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Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota

Trip Overview

EP#16 Moose/Portage River (NORTH of the Echo Trail)

We left home early Friday morning the 16th hoping to miss the Chicago traffic or at least get by it before the backups shut everything down. There was me in my truck with 2 canoes on top and riding with me was Matt and Adam. Steve was leaving a tad bit later and riding with him was Matt and Ben and Andrew.

We had plans to meet up with PFP at the Gander Mountain in Duluth around 2ish but with a phone call to PFP on the way up he got on the road early so he was able to spend extra time and $ at Gander Mt. before we arrived. After doing some shopping and then filling my truck with gas, we continued on to Ely arriving at VNO around 5 PM. After chatting with Lynn and John and setting up all the arrangements for the bunkhouse and permits and fishing licenses we headed out to the web cam and a phone call home so that my wife can really see that I was in Ely. LOL kind of gives new meaning when you see all the ball players when they wave into the camera and they all say hello Mom.

We then walked up the steakhouse for dinner and just as we were about to sit down, Steve and his crew showed up and we were able to have a good dinner together. We then went back to VNO and unloaded everything into the bunkhouse and repacked all the food and stuff for the trip. PFP provided the extra packs and canoes for the guys. Thanks PFP.

After finally dropping of to sleep and a goodnights rest it was. Thanks Lynn and John, your bunkhouse is tops and so is your knowledge and generosity!

Day 2

We were able to get an early start to the entry point with just a quick breakfast at the local gas station. One last call home to the wife knowing that there would be no cell phones service we were on the way and made good time to the EP. We unloaded the vehicles and started carrying our gear to the end of the portage thinking all along how are we going to get all this gear in these canoes?

Well we did it and stopped long enough to take a group picture before paddling off in to the wild blue yonder. Paddling the Moose River was a real treat with a few rookie paddlers. What a beautiful river to paddle we stopped off at the top of the world and took a hike up to take some pics and to see the view from on top.

Getting back on the river we paddled on up to Nina moose and stooped at the first campsite on the west side and took a break and ate lunch. Then we continued on to Lake Agnes and made camp at the west campsite on the point towards the north end of the lake.

Day 3 and some more from day2

After setting up camp with proceeded to cook our usually first night dinner of steaks on the grill and mashed potatoes which was excellent as normal and to top it off we had cheese cake for desert.

I was really disappointed when we got to the campsite we found hot coals in the fire pit and when it was time to grill the steaks there looked to be plastic or something melted on the grill which we had to clean up first.

I had it in my mind to make it to Iron Lake but I was tired and the latter it got in the day I was afraid to push on further and not find a campsite. So after the great dinner it was just nice to sit back and listen to the waves lapping up on the shoreline and watch the sunset.

Now for day 3

We woke up to some wind and waves, which I have to tell you was music to my ears. I was still tired from the paddle in, and I think I just needed a day to sit back and relax and get in tune with my surroundings. I was the first one up, so I fired up the stove and put a pot of coffee on and sat back in my chair and just took everything in.

I really enjoyed seeing the sunlight poke thru the trees and listening to the birds waking up and singing to me. After a bit 1 by 1 everyone else stirred and made their way outside to the coffee pot.

Well after another fine meal a breakfast of eggs bacon and Cache Lake fry bread I think everyone was ready to crawl back into their sleeping bags.

We all sat around for awhile trying to decide what to do for the day the wind had really picked up so we decided to hold tight and maybe base camp here and take day trips after the lakes laid down some. Well that didnt happen that day we stayed put finding areas close by out of the wind to try for some fish for dinner. Needless to say Lake Angus didnt treat us to well fish wise, we caught some small northern and some small bass but I was looking for walleye for dinner and it just didnt happen.

So! It was time to dig into the food packs to find something for dinner and we had a vote and spaghetti was the choice for the evening. I had bought a dehydrator this past winter and dehydrated some sauce and ground beef, which I have to tell you, came out great. We also fried up some cache lake plain fry bread it was also very good and again we had some cheesecake for desert. I am not sure if we came on this trip to fish paddle or eat but I do know that when you are wind bound someones head was in the food barrel at all times. I was even getting worried wondering if we had brought enough food along.

Well after dinner we sat around the fire just enjoying the company, some more sunsets, and shared a lot of laughs with each other before turning in for the night. Did mention that a couple of these fine lads were newbies? Well, if you look close in the picture of us sitting around the fire 1 of the boys didnt bring long pants and was wearing his sweatshirt on his legs. Which made for a good laugh. Well another fine ending of a great day.

Day 4

Well I need to jump back into day 3 for a short. We had noticed that 1 of our crew seemed to have a lot on his mind and just didnt seem to be enjoying himself. So after some discussion, come to find out, on our way up the Echo Trail he had called home and found out his Mother was admitted into the hospital the day we had left home.

Quite understandably, he was really concerned because as he found this out we had lost cell service and he was disconnected and never did hear how she was doing or really what the problem was. So it was decided that the next day Matt and Steve would paddle back to the EP and drive towards town far enough were they could make a call and find out how things were with his Mother.

I was a little concerned about them heading back permit wise know that if they would run into a ranger they might be issued a citation not having a permit to enter back into the BW. Well we figured we would cross that hurdle if it came and they woke up early around 4:30 and paddled back and made the phone call, which - come to find out - everything was ok with his Mom and he was able to enjoy the rest of the trip without worries.

Now to day 4

Again, I was the first up and put the coffee pot on and a pot of water for our oatmeal and hot chocolate. I have to tell you I really enjoy listening to the woods and birds wake up just sitting around the fire pit or on a rock overlooking the lake.

This day we did a lot of fishing and exploring around Lake Angus and hanging out at camp swimming and just wonder what and where our 2 crew members were and what they found out when the made contact home. Well I have to tell you they made great time. It must be nice to single portage and not have much gear to carry, cause they made it back in camp around 1:30 with smiles on there faces. Which set the tone for the rest of the trip for all of us. So with some more swimming and some more fishing {not catching} we made it through another day to another big decision on what to have for dinner.

You know things are really rough on these trips when the hardest thing you have to do is decide what you want to eat. Well, Paddle Faster Pastor's famous personal pizzas won the toss for tonights dinner. Say that 10 times over quick!!! I have to tell you it was a hit with everyone thanks PFP. I know it was lot of work to make for a crew of 8 but everyone jumped in and helped with the cooking and it was another great meal. After everything was cleaned up after dinner we sat around the fire, made s'mores and drank coffee and hot chocolate and just enjoyed everyones company and humor before turning in for the night.

Day 5

Again I wake first and get the coffee pot going and a pot of hot water for oatmeal and hot chocolate for the crew. We decided this would be a day trip day and we would get an early start and head off towards Curtain Falls and possibly Rebecca Falls. Well we did get an early start and actually did well thru the first 115-rod portage into the boulder river.

We saw lots of beautiful flowers and a few deer along the river and came up to a beaver lodge on the bank and there was a young bear on top of it, which ran off before any of us could get a camera out and take a picture. Oh well, that happens. If these guys want a pic of a bear they will just have to come back again. I love Paddling Rivers there is always something to see around the next bend and you can almost always paddle even on windy days.

Well back to the day trip we made it up to the Bottle portage as a boat came in with a canoe on top and 2 other couples were unloading their gear to make the portage. We had just a very short wait and they motioned us by and let us go ahead which I was grateful for.

This portage was almost uphill the whole way and I was tired by the time I made it to the top. As we all loaded back into the canoes and started paddling I noticed the Bottle Falls off to our right with a nice big rock for us to rest on and fish off of. Well, thats as far as we made it.

We stopped to fish and -- let me tell you! -- the fishing was great I think about everyone caught fish from northern to small mouth bass the biggest being caught by Andrew at 19 inches. I am sorry we didnt keep any for dinner but we had a long paddle back to camp and I just figured it would be to far to have to carry fish. So between fishing and walking down the falls taking pics, time got away from us and we figured we had better head back to our campsite.

Matt and I paddled around the point between the top of bottle falls and the portage and came face to face with the first moose of the trip. We were just getting ready to back up and get the rest of the guys so they could see it but then a few trippers came down the portage trail and the young bull walked back into the woods.

Unknown to us, the rest of the crew was watching a moose on the Bottle River at the same time. We took the portage back to lake la Croix and had lunch at the bottom of the Bottle Rapids. After lunch we all took out time and fished our way back thru lake la Croix and the bay by the ranger cabin.

Matt and I were the first to make the portage back in to the Boulder River and as we paddled around the first point we came onto our 2nd moose of the day a good size cow.

After watching her for a while, she saw us and decided she didnt like our looks and headed for the woods. We continued on fishing our way thru the boulder river and caught a lot of small mouth and small northern. The boulder river is a beautiful river to paddle and the fishing was good enough that I know it is place that I will come back to someday.

After everyone made it back to camp we had to have the big vote again and chili won out for the dinner of choice. Now let me tell you need to read the directions for the ingredients that belong in chili. I forgot the tomato paste but as luck would have it we had some pizza sauce left over and nobody knew any different. That with some more dehydrated ground beef and it was a meal fit for a king. We might have had more cheesecake for desert but I really dont remember. Oh well another night around the fire and off to bed we went.

Day 6 and maybe more

Woke up again early and tired after the full day of paddling and fishing the day previous. Fired up the stove and put on the coffee pot for more morning meditation. As the other folks stirred and made their way to the kitchen area, the wind steadily picked up and the lake started to roll. After the day of fishing we had previously we were fired up to get breakfast over with and go catch some fish for dinner.

Well let me correct myself there -- some of us were fired up to go fish and some were tired from all the paddling we did the day before. So PFP and I and Matt, Steve, and Andrew in the other canoe took off for the north end portage on Angus that went into the Boulder River next to the Boulder Rapids. As the day before, we found the fishing good in the pools of the rapids and proceeded to catch fish for our dinner that night.

I would like to tell you that I let PFP hold up my fish for this picture, but I have to tell the truth: he put it to me, much to my dismay. As always, fishing and paddling rivers has always been enjoyable to me and with the wind howling, Boulder River was the only fishable spot in the area. PFP even caught a nice snapping turtle.

Well, after a great day of fishing and bucking some rough winds we found ourselves back at camp and enjoying our first fish dinner of the trip. After dinner we decided that tomorrow would be a moving day because of the winds we felt like we needed to get back to Nina Moose and spend the next couple days there so that we could be closer to our take out point.

Day 7

After a good nights rest, we took our time packing and cleaning up camp and we did a major walk around the whole campsite picking up all the garbage left by the previous campers. I always had a little game that I play the when we break camp everyone has to come up with 10 items of garbage or anything that doesnt belong to bring out with us just a little way to say thanks and to leave it better than when we arrived.

Well off we went and it was nice to travel a lot lighter than when we paddled in. I always find it interesting how different things look when we are heading the other direction almost like you never have been thru there before. But then there are things you do remember like the area we had to portage around (which made for some nice photo opts).

When we arrived on Nina Moose we only found 2 sites open and only one of them was usable for a party our size and it was only what I would call a 2.5 star site. After setting up camp we all went out to try a little fishing hoping we could have another fishmeal for dinner.

Needless to say the chicken and dumplings along with the baked beans went over real good. Just for your info baked beans dehydrate really well and all I did was pour in boiling water and let them sit while I made the chicken and dumplings and they were hydrated.

Even though the campsite wasnt really what I would have liked the views and sunsets were great.

Days 8

After our morning coffee and oatmeal we all decided to try for some fish one last time being tomorrow would be our take out day. So we all paddled back you the river towards Angus figuring we could catch fish near the portages in the rapids. Well the fishing was slow I think we maybe had 5 or 6 walleyes for a full day of fishing.

Well we headed back to camp and I planned on cleaning the fish for dinner when it clouded up and started to rain and we all hit the tents and sacked out for an hour or so. Well after the rain stopped and we all were out of the tents, one of the kids shouted from down by the lake that a snapping turtle was eating the walleyes we caught. There wasnt much left but the snapping turtle was scared off so we left the fish hoping it would come back and we could get some pics. The turtle didnt come back but we had another visitor.

This mink and another one much smaller took what was left of the fish one by one.

So I have to tell you that the macaroni and cheese and foil pack chicken was the menu of the night. Those foil pack meats are great fillers for just about any meal. Last year we had the foil packed ham with the macaroni but couldnt find it anywhere this year but the chicken was great with it. After supper we all cleaned up around camp and had about everything put away and packed except the morning breakfast fixings that we would need. We all went down to the lake for one last sunset for the trip and some more pics

The last night always gives me a sad feeling knowing that tomorrow we will be paddling out and entering the real world. So with those thoughts off to bed we all went.

Day 9

Up early packed and on the water by 6:45 and off to the entry point. We decided we wanted to get a early start out so that we could make it home in good time. Matt was still concerned about how his Mom was doing and wanted to get home to see her; much understood. Made the entry point in good time and the vehicles all loaded and on the road with in a hour and a half and off to VNO and the much needed showers. Thanks Lynn and John!

Now just a note for some on this board that take kids: Do Not, I mean DO NOT EVER let a teenager leave his sneakers inside a closed vehicle for a week in the sun. WOW! I thought someone died in my truck. LOL!

When we arrived at VNO, we met up with Arkansasman who I have never met in person, but have chatted back and forth on this site and other sites.

So, Thanks Bruce for waiting for us there. It was great meeting you in person. Also what to thank you for the great homemade breakfast bars. We split them in half and the 4 of us got to sample it and we all liked it. We decided you would make someone a fine wife cooking like that.

After chatting with him for awhile and saying our goodbyes to John and the VNO folks, we hit the road for a long drive home.

Thanks for reading this it was my first trip report. I hope I didnt bore you, and that none of you are grammar teachers.

Just a quick summary:

The dehydrated stuff was great and I would surely do it again and probably experiment more with.

Packed more than we needed as always but the blue barrels worked great.

PFP -- thanks for everything and Thanks for coming along. You were a big help and I bet your ears were burning all the way home, or at least they should have, the kids really needed you and enjoyed your company.

Sneakers. Do I need to say anymore? UFDA


Voyageur North Outfitters


Info from BWCA website:
EP #16 Moose/Portage River
Method of travel is paddle. Access is a 160-rod portage to the Moose River. Many trip options with additional portages. For more information, call the LaCroix Ranger District in Cook at 218-666-0020
  • Duration: Extended Trip
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip