Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

More than I imagined
by fdknuckles

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/09/2016
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 6
Trip Introduction:
Entry point 16 to LLC
Our group of 3 adults and 3 kids (16, 13 and 12) headed out of entry point 16 at 6:30am, with high spirits and overcast skies. Only one of the adults had been before, and the rest of us had little experience with paddling on open water. Of course by the end of the trip we all felt like pros. The rivers were not a problem, as the wind was minimal, but we quickly learned how important weight distribution is as we entered Agnes Lake (I’m 230 lbs and my son 90 lbs). With a stiff wind out of the east, Agnes wore us down quickly and by the time we reached our portage into Boulder Bay it was 1:30pm. As we started looking for a campsite in Boulder Bay, we quickly realized how popular the area was as every site was taken. Tiger Bay was the same story, as was island 27 and 28. We continued to paddle north, praying the wind would ease up. Finally at around 5pm we located an available site (#170 across from the pictographs) and quickly renamed the site Salvation Island. We could not have asked for a better location, a beautiful view of Canada across the lake and the wind which had tormented us for hours, now kept mosquitoes away. There were 2 landing areas, with a sandy cove north of a rock outcropping. After quickly setting up camp, we settled down for a quick meal and slept like the dead. The next morning was glorious, with Lac La Croix smooth and loons crying. This was the BWCA I had hoped for and more. The glorious quiet before others woke up. Firewood and blueberries were abundant on Salvation Island, and fishing on the northern end gave us bass and northern pike. We did notice a pattern to the wind on our portion of the lake, with calm conditions from 9p to 9a and white caps often forming during the day. We spent 4 nights on LLC, and only twice did we see anyone pass our campsite (once a motorboat on the Canadian side, and once a solo canoeist). We did venture down to Bottle Rapids, but largely spent our time fishing the small cove on the north end of the island which yielded bass and northern pike. Bald eagles ruled the sky and the wolves owned the night. Their howls were heard on several nights, echoing of the cliffs in the Canadian side. These days of rest were relished and we began to question if it might be wise to take our time heading back. We made plans to leave our island, and after a final nights rest left at 6 am. The lake was eerily calm with mist rising in some of the smaller coves. A slight tail wind helped us push into the Boulder River and we moved south to Agnes quickly. As we had expected, the cross wind on Agnes challenged us and we hugged the shore. Our trip south to Nina Moose was easy, with my only disappointment being a large group of 16 who tried to pass us on a portage. They were in general “pushy” and 4 of them raced past us. When we got to Nina Moose, each of the 4 were “holding” a campsite. We found a campsite available and set up, but noticed at least 2 groups who were unable to stop for the night and had to leave early because of the “holding of sites”. Nina Moose was not as ruggedly beautiful as LLC, but the walleye fishing was fantastic. The water filters we had used without problem on LLC, needed back flushing regularly at our new site and the mosquitoes were definitely more prevalent. Our trip ended without injury or any calamity, but not without changing me. There is something inside us that is unchained when we venture away from the world of man. I’m not one to use the word “spiritual” lightly, but that is the right word for this place. It is a place unlike any I’ve ever experienced. A quick thank you to Butthead, who supplied me with GPS data, and to all on the forum who helped me prepare for the trip, through their stories, gear reviews and experience.