Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

LIS Loop 2019 - Rivers and Storms
by Gichimon

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/14/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Number of Days: 12
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
This 12 day trip into the area north of Little Indian Sioux entry point would be our longest trip to date and our first trip paddling our own solo canoes. The trip was full of adventure, some scary moments, days of hard work, and ample days of relaxing, fishing, and bathing in the beauty of the Boundary Waters.
Day 1 of 12
Sunday, July 14, 2019 My wife and I learned the hard way over the past few years that a Saturday entry point date was too rushed of a scenario to start a trip on the right foot, so this was our first time starting on a Sunday. That gave us ample time to drive up to Ely during the day on Saturday, mosey around town a bit, eat a good meal, and then hit the hay early to get a full nights sleep and a fresh start on Sunday.

Needless to say, Krystal and I did not sleep deeply or as soundly as planned, and we were wide awake in our hotel room at 2:30 in the morning. You guessed it, we got up, showered and packed up the last bits and bobs in the hotel room, ushered the dogs out into the car, and were on our way to the gas station at about 4:00 in the morning. We popped into the gas station and grabbed a few things to eat and a hot coffee, and headed on down the Echo Trail to get a sunrise start on the Little Indian Sioux. And what a perfect morning it was. We charged through the short portage to the launch with due haste and loaded up the boats. The sun was golden behind the tree line, and the foggy mist danced across the river as we settled in for a nice slow paced paddle.

We arrived at the first portage and while attempting to get out of her canoe, Krystal stepped on a rather vicious rock, twisted her ankle and fell with a resounding thud to the ground. She peppered the air with some familiar curse words, and other than a few little scrapes, her wounded pride, and a firm but loving reprimand from me to always look down before you step, we carried on with the task at hand.

The grassy waters of the approach to Upper Pauness whispered against the canoe as we made our way across a lake we would revisit on our way out of the BWCA. The next portage to Lower Pauness was a mosquito fest. Thankfully, we had brought bug nets, gloves, and had long sleeve shirts and pants fully doused in permethrin to wear on move days. It was as if the haze of the morning had transfigured itself into a mosquito hell haze on that portage.

Lower Pauness is a pretty little lake, and we took our time paddling through to the Devil's Cascade portage. After our first trip across the portage (as we are double carriers with the solo canoes, and nearly two weeks worth of gear and food for two dogs and two humans) we were extremely gladdened that we had chosen the route we did, and only had to carry our gear down that staircase rather than up it. But boy was that a beauty. That campsite about halfway across the portage was definitely worth the pause along the portage. The Boundary Waters never stops giving those breathless moments, in more ways than one.

With our usual dilly dally pace, the afternoon was growing long due to our supremely early start and we were nearly to our destination lake, Loon Lake. We planned on camping there one night and then making our way up to Lac LaCroix. We really wanted to catch some walleyes on this trip and have a few fish fries. Lac LaCroix seemed like a win win in the walleye department.

We found a lovely - if it weren't for the darn stable flies - beach site and settled on it for the night. With a beach, you are hard fought to resist taking a swim. After a long day of traveling, humans and dogs jumped in and cooled off, escaping our own sweat and the flies. We discovered there would be no quickly setting up camp this trip with our Lean 3 tent. And I would have several mild bug related panic attacks while clearing out the pesky critters from our tent each night. But nevertheless, we became experts at setting up that Lean in not so convenient spots over the duration of this trip. It was our home for 12 days so love it or leave it was not an option. We did grow to love it but now prefer to use it in the bug free times of the year.

Night fell and so did our eyelids. I couldn't tell you what we ate for supper that night but it certainly wasn't fish. But the trip was starting off as expected, full of minor mishaps that always made us chuckle in the evening, and beautiful sites worth reminiscing about as the stars blanketed us to sleep. What would tomorrow hold?