BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 27 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1348 feet
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
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!
THE FIVE WORN OUT INDIANS
July 27, 2014
Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days:
PUT IN #16 on Nina Moose River (Fisher Map #16). Paddling through Nine Moose Lake, through the river to Lake Agnes to Boulder Bay to Lac La Croix, heading east along the border (Fisher Map #17) through Iron Lake, Sunday Bay (Pictographs), Saturday Bay, Friday Bay, Thursday Bay, Wednesday Bay, Crooked Lake (Pictographs), to Lower Basswood Falls (Fisher Map #10), down the Horse River to Horse Lake to Tin Can Mike Lake, Sandpit Lake (Fisher Map #9) to Mudro Lake for our takeout.
The planned trip was to take 6 days with a layover. Perfectly doable from all trip reports read on this trip and that we were all “experienced” paddlers and knew what we had accomplished in the past as far as these trips and portage requirements. (LOL!!!!) NOTE: Always have a Plan B, Plan C…. etc.
To clue ya’ll in, each trip up, we acquire a theme name for our group – This year it was “THE FIVE WORN OUT INDIANS”, and we also create nicknames for each person while in the wilderness.
New people or first timers to the BWCA have “virgin” in their names. Myself (“Girl wearing hoops, hate ‘em skitters”) and my boyfriend (“Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves”) flew in from Florida a day earlier than our crew (July 25, 2014).
We met up with my sister’s crew (read PinkCanoe’s Trip Report). I was blessed to be able to ride out with them the following morning for their put-in (July 26th) on Lake One. We met up with our crew who drove up to Ely, MN – Canadian Border Outfitters from Indiana on that same morning, July 26, 2014 (“One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters”, "Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood”, “Crazy portage man dances in canoe”). Stick people are generally created after a trip. [paragraph break]
Our group got together in the outfitter's dining hall and reviewed our trip route, making mental notes to our goals for each day. We re-sorted all of our food since we were packed for 6 but only 5 were present (In this process, we actually eliminated approximately a barrel’s worth of food!) We gave our frozen hamburger to the outfitter to keep frozen overnight (stating to each other – don’t forget the hamburger in the morning…. Lol). [paragraph break]
This pic is in the outfitter's dining hall and we are reviewing our maps:
[paragraph break] This pic is sorting through our pre packed food [paragraph break] [paragraph break] Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves" and I, "Girl wearing hoops hate 'em skeeters" had shipped our personal gear from Florida and so we had to get our backpacks packed as well. The group went to town for some shopping and an early dinner. We arrived back to outfitter, nearly 20 miles from town, fairly early. We noticed our canoes were loaded on trailer, so a couple of us did an inspection… thank goodness! One canoe had a hole already in it that we could stick our finger through! I immediately went up to office and they made note and they switched this canoe out the following morning. We went to bed early that evening to be ready for what we hoped an early start the following morning. Weather report checked – a hint of rain for our put-in day and no rain expected in “the area” until at least Thursday. Temps were to be decent as well.
This picture is of my sister and me on their put-in day in Lake One. [paragraph break] [paragraph break]This is a picture of "Girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters" during pre- trip planning, still hoping someone will carry her over the portages.[paragraph break]
Everyone was up early, gear on landing to be loaded to van, [paragraph break] [paragraph break] and having a hearty breakfast of pancakes and bacon prepared by the outfitter at 7:00am. Van was loaded and we were on the road by about 7:45am with a few sprinkles starting our 1-1/2 drive to our put-in #16 on Nina Moose River. About 15 minutes into the drive we realized we had forgotten our hamburger…… Now it was pouring down rain… HARD. We all decided to go back to get it….. “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” ran in to the dining hall where the employees all stared at him like he had two heads. No hamburger to be found. THIS turnaround cost us about 1 hour or so on our put-in start. Good point was that it had stopped raining before we got to our 160R (1/2 mile) downhill portage.
The portage proved to be a bit slippery and we were able to complete with 2 passes, taking it easy but hurrying to try to get back on schedule. Honestly, all portages on our route were probably the easiest “footing-wise” that I have done up in the BWCA, but still proved to be a little rough for a couple of us. “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” knew he was going to rough it but had no clue as to what portaging was all about or meant… poor guy! HIs quote, "people who want to carry canoes over their heads for a mile are crazy, I thought this was a canoe trip". I, too, was a bit shocked at the number of people putting in and taking out on a Sunday! It seemed the trail etiquette needed a little to be desired. People putting in the same time as us were climbing our backs most of the day (and we were hauling butt!).
So, we paddled down river just a "few feet", it seemed, to our first 20R portage. Not so bad after that 160R, we thought. Next portage (we barely paddled any water) was a man-made portage around a downed tree, guessing about 10-15R, and again paddling only another few feet, a 25R portage. At this point we all were mentally DONE portaging already and the skeeters were insane! I believe that "Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood" referred to carrying a canoe over his head as the "mosquito hive".
Looking at the map, we had quite a ways to go until our next “planned” portage, so we relaxed in and paddled on. Upon getting closer to Nina Moose Lake, the wind picked up tremendously.
Our solo paddler (“Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood”) was getting extremely tired. We all grouped up at the mouth of Nina Moose Lake. We had carried spars with us for a catamaran but we had put them in the bottom of the canoes and all the gear on top of them (nice plan), and there was no landing “marsh land” in which to unload. “One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters” and “Crazy portage man dances in canoe” paddled on ahead of us to a campsite just to the east of where we were sitting.
"Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves" and I, "Girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters", took a GIANT “twisty tie” and tied our canoe to the solo canoe at mid thwart (carry yoke), and for lack of anything else, I stuck my left leg out to keep the bows of the canoes apart leaning over the right side of the bow to paddle - as we paddled east on Nina Moose Lake to the first campsite available across white caps, grab a quick snack and dig out our catamaran poles. Needless to say by the time we got to that landing we were spent. A couple of us grabbed a quick peanut butter cracker snack, gorp, and once the catamaran was set, we paddled on (only making it across the lake to the first campsite on the other side (the waves and wind were pretty tough and we managed to break two of the cat poles going across the lake). The decision was made to make camp there for the night. We were all exhausted and disappointed that we did not make it to at least Lake Agnes. We agreed (at this point) that the trip would go on but we would probably not get a layover day as planned.
Tents were set up and gear needed drying out (as we took in a ton of water coming across the lake), and water filtered. Upon hanging the two gravity water filtration bags, it immediately became apparent that NEITHER FILTRATION SYSTEMS were working properly. Very slow drips. Back flushing did not work. Everyone was just shaking their heads, stating they had checked them before packing them and thinking what else could go wrong. The Pur hand pump was taken out as our backup and what else could go wrong DID - it did not work either. Water became a major topic of discussion for the evening. We had purification tablets and could always boil. We were able to drip and pump (with GREAT effort) enough water to fill everyone’s water bottles and three 10L dromedary bags by morning. We ended up carrying the dromedary bags full of water the next two days (NOT fun on portages).
We were all so tired this first evening, that I think everyone just fended for themselves for dinner. We were still disappointed that we didn’t have hamburger but I honestly believe we were too tired to cook it anyway. Not sure what everyone else ate, but I just had peanut butter on crackers…. [paragraph break] (My sister, PinkCanoe, will tell you she recognizes this facial expression.....something about me when I am hungry...) [paragraph break]
The mosquitos were EVIL!!! I am sure that I ate at least 4-5 and inhaled a few. “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood” made us a great campfire and some of the crew actually enjoyed it… I called it an evening early. It rained during the night. [paragraph break]
Talking Shoe Video
Some additional Day 1 photos:[paragraph break]
Breakfast – Oatmeal and coffee to try to make up for the lost time from yesterday. We had to get back on schedule today.
We started the morning with a “make-shift” catamaran with all 3 canoes and broken spars. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] The wind was already starting (in our face). We just figured even if we made 180-degree turn, the wind would as well. We started up Nina Moose Lake to the North Nina Moose River. It seemed we were “on a mission”. Paddle paddle paddle, swat smack (those danged skeeters), portage portage portage, smack, swat, smack, paddle paddle paddle… The skeeters didn’t even let up in the river… “Old virgin portage- shocked man farting with wolves” commented that we were “hell bent for election”. (I personally think he was doing great for his first trip…. ). The first portage of the day 70R, paddle a mile, portage 96R, then we paddled about 2 or more miles to the second campsite east if the mouth of the river on Lake Agnes. It was approximately 9:30 am, and we had lunch here. We relaxed a bit and stated that we were going to have to talk about the planned route when we stopped for the evening. We really liked this site that we were hanging out for lunch. It was huge. I think a scout camporee could have been held on that campsite! It had a lot of character and a LOT of space. “One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters” took many pictures while here.
After lunch we pushed on across the Lake Agnes to the easterly portage (115R), and again “hell bent for election” we portaged with 2 passes into Boulder Bay River, following that up to Boulder Bay. We were all again, exhausted and in looking at map at about 12:00pm, we had another portage and then quite a ways to go before even the option of another campsite would be available (with no guarantees how far we would have to go to find an open spot), so we agreed to camp on Boulder Bay at the first campsite. We unloaded and set up camp then sat on the point as a group and reviewed our options. We were not even close to where we needed to be on this date to make our takeout date of Friday, August 1st on Mudro on time at the rate we were going. The truth was, we were working our butts off and we were NOT enjoying any part of the trip. No one wanted to but we agreed that the best plan was to turnaround and go back to our put-in point. The consensus was to go back, taking 3 days, taking out a day early (Thursday, July 31st) just in case we had to sit and wait a day to get a ride. At first we were disappointed – the thought that “we are not completing what we started” but we knew it was the right thing to do at this point. Part of our dilemma was that we were here for “Rambo” our lost friend (and father of “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood”). This trip was for all of us, but for his memory – to celebrate one of his favorite places to be. It was a bittersweet moment. We had two new people to the BWCA with us and all they knew so far of the trip was exhaustion and no one was having any fun. There had been many factors from the initial plan date to now that seemed to be telling us something. We needed to listen. Who knows what was head of us on that route but we all truly felt that God was leading us back. Once it was discussed that really “the planned trip route” did not matter. It was what we made of it while there… that is the success of the trip. What we do and what we learn from it. Once the decision was made to head back, it was like 5 attitudes changed. We relaxed more. The trip became more fun from this point forward.
Dinner was chicken and noodles for some and beef and noodles for others with garlic mashed taters. A FEAST! The skeeters actually were not nearly as bad on this site as we had encountered for most of the 2 days out there so far (tolerable on the point at least). “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood” did not disappoint us with a great campfire. “One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters” took a nap after dinner. She was up in time to take some critter pics and a some snapshots of an eagle and a gorgeous sunset. When the skeeters started to get crazy, “old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” and myself (“girl wearing hoops, hate ‘em skeeters”) went to the tent, watching the hundreds of skeeters trying to get in the tent (unbelievable!). I had nightmares about those skeeters getting me in my tent! It rained pretty hard ALL NIGHT. (Don't believe the weather forecast!)
Day 2 - "Girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters" gets her shower [paragraph break] Eagle sighting - We knew "Rambo" was looking over us. [paragraph break] Day 2 on lunch break - Three Little Indian Butts setting up the catamaran [paragraph break] Day 2 Sunset [paragraph break] Day 2 Sunset [paragraph break] Day 2, "old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves" and "girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters" [paragraph break] and snake critter [paragraph break] bug critter [paragraph break] Day 2 - "One eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters" [paragraph break] Day 2 - "Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood" [paragraph break] "Crazy Portage Man dances in canoe"
Upon awaking, we could hear the loons on the water (I just LOVE THAT sound!!), but hundreds (NO, I am not exaggerating) of skeeters were sitting on the screen of our tent between the tent and the rainfly, just waiting for us so we opted to lay there and listen to the loons.
Breakfast was scrambled eggs with peppers and bacon. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] We hit the water fairly early deciding to take the westerly section of Boulder River to the 24R portage instead of the 115R portage into Lake Agnes. Everyone in the group welcomed the extra paddling over the longer portage (I mean IT IS a canoe trip, right?)
Two canoes catamaran up (the solo canoe and one two-man canoe) and went as far as they could on the river before having to break down the cat at the 24R portage. As we completed the 24R portage, we were loaded and pushing off, when 4 canoes came around the bend. It was a Boy Scout troop from Kansas City. I hollered out to see if they had a satellite phone that we could use to call our outfitter. I heard a YES!!! While the boys dug for the phone [paragraph break]
I am sure I encountered at least 50+ skeeter bites but I wasn’t leaving until we made contact with our outfitter regarding our change of plans. While part of the group was digging for the phone, the other part of their group (still sitting out in the water in their canoes) asked if we had Benadryl. As a matter of fact we did!
We had to take the satellite phone out to the middle of the lake to even get a signal. While “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” practiced what to say ($3.00 a minute) I maneuvered canoe until a signal was found. He dialed the outfitter and BAM – VOICE MAIL! He left the message, repeating our group name, date of pickup change, place of pickup change, and time expected to be at takeout three times. He hung up, we handed the satellite phone back to the Boy Scout troop (adult contact, Peter) offered them some money for the use of the phone, and they refused to take it, saying they knew we would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot. YES WE WOULD! Thank you Boy Scout Troop from Kansas City!!
Although we were not comforted by the fact that we had to leave a voice message, not knowing whether the outfitter received an actual message or just static.
A joke was made that we used a sat phone and passed Benadryl – that a drug deal was just made….
We paddled out of the mouth of the river into Lake Agnes and stopped at a sandy beach area so two canoes could put together the catamaran and paddle back up to cross the large lake (to help the solo guy out).
Video - Tying up two canoes to catamaran across Lake Agnes
Paddling on, we made the day a short day, heading on in to Lake Agnes back to that campsite we had eaten lunch at the day prior. Best day so far! We all snacked a bit for lunch, set up camp and relaxed and really enjoyed the day. We had spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner. The group agreed this was the best meal so far (laughingly, I think we were all delirious from exhaustion and the blood sucking mosquitoes – brain fluid was a bit lacking). [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] "Crazy portage man dances in canoe" cooking dinner [paragraph break]
We again all agreed that at this point we had made the right decision to turnaround. OH, and guess what? Our water filter pump started working. REALLY? If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. [paragraph break]
"Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood" doin' some whittlin'
"Crazy portage man dances in canoe" and "Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood" creating a utensil set - We left them at the campsite for the next visitors!
Group - Crazy portage man dances in canoe, Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood, One- eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters, Girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters, Old virgin portage- shocked man farting with wolves. [paragraph break] Group - Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves, Girl wearing hoops hate 'em skeeters, One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters, Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood, Crazy portage man dances in canoe [paragraph break] Knives belong'em to Young Virgin Boy who chop wood [paragraph break] Day 3 Sunset [paragraph break] Olive Fork, Fork, Spoon, Chopstix, Knife [paragraph break] Olive Fork, Spork, Knife, Spoon, Chopstix [paragraph break] Sunset [paragraph break] Sunset [paragraph break] Day 3 Rainbow after the rain (that wasn't in the forecast) [paragraph break] Day 3 Red Sunset [paragraph break] Feel that breeze rollin in [paragraph break] Storm rollin' in [paragraph break]
Breakfast – French toast with syrup and bacon.
We headed out early and on the 96R portage a group of guys passed us on the portage. “One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters” practically ran the portage to catch them. They were already launched and she yelled out to them to please do us a favor when they got to town. She repeated our name, outfitter name, and takeout information, and they repeated it back to us a couple of times. Ok, so THAT’s two tries to get a message to our outfitter, and still not knowing whether they would receive any of the messages still left us concerned.
We did the next portage, 70R and headed into Nina Moose Lake, where we took the first campsite on the east bank. BACK to skeeter land (I don’t think I’ve mentioned skeeters in this report enough ….just sayin’).
We set up camp and filled bellies for lunch (eating some of our dinner meals for lunch – I believe we ate Chicken and Rice Mountain House freeze-dried meal and a Beef Stew meal with bread and butter and mashed taters). Had some nice non-forecasted thunderstorm this afternoon AND again early evening.
For dinner we ate Turkey Tetrazzini and mashed taters, and blueberry muffins for desert.
This being our last evening, we toasted with a homemade concoction (called Arbagutz) made with Ginger Brandy and Peppermint Schnapps, to our beloved and missed friend - Rambo (and father of one member). We sat and listened as his son, “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood” told us many stories about him and his father. We ended the evening with a special ceremony for Rambo that only the people that know him could appreciate. THIS country was something that he LOVED. It just seemed only appropriate to give closure here in the BWCA. We could not have asked for a better evening. The water was like glass and no wind or skeeters. It was a very solemn evening of once again mourning, rejoicing, and letting go.
Loon singing [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
Lunch grub [paragraph break] Lunch grub [paragraph break] Voyageur staff hats - traditional picture on every trip [paragraph break] Blueberry Muffins [paragraph break] Day 4 fog [paragraph break] "Girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters" and "One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters" [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
RAMBO'S SPECIAL TRIBUTE [paragraph break] The "symbol canoe" for Rambo [paragraph break] Rambo's special ride [paragraph break] Symbolizing a viking ceremony that Rambo always stated he wanted if something were to happen [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
Breakfast was a quick Peanut Butter/Jelly sandwich and coffee.
with the rest of us following him. We paddled quietly upstream into the river and saw the evidence that beavers had definitely been at work over the last 4 days! We had a couple of beaver dams that we tried to paddle through but had to lift over. “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” and myself “Girl wearing hoops, hate ‘em skeeters” were paddling quietly quite far behind the group when some little drowned rat creature jumped out of the weeds in front of us. We say “drowned rat” because it obviously had tried to cross the river before, being soaking wet. We believe it was a weasel. It made us laugh because as it literally came flying out of the tall grasses into the water in front of us, when it noticed we were there it’s eyes grew big and he immediately turned around and "doggie paddled" back to the weeds! Hahahahah! We laughed out loud and figured he had probably tried to cross the water two times before (with each of our passing canoes). Too funny! I saw a beaver slither under the water from the grasses in this same area.
Again we had the 25R portage, the 10-15R manmade portage due to a tree down, and then the 20R and we were on our way to that LAST 160R UPHILL portage to our takeout – still hoping that the word got to our outfitter for our pickup. It was about 10:00am, so we were ahead of schedule. The thought at this time was, take our time, we are in no hurry, if it takes 3 passes then that’s okay. OKAY, so everyone was making their portage passes in their own time, with “Crazy portage man dances in canoe” and “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood” barreling through their two passes. “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” and myself, “Girl wearing hoops, hate ‘em skeeters”, on our 2nd pass, noticed there was quite a bit of gear left, so trying to help and saying “let’s get it all and carry it as far as we can up so whoever is coming down will not have to go all the way down to get it”. Good thought but not practical for me… the portage whoosy, complainer, you name it, I just plain hate portages (and skeeters). So I put the heavier barrel on my back, the lighter barrel in my hand, and paddles in my other hand. “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” put on a fairly heavy pack, I believe two day packs, a tent, and I don’t know what in his hands. I took off. Well, I didn’t get far and decided that not so heavy barrel should be on my front instead of in my hand…. Yep, I was able to accomplish this myself but I didn’t get too far when I was juggling keeping that barrel from falling off my shoulders and those dang paddles in my hands when I slipped on a boulder (at this point my name should have something in it related to bobbling off rock- ya’ll know what I am talking about when the backpack shifts…..), rolling my right ankle off the rock. YEP, I broke my ankle. I’m sure I put sailors to shame with my language as I tried to walk with paddles as crutches, thinking I was going to throw up, crying like a little girl for the next 30 minutes in my pitty party until I got it out of my system (I have broken my foot in various places many times, so I was angry that I did this.) “Crazy portage man dances in canoe”, “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood”, and “Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” managed to get all the gear up the hill and “Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood” (age 30) came back, took my “crutches” and said, “stay here”. He literally ran up the hill and came back with this huge smile on his face, opened his arms wide and bent over and threw me over his shoulder. I now had visions of him falling and me getting a concussion (LOL). I have no idea how people are carried this way, although I appreciated it! The blood runs to your head and the shoulder in my gut made me want to puke. As soon as I made him aware that I was going to puke down his back, he put me down. HAHAHAHA! I was seated on a backpack with a nice foot rest and used my hat to ward off…. YES, the skeeters. [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
Now we are sitting at the takeout point still wondering if we had a ride to our outfitter or not. We approached each group that came in for their put-in (they were not outfitted groups, just individuals who had their own gear), to see if they had satellite phones or a phone signal. No. So we waited and then a RANGER just happened along!! He radioed the Ranger station who also called our outfitter. At least we knew now that there had been contact made.
We were entertained while waiting for our ride, sitting on whatever we had available gear-wise to sit on, exhausted, injured, and watching this young group of girls (none were older than 21 or weighed more than 100 lbs), hop up that portage with ALUMINUM canoes, in open-toed sandals, skimpy shorts and tank tops (did I mention that the skeeters carried people away on this portage?) with more energy than hummingbirds on crack. We sat there with our mouths open shaking our heads feeling REALLY OLD! It was fun to watch the different groups come and go while waiting for our ride.
When our ride arrived, I was carried to the van and the group loaded the gear and we headed on the 1- 1/2 hour drive to the outfitter. Outfitter already had it covered and had switched our room reservations for Thursday (they had gotten all three messages!). I wanted a shower before going to the ER, AND I WANTED PIZZA. We stopped at the Shopko in town, bought crutches so everyone would not have to carry me around, and went to Sir G’s for pizza before the ER. PRIORITIES!!! After lunch, the group went to outfitter and we went to the ER. Nondisplaced lateral malleolus fracture of the right ankle. [paragraph break] [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
The group from Indiana headed home early Friday morning, and my boyfriend and I stayed another night at the outfitter, just hanging out and waiting for my sister’s group to come off the water on Friday early afternoon. A BLESSING! I do not see my sister often since I live in Florida and this was great to be able to share a bit of our trips together. Our trips were planned separately and it just happened that the dates landed the same! Crazy!! _________________________________________________
[paragraph break] [paragraph break]
"Young virgin boy with many knives chopping wood" and "One-eyed girl carries picture box stalking critters" in the sunrise [paragraph break] [paragraph break] "Girl wearing hoops, hate 'em skeeters" and "Old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves" going over beaver dam [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
**I read trip reports on our route and did google earth searches on all of our planned portages and there was nothing in our trip that I could see that we could not handle. The portages from Nina Moose River put-in to Mudro takeout are fairly easy portages. The trip IS doable in 6 days with a layover, if all goes well (key words "if all goes well"). We all feel that something bigger than us had a different plan for us. I have also talked to groups that have done this trip. A boy scout troop I know that had NEVER been to the BWCA before and never portaged before made it to Boulder Bay on Day 1.
**When planning an extensive trip, or any trip, always have a Plan A, Plan B, and even a Plan C. Plan ahead – we could have done our own breakfast earlier and got on the water earlier. We could have used an outfitter that was closer to our put-in point to save time. Oh we definitely could have said "forget the hamburger" and THAT alone would have saved an hour....
**Just because you have a “planned route” and you have to alter or change midstream, does not mean you did not finish what you started. Agree at the beginning that the trip is what it is, whatever happens is part of it.
**Most trips have bad and good, CHERISH the good moments. It is such a beautiful and serene place and I feel honored to be physically and mentally able to enjoy God’s beautiful creation.
**A satellite phone is a definitely GREAT idea. You could have a “beacon” with you but in our case, the beacon would not have helped because we intended to complete a trip and no one was seriously injured. It is well worth including a satellite phone in your gear, or rent it from your outfitter. When renting it, make sure the outfitter explains clearly HOW TO USE IT. It did not seem like the group who allowed us to use the phone that THEIR outfitter gave them knew how to use it. I really don’t think they had a clue. We literally had to paddle out to the middle of a lake, in a clearing, and keep the canoe turned a certain direction in order for the antennae to connect. OH and always have the outfitter’s phone number and an emergency number on you somewhere. The permit does NOT have the outfitter’s phone number on it anywhere. I just happen to have my cell phone on me with the outfitter phone number in my contacts (no one else in our group had the phone number). NOTE to ham radio operators: We also talked to the ranger station in Ely before heading out, asking them which frequencies we could use to contact them, who told us first that we could not use their frequencies (we know for a fact in an emergency we can), and that if we did get hold of them they would still have to call 911 (ok, so what, we have no cell service out there, so why can’t they do that for us?). Obviously they were not excited about giving us information in the slight chance we could connect to a ranger station with a ham radio handtalkie (Yes, “old virgin portage-shocked man farting with wolves” climbed to a high point in the campsites trying several frequencies to no avail – TAKE a satellite phone).
**Know your groups’ physical abilities before heading out to the wilderness or agree ahead of time that someone else is going to be able to pickup on someone’s inability to carry their weight.
**Listen to those little things happening. Maybe a different route or a different plan is in order. We had all kinds of little warnings telling us maybe this wasn’t the trip or the route for us. We are all strong paddlers and did not make headway on day one no matter what we did. Wind and whitecaps against us. Spars broke on our catamaran. THREE water filtration systems did not work (REALLY?!!).
As with my sister’s group (PinkCanoe), who did not care for the outfitter, we have a few complaints but would not totally discount them. Our reservations went without any issues. We DID have to recalculate our bill but it was "less than originally planned because we came with only 5 people instead of 6"..They did load a canoe on the trailer (they use old canoes) that had a hole in it and had we not seen or inspected this, we would have been in a world of trouble. Oh yeh, and they lost our hamburger. They took it, marked our name on the bag and put it in the freezer. How does hamburger disappear over night? Other than that, the outfitter from beginning of our planning two years ago until now was very accommodative and always available for any questions we had while planning. They already had us set up when we arrived back from our trip a day early in rooms. Thank you to Canadian Borders Outfitters.