Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Where Are The Maps?...and No Pictures, Please--our 2017 trip on the Little Indian Sioux
by bottomtothetap

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/21/2017
Entry & Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
A mile-stone 25th BWCA trip for me, this time a return to a spot I had been to 24 years earlier, the Little Indian Sioux North entry. For this year's trip, I was joined by first-timers Brian and his 14-year old son Aidan along with Kirby who is a great paddling partner and has tripped to the BWCA with me on several occasions. Kirby and I met up with Brian and Aidan in Ely at Canoe Country Outfitters where we were to spend the night in CCO's house on Camp Street. After our traditional pizza at Sir G's we prepped for takeoff the next morning. This would be a day that would remind me that no matter how often you've traveled to canoe country, there are lessons for you to learn just like any first-timer.
Day 1 of 4
Friday, July 21, 2017

After a restful night in the CCO Camp Street house we were up and at 'em at about 5 AM to finish packing up, enjoy a brief visit with TGO while we picked up bait and grab a hearty breakfast at Britton's. After that was all completed, we got loaded up and were off on our ride in CCO's van to the LIS entry point about an hour out of Ely. When we arrived at the entry we were organizing gear for the portage when it hit me: I FORGOT THE MAPS!!!! Boy did I feel stupid and felt I was letting the other guys down as this was going to delay us for a couple of hours while our van driver, Tom, and I went back to ELY for maps. Tom called ahead to CCO about the situation and Mark at CCO said he would meet us about half way up the Echo trail with maps, thereby saving our party about an hour (what outstanding service!). We met Mark, the exchange was made, I rejoined our party and FINALLY we were off on a pleasant paddle up the Little Indian Sioux River. Hard lesson number one for the day: Check and re-check your gear, knowing where everything is!

Our goal for the day was Lynx Lake and along the way we enjoyed the scenic and roaring rapids at Elm Portage, nice calm water for paddling and the also-running-hard Devil's Cascade, where we had lunch. We also needed to endure a very muddy portage between the Pauness Lakes and the long trek from Lower Pauness to Shell Lake, which is actually now two portages since about two thirds of the way to Shell, you need to load your canoes with all of your gear and float everything across a beaver pond before you continue on your way. The ends of this portage are also annoyingly muddy!

When we reached Lynx mid- to late-afternoon we grabbed the furthest north campsite which was one of two still left open. Setting up camp was a quick affair as rain was threatening and indeed the sprinkles started just as we got up the tents and tarp. When doing so, we dumped the contents of a pack to discover at the bottom of that pack were the ORIGINAL maps. They were there all along! Hard lesson number two for the day: Before panicking, think things through and consider all of the possibilities before compounding your stupidity and wasting the other's time. DUH!!!

The rain was brief and at it's conclusion it was time to start fishing. About 20 seconds after my first cast, right from shore, boom! I was hauling in a nice walleye! This called for a picture, so where was my camera? Suddenly, we realized it was nowhere to be found. Gone! Completely! The missing camera bag contained my video camera, still camera and accessories for both. It was now somewhere behind us on the trail and the pictures I had taken that day (and many others from previous travel) were now lost and opportunities for more photos on this trip were over. Hard lesson number three for the day--and probably the most painful: Be responsible for your own personal gear and don't rely on others to carry your load.

Trying to put these glitches behind us, we were able to enjoy continued great fishing right from shore and also enjoy a delicious steak supper before the evening fire and turning in for a restful night in the tents. It was a hard first day but I reminded myself that after all I was still in the BWCA again enjoying all it had to offer even with the challenges and I was introducing new people to its beauty and wonder.