Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 20 2024

Entry Point 12 - Little Vermilion Lake

Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (Unlimited max). This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Cook, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 45 miles. Enter from Crane Lake. Note: Not the entry point to use for Trout Lake (#1)

Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1150 feet
Latitude: 48.2995
Longitude: -92.4268
Little Vermilion Lake - 12

2023 LIS North (14) - Moose River North (16)

by starz1994
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 07, 2023
Entry Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 8

Trip Introduction:
Our group enjoyed paddling Basswood for several days last year, so this year we decide to paddle Lac la Croix for a few days. We hope to find some solitude, great campsites, and catch a few fish while we enjoy everything the wilderness has to offer. This year our group consists of 8, with 7 having prior BWCA experience, and 1 first timer. Dad, Noah, Joel, Levi, Christopher, Angelina, and I are looking forward to introducing Dakota to the BWCA this year.

Day 1 of 9


Friday, July 07, 2023 - Little Indian Sioux North - Upper Pauness - Lower Pauness - Little Indian Sioux River - Loon.

Everyone is excited to begin our trek into the great north wilderness this year, so our crew is up early to make the drive from Ely out to EP 14, Little Indian Sioux North. The alarms begin going off at 4:30 am. Our stay at the VNO bunkhouse was perfect. We leave the bunkhouse before daylight, and make our way northwest. Once at the EP 14 parking area, we unload our gear and part of our group begins to portage, while Noah and Christopher shuttle one of our vehicles over to the EP 16 parking area, since we plan to exit there in a few days. We watch the sunrise as we portaged our gear down to the LIS River. Now that we have the vehicles shuttled and our gear portaged, we begin paddling at about 6 am. The 40 rod portage from Upper Pauness to Lower Pauness has a small uphill at the beginnning, then downhill at the Lower Pauness end. It's a very easy well used portage.

After a quick paddle across Lower Pauness, we decide to take an early break for a lunch snack at Devil's Cascade.

Angelina and Dakota decide to swim, while the rest of us relax and enjoy listening to the water rush through the canyon. The water level is lower than I remember in the past, but the cascade is still very impressive! The portage from Lower Pauness to LIS River has a few elevation changes, but isn't difficult. It is a pretty well used, and well maintained portage. Once we begin paddling on the LIS River, the boys begin fishing. Joel catches the first fish of the trip on a floating weedless frog. Of course it's a small mouth bass.

Not to be out done by his big brother, Levi catches a northern pike on a black/white stripe spoon. The overcast skies decide to rain off and on most of the morning into the afternoon. We decide to put on our rain gear and stop at campsite 26 at the south end of Loon Lake for a break from paddling in the rain. The site suites us well, and we decide to stay for the night. This site is large enough for our large group, and offers a great view of Loon lake to the north. After camp is set up, Joel and I decide to go fishing to try and catch the ever elusive walleye. We didn't have any luck catching walleye, but we did catch several northern pike and a few small mouth bass. Levi decided to spend the afternoon taking a nap in his hammock, while the rest of our group relax and enjoy the wilderness. After fishing, I spend some time looking at the map, documenting our route for today, and looking ahead for our plan of attack tomorrow. Christopher and I decide to go for a paddle to check out other nearby campsites. Site #28 seemed smaller than #26, and we agreed that we liked #26 better. Then we paddled over to Site #25. Of the 3 sites (25, 26, and 28) our opinion is #25 is by far the nicest. It was the largest of the three and had nice tent pads and hammock hangs. If we hadn't already set up camp at site #26, we would have moved to #25 for the night. Joel wanted to check out site #25, and I wanted to get some photos of it so Joel and I paddle back over. After fish and rice for dinner, and washing dishes, it's time to get some sleep. As I write in my journel I hear the drumming of a ruffed grouse in the distance, the buzzing of mosquito's outside the bug net of my hammock, and the snoring of Christopher in his hammock a couple of trees away... What a great day!

 



Day 2 of 9


Saturday, July 08, 2023 Loon - Lac La Croix We wake up today to a nice sunny day! Angelina and Dakota have the fire going, and coffee made by the time I wake up. After coffee and breakfast, we break camp and prepare to paddle north, hoping to make it up to Sandbar Island, or Snow Bay. As we paddle north from camp, I see a bald eagle fly over. Onward to Beatty Portage. Beatty Portage is very well maintained by the folks who portage motor boats with their rail system. It's an easy sandy landing on both the north and south ends of the portage. This is an easy portage gradually uphill most of the way, then flattens off near the north end of the portage. Once across Beatty Portage, we paddle north. We paddled close to the eastern shore, which is pretty rocky. We noticed what we thought were pictographs... On a small island south east of Sandbar Island, we saw a border reference marker, but didn't stop for photos since we wanted to make progress and find a campsite for the night. It has been fun talking with Levi and Dad while paddling today. It's nice to be able to spend the time with three generations of our family, enjoying the wilderness. Levi spent most of the day trolling a copper and orange spoon. Not too far south of campsite #9 he caught a northern pike. The sites on Sandbar Island didn't look that appealing as we paddled by, so we make our way to Snow Bay. We split up to investigate the area, and found several of the sites were already occupied. Lucky for us, we found a very nice site (#10) on an island in Snow Bay. Today was a pretty good day of paddling for us so we decide to make sure everyone hydrates before setting up camp. Joel, Noah and I talk about how this year isn't the same without Colman being in our group. Hopefully he'll be fully recovered from his knee surgery, and able to return next year. He would have loved this campsite. It's on a island, has a great place to swim, and the fishing is very good near by. We like this site so much, we decide to stay for a layover day. Christopher and I, and Noah and Joel go fishing. We've had a couple of pretty long days of paddling for us, so we are pretty tired, and looking forward to a good dinner, and a good nights sleep tonight. We decide pretty early this afternoon to stay at this site for two days and relax and recover a bit before moving on. We make camp pizza for dinner tonight. It's a favorite with our group. I think Dad got the idea from a hiking magizine a few years ago. It's a great morale booster, the younger generation loves it!! Levi wasn't feeling well and said he was cold, so we made him some hot chocolate from some protien powder. Noah gave him his hooded sweatshirt, and he's wearing my jacket to sleep in so he could stay warmer. We used my new solo stove that Ky got me for Christmas this afternoon. It's a really cool little stove. We used it to cook dinner, then we just kept the fire burning and hung out talking and lauging around the fire until bedtime. The boys boiled some water to make Chai Tea, yum!! We were pretty tired this evening, so we all hit the sack pretty early.

 



Day 3 of 9


Sunday, July 09, 2023 We sleep in a bit this morning, and wake up and eat breakfast. Since we aren't breaking camp and moving today, we decide to have pancakes for breakfast. Today has a pretty relaxed feel, which I like. Joel and Levi talk about missing home today. Dad's hands are hurting today. He's never had any trouble in the past, but this year his hands give him some fits. Dad doesn't know how to take it easy, so I'll have to put him in the middle seat of one of the MN3's so he can give his hands a break for much of the rest of this trip. Time for Levi to step up and be a strong paddler! After hanging around camp most of the morning, swimming, relaxing, and talking, we make some potato soup for lunch. Since it's a warm sunny day, Levi, Angelina, and Dakota decide to swim across the little bay on the island, and climb up the rocks on the other side for a photo shoot. After lunch, Joel, Christopher and I go fishing most of the afternoon. We catch 2 northern pike, and 2 small mouth bass. The winds changed directions very abruptly while we were fishing in bay in the southeast corner of Snow Bay. The wind almost pushed us west out of the bay! Then the rain came, and we heard thunder north of us most of the afternoon. It didn't storm where we were, but it sounded pretty rowdy to the north of us. At camp it would rain for a few minutes, then sun, then rain for a few minutes again, off and on for most of the afternoon. For some reason, everyone goes to sleep pretty early tonight. I think I'm the last one awake, and it's still daylight. We're all alseep so early, we didn't even make dinner... We did have a little squirrel visit camp.

 



Day 4 of 9


Monday, July 10, 2023 What an AWESOME Day!! The morning seemed to pass by slowly, After breakfast, we broke camp and left Snow Bay. Since we'll be doing no portaging today, I take some coffee to go...

It felt like we were getting a late start as we paddled into the wind in a northwesterly direction out of Snow Bay. We saw a U.S. Border Reference Marker on the point southwest of campsite #16 and stopped to take some photos. Once we turn north, then back to the east, the wind is at our back. Paddling seems very easy today since the wind is helping us along!! I forgot how big Lac La Croix seems like paddling smaller lakes when you're paddling through all the islands. It's neat how such a large lake can feel so small at times. I also forgot how many buildings are on the Canadian side. We stopped at a site we stayed at on a previous trip, site #135, but we decided not to stay. Site #135 has a rocky landing, and with the wind out of the west, we thought it might be a bit buggy, so we push on. Once we left site #135, the wind picked up quite a bit. We took our paddles and a trash bag and made sails and the wind pushed us across the big part of LLC.

We stopped at site #137, and found a nice sandy beach site, but the firegrate was almost covered up with driftwood from a time when the water level was much higher, or maybe ice pushed the driftwood up that far? We thought we might call this site home for the night, but the wind coming across the big part of LLC was just too much for us. While we were there, we tried to clean up the firegrate area a bit. I hope this isn't seen as a violation of LNT, but rather trying to make a campsite nicer than we found it for the next group. It was pretty wavy as we loaded up our gear to trek onward. Since the wind was pushing the lake in our direction, it made for an interesting time dealing with the waves in the shallow water. Once under way, we set our sights on an island campsite not far away, #140. Site #140 has 2 good tent pads, and several hammock hangs. The landing is a little tricky, but well worth the work. This site is elevated about 30 feet above the water, with great views to the south. We found blueberries, and the fishing near by was great! We've been very fortunate this trip so far with awesome sites!! Are there really any bad ones though? Christopher and Joel spend the afternoon fishing and catch several small mourh bass, and a walleye. Joel was so excited to have caught his first walleye. We'll eat well tonight!! Joel and I cleaned the fish. Noah tends the fire. Christopher cooked dinner. Levi talked about missing home. Angelina and Dakota hung out. Dad went to bed early, trying to nurse his hands into feeling better. I know he hasn't been sleeping well since his hands have been hurting. He describes it as a nerve pain that just won't go away. I hope he gets feeling better soon!! After dinner, Christopher, Noah, Joel, Levi and I hung out by the fire. Christopher and I smoked cigars. After cigars Noah, Levi and Christopher cashed it in for the night. Joel and I stayed up and made tea with the solo stove, and talked for a long while. We looked at the stars and talked about many different things. We even got to see the milky way in all it's splendor and a few satilites move across the night sky. We hoped for some northern lights, but they didn't show. Nothing could have ended this day better than spending time talking with Joel. He doesn't open up and talk about things very often, what a great place to have quality father son time to discuss anything that comes to mind. Praise the Lord for days like this, life doesn't get much better...

 



Day 5 of 9


Tuesday, July 11, 2023 I woke up a little tired this morning from staying up so late last night. We discussed taking another layover day today, and I would have definately been in favor of that!! In the end, we decided to move today since the weather is good. Levi, Angelina, and Dakota picked some blueberries, man they were good!! After breakfast we break camp and paddle south towards Tiger Bay. We are lucky to have the wind at our back again today. After a short paddle, we decide to stop for a shore lunch at the island site just east of Fish Stake Narrows. After some chicken noodle soup, with some rice added in, and some Cajun 2 Step seasoning, we decide that we like the site so much, we'd just stay for the night. This Island site #167 is a real gem. It is one of my top 5 sites I've had the pleasure to stay at so far. It has a nice sandy beach landing to load/unload gear, a large grassy area large enough for several tents, unlimited hammock hangs, trails to hike, great fishing, sun and shade, blueberries, old artifacts from years gone by, and a couple of really cool large rocks that are split in half. This site truely has it all! After Lunch we set up camp, and then went fishing. Fishing here is outstanding!! Noah caught a nice small mouth bass and northern pike. Joel caught a nice northern pike, a small mouth bass and a small northern pike. Levi hung out with Dad around camp. Levi ended up catching a nice small mouth bass later in the day. A group of paddlers caught a walleye near the rocks west of camp. We didn't find the walleye, even though we tried!! I love this place! After dinner, we watched a beautiful sunset and took some photos.

 



Day 6 of 9


Wednesday, July 12, 2023 We woke up to another beautiful sunny day!! It really doesn't get much better than this!! I decided to go swimming before breakfast. The view from the swimming hole is spectacular. Dad woke up with some pain in his hip this morning. I can tell he's uncomfortable. We decided to take a layover day to give everyone some time to relax. Dad hangs around camp most of the day. We found some more blueberries, and had blueberry pancakes for breakfast. After breakfast, I had the boys take some photos with one of the big rocks that is split in half. We took photos here a few years ago on a different trip. It's amazing how much they have grown since then!!! We spend the rest of the day relaxing, fishing, swimming and enjoying the wilderness. It's funny how layover days are so busy having fun, that I don't remember much to write about them... I guess I should take better notes in my journel.

 



Day 7 of 9


Thursday, July 13, 2023 Praise the Lord!!! Dad woke up feeling much better this morning! I think taking a day to relax yesterday was a good choice! We all feel well rested, and ready for the day. After breakfast we break camp and paddle with Agnes being the goal for the day. We paddle into the wind today and it really makes you appreciate having the wind at your back. We paddle hard today, but meet our goal and find a great site on the Southeast shore of Agnes. The 115r portage from the Boulder River to Lake Agnes is flat and well maintained for the most part. It's a bit muddy on the Boulder River end. I think it may be more muddy than normal this year with the water levels down so low. Once past the muddy part, it's easy peasy. We paddle from the portage head down the east shoreline of Agnes. Site #1808 has 2 good tent pads, and endless hammock hangs. The firegrate is a nice area with a large rock to lean against or climb to the top and sit on. There are several hammock hangs right next to the shoreline, with a great view of the lake! We worked hard today, set up camp, made vegetable soup for lunch and some of us took naps in the afternoon. Noah, Angelina, and Dakota all took naps. Levi and I played cards in the tent. Dad, Christopher, Noah, Joel, Levi, and I talked about past trips, and future trips and hung out around the firegrate. Levi and Joel are getting along really well today and hang out after everyone else goes to bed. It's really cool to see them getting along so well! Everyone is pretty tired today, time for bed and it's only 7 pm... I read a few chapters of Jack London's "Call of the Wild" and drift off to sleep. Levi and Joel took some photos with my camera...

 



Day 8 of 9


Friday, July 14, 2023 Last night it rained. I fell asleep with my rain fly only half way covering my hammock because it was a beautiful day and I didn't think it would rain... Once the rain started, I woke up pretty qucikly and pulled my rain tarp over and fell back asleep. I woke up this morning to another beautiful sunny day.

We woke up this morning and had oatmeal and pancakes for breakfast. Last year the boys complained, to mom after we returned home, about being hungary most of the trip... This year we packed more food and we have plenty. After breakfast we break camp and paddle towards Nina Moose Lake. We paddle out of Agnes and into the Nina Moose River. The river starts out with a nice channel. As we paddle upstream the wild rice, grass, and lilly pads choke the channel down quite a bit in spots. Noah and Joel were travelling pretty light with only their packs and their canoe. They could paddle and portage much faster than the rest of our group so once we were across the first 95r portage, we sent them ahead to find a site on Nina Moose. The 95r portage was flat and easy. Last time we came through here, there was a water fall near the portage, but this year the water levels are low enough, there is not much water moving over the falls. The 70r portage is also easy and well maintained. Once on Nina Moose we meet up with Noah and Joel at Site #1786. As a dad, I'm proud that Noah (16 year old) and Joel (14 year old) were able to work together to navigate to the campsite on their own. They have been trekking in the BWCA since they were young, but I've never had them go out on their own out of my sight before. I was a little nervous, but also confident that they would persevere. To say I am proud of their wilderness, canoe, and land navigation skills would be an understatement. Site #1786 is a great site! It is large with mutiple tent pads, as well as endless hammock hangs. It is set up almost like it has different "rooms." The grassy point out front is a great place to relax in the sun. Past the firegrate there are multiple places that are sectioned off for tents and/or hammocks. A very cool site indeed. We set up camp, ate pizza for dinner, and relaxed for the afternoon. Joel and I paddled over to Site #1787 to check out that site since we had stayed there on a previous trip. There was another group paddling up to that site as we were, so we asked if we could check out the site for a few minutes. They were very pollite and let us take a few photos of Joel on the big rock at the site, before we paddled back to our site for the evening. Dad smoked our last cigar, and we squared away our gear as much as possible so we could get an early start to the day tomorrow. Everyone is excited to have breakfast at Brittons... 

 



Day 9 of 9


Saturday, July 15, 2023 We wake up early this morning and send Noah and Christopher ahead of the rest of the group so they could get to EP 16 and drive over to EP 14 and pick up our second vehicle while the rest of our group makes our way out to EP 16. This plan works well and the timing couldn't be better. With Noah and Christopher travelling light, they single portage while the rest of our group moves a little slower. We packed everything away to make travelling easier, so I didn't even take any photos of our last day. We paddled and portaged up the Moose River pulling over several beaver dams along the way. As we made our way to the top of the last portage, Christopher and Noah return with the vehicles, and we load our gear and begin our drive back to Ely. We seem to make great time this morning, and arrive at Brittons in time for the best breakfast in town. Can't wait to start planning next year's trip!!!

 


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