Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

EP16 to Lac La Croix West to East Loop
by tnthekids

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/18/2013
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Our crew of three women spanning from mid 40s to early 70s decided this year would be a relaxed trip with two lay over days and shorter paddle routes. We decided to paddle clockwise from EP16 through Ge-be to LLC and down through Agnes to return to EP16. I hope the report is helpful for anyone else looking to do this trip.
Day 1 of 7
Monday, June 17, 2013: Pre-trip meeting

Our crew of three met up at my house to finish compiling our gear and doing a final check of everything. We took advantage of my living room floor to spread out and cross check our lists, pack food in the food saver bags, and load up the car to head to Ely where we would pick up our Seneca 3 person Kevlar canoe and permit from Jason at Ely Outfitting Company, enjoy a fabulous dinner at the Ely Steakhouse and spend the night at Canoe On Inn before heading out for our wilderness adventure.

This year we focused on weight (light weight) and food quantities with the goal of coming off the water with no left overs and being able to single trip the portages. We hoped to pack everything into our two larger gear packs but once we started packing, we discovered that was not going to work so we took the two gear packs and one #3 personal pack for our sleeping bags (we opted for the warmer bags since Mother Nature is a little confused on seasons this year). Our food/gear pack ended up weighing in at 78# which we were ok with since it contained everything that last year was in two packs.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 EP 16 – Moose River – Nina Moose Lake – Nina Moose River – Lake Agnes Paddled 8 miles – Portaged 371 rods (decided to double portage after the 1st portage)

We were up at 4:45 am and on our way soon after. We arrived at EP16 to find the parking lot about 2/3 full but we are here alone at 6:00 am on this 36 degree June morning. We wanted to single trip the portage but soon learned that was too much for our crew and gave in to double portaging.

The first 160 rod portage took some work as we got back into our groove. We each had to find our comfortable carrying style and pace – fortunately this is a nice trail for it. We started our day with full rain gear and full loads. Here my crew buddies carry our gear while I carry the canoe. This is pretty much what the entire trail is like on this portage. Very nice. Once on the water a new challenge – how to paddle and navigate a 3 person canoe. It is a good thing we have the river to ourselves this morning!

Our next 20 rod portage was pretty nice, even having a boardwalk to the end and a little view of the rapids. Back on the water and in no time, another portage appeared. We are slowly getting our groove and have still seen no one. This portage we decided is in Kate’s honor (a very dear friend who has provided much needed insight for our trips) – it is like walking through a hog pen for the amount of mud! We slip, and slide and get sucked in the much before Tauna makes her début performance of mud woman. Don’t worry; no injuries. After laughter, a few photos and a helping hand followed by some mud removal, we are back on the water. A few minutes later…. What?! The actual portage?? What was that we just did?? Oh well, here we go again.

We breeze through this 25 rod portage without a problem. I finally manage to flip up this canoe solo and feel like maybe the canoe and I can be friends on this trip (it sure is a lot wider than a 2 person). Back on the water we go.

Between here and Nina Moose Lake we meet our first crew who is on their way in. Once on Nina Moose Lake, we take a break for a snack and compass/GPS review before crossing the lake. The water is calm, the sky is clear and it is warming up quickly. The scenery here is very pretty and the lake is quiet. Aah, the feeling of being back ‘home’. We work our way across the lake and work on our paddling technique in this 3 person canoe (having never had 3 people paddle is definitely a learning curve). Off to the Nina Moose River we go. There is a lot of beaver activity on the river but we were able to paddle over all of the little dams. We met a few other crews traveling the opposite direction.

The 70 rod portage had a nice trail running along the water and we now had our groove back in place. I am comfortable flipping the canoe up and down and it is carrying better too. But I still am not sure it has become my ‘friend’. Take a few minutes to look back at the portage landing to enjoy the cascading rapids. The portage landing is to the left on this picture.

On the northeast side of the marshy area north of the portage two eagles were keeping watch. One sat in the tree along the shoreline watching while a second was down near the water and appeared to be gathering food. We took our time to enjoy from a distance while another crew paddled silently by.

At the 96 rod portage we had to wait for a large crew from Arizona while they worked to clear the landing. We visited for a few minutes before heading our separate ways. There is something about the satisfaction of being a woman and being able to do a solo flip up in front of a bunch of men when you have just watched them two person a Kevlar…. This portage again was a nice trail with a nice landing. Our last portage of the day! Off to find our campsite for the night on Lake Agnes. The rest of the river again had a lot of beaver activity but was able to be paddled without a problem.

Once on Lake Agnes, Tauna (who was in the bow), started to scout for a campsite. We had our eyes on the one to the south of the portage to Oyster but it was already occupied so we ended up at the site just north of the portage to Oyster. We pulled into camp at about 1 pm. After lunch we set up camp and spent the day relaxing. Aah, hammock time!

Campsite #1793 - site review has been posted.

The mosquitoes were bad on the river and the portages. We are truly enjoying seeing all the wild flowers and butterflies that we have never experienced in our late summer trips.