Moose/Portage River (north) entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 27 miles. Access is a 160-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1348 feet
A favorite route offering many trip options and memorable things to see including;
World Class fishing for all four BWCA Species
Soaring granite hills and cliffs
Tumbling rapids and waterfalls
Wildlife, including Moose
Vistas from high points across the region if you're willing to climb.
Rating Easy to Moderate.
Day One. Get to EP16 off of the Echo Trail early. The initial portage is long, but well worn and smooth, sloping gently downgrade to the launch area.
Load your canoe and head North. You'll be paddling with the slight current on this narrow winding river. The water is clear and make sure to tell the bowperson to watch for looming rocks!
Day 1 of 10
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 Breakfast at CBO. We are shuttled to Moose river EP 16 arrive at 7am. The other group will arrive 30 minutes later. We get our 1st look at the gear we will be carrying since we elected for full outfitting. 3 food packs 60+lbs. 1 gear pack w/ iron griddle, stackable pots, plates, cups saw, heavy tarp & 2 tents. 3 more packs with sleeping bags,pads, clothes,1st aid, fishing stuff. A total of 7 packs, 2 canoes, 5 paddles, 1 coleman stove & 2 cans of white gas, life jackets & maps. We loaded up & started on the 160 rod portage. It started to drizzle as we left. [paragraph break]It rained off & on most of the morning. We relied on rain jackets & quick dry pants. Moose river is pretty narrow and we have to watch for rocks and logs. It gets marshy and there are plenty of mosquitoes. It is a beautiful area though. We saw a muskrat & deer. Lunch at Nina Moose lake at a campsite near the portage Summer sausage, cheese tub (yuck) and tortillas. Group B who put in behind us ate lunch nearby then left 1st and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Nina Moose river was broader & more marshy. Theres a couple of beaver dams to slide across. We got to Lake Agnes about 4pm an a lot of the campsites appeared to be taken. We decided to try for the site next to the Oyster Lake portage. A group in a silver canoe was racing us for it but we got there 1st. The campsite was open with a large slanted rock to the water. We set up camp & found out why the food packs were so heavy. We had 6 burgers, 6 steaks, 5 packages of bacon, 6 ham steaks, 3 quarts of corn oil, 12 eggs and tons of gorp. The lunches were pretty heavy mostly sausages & cheese, 2 jars each of peanut butter & squeeze jelly, the rest was freeze dried. We also had 5 loaves of bread which got flatter as time went on. Bear bags went up, 1 rope & no pulleys was not enough for 3 heavy packs. A lot of the weight is our fault for choosing 3 fresh meals & too many potential fish meals. but we also had food for the extra person that didn't show. More about him later.
Day 2 of 10
Wednesday, June 28, 2006 Breakfast Vanilla Granola, Milk Hot chocolate We packed & got going. Yelled at group B we were trying for 3 island in Iron lake. We decided to go around Tiger Bay to get to Bottle portage since it was early and there wasn't much wind yet. We saw Arkansas man on the way out of Agnes he told us the fishing was good at the campsite on the west side of Iron. Thanks, it was a nice site. Sorry if we got in the way, that was the portage G tried to pick up the canoe in the water, slipped and gashed a hunk of skin out of his palm. I had to get him to the other side of the portage to find the 1st aid kit. We made a note to always remember which pack we put it in. He cleaned his hand with alchohol swabs and put neosporin on it. It healed very well. [paragraph break]Bottle portage was steep up & down. 80 rods but relatively smooth. I turtled on the way up with a really heavy gear pack. My foot slipped off a rock & I made the decision not to try to stop the pack as it started to swing around to keep from twisting my leg. I simply let the pack pull me backward. Fortunately most of the stuff in it was soft. I landed on top of the pack upside down but ok. I had to leave the pack there because I couldn't stand up with it without help. G carried it back even though I told him I could if someone helped me up with it. Lots of mud at exit. Lunch: salami/cheese sandwiches on a rocky point. [paragraph break]Decided to lay over a day on Iron. The boys climbed on the big boulder by the fire grate and played chess & cards. Ben hooked a 2 foot pike from the canoe then handed the pole to G. The fish splashed them with his tail & swam off. Many people claim pike are sentient. We think we know what the fish was saying as he left. This is a great campsite except the latrine is about 200 feet back in the woods, lots of mosquitoes & was almost full. I hope it got a new latrine. It also has a nice large flat rock area close to the water. Lots of rocks & logs to sit on around the fire grate. [paragraph break]Dinner Steaks, garlic mashed potates corn. Yay, lots of weight gone. Ben shows us a sore spot on his foot that looks like he got something in it. Everyone is bushed & we had another round of hang 3-50-60Lb bags in a tree.
Day 3 of 10
Thursday, June 29, 2006 Layover day Iron Lake I get up at 5am to watch the sun rise. Dan got mad when I asked for camera at 5:30. Can't blame him but we missed a good picture. He got up & we went fishing from the canoe about 6am. No luck. The eggs got broken when the bear bag crashed down but we saved most of them and had really good scrambled eggs & bacon. Layover days are great! Ben's foot is looking worse & has a red circle around the sore spot. We treat with bactroban & start him on Bactrim orally. I start to think of ways to make a quick exit if it gets worse. Lunch Peanut butter sandwiches, then went to the island near by to fish. There were a lot of blueberries to pick. I got a bite on a pink & black rubber minnow. Gavin cast a spinner next to it & caught a 14inch walleye we kept for dinner. He caught pike too, but we weren't sure how to clean it & it got away when he tried to rinse it off. [paragraph break]Dinner: Ham steaks, Augratin potatoes & Walleye. Rejected dried peas & carrots. Had fruit cobbler for dessert. (All fruit deserts seem to be dehydrated apples) The boys did a demonstration of blazing saddles as Dan called it. Who knew ham steaks were so gassy? I'm glad we didn't have beans. [paragraph break]Everyone agreed walleye is great. G had brought more rope & we finally got bear bags up w/less problems. They are lighter too. Also we had baths & did laundry. Clean laundry is great too! Boys found lots of ticks on tents. Every site has it's drawbacks.
Day 4 of 10
Friday, June 30, 2006 Breakfast Blueberry pancakes & bacon. The granulated syrup s@$#s. Apple sauce is rejected. Ben's foot looks better, continue to treat w/ bacrim & bactroban. Loaded up & said good by to the mosquito infested latrine. 3 miles to 140 r portage. The only one of the day. The weather has been great for 3 days. It can't last. We fight the current to the beginning of Curtain falls. We make it. We find out later group B dumped there. We enter Crooked Lake. We fight a medium south east wind to the campsite outside of Saturday bay. Sandy beach, less rocks. Dan found a big rock face we scramble up to. It has a slight breeze and is warmed by the sun. Nice heating pad. G & J paddle out to some rocks the outfitter circled as a place to fish. There is a nesting loon on the rocks & it & it's mate chase J back into the boat before G can get out. J jumps back in the moving boat to get away G calls him a name. The loons keep attacking so they come back to camp. [paragraph break]Dinner Freeze dried Mexican rice w/ beef, Mexican corn. Chocolate pudding Not a big hit. G asks for something for diarrhea after dinner. I give him Immodium& Pepto tablets.
Day 5 of 10
Saturday, July 01, 2006 1:00am: Heard G come out of the tent & start throwing up. He threw up a while & went back in the tent. A little while later we hear: Mr F. I had diarrhea & threw up all over myself, all my clothes are messed up, I have no water & I think there's a bear out there. Dan found more water, gave him toilet paper to clean up the tent, I gave him more immodium. He went down to the latrine, fought a resident spider on the seat, then went back to the tent & settled down. [paragraph break]2:00am The wind started coming up & it started to thunder. Dan & I remembered the canoes weren't tied down so we go down to the beach & start moving the canoes, I pull Dan across a couple of big rocks & get yelled at. We tie down the canoes & weight down the tarp over the gear packs. It started to rain & lightining was everywhere. Gusts of wind were shaking the tent. It really poured for about 2 hours. One final huge gust of wind pushed up the side of the tent & we held it down. Soon after the storm passed. I remember, oh yeah, its my birthday. [paragraph break]We got up late the next morning with a strong wind coming straight across the cove into our site. The canoes had flipped back over. We are glad we secured them & vow to the rest of the trip. The waves are hitting the beach pretty hard. We decided to give the wind some time to die down & Gavin to recuperate. We appropriate G's camelback water dispenser and have everyone start using it as a hand washing station by tying it to a tree along the latrine trail at each campsite w/biodegradable soap and mixing iodine tabs in the water. I wish we'd done it earlier. [paragraph break]We look at the map & see the route was mostly due south & the wind was coming from the north. Dan & I take a canoe over to the point see the water around the point is pretty calm. We left about 3:30 with G as duffer. It was a pretty tough paddle to the point. As soon as we rounded the corner, the water smoothed out & the wind was pushing us from behind. We paddled through more of Crooked Lake, past Friday, Thursday & Wednesday bay. There was a shortcut around an island with what looked like water to get from Thursday to Wednesday bay on the map. We couldn't see it when we got to the back of the cove. We looked back to see large waves and wind we would have to fight to get back to the main channel. We kept looking & saw water on the other side of some rocks There was a small opening with water flowing over the rocks about a canoe wide. We got out & carried over to the smooth water on the other side. It was a pretty area. [paragraph break]We found a campsite about 7:30 & set up camp. G only wanted gatorade & Tylenol for dinner. He did a great job navigating. We had chicken & rice & green beans & Apple brown betty. Apples are getting old.
Day 6 of 10
Sunday, July 02, 2006 We found out later this was Table Rock. I guess I was too tired to recognize it. The big raised rock out front is pretty obvious. We pumped water, cleaned dishes & broke camp. The latrine here was the buggiest yet. Multiple generations of mosquitoes seem to have been nourished by the unprotected rumps that have shown up for hundreds of years. We found out group B stayed there the night before. They were out of bug spray by the 3rd day so it was probably pretty bad. The tent pads are on rock & moss, hard to stake down & we couldn't find decent bear bag trees. [paragraph break]We clean up & head out. We stopped to look at the pictographs on the side of the lake. We are still in Crooked after all this time. We portaged Lower Basswood Falls, then Wheelbarrow Falls. We were headed for the 30 rod portage below Basswood Falls when we saw 3 yellow canoes & several people at the campsite across the lake. We paddled over & found group B. Everyone was pretty excited. We started to camp at the next campsite over. They had a great site, with branchy pine trees and a huge rock overlook, but the next site was low & brushy with a hum you could hear from the landing. We went back & told them we were going on through the next portage.[paragraph break] We stayed at the the site next to the beginning of the 340 rod portage. Really nice site. Very open & high, overlooking the rapids. Not close to the landing however. Dinner Turkey Alfredo (ok) Peas & carrots (not good) G caught a pike in the current & picked blueberries for pancakes.
Day 7 of 10
Monday, July 03, 2006 It rained during the night, no lightning. The morning was clear. Breakfast: Hot drinks, western cheese omlettes, hashbrowns, bacon. Powdered eggs are pretty mediocre but the hash browns are good. We try to consolidate packs for the 340 rod portage ahead. Group B passes by on the portage before we're packed up. We still had 7 packs, 2 canoes, the stove, 1 gas can fishing poles, paddles & 1 large bag of trash to carry over a mile. We decide to tag team the canoes. It is a pretty level portage with a few up/down hills. I got lost on the way back for the second load when the trail drops off the edge of a large flat rock. I finally found the trail just because I knew it had to be there. Things always look different going in the opposite direction. We started east & south on Basswood Lake. It was pretty choppy & windy. I pumped water & helped paddle from the middle over to USA point. There was a canoe in front of us trying to sail, but they didn't seem to be going much faster. [paragraph break]Lunch: Beef jerky & crackers on a rock island across Basswood. No one wants the tub cheese. We went around USA point & start looking for campsites. We checked 5 or 6 sites & end up at the 1st of three sites north of Washington island. We put the tents down in the pine trees. The fire grate is up above in a big open dirt area. Great view of Basswood & some small islands. Dinner: Beef Stroganoff (good) Carrots (not good) G caught & released pike since it was after dinner. [paragraph break]1:30 a.m. I turn over on a bug that starts attacking my head. I ask Dan to check out what is attacking me while I hide under my sleeping bag. Is was a small fly-like hornet with black & yellow stripes. We caught it in a shoe & I started to throw it out of the tent. The hornet flew back in & stung me on the inside of the wrist. I screamed, the hornet landed on the tent floor & got hit by the shoe. I put cortisone & Rexeme cream on it, took 2 benadryl & went to sleep. The boys didn't even wake up, I'm glad we weren't being attacked by a bear.
Day 8 of 10
Tuesday, July 04, 2006 Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes & (still) bacon. Not complaining, the bacon was worth its weight. Added orange drink powder to syrup. It finally has flavor! The boys fish while we clean up, pump water & start laundry. No fish. Lunch: grilled cheese with the last of the squashed bread. The boys make their own. We've been rotating cooking & cleaning. They caught on pretty quick that if they didn't cook they had to clean& cooking is a lot easier. The boys are left to do their laundry & bathe while we take a canoe & fish. I caught a nice pike & we decide to keep it for dinner. The boys cooked ramen & the chunky potatoes from the Chicken & Mashed dinner. The boys fished while we did dishes. [paragraph break]They had a good time here. Pushing Ben in the water & throwing things at him, playing games, fishing & goofing around. Nice site. The rock down by the water is a little too steep, very short distance to the latrine. Too easy to heckle the occupant. Dan thought he saw the northern lights at 11pm till we figured out we were seeing the fireworks in Ely.
Day 9 of 10
Wednesday, July 05, 2006 Breakfast Oatmeal,cocoa Cleaned & packed up. Started to Wind Lake at 8:30. Ben was duffer navigator. We completely circled an island & headed in wrong direction. Group B was headed for the same portage. Decided to race, we finally got back on track & got in 1st. We portaged across. to Wind. There's a neat little shallow stream across the portage about half way. It was really refreshing. I managed to get a lure caught in a bush & didn't realize it for a while. The excess line got wrapped around my foot but I didn't want to stop in the middle of the portage since I was carrying a pack, the stove and the rods. It was a real mess by the end. [paragraph break]We stopped at the island site on Wind. Someone had tried to burn huge logs in the fire grate. We noticed this site and the previous site had a lot of less considerate occupants. It took a while to clean it up. We fished at a nearby island. No fish. The boys all had snacks & took a nap. Dinner Chicken & rice green beans. hot cocoa. Not bad There was a large sounding animal moving around in the brush behind the tent. Not sure what it was.
Day 10 of 10
Thursday, July 06, 2006 Got up at & watched the sun rise, even the boys. Packed up & paddled to final portage. Then 3 miles down Moose Lake to CBO. Stopped & took pictures of bald eagles in the trees. Got back to CBO about 10:30 & waited for the other group. Boys played with Yonah, the chocolate lab that lived there. Went to SirGs for lunch & did some laundry. Had Dinner at CBO with Dorothy Moulter & Iron Horse root beer from town. It's great to have ice again. Tried fishing from the dock until the Brown Menace Yonah started diving in & chasing lures. Poor puppy, he'd passed away by the next time we went. [paragraph break]Returned to Houston then next day. Things we wished we'd brought: Pulley for bear bags, dishrags & towels, Leather glove for hot pots, extra collapsible bucket, Lighter sleeping bags & aluminum griddle. Better lightweight food. [paragraph break]Worst Memories: G- Night of many vomits & diarrea, J-not catching any fish, B-Portages K-Wind lake portage, hornet D- cleaning G's barfy poopy laundry [paragraph break]Best Memories B- hooking giant pike G- watching J get attacked by loons & trying to jump back in boat. K&D- Watching the boys having fun fishing & goofing off. Meeting the challenge of portages & long paddles. Sitting on the rocks at the end of the day waiting for the mosquitoes to disappear & watching the ducks come back to roost. Napping on warm rocks
Sorry if this is too wordy. I cut back some. It was a long trip. But one we'll always remember. P.S on a sad note the Dad of 2 of the boys who backed out at the last minute passed away with a heart attack 2 weeks after we got back. Our trip might have been a lot different. We still miss him terribly.