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Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Campsites

Bois Brule River

Flambeau River

Kickapoo and Mecan Rivers

Menonomee River

Sylvania Wilderness

Wisconsin's Flowages

Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers


Boats & Gear

Boundary Waters Gear List

Bell Wildfire (Royalex)

Blackhawk Ariel

Mad River Independence (sold)

Wenonah Prism (sold)
-cane seat installation
-thwart replacement

Custom portage pads

Seat-mounted portage yoke

Outside canoe shelter

Inside canoe storage



Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Moose River North Out-and-Back
September 12-18, 2013


Page 1: Overview

This trip is originally planned for last spring, going from the Moose River (EP16) through Lac La Croix and coming out at Little Indian Sioux River (EP14). It doesn't turn out quite that way.

Note: Each link opens in a new window.

The Boat

Bell NorthStar (16’6”, kevlar skincoat with aluminum trim) tandem with the bow and stern seats removed and a cane seat installed behind the center thwart. With a folding chair and two paddles lashed in, its portage weight is about 60 lbs.

The Gear

  • Paddles: Bell/Mitchell 10-degree bent, Sanborn Canoe custom Minnesota straight shaft.
  • Shelter: Sierra Designs Zeta 2 tent (7 lbs.), CCS 10x12 tarp (3 lbs.), 6x8 lightweight poly tarp.
  • Packs: Kondos Outfitter Personal Canoe Pack (5,000 cu. in., 45 lbs.), a Cabela's Boundary Waters pack (kitchen and food starting out at 33 lbs.), and day pack (17 lbs.). I plan to triple portage and this arrangement is easy to carry and distributes weight well in the boat.
  • Water filter: Platypus CleanStream, Katadyn filtration water bottle.
  • Camera: Olympus TG-1 (waterproof); I leave the Canon 40D at home, saving 5 lbs.
  • Cookset: Esbit solid fuel stove with wind shield, 1.3-qt. pot with lid, bowl, and 10-oz. mug.
  • New Balance Abyss OTB boots with SealSkinz knee-high socks.

Total gear weight, not counting the boat, is about 85 lbs., including 12 days’ worth of food.

The Food

Meals are pretty straightforward:

  • Breakfast: granola with dried blueberries and raisins, and a half-and-half mix of instant nonfat dry milk and Nido Milk. Also a few items from Outdoor Herbivore. I particularly like their AppalaChia, Apple Quinoa Oatmeal, and Toasted Sunburst Muesli.
  • Lunch: beef jerky, tortillas and trail mix.
  • Dinners: Several Hawk Vittles, Outdoor Herbivore, and Mountain House dehydrated meals as well as a few homemade dehydrated meals. Dinners are accompanied by tortillas, with desserts of dark chocolate and a mix of sherry and Chambord.

I use a BearVault 500 because of the beef jerky, trail mix and granola, which are aromatic no matter how well they're sealed. My dog ignores the Bear Vault when it's closed, but I wonder if a bear would smell anything. I stash my food carefully at night and it's never been disturbed, except one time when certain curious rodents investigated a dry bag with trail mix in it.

The Map

The map case is strung between the gunwales on bungee cords and rests on top of the portage pads so it's always visible when paddling; I tuck it under the yoke for portaging so I don't have to carry it separately on portages.

A map of the area can be found here. Leave the map open and you'll be able to follow along on each of the travel days.

Campsite numbers are the ones painted on the latrines.  The figures in parentheses indicate the site numbers from this commonly-used file: bwca-camp+port-wpt.gdb, located at this site:

Trip Statistics (you really want to know this):

  Total distance: 32 mi.
  Total time: 16:00
  Portages: 15 (840 rods, 2.6 mi.)
  Portage-walking distance: 2,520 rods (7.9 mi.)
  Portaging time: 6:00
  Net paddling time: 10:00


Trip reports by day

Day 0 – Thursday, Sept. 12 – Through the Portal Partly

It's the usual almost-eight-hour drive to Ely. I can't say much for the view but it's encouraging. (I always use bow lines when carrying a boat; they looked ugly in this picture so I removed them.)


I bunk at Voyageur North Outfitters and have a nice dinner of walleye-something at The Chocolate Moose.

Like the last trip, the theme of this one is to learn what it has to teach, as well as celebrate my very recent 64th birthday. Lessons are often difficult so I guess I'm in the right place, doing the right thing. I reflect on the fact that I have resources - plenty of time, enough money, a bit of insight, a functioning brain, a body that works reasonably well - that enable me to make choices not available to many others. What more could I ask for? Well, maybe good weather.... As I conk out for the night I'm aware that I'm through the portal only partly, with tomorrow's shuttle finishing this first leg of the trip.


Days 1-4: Fri.-Sun., Sept. 12-15 - Moose River to Tiger Bay Area

Days 5-7: Mon.-Wed., Sept. 16-18 - Tiger Bay Area to Moose River


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Comments and suggestions welcome. Feel free to e-mail me.
Last updated July 21, 2016
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