Day 1 of 6
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 Sonya is kind enough to have pancakes and coffee ready at 5am so we enjoy a hot breakfast and hit the road for LIS North. Andrew drops us off about 6:45, we snap a quick picture and take off down the short portage to the river. The weather is cool and it is raining on and off, not the perfect weather I was hoping for on Maureen’s first trip but we don our rain coats and hope for the best. We hit the water about 7:30a and head off toward Upper Pauness with a goal of reaching Lynx for a 2 day stay. Maureen decided to take the stern after some practice back home on the Chattahoochee River so we set her and Raleigh up and off they go. She has the big V-8 of Raleigh providing the horsepower up front and I have my younger son Keegan (little V-6) providing me the power. The river is lovely and we haven’t seen or heard anyone else on the portage which surprises me a bit as all 6 permits were taken for today. We spot a soaring bald eagle pretty quickly which is always an awesome sight![paragraph break] We cross the first portage around some rapids and smoothly double portage repack and continue on the river only to reach Upper Pauness to find some medium winds and small white caps. About half way across the lake I notice two canoes coming from behind us and we reach the 40 rod portage to Lower Pauness right before the do. The other group is 4 young men and I can tell they are on a mission so we encourage them to “play through” which they kindly accept. They are out of the water and down the portage in a matter of seconds (single portaging) which provides me a great opportunity to remind the boys of proper portage etiquette using these guys as a great example.[paragraph break] We quickly cross Lower Pauness deciding not to head to see Devil’s Cascade as the rain has picked up. We hit the 220 rod portage to Shell with a plan of trying a portage and a half thanks to the suggestions of Bannock, Kanoes and others on the BWCA.com BB. This plan works well and we decide to use this method going forward for the rest of the trip on any portage over 70 rods or so. By the time we get to Shell the Rain is picking up a bit as is the wind. The last thing I want to do is push too hard on Maureen’s first day and I have some good sites identified on Shell so we decide to shorten our target for the day and stay on Shell. We end up on the north end of Con Island (site 57) which is a nice site. This turns out to be a very good decision. We unpack the gear as the rain sporadically falls while we set up camp. A quick sausage and cheese lunch and everyone wants to go fishing despite the weather (still cool, windy and spitting rain). We divide the leeches and head out and find limited success. Maureen and Raleigh find a pretty good bluegill hole and Keegan and I quickly find the smallies but nothing is very big. We keep a couple fish to have with our steaks and head back for dinner. Dinner is great over the fire and we enjoy a cool evening with no rain before heading off to the tent about 10pm.
Day 2 of 6
Day 3 of 6
Thursday, July 02, 2009 We rolled out of the tents about 7am, had a breakfast of hot oatmeal and broke down camp. Some clouds remained but the rain was gone and temps were reaching the mid 70’s so shorts were in order. Our goal today was to head over to Hustler for a single night stay. Maureen and Raleigh decided to switch spots and put Raleigh in the stern. I was hoping that they might make this change as Maureen was having some challenges keeping the canoe in a straight line due to her lack of experience. This turned out to be a good decision which I am glad THEY made and benefited everyone as the trip continued. [paragraph break]We made the short paddle over to Little Shell and over to the portage to Lynx. This was a very short walk and Lynx was beautiful. I was a bit saddened that we were unable to spend a day or so on Lynx but I am sure we will be back. We quickly found the 265 rod portage to Ruby and headed down the trail. Raleigh and I met a father and son coming the other way on our first half trip and the older gentleman fell just as we arrived. We helped him up and made sure all was well before continuing on. The portage and a half worked great and when Raleigh and I arrived at Ruby with the canoes Maureen and Keegan had PBJ flatbread ready for a quick lunch. [paragraph break]Ruby looked gorgeous and we were able to paddle straight through to Hustler. We found our target site occupied so we went to plan B and found site 70 open. We made camp about 1:30p and headed out to fish. The fishing was excellent in this end of the lake as we caught many smallies and a couple of pike. Keegan and I had the opportunity to watch a beaver munch on some lilly pads before slapping his tail and disappearing down the lake. The leeches continued to work well although I took out the old faithful 5 of diamonds daredevle and found the smallies hitting hard on most of the structure in the area. [paragraph break]We enjoyed fish for dinner again and encountered our first bugs of the trip this evening. A thermocell worked great after the wind died down. Maureen and Raleigh went out for more fishing after dinner and had good luck with the pike. Keegan and I cleaned up a pine tree that had broken about 10 feet up and fallen down across the shore at the waterline and was obscuring the beautiful view from camp. After about an hour’s work we had our beautiful view back not to mention some firewood cut for the next occupant of the site. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful night sky before hitting the sack late.
Day 4 of 6
Friday, July 03, 2009 We got up early today as we wanted to get to Oyster and get a specific campsite. I also knew we had our longest portage (310 rods) of the trip ahead of us. We hit the water by 7:30 and quickly reached the portage. The gents we met the day before on the portage from Little Shell had told us there was a submerged part of the portage to Oyster where we would have to paddle across the swamp for about 60 yards adding additional time to an already long portage.[paragraph break] We seemed to finally be better organized and Maureen and Keegan were off quickly. By the time Raleigh and I were saddled up a young family arrived at the portage heading in the same direction. They mentioned they were targeting the same site we wanted to get to that day. We dropped our packs at half way and headed back for the canoes.[paragraph break] Raleigh’s youth enabled him to create a gap on me as we headed out for our full leg of the portage with the canoes. I have notoriously bad ankles and am usually pretty diligent but apparently I day dreamed briefly as I soon found myself on the ground with the canoe on top of me. I had heard the pop and tear and knew I had done some damage to my right ankle. After some colorful self expression I wrapped it with a bandana and managed to get the canoe back up and limped down the trail. I finally reached the end of the portage and sunk my ankle in the nice cool water of Oyster which felt great. It had started to swell and bit but not much I could do about it now so after a good 10 minute soaking I decided it was time to load up and paddle. [paragraph break]We really wanted to get campsite 1773 and the young family following us was arriving at the portage end so we hit the water with some enthusiasm. We decided to split up as we expected Oyster to be pretty active this being July 4th weekend (thankfully I was wrong in that regard). Raleigh and Maureen went straight to 1773 while Keegan and I went to check out 1782. To my surprise 1782 was open and appeared to be a really nice site but Maureen found 1773 open so we decided to stay there.[paragraph break] This is an awesome camp site! We quickly setup camp, ate some lunch and everyone just relaxed for a while. The weather was splendid and not a bug to be found. We eventually hit the water for some more fishing. Keegan and I tried our hand in various places trolling for some lake trout to no avail, I am pretty confident we just were not deep enough and with no electronics we were fishing blind so to speak. Maureen and Raleigh had some good luck with the smaillies and pike so we enjoyed some fish with our beef stroganoff which is Keegan’s favorite camping dinner. The evening was wonderful as we had a nice fire and sat around reading until dark.[paragraph break] We had a quick discussion before turning in for the night and Maureen was pretty adamant that she wanted to stay put for another night. She was a bit tired of tearing down and setting up and really liked this campsite and the beauty of Oyster. Our original plan had been to get over to Agnes on Saturday to shorten up the last days paddle which we considered to be a bit of a challenge in its own right. Adding the distance from Oyster to Agnes concerned me a bit (my V-6 in the bow was showing some wear and tear). Knowing that making Mom completely happy was really high on the list of priorities we all agreed to enjoy Oyster an extra day and to suck it up and take on the challenge of getting out to EP 16 by 2pm on Sunday (our pickup time) without any complaints. We headed to the tents as a bevy of loons lulled us to sleep.
Day 5 of 6
Day 6 of 6
Sunday, July 05, 2009 We had a long way to go today to get out to EP 16 by 2pm (I hate being late for a pickup), about 9 miles as the crow flies by my calculation. Maureen and I were up at 4:30am and roused the boys a short while later. While I packed the tents and such, Maureen made the last of the coffee and oatmeal. We were paddling away at 5:30 am to a beautiful sunrise. [paragraph break]Everyone seemed in good spirits despite the early start. The paddle to the portage connecting us to the Oyster river should be short but Raleigh and Maureen went right past the portage without recognizing it. Keegan and I caught up with them and called them back to the portage which Keegan had spotted pretty easily at about 6am. Despite this small delay we were right on the schedule I had laid out, so far so good.[paragraph break] The portage was nice, well maintained and we were in short order paddling the Oyster River. The river was beautiful this early in the morning and the cool temperatures made it a resplendent paddle. We reached our first decision point more quickly than expected. Mark at Jordan’s and I had discussed whether or not we could bypass the portage to Agnes and sneak down through the marsh and connect up with the Moose River. Mark suggested it was passable although it may be a bit challenging and I was just not sure it was a wise adventure on Maureen’s first trip especially on Day 6. [paragraph break]We had a quick chat and vote, and everyone decided to take on the challenge. It turned out to be a great decision. We had 4 dam pullovers between the Agnes portage and the Moose River and almost felt lost a couple of times but the scenery was incredible. With a little luck we never ended up in a dead end and about 45 minutes later found ourselves on the Moose River. Everyone was pretty excited that we conquered what we considered a pretty good challenge particularly when we knew it saved us a 190 rod portage and at least 90 minutes. [paragraph break]We continued on across Nina Moose which had some small white caps and a flotilla of paddlers heading north, the first real masses of people we saw on the trip. We made a quick stop at “Top of the World Rock” for the great view back up to Nina Moose and took quite a few pictures. This was a rather fortuitous side track. A young couple had been following us across Nina Moose on towards EP16 as they had misplaced their map and needed some help finding their way. I told them about the great views as we pulled aside but they decided to continue on to get home. Turns out about 3 minutes later (about 100 yds down stream) they surprised a young bull moose on the side of the river which rushed them and supposedly got within 50 feet of their canoe while he stood in the middle of the river. Eventually he retreated but not before scaring the heck out of this young couple. They were still pretty shaken when we caught them at the next portage. I “apologized” to Maureen for denying her the opportunity to have an up-close and personal with a moose as that surely would have been Maureen and Raleigh that would have had that experience had we not stopped for some pictures!![paragraph break] The rest of the trip was rather uneventful. We actually reached EP 16 parking lot about 1:30p. Andrew showed up right on time at 2p and we headed in for a shower at Jordan’s. After many thanks to Mark and his family we grabbed a couple burgers at DQ in Ely and hit the road for Apple Valley arriving home about 9p after a brief stop at Toby’s in Hinkley for some cinnamon rolls for Grandma (her favorite).[paragraph break] The trip was fabulous and an utter success from my perspective in that Maureen said she would like to go back again. Thanks to the many ladies on BWCA.com for their suggestions that helped me make the trip enjoyable for Maureen. We loved working with Mark, Sonya, and Andrew at Jordan’s outfitters. They do a great job and we will surely look at working with them again in the near future. Hopefully next year we can convince my daughter to join us although that will mean either a solo or a MN III but that’s a good problem to have. We really liked the route and were really surprised at the lack of people we saw particularly in light of the fact it was July 4th weekend. We really saw very few people until we hit Nina Moose. Despite the rain and coolness on the first couple of days the weather was great and the lack of bugs was astonishing. I can only recall applying bug dope 2 days.