Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places

2020 Trips - Labor Day on the Stuart

By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:September 5-7, 2020
Entry Point:19 - Stuart River (BWCA)
Lakes:Agnes, Bottle, Dark, Fox, Iron, Lac La Croix, Lac La Croix, Nina Moose, Rush, Stuart, White Feather

We met up the evening before as we often do, mostly to allow an early start the next morning.

On the day of the trip, we staged a car at Moose River North for the exit and then shuttled back to our entry. The portage into the Stuart is advertised as being over 400 rods. Despite the deep channel of water mid-portage that required a float across, it doesn’t feel even close to that. The Stuart River landing is gorgeous in the fall with aquatic plants fading into autumn shades of brown and auburn. The Stuart doesn’t seem to get to the bony, impassible levels many BWCAW rivers get in the fall, but there are numerous patches of wild rice to navigate through and the landings are where the low water is most felt. We spent the day chugging north, taking a scenery stop at White Feather, and generally making pretty decent time. We spent a while exploring the falls at the mouth of the river. The rock formations are lovely there. There were a few groups about here and there as we traveled across Stuart. We took the longish portage out to Fox which is a stellar trail. The moss-laden hills and misty valleys are gorgeous and provide a distracting backdrop for an otherwise long portage. We passed by the campsite on Fox and took the portage into Rush and settled into the island site there. We fished around the lake well past sunset and found a few Walleyes there.

The next morning, we headed for Iron where a storm was brewing overhead. The lightning drove us ashore on an island to wait for the weather to improve. We swung out to visit Curtain Falls, smaller now than in the spring, but always beautiful. On Iron, we ran into a group disagreement. It was still Covid year and the border was shut. Would there be any problem taking the Bottle Portage? I know it is covered in treaties, but the pandemic year throws so many questions about it. I, in particular, didn’t really want to take the long portage and more time on LLC sounded fun. We ended up heading for Bottle, walking through the rapids. “Are you kidding me?” There, on a rock, was a collapsable anchor. We sighed.... It is technically a man-made trace. This would be the third anchor we collectively have packed out over the years (the other two were concrete.) It’s turning into a running joke. Anyway, the Bottle Portage was an absolute mud pit. We made it across eventually. LLC was roaring with large whitecaps which prevented us from going to explore Warrior Hill or any of the pictos. We made for the ranger station in the back bay instead and took the very well-maintained portage on the way to Agnes. We chose a decent enough campsite to spend the night in.

The next day we had a comfortable paddle out the Moose River, passing a number of groups heading in. It was a memorable weekend with beautiful sites and good adventure.

New Messages