Day 1 of 10
Wednesday, May 24, 2023 Plan was to drop off my vehicle at EP 16 and have CCO drop me at EP 14. After a Briton's Belt-busting Breakfast, I was off. Little Indian was as remembered, smooth and still with easy portages. Nary a soul until the portage into Shell, then very crowded. The beaver dam midway looks to be under construction again, but there's a very large berm to the north that keeps your feet dry. I triple portaged this one, 2.5 hrs... never again. Shell was easy-peasy with just a light ripple. I had experimented with moving the packs (ALICE for chow and my Granite for other accoutrements) ,the rented Prism tracked and rode well. Little Shell, my first choice, was occupied so onto Lynx. All full save the western most site near the Heritage portage. Not too bad. Exposed, with lots of wind which would prove to be a blessing as the sun set. Put my hammock up using a method borrowed from this forum, i.e. prussik knots and little beaners... pretty sweet. Got out my stove, sent my girl the requisite text via the Garmin and got myself ready to enjoy my attempt at food dehydration. Tonight is the chili!
Day 2 of 10
Thursday, May 25, 2023 Chili was excellent! First book of Psalms today. 68deg for the high 34deg tonight. The new under quilt worked as advertised. Wind from the south @ 8mph with gusts to 18mph. I am trying out the Via instant coffee this time as all other trips have been brewed or pressed grounds. Not too bad, pretty sure by next week I'll be loving it. Bugs are negligible . Brian from CCO had advised bringing my headnet. I always do, but have yet to take it out of it's tiny little stuff sack. Fishing has been tough, at least for me. Pasta tonight. Swarming bugs, gnats, black flies and mosquitoes, but nothing has bitten yet, to include any fish. Cooling off pretty good this evening so probably have a fire. Last voyager was kind enough to leave a bit of kindling and a nice pine log that's crying out to be processed. They also left a bit of cordage and a nice beaner, both of which I'll be packing out.
Day 3 of 10
Friday, May 26, 2023 Heading out this AM and trying for Oyster. Couple 300 rods. My plan is to portage canoe and ALICE until the canoe can no longer bear it. We'll see. Beautiful sunrise across Lynx, pointing almost directly to the first portage. Nice landing near a big, uprooted tree. Picturesque. Successfully doubled the first into Ruby. Two females on the portage, one my age and the other practically sprinting with the canoe and pack, much younger. Go girls. Ruby is a cool little lake with one site... looked buggy, but so does everything else. Headnet is in place and I'm getting very comfortable with it. Figure by tomorrow I'll be able to drink and spit through it. Portage between Ruby and Hustler is unremarkable save the sunken remains of a boat dock/artifact. Hustler is a beautiful little lake in my opinion and my first time on it. Almost considered stopping there as all the sites were empty, but the vision of my first lake trout was strong. Spoke briefly with two other soloists going the other way. Both cranking their double blades, said they'd been up in LLC. Portage from Hustler into Oyster was long. Nothing dramatic, but long. Canoe only made it halfway before being unceremoniously dumped. Got out the Gravity works at the first Oyster turnaround and set to filtering some water. It's hot...and buggy. Made Oyster around 1300. Those two portages about did the job. Talked with a couple gentlemen in a tandem, both of us vying for the lee to get out of the wind. They'd just caught two lakers! Silver Rattletrap in about 15ft. Guys informed that all the sites on the deep side were taken, save the one on the peninsula . I took it and gave thanks. Plan is to stay on Oyster a couple nights, so breaking out the big yellow tarp, again with tips and tricks gleaned from this forum. Worked great. Abandoned cordage here too which I'll put to use hanging my Gravity Works. It's hot, really hot for this time of year. Probably go sans under quilt. Black flies are everywhere and have no respect for Premetharin. I see a couple Tylenol PMs in my future.
Day 4 of 10
Saturday, May 27, 2023 Slept well and feeling much better today. My decision not to use the under quilt was met with error at 0200. I was cold, got up, installed quilt and slept until 0700. Coffee and oatmeal. Going to check out the lee side of Oyster as casting cranks from shore has proven unproductive. Wind 11mph, gusts to 22mph. Happy with the Garmin purchase i.e., weather and nightly coms. I'm thinking Proverbs this morning. Wind has been blowing whitecaps all day. I'm over 60, I'm solo and I'm shore fishing. Almost caught a bluegill. Flies are intense even in this wind. Easy enough to swat, but they're everywhere. Hoping the wind lets up in the next hour or so. I'd really like to try out my new fry pan.
Day 5 of 10
Sunday, May 28, 2023 Caught and ate my first lake trout this AM! Wind was mercifully slack so took a chance and headed around to the deep side. First cast! Purple tail dancer. A young couple and their dog visited briefly while passing my site. I asked how he cooked lakers and he responded, "whole or filleted". My catch was on the small, but legal, side and I opted for whole. Lots of little trout bones. Fillet next time. Fry-Bake did well though my oil was a little too hot. Wind is picking up again, so probably spend the remainder of today readying for leaving tomorrow and napping. Today is Sunday. I asked and the Lord provided. Too hot in the hammock and too many bugs to remove the net. Thinking I'll set this chair, hydrate and pontificate... and kill flys. Two of those giant swans landed across from me. The staccato chop-chop-chop as they take off is impressive, as is their long, gentle glide to a halt. I caught a smallie from shore. Not much larger than my hand so he didn't get eaten.
Day 6 of 10
Monday, May 29, 2023 Started early, leaving Oyster for Agnes around 0700. Water like glass and headed straight across the lake to the river's mouth. I didn't see the first portage, but given the slightly increased water levels, didn't think too much about it. I continued on for about 1/1.5 miles and couldn't fine the second portage either. Very frustrating. I checked my map, following the undulations on the river, and decided where I suspected the second portage to be, landed the canoe and took a due East bearing to Agnes. Figured I'd walk maybe 200rds, adjusted my pace count for the terrain and took off. I was on the wrong river. I had looked at the map easily a dozen times since being on Oyster. In retrospect, I suppose the obviousness of the Nord had me convinced, "this has got to be it". Anyhow, it wasn't. I trudged though the brush for about an hour, drained my liter of water, lost my bugnet, lost my map. Another hour trying to correct my error found me in the midst of a most unwelcome bog, some may call it a swamp. Another hour compounding my error found me hopelessly lost and having severe if transient cramping of my quadriceps. I pulled the little Garmin, flipped the cap and stabbed the SOS. Response was in minutes. St. Louis County SAR was organized and dispatched to my location. Couple hours later I've a USFS float plane circling my assumed position. Hour or so after that I was informed via Garmin that the SAR team was within 2500 ft! I had purchased a new signal whistle as the one previously on my PFD was showing signs of saltwater exposure. As the team drew closer I was blowing that thing like I was auditioning for an orchestra. The SAR team finally located this hapless pensioner. I reassured them that I was ambulatory and unhurt, though I quickly drained all proffered liquids. They gave me a choice... continue on or be flown out of the backcountry. I chose to continue on my adventure and they were supportive. Great group of folks, all volunteer. I did not get their permission to use their names, but there were three... a gentleman roughly my age, prior US Marine and retired fireman of 30 yrs, a 30ish male with previous firefighting experience and a 20ish female training for certification in SAR. All from Ely. Once back in my canoe and armed with a borrowed map, I returned to Oyster, taking the first available campsite. I stood on that little sandy beach and gave thanks as I waved to my rescuers as they took off from Oyster.
Day 7 of 10
Tuesday, May 30, 2023 Up bright and early, broke camp and on the water by 0700. The little sandy beach was bait as the campsite itself was one of the less pleasant I've stayed on. Glass water again and the portage was easy to find with the help of the SAR member's loaned map. Sure missing that bug net. Two easy portages, a nice river cruise and I'm on Agnes by 1000. Just a hint of whitecap has me puckering now, so I stick to the portage shoreline and take the first available site. Not the best, but I've stayed on worse. Put the yellow tarp up, cooked a hot lunch, took a nap and contemplated taking a bath. It's definitely hot enough.
Day 8 of 10
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 Beautiful sunrise. Lake is flat. Lots of rain last night. Thunder and lightening too. Hammock stayed dry if a bit too warm. Already downed my oatmeal and on my third Via. Sure do miss that headnet. The bugs have a schedule: 2000 to about 0630 the mosquito reins supreme. I get about an hour of serenity until the black flies come on duty where they will remain until the sun touches the treetops when once again, the mosquito resumes duty. Planning to take advantage of these calm waters and check out a fishing spot shared by Brian after a bit of scripture. Still reading Proverbs. Skipped the canoe fishing adventure as I've been catching crappie from the rock! Going to have a most excellent dinner. I added some packets of tartar sauce to my condiments this they've proved most delicious. There's a storm rumbling off to the SE. I've secured the tarps and have the bags under cover. I'm about to go and enjoy the symphony from the skeeters caught between the hammock net and tarp.
Day 9 of 10
Thursday, June 01, 2023 Woke up to the sound of raindrops on the hammock tarp. Cooler weather would have had me linger awhile, but current temps see me enjoying the first cup under the yellow tarp. Last day in the BWCA and I'm pretty excited. Heading out tomorrow via Nina Moose and the Moose river. 10 days. Never again, especially in the "buggy" season. Too much work and you have to cary too much chow. I miss the camaraderie of my tripping friends as well as the shared work. Not a lot of wildlife this trip. No moose, haven't heard any wolves, not even a bald eagle sighting. Lots of other birds though, giant swans, mallards, Canadian geese, loons... even a little bright green hummingbird.
Day 10 of 10
Friday, June 02, 2023 Lovely morning. Nice, leisurely coffee and I'm off. Cruised right through Nina Moose and into the Moose river. River was very manageable. I saw three canoes on my way upriver, one tandem and two triples. Couple beaver dams to pull over, nothing dramatic. I had never seen beaver dams with this good a footing, almost like a sandy beach. Must be how they look earlier in the year? One of the portages terminated in a beaver dam, only one I roped the canoe. EP 16! A guide service had a van waiting for a pickup. The guy driving, Braden I believe, asked if I could use a water. I must have looked like I needed one and gratefully accepted. Got the canoe loaded up on my vehicle. First time I had done this too and probably the last. I enjoy the cooler of beer and water that CCO greets us with upon return.
AAR Never go again without my compass Always bring my little Garmin, especially if going solo No more solo trips longer than five days Bring a better camera
Thanks for reading y'all.