Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Heritage Lake/Little Indian Sioux with the grandson
by VoyageurNorth

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/23/2008
Entry Point: Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) (EP 12)
Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)  
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
John & I have been taking three day trips in August with our grandkids. This year the granddaughters were busy so it was just our grandson, Jack and us. There weren’t many permits left by the time John was able to reserve one but we found a number of #12 Vermilion that were still open. That entry is one people take when they start at Crane Lake and enter the BWCA from there.
John & I have been taking three day trips in August with our grandkids. This year the granddaughters were busy so it was just our grandson, Jack and us. There weren’t many permits left by the time John was able to reserve one but we found a number of #12 Vermilion that were still open. That entry is one people take when they start at Crane Lake and enter the BWCA from there.

We got Zup’s Resort to pick us up at Crane Lake in their tow boat. Jack & his mom, Karyn (our daughter) got to VNO around 7 am that morning. Jack sat in Grandpa’s chair, his baseball cap on, flashlight in his hand and was all ready to start our trip when I arrived. He was all excited!

We drove up the Echo Trail Road to Crane Lake, about an hour & 15 minute ride. We were a little early so Jack & I explored the cute store a while. Soon the boat arrived, John & the driver got everything packed aboard and we were on our way. The route took us along the river and across the two railroad trails at Beatty Portage. Jack enjoyed the boat ride and really got a kick out of the boat being pulled across land on the rails. ack got to sit in the front of the boat, next to the tow driver.

Around 11:15 am we were dropped off at the 220 rod portage into Heritage Creek. The landing was at a nice sandy beach and it was easy to organize all our things before taking the portage. John made the portage in two trips, Jack and I made it in one. I had to walk slower with Jack & then I had to stay at the end with him while John got the rest of the gear. Jack did very well on that trail, not a grumble! While John went back to get the second load, Jack decided that he was hungry! Jack can be pretty fussy on what he eats but I brought the perfect snack, ready to eat chocolate pudding! I had even packed a plastic spoon with each one. By the time John got back, Jack had finished off two puddings and greeted Grandpa with a chocolate smile!

We paddled the river for a while and took it into Heritage Lake. We checked out the campsite on the northern side and decided it would make a good spot to stay for the next two nights. The shoreline was partly sandy which Jack liked. Jack helped me set up the tent while John put up the tarps. Jack and I explored around the site and looked for fire wood. Meanwhile John was setting up Jack’s Spiderman fishing rod with a nightcrawler & a bobber. John showed Jack how to cast out. It wasn’t long before the bobber starting showing the promise of some action and with a joint effort, Jack pulled in a very nice smallmouth bass! Then just a little bit later he also caught a small northern pike. Fishing slowed down after that and Jack lost interest since there was no action.

Jack was almost toilet trained at home and our challenge was to keep up the good work during our trip. Heliked to “water” the trees and John also got him to go to the latrine for “the rest”. Diapers were only worn at night and Spiderman/Hulk big boy undies during the day. Like I said, Jack is a picky eater so it was a challenge to bring food that he would eat. For lunch Jack had one of those refrigerated “Lunchables” kid meals with sliced ham, cheese, crackers and a drink pouch. For the first dinner, I brought some frozen chicken fingers that we fried up for Jack, while we cooked our steaks. Marshmallows were what Jack wanted for dessert, but Grandma forgot to pack those, so chocolate pudding was Jack’s dessert that night. The day had tired us all out & we retired to the tent around 9:30 pm.

The next morning John & Jack woke up first, not early though. I got up next & put together a sort of brunch for our first meal that day. Afterwards we set up our fishing rods and trolled around the lake for a couple hours. Jack was bored but in good spirits and never complained while he sat in the canoe. Fishing was slow so we headed back to camp to fish from shore again. Within 20 minutes, Jack had caught another fish, this time a bluegill! Before long I also caught one fish, a little smallmouth. Jack was the winner of the fishing contest this trip.

I had brought crayons & paper for Jack and a couple books we could read. But I wish that I had thought to bring a couple toys to play on the shore with, like a dump truck or pail & shovel. I should have remembered that little boys like to dig & build. Jack found some “natural” toys to play with. One was a large stick that he could play ninja/Power Rangers with and another were rocks to sink leaves that floated near the shore. Since Jack was one year older than our last trip with him, he was easier to have along. But without the companionship of his two cousins, he was stuck with just John & me as his only playmates.

We explored the area, looking again for firewood for that night. We had a nice fire and Jack enjoyed running back & forth between the pile of small branches & bringing them to me so I could feed the flames. Jack & John turned in around 8:30 and I followed around 9:30, pretty early for me. The last morning we got up and made pancakes for breakfast. John & I took down camp while Jack played. John decided to turn the satellite phone on & noticed that we had a message waiting. John called the number and found out that it was from Mark Zup, from Zup’s Resort. When John got a hold of him Mark told us that one of his customers had said that the portage from Heritage into Shell Lake was pretty bad. He said that the low water made the last bit of the lake a mucky spot & the 60 rod portage would be harder to get to, especially with a little boy. He suggested that we go east to Lynx and then back southwest into Little Shell. It would take us at least 1.5 hours longer to go that way but it seemed like a good suggestion. As it turned out, we decided to check out the south end of Heritage & discovered that it was a little unpleasant, it wasn’t too bad. We had two “carry-overs” with some muck but since Jack stayed in the canoe, we did fine. Then we did the 60 rod portage and again, Jack did fine.

We got misplaced a little bit looking for the beginning of the Little Indian Sioux River. There was lots of wild rice and tall grass hiding the river entry. Elm Portage, in the middle of the river, is normally 60 rods but with the low water it was about 10 rods longer. Here was where Jack started getting tired of portaging, especially the up & down hill portages. So when we got to the last portage before the parking lot, Jack began to get a little crabby. With the promise of Dairy Queen when we got back to town, I coaxed him to walk instead of being carried on the last 30 rods.

Notes: Jack has juvenile asthma so we made sure to bring his portable nebulizer and his oxygen testing meter. Jack was fine during the trip, so we didn’t have to use it. We also brought a satellite phone along in case Jack had problems. I made sure that we had a parental medical release form from my daughter so if needed, we could authorize medical treatment. The medical release form is an important thing that anyone who brings a child who is not their own, should have along on the trip.