BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 21 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1364 feet
Moose River North to Iron
June 13, 2012
Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days:
The group met up in Ely at TGO at 7:00 am. I had picked up the permit the day before in Duluth. Three of us drove up from Duluth, two from the Cities, and one an Ely resident. Several of us met each other for the first time at TGO. We got off to the EP, and after a quick gear check and weeding out of redundant gear, we were on the portage by 8:30. It was an interesting experience getting an unfamiliar group pared down enough to single portage through emails and text messages, but we managed it. In the end we had about 2 extra days of granola bars and 3 saws, but the gear worked out pretty well. It was a quick trip north as we had a 15 MPH south wind. One interesting thing to note was that there is an extra portage on Moose River between the two short ones on the map due to a series of large beaver dams. The portage is short, but extremely muddy and slippery after rain. It appeared to be a well used beaver trail, and I do not believe it was there when I traveled through there 2 years ago.
One of the group members needed to check the NE bay on Agnes for invasive species, so we opted for the longer portage to Boulder River on the NE side of Agnes. We were there for lunch by noon, and we broke up the rest when another group came through from the north. We continued leisurely up the Boulder River, taking the portage south of the bottle portage instead of paddling around Tiger Bay due to the increasing south winds. We got on to Iron by 3:30, and claimed the second site on the west end by 4:00. Due to high winds, we were shore bound for the rest of the evening. We had a dinner of Adolf's brats with mac and cheese, and baked fish caught from shore for a midnight snack.
At about 8:30 we watched a group of 7 in 3 aluminum canoes complete the back-breaker portage to the SW of our site and paddle leisurely while singing into the whitecaps. We wondered if they were too inexperienced or intoxicated to understand the trouble they were in. I believe the question was answered on Friday.
More wind and rain. We fished from shore for most of the day, but got out to fish the bottle river for about an hour before thunderstorms rolled in before dinner. We had a great meal of fish taco's before hiding from the rain in the tents.
Finally a nice day!!! We hit the water early, with all 3 canoes fishing their way across Iron to meet up at Curtain Falls for lunch. We picked a beautiful spot to snack and nap, and watched one of the canoes from Friday's group (we were convinced it was the same group, but could be wrong) capsize in the current below Curtain beyond the view of the other 2 canoes in the group. We whistled and flagged down the 2 other canoes, and one went off to the rescue. Several of us have first hand experience in this, and we spent the rest of the weekend discussing what they did right and what they did wrong. I was glad it wasn't me...again.
We caught plenty of fish for dinner, and made a nice evening paddle boating a number of smallies and walleyes around the islands in front of the camp site.
Most of the walleyes were caught pretty deep - 15 to 20 FOW. The big smallies were in about 10 FOW and caught on light jigs and leeches. The male smallies were all over in the shallows and would hit just about anything.
We got up early and were paddling by 7:00 with our sites set on Oyster Lake. We explored Tiger Bay, and made the 2 short portages into Agnes. Tiger Bay was packed, with one group bushwacked on an island. They were still there at about 9:00 sitting on shore with their canoes turned over on shore. I was looking forward to a swim in the hot June morning at the beach in front of the Agnes-Oyster River portage, but there were 4 feet of Mayfly shells floating on the shore, so we pressed on and were on Oyster by 11:00. We stayed at the site just north of the portage which was excellent.
After setting up tents, two of us went out to catch trout for dinner, and we were quickly blown off the lake. The temp went from 80 to 50 in about an hour, and we had wicked thunder storms from 2:00 to 7:00. We ate gorp and candy bars for dinner, and bannock for a snack after the rain let up. We got camp cleaned up before bed so we could fish and dry out in the morning.
This was the worst weather I have ever experienced on my 10 plus trips, but it is time I started paying my dues. The fishing was OK, but not spectacular thanks to the weather.
While we were a group of male 30 somethings, we saw a lot of older, teenage, and women's groups. It was great to see, but none would portage our gear on Father's Day. We didn't see any other groups single portaging.
Tripping with new people is great! We had a good variety of backgrounds, upbringings, and life situations which made for good conversations at camp. There were no arguments, and I believe that each of us left with a different perspective on life after the trip.
Just a reminder - the portages in Canada suck! Luckily my crash on the muddy bottle portage did not lead to permanent damage or an infection.
I had a teenager making fun of me on the last portage because I had a "woody." I would like to clarify that it is a cedar strip and glass hull.