BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 09 2021
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!
Destination Finger Lake
June 28, 2006
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days:
With our gear ready to go, we packed up the car and busted out of Minneapolis at 3:00 PM to beat the traffic. Soon we were heading north making our escape to Ely, leaving the Twin Cities far behind. Our destination was Voyager North Outfitters to bunk for the night and make our final preparation to get on the Little Indian, Sioux River early the next day. We arrived at Voyager North, took care of all the paper work and decided to get some needed advice on how to catch one or two of our dinners. Given that my experience with fishing is limited to sunnies on a Micky Mouse fishing pole, I knew we needed all the help we could get. John, from the Outfitters, gave us solid advice on where the fish hang out and how we could use leeches to hook our dinner. I did mention that if need be we could always eat the leaches if we did not catch anything.
For this years experiment we decided to take along two small packs to hold items we needed during the day like a first aid kit, rain gear and lunches. This also helped distribute the weight between everyone, a nice feature which hopefully allowed our group to complete the portages comfortably in one trip.
That night we pack-up our gear, tested the weight, and set the alarm for 5:30 AM. Then each of us drifted off to sleep with visions of loons dancing in our heads.
Entry 14 Little Indian Sioux River Goal East Loon Bay 12 Miles 4 portages 260r
We woke up early at 5:30 and were onto the Echo trail by 6:00 AM to drop off the van at Moose River entry and then headed up to Little Indian to put in, so far so smooth. After checking with the gang on equipment, I released our driver and soon realized that I had left my water bottle in the van now speeding away, doh! The gang was now suspicious of my leadership and we had not even competed the first portage. Oh well, at least it was not my cooking stove!
The first portage to the river was completed with success and in one trip, thanks to the two new packs and we were on the river and ready to go. My two sons were in the MN 2 and their cousin, her friend and I took the MN 3. As we paddled down the river we decided on a new tradition of naming the packs and canoes for the trip. It was agreed that the boys 2 man would be LaFool (French for the Fool guess) and the MN 3 was Tiffany. The big internal pack holding our kitchen items, was named Blue Cheese and the two #4 Duluth packs were Bertha and Jack Henry (pronounced in a French accent)
We moved well and completed the trip across a calm Loon Lake around noon and found a nice sunny place on the north side of the lake to eat lunch and take a quick nap before heading out. Lunch is always the same for traveling, I just have a big selection of dried fruit, cheese nuts, crackers and such and we all sat down and had our own Old Country Buffet in the woods.
Rested up and re-fueled, we jump back into the Lafool and Tiffany and headed up East Loon Bay with a new destination of Slim Lake for some fishing, dinner and a good nights sleep.
We arrived at Slim Lake and took the northern campsite to setup our home for the night. The site was very nice, set high on a rocky ledge with a great view of slim lake below. With everything setup for the night we headed out to try our first attempt at fishing with leaches. Char, being the only non-mail member of the group was, of course the most experienced fisherman (or person) and she helped my squeamish boys bait the leaches. Jordan up to the task was already hooking a big bass. For the remainder of the afternoon the bass just kept hitting and we had great time fishing just off the camp site.
At dinner I was glad to find that I indeed had remembered the stove because that night we had a several filets and bass McNuggets complimented by a big pot of potato soup. That night we sat by the fire and had tea or hot chocolate but the Minnesota state bugs pushed us inside the tent early.
With the morning still young we moved north through section 5 pond as we hopped from South Lake, Steep Lake, Eugen and finally Beartrack for a quick Power Bar lunch to prepare for the final portage of 200r into Thumb Lake. Hosting the canoes and packs, we marched off down the portage and found it to be a walk in the park. The 200r was flat and open and we made quick work of getting into Thumb Lake.
With a quick carry over a 9rod we were now into our final destination of Finger Lake around 2:30 PM. We took a look at the campsites and selected the island to the north and began to setup our home for the next two nights. The campsite was a beautiful site set on a large rock ledge to fish from. The gang checked out the tent site while I setup the bear line for Blue Cheese. With a nice tent site selected sitting high on the island with a great view of the lake to the south, our home was setup for the next two relaxing nights.
Now that the camp chores were done we all jumped into the lake to cool off and remove the mud and grime from the portages. We then decided to canoe to the small island on the lake to have a snack and lay in the sun for a nap before dinner. The island was full of blue berries and we picked a bandana full for a pancake breakfast on our layover day.
That night we fished off our site but did not get anything big enough to keep and settled for a big day of fishing the next day. With night approaching, we had a nice dinner of fry bread and dumpling soup for dinner followed by a big game of Hearts. We were disappointed that it was cloudy and did not have the opportunity to take the cones out that night to look up at the heavens but settled on tea and hot chocolate and into the tent for the night.
I was up at dawn and started to prepare our pancakes feast with blueberries, my favorite, but the rest of the gang slept in. With time on my hands I tried out my new Mini Espresso machine and soon found that when used on my 20 year old Peak 1 it not only boiled the water to create a cup of espresso but it also heated the cup to 200 degrees ouch! I was not convinced that my new toy was going to work as I hoped and satisfy my morning ritual for coffee.
The gang finally woke up and I began flipping pancakes for everyone. Nothing beats a fresh blueberry pancakes in the BWCA! All cleaned up and food put away and flying from a tree we grabbed our rods and headed out to stalk the wild bass and walleye. As we reached the furthest part of the lake it stated to rain so we paddled our way back to camp with nothing for dinner. Suspecting the fish were settling in for a siesta for the mid day we took a swim and found a large rock the size of a mini van about 5 yards off the site and stood in the coke colored water enjoying the view until I wondered out loud if any snapping turtles might be around causing a mass exit to the campsite.
For lunch we packed up a hot lunch and headed to our newly named Blue Berry Island, for cascades for lunch! After the first cassida we began to get creative and started adding summer sausage and dried pineapples to add some variety. The pineapple was actually pretty good and we dubbed it the Hawaiian! With our bellies filled with cheese we stretched out in the sun and took a nap.
One back we were set on catching dinner and we decided the best site to fish was right off the campsite and boy did they hit and in short time we had a mess of bass for dinner. As the kids filleted the fish, I started some buttered noodles and seasoned the fry pan for our feast. The fish came out great and it was the first time I have ever seen a teen age boy full!
Filled to the gills we rested, but I suspected rain so we stowed all our stuff and tied off the cones and retired to the tent for a game of Hearts and a good night sleep but mother nature had other plans. That night was a big storm with a lot of lightning and I was regretting taking the high campsite and stayed up counting the time between flash and thunder to tell how far the storm was. For the most part it was about 10 miles to our south but still ominious.
The morning looked question able for rain but all or equipment was dry so we prepped to get under way. I prepared a corn bread while the tent, bags and food were pack into Jack Henry, Bertha and Blue Cheese. The corn bread was a hit and every crumb was gobbled up with gusto. We were on the water by 9:00 AM, destination Lake Agnes to the south hoping that the rain would hold off and the wind would be at our backs saying a fond farewell to out little island on Finger lake.
With lighter packs, stronger muscles and a full belly of bass, we made again hopped from Pocket to Pocket creek. The wind was at our backs and missed the turn to Gebe(Ge-be-on-quet) Creek, my one navigation error, but it was a short backtrack and the every positive gang were OK every though we had to fight a big wind to get back.
Once onto Gebe our tail wind help cruise us down the lake but we had to forgo taking a look at the Rock Loungers at the western campsite. Then it was smooth sailing all the ways to Oyster Lake were we stopped at the first vacant campsite for lunch. At this time I looked at the gang and they all seemed to need a pick-me-up so I decided to break out the old Peak 1 and cook up a pot of Dam Good Chilli as a hot lunch while they rested. (Privately I also knew the wind would also dissipate any gas by my fellow canoeists resulting from the chilli).
Oyster Lake was windy and we faced white caps at our tail and we talked about the rocky landing we faced for our 60rod into Oyster creek. The two man would hold off and we headed in to so we could get the canoe off the rocks fast and help with the other canoe as they battled the waves coming in. When we were all safe on dry land we all gave a sigh of relief.
Oyster Creek was very scenic, lined by high cliffs to the east and we double timed the 160 to Lake Agnes to end on a sandy beach covered with baby frogs. Attempting not to squish any of the little guys we loaded up and hoped that a campsite to the south west would be open. Lucky the site in the bay was open, not the prime spot, but OK for our last night. The tent site was not he best and it sloped down at our feet and we know we would all be bunched together by the end of the night. With the sun getting low I started dinner, the one I have been looking forward too all week, Pesto with pine nuts. It was one of the best meals of the week and we all went to bed full.
With only the Oyster and Moose River between us and the exit point we unknowingly thought we would be out by 11:30 AM. Wrong, we actually had a full day of paddling ahead of us with the river meandering back a forth. The moose river was particularly fun to canoe with high cliffs and plenty of wild life. It kept getting narrower and shallower as we went. During this time we encountered a lot of people coming in. At one time I had to step over a pack in the middle of the portage and follow a very un-happy camper as he walked back to get more of his supplies. We finally made it to the 160 to the entry. We were all a little sad to end our time on the water and took our time to walk the portage back to civilization.
We strapped on the canoes tossed the pack into the van and the kids cranked up the music for the ride to Voyager North for a hot shower. We finished off with John and Lynn thanking them for there advice on the leaches and help with the trip.
This was one of my favorite trips to the BWCA, my boys are now old enough so we can venture further into the remote areas and the whole group enjoyed so much being together for a memorable 5 days.
With the Mini Espresso coffee maker use a stove that has a small flame such as the blue light stove.
The 45 degree bear line to hang our food pack worked great. I added two carabineers to create a pulley system so it was easy to pull up and down.
Wrap several layers of duck tape around your water bottle so you have it handy and ready to use.
The two small backpack work great to distribute the load and allow us to portage in one trip
Leaches are like chocolate to bass and walleye