May 1st 2019 by Tim Barton
With ice out on most of the lakes and rivers on the west end of the BWCAW, We decided 5/1 was the perfect opportunity to get into the woods for our first official camping trip of the 2019 paddle season. What better way to work out the kinks than to travel 35 miles on two of my favorite rivers in the park Moose river and Indian Sioux.
We started early morning at ep #8 Moose river south. I can’t tell you how great it felt to put my paddle in the water for the first time of the year. The first stretch of the river is a lazy flow with plenty of twists and turns. It was hard work and could feel the rust of a long winter with every draw to the left and quick J stroke to the right. After contending with a few beaver dams, kicking up a some swans and taking plenty of pictures we arrived at our first portage. It is a beautiful portage on its own with large rock ledges and beyond a few downed trees it was relatively easy walking.
The next portage on the river is one of my favorite in the Boundary waters. During the summer this portage is a nice wide open grove of red pines and large boulders, that if you catch in the right time of year can fill every container you have with blueberries. As a rule the portage clocks in at 80 rods but in the spring of the year you can paddle up the river a bit and cut that in half.
Next step was to paddle the length of Big moose lake and it felt great to paddle big water, the wind was up a bit and with cold weather/water we kept close to shore just to be safe. At the bottom of Big Moose is one of the bigger portages on this side of the park. A 580 rod portage with a large swamp in the middle. I am happy to say that since the leaves haven’t quite popped yet there was no overgrowth to fight and for the most part the portage was pretty easy walking (other then the half dozen trees we had to climb over)
We then traveled at a nice pace (thanks to a strong easterly wind at our back) to the far west end of Cummings. There we chose a site up and out of the wind so as to avoid that cold wind that so expeditiously brought us across the lake. We scouted the shores for firewood opportunities and came across some dead and dry red pines that would do well for cooking and keeping warm. Our menu tonight included marinated new York strips with veggies and brown rice. Which thanks to our master camp chef Joe turned out fantastic.
We woke up the next morning to a fresh layer of snow. It was like waking up in a snow globe after it was shaken up. We quickly started a fire to warm up and cook breakfast which consisted of cheddar cheese, sliced up polish sausages and eggs rolled up into burritos. It gave us the kick we needed for the challenging day ahead.
The stretch we had ahead of us is one of my favorite in the boundary waters. This river has it all, giant beaver dams, unmarked portages, tight turns and even the occasional short cut brought on by high water. The flow was very helpful in moving us along the river quickly. We saw a lot of Moose sign throughout the trip and some of the biggest beaver dams I have ever seen.
Our last stop before we finished was at Sioux falls. It was a great chance to catch our breath and take in all the beauty of these iconic falls on the southwest side of the bwca.
All in all this was a perfect trip to get us all into paddling shape this season. And a cool way to get to know our new retail manager and see what he is made of 🙂