Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Moose River First Solo
by crumpman

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/02/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I got the itch to do a solo trip after my son and I paddled Hunter Island in 2013. I was set to do it in 2014, but I invited a friend in my adult Sunday school class and the adopted son of another friend to go on a trip; that trip deserves a trip report itself. My wife and I went on a trip on Moose River in September of 2014 and that trip determined the destination of my solo. My initial solo destination was a recreation of my first trip ever which was into Quetico on Agnes. I decided that my idea was too ambitious for my first solo. I so enjoyed the area of the trip with my wife that I decided to trip in that area. I started reading some trip reports and decided that a loop was the thing to do. There were some reports on the Moose River, Nina Moose, Nina Moose River, Agnes, Oyster River, Oyster, Rocky, Green, Ge-be-on-e- quet, Ge-be-on-e-quet Creek, Pocket, Finger, Pocket, Pocket Creek, Lac La Croix, Agnes, and on back to the start. The side trip over to Finger was based on some reports of good fishing. I also decided to go and see the pictographs on North Hegman on the way back to Ely. September became my time period because I enjoyed that time on the trip with my wife. I spent the summer dreaming, planning, and training for my trip. I checked my equipment and got a few new pieces for my trip. I didn't NEED anything, but I always read the Gear forum and picked up a couple of ideas and I am glad I did. I pickup up one of the made for Bell carbon paddles (ZRE recreation model,I think) that were put on ebay, I am glad I did that. I have Puddicombe paddles, but after using the carbon they felt like logs. Training consisted of my normal jogging, biking, and swimming routine. I did add some weight lifting but not much, I just don’t enjoy lifting. I did take my Magic out and paddle some. As my depart day approached I got equipment and food brained. Essentially I keep over thinking and taking stuff out and putting stuff back. Needless to say, I brought too much equipment and food. Learning for me is always an adventure. I had read the first solo advise threads and paid attention to them, in theory. I learned a lot. The Drive – It’s a long haul from Cincinnati. I divided my drive into 2 days. I stopped at Spooner, WI and breakfasted in Trego at the Prime Bar and Restaurant. I then had a 3.5 hr drive to Ely and a date at the Moose with a walleye sandwich. I spent the rest of the day checking on odds and ends, learning to work the Delorme InReach, visiting the farmers market, and anticipating my trip. One of the last things I decided to do was to put fresh batteries in my headlight. When I opened the light I discovered that the old batteries had leaked, the light still worked, so new AAA batteries went on my last minute list.
Day 1 of 8
Wednesday, September 02, 2015 After breakfast at Brittons, buying AAA batteries at a gas station, and a 45 minute drive I was at the trail head (portage) down to Moose River. The last thing I did to my canoe before I left home was to drill 3 holes on each side just under the gunwales, I attached pipe insulation with zip ties to act as bumpers for my knees, great idea thanks kanoes! I did this in the parking area. I got to the trail early and nobody was there, by the time I was ready to go a couple of other groups had joined me. At this point I had the first clue of the biggest lesson I learned, actually confirmed, it takes at least 2x as long to do things when you solo. This is huge, more on that later. I did my double portage down to the river and shoved off, along with the other 2 groups. There were newbies among the groups, maybe all newbies, one of them said he wanted to keep his feet/boots dry; I told him that wasn’t going to happen and walked on into the water. I don’t think he appreciated my comment and demonstration. I did notice he had accepted wet feet by the second portage. All went well and I was pulling away from the other groups until I got to the first pull over beaver dam. There was a small gap in the dam but it looked like there could be a rock there and, not wanting to scratch my Magic, I decided to get out at the side of the dam and pull over. I got out pulled over and as I started to get back into my canoe, and I heard a voice saying “make sure your butt in firmly in the seat before…”, but my body said “no, you’re good” and in I went. This was the first time I ever swamped a canoe. The groups behind me passed me, offering to help, and I got back together and was done with “racing” and wet. Lesson learned. I had my camera inside my vest and it was not happy with me. I made my way to the sand beach on Nina Moose and started drying out stuff, camera included, and had lunch. My trip in Nina Moose River was uneventful save for running into sueb2b. We had a delightful chat at the last portage before Agnes. She had been doing the same loop that I was heading on and gave me some information. I told her I hoped to get to Oyster and she assured me I would make it. I decided to stop near the Oyster portage on Agnes and camp (1793), so goal not reached. Dinner that night consisted of my wife’s excellent homemade vegetable soup. It had been thawing during my first day and it was a major treat for my first supper. I built my only fire and went to bed early.