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July 14 2024

Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River (North of Echo Trail)

Moose/Portage River (north) entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 27 miles. Access is a 160-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.

Number of Permits per Day: 5
Elevation: 1348 feet
Latitude: 48.1230
Longitude: -92.0991
A favorite route offering many trip options and memorable things to see including;

World Class fishing for all four BWCA Species
Soaring granite hills and cliffs
Small lakes
Small rivers
Tumbling rapids and waterfalls
Wildlife, including Moose
Vistas from high points across the region if you're willing to climb. Rating Easy to Moderate. Day One. Get to EP16 off of the Echo Trail early. The initial portage is long, but well worn and smooth, sloping gently downgrade to the launch area. Load your canoe and head North. You'll be paddling with the slight current on this narrow winding river. The water is clear and make sure to tell the bowperson to watch for looming rocks!

Severe Trip

by Thwarted
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 13, 2012
Entry Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
This trip started in December of 2011 with planning. My son Rob and I share rabid affection for the outdoors for almost any purpose but bow hunting and fishing are tops on the list. The tippy top of the outdoors food chain for us are our annual trips to the BW. Like many of you, I make them an all year event by planning, acquiring supplies, testing recipes, etc. By preparing bit by bit through the year I can be ready in June without stress or panic. I do not like last minute decisions or unplanned trips. The plan this year is to enter at EP14 spend one night in Snow Bay, Two nights on Takcumich, scoot around the top of Lac La Croix to Pocket Creek to Finger Lake for two nights then back to EP14 through Little Loon. Rob and I like to take a couple of newbies every year and this year we would be accompanied by Rob's friend Joe and my old high school buddy Alan. Both love to fish and are can do guys. It was a good crew but the weather would be rough.

Day 1 of 5

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our first morning was a beauty. Clear skies and still. We had bunked at VNO upstairs. Nice rooms with fridge and eating area. I awoke first as usual before 4am. By 4:45 everybody had showered and we were ready to go because we had subs left from night and with that we had coffee from next door. We waited for the guys from VNO to open up so we could get our leeches and hand over our wallets for safekeeping. Next time I will get the leeches the night before and keep them in the fridge so we can just go. As it turned out there was a fully outfitted group going out at the same time and we were delayed even further because of that convergence.

Still, it was just barely light when we set out for EP 14 and we arrived while the day was still being born. We were halfway through the process of offloading our gear when the group from VNO showed up. That was a surprise because I had not known we were going out the same EP. They were very good about letting us get our stuff unloaded and down to the river without getting tangled. Our target for the day was Snow Bay with a plan to move on the next to Takucmich. That was not going to happen.

By 12:00 we were at the Beatty Portage which was an interesting place because it is a monument to the ingenuity and determination of man to make a nickle by filling a need. We had some trouble finding it because I did not trust my map and because it is tucked in around a point at the end of the bay. While we were having lunch a USFS boat came through so we watched the rail system work while we ate lunch. That boat is one impressive hunk of aluminum for sure. I was also interested to note that the USFS seems to prefer the SR17. Hmmm. After checking out the nearby pictographs the paddle to Snow Bay went pretty quickly due to a strong tail wind. Once at the start of the Bay we took a break at the first campsite on the point. While there a barge went past carrying a truck. That was the second hint that we were still in a pretty well traveled area with the first being the portage itself. We considered moving on past the bay but decided we were ready to stop. We were the only campers in the bay itself. After hearing of the “table” site on the island I wanted to see it and we all decided it would make a nice place to camp. Dinner was steak, potatoes, coleslaw, and Cache Lake lemon pudding. All very good. Once we cleaned up after dinner we fished until dark and caught a mishmash of mediocre fish and then we went to bed very tired.


Day 2 of 5

Thursday, June 14, 2012 Day 2 dawned drippy. It was to be a travel day and we had not rigged the tarp because the night before was nice and who wants to pack one more thing? Right? So we ate our oatmeal in the rain and got soaked in the process. The rain was not hard but it was steady. While eating, Allan got out the weather radio he had had brought along and got us a forecast. Rain on and off with storms. Potential for severe storms. Now what? Tomorrow is forecast to be a bluebird day. Right now our entire camp is wet. WE are wet. I am not fond of the idea of multiplying misery with risk. So we opt to stay put for a day and fish between rain events. Even as we make the decision the skies brighten some and we were reinvigorated. Fishing now is always better than fishing later. That is how Allan and I were fated to meet “the fish”. We had fished around the south point guarding the bay simply to stay out of the wind that was picking up. Alan was using a new silver flecked white tube bait. I do not use tube baits and was surprised to note that his floated in spite of the weight. I was told they often do when new. Well, he cast toward shore and landed right where water met rock and BAM! A fish blew up on it but he missed setting the hook so the tube flew back to within twenty feet of the canoe. He reeled in the slack and was hustling it back to recast when a fish of unknown species following with back in view, engulfed it just shy of the boat by a few feet, went airborne across the front of the bow, landed on the other side out of my sight and keep on going. After about thirty yards the line went slack and we sat in silence, stunned by the viciousness of the fish. “I don’t even want to catch that fish,” Allan said quietly. “It scares me.” That one moment made the entire trip memorable.Returning to camp we meet the boys and had lunch. While eating we noticed a motor boat in Snow Bay where no motor boats are allowed. After lunch they were still there and though the sky was brooding we launched to fish around the island. Shortly the boat raced by us to the west. I no sooner wondered aloud what the hurry was than we heard thunder. So we hustled back to camp and no sooner got into the tent than the storm struck. It was an intense downpour with high winds. Allan and I were somewhat protected by a hump but the boys were exposed on the point. Later I learned that they had to brace the tent up with their hands. As I was wondering aloud about their situation we heard an ominous crack and the unmistakable sound of a tree falling…toward us. I was sitting up, looking out the window at the waves and I put my hands over my head and braced for the impact. Instead the tree thudded to the ground about thirty feet from us. At the time we thought it was much closer. Once the storm passed it rained most of the rest of the day. We put up the tarp and you will see the top of downed tree just beyond Alan in the picture. We had Cache Lake chicken and dumplings for dinner. Comforting as well as filling.


Day 3 of 5

Friday, June 15, 2012 Our third morning was another beauty and the entire day would be beautiful. Just as forecast. After breakfast we broke camp and headed north to the shortcut wetcanoedog had posted on this site. We had no trouble finding the trail, though it is rarely used. We were soon across. The area northeast of Snow Bay has a very remote feel in spite of the occasional plane heading to the village. It looks very fishy and I doubt it gets fished much. We found the second short cut heading west though it was much tougher to find. There are two places to cross and we used the northernmost. It would be a great exaggeration to call this a trail. It is short however, and once found went quickly. Kind of fun. The rest of the journey to Takucmich, went smoothly (almost) I did get turned around at one point but we won't discuss that. Entering Tak from LLC is like entering another world. LLC has its own beauty and I love it but Tak. in contrast, feels intimate. It is big but not too big and is surrounded by hills that come to the waters edge with lots of arms. We chose the campsite near the LLC portage and set up. By now it was lunchtime. We spent the afternoon getting settled, hanging around camp, swimming, enjoying the nice day. I loved just sitting atop the rock cliff overlooking the lake. BW lakes are a transcendent experience that fill me with awe and respect for all God has made and continues to do. Who is man that thou are mindful of him? Dinner was made by me and pretty good too. Pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and zucchini. After dishes we went fishing and were surprised to have little luck in such fishy looking waters. Before going to bed the weather radio informed us of another day with rain and…you guessed it!…some storms, possibly severe!


Day 4 of 5

Saturday, June 16, 2012 Day 4 began beautifully. We had a nice breakfast of bagel eggs cheese and sausage. The sun rose into a blue sky and after breakfast was cleaned up we went fishing. The boys had been out earlier but with no success. Allan and I opted to work south on Tak while the boys went over to Tesaker. Allan and I trolled a bit for trout over the deep waters of Tak and then found some nice smallmouth along a western arm. At first just a few in the fourteen inch range from next to shore and then I started casting a white Senko into the fourteen to sixteen foot depth. Much better results and soon we were catching them regularly. Alan is a devoted bass fisherman and I just like to fish so we had a fun morning. The boys came back skunked and since we were getting hungry Alan and I left them the last Senko or two and headed back to prepare some of the smaller bass. I don’t remember ever even considering eating a smallmouth before by Alan guaranteed the results. These were delicious and I will eat a BW smallmouth anytime. While we were cleaning the fish the wind picked up from the south and we called to let the boys know because they were in a protected arm and they should be thinking about heading back. They had the radio turned off but within a reasonable time they appeared coming up the lake. No PFDs however which did not make me happy. Not good judgment. We got our meal in and then the main body of the storm arrived…from the north to my surprise. Just a normal, intense BW thunderstorm but one that came in waves and lasted several hours. The pictures tell the story. The weather cleared for dinner but then another storm rolled through so we did not get back out to fish. I had wanted to fish Trillium. While we were taking shelter from the storm we read and napped and listened to an update on the weather radio. Clear tomorrow but more storms on the way for the following two days. Guess what. Some may be severe! It certainly looked like we were not going to get to Finger lake on this trip. Instead we decided to head back toward the EP from Takuchmich the next day rather than dodge thunderstorms on our final two days. I was very disappointed but we made the decision together. I figured we would have to lay over on Little Loon on the way back and that is a good fishing lake. Might still catch a few walleyes. So far only Joe has put a walleye in the boat and that one was released because we had other dinner plans. This was not a great trip yet for fishing and last year was even worse due to a mayfly hatch. Now the weather. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Maybe it would be salvaged.


Day 5 of 5

Sunday, June 17, 2012 Day 5 was nice almost all day. We had a really big breakfast, cleaned up, packed and were on the water at 9am. Not early, but we were not in a rush. Strange because it wasn't like we did not have enough rest the day before. I think we all just wanted to enjoy the morning. The portage to Tesaker was short and not a spacious put-in at the end. The least used portages I have encountered were on this trip. Tesaker is a long pond and no more appealing than an industrial waste pond but with better water. The trail to Gun was longer and I was surprised to see signs of recent maintenance. Gun is a very nice lake with a remote feel and it seems little used. I doubt I’ll ever get back there because there are so many others to see but I enjoyed it this day. We moved right through to the trail to Eugene, then Steep and baby, am I glad we were going down. [paragraph break]We had seen no one since we left Snow Bay but on South Lake we had trouble finding the portage out and were surprise when a group came up behind us and sailed right into the portage. I think the high water camouflaged the opening because we were right near it after going back and forth a few times. It is also mis-marked on the map and if the other group had not showed us where it is we might still be there. Well maybe not, sincea group of young men passed us on the trail heading in the other direction. They were heading for Trillium and should make it easily. Good luck with the fishing guys. Wish I was going back with you. [paragraph break]On Section Pond we encountered a couple of canoes heading north in a comical situation that was also sad. One couple had a nice boat but the couple with them had a canoe that must have had a lot of rocker. They could not make that boat go straight and were paddling twice the distance of their friends. Where is Chevy Chase when you need him? They must have borrowed the boat from a friend or family member without any understanding of the difference in boats. [paragraph break]There was a big group of Boy Scouts working on the trail between Slim and Little Loon. I have to confess that I am never happy when I encounter large groups of Boy Scouts or others clogging up the portage trail with their canoeing gear. Now I got to see what a benefit to the BWCA the Scouts are when they work on the trails. I had no idea that they did trail work and they were doing an excellent job with rudimentary tools. Very resourceful and respectful too. Time to change that thinking. I’ll still be irritated, but in a nice way. [paragraph break]Little Loon was very pretty but the guys decided that they were not ready to stop so we didn't. In fact, except for a twenty minute rest and some food we booked all the way to the EP. We arrived just as dark was settling. The first load to the car I did not need a light. On the second I did need a light. We loaded up and as we hit the Echo Trail rain started. [paragraph break]Halfway to town I asked how we were going to get a room since our valuables were locked up in VNO and I only had my license. With lightning flashing and thunder crashing I was suddenly thinking of my comfortably dry tent now packed away. We must have looked too tired and ragged to be a risk because the Paddle Inn took us in. [paragraph break]We slept well and left Ely before breakfast. In the next two days Duluth got ten inches of rain but we were long gone. I wonder now how that couple with the zigzag canoe made out. Before I left the LIS river I stood in waning light and thanked God for the chance to visit this beautiful place with three great friends. I can’t wait to get back again because the lakes owe me now. Right?


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