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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

Lake One - Moose Lake Loop
June 9 - 20, 2014


Page 1: Overview

This trip begins life as a loop from Moose River North, through Lac La Croix, and out at Little Indian Sioux River, starting in mid-May. That plan is interrupted by minor heart surgery to correct atrial flutter (a relative of atrial fibrillation). It turns out my tripping partner can't make it later, so I consider a solo trip. Then I contact my friend, Jen-Shen, whom I'd met by chance in the Seagull Lake area in May of last year. It turns out he can adjust his own trip plans to accommodate my schedule.

Note: Each link opens in a new window.

The Boats

This trip is what's called a "group solo," where each person paddles a solo canoe. I provide the boats. One is a Bell NorthStar tandem (16’6”, kevlar skincoat with aluminum trim) with the bow and stern seats removed and a cane seat installed behind the center thwart. Its portage weight is 52 lbs. The other one is a Hemlock Peregrine solo (15'8", kevlar/graphite/fiberglass with wood trim). With removable portage yoke and a couple of tarp poles lashed into the stern, it weighs in at 44 lbs. This trip is its maiden voyage.

The Gear

  • Paddles: Bell/Mitchell 10-degree bent, Sanborn Canoe custom Minnesota straight shaft, Grey Owl freestyle straight shaft, Bending Branches Espresso ST (straight)..
  • Shelters: Sierra Designs Zeta 2 tent (7 lbs.), Timberline 2 tent, CCS 10x12 tarp (3 lbs.), 6x8 lightweight poly tarp.
  • Packs: Kondos Outfitter Personal Canoe Pack (5,000 cu. in., 50 lbs.), a Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack (65 liters, about 35 lbs.), a Knutsen Knu-Pac II pack mounted on an NRS Paragon Pack (4,800 cu. in., about 45 lbs.) and two day packs (about 17 lbs. each).
  • Water filter: Platypus CleanStream, Katadyn filtration water bottle.
  • Camera: Olympus TG-1 (waterproof); Jen uses a Canon Powershot SX40.
  • Cookset: Stainless steel nesting pots and bowls, Coleman single-burner stove, Esbit solid fuel stove, and appropriate wind shields.
  • New Balance Abyss OTB boots with SealSkinz knee-high socks. Jen uses Muck boots (and his feet stay drier than mine).

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 scrambled egg meals with dehydrated mushrooms, tomatoes, and onion.
  • Lunch: beef jerky, bannock and trail mix.
  • Dinners: Several Hawk Vittles and Mountain House dehydrated meals as well as a few homemade dehydrated meals. Dinners are accompanied by Cache Lake fry bread with desserts of chocolate pudding and a mix of Hungarian red wine 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 the 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

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: 48 mi.
  Total time: 26 hours
  Portages: 16 (736 rods, 2.3 mi.)
3 portages avoided due to high water
  Portage-walking distance: 2,208 rods (6.9 mi.)


Trip reports by day

Day 0 – Monday, June 9 – Through the Portal Partly

I leave Stoughton, Wisconsin in time to pick up Jen at the Duluth airport around 2:00, and the drive is uneventful - mostly. About 20 miles from Ely we spot two moose feeding in the ditch on the other side of the road, possibly a mother and calf. Shortly afterwards, a pileated woodpecker flies across our path. Omens? I don't know about that, but definitely impressive. We arrive at Voyageur North Outfitters (VNO) at about 4:30. After checking into our bunkhouse and a quick tour of Piragis' store we have dinner at The Chocolate Moose. Then we arrange for tomorrow's shuttle and a tow back on our last day. We'll be exiting at the south end of Moose Lake, which is about five miles long and oriented to the prevailing southwest winds. If we were paddling tandem I wouldn't worry about it, but solo boats have only one motor; a 20-mph wind and foot-high waves make the going tedious, difficult and dangerous.

With those preparations in place we proceed to unpack and repack our gear.


Days 1-3: Lake One to Lake Insula

Days 4-7: Lake Insula to Ima Lake

Days 8-11: Ima Lake to Moose Lake to Duluth


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Comments and suggestions welcome. Feel free to e-mail me.
Last updated July 25, 2014
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