I was also in during those dates. I agree that when approaching the Devils Cascade portage from the south make sure you get to the right as much as posible. Water is higher than usual and the small bay available when water level is as usual is no longer there these days. Water starts to speed up and you want to make sure that you don't go down.
Once you land you might have to walk a bit on water since the path is under water but no major issue if you're careful.
Here is a link to a short video you can get a better sense:
Video of Devils Cascade portage as of end of May 2022
I went in Sunday 5/22 came out yesterday 5/27. Water levels down close to a foot on LIS in that time. At NO point during this solo trip did the high water make me feel unsafe. No appreciable current other than right before/after rapids. I was VERY careful and approached the rapids on LIS and Devils Cascade staying close to the correct shore. Similarly, no current on the Pocket/Ge-be Creeks (although high water did let me float right over the portage out of Pocket,)
I wet footed with Keen's and wool socks the whole trip.
I'll put together a trip report later this weekend, but I just wanted to share this for anyone on fence about this EP. High water was not an issue.
It was an absolutely fantastic trip!
Adding to the chorus, we went in on 5/17 and came out yesterday 5/24. Flooded portages were an issue on the river and Devil's Cascade portages going in a week ago, but water levels were way down (still raging) coming out yesterday. Just be careful at the upper end of the portages since there is a lot of current going into the cascades. No problem paddling upstream though it does take a little longer between Upper Pauness and the first cascade portage going back to the Echo because there is some current.
Entered LISN 5/14, Left 5/19. Put in at the EP has some fast moving water but definitely dropped considerably in that week, just be careful on the way out as you have to go directly through the fast water. The 8 rod portage from Upper to Lower is a HARD no -- take the 40 rod. Beaver Dam portage was fine except for the mud section -- very easy to sink up to your knees but seems to have dried out a bit on the way out.
Reach out with any questions
Im 95% positive that was us fishing and in the other canoe! We stayed on Lynx Saturday-Tuesday, then packed up and went to Shell Wednesday and stayed until leaving Thursday. Pretty neat.
thatsapaddlin: "How swift is the current on LIS? We have a group heading in next week, and I'm wondering how difficult it will be to paddle out against the current. Thanks!"
Entered LIS 5/13, exited 5/20. River was high for sure. Portage at Devils Cascade was flooded, making the landing tricky. We lined the canoes along shore to get to the trail. The group in front of us decided to turn around and not take the risk. Definitely use caution here. A trip over the falls will not end well. Going back up LIS was business as usual- a little current near the entry.
How swift is the current on LIS? We have a group heading in next week, and I'm wondering how difficult it will be to paddle out against the current. Thanks!
thank you for all the great information you shared!
Thanks for taking the time and letting folks know this info, Sueb2b!
The mudpit formerly known as the Shell portage beaver pond.
And then the trees.
This was last year July the day they shut down #14 entry point. It was less than knee deep. I imagine you may have to paddle it right now.
There aren't issues w/ leeches and water temps
I gave myself a lot of time to finish Shell. I’m slow, anyway, but wanted to be careful. Took the dam today. There’s one or two places where maneuvering by trees might be a little tricky. Not sure if having 2 people carry front and back would be better than one person carrying canoe. I am solo, but I also have solo canoe that’s a little shorter and narrower.
For Upper to Lower Pauness it’s muddy and can be slick. The short portage was a wide river on Monday so I did the other (40 rod?). Other than the muddy/slick no issue.
I looked at Shell to Little Shell. Lots of rocks on approach. I didn’t want to rock hop my gear though water; I’m not that sure footed. I went to Heritage, which was easy but half is a stream. Then Lynx. Again, some water on that one but nothing difficult.
My biggest battle today was paddling into the wind. Coming in on LIS the wind from the north was more a factor than high water.
We are headed in Memorial weekend at EP14, with a few kids. You shared that the portage was a mess to get to Shell. Do you have any feedback or recommendations for that particular portage? Were the other portages decent? I am a little nervous about this trip with the high waters and kids.
ThreeRivers: "Wow, awesome! You got a sat phone? I never get (or care to) get cell coverage on my trips."
Just an iPhone. I took it off airplane and was surprised to have service. It’s not much, and don’t always have it. I can text and interact a few places like here. Definitely not something to rely on.
As for crowds, I was on Shell Monday night and I think I saw one occupied site. I’d seen one occupied site on Lower Pauness, but I wasn’t checking all sites on any lake. On way to Heritage on Tuesday I saw two hikers on SHT. Tuesday at least one, maybe 2 other sites on Lynx were occupied. I heard some voices entering lake, and saw a guy in a solo canoe checking out the Little Shell portage. Back on Shell I saw two guys fishing. Had seen another canoe with two people; could have been the same folks. I was kind of far my first pass by. Today’s been a rest day. Haven’t seen anyone.
sueb2b: "7039412108: "I was there in October and the beaver dam was still there. Going in on Sunday. With the high waters not sure what I will find....."
How are the crowds your way?
We head in on the 29th so I'm very interested in this intel as well. Only one that I'm currently concerned about is at Devils Cascade. Luckily we have 10 days for the water to hopefully go down a bit.
Also, I saw someone said the water was too cold for leeches currently.... Anyone know anything about this?
Wow, awesome! You got a sat phone? I never get (or care to) get cell coverage on my trips.
I hiked the Sioux Hustler Trail from last Saturday to Tuesday. The beaver pond section on the Pauness to Shell Portage looked like it had just washed out in the heavy rain a couple days before, based on the trees below the dam bent over 90 degrees at the ground with budding growth on some. It must have been catastrophic, and the boardwalk that was there is still there but kind of scattered. Cool to see. Some water and a lodge remain, and the beavers had already made progress rebuilding when I went through. Muddy but not bad. Both landings at Devil's Cascade were under swift water 5 days ago, but people were there so it must be doable. It's crazy to contrast my pictures of the nearly dry gorge from last summer to the raging torrent it is now.
I’m on Shell right now. Any questions, let me know.
Went Upper Pauness > Lower Pauness > Shell > Heritage > Lynx, and then back to Shell through Heritage.
I was there in October and the beaver dam was still there. Going in on Sunday. With the high waters not sure what I will find.....
No idea when. Last time I did this route was 6 or so years ago.
I would have preferred the beaver pond to the mud pit.
But, I got through it solo. So it’s not impossible or impassible. Just takes time and care figuring out a route through the obstacles.
I have taken the Shell to Lower P yearly for the last few and have always been able to reload and float, last time was mid-June 2021. The damn bust since then?
The portage from Shell to Lower Pauness used to have a big beaver pond that you would reload and float across. Don’t know when, but the dam broke. Now it has a big mudfield. After my trip across the mud 1-1/3 times, I realized it was possible to get to the edge of the dam, which will be to your right, and walk on that. I highly recommend the dam route, even if a little bushwhacking is involved.
I got to a point in the mud where I thought the process of pulling my sandals up with each step was going to pitch me face first into it all. I put the canoe down on one of the boardwalks, went to dry land to drop my food pack and left the sandals there, and went back for canoe in my socks. Then, took the dam back to start to get my gear pack, carrying sandals on a stick to wash them. Used dam route on way back to canoe.
Now before you get to the mudfield, part of the route is a big granite rock face. Unless they get cleared, there’s a couple big birch trees blocking the path. I ended up going into the woods on left (would be on right from Shell) to get past and back to the portage path.
Coming from Shell you’ll hit the trees then the dam. Get through those and the remaining 2/3rds or whatever of the portage weren’t very memorable. Probably wet in places. Everything is wet in places.
Thanks all, that helps with my pre-trip anxiety with all the high water news. I will definitely take each approach slow.
Sueb2b - I will be doing a clockwise loop, so I will come the out thru Shell at the end of the trip. Sounds like a little adventure to close out the week, at least my pack will be lighter by then and maybe things will have time to dry out a little bit. Thanks also for the heads up on Upper to Lower portages, I'll keep that in mind.
703 - I'm going in Sunday as a solo as well. Perhaps we'll cross paths at the EP or during the week. Safe travels!
cyclones30: "The valley from the EP to the pauness area is pretty wide so it would take a TON of water to make that an issue. You'll get from the EP to the first lake faster than most years! But that portage along the river is very scenic normally, take your time and take some pictures. It is on the left yes.
On Monday the wind from the north made the going off the portage a little slower than you might think due to the high water. The wind seemed like more a factor against me than the current was for me.
The valley from the EP to the pauness area is pretty wide so it would take a TON of water to make that an issue. You'll get from the EP to the first lake faster than most years! But that portage along the river is very scenic normally, take your time and take some pictures. It is on the left yes.
I could see the portage landing to Devils Cascade/Loon being one to watch. The normal landing isn't far from where it necks down and picks up speed. But you have plenty of time and lake to hug the right hand shore as you're approaching. Just be sure to pull the canoes well up when landing as you don't want the wind or current or weight of packs taken out to let a boat start downstream.
I am going on Sunday thru this EP on a week long solo trip (will come out same way).
Just talked to the Piragis Outfitters that I regularly use. No issues on driving thru Echo Trail all the way to the parking spot on EP 14. It seems other roads on the East side are closed due to flooding. He mentioned to expect some muddy portages but no major issues.
I will report what I find on or about Memorial Day.
The 60 rod portage between EP and Upper Pauness isn’t difficult to find or approach. Part of the portage path is a creek.
The 8 rod portage between Upper and Lower Pauness was a wide, fast set of rapids on Monday. I considered portaging through the campsite on the north side, but I didn’t like the fast water where it empties and the fact I couldn’t tell where any obstructions might be. I took the 40 rod portage. It was muddy, but not bad.
I heard the Devil’s Cascade portage out of Lower Pauness was difficult due to the water. I haven’t seen it so can’t say for sure. I might stop by Friday to get a pic.
If you’re going into Shell, let me know. That portage is a mess.
I think you should be okay, it seemed like there was usually enough room for the portage and where the water would shoot down but i'd still take it careful.
Going in this weekend, I have not tripped in through LIS North before. Wondering if the high waters will make finding/accessing the portages difficult, in particular the 60-rd (halfway between the EP and Upper Pauness) and the portage around Devils Cascade. Does the river choke down prior to those portages and given these water levels, increase the current and make them dangerous to approach?
My map shows the LIS portage (midway to Upper Pauness) on the west and Devils Cascade on the east, is that correct?
I am keeping all options open if I feel uncomfortable with the conditions. Thanks in advance for any input from folks who have been that way before.