Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

August 02 2021

Entry Point 25 - Moose Lake

Moose Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 21 miles. Access is an boat landing or canoe launch at Moose Lake. Many trip options for paddlers with additional portages. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 27
Elevation: 1356 feet
Latitude: 47.9877
Longitude: -91.4997
Moose Lake - 25

Camping Cousins

by BonzSF
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 21, 2020
Entry Point: Moose Lake
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
I read a book about the Boundary Waters maybe 40 years ago and always wanted to check it out. Then at a family get together, one of my cousins mentioned that they went on a trip there. My ears immediately picked up and I asked for details. It was my cousin Martin with who I have gone on backpacking and ski trips when we were younger. It's been many years since we did any adventures as new families and jobs kept us busy on our sides of the country. Me in California and he in Virginia. We ended the conversation with me saying "if you're going again, Call Me!" to which he replied " Oh, I'm going again!" So in Nov of '19 I got a call. I said "Sign me up" So Thursday afternoon we all met at Duluth airport. The participation evolved and ended up with four "old" guys 57-60. Three Brothers from the East, Martin, Steve and Bill and one cousin from the West (Me). Two had been on the trip before as first timers and they had the experience. Bill and I we both newbies and did not know what to expect. We somehow worked it out that we all arrived close together and drove up to Ely in the rented car. First stop was the brewery for beer and dinner. Then on to the outfitter to spend the night. We checked in then started going through our gear. Gangplank fever made me too excited to sleep but finally did. Hey I'm still on Pacific time!

Day 1 of 7


[paragraph break]Friday, August 21, 2020 We did our orientation as we had breakfast then went and finished packing. Cloudy morning with no wind. Apparently it had rained the day before but it wasn’t forecast for today. Loaded up and got to Moose Lake around 10:30. Disembarked from our tow to Indian portage around 11:30. Our first portage! Hey this portage thing is no problem ( 5 rods) We headed east on Birch Lake with a cloudy sky and mild temps. We planned to make four portages to Knife lake and find a nice site near Robbins Island. A 40, 25, 15, and a 75 rod. All were pretty level and easy walking. We portaged to Carp lake and stopped to eat a quick lunch. Then got loaded to go. As we put in the last of the gear, Another group showed up behind us and they looked like they were in a hurry. We figured it was getting late and so we better hurry to find a good campsite (before they got it) The race was on. We had a little trouble finding the portage out of Carp and they almost caught us. We hustled our gear across the portage and crossed Seed Lake to Big Knife portage. The other party followed closely behind. This was the long portage of the day and we have been doing double portaging all day. But we knocked it out and did not see the other party again. They looked pretty beat from the chase. Chalk one up for the old guys! Apparently we are not wise enough. A 11:30 start at Indian portage means a late arrival at Knife. All campsites we passed were occupied and it was closing in on 5 PM. Then according to the map, there was a camp right where there was a break in the trees. Poor landing and only two tent sites. very bushy and no shore line trial. In fact the only trail was the one to the latrine! Camp #1250 [paragraph break] I took a deep breath and felt great to be out camping again! We started setting our shelter that was two "4" man tents, two people per tent. Steve went to set up in one spot and I began to unpack the tent for the other. Only to find that no tent, the bag only contained a ground cloth, some poles and the rain fly, no tent! Okay so our plan was that Martin brought a War bonnet hammock set up. Steve and Bill had lightweight camp cots to fit in one tent. And I had the other tent to myself with four ThermOrests. Well it was three in the tent that night because it was moist and the mosquitoes were out. We set up and had our steak diners while drank our cocktails. [paragraph break]Always wanting to improve our firepit, I threw a boulder towards the fire grate. It bounced once, took a hard left turn, and punctured our 1 gallon can of camp fuel! Arrggg. I was able to lay it on it's side and it stopped leaking. We'll deal with it tomorrow morning after we empty our boda bags of whiskey and scotch. Then to cap off the day, I nearly slice off the very tip of my finger cutting a tomato. First tip , always bring a roll of waterproof adhesive medical tape. Almost better than stiches!

~Moose Lake, Birch Lake, Carp Lake, Melon Lake, Seed Lake, Knife Lake

 



Day 2 of 7


Saturday, August 22, 2020 Woke up in the morning and got right up. The skies are still cloudy but temperatures are very comfy. There wasn’t much room in the tent but at least I didn’t roll off the sleeping pad. I was firmly wedged between the two cots. Being the first morning, we had fresh eggs for a leisurely breakfast and coffee. So we made it out of camp by the crack of 11. We headed east and onto the South Arm. We didn’t have a final destination, just a better campsite that the night before. We passed a couple that were occupied and others that were not highly rated. Then we came up on one that the outfitter had marked 4 stars. It was # 1446 and we figured that it had to be checked out. LUCY, I’M HOME. It is an awesome site with great fire pit with lots of shelf space for cooking. Logs set up to sit around the fire. Three large tent sites and the latrine wasn’t full! There was also an upper terrace on the point that had a awesome view of the lake. Even though we hadn’t gone far, we decided to stay. We set up and figured out the shelter situation. Or namely MY shelter situation. Part of the supplies was a lean-to tarp. So I found a flat spot between two trees with no rocks. I strung a rope low enough to the ground and used the poles from the partial tent kit to set up a shelter. Not too bad, Close to the fire and a view of the lake. Luckily it was the first day of no bugs for the rest of the trip! We settled in and relaxed. There were a lot of bold chipmunks and we practiced throwing things at them to scare them away. They seemed to just sneer at us to say "That missed me by a whole inch!”   A group of people came by fishing along the shoreline. They had been out couple of days and said that it had hailed two days before that left an inch of hail on the ground. We asked about the fishing and they said it sucked! However the day before they had gone to Bonnie Lake and caught about 30 pike. That sounded fun and it was quickly decided that we would day trip there tomorrow. We got the food hang set up and began preparing for fishing the next day.

 



Day 3 of 7


Sunday, August 23, 2020 We are on a leisurely schedule now since we are not moving camp. Still overcast skies with some clear spots. Get up early, have some coffee (Instant..next time I’m bringing REAL coffee) and try some shoreline fishing from camp. Not much happening except a few nibbles. We come back to camp and cook up some breakfast. Then pack up the fishing gear, lunch, and head out to Bonnie lake. We do some trolling and casting on our way there. By the time we get there it’s close to noon so we eat lunch and give the pike a short reprieve. After eating, we launch onto the lake and begin our assault on the fish. Bam, I catch the first fish of the trip while the other canoe doesn’t even have any lines in the water. It was only a 5” baby bass but it’s the first. And only fish I catch on the whole trip. I’ll have to work on my technique or something. Steve hooks a pike and starts reeling it in. the line snaps and he loses the fish and his spoon. Then it happens again and I’m suspicious about such an easy snapping line. I look at the end and it looks like a unraveled knot. So I tie on the next leader as his record is 2-0 and were running short on leaders. Meanwhile the other guys are drifting across the lake. After a few minutes he hooks another one. The line stays tied and we get it to the boat. We’re thinking to release it but he swallowed the hook and we can’t get it out cleanly. So we figure it’s a keeper. We’re close to a campsite and we figure to a check it out and get the fish on the stringer too. We look over the camp and put as a undesirable. Very rocky, uneven, and little protection from the sun and wind. Back in the canoe and we start fishing for bass in the shallows. As we’re just doing our first circle, Steve says “look at that, they flipped their canoe!” Wait what? Sure enough, I look over and see the bottom of the canoe facing up with two guys in the water. We stow our poles and crank over to help. We rescue the gear that we see and proceed to try to help them into their canoe. Unfortunately none of us studied that skill and weren’t doing it the right way. Note to crew. Acquire that skill before the next trip! We drug everything to the shore and got it done there. What happened we asked? It was because of another bad knot. Bill caught a pike and reeled it up to the boat. Then he lifted it out of the water and asked what to do with it. Martin said to swing it into the boat. As he got it over the canoe, the knot let go and the fish laned in the bottom. Now there’s a fish flapping around in the bottom of the boat with a lure and sharp hooks. It did a ninja fish and tried to stick Martin with the hook. So he stood up to get out of the way…… I think that’s one of the basic rules is not to stand up in a canoe. We’ll put that on the list of lessons learned. Both had their PFDs on so we knew that lesson and it certainly paid off Final tally. Caught one keeper pike. Lost: tackle box of lures and leaders, iPhone 8 (that was sitting on top of the open tackle box) ,fishing pole, two days supply of GORP. Two more lures and leaders form out canoe. And one iPhone 5 submerged and kaput. But is was an adventure! We portaged back to SAK and back to camp. I look around for firewood along the shore but it’s slim pick’ns and none around the camp. So I go up the trail behind the latrine to start looking. It’s a steep climb up to the cliff but I keep going because there is no wood. Steve sees me going and decides to come along. Finally I start finding some and throw it down the hill. Heck, I’m almost to the top and there’s plenty of light. We climb the last bit and get to the top with a fabulous view of the lake. It’s not Thunder Point but still pretty good. We have dinner with some fish appetizer then settle down by the fire to plan the next day. Final plan is that it was an eventful day and we’re in no mood to do an early start pack and go. We have seen a LOT of canoes going back and forth and don’t want to end up in a lousy campsite. So day tripping it is! That way we can concentrate of fishing! Another night in the lean-to tent and still no bugs.

 

 



Day 4 of 7


Monday, August 24, 2020 We woke up early again to do some sunrise fishing by the rock wall west of camp from the canoe. Still no luck. Back to camp for coffee and breakfast. The weather has changed to great. Sunny blue skies with a slight breeze The plan today is a day trip to Eddy Lake for trout. We also want to check out the campsites along the way. Soon after we left camp, we spotted two bald eagles perched on a dead tree. These must be the birds we see flying above of camp. We go on around the narrows to the main body of SAK. A five star site was empty so we landed there for lunch. Camp #142It was a really nice site with a great beach, views and many tent sites. Good for large groups. The only drawback was it had been heavily used and the latrine was completely full. I even might have been above ground level. I didn’t stay long enough to get a survey. We had a nice lunch at the fire grate area with a great view. Then back in the canoes to Eddy Falls and the portage up to Eddy Lake. We didn’t have much time and got no bites. Probably because it was mid afternoon and the fishing was tough already. We wrapped it up and portaged back down to Knife. Stopped to check out the falls but the water levels were low and it was just okay. Back on Knife, a head wind had come up and there were some small waves happening. We did a Hawaii 5-0 power stroke and covered the six miles back to camp in an hour and a half. No fish today so we have dinner from the excellent freeze dried from the outfitter. I must say that these meals are wayyyyy better than the backpacking meals I remember. We get the fire ready and I go to the shore to get some pictures of the sunset. Hey Guys. It looks like there are fish feeding close to the surface out there!. Mad dash for the fishing poles and get the lines in the water. No fish caught but I got some great pictures 9.

 



Day 5 of 7


Tuesday, August 25, 2020 Today was decided to be a rest day. A total rest day. No plans to go anywhere. Not worried about catching any fish. Not even planning to put the canoes in the water. Heck we’re on vacation! Just sit around camp. Relax. Talk about family and life. Relax some more. The weather has turned absolutely perfect. No wind, brilliant blue skyies with occasional clouds. Around mid-day, I pull one of the canoes into the water and try trolling across the lake and back a few times. I’m solo in a tandem canoe so I grab an extra PDF as a back cushion and sit on the floor in the middle. We’re camped on a narrow connection part of the lake and it’s not far. No bites. Must be the wrong lure of bait. Or just my inexperience in these waters. Fishing has been GREAT! Catching not so good but just being out fishing works for me. No big deal because we have plenty of food. In fact that’s when it’s time for lunch. I return to camp for another meal prepared by our gourmet cook, Chef Billy. I ask for a table up on the view terrace And there is space available. I settle in for a hot lunch with the two eagles circling overhead calling to each other. We talk about going to close by Thunder Point but keep putting it off. Then as it gets later, the clouds return and the wind kicks up. We decide to stick around and get organized for our move tomorrow. It’s getting later in the afternoon and I grab my pole to try some more fishing off the point of the terrace. Nothing wants to bite. I see a canoe approaching from the east and think. Hey that’s the first one I’ve seen today. They come right towards the camp and I think that they’ll be disappointed to see it occupied. They aren’t looking for a camp, it’s the local Ranger patrol checking in. The checked around, made sure there were no widow makers above the sleeping areas. Checked the latrine to see how full it was. And chatted with us for a while. Turned out they were on the end of their 8 day patrol. Then they have 6 days off until the next 8 day patrol. They were camped at the next site down. They talked of dogsledding up here in the winter. It was hard to imagine ice 3’ thick on the top of the lake. I asked for some crazy stories and they came up with, people leaving all their gear! I can see maybe an ice chest or some chairs but they said that was just common. They have come upon entire camps abandoned with tents, sleeping bags, coolers, cook gear, and everything. I really wonder who would do that or why. They headed off to their camp and we got ready for our last night at this camp. The clouds have rolled in and the radio says there is some weather on the way .

 



Day 6 of 7


Wednesday, August 26, 2020 Oh yeah the weather was on the way. And now at 2 AM it’s here. Started with some light rain falling on my shelter. Then moves to full thunder and lightning until about 4. We wake up early to full cloudy skies and occasional drizzle. Three of us pack everything up while Bill cooks breakfast. We eat and get out on the water by 8:30 with a slightly clearing sky. We are headed back towards our tow out tomorrow at Indian Portage. Figuring that we will find a nice camp sometime after we do the first long Big Knife portage away from knife lake. We get through that and the next two short one okay and head on Carp Lake. Then Steve sees his glasses aren’t there and has to return to the portage. The sites on Carp are occupied so we head to the portage to Birch lake. It’s 40 rods which is a pretty good hike. We see some yahoos leaving the portage. The guy in front is lighting his pipe instead of looking for rocks and DONK, center punches one. Turns out this is the lead of a group of 14. Though the guy at the other end says it’s actually two groups that are splitting up the next day. The group is mixed with old and young. Mostly older and they have a ton of crap! Besides having a mix of canoes, One of them looks like an old green Coleman with a full metal frame. And one or two were wearing Crocks. They looked totally beat and it was only the first portage. I wonder haw many of them knew of the 70 rod portage coming up. At least it looked like they had a lot of Canadian Mist to drink that night We head out onto Birch lake an look for campsites. The first five star camps look occupied and we don’t check out the others too closely as it is still early in the day. So we continue on and notice that there are NO vacant campsites now. Labor day weekend is almost here and the crowds are on the way! We have to go around the corner from the portage to the west end of Birch to find a nice campsite. The weather has turned beautiful again and we settle into a very nice site #1288. I found a flat spot between two trees and set up my lean to with a full view of the lake. We got all our stuff set up and went for a swim. As we had every day on this trip. Then tried some more shore fishing with no bites. There were plenty of trails around the camp so we went into the woods and found some firewood. Next trip we will collect wood away from camp during the day as I have since read on this forum. We had our last dinner out in the wilderness and relaxed by the fire.

 



Day 7 of 7


Thursday, August 27, 2020 I awoke to the sound of loons calling back and forth before dawn. Some places have roosters that bring in the dawn but the BWCA has loons. It was awesome to lie there and listen. Then the dawn came and it shows one of the best features of this site. An incredible sunrise. It was one of the best pictures of my trip. Luckily I had set up my lean-to with a front row view of the lake. We all got up with the standard morning routine. Coffee, a little shore fishing, breakfast while relaxing next to the lake. Our tow wasn’t going to be there until 3 PM and we were real close. So we struck camp and had it all ready to go. Then I hiked around the trails and checked out the forest. Then after lunch we loaded up the canoes and headed for the pick up point. The end of an awesome trip that was everything I had hoped for and more, Lessons learned were many. Here are a few 1) Leave earlier. Stop sooner 2) Bring waterproof adhesive tape 3) DON’T stand in a canoe 4) ALWAYS wear your PDF. 5) Go with the flow of your trip. You leave the stress behind once you start paddling 6) Bring a chair with a back and it’s okay to get the little bigger one. Mine was the smaller model and you had to sit carefully to not fall over. A few extra ounces is no big deal in the long run 7) Bring a camera. You always catch unforgettable moments in pictures. Even if the fishing isn’t great.

 


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