Category Archives: Rivers

Decling Moose Population Worries Researchers

The moose population in northeastern Minnesota has dropped almost 35 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, leading to concern for the future of the iconic animal. The drop is so severe, and with the cause remaining uncertain, the DNR has cancelled the moose hunt for this coming fall.

The estimate for 2013 is around 2,760 moose in the northeastern part of the state, down considerably from the 2006 estimate of 8,840. In an attempt to learn more about the cause of moose decline, researchers are hoping to collar a total of 110 animals and track their whereabouts through the coming months, according to the DNR’s website.

Here at Duluth Pack, the moose in our logo has come to represent much of what makes our little neck of the woods in northern Minnesota so special. We consider ourselves to be outdoors advocates. Whether it’s camping, hiking, fishing, or hunting, we love to be outdoors. To continue enjoying the amazing sites, sounds and images that we cherish, we think it’s useful to know what’s happening up in our little slice of heaven.

River #5 – Namekagon River, WI

After writing and paddling a “river a week” for a bit now, one river keeps coming back to mind, The Namekagon River in Wisconsin. This river has it all, especially for an overnight/several day trip. Few rivers have such accessible campsites that are even equipped with picnic tables!

We started the river 33 miles upstream from Hayward, not many paddling books cover this stretch since it is mostly doable only in early Spring.  Over two seasons we have done down to where the river meets up with the St. Croix. This wild and scenic river has very limited development,great campsites, and plenty of wildlife including one of my favorite photos of an eagle (thanks J).  There are plenty of Class I rapids and riffles to keep everyone satisfied. The higher up you go on the river the less people you
will see. We have done this trip each year in mid May. It is a great family trip and also a good trip for beginning paddlers. The Namekagon River Visitor Center has always been extrememly helpful to us. Please give them a call before you head out at 715-635-8346.

River paddling is a great way to connect with your friends and family! A captive audience!

 

Have any of you done this river? We would love to read your story and see your photos!

River #4 – Little Indian Sioux River, MN

The Little Indian Sioux River is mainly located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  The most popular route on the river is traveling North off the Echo Trail.  For this trip we headed South, upstream (entry point #9). This was also a special trip because it was our first ever Father – Daughter trip.

The river is lazy and winding and there is minimal flow, so allow enough time in the day if you are going into Bootleg Lake. A few spots on the river were shallow, I would recommend doing the trip earlier in the Spring or after ample rains. The trip is
doable anytime of year, it just may take a little more effort. There are  two rapids to portage around in the first section, the first being a short 8 rod portage but an impressive “falls”. The second portage is longer, around a rocky stretch of rapids. You will probably encounter a beaver dam or two on this section.  After several miles we veered off onto the Little Pony River, a smaller, narrower river that leads into Bootleg Lake.

Bootleg is a quiet lake with 2/3 campsites. After one night on Bootleg, it was a portage back to the Little Indian Sioux River. We had heard stories about this portage being tough to find. We hugged the shoreline until we made out a path, I jumped out to scout it out, we were in luck, it was recently cleared by the US Forest Service (thank you)!  Double portaging allowed my Dad and I some bonding time (on the non-pack carrying leg).  The MVP from this trip was my Rambler Pack, which we used as our food pack. We hung it from a tree where it was rained on for 10 hours, the next morning it was dry!

Once back on the Little Indian Sioux we wound back and forth so many times I started to get dizzy!  On this section, I spotted my first muskrat, that followed us (or dodged us) several times. After several miles, we exited off the river, onto a long portage that brought us into windy Little Trout Lake.  After a brief respite on Little Trout Lake, we headed into Trout Lake and soon there after exited onto the small, serpentine Pine Creek that leads into Pine Lake.  There are a few long portages off this creek that lead to other less explored lakes but this creek is frequently used by fisherman from Trout Lake. Off of Trout Lake you have a small portage around some picturesque rapids. Pine Lake was the first time we didn’t have a lake or river completely to ourselves. We did enjoy our last night out with a late afternoon paddle around the lake.  At the far end of Pine Lake you can still see evidence of the timber industry, with abandoned railroad posts, from a former bridge, jutting out from the lake in an eerie pattern.

The last morning after another portage, we arrived at Trout Lake and our ride home. The trip was peaceful, with such unique landscape, I will definitely add this to my list to do again. Also, this river trip meant a great deal more to be able to share it with my Father. Thank you Dad for the company, and Happy Father’s Day!

Signed, the Cribbage Champ

River #3 – The Little Fork, Northern MN

The great thing about paddling rivers is not just seeking out the grand majestic Mississippi or St. Croix Rivers, but to explore smaller rivers near your home or off the beaten path.

That’s what we did this week. The Little Fork River is a smaller river that is located from the Minnesota and Canadian border and continues for about 100 or so miles. Smaller rivers often have little development which was the case with the Little Fork. We spent the day watching the various landscape of pine trees, farmland, and wooded banks. We followed a river otter for a half mile and watched several eagles and an owl!

The one “challenge” about paddling rivers is the shuttling. When you get out you need a way to get back to the beginning. We took two cars to the drop off, dropped off our canoe and locked it to a tree. Next we both drove to the take out and left a vehicle, then drove back to the put in with our gear, unlocked the canoe and took off.  Often, more popular rivers, will offer a shuttle service. In the past we have even locked a bicycle at the take out and someone biked back to the put in vehicle.

The sections we did had it all, slow quiet water, a few Class I rapids, two Class II rapids and a Class IV-VI Hannine Falls (which yes, we did portage). We lingered long enough to snap photos and a video.

 

Another important thing about rivers that I have mentioned before is, ALWAYS SCOUT RAPIDS.

Even if you have done the rapids a hundred times before, a downed tree, log, or other obstacle could have recently wedged its way into your path.  Remember, Get Out and Scout!

River #2 – A Trip Down the St. Croix

 

This weekend 7 of us (3 canoe teams) are heading down the St. Croix in WI & MN.
We had planned to start at the beginning of the river at the Gordon Dam, but low waters deemed this section “challenging”.

At the last minute we opted for a lower section, always check water levels before heading out. We put in at the C.C.C Bridge (a few miles north of Riverside Landing) and we took out at the St. Croix State Park Main Landing.This section is wild and scenic. It can get low so check water levels.  There are easy riffles and rapids and a steady flow. Campsites were very nice (watch out for ticks!)

Despite rain on the first night, snowflakes on the second morning, and 35 mph wind gusts, we all had a great time! Without portages you can bring along a cooler and treat yourself to great meals.  Each canoe team was responsible for their own breakfast, lunch and snacks. For two nights on the river, 2 teams each took a dinner, and the 3rd team provided dessert and an appetizer for each of the two dinner meals. We ate well!

The MVP’s of the weekend went to our tarps, with the rain and wind it made
camp-life bearable.  Runner-up went to our knee-high wader boots. It was so nice to have dry feet all weekend and to be able to get in and out of the canoe without having to be next to shore. Also, in low spots, it’s easy to jump out, pull the canoe along, and jump back in. Dry feet!

We saw a lot of eagles, herons, osprey, deer, owls and turtles! We only saw one other boat until the take out, we had the whole river to ourselves. The earlier you can plan a river trip the better. I would recommend the St. Croix as an easy beginner trip.