BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 09 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1237 feet
Stuart River - 19
Spring Creek - LLC - Moose River
June 25, 2017
Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days:
We left our home in Iowa early on a beautiful Sunday morning. By the time we reached Black River Falls, it began to rain. Little did we know how indicative this would be of the weather for the week.
It was still raining when we reached Ely and checked into the bunkhouse at VNO. After dinner at Dairy Queen and double checking our gear, we turned in early.
We only had to do roughly half of the two mile portage, as our plan was to put in at Spring Creek. The portage was mostly flat, but quite wet from the recent rains. We then loaded the canoes from the boardwalk over the creek. The trip down Spring Creek was quite challenging. It didn't appear that anyone had been down it for some time, as we had to clear downed brush in several spots. It is also a constant maze of oxbows, so the the roughly six mile straight line trip is probably double that in actual distance paddled. There are also beaver dams to lift over and rapids that must be lined.
Shortly before lunch, we spotted a thunderstorm approaching. We got off the water at one of the few spots along the way where solid shoreline is accessible (thanks to one of the largest beaver dams I have seen). About halfway down, after another small creek joins from the west, it opens up and straightens out a bit. This continued until the Beartrap river joins, and it is truly navigable. The portage around the second set of rapids, shortly before Sunday Lake, was under ankle deep water much of the way.
We made it to Sunday Lake just before sunset, and set up camp at a very nice spot on the east side of the lake. Although the woman who issued our PMA permission stressed that we should try to camp at places that had not previously been used, it was clear that there are really only two spots on the lake that are practical for camping. As a result, there was a rock fire pit and log furniture already there. The only way to tell that this was not a regular site outside of a PMA was the absence of a firegrate and latrine.
~Spring Creek ~Sunday Lake
Misty morning on Sunday Lake:
The girls were still tired from the long day yesterday, so we took our time with breakfast and didn't leave camp until about 9:00. Our goal for the day is Iron Lake. The portages along the Beartrap river don't appear to get much use. The east end is still in the PMA, so they don't get much maintenance. Many large deadfalls to climb over during the day. The last 110 rod portage before Peterson Bay also had some calf-deep mud to contend with.
We reached Iron Lake about 3:00 in the afternoon. The first campsite, directly across the opening from Peterson Bay, was taken. This was the first sign we had seen of other users since we put in. We would not actually see anyone until Thursday on LLC. We ended up at a site in the southwest corner of the lake in a small bay. It was a nice site for our size group but would have been crowded with many more. We also later discovered it had a healthy population of ticks. ~Sunday Lake, Beartrap River, Iron Lake
Unfortunately, about 2 pm, it started raining. We thought we would go in the tent for a while, and then go out fishing again. But it kept raining. ..... For 28 hours straight. By 8 pm, it had slowed to a drizzle, so we ventured out to cook our fish dinner with the walleye and northern.
We awoke to a steady drizzle, but decided that traveling in the drizzle would not be any more unpleasant than spending it in camp, so we set off for Lac LaCroix. By now, the girls were getting quite efficient at paddling and portaging, so we covered the trip quickly. The only setback was trying to find the last portage from the beaver pond to Iron. It's hidden over a beaver dam, and I didn't remember that from my last trip though that area several years ago.
Once on LLC, we saw several groups paddling. These were the first actual other people we had seen since Monday morning. We camped at a beautiful site on Tiger Bay. Had some time to fish, but not nearly as much luck as on Iron.
~Iron Lake, Lac La Croix
On our last full day, we continued to improve in efficiency, both packing up camp and on the water. We did the Boulder Bay portage in no time. This was the first time we encountered traffic on a portage. The girls thought we would never make it across Agnes, but actually did it in well under an hour.
We were going to stop at the south end of Agnes for lunch, but all the campsites were full, so we pressed on. In the mouth of the Moose River, we met a man from Georgia on a trip with his 13 year old son. I feel bad that I forgot his name, as we shadowed each other for the rest of the trip. We were both concerned, because the Agnes campsites were full, that we would have the same problem on Nina-Moose. And of course in started to rain on that stretch of the Moose River.
The first 160 rod portage along the rapids has what must be the most beautiful view along a portage in the park, as most of it is within view of the long stretch of rapids. It was also the first portage we encountered that did not have any significant mud holes. When we we arrived at Nina-Moose, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we and the Georgia gentlemen were the only ones who would be camping on the lake for the night. And of course it rained again, which led to this beautiful rainbow. Our campsite is in the middle of the rainbow; our neighbors were kind enough to share the photo when we reached the parking lot on Saturday.
~Lac La Croix, Agnes, Lake, Nina Moose Lake
On the last portage, we had several free hands and help the Georgia crew with some of their gear. They were also staying at VNO, and we'd have another opportunity to wish them well later before departure.
Spent the afternoon cleaning up, visiting the wolf center, souvenir shopping, and pizza at Sir G's.
We stopped at Gooseberry Falls on the way home.
Other than the weather, and mosquitos to a lesser degree, everyone enjoyed the trip. We were talking about another trip on the way home, so I hope to do that in the not too distant future. Might pick an easier first day next time, though!