Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Little Indian Sioux Getaway Trip
by bapabear

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/31/2013
Entry & Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
I knew early I would go to the BW this year because plans for me to fill out a group of four had been set last fall. During the winter, after not feeling well for a while I got checked over and had the shock of hearing from doctors the “c“ word. Not going to dwell on that but it did make me wonder if I should take this year off or not since I've been doing treatments and have been generally more tired than usual. Am glad I went for a very important reason. While on this trip it wasn’t on my mind 24/7 which was a blessing and I feel that sense of accomplishment and adventure that those that don‘t canoe trip won‘t experience. There is a healing power at work for whatever ails you when you're involved in physical activity among friends and natural surroundings that are as unmatched in their beauty and animal activity. As usual I tripped with friends from Illinois and my son’s father-in-law. They pretty much planned the trip and all I had to do was have my gear and show up on time. My friend from “below the border” brought his 16 year old grandson and his one purpose on this trip was to catch some fish! Perfect. While the other two love to go off exploring I had a fishing partner and it worked well for us to go our separate ways and do what we liked. On Wed afternoon John and grandson Cody showed up with their van and trailer. Terry and I had to finish last minute packing and load up the gear after supper so we’d be ready for an early start on Thursday. Good to their word three travelers showed up at my place with a loaded van and trailer at 5:00 am and we pushed off for Ely which is about 422 miles or about 7 and a half hours from my place. The trip went smoothly and we made good time. We pushed through town to the Fenske Lake Campground where we set up camp and disconnected the trailer. We then returned to Ely to walk around, shop a little, and pick up our permit before hitting the Pizza Hut and returning back to the campground. I won’t say which outfitter we used for picking up our permit but I was surprised that we were handed our permit with a questioning chuckle about did we really need to see the video? It was apparent they weren’t going to have us watch it. I now understand comments I got from an outfitter in the Tofte area last year about laxness regarding this in the Ely area. After pizza we returned to camp, went down to the lake and let Cody fish from the pier while we just chatted and talked about the upcoming trip. I chose to sleep in the van that evening because I knew I’d sleep better and really needed all the rest I could get. I slept great and thought I was pretty smart when early the next morning the rest of the crew had to dismantle and pack tents in a pouring rain while my stuff stayed dry!
Day 1 of 6
Friday, May 31, 2013

With an early start we are on the way up the Echo trail to EP 14. Clouds darken and lighten and rain starts and stops as we wind our way along. The parking lot was fairly full but we unload quickly and found plenty of room for the van and trailer on the far side of the parking area. The 40 rd portage to the river was wet and the sheer rock faces we have to travel were slippery but overall I thought it was a neat EP to start a trip from.

I have always liked traveling rivers and even though the clouds were thick and there was threat of rain we were underway. Thoughts of the rest of the world were disappearing with every stroke of the paddle.

Before too long we were hearing the roar of rushing water and we were soon portaging alongside a beautiful stretch of rapids. We double portage and on this particular one I was glad we do. I was able to enjoy the scenery three times and had time during the empty-handed trip to get lots of pictures.

As we left the portage we were treated to a pretty little waterfall off to the left.

We continued to follow the river reaching Upper Pauness. We had an oops moment as we were letting ourselves drift along not really watching the map carefully. When we heard the roar of the rapids to Lower Pauness and headed to the left thinking we were at the portage we started to unpack for the carry when Cody came back laughing saying we were at a campsite! Oops. We moved across the water and found the 17 rod portage tougher than one usually finds in a shorter portage. Near the beginning it was underwater and the end was pretty steep and rocky but it wasn’t long and we were on to Lower Pauness.

Our goal was Shell Lake so we needed the 216 rod portage on our right side. There was a break in the brush near the first of two beaver lodges located side by side. This one was a long 216. Much was mud and underwater yet there were some higher parts that were like a walk on a park trail. It was broken up about two thirds of the way across with about a 70 yard section that we had to reload the canoes and paddle across since the foot bridge was all broken apart. It looked like not all the parts of the old walkway were missing and we did find some alongside a beaver dam a short distance from the actual portage path.

Shell Lake. The wind was starting to pick up as we passed the first campsite on the right. Our lead canoe chose to move further into the lake where we found most other sites taken. As we approached the south end of Con Island I could see activity on the first site. As we passed by I noticed the Flying Moose on a canoe pulled up on the grass and gave a yell to the guy sawing firewood. It was Butthead! He told us the next site on the island had a decent landing but wasn’t much of a site and he was right. We paddled to the northernmost site and found it was also taken. With the wind picking up and our group feeling we had gone far enough today we went back to the middle site on the east side of the island. We squeezed our three tents in and made it home for a couple of nights. It was tight but we jury rigged a tarp and canoe contraption to block the fire grate from the north wind and we found a space for an overhead tarp to eat out of the rain under. That evening the other three went for a paddle around parts of Shell and came back after talking to someone (Butthead I think) and learning that below the rapids into Heritage Lake would be a good place to fish with jigs and yellow twister tails. Cody came back all fired up over that one and I knew where we’d be headed the next day. The evening brought a misty cold rain as we settled into our tents.