BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 18 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Little Vermilion Lake - 12
BW Full Send 2018
June 09, 2018
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days:
We set off at sunrise from Fenske to EP 14. We got to the EP earlier than 7 am, but waited in the cars for about an hour because it was raining pretty good and we did not want to start off on a soggy note. Once we could wait no longer, we packed up and hit the portage even though the rain hadn't let up one bit. Luckily it only rained unil mid-morning and the sun was out by the time we got to Upper Pauness Lake.
This was our biggest travel day by design, we wanted to get as deep as possible the first day. Total distance for day 1 was 14.8 miles, but the portage from Little Loon Lake to Slim Lake made it feel more like a 20 mile day. I'm proud to say that I did the portage in one trip with a pack on my back and a canoe on my shoulders.
We made it from EP 14 to the 2nd campsite on Slim Lake with plenty of daylight left in the day to set up camp and fish from shore. This campsite is up high on a big rocky feature looking over the lake. It was a beautiful view, but was hard work going back and forth from the water to camp. Fishing was not great here, we caught only a couple mini smallies, a jumbo perch and I got broken off by what I am assuming was a pretty big pike.
Our original goal was to take the "hidden" portage from Slim Lake to Fat Lake. I'm still half regretting that we didn't. The difficult portage from Little Loon to Slim discouraged us from trying a potentially more difficult and longer portage. So we went around: up through North Lake, Steep Lake, Eugene Lake, Little Beartrack Lake and finally Beartrack Lake where we spent our second night.
We stayed at the northern most campsite because I saw it had good reviews online. This was a mistake, if you are staying at Beartrack Lake, stay on the Eastern most campsite! We explored it as we left the next day and it looked like a beauty.
We didn't fish much here. We had a nice swim and relaxed for the evening. This was the campsite that felt the most "remote" and away from anything. We felt like we were deep into the wilderness. We had the entire lake to ourselves besides the loons and wolves/coyotes that we heard throughout the evening into the night.
I rarely have good things to say about a portage. The portage from Beartrack Lake to Thumb Lake was absolutely amazing. There is a little flowing creek that you walk next to the whole time, very little elevation changes, not super thick forests, huge beautiful boulders along the path, simply amazing.
We made it to Finger Lake early in the day and took the campsite that faces East on the Western Island. The campsite is on a huge rock island elevated over the whole lake. Amazing spot, but not great tent pads. In my opinion the spectacular view was worth not being able to stake down the tents very effectively. We had the entire lake to ourselves. Finger lake was my favorite lake of the trip.
We did lots of fishing but only had success catching pike. We ate pike that day, probably had 3-4 pike between the 4 of us. That was a well-needed feast. My dog was particularly grumpy at this point in the trip.
Apparently it was Tuesday this day, but at this point we had completely lost track of days and time. We got up with the sun, went to bed with the sun, ate as much as we could catch, and slept like babies at night.
We caught lots of pike at Finger Lake and even a 30+ incher from the campsite. I also got a big smallie on a topwater popper that ate the lure right at my feet and scared the crap out of me.
Originally we were going to stay at Finger for another night, but after a big meal of pike for lunch we decided to head towards Oyster. We went through a windy Pocket Lake, down the river into Ge-Be and at this point the sun was starting to get dangerously low in the sky. We needed a campsite ASAP, the first 3 that we went by on Ge-Be were all taken and finally our 4th and last option was open. This was the southern most campsite on Ge-Be. It was small but it was fine for us. We were only there a short time because we left first thing in the morning for Oyster.
We found a big pile of Moose poop just behind the campsite, too bad we didn't see the moose.
We left early in the morning from Ge-Be in hopes of securing the prized campsite on Oyster. One of my buddies and myself had stayed at this campsite in a previous trip. Most people know of it. Its the double-sided campsite at the "pinch" on the peninsula of Oyster Lake. We shouted with delight when we got to it and found it unoccupied. Hands down my favorite campsite in the BW, but I'm hoping to find better ones in the years to come if any exist!
If you've stayed at this site, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you should! Huge open spaces for as many tents as you want. Plenty of trees to set up tarps and hammocks. There are even nice hiking trails that go up to a couple cool lookouts on the peninsula. It is open enough for the wind to keep the bugs away, but also has shade to get away from the sun if you'd like.
This was our "destination" for the trip, we set up camp and stayed 3 nights here. We hoped to catch a bunch of lakers and eat like kings for the remainder of the trip.
At this point the trip had turned from a high-paced constant travel adventure, to a chill relaxed experience in the wilderness.
We slept in and fished from shore after our coffee and oatmeal. Not much luck at the beginning. My dog loved this site as there was so much room for him to run around and fetch sticks that my friends would throw to him.
It got windy in the afternoon, so we decided to use this to our advantage. We paddled into the wind accross the lake, and let the wind push us back to camp while we trolled spoons and deep divers behind the canoes at 30-50 feet. After 3 tries at this strategy, we gave up. Paddling into the wind was too much work for not catching anything. So we switched it up and went for smallies because thats what we know best. This turned out to be the right call because we probably caught 50 smallmouth bass in the next 2 days while at Oyster. We ate as much as we could and let the rest go.
We were awoken in the middle of the night by a passing thunderstorm. It was an intense storm but only lasted probably 15 minutes. Happy to say both tents held up to the storm and nobody was hit by any falling trees.
Something amazing happened when I got up on this morning. I went and got our foodbag, started to boil water with fuel and a stove on top of the fire grate to make coffee like I always do first thing in the morning. When the water was almost at a boil I saw it. A huge snapping turtle was laying in our fire grate! I could not believe it. I started taking pictures and videos of it when I realized it was laying eggs! During the night it decided to dig a hole in our fire grate and lay eggs. We think she chose that spot because it was warm from the night before. She eventually returned to the lake, and we dug up the eggs and re-buried them in the forest. We had no idea if the eggs would survive that, but we figured better than being buried where campers are sure to make fires in the next couple days.
The rest of the day was much of the same as the day before. Fishing for smallmouth and eating what we caught, relaxing at camp and in the hammock. Great last full day in the boundary waters.
Exit days are the worst, and we saved a lot of travel for this day. From Oyster Lake all the way to EP 16 and it didn't help that it started to rain as we got close to the EP. The only thing that was keeping us going was the thought of burgers when we got back to Ely.
The river that goes south, between Oyster and Agnes is a tough one. Lots of beaver dam pullovers. This was hard work. By now paddling and portaging was second nature to us. We stopped on Nina Moose River and climbed up to the lookout. Even though it was cloudy and starting to rain, it was a still a beautiful view from up there.
When we got to my car, we found my back right tire was completely flat. Devastated and wet, we took care of it. Finally got to Ely and a burger never tasted so good.