Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Day trip to Moose & Wind, failed to reach Wind Bay & Basswood
by DrBeabout

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/27/2020
Entry & Exit Point: Moose Lake (EP 25)
Number of Days: 1
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
A quick day trip from Moose Lake to Wind Lake. Planned on heading to Basswood, but after a Moose run-in on Wind, and difficulty finding the portage, we headed back out.
Moose and Wind Lake Trip Report Day trip planned with myself (43), my two sons (13 and 10), and a neighbor (15). All relative newbies, so we just planned a day trip to Basswood and back. Left our dock on Moose (just below Williams & Hall outfitters) at 6:15 AM to mirror-calm water on Moose and a surreal misty hanging over the waters. Absolutely gorgeous. Saw a few motor boats hauling canoes off in the distance- but other than that has Moose to ourselves (a rarity).

Made it to the Wind Portage by 7:00 AM after seeing the Bald Eagles and a swimming beave on Moose. We just had a single pack with lunches and emergency supplies, so I wasn’t too worried about the portages. We had two Kevlar canoes rented, which was a nice treat. My 13 year old made it about ½ way to Wind Lake with the canoe on his shoulders, but it was a bit much for him. He’s pretty skinny- and the weight, plus the too-wide pads hit him in the wrong spots. The 15 year old dug deep and did the whole portage, and I took over for my son about ½ way through.

Took about 40-45 minutes to portage with the rest stops along the walk, and then we had a quick snack break on the Wind Lake side. No signs of anyone there from the pull out. We wanted to get into Basswood before the afternoon winds, so we paddled hard through Wind. Still totally calm, with glassy water. It took about 45 minutes. A little tricky for a beginning navigator like me to work around the islands in the middle, but we made it to the right fork and went down to the end, where the Basswood/Wind Bay portage is. Lots of upright logs and old pier posts in the western end of Wind, even in deeper water- so the bow paddler had to keep an eye out. We got to the shallower water as the lake narrows near the portage and we came across a female Moose, about 6-7 feet tall drinking in the shallows. My first time seeing one in BWCA or in a canoe for that matter. I felt pretty small. Definitely kept my distance. We just waited and watched because the Moose was either right AT our portage trail, or was blocking the entrance to the stream we needed to use to get to it. After about 15-20 minutes, she meandered of into the woods. We all smiled and laughed at each other with big eyes. We were feeling pretty lucky for the encounter.

We moved into the spot where the moose had been, and there was an incredibly mucky, muddy path that headed into the reeds, in the direction of the stream. In moving closer, our paddles went about 2-3 feet down into the muck near the pull-out, so we figured we’d keep looking for something better. At this point, we hear what sounds like a dinosaur breaking tree limbs in the woods about 50 yards back towards the main part of the lake. Ms. Moose had come back, but now we were “trapped” in the shallows, as she was standing on the shoreline of the narrow strip of lake leading back to the deeper water. With pretty shallow water, we weren’t totally comfortable paddling by her (would have put us maybe 20 yards away), so we just sat tight in the shallows. We had a staring contest for about 15 long, slightly creepy minutes. Then she got bored and headed back to the woods. We caught our breath.

We paddled down the stream a bit looking for a better pull out. Hoping the muck-pit was just a herd path used by animals, and we wouldn’t’ have to use that. The creek started getting pretty shallow, and my canoe was down in the muck, so I turned us around, not wanting us to get stuck and have to get out to extract us from the sludge if at all possible. The teens protested and told us to keep going that way to look for a pull out. I won. Turns out the teens were right.

We headed back to the Moose trail and our 15 year-old took the lead and hopped out of the canoe and into the muck. He promptly slipped and feel completely over in the muck, much to the amusement of the rest of us. Mud from shoe to shoulder on one side of his body. He got up and tried to find a trail and promptly sunk about knee deep in some mud and couldn’t get out without help. We figured that wasn’t a good portage and turned back, looking along our left to the North shore of the lake for perhaps another landing spot. Didn’t see one. Headed back about 25 minutes to an occupied island campsite (gorgeous) and asked the tenants if they had done the portage to Wind. They got out their map and showed us where it was supposed to be… but this was the same map we had, so not much help. We were a little demoralized at this point. Had an early lunch at the rocks near the campsite and discussed options. We were now 1 ½ hours behind schedule and it was going to be a very long day if we went back and DID find the portage. So, we discussed going down the other fork and doing the short portage over to Washte just for kicks, or just returning home. Our muddy teammate voted for home, as did the 10 year-old who was about paddled out at this point. So home it was. We re-did the portage to Moose and were back on our dock about 12:30 PM. A 6 hour paddle was good enough for us newbies after all. We’ll try for Basswood again next summer.