BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 23 2023
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!
A Wildlife adventure
June 22, 2007
Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days:
A Wildlife filled Adventure
10 month’s ago on the way to the BWCA me and thecanoewoman had a car accident that nearly killed her. Hard to believe that today we both make the trek into the bwca. It’s a beautiful day the kind of day you love to travel on, 80 degree’s and sunny. We made our way down from ep 16 to the Moose River. The Moose River is a slow meandering river, black and purple damsel flies line the shoreline, and we see many people making their way out. When we cross Nina moose lake and reach the 1 st portage there are a group of people (4 canoes and 8 people) they were still portaging their gear over so we tried to hurry and get our stuff off to the side of the portage, when I grabbed the canoe I just grab the gunnels and try to move it off the boulders on the shore and get it out of the way, when I slipped and fell in the boulder field, I get back up and act like nothing was wrong when one of the men come and give me a hand, he also helped us bring some gear over the portage. They tell us they were on Iron Lake (our destination) and camp bound pretty much the whole time due to the wind. When we reach the next portage my knee feels a little strange and I’m unusually tired as we reach the end, when we run into 2 kayakers they were in a hurry they tell us they’ve been going constantly because they left Wood lake and some how thought they left their car at Moose lake but actually it was moose river (now that’s a big mistake). We see 2 eagles and 3 deer along this stretch of the river. Making our way over Lake Agnes I realize we need to stop and find a camp to assess my knee we decide on the far north site on the Westside near the Boulder River. Not a very nice site, I rate it a 2 star and that’s only because it’s near the portage. Luckily TCW has a bag full of meds I consume lots of Motrin and try to cool my knee in the lake. It doesn’t appear swollen but it’s sore and stiff, so I figure I sprained it. We hit the tent early, all through the night I hear splashing in the lake.
6-23-07 We wake to another gorgeous day. My knee is very stiff, I hobble around camp and I have trouble bending it, but I think we will try to make it to Tiger bay if not… then we stay where we are. As I load the canoe I see my suspicions were right all that splashing last night was an otter, he left scat all over the landing and apparently he loves crayfish. We reach the 1st portage, I had a little trouble and I think no problem then we reach the portage from the boulder river to LLC and it’s a little steep and I think if I can do this maybe we can make it to Iron lake. It was tough but I made it. Then we decide to stop at Tiger bay for a few days and give my knee a chance to heal. We get one of the sites in Tiger bay, its beautiful all red pines you can walk all through the area. It appears to have been here for a very long time, there are ledges that look to be man made. This site has fantastic view. The bay has a family of eagles and a doe and fawn that visits us a few times a day. I catch a few smallies off the shore. Then in the middle of the night we woke up to a howling wind that scared us to death. I have to go out into the wind to tie the canoe down; it last about an hour then leaves like nothing happened.
6-24-07 We are blessed with another great day. I venture out in the early morning hit some of the back bays and immediately start slamming the northern’s Almost every cast, nothing huge but a few 30” it was a blast! We decide to go to the picto’s and see warrior hill as we cross LLC the wind pick’s up and we turn around . Then we plan on seeing them in the morning before we move to Iron. This evening there is a major mayfly hatch, fish are surfacing everywhere. Then we see what seems to be very large fish launching themselves out of the water, they are everywhere they are 2’ to 4’ long. Then we see this form rise out of the lake, its dusk and I take a closer look and it’s a snapping turtle at least 3 feet long we name her nessie. I still manage to catch a batch of smallies this night. It’s 1.00 am and I am sound asleep when I woke up to TCW kneeling on my chest yelling WHAT’S THAT! SOMTHINGS TRYING TO GET IN! I remove her from my chest and proceed to start swinging and kicking my legs after a few seconds I find my flashlight and shine it on the door, we just had the screen shut so I could see outside, I see nothing I try to settle down TCW but she’s convinced something’s out there. When she lays back down she starts yelling again and says its under the foot of her sleeping bag I shine the light and I feel something under her bag I start to pummel it into submission, then I stop and take a closer look and realize that during the initial attack I had beat her thermarest and it blew up like a balloon it was at least 17” tall, I start to laugh hysterically TCW isn’t so amused. She says she’ll wake me when the sun comes up, I didn’t tell her at the time but I did hear something, but a mouse can make as much noise as a bear. So I fall back asleep.
6-25-07 I wake early and it’s a little cloudy but it’s calm. As each day passes my knee feels better and I want to see the picto’s so we can head to Iron Lake. However, I’m not sure how TCW will feel after last night’s incident, so I wait and around 6:30 am she starts stirring in the tent; I bring her a cup of coffee. She stick’s her head out the tent as I approach and starts laughing then we both start laughing and after a couple of minutes we talk about last nights events, and everything is all right. we head to the picto’s and find one set and take a few photo’s but can’t find the other picto’s so we head back to camp going through Never Fail bay and I see a cow and a calf far off but I’m not sure… then they disappear into the marsh since TCW didn’t confirm it, it didn’t happen. Once back, we start breaking down camp an hour later we’re on our way to the Bottle portage. As the minutes progress the wind pick’s up. We reach the portage and start across TCW doe’s one portage and I do two, on the way back from my second portage TCW is at the end telling me to get the camera and then she say’s that there’s a moose and a calf at the portage. I stop drop my gear and walk over to the lake and there she was about 20 yards away. By the time I got there the calf was in the forest. We took about 100 photos then we get in the canoe and paddle right by her, she didn’t have a care in the world. We head down to our destination, the site on the south side of the island near Peterson bay. We have a head wind the whole way and TCW is not a fan of the wind, she wonder’s why we can’t take one of the many site’s we pass by, I assure her it will be worth it ( I hope). When we reach the site it seems spectacular. I set up camp as TCW explores the island and finds a Blueberry bonanza, mmmmmmmm! Blueberry pancakes, after a couple of hour’s TCW admits it’s a beautiful place. I catch a bunch of smallies right off the campsite. At 9:30 pm three canoe’s come around the corner and are obviously disappointed that this site was taken. I don’t blame them; this is now one of my favorite campsites. 5 star’s all the way, a great view, good fishing and fantastic wildlife. I used my new axe TCW bought me for Christmas it’s a Gransfors small forest axe and it’s excellent, I never realized how nice a good axe is. While we hunt for firewood we also look for a good hanging tree and we discover two abandoned hanging lines, she say’s this isn’t a good sign, then I tell her that I read a thread just before we left that a big bear has been sighted in the area. She knew something was up because my diligence on hanging the food packs. Once again we fall asleep as the sun sets
This morning it’s raining on and off till 4:00 pm during the off periods me and TCW pick a hat full of blueberries, we have delicious blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We’ve been in the bdub a few days and this is the day TCW loves, it’s hair washing day with warm water, when we first started this years ago I thought I’ll just wash my hair with lake water, till one day TCW talked me into the warm water thing and I must admit I’m a big fan of it now. We have pizza for a late lunch. TCW decides to catch up on her journal while I go fishing. I start getting ready and turn the canoe over and there’s a garter snake slithering away I catch it and it has the rotten worms I discarded earlier in the day falling out of its mouth. This area is filled with smallies, I use TCW advice and use a Mepp’s spinner and really start slamming them the largest of the day was an 18”. My boots are old and constantly wet and the flies just love them, so I start calling myself LORD OF THE FLIES. We notice an otter hanging around for a few minutes then it disappears as fast as it show’s up. It’s an excellent evening and we have a small campfire before turning in.
Today it’s windy and it looks like we’re camp bound for most of the day. Later this evening the wind settles down and we make a short trip to Peterson bay and as soon as we reach the entrance to the bay, we see an otter playing and it’s a large otter we get within 25 yards of it, snap off as many shot’s as we can till it jump’s out of the lake and takes a trail into the forest. It was very exciting it was barking at us and showing its teeth. We see various plant life and what appears to be shorebirds’ trying to distract us from their nest. As we head back to camp me and TCW discuss tomorrow’s itinerary and we decide if it’s nice we’ll check out Curtain and Rebecca falls. I never sleep better than when I’m here, again I fall into a deep slumber.
As I wake I hear all the beautiful songbird’s singing and I rise to what seems to be a perfect day for sightseeing, no wind, still waters and a cloudless sky. I excitedly wake TCW and tell her, she’s up in record time. I bring some leftover pancakes and hash browns from the day before, for the trip TCW says its garbage and she’ll stick to Gorp. We hit Curtain first and see all sorts of fungus and plant life along the way. We hear the fall’s as we approach and what a sight, water just gushing over the falls. We spend an hour there eating and taking lots of photos and enjoying the day. We head over to Rebecca falls and I don’t realize that the water flows into McAree Lake and we start to back track to the portage and are disappointed that we can’t see them from the end of the portage. TCW call’s me chicken because I wouldn’t portage the canoe over to McAree Lake, but being worried about the Canadians I refuse to do it. As we paddle back we take it slow and ponder the last few days and how much fun we had then it starts to hit us we only have a few day’s left. When we return to camp we eat dinner and our little friend shows up again, this time the otter feels safe with us and he put on a show for us for 20 minutes letting me take shot after shot as if he was modeling for me. Perhaps to say goodbye .this is a memory I’ll never forget he came within 15’ of me checking me out. As we sit there TCW throw’s some bread in the water for the minnows to feast on, in a few minutes a turtle shows up and I say it didn’t take that turtle long to smell that bread. As each minute passes more and more show up and I’m perplexed what is going on? as the sun was going down there were at least 30 turtles out there all sizes, then it all became clear as they made their way to shore, turtle love was in the air. They were making nest all over the site. Tomorrow we leave and we hit the sack early.
It’s a great travel day; we wake early and are on our way at 9:30. We had planned to stop and camp on the way out but the weather was so good and what wind we had was in our favor, so we went for it and were heading out today. When we hit the bottle portage I see the cow in the same area, we get out our cameras as she eats her breakfast then suddenly she suddenly tire’s of us then she heads out of the water, then yell’s out in a short burst of air with her ears up and I tell TCW to get ready because she’s calling her calf and a few seconds later it bounds over like a child being called by her mother. What a sight another highlight of the trip I must say it gave me Goosebumps’s. As we make our way across Agnes Lake and head into the Moose River we see an Eagle and take some shot’s then we hear splashing and just a few yards away was another otter with a family nearby. As we head up the moose river we see a solo canoeist just a head of us then when we reach the portage there he was… a gruff middle aged man wearing a ponytail who obviously had been in for a while and wearing a skirt (okay it was a kilt) it was Khaki and pleated. Then he told us he had a back injury and was held up in his tent for 4 days and asked for our help so of course we obliged as we made our way across the portage TCW was stopped in the middle of the portage and said she couldn’t get by, I said get out of my way, I turn the corner and saw one of the largest snappers I ever saw it was using the trail, loaded down I wasn’t stopping for anything as I made my way pass it, it veered off the trail. When we reach the end, Kelly the kilt guy explains why he’s wearing a kilt; his wife from Australia bought it for him a few years back and was always saying that he wasn’t man enough to wear it. So to prove a point he wore it to the bwca thinking he’s alone except on potages who will ever know… Well that is until he had to ask for help it wasn’t an issue. So we help him out. As we make our way down the Nina moose river we see 3 very large buck’s the largest was already a 10 pointer in velvet by this fall that buck will be enormous, all these buck’s were within 100 yards of each other. And as we end our trip at ep 16 at 8:00 PM Kelly told me he still has a 6 mi hike to his truck, it was at the Little Indian Sioux river ep so we give him a lift and all is fine we make it back to Ely at 10:00 PM.
I consider this one of my favorite trip’s TCW hung in there and made it to our destination even though she was in some discomfort, I’m very proud of her, most men I know would’ve given up but not her. This trip had it all; fish, wildlife, great weather a great paddle partner and when I thought it couldn’t get any better a man wearing a kilt. till TCW finishes her photo's I can't post the photo of kilt man.