Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First Ever Solo- Little Indian Sioux River North- July 2017
by GopherAdventure

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/13/2017
Entry & Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I've always wanted to do a solo trip to see what it would be like, I've read that it is a whole different experience. That is totally true, and I must say, after this trip, I was hooked. I chose the LIS North entry for two reasons: 1- it offered a nice distance loop through some smaller lakes, and 2- there were Lake Trout lakes along the way. I did as I usually do the day before trips, secured my permit and drove to the entry point after some dinner to "dirtbag" it in the car the night before. I had my wife's car this time, so space was a little limited, but I slept fine on one of the kids sleeping pads and was up early at 5 am, greeted by a light rain.
Day 1 of 5
Thursday, July 13, 2017 I gathered up all of my stuff, which isn't much for this solo trip. My lone pack weighed in at exactly 53.5 pounds before I left, my canoe with paddle stowed inside weighed approximately 24 pounds. So, I was going light, and single portaging. I hit the trail at 5:30 after a clif bar breakfast and I was certainly glad I had left the rain gear near the top of my pack because I put it on as soon as I stepped out of the car. The put in and paddle to the first portage was beautiful, everything about this EP takes your breath away. The river bends and moves with the landscape and the wildlife was abundant with deer, eagles and ducks populating the way. The first portage is an easy 60 rod carry and once back in the canoe, Jeanette Creek was a raging waterfall as it dumped into the LIS. It was beautiful, but raining, so I couldn't get a pic. Right before reaching the Devils Cascade portage I ran into the first people I'd seen, it looked like they were heading out. The paddle into Loon Lake was into a pretty good headwind, and I no longer had the help of the river current, so it was a little slower, but once I rounded the corner into East Loon Bay, things got easier. I did see one motorboat, towing someone from Crane Lake up to Lac la Croix, but it was well off in the distance. It made me realize how tiny we are in this vast wilderness. Once I paddled into Little Loon Lake, I had a good laugh, as there is actually a sign posted on a tree stating something like "no motorized boats allowed beyond this point". I was kind of surprised we need a sign there, but I have read other trip reports of people who say they've seen motorboats illegally in Little Loon Lake. I paddled to the north end and saw that the north campsite was occupied and I quickly located the portage to Slim Lake, where I sat and had a drink and a Clif Bar. I was making remarkable time. It was only 9:30, I thought this would be my lunch spot. I was just about to get up and do the portage when a teenage boy comes walking up with a canoe, he was part of a family of 4 that was heading home after two weeks in the Takucmich area because they were running out of food. He said they were from Shoreview, the city neighboring my city so I wished my "neighbors" well and headed up the portage. With the 173 rod portage behind me (shoulders got a little fatigued on that one), I was on Slim Lake and I paddled up the eastern shore in search of the unmarked portage to Fat Lake. I knew it was just to the south of where a little creek empties into Slim Lake, and I was glad I was hugging the shoreline because you had to look closely to find this portage. I had heard this one was a tough portage, but it would save me a lot of time and distance if I tried it. This was the only portage I did not single as I had read that the turns can be super tight and getting a canoe through can be tricky, so I took my pack, map and compass and trudged on. The portage wasn't that bad and I made it to Fat Lake where I stopped and stood to honor its beauty. Small, but majestic and the clearest water I've ever seen. I doubled back for the canoe and I was paddling up to the lone campsite on Fat Lake at 11:30, way, way faster than I was hoping for today. I can't help the desire to push fast and try to test my abilities (I ran track in college), but I must say, I feel like I took the time to "smell the roses" and enjoyed my surroundings on the trip in and I still made it in amazing time so I was thrilled. After getting camp set up I decided to try and catch a Lake Trout since it was still overcast and I didn't mind getting back in the canoe. I paddled out and explored the lake a little, found the portage to Eugene Lake for tomorrow, and dropped a line. I've read all about "trolling" in a zig zag pattern for Lake Trout and I must say, that sounds like a lot of work so I just let the wind push me across the lake and I let out a lot of line. It was probably more luck than skill, but I landed a Laker on my first drift across the lake. I was so pumped! One trip goal achieved, and I hadn't even been in the wilderness a half day! Once I got back to camp with Lake Trout in tow, the clouds moved out and the sun appeared just in time for me to dry everything out on a clothesline. I whipped up some rice with dehydrated carrots and cooked the Lake Trout over the fire with a little lemon pepper seasoning. It was a perfect meal for a hard days work. Single portaging was tough today, but I think I worked out a system that made things smooth and efficient. I hit the hay as the sun went down after a campfire and a few shots of Fireball. What a great first day!~Upper Pauness Lake, Lower Pauness Lake, Loon Lake, Little Loon Lake, Slim Lake, Fat Lake