Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Moose River North
by Dean

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 05/29/2006
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
This was a maiden voyage for my son, two stepsons and myself into the BWCA. Incredible trip.
BWCA Trip May 29 – June 3, 2006

Dad, Travis, Tyler, and Cody

Day One –

Begins early. Everyone up by 0445, showered and ready to check out with canoes and paddles from Canoe Country Outfitters at 0600. They are on time and we are out the door by 0615 heading for Entry Point 16, Moose River North. 

At 0715 we’re unloaded and heading down the portage. There are about 30 cars in the lot and a group ahead and behind us. It’s already warm with a South wind blowing steady. We think that we’ll single portage this half mile. Can’t be that hard, right? Wrong. Half way and the canoes are discarded. We’ll come back for those. On the water about a half hour later and excitement is running high. After some brief instructions both canoes are heading down the river very easily. 

We spot several deer on our way down the river. Two of which have begun their antler growth for the year.

We break into Nina Moose Lake and as we look to the West see a cow Moose and her calf enter the water to cool off. It was very warm already and I was wishing I could follow her lead.

By the time we hit the 96 rod portage North of Nina Moose Lake kids (and Dad) are getting tired. We ran into a “traffic jam” at this portage with 26 people there at one time. It wasn’t a great time to learn that we had forgotten two fishing poles on the beginning of the previous 70 rod portage. One canoe (me and my son) head back to get the poles.  I send the other boys to Agnes Lake to search for a campsite in case we were too tired to continue further. 

Once we reached Agnes, had some lunch and lounged on the rocks for a while we decide, as a group, to head for Tiger Bay. Hey, it can’t be that much further, right? 

A couple hours and a couple portages (we took the shorter portages) later we break into LLC. By now I’m concerned about finding a site. It seemed everyone was heading to this area. So, we split up with each canoe setting out to find a site…of course each canoe found a site and had unloaded their cargo. We decided to go to the site on an island North of Tiger Bay which has two campsites on it.  We base camped on the Northern Site for four nights.

The site is great. Woke up every morning looking directly at Warrior Hill out of the tent. There are many tall pines at this site and nice crevice in the rocks from which to read. My son was reading “The Frontiersmen” and I was reading “Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold. 

By the time we get everyone to the site the weather has turned nasty. Lightning and Thunder all evening. The rains really came down with the second storm that went through. We ate Chicken Quesadillas that were only warm. But were so hungry that it didn’t matter.

I catch the first smallie of the trip. Nice 2 pounder. Fights like he’s ten pounds!

I finally hear the music I’ve been longing for as the loons of Lac La Croix call to each other throughout the evening and the night.

Day Two-

I’m sore. It hurts to even breathe. Didn’t figure on that. I get up early though and cruise around the island. Beautiful.  We had a Pileated Woodpecker perch on a tree and then fly right through our camp. 

Saw a Bald Eagle circling Tiger Bay area. 

My younger stepson and I fish the island he catches his first smallie and first pike. Both were healthy and fought great. Very happy for him and he was very happy for himself.

My older sons head for Bottle Rapids. They caught several big pike (I was very impressed with the health of the fish there) and several smallies.

We spend most of the day in camp and exploring the island. I think everyone was trying to decompress and get rejuvenated from the day before.

We saw several motor boats taking people in and out of the Bottle Portage area along with a few float planes. 

Steaks on the open fire for dinner with cheesy mashed potatoes for side. 

Day Three –

Warrior Hill and Pictos are the order of the day! We make the three quarter mile jaunt to Warrior Hill early in the morning and race to the top. What a view! We can easily see the camp take several pictures here. We found moose droppings in a couple places as we made our way back down the hill.

Our only mishap of the trip happened here to the two older boys. As they were trying to push off the Rock they tipped the canoe and soaked themselves. It’s deep in this area. They saved all the equipment but the only non-waterproof camera we brought took a bath here. Hopefully the pictures will still turn out…

We still press on to the Pictographs which are only a mile or so down the lake. This was a very special part of the trip for me because of the reverence that all the boys seemed to have for what they were seeing. I didn’t have to prompt them they just seemed to get quieter. Soaking it in. Realizing that they were somewhere special. They seemed most impressed with the Moose pictograph.

Afterwards it was back to camp for change of clothes and more fishing. The fishing was consistent all week. Very good.

I’m up early again and I find some solitude as I fish around the island. I land a few nice pike (one would go about 7#’s and was about 33”) and a couple smallies.

I must mention that there were virtually NO BUGS at this campsite. Wonderful. We did use 100% deet but had no problems here. There were lots of dragonflys out and we saw several Garter Snakes.

Dinner tonight was hamburgers over the open fire. I found some ash from an old beaver dam and used that to cook over. What a wonderful flavor and very hot coals. Ash is a great hardwood to cook over if you can find it.

Day Four –

Last day on Lac La Croix. We all head to the Bottle Rapids for some fishing.  Along the way the boys search for cliffs to jump off. Much to the happiness of their Dad they didn’t find any. They did, however, jump in after dark from a small ledge on the island. Boys will be boys.

Our trip to the Bottle Rapids produced a lot of smallies and a few pike. It is a beautiful river and we did some exploring in this area. I wish I had come over here earlier for some fishing. 

I saw several duck species on this trip. Here I saw a canvasback drake make his way up the river. A stunning waterfowl. Also, I saw buffleheads, mergansers, and a mallard.

About 4:30 p.m. we endured yet another thunderstorm. We sat out under the lean-to rain fly and played cards. The coolness was very welcomed.

Dinner tonight was Cajun Surprise BDub Style. I made Red Beans and Rice with Chicken and filet o’ pike! YUM! 

As the boys head to bed I get to stay up with the glow of the fire and listen to the song of the loons. The sky was clear now and I wished this moment would last forever. 

Day Five –

Moving Day. We were up early and had camp packed to hit the trail back down to Nina Moose Lake for the night. 

Uneventful trip but we learned that you can and should trust your compass…that Boulder River opening is hard to see. 

We spied a few Bald Eagles one of which flew right over us as he lit in a nearby tree.

Our campsite on Nina Moose Lake is on a point and the sun is HOT. No breeze and I can’t wait for sundown. That was until I learned that all the mosquitoes in the BDub were at this campsite! 

After a cheesy chicken enchilada dinner, listening to a grouse drum, hearing a whip-o-will call his heart out we let the bugs drive us into the tents and slept for the second night with no rain fly. It was finally cool at night. 

Day Six –

Up and at ‘em at 0430. We have camp packed and are heading across the Lake at 0500. The White Horses are moving about the lake and it is indescribable.

We make our way up Moose River and are out and repacked in the truck by 0730. We head back to Ely. Complaining how fast time can go.