BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
June 01 2023
Entry Point 12 - Little Vermilion Lake
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Little Vermilion Lake - 12
The Storm / Bushwack to Rangeline / A Trip to Warpaint / Lynx Lake
July 18, 2014
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days:
Four years ago I visited Lynx Lake with my son Josh. We had an incredibly long one day trip. While passing through we stopped at the 5* campsite on Lynx and that was enough to set me hoping on a return someday. That day arrived this year and much to my delight the campsite was open when we arrived. The balance of our party arrived on Saturday and we ended up with the two best campsites on the lake, both on the eastern shore.
Today we went back to Shell Lake to help guide the other group to Lynx. If you keep the white rock (pictured) and the point near it you'll have no trouble locating the way to get to the Little Shell portage. Though a short portage it has a nasty rock landing.
Later on Saturday we took a trip to Agawato Lake which is accessed by a short and pretty portage on the south side of Lynx. We nicknamed the lake Agaswampo. It appears that a fallen tree made a breach in the dam at the entrance to the lake. This had drained about 18" height of water out of the lake. This made the first 300 yards appear to be a large swamp. We walked around it and made our way to the main body of the lake. This lake and lone campsite on the eastern shore is probably accessed mostly by hikers on the Sioux Hustler Trail. A very high rock area sits above and to the north of the campsite affording some beautiful views and was totally loaded with ripe blueberries.
We had made good time getting to Yodeler and we paddled quickly across the lake to the rock point on the north side of the lake for a group photo before tackling the portage to Achundo. Yodeler supposedly has an excellent bass fishing reputation but we did not get deterred from our goal of reaching Rangeline asap. We had anticipated that the portage from Yodeler to Achundo would be a total bushwack and the most difficult part of the trip. Wrong! Though a tough portage someone had marked a trail with red tape. Thank you whoever you are! Again, it wasn't easy but it was easy to follow the markings. We did not take pictures of the trail, only the section as we arrived at Achundo. Nothing too special about Achundo other than knowing you were deep in the woods in a place seldom visited. We crossed the lake quickly heading to the north where the stream would exit into Rangeline.
We were now psyched. We were close to our goal and it was still early. but...we could not find a trail to Rangeline at this point and we could not navigate the small stream. So we got out and weaved our way to the lake. It had taken us just over 3 hours ...so we were way ahead of our goal and now ready to go straight north on the lake to the campsite. Rangeline did not disappoint. It is a beautiful lake and only the events of the night to come kept us from exploring the southern section of the lake. It did have high cliffs and we also had hoped to fish the depths behind the islands the next morning. "Man proposes, God disposes". Here are a couple photos as we made our way to the campsite. As mentioned it was already turning in to a very hot day. We later learned that it was 93 degrees and 73% humidity. This is why I leave GA in mid-July ...not what I expect up north. I've been up here since 1953 and I only remember a couple days to match this type heat. Anyway there is a way to clean up and cool off even on the hottest day ...get IN the water and not ON the water. However we did want to fish and it was relatively easy to catch pike. Nothing huge, the big boys were probably cooling off in the depths behind the islands. We were looking for food however so these pike were on the menu for the night. Have I mentioned that it was HOT. Perhaps this was the last photo taken trying to cool off at the end of a great day of adventure. Now the question was how to keep cool in the tent when your body is roasting. We found out in a few short hours. As we headed off to bed we decided to keep the rain fly off the tent hoping that any breeze would come to cool us off. We got more than we asked for!
This day began at 12:15AM for us. I felt a few drops of rain and, though they felt good, I woke Jake up and we got the rainfly on the tent. Within 20 minutes the most violent storm I've ever been in was on us. Since it came from the South I'm certain it had some time to gather steam coming up the lake toward us. The wind was unbelievably strong and deafening. We each turned on our sides and grabbed the tent poles trying to brace ourselves against the wind and hold things in place. After about 10-15 minutes of this I hear from the outside "you've got to get out of there, NOW!!!" "A huge tree is on your tent". Jake now has his headlamp on and thinks he is holding it up with his knees. Little did he know. We both turned on our bellies and crawled out. The headlamps revealed how close we were to a crushing death. Now I'm standing outside in the driving wind and rain (finally I'm getting cooled off from roasting :)). Quickly everyone is out and beginning to assess the damage. Luke throws me a set of raingear and we continue to search the campsite for potential problems. The edge of another tent has been hit and grazes the leg of one member of the party. Other trees are down but we are unable to spot any "widowmakers" in standing trees or any others that appear to be ready to fall on us. All 9 of us gather and give thanks to the Lord for His providential care. We could easily have had deaths in the camp. Now we prayed for the group that was left behind at Lynx and committed them to the care of the Lord. After over an hour of wandering around we went back to bed after one thunderous exclamation point that ended the storm. We knew that we would have our work cut out for us in the morning.! This is what the daylight revealed. The following photo shows another tent that was hit on the edge. Actually it was deflected by a standing tree to this spot. If it had'nt been deflected it would likely have crushed the tent. One of the islands will never look the same.
this photo was taken from behind the island ...note the campsite through the island.
Soon we began to see searchplanes and figured that others may have been hurt in this terrible storm.
Now we knew we had to change plans and return to Lynx promptly. We figured the trails back the way we came would be a disaster. So we kept with the original plan of returning via the Sioux Hustler Trail. Later we found out that the SHT in our area took a major hit. Our understanding aftewards was that this storm not only comes straight line with 70mph winds but also drops downdrafts with hurricane force. The following pictures will show you why the approximate 600 rods to Hustler from Rangeline via the SHT took 4 1/4 hours. We were thankful that we had a new and excellent hachet or there's no telling how long it would have taken.
I think the 3 sentinels survived the storm but similar size trees did not. Some of the huge downed trees were the easiest to get past. It was the smaller tangled mess that presented the toughest part of the trail. Finally we neared the end of the trip between Rangeline and Hustler. The damage was enormous. What a great feeling to be back on the water. Now our thoughts and prayers returned to our friends back on Lynx Lake. The rest of the trip back was relatively easy. No damage at all to the short and beautiful portage that separates Hustler from Ruby and the portage from Ruby to Lynx only had one tough spot, otherwise it was all downhill and not too bad. Finally, back to the campsites. Our companions were all safe. They had a tough evening with high winds but apparently the worst part of the storm dropped on us at Rangeline. It was time to give thanks, get cleaned up and rest. We were totally whipped.
Today we head up to Heritage Lake. We explore the trail that leads to Loon Lake and find that it has sustained much damage ...so we turn back. Earlier in the trip one excellent swimmer in our group expressed the desire to trip up this way to Loon and then swim from the USA to Canada. Some things don't happen when teenagers sleep in. Back on Heritage I did manage to catch a nice 4 lb. smallmouth and then lose another one just as big on the next cast. We head back to camp for a group meal and start to pack up for an early exit on Friday.