BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
June 04 2023
Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River (North of Echo Trail)
Number of Permits per Day: 5
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!
Memorial Day Heat--Moose River North 2018
May 26, 2018
Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days:
We are fortunate that we have a good friend with a house in Ely and he lets us stay at his place the night before entry. Over the years, staying at Dan's house has become a big part of our tradition--like going to your grandma's house. We can relax, shower, repack our gear and run to stores for anything we still might need. Mike and Alex had work obligations so Colin and I drove up by ourselves, arriving in Ely in the early afternoon. of the 25th. I have another friend who has a cabin on White Iron so we spent part of the evening with him, out for a quick, fun boat ride. Before long, our partners hit town--we grabbed some dinner and headed back to Dan's house.
Saturday morning came early, and the weather looked fine. We stopped for bait and dry ice at Skube's before heading up the Echo Trail to Big Lake Wilderness Lodge for our canoes. Chuck was ready for us and we were off to the entry by shortly after 7 a.m. We hit the trail and before long found ourselves paddling the calm river.
We met five different groups coming out so we felt confident that a good site on Agnes would be available. Here's a theme of the week--it was very very HOT on that first day. We passed one group on the way in so that build our confidence as well--we would be welcomed on Agnes. Unfortunately, once we got the lake, all the sites were taken...even the group we had passed had sent two members ahead to claim a primo spot so we slipped over the small site on the west side of the lake that we've used as a last resort before. I said the site was a bit of a misfit among all the popular Agnes sites....Alex replied that maybe "misfit" suited us. Nuff said. We needed four tent pads because us dads are known to snore quite loudly...luckily we squeezed out four semi flat spots along with room for two hammocks, a CCS tarp and Nemo Bug Out. By mid afternoon we were set up, fed and paddling off to the trickles on the north end of the lake for some fishing. That was our main objective. The fish were somewhat cooperative...not as good as it's been other years but still quite good. Colin caught a number of large crappies (16") and it's funny--we hem and haw about keeping walleye but when a slab comes in the canoe there's no question you'll be eating it. Colin also caught a nice northern on the way to our spot. Trolling produces.
Once we returned from our evening of fishing I was horrified to see that I had forgotten my cooking utensils, flashlights, headlamps and....matches!!! Where was this stuff? I felt silly and Alex commented later in the trip that it seemed we may be getting "lazy" compared to early years of tripping. Was this true? I reflected on it quite a bit throughout our stay. Luckily, Mike brought an extra lighter and we fashioned a "flipper" from a stick and a "spatula" from a twig, cardboard and duct tape. All well and good for a laugh but still....was I losing my edge here? We all seemed more tired on this first night than in past years so we turned in a bit early and all went to our respective tents.
Our first full day dawned clear and still. And it got hot...then hotter. We had planned to day trip to Oyster, a lake we had never seen before. The portage off of Agnes was pretty long in the heat and the boys both commented it was longer than advertised. Once on Oyster we were not impressed. Colin caught a large bass but we had hoped to troll for lakers...there was so much pollen on the water from nearby trees that it fouled our lines and got stuck in the eyes of our fishing rods. It did not come off easily so after a stop for lunch we left for Agnes--and lovely--that portage we all did not like too much! Once back at camp, we relaxed for the evening and had a great time around the fire. Yes it had been hot and Oyster did not give up what we were wanting but at least we had our s'mores and good laughs. Before long we were all sleeping again. Not a spectacular day but still a lot of fun.
This day, the collective spirit of the camp was lazy and for good reason: we had pushed ourselves on two long days and now it was very HOT again! I could tell that not one of us wanted to get out on that lake. So we swam, jumped some rocks with Alex's Go Pro and relaxed pretty much all day. We played cards under my Nemo Bug Out (new to me this year, purchased on this site, it was a hit among all the trippers when the bugs came out).
Later in the day we did fish a little that evening and picked up the last of the fish we needed for our last evening dinner. After dinner we fished a bit but again the heat and long days had left us with a little less energy than usual and we hit the hay without some of the typical last evening jocularity.
We woke up early and began to break down camp. Skies were finally overcast, a welcome rest from the sun. After about an hour of paddling, however, the sun came out again and this time in earnest. I think it was 93 degrees when we finally got to our cars. The portages seemed long, the sun beat down straight overhead all day. The wind was in our faces and it seemed like throughout the day we experienced every emotion--we laughed, we paddled silently, we got a little crabby as the day seemed to wear on and river seemed to wind more and more in that heat!
By early afternoon, however, we were back to our cars. The canoes were returned and we were off to Sir G's for a LARGE amount of pizza, Italian fries and cold pop. We parted ways with our partners and headed home--just ahead of some nasty storms! We were happy when we heard about that for we had chosen to get out of the wilderness before they arrived!
Overall this was a really interesting, fun trip. I reflect on it a lot already--what could I do to get packs down smaller and more manageable? Should we cut food and go to more freeze dried stuff? Colin is interested in trying hammock camping but it also seems like whenever I cut back one some things, then other fun gadgets come along. I might cut a tent but we just added a Nemo Bug Out and now everyone wants their own Flex Lite Chair. Why did I mess up on my packing? Am I getting lazy and less detail oriented in my planning? Should we try new entries or keep going back to trusted fishing spots? Lots of things to think about before we head out on the trail again. Thanks everyone for giving this a read and sharing any thoughts or comments. I really do love going up there and reading good stuff here adds to the fun.