Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

First time for a portage
by Pepperbox

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/24/2018
Entry & Exit Point: Snake River (EP 84)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
My dad, sister, brother, and myself take a first time trip in the BWCA. I have done a couple kayak trips but never portaged. They let me pick the EP and I wanted to portage so we went in at the longest entry portage I could find on the map.
Day 1 of 5
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

We took off from the Knotted Pine Inn near Isabella at first light, about 5 AM. I am glad we waited for first light. Our inexperience in northern Minnesota travel was readily apparent. GoogleMaps suggested north on Rd 177 or going way out of the way to stay on Hwy 1. Note to self: stay on the blacktop road as long as possible. Max speed on Rd 177 was maybe 5 mph. All things considered we made it to the entry point by 7 AM without major incident, just a few new scratches.

The first portage from entry point 84 is marked on the maps as 290 rods. We started attempting to single carry. I should mention at this point that I have taken a couple of kayak float trips in WI but no one else in the group has camped in anything less than a pop up camper in the past 15 years. Needless to say, we had too much weight and too many individual packages to carry. Halfway through the portage we dropped the 18’ Wenonah Sundowner (kevlar) and 16’ Wenonah Adirondack (tuf-weave) and finished with the packs coming back for the canoes (1 1/2 portage).

The paddle down Snake River was interesting. We were very excited at the prospect of seeing a moose but ultimately did not see one. There were 3 portages all on the east bank as expressed on but not reflected on the Fisher map. The second portage was tricky as there was a very muddy (up to my thigh) false landing. The portage actually ended further down with some rocks we could use for loading. The last portage into Bald Eagle had a large tree over the portage trail. We could haul packs under the tree but decided to line the empty canoes down the rapids.

Once we reached Bald Eagle we were welcomed by whitecaps. Being very novice paddlers we took off for an island on the southeast shore to get out of the wind. The second site north on the east shore became our home for the afternoon. My dad promptly started to remodel the kitchen area (this would become a theme). Everyone set up their respective hammocks, my dad set up the gear tent (did I mention we brought too much gear), and we set up tarps as a wind break for the kitchen. A little bit of fishing and wood spoon carving rounded out the day. Overall the site was nice but I would have liked a bear hang tree outside of camp. We hung in the only tree that had branches more than 4 feet from the trunk, it was right on the shore at the edge of camp.