BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 30 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1260 feet
Angleworm Lake - 20
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
We were up and about at 5:30 AM, and in no real hurry to leave our spot. I had a great night sleep, and the day promised to be a good one. We had a leisurely breakfast as the morning fog slowly lifted. Pancakes and pork patties, washed down with several cups of our special cowboy coffee, should power up our engines for the Muskeg-Kiskadinna portage.[paragraph break] Picture shows Entering Long Island Lake from Karl [paragraph break] Our morning paddle down Karl was sweet. Not a breath of wind was blowing and the lake mirrored back the forest perfectly. On Long Island we paddled slowly between the islands on the north side and that shielded our eyes from the old burn on the south shore. From the lush green we then entered the scrubby re-growth of the east bay, and that was an eye opener. There is nothing pretty about burned out areas, and the land we were now seeing was part of the 2006 Famine Fire.[paragraph break] Picture taken on the east end of Long Island Lake near the narrows showing the old burn [paragraph break] [paragraph break]We were running out of lake as we anxiously looked for the portage from Long Island Lake to Muskeg Lake. The land did not look inviting in the small cove leading to the trail. Downfall extended into the water and it presented a formidable barrier. I was beginning to wonder if these trails had been reopened following the fire. Near the portage the water way narrowed and there we spotted the work of the saw. Ah, portage ahead.[paragraph break] Pictures shows the landing at Long Island - Muskeg portage and 2) paddling the meander to Muskeg Lake[paragraph break] [paragraph break]I would have liked to travel here before the burn. But, even in the post burn era, the water way that meanders through the marsh leading to Muskeg was an interesting paddle that ended all too soon at Muskeg Lake. Most of area around the small Muskeg Lake was spared from the burn. Next stop, the wall.
We were expecting the worst on the portage into Kiskadinna. The whole portage is not that bad. There is a gain of 147 feet between Muskeg and Kiskadinna. A portion of the trail seems straight up and it did spark a fire in my legs and had me puffing as I approached the top. After that, it was basically an easy stroll to Kiskadinna. In comparison to the string of portages that we did on the “mechanic chain” of Day 3, I think that the “notorious wall” was, in fact, an easier go. But, we also hit this portage well rested and well fueled.[paragraph break]Pictures show the steep part of the Muskeg-Kiskadinna portage (some call it the wall)[paragraph break] [paragraph break] Kiskadinna Lake is narrow and about 2 mile long. Author Beymer writes that it is an unattractive lake in comparison to its neighbors. We do not judge a lake by its neighbors and we found the lake a nice comfortable paddle. The lake runs parallel to a low cliff on the south shore, and that was in contrast to the north side which is flat, low and a “dog-hair” thicket of small spruce. The campsites were nothing to write home about. As we saw it, the most difficult thing about camping on Kiskadinna would be in finding a tree suitable for hanging a food pack. We speculated that we would find our portage at a hole in the cliff. That is about what we found.[paragraph break]Picture of Kiskadinna Lake looking east from the portage[paragraph break][paragraph break] The 35 r from Kiskadinna to Omega resembled a stairway from the lake. The portage is short and basically up one side and down the other. The first camp site on Omega was open, but we had been told of a real nice spot on the south shore, and that is where we headed. We had used up a good bit of time getting our miles in and we were approaching our 2 PM witching hour. It was time to stop. As luck would have it, the perfect spot on Omega was the perfect spot for someone else. That is the problem with knowing too much, and rather than going back to the site we had just passed, we headed to the camp on the north end. It was open, and it was time to stop.[paragraph break] Pictures show 1) Kiskadinna-Omega portage and 2) Omega Lake looking south from our north camp site [paragraph break] [paragraph break] The north site on Omega sits high, and it offers a commanding view of the lake. Pretty, yes. Practical, no. I do not take much joy anymore in hauling gear and fetching water over a goat trail. Fire wood was scarce, but there was ample flat ground for our little tent (and many more). Matt and I tended to our camp chores, and then dusk was setting in. Our small fire and our rations of cognac capped a nice day.
Of the trip, this day was my favorite. The weather behaved. I enjoyed the diversity of the country we passed though including the portages. We saw one canoe on Long Island Lake and Omega Lake, and spotted only one other camper.
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.
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!