BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 06 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Little Vermilion Lake - 12
First Trip-Been back since...
June 30, 2006
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days:
After a short day of work, the crew meets up at Rob’s house for last minute packing and goodbyes from Amy and Moms. We’re off at 6:00pm.
We headed off in the big van with the trailer in tow with my Dagger Blackwater 11.5 and a few packs tied down strong. I wasn’t feeling too good at the time. A stomach bug hit me hard the night before and would continue on for a few more days. Not much fun on an 18 hour drive. Off to Indy to pick up Tim! Driving through the night wasn’t much fun. Ryan took the first shift, almost to Chicago. Tyler then took over through Chicago (Cundy acting as Wing-man) and Milwaukee (Miller Park was cool).
After a gasoline break, I took over as I was feeling halfway ok. After I took off, I quickly found out that my initial enthusiasm would be squashed by profuse sweating and hot/cold flashes. We found a rest area on I94 and took a 1.5 hour nap. We awoke to sunlight and the St. Croix River just a few miles down the road.
We stopped for breakfast at McDonalds in Wisconsin. We took the seats of some regulars and they were not too happy. As soon as we left, they moved and took back their seats. We passed through Duluth. Looks like a cool, old town. We arrived in Ely about noon. Upon entering the city, I had Ryan make a right toward the Ely Medical Clinic. They dropped me off at the clinic and after talking them out of staying with me, they headed uptown to do some shoppin/sightseeing.
After waiting for a few hours, Dr. Mary took a look at me, ran some tests and determined it was probably a stomach virus. I left with some antibiotics and headed uptown to find my boys. As expected, they were a bit drunk when I found them. Left their mark "Prison Tough" on the bar. Interesting as none of them have been to prison.
We headed to Voyageurs North Outfitters to pick up two canoes and receive some advice from John. Well Cundy(He's the Phillipino guy) decided that he knew more than John and started circling stuff on the map much to the annoyance of John. Tim may also be responsible for getting a guy fired as well...long story. We got loaded up and headed to Lake Jeanette campground. We had a reserved site and immediately began making camp. Troy and Tyler quickly filtered some water from the lake and Bucket(Ryan, my brother) began cooking. I took a nap, woke up, ate, and went back asleep. It rained overnight as we dreamed of our adventure with nervous apprehension.
We awoke to overcast skies and headed to our entry point, Little Indian Sioux River #14, arriving at 10am. Cundy went and scouted the trail and came back saying that it was rough. I knew this would be an easy one. One other group was there ready to put in. We promised to be quick moving and left ahead of them. They only caught up to us once at the Elm Portage.
We lazily paddled through the LIS and came to our first portage, the Elm Portage. Troy and Tyler picked up the canoes, Bucket picked up his humongous food pack and I took the Kayak. Cundy took paddles and fishing gear. We single portaged the entire trip, much to the dismay of the weakest member of our trip, Cundy.
We continued paddling the LIS and arrived at our first lake, Upper Pauness. It was quite windy. I gave everyone a pep talk and safety precautions for crossing lakes in heavy winds. Everyone did a good job and we made our way to the 40 rod portage to Lower Pauness. We met a group with a pretty dog coming the opposite direction. They were kind enough to carry some of our gear on their double portage. Paddling across Lower Pauness I warned everyone that this next portage would be a challenging 160 rod job that required climbing a steep grade.
Upon arriving at the take out, Troy and Tyler decided to climb the hill across the river. We took the portage and decided to break for lunch at the end. Summer Sausage, cheese and crackers. At his point, everyone was getting tired of fighting wind, and we decided to take the first campsite available. We found our site, the second one on Loon Lake on a peninsula. We set up camp and made dinner over the fire, Fresh Sausage and rice.
After eating, we lounged around camp and decided to try our hand at a little fishing. Cundy caught the first fish, right off the landing with a firetiger Baby one-minus and exclaimed “It’s a Trout”. He was quite excited. It was photographed, and released.
Tyler and I were in desperate need of a fish. We couldn’t let Cundy have all night and day to brag, so we pushed off and explored Loon Lake looking for a fish. I caught a few smallies and Tyler had one hooked on the back side of an island, but it came unbuttoned. As Tyler and I paddled back to camp, the sun set and we began hearing a buzzing noise. We figured out what it was as they arrived back at camp. MOSQUITOS!!! We all expected them to be bad, but, WOW, they were bad. An early night in bed would turn out to be a blessing, as tomorrow would be our biggest day of travel.
We slept in until about 8:30 and woke up to a warm, sunny day. The first morning in camp proved to be hectic with no one really knowing their duties. After we got camp cleaned up, and had breakfast of oatmeal, we were off. Wind was strong, but we were protected by an island to start out. We reached the open part of Loon and were met with 1.5-2 foot rollers. I decided to have the boys quarter into the waves. I didn’t say anything at the time, but I was nervous, none of the boys had any experience with open water and big waves. I was in the kayak at this point and felt comfortable. The guys handled the situation perfectly. We made it to the West side of Loon and traveled North to our next portage. John at VNO told us this would be one of our toughest, and he was right. 173 rods of mud and rocks straight uphill. Cundiff complained, but we pushed on. We were rewarded with a beautiful view when we reached Slim Lake. A muddy landing and some beautiful flowers. We moved up through Slim and raced the canoes through the narrows. The 52 rod portage to Section Three Pond seemed long. We stopped and ate lunch at our next stop. PB&J on tortillas was a big hit. It was at this lunch that we discovered Kool Aid!!! Mix it with lake water, and it tastes like pure heaven.
I assured the guys that wind should be our ally for the rest of the trip. After 52 rods to South Lake, my promise proved true. We held up our paddles and cruised to the next portage. South Lake was a pretty, small lake.
Steep Lake gets its name from a 120 uphill, rocky portage. Tyler and Troy once again proved their worth on the trip by blasting up the hill without even one rest break. Cundy and I were not as strong. We quickly determined that a guy on each end of the kayak was a poor idea. Next time, we’ll get a yoke, or a solo canoe.
Eager to continue our journey, we paddled through Steep on to our next lake. Spirits, although dampened by an already long day of travel were high. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the nearly endless fantastic views and new environment. At the end of our 45 rod portage to Eugene Lake, we met another group of people led by a 70 year old woman. They seemed to be tired and traveling slow, only covering half the distance that we had in the same amount of time. I was a bit worried they were going to take a campsite that we wanted on Little Beartrap Lake. We ended up passing them a lake later.
The campsite on Little Beartrap was already occupied, so we had to push on. Everyone had their own ideas about when to stop. Cundiff wanted the next available campsite, I didn’t want to settle, and Ryan, Tyler, and Troy were undecided, although I think they were ready to pick a campsite and relax. We came to a consensus to keep moving on and stay an entire day at the next site. There were plenty of campsites on the next few lakes and we were sure to find one. But then there was a 200 rod portage. The portage from Beartrap to Thumb was long as advertised, but my favorite of the trip. We walked through and ancient forest of Cedar and pine. Rob, Cundy and Ryan kicked up a grouse, and met Tyler and Troy at the end. Ryan could hardly wait until the layover day. His backpack’s weight was in direct proportion to how much we ate.
Since we had gone this far, we weren’t going to settle for any old site on Thumb. John circled two sites on finger and we were only a mile and 9 rods away. We had to find a great site. The 9 rod portage turned out to be a 3 rod liftover. We have reached our lake. Now it was time to find a site. I steered us to the right and was wrong. Tyler had a map now and pointed us in the correct direction. He made sure to let me know that HE got us back on track. Like he had been doing it all trip and was the only one who could read a map. This newfound map skill, and Tyler’s arrogance about it, would be with us for the rest of the trip.
We found the site on the southwest corner of the big island on Finger and set up camp. This would be our home for the next day and a half. It was a beauty of a site with a huge 200 ton rock(we weighed it) left by the glaciers. Three nice tent sites and a honey of a kitchen area welcomed us to this site. We made dinner of outback pizza which was a big hit, and relaxed. Cundy and I even took a swim.
This would be our first and only layover day. We slept in and relaxed. The weather was perfect and we thought we should enjoy it by going out for a paddle to do some fishing. We caught a few fish. When fishing slowed down, Cundy and I decided to explore the lake a little. We found a large patch of blueberries and proceeded to pick two quarts of the little fruits. It turned out that only Tim and I liked them, so they lasted a few days.
We ran into Tyler and Ryan who told us story about a little scare they had on the northwest side of the lake. It seems as though they spooked a large animal very close to shore. Debate whether it was a bear or moose continued for days. They also caught some fish and kept them for dinner. Dinner that night was fish. Troy and Tyler disposed of the scraps across the lake which attracted a few curious seagulls. Troy spent the rest of the evening trying to hit one of the gulls with a rock. It made for great entertainment though the strength of his arm outperformed the accuracy of the throws. Cundy talked us in to letting off a few fireworks, it was the 4th of July. We managed to avoid setting a forest fire.
Up and at ‘em a little late, we cleaned up camp and moved on. We didn’t really have a goal or any plan today. We were just going to move until we got tired and set up for the night. Our travels took us all the way to Rocky Lake. We left our home on Finger and proceeded to Pocket. The 20 rodder to Pocket Creek was open and we paddled right through. Down Pocket and veered right into Gebeonequet Creek. A pretty creek, it reminded us of our entry just 3 days before. Tyler was in the kayak and got to within 150 yards of what we thought was a moose, although he didn’t see it. Moose tracks at the portage revealed that there was moose activity in the area.
We took some pictures and did some exploring on the portage. The portage runs next to some beautiful waterfalls which were running at what we thought were an average level. We paddle through Gebe checking out some campsites and found that none of them were worth stopping for. The chair site was already occupied. The occupants were nice enough to invite us up to check them out, but we declined.
We found the portage to Green Lake and decided during lunch to take the site here if it was good at all, or take our chances on the next lake, Rocky. The site appeared overgrown, tight, and buggy. We moved on. Rocky lake proved to be a nice looking lake and we liked the site too. Although kinda tight, it was cozy and had a nice fire area complete with seating. This site would become the inspiration for my own fire ring area at my house.
After eating dinner of pasta and chicken, we decided to do some fishing. I took the kayak, Tyler and Ryan took a canoe, and Troy and Cundiff took the other canoe, although they would not be fishing this night. They decided to take a shot each time someone caught a fish. I caught over 20 smallies and lost a huge pike, right at sunset on a zaraspook. We finished the night wondering if Tim and Troy were going to abandon us. They finally came in about 45 minutes after sunset with a boat full of wood that they collected on the island. They were proud, though a wasted effort as we did not even get to burn it. Mosquitoes were bad. Nature called about 1:30am and while out of the tent, I realized that the mosquitoes were gone. I sat and watched the full moon and a clear Minnesota sky.
Our shortest travel day. We didn’t really have to move, but we were anxious to move to avoid a layover day. We packed up about 9 and moved on to Oyster Lake. Yes 1.5 miles later we were greeted by some nice folks from Indiana on the peninsula 5 star site. They told us that we could have the site as they were stopped only for lunch. We chatted and took some pictures. We helped them move gear across the peninsula and marveled at the light weight of their Kevlar canoes. WOW! We are getting those next year. After setting up camp, we lounged around camp. I set up my hammock and lied down to take a nice long nap. 10 minutes later, Cundiff yelled “ROB, ROB, ROB, I CUT MY FINGER”. “HUH?” I replied. “I cut my finger really bad”. So up from my nap, I assessed the cut and it was pretty bad. I found the med kit and began first aid. I happened to look up at one point to see the fire that Tim had started was about to be out of control. It was windy and Tim had underestimated how fast a fire can spread in canoe country. 10 trips from the lake and back later, I finished taping up Tim and sat down.
Troy, Tyler, and Ryan woke up from their nap and wanted to go fishing. Tyler and I took one canoe and fished the south side of the peninsula. Fishing turned out to be pretty good. Tyler landed several fish including one large pike. Proud of his catches, he explained how fishing was easy and how he lost respect for people who go out fishing and don’t catch anything. I told him to fish in Ohio for a few days and to tell me what he thought.
We kept some fish and cleaned them for dinner. Everyone enjoyed my technique of cleaning fish and even took some pictures of the carnage. Realizing that we had plenty of food, we decided to eat like kings. We had fish, biscuits, and pasta with chicken. Full from supper, we went to bed early.
Tyler and Troy got up at 5:30 and pushed off for the take out. They volunteered to run the six miles back the Echo Trail to get the van. Thinking that it would take them a little over an hour, Tim, Ryan, and I slept until about 6:30 and followed them up the river. A few liftovers and portages later we arrived. We waited on Tyler and Troy for over an hour and upon their arrival, they chewed me out. It seems I forgot to add the mile into and out of the points, adding 2 miles.
We loaded up and headed off for VNO. Stinking and dirty, the shower at the outfitter was sublime. Cleaned up, we headed for home at about 11:30. We stopped in Duluth at Old Country Buffet and splurged. The story is not over. At about 4:30pm east of Eau Claire, WI. on I94, a tire blew on the trailer. I did not bring along a spare. I called AAA and they were not much help. They did tell me of a Wal-Mart in the area as Ryan, Tyler, and Troy sped away to find it. Cundy and I hung out by the side of the road. Tim spent much of this time trying to cheer me up about the tire. Wal-Mart did not sell tires, but sent the boys to a RV dealership. They secured a tire and hurried back. We had the tire fixed in about two minutes and got back on the road. I took over from there and drove through Chicago to Valparaiso. I made it that far thanks to the music mix put together by Tyler. Troy took over the driving for the rest of the trip. We arrived back in Greenville at 6:00am.