Agnes - LLC - Ge-be-on-e-quet Loop
We got up a little before 6 and took advantage of the last enclosed latrines we'd see for a week, had some pop-tarts, and broke camp. Unfortunately it was sprinkling, so I stretched out the tent and fly inside our car to dry as well as possible during the week we'd be in.
We got to the entry point about 8 and spent some time organizing our gear. We'd decided to commit to double portaging, so we had three bags - each of us had a regular hiking backpack with our personal items in it, and then we had a CCS Guide portage pack with our shared camp items. With a 150 rod portage to the water, the day started with a test of our packing and portaging, and for the first pass M took the canoe and I took the portage pack; we then went back and each took our personal backpacks.
The Moose River has lots of portages, and we quickly settled into a routine where I portaged the canoe and the portage pack, while she took my pack and then her pack. The portages were wet and mucky, and we had occasional sprinkles, so I was super glad I'd decided to get the portage boots and socks the day before - I certainly would have lost a trail shoe a couple times when my boots got sucked ankle-deep into muck holes.
Past the mucky portages, the Moose River took lots of turns and we quickly learned how much easier the Northwind 18 is to steer on tight twists than the MN3 we'd been using the year before. Though M was impatient to get to an actual lake, I enjoyed getting a feel for the canoe's handling, and there was lots of wildlife to see. Though we didn't see any beavers working, evidence of their handiwork was everywhere; water was high, and M did a really good job of spotting where we could pass through the beaver works without scraping the canoe.
I'd been worried about following the main channel to Lake Agnes and not getting diverted either toward Ramshead or up toward Oyster, but as we paddled it was clear that the only open channel was the one to Agnes. I noted this, since we were planning to come back down on day 6 from Oyster and bypass the 190 rod portage to Agnes, but the reeds were definitely obscuring any channel toward Oyster. So while it made day 1 navigation easier, I was concerned about what it might mean later.
We'd launched pretty much at the same time as a couple and their dog, and were leapfrogging them from portage to portage on the way up. They were very friendly and we enjoyed their dog, but their destination was also Agnes and I was a little concerned about how busy it might be. We left the last portage before Agnes just in front of them and paddled hard toward the lake, but while our goal was to get up to the farthest northeast corner of the lake before calling it a day, it became clear that their plan was to stay somewhere on the south shore, so we waved goodbye and stopped worrying about competition.
One concern I'd had about the Northwind 18 was how it would be to paddle across open water with just two paddlers. Lake Agnes gave us the first sense, with just a bit of headwind on a moderately sized lake. We made good time heading up the lake, and had no sense of the wind blowing us around, so I began to have some faith that we'd be okay on Lac La Croix the following day. While many of the sites on Agnes were taken, my target site - the seventh of eight sites up the north shore of the lake - was available, and we took it. This meant we wouldn't have to cross the lake in the morning, being positioned just by the portage to LLC.
The landing for the site was covered in tadpoles, which was fun, but it made it hard not to step on tadpoles. M played with the tadpoles a bit, we set up camp, and had some lunch. After lunch we paddled back out to gather water, she took a nap in her hammock and I played with gear I'd been itching to use. We had lamb chops for dinner - our only fresh-food meal of the trip - and moved under the tarp as first the bugs started up and then it began to rain again. We played some cards and made it an early night.~Nina Moose Lake, Agnes, Lake