
It was here that we learned my brother's $25 greatland clearance tent wasn't so waterproof. Luckily we were able to move all the sleepingbags away from any drips and maintain tent bilging while the rain continued. If the storm had been any worse, we might have been in trouble, but we survived gracefully. The kids seemed unphased.
Once the precipitation stopped we were all free of the the soggy cocoon. We ate a few various freeze dried packs as well as tuna and crackers for lunch. The sun came out and things quickly warmed up. Before long the kids were in the lake swimming and I spent some leisure time in my new Monarch camp chair. I had looked at them a couple times, unsure, but mad the plunge and found the Monarch to be very comfortable.
In the afternoon I went fishing with my daughter and brother's girlfriend. My daughter was such a good sport, she was so patient and gave it a solid effort. I kept hoping she would get some sort of nibble if not a full strike for her efforts but alas it didn't happen. I didn't fair any better and the girlfriend only landed a couple very small smallies.
Back at camp everyone was hungry so we made a big pot of pasta and cache lake biscuits. I always dehydrate my own sauce with ground beef and it always goes down well. The biscuits were a nice addition to the meal.
After dinner the kids wanted to do some exploring so I paddled across the lake with them to investigate a large rocky area. Of course two minutes after we land they are bored and ready to do something else. We agree to check out the vacant camp site a bit further down but clouds roll in and the girls are nervous about rain. We paddle back to camp where everyone feels tired and retires for the rest of he rainless night.
This morning everyone seemed a bit more tired. I think the thought of redoing the 200 rod portage hung over us as we slowly packed up. The sun was out and the day was shaping up nicely. Spirits raised and the thought of a new camp with an afternoon of swimming and playing was enough to motivate.
The traveling went pretty well. The kids said they were only doing the portage once. We didn't press them on it and just buckled down and got it done. Once we were back on Upper Pauness lake, we found the campsite we were hoping for was open. It is the third site just North of the portage. It's a large open area with a nice rocky hill overlooking the lake. Plenty of room to run and play. Soon everyone was in the water and then lunch was made.
It was here that my new Katadyn Basecamp filter died. It had been slowing down over the past two days but now was no more than a drip and could not keep up with the demands of 6 thirsty people. I have a Katadyn hiker that I've been happy with for 10 years so it was a disappointment to have the Base camp fail so quickly. There is a long thread on this topic on the message boardand it was nice to find I wasn't alone in this problem. We boiled water for the rest of the trip and it wasn't too big an inconvenience other than the kids complaining about drinking warm water.
After lunch the girls played ponies and the adults rested. I strung up a hammock, put on my headphones and grabbed a magazine. Most of the time I just lay there starring up through the pine trees, taking in the scent, feeling the breeze blow and dusting off the occasional mosquito. I felt glad to be alive and grateful to be able to spend time in this place.
My brother and I took another shot at fishing. We paddled up wind and drifted down, casting into shore. Fairly quickly I landed a small but edible northern. I probably wouldn't have kept it but his eye got hooked pretty good and I didn't think he would survive. That being our only fish, it was a small but nice fish appetizer before a dinner of freeze dried beef stew. Pretty good. Since this was our last night we cleaned out the food pack and made the rest of the biscuits, popped some popcorn and roasted the rest of the marshmallows. While we feasted we watched a deer doing the same just across our small bay. I don't know if he saw us or not but he seemed pretty content to go about his business for some time. The evening was perfectly still and the lake became an undisturbed pane of glass. Everyone was taking in the beauty and feeling sad that tomorrow we would leave.
Usually I like to get up early on these trips and take in the sunrise. On this voyage, for whatever reason, I have been blissfully late in rising. Today was our last day and I forced my eyes open at dawn and pulled my uncooperative body out of the warm soft sleeping bag so I could convene with the sun. The initial show was nice but clouds soon moved in dulling the color and spectacle. I walked around trying to get some good photos and then did a little fishing. No luck. After a while I slipped back into my sleeping bag and was soon back asleep, glad for the time I took.
A couple hours later everyone was up and oatmeal was cooking on the stove. Sleeping bags were stuffed into their sacks, pads were deflated and the tent came down for the last time. By now we loaded the canoes by memory. Everything had it's place and we were are comfortable with how it sat.
The paddle back to the parking lot was long. In my boat the kids did not want to paddle and I was left to propel a 20 foot boat upstream against the wind on my own. Luckily my Northshore performed great and despite the constant effort required to keep positive momentum, we made it back gracefully. The kids were already talking about next year's trip before even stepping out on land.
Back in civilization I found that my brother had stashed a couple Pepsis in the car. Even though they were pretty warm, I have to admit it tasted good. It was a quiet ride home with the kids watching DVDs in the back. We stopped at a nice cafe in Orr for burgers and then made it home back to Minneapolis just after dusk.