BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
November 29 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 6
Elevation: 1364 feet
2023 LIS North (14) - Moose River North (16)
July 07, 2023
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days:
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.
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!
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...
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...