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

Shell Lake Weekend

By Ben Strege Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:June 4-7, 2010
Entry Point:14 - Little Indian Sioux River North (BWCA)
Lakes:Lower Pauness, Shell, Upper Pauness

I found out that my sister Carolyn was going to be in town, so I decided to ask if she wanted to go on a short weekend canoe trip with Katherine (another sister), my wife Auralee, and me. Carolyn said it sounded like a good idea. Katherine loves fishing, so she was very excited to go. I had come back from another weekend trip just the Monday before, so trying to get everything dried out and repacked was difficult to do in just three days. But we did it and were able to head out to the Boundary Waters.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Carolyn and Katherine had picked up the permit the day before at the ranger station in Cook. We got up really early so we could reach the entry point around sunrise. We headed up through Cook and Orr instead of going our usual route through Ely and up the Echo Trail. It had been raining, so the Echo Trail was a little muddy and slippery, but we made it to the Little Indian Sioux River without incident.
Headed to Upper Pauness
Headed to Upper Pauness

I wanted to make it to Heritage Lake, but this trip wasn't really for me. I told everyone that we could stop whenever and wherever they wanted. It was a damp and rainy morning, but there was little wind. We donned our rainsuits and life jackets and headed out. I had never been to entry point #14 before, so it was a new experience for me. The first portage went well. We made it into Upper Pauness and prepared for the "up-and-over" portage to get into Lower Pauness. Even though it was only 8 rods long, it proved difficult in the rain. The portage was one slippery rock. I fell down and scraped a knee, but luckily my injury wasn't too bad.

Then we came to the long-portage that could make us really suffer. The portage into Shell was well over 200 rods long. It was raining, the trail was muddy, and the packs were heavy. We managed to do one and a half portages (dropping a pack halfway) to save some time, but everyone was pretty tired at the end of it. We stood on the shore of Shell Lake eating soggy granola bars with water dripping off the front of our hats. By this time, the wind had also picked up, so there were waves to greet us on the lake. We discussed what to do and decided to stop on Shell rather than pushing on to another lake.

I didn't know which campsites were good on this lake, so we just headed out to the closest ones. I tend to like campsites off the beaten path a bit, so I didn't want to stay at the one right after the portage. Instead, we headed south. We took a look at the southwestern campsite on the lake and decided we liked it. The landing was pretty good - a shallow rock ledge - and there were the types of large red pines that I really like.

We set up our tents and the tarp to put our gear under. We also ate lunch under the tarp - the rain was making it a bit miserable to be out. After lunch we all crashed in our tents and took a well-deserved nap. When we woke up, it had stopped raining, and we were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon/evening at least semi-dry. We finished setting up camp and then made dinner. In the evening, we went out and tried the fishing for a bit. Carolyn and Katherine were in one canoe, and Auralee and I were in the other. Auralee and I headed back a little early since we weren't catching anything. Right after we headed back for camp, Carolyn and Katherine caught a northern. They had trouble landing and releasing it. By the time they got the hook out, the fish was dead. They brought it back to camp. We don't like wasting fish, so we tried putting the dead fish on a stringer and hoping it would be there the next day so we could eat it. We only had the head left by morning...

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