Little Indian Sioux- North 2007-- Hot and Uphill!
We left St. Paul around 10:30am. Made a stop in Forest Lake for lunch and then cruised through to Ely. Arrived at the Kawishiwi Ranger Station around 3:30. We got our permit and then checked into the Adventure Inn. We did some shopping in town and then I celebrated my birthday with dinner at the Chocolate Moose.
Tuesday, July 24th
We have always started off our trip with breakfast and coffee at Northern Grounds. But, after reading recommendations here, we decided to give Brittons a try. The eggs and pancakes were great. Though we wish we would have know that they only accept cash—guess we didn’t see that when we walked in. We hit the Echo trail and the trek to Little Indian Sioux River – North. It was a crowded entry at 9am. Lots of groups starting off their trips. We managed to slip in front of a group that was day tripping, which was fortunate on our part. (you know the group…the ones with flip-flops and a bunch of people wandering around aimlessly:-) We had decided to follow the Beymer book and do the Sioux-Hustler loop. Only we would be doing the route clockwise instead of counter clockwise. We chose this for a couple reasons. One, we wanted to spend more time on the smaller, less crowded lakes. And two, because we wanted to do the longest portages when our food pack was lighter, near the end of the trip as opposed to near the beginning. We questioned that decision with every uphill portage we climbed.
We made our way up the river. At the 40 rod portage out of Upper Pauness, we ran into another group of women who were going to be traveling the same route as us, only instead of going counter-clockwise, they would be doing it clockwise. We guessed that we would probably run into them again at some halfway point. We had a longer first day than we usually do, not stopping until we made it to East Loon Bay. (around 1pm) We found a campsite and did our chores. (set up the tent, collected water, and unpacked our sleeping gear and put it in the tent.)
We enjoyed our first trail lunch, my favorite meal of the trip. It’s an assortment of jerky (homemade—both turkey and beef), cheese, crackers, pita, nut butters, dried fruit, and granola bars.
It was a warm day and we took several swims to cool off. We had a great little beach that made for a nice swimming area.
After reading several chapters of Harry Potter (out loud. We took turns reading. It was GREAT!) we made our dinner. It was too hot to want to build a fire so we cooked our brats on the stove. We were tired from our first day and hit the sack early.
Temps today as reported by weather.com for Ely: High 91, Low 57
Wednesday, July 25th
We woke a little later than we would have liked, and didn’t hit the water until around 9am. We hit some wind on East Loon into Little Loon Lake. The portage from Little Loon to Slim Lake was our first of many uphill portages. We made our way through Slim and did the 52-rod portage to Section 3 Pond. We checked out the campsite on the pond and quickly left. We took another 52-rod portage to South Lake. We had originally planned to stay on Steep Lake the second night, but were hot and tired by the time we got to South. We checked out the campsite on South. It was pretty small and brushy, so we turned around and took the first campsite after the portage from Section 3. (between South and North Lake) It had a nice rocky outcrop and plenty of shade, which we needed. We ate lunch and then put the tent up. This is probably the first trip that I remember not putting the rain fly on the tent most nights. We enjoyed swimming and reading Harry Potter. We made a pot of beans and rice for dinner, and had burritos in tortillas, with Oreo cookies for dessert. My dad had given me some Orikaso bowls for a Christmas present. They worked great for this meal. We didn’t assemble them, just left them flat and used them as plates.
Temps today: High 91, Low 64
Thursday, July 26th
We got up earlier today so that we could do more of our paddling and portaging before the heat of the afternoon. We headed to the portage to Steep. We were glad that we hadn’t attempted it yesterday afternoon when we were tired, because it was 120 rods that were mostly uphill. We paddled Steep and took the 45 rod into Eugene, then the 30 into Little Beartrack and the 30 into Beartrack. Surprisingly, (said with much sarcasm) the portages all started off with a nice uphill section. We made our way across Beartrack and did the 200 rod into Thumb Lake. It was on Thumb that we ran into a group of guys. (not sure if they were a Scout or camp group) They told us their tale of taking the Hustler River to Finger Lake. Apparently, their “guide” had suggested that route. (they said that they killed the guide) They said it took them 2 days to cover three miles. The “river” ended, and they had to bushwhack. It seemed amazing that they were in such good moods after that ordeal, but I know that those kinds of physical challenges can really bring a group together. We stopped for lunch on Thumb Lake, on a rocky shore. We took our time eating lunch and rehydrating ourselves. Then we did the 9 rod into Finger. The 9 rod was actually more of a 2 rod, around rocks and some beaver construction. It had started raining (and we hoped that rain would bring cooler temperatures) when we arrived on Finger. We were planning on staying on Finger tonight, and headed to the one recommended campsite that we had read about. We traveled to the first site on the south end of the biggest island. To our dismay, it was taken. We decided to split up at this time and search the other sites. It wasn’t pretty. The campsite on the north end of the island was difficult to find because it is so small and tucked in. That site got a unanimous “no way.” The next site on the north side of the smaller island was even smaller – laughable really. We finally checked out the site on the south end of that island. It was o.k. Two different tent pads, one was a climb to get to. There were tons of flies, and the trail to the toilet had a sharp step down to get to it. We set up the tarp over near the fire grate, and got our crazy creek chairs out to sit on while we waited out the rain. The rain stopped and we climbed uphill (it’s a theme) to set up the tent. This night we did put the fly on the tent because the sky stayed grey and we knew that rain would continue off and on through the night. We made Cache Lake “really tasty chicken stew” and dumplings for dinner. It was really tasty. I had ordered extra and cooked some at home prior to bringing it on this trip, in case it was too salty or funny tasting. It wasn’t and was one of our favorite meals. We made the dumpling mix in a zip lock bag, and then cut a corner to squeeze it into the stew. Worked well. This was the first test for the Orikaso bowls in their assembled form. They passed the test. We found that by disassembling them when done eating, the plastic could be thoroughly licked; thus speeding along the washing process. We hit the tent as soon as the dishes were done, as the flies were eating us up. We read Harry Potter and enjoyed a cooler night.
Temps today: High 94, Low 64
Friday, July 27th
We were up early again today and on the water by 8am. We were eager to leave this campsite. The flies at this site were bad. This was going to be our “easy” day of the trip. We found Finger Creek and made our way up to Pocket Lake. We made our way across Pocket and traveled on Pocket Creek for a short distance. We picked up Ge-be-on-e-quet Creek and followed it to the 35 rod portage to Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake. This portage was 35 rods of steep uphill. It was on this portage that we ran into the group of women that we saw the day we entered at Little Indian Sioux. Like us, they had planned a short day today, heading only to Pocket Lake. (it was about 10:30am when we saw them on this portage… they had stayed on Ge-be the night before, so were really just getting going) We had heard that the campsite with the “recliners” was the best. When we arrived on the lake, we were alone. We decided to have one group check out the first campsite-- and the second group check out the recliner site. The first site won. It was beautiful! Tons of open space, a big rock in the middle, and a nice area for swimming. We were thrilled to be there so early in the day. We sat on the rock outcrop and had lunch. Then we set up the tent and put our “dry” shoes on. (All of us wear boots during the day, and we are in the “wet boots all day” club. We appreciate the ankle support, and enjoy having wet feet, especially when it’s hot.) We filled up the sun shower for the first time, and set it on the rocks to heat up. We spent the afternoon swimming, napping, snacking on pistachios, reading Harry Potter, and using the sun shower. At one point, Dixie went under the overturned canoe for a nap. After she was under for about a ½ hour , we heard a commotion. She had left her spot under the canoe and had caught a chipmunk. It was hanging out of her mouth. I told her to “leave it.” (which means, “ put that down.”) She dropped it. We were sure that it was dead, and were making a plan to move it. Suddenly, the little bugger jumped up and ran away. I’m sure that Dixie would report that as the highlight of her trip. We made pizza for dinner—a trail favorite of Boboli crusts, packaged sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Our mistake was bringing presliced mozzarella cheese. We didn’t think about the paper in between the cheese slices. The cheese melted together, and it was quite a project to extract the cheese without pieces of paper in it. Fortunately, because it was a short travel day, we had time to peel the paper from the cheese. The pizza was great!
Temps today: High 81, Low 54
Saturday, July 28th
The weather overnight was finally a little cooler, and we had an excellent night of sleep using our sleeping bags. We packed up camp and were on the water today just before 8am. We paddled Ge-be and then did the 120 rod portage into Green Lake. It was already getting hot by the time we arrived on Green. We quickly paddled Green and took the 85 rod to Rocky. After enjoying the scenic lake, but without finding the pictographs, we did the 65 rod into Oyster. Midway through the portage, I steered the canoe into an unseen tree, and clocked myself in the back of the neck with the yolk. A couple minutes later, still cursing about running into the tree, I tripped and fell, with the canoe hitting my head when I landed on the ground. I had a horrible headache. We stopped at the first campsite that we came to on Oyster, and it was beautiful. It had a view of the water from both sides. We got out our crazy creek chairs and had lunch. After a leisurely lunch we set up the tent. Two of our luxury items are inflatable mesh rafts. (the kind that have a pillow to blow up, and a ring around the edge surrounding a mesh net to lay in. We pack them in the food pack) We took a couple minutes to blow them up, and the went to the water and spent a bunch of time relaxing on the rafts. There was plenty of Harry Potter read this afternoon. It was getting harder and harder to put the book down each time we read. We made soup for dinner—one pot of lentil soup with foil packed chicken, and another pot of chicken wild rice soup. We had brought along a tiny bottle of olive oil, courtesy of minimis.biz, and drizzled that over the lentil soup. After dinner, we did our night time chores that included hanging the food pack, which, might I add, is quite a joke for us. We often just bring the food pack back in the woods and leave it “hidden” there. This trip we attempted to hoist the pack. The highest we ever were able to pull it up a tree was maybe 6 feet. We’d joke every night about how Mr. Bear would be able to just swing his paws and knock it down. Really we just did it to keep the little, pesky critters out of the pack. That, we accomplished. We headed into the tent and continued reading. This was the first time on the trip that we heard people. Not sure if there was a canoe of folks fishing, but they sure sounded close. We had a gorgeous view of the moon, and got out of the tent to take a couple of pictures before retiring for the night.
Temps today: High 83, Low 52
Sunday, July 29th
Today was the Sabbath, but we did not rest.
We packed up our gear and again, were on the water by 8am. We had a couple long portages today and wanted to get them done early. The first was a portage out of Oyster and into Hustler. My old Fischer map said that portage was 240 rods, but the Beymer book said 300. (we joked about taking a “side trip” to Weany Lake, but didn’t ?) The portage wasn’t bad, just long and full of flies. We paddled quickly through Hustler and did the short 10 rod into Ruby. Then, paddled across Ruby to the 280 rod into Lynx. Again, this was not a challenging portage, just long. The measurement of this portage was different according to which map I looked at. My old Fischer map said 280, but the Beymer book said 260. The wind had picked up, which helped to keep the flies at bay.
Temps today: High 88, Low 55
Monday, July 30th
We woke up and had coffee and breakfast. We packed up camp again. This many days in to our trip, we were quite speedy at packing. It helped that we never had to pack up in the rain, or pack up wet gear. Our plan today was to go to Upper Pauness and camp there so that on Tuesday, we would have a short day to paddle out. We paddles through Lynx, Little Shell, and then Shell. The wind had picked up, and it was more challenging paddling through Shell. We arrived at the 216 rod portage to Lower Pauness. It was jammed. The group of guys that we ran into yesterday were on the portage. There was a group of kids and a couple of adults coming into Shell. They were totally unorganized. When we arrived, the kids (5 of them) were sitting waiting for the adults to carry the gear over. It was quite muddy at the end of the portage on the Shell side, and they were perplexed as to how to load their canoes, while keeping their feet clean and dry. We probably waited for at least 15-20 minutes. When they finally cleared the portage, we carefully pulled our canoes to solid ground. We had to walk through the mud to unload the packs, and get the canoe out. We headed down the portage. This was a pretty easy portage with little elevation change. The other side of the portage (on Lower Pauness) was really buggy and swampy. We had to do some creative loading. We paddled out on the lake, and dipped our mud-covered boots in the water to rinse them. Dixie was covered in fly bites. IT WAS HOT! We were really uncomfortable. We paddled Lower Pauness
Temps today: High 91, Low 64
Tuesday, July 31st
We were up early, wanting to get out of the steamy tent. We had a quick breakfast and loaded the canoes. We had a beautiful morning paddle down the Little Indian Sioux River. We were in the parking lot by 9:30am. It was crowded, with several groups entering. We loaded up the car, took off our smelly clothes and boots and replaced them with clothes left in the car. We were in Ely by 11:00am. We did a little shopping, and then had lunch and beer at the Chocolate Moose. We were on the road back to the Twin Cities and arrived home by dinnertime.
Temps today: High 90, Low 63