Canoeing is a way to sit still and pay attention.

HomeCanoeingConsultingPhotographyDharma Talks



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

Lac La Croix Loop

June 6-17, 2010


Page 1: Overview

This trip is the first of two planned for this year. It's originally scheduled for the last two weeks of May, but the day before I'm to leave I suddenly need three stitches in my left hand. I was going to enter at Isabella Lake, travel down the Isabella River (through prime blackfly and mosquito nurseries), and exit at the South Kawishiwi River. To avoid swarms of bugs I moved the trip to the big water of Lac La Croix. Ironically, this year is unusually bug-free and I probably would have survived the original trip without getting anemic from the flying parasites. I end up doing the trip that was to have been my first trip two years ago. The Isabella will just have to wait.

I enter at the Little Indian Sioux River (EP14), paddle north through Loon Lake and Snow Bay, east across Lac La Croix, southeast through Fish Stake Narrows, south to Lake Agnes via the Boulder River, and out at the Moose River (EP16).

The boat

Mad River Independence (15’8”, fiberglass with wood trim) with movable center thwart for use with the Knu-Pac portaging backpack frame, totaling about 50 lbs. with two paddles.

The gear

  • Paddles: Sawyer Kai 10-degree bent (primary); Bending Branches Black Widow (now called the Espresso ST, used for river paddling).
  • Sierra Designs Zeta 2 tent, CCS 10x12 tarp, 8x10 lightweight poly tarp.
  • Packs: Knudsen Knu-Pac frame for carrying the tent, tarps and boat (15 lbs. without the boat), Knu-Pac II pack mounted on NRS Paragon Pack (4,800 cu. in. main pack, starting out at 55 lbs.), misc. gear bag (10 lb.), day pack (10 lbs.)
  • Water filter: Platypus CleanStream with Aqua Mira backup, LL Bean filtration water bottle lashed into the boat
  • Cameras: Olympus 720SW (waterproof) and Canon 40D in Witz Sport Locker, 6 lbs. Pictures from the boat and on portages and trails were taken with the Olympus; those from land were taken with the Canon using an 18-200mm zoom lens (effective range 29-320mm due to 1.6 lens crop factor).

Total gear weight, not counting the boat, is about 90 lbs., including 12 days’ worth of food.

The food

Meals are pretty straightforward:

  • Breakfast:  granola with raisins, sunflower seeds, and Nido Milk.
  • Lunch:  bannock or fry bread (precooked and vacuum-sealed) and beef jerky.
  • Snacks: bannock with orange marmalade, some form of dark chocolate, sunflower seeds.
  • Dinner:  Mountain House dehydrated meals, rotating between Sweet & Sour Pork With Rice and Wild Rice Pilaf. The latter is supplemented with home-freeze-dried chicken. Also tried three Hawk Vittles meals: Linguini with Mushroom Sauce, Spicy Chicken, and Beef Stew. Desserts are chocolate pudding. Nightcaps are Casco de la Cruz sherry.

The body

The separated right shoulder I got in the fall of 2008 continues to hold up well. It's actually stronger now than the left one, which is probably arthritic. I have no trouble with the physical demands of the trip. As expected, I lose a few pounds on this trip, leaving me only a few pounds over my ideal weight of 155.

The map

The map case is strung between the gunwales on bungee cords so it's always visible when paddling and doesn't have to be carried separately on portages.

A map of the area can be found here (opens in a new window). Leave the map open and you'll be able to follow along on each of the travel days.

Trip statistics:

  • Total distance: 63 miles (61 miles on the water)
  • Traveling time: 30:05
  • Net paddling time: 23:20
  • Avg paddling speed 2.7 mph
  • Portages: 13 covering 746 rods (2.3 miles)
  • Portage-walking distance: 2,238 rods (7 miles)
  • Portaging time: 6:45
  • Avg portaging speed: 0.35 mph (timed from the approach to the departure and including time for taking pictures)


Trip reports by day

Day 0 – Sunday, June 6, 2010 – The Portal

The trip to Ely takes 7-1/2 hours, a new record for passing through the main part of the portal between civilization and the real world.  I check into Voyageur North Outfitters and have a nice conversation with Lynn.  My, what a cheery person!  Dinner is at the new Rockwood restaurant and I'm not so cheery about that, since it takes forever.  The food was good, though, and I imagine they’ll work out the kinks after they’ve been open a few months.  CaptDan from the forum is also at VNO and we have a most enjoyable chat in the evening.


Days 1-3: Mon.-Wed., June 7-9 - Little Indian Sioux River to Sandbar Island

Days 4-6: Thurs.-Sat., June 10-12 - Sandbar Island to Tiger Bay

Days 7-10: Sun.-Wed., June 13-16 - Tiger Bay to Lake Agnes and home

Lessons Learned: Equipment and Food Summary


Back to top


Comments and suggestions welcome. Feel free to e-mail me.
Last updated July 21, 2016
Brought to you by Codabone Productions ©2009