BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
July 20 2019
Number of Permits per Day: 27
Elevation: 1356 feet
Moose Lake - 25
Couples Trip 2019! A Picture Perfect Trip!
June 20, 2019
Number of Days:
Paul and I started planning this trip in April and wouldn't you know it - the entry point we were hoping to put in on was already booked! Good information for next time and for anyone else planning a trip... book your entry point earlier rather than later! So, based on a recommendation from a friend and BWCA legend, Dave Christoffel, we decided to put in on Moose Lake.
Luckily, Rachel and Abbie didn't have to work on our travel day, so they grocery shopped and prepped a lot of our stuff. Paul and I both cut out of work early and we were able to hit the road from Menomonie to Ely at about 5 PM. Instead of renting a canoe, Rachel and I took ours that we bought last summer. We own an OLD fiberglass Wenonah that's in pretty much perfect shape. It was built in 1975, and this would serve as it's maiden BWCA voyage!! We had no problems driving it up the 4.5 hours to Ely!
After jamming to tunes and stopping in Duluth for pizza, we stayed at a friend's cabin just outside of Ely. It felt GREAT to finally be back in the heart of the Northwoods!
Day 1 Cont: Thursday, June 20, 2019
We picked up Paul and Abbie's canoe (an 18 ft Kevlar Wenonah) from Piragis at about 7 am. Piragis is where we always outfit out of and pick up our permit. I highly recommend them. Their store is really neat and totally represents Ely as a whole I feel. Also, we've always had good luck with their gear.
The weather had looked pretty tenuous the week leading up to the trip, but man was it beautiful on Thursday! We put in on Moose Lake and had sunny skies and 75 degree temps! Rachel and I brought our dog, a German Shepherd named Luna. Loading the canoes down and fitting Luna wasn't too bad, provided Luna didn't wiggle around too much! The paddle across Moose Lake to the Moose-Wind portage was a piece of cake and we started our first portage.
When we do the Boundary Waters we love to eat and eat well. But all that luxury comes at a price. Much of the food we brought (steaks, potatoes, polish sausage) still had the water in it... so our cooler was terribly heavy. Portaging a 40 lb igloo cooler through the wilds of MN was not fun, but so worth it. Other than the cooler that weighed the same as a bale of hay, the portage was a breeze. We double portaged it, and every other portage for the weekend.
Once we were into Wind Lake, we decided to fish for a bit. So, I'll preface the fishing. I'm an avid fisherman, and so is Paul. Rachel and Abbie are not! HA! So, when Paul and I do a trip with just the guys, we pound the water to froth fishing, but not so with the girls. We fish, but usually for 30-60 min at a time. And that's all it took to get into the fish on Wind. Within an hour everyone had fish in the boat. I was trolling a gold in-line spinner with a leach and caught a nice 19-20" walleye and two northerns. Rachel caught a northern too - all were in shallower water... maybe 6-10 ft. Then, Paul caught the fish of the trip - a 25 in walleye trolling a shad rap Rapala down the middle of one of the downwind bays. Paul and Abbie didn't bring a net, so it stands to reason that they would hook the biggest fish! Luckily we were close enough to paddle over and net his beauty!
We then took the paddle from Wind Lake to Basswood (Wind Bay). That was another 185 rod portage with a large creek crossing in the middle. That creek crossing was honestly pretty nice though because it allowed us to break up the portage and cool off. Paul and I are lucky - Rachel and Abbie are tough and portaged like Champs!
Once on Basswood, we picked out our site. It was an awesome rock point, facing west. That was probably the prettiest site we had, with an amazing view of the sunset. We took advantage of the nice day and swam to a nearby island and lounged on the rocks by the campsite! We went out fishing twice after that and got some amazing pictures! Paul had on a 40+ inch northern that got off and Rachel caught a gorgeous 30 incher! That was the big fish of the trip and Rachel fought him beautifully. Rachel is a very capable outdoorswoman, so I was not surprised! I got another 19 inch walleye later in the evening! We cooked hobo dinners that night with some damn good polish sausage and drank ALL of the beer we brought. We tried to find a cheaper insulated growler. They didn't work great, so we had to "take one for the team" and drink all 120 ounces of brew that night so it didn't go flat! Ha! Paul and I went back out fishing while the girls played cards, but it was slower. The rest of the night was spent watching the sunset and hanging out around the fire. [paragraph break] [paragraph break]~Moose Lake, Wind Lake, Basswood Lake
This day we changed plans. We were going to paddle right into Indiana Lake, but decided that didn't have enough adventure or pizazz! We instead paddled through Basswood to the East and headed to Indiana via Good Lake. We had oatmeal and coffee in the morning and enjoyed sunny skies again. It was a little chilly, but not too bad. We had pretty good luck fishing right away that morning and caught several smallies. Nothing big, but I think I got one about 16 or so. We had heard that Hoist Bay had been great for smallies, but we didn't have much luck at all and decided to just head right into Good Lake. We did have a shore lunch of some walleyes and a northern - that was great.
On the way into Good, we encountered a first for all of us... our first Beaver Dam that we had to cross! One of the members of the group suggested we head back and go around... I said "Hell No!" and we stopped and dragged our canoes right over. Luna got unbelievably muddy and then leapt back into the canoe, creating havoc and general hysteria. We all had a nice chuckle... Luna is why we can't have nice things!
Good Lake was just a paddle-through lake, but we didn't see another soul. That was cool! It did look like a pretty lake and I think it would be worth it to fish it again someday. Everything up to this point had been generally pleasant. Then came the portage from Good to Indiana. It was a short one on the map, we figured maybe 100-125 rods. First we couldn't find the portage site - we thought it was co-located with the campsite near the portage, but indeed it wasn't. Then we bushwhacked to get to the portage. Then we executed the portage. It was hot and the elevation gain was beastly! But what's a trip to the outdoors without a little dose of suffering, eh? As Pat McManus would say... A Fine and Pleasant Misery!
Indiana Lake was breathtaking. It's a little pot hole lake with ultra clear water that's almost blue enough to look like the ocean. There are mature trees going right up to the bank around the entire shore... and there are bass! I did really well on the bass just working a jig back from shore. I kept one Smallie to eat with our walleyes, but other than that we threw everything back. I think I caught about 15+ bass that evening between shore and canoe fishing and the biggest was about a 17" Large Mouth. Happy times!
We had a fish fry that night and drank wine around the campfire. Since it was the summer solstice, we stayed up pretty late and just enjoyed the lightning bugs and beautiful lake that we had all to ourselves. We saw VERY few people the entire day and no one on Good or Indiana. One note - I decided one of my most important factors for selecting a site is level tent pads. The pads we had were marginal at this site, but everything else was fantastic! [paragraph break]~Basswood Lake, Good Lake, Indiana Lake
We woke up fairly early ~ 7:30ish and did breakfast again. We fished for a bit and got a few bass, but then decided to take the short portage into Wind Bay and back to Basswood Lake. The portage was muddy, but only about 20 yds long. We saw a moose track, but we're all still waiting to see our first BWCA moose... oh well, I guess that's why we will have to head back. We carried the canoes with most of the gear in them got back to paddling!
Another beaver dam!! These BWCA beavers are industrious little SOBs and probably had that dam 3-4 ft tall! Honestly, it was really fun pulling the canoe over them and feeling like a French Fur Trader! Many songs will be sung about our feats and canoeing prowess.
We portaged back into Wind Lake and found an amazing site on an island, located pretty much in the middle of the lake. We fished our way there and Paul again caught a nice walleye - probably 22" in only about 5 min of fishing. Abbie added a nice northern too. We probably should have kept fishing then, since it seemed they were active, but we wanted to get camp set up. Later when we went out fishing we probably only got about 3-4 northerns and no walleyes. Oh well, for the sporadic fishing we did, we did well. And, everyone at least caught some nice fish, so I'd say the fishing was overall very good.
The site had previously harbored some good Samaritans that left us tons of dry wood, cooking gloves, and a clothes line. The tent pads were back in the woods a bit, which was kind of nice, and they were level. We swam and bathed for the first time and then cooked surf and turf! I had marinaded some ribeyes before we left, so we had wood fired steaks and baked walleye. I built a little tin foil tee-pee to bake the fish in and it worked like a dream. I baked the fish with paprika, garlic salt, pepper, and a lot of melted butter. Along with our corn on the cob, it was my favorite meal of the trip! We played some cards that night, which I dominated at ;) and then cloud cover rolled in for the first time all weekend! I frantically ran about camp without direction or purpose to pack up and water proof our gear. Once complete, we enjoyed one last BWCA campfire. A perfect way to end the trip! [paragraph break]~Indiana Lake, Basswood Lake, Wind Lake
It sprinkled at 4:45. We woke up at 6 am and broke camp. At 6:30 (luckily we were all packed up) it poured. And poured. But hey, we were finally paying the toll for the sublime evenings we had enjoyed the past 3 days. We paddled across Wind in a deluge and there was an absolute minimum of jovial banter.
You may have noticed one thing I left out of this report: The Bugs. Well, up until this point they had been not bad, or at worst tolerable. The portage from Wind back to Moose in the rain was tough though - the mosquitoes were out! We portaged extremely quickly. I swear Paul was running with the canoe and I didn't bother changing into boots, I just portaged in Crocs. It wasn't bad either, even when I was carrying the canoe!
We paddled back to the put in site and had done about 16-18 miles by my rough estimation and had an outstanding trip with some wildlife, good fishing, great sites, and great friends. My wife and I do a lot of backpacking and camping and Paul and Abbie are great friends because, A. They are really fun, cool people, and B. They are great outdoors-folks with great attitudes and are fun and helpful around camp! We are so lucky to have them in our lives and I'm already looking forward to the next trip together and especially our next trip to the BWCA! ~Wind Lake, Moose Lake