Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

LIS North to Moose River
by eagle93

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/20/2007
Entry Point: Little Indian Sioux River (north) (EP 14)
Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)  
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 8
Trip Introduction:
This was atrip that is part of our HS summer school program. It was the first of 6 trips this summer
Day 1

Group consisted of two adult males(my older brother George and myself, aged 64 and 57 respectively), and six 16 year old boys. My brother and three of the students were about to experience their first BW trip. We left Galesville at about 8:15 AM. Stopped in Superior for lunch and leeches. We continued through Duluth to Cook where we picked up our permit. Then on to Orr and the Echo Trail. We spent the night before entering the BW at the Jeanette Lake Forest Service campground. This is a small, only 12 sites, but very nice campground. There were only two other occupied campsites that night. The boys spent some time paring down gear so two people could be in one pack. A thunderstorm lightened up our night and gear was packed up wet.

Day 2

Entry point 14, Little Indian Sioux River north to Shell Lake, about 10 miles with portages. Portages today 40 rd, 60 rd, 40 rd, 220 rd, 3.375 miles (double portage) Weather was clear and warm. Ely high for the day, 75.

We got up early and were on the water by 7:30. Water level was fine in the Little Indian Sioux River. We had no difficulties at all. The rapids and falls at Elm Portage were impressive, due to higher than expected water levels. After Elm Portage, the portage trails were treacherous, muddy and very slippery. It was like walking on ice. After Elm Portage, we came upon a female moose eating in the main channel of the river. She seemed totally unconcerned at our presence. After several minutes of discussion, we decided to go around her on the right side. Good choice, since we discovered that her calf was on the left bank. She continued to eat and then left the river to nurse her calf. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Shortly after the moose, we also saw a loon sitting on her nest. First time for that. Later, we beached our canoes at the Devil’s Cascade portage and walked to the campsite 75 feet above the cascade. We enjoyed a very scenic lunch, Devil’s Cascade was very loud and impressive. After lunch, we paddled over to the landing of the 220 rd portage to Shell Lake. Not a bad portage, except for the slippery mud, mostly flat. We arrived at Shell Lake at 11:30 AM and proceeded to look for a campsite. Both the prime sites on Con Island were occupied, so we took the first site to the right of the portage. By late afternoon, I think that all sites on Shell were occupied. We encountered three groups of canoeists today. The wind really picked up in the early afternoon and no one felt like fishing from the canoes. We had very little luck fishing from the campsite. Dinner consisted of steak and mashed potatoes, with dried cherries and almonds for a late evening snack.  I was awakened by a beaver chewing during the night. I was too tired to check if the tree he was gnawing on was close to our tent. Besides, it sounded too far away.

Day 3

Shell Lake to Oyster Lake, about 10 miles with portages. Portages today 15, 280,10, 310, 5.77 miles. High in Ely, 71.

The day began overcast, cool, and still. Breakfast is cereal bars and hot chocolate or coffee. We are packed up and moving by 7:30, a time that allows us to be finished traveling by a little after noon each day. The short portage to Little Shell is easy and fast and we are able to paddle through the next short portage to Lynx. Lynx is a very pretty lake. It is also totally unoccupied. If I were to do this route again, I would plan on staying on Lynx instead of Shell. The long portage to Ruby Lake was not too bad, just in length. The first boy down the trail surprised a moose bedding down along the trail. I don’t know which one was more excited, probably Brett. On the shoreline of Ruby we saw two eagles and a buzzard. Upon investigating, we found that they had been feeding on something very dead, judging from the smell. It was decided to investigate no farther. Stopped for some lunch on Ruby before the short portage into Hustler. Hustler is a lake I’d like to spend more time on and perhaps hike parts of the trail that connects there. But, they had decided to get to Oyster today so they could layover tomorrow. After the 310 rod portage into Oyster, I was very glad my new canoe only weighed 42 pounds. Older people need an advantage when tripping with 16 year olds, most of them athletes. We saw 2 other people today. Arrived at Oyster at 12:30. The skies had cleared and it was getting warmer. Boys found a very nice campsite, large, open, and with 120+ foot red pines. It had a good swimming area, but water access was difficult because of some terraces to control erosion. After a rest and cleaning up, the boys did some late afternoon fishing and exploring. Again, little luck with fishing. Dinner was brats rolled up in tortillas, with a rice and veggie dish, and M&M’s for dessert. The boys went for a moonlight paddle that evening, though they sort of missed the point of it. They took their lights and weren’t silent. As far as I know, we were the only group on Oyster that night.

Day 4

portages 0 Layover day High 78

Everyone slept late today. The blueberry pancakes started cooking at 10:30 and we continued eating until 11:30. We ate 10 cups of mix for eight people. Today was a day to nap, swim , fish, and explore. Dinner was pizza and snickers. No people seen today.

Day 5

Oyster to Nina Moose Lake, about 9 miles with portages Portages 65,160, 95, 70, 3.66 miles. High 82

On the water by 7:30 as usual. The crew has the routine down well and things go smoothly. We are again blessed with good weather, sunny and warm. The 160 rod portage has some elevation changes, but isn’t too bad. We lunch on Agnes than head for Nina Moose. Agnes is a very pretty lake, but the campsite we lunch at is messy. We pick up trash as we have been doing the entire trip. There is plenty of water in the river and a small amount of current. Impressive rapids at the end of one of the portages. We are seeing more people today, though we only meet one group on the portages. Upon reaching Nina Moose, we set up camp and have a big pot of soup for lunch. For some reason, even though it was warm, they really wanted a change from the standard fare of gorp, granola, cheese and crackers, and pbj on bagels. This campsite also needs to be picked up. One item we carry out is a 2 gallon metal pail. I went fishing and caught a small northern. That got the boys excited and they fished until about 6 PM catching some nice walleyes, perch, and northerns. All were released. Dinner was chicken helper alfredo with foil pack chicken and peas, with fig newtons for dessert. After dinner, George and I went to look for moose, but had no luck. The boys kept fishing and being harassed by a snapper who was hanging around. Had very high winds, thunder and lightening, and rain from 2 AM until about 5 AM. 

Day 6

Nina Moose to Entry point 16 Moose River about 6 miles with portages. Portages 25,20,160, 1.75 miles.

Got going a little later than normal, one tent was stubborn about getting up. When it was announced that breakfast was about over, that changed. The river is more twisty than I expected. Rarely is a simple forward stroke used, much maneuvering. The portages are easy, the 20 and 25 are along the river with a view of the rapids. Got back to the entry about 11 AM. I hitched a ride with two young ladies from Camp Voyageur in Orr and was back at Moose River by noon. We went down the Echo Trail through Ely to the Forest Service Campground at Fall Lake. There we set up the tents, showered and were devoured by mosquitos. This was the worst of the entire trip!! We headed for Ely to shop and eat pizza and ice cream. The group devoured 4 pizzas and several cones and malts. We also stopped at VNO to say Hi to John and Lynn. While there, I saw some used bags for sale and got six more for the school trips. The group stayed in Ely until 8 PM because the mosquitoes were so bad at Fall Lake. The kids then went exploring the camp facilities, while George and I stayed in our tent. Everyone was in their tents by 9 PM.

Day 7

Ely to Galesville 360(?) miles.

An uneventful trip home. Stopped at the new bakery next to the BP in Ely, very good, but pricey. Took Highway 1 to 61. There was a 25 mile detour before Isabella. Lake Superior was very foggy and we couldn’t see much. Arrived about 1:30, unpacked gear and set up tents to dry. It was a good trip. The boys portages and paddled well. The 4 first-timers did very well. There were a lot of bugs in general, and ticks were numerous in some places.