Sioux-Hustler Hiking Trip Report -- May 1995

Sunday, 5/21/95

I slept in my car at the trail head.  I put down the the back seat of my Geo Storm, stuck my backpack between the front seat and the folded down back seat and could almost stretch out.  I got up just before 6am, but didn't have any water so I simply packed my stuff and started hiking.  Because it was sprinkling I did as much as I could in the car and didn't end up leaving until 7:05am.

The trail follows roadbed for the first 1/2 mile.  I could see from the beginning the trail was wet.  I never went over my boots, but I was constantly trying to avoid it on the wet, sloppy trail.  I I head one canoe before the first set of rapids.  By the time I got there, I was really getting thirsty and hungry.  I stopped and got water and took a picture of the trail near the river here.  While waiting for the iodine tablet to dissolve, I walked up another .3 mile to a rock over looking the river.  Just before getting there a group of 4 passed on the portage which is on the other side of the river.  At the rock I ate a Wild Berry Power Bar and drank some water - it really helped give me a boost.

About 10:30am or 11am a very low flying float plane sailed overhead east to west.  It seemed too low to be legal, but maybe it was USFS on official business.

With little excitement I made it to Devil's Cascade just after 11am.  I took three pictures.  One picture of the upper part of the falls looking upstream to Lower Pauness, one picture of the gorge-type middle section, and one picture of a lower flatter section.  I ate my bagel, took off my socks and boots to dry my feet.  My feet got cold and it started to drizzle again.  I ran into another party of 3 or 4.  I started hiking again by noon.

About a mile after Devil's Cascade, my knee started hurting - maybe early signs of arthritis the doctor warned me of years ago when he removed all my cartilage from my left knee.  I continuously couldn't find myself on the map.  For someone who always likes to know exactly where he is, this wasn't fun.  The sloughs on the map and in reality didn't seem to match up.  As much as I didn't like the uncertainty of the map, I like the sloughs.  Water and openings in the woods always add to the experience and help me realize I'm making progress.  I take a couple pictures.  The first picture is one of an extremely wet "beaver dam" for lack of a better term.  The second picture is of some open water in one of the sloughs.  I jumped a good sized deer in a dry slough halfway to Heritage Creek Portage.  I thought I would be able to see Heritage Creek before the portage, but there was no sign of the creek.  The sun started to come out and it warmed up enough so that the blackflies where quite bad.  I took a break at the portage intersection, but mostly fended off the flies - at least they didn't bite.  After the portage my knee began hurting to the point that it slowed me down.

I left the portage by 2:30pm.  Heritage Creek had plenty of water and was pretty.  I was lucky to find  a log jam to cross the river on.  Three-forths of the way from the creek to Pageant Lake I stopped to rest and found I'd lost my map.  I went back and found it only 10 minutes back.  There where a lot of blowdowns after the portage that weren't even cut due to the sheer number of them.  I reached Pageant Lake at 4:23pm.  I was extremely glad to see camp with my knee that was doing me in.

Once in camp, I set up the tent, found some firewood and started a fire.  I ate around 6:30pm - some fettuccine noodles with alfredo sauce.  It was a beautiful afternoon evening on this out of the way lake.  I took a couple pictures, one in the late afternoon and one in the early evening .  I did some luckless fishing, had some hot chocolate and hung the pack.  Although the black flies have been bad around camp, I couldn't ask for better weather.  It's warmed up to about 60 degrees and the skies have cleared.  I dried my socks out and have had a nice evening.  After 2 Advil, my knee feels fine.  Early to bed and hope to have an early morning.

Monday, 5/22/95

I couldn't believe I woke to rain.  It was totally clear when I went to bed.  I woke up at 5:25am, but stayed in bed until after 7am due to the rain.  The rain pretty much stopped while I broke camp at 8:35am.  It started again as I broke camp and sprinkled some of the next two hours.  The trail to Rangeline Lake was fairly bad with blowdowns.  In some places I even doubted the way because it was so logstrewn.  Pageant Creek was nice, but nothing special.  Rangeline Creek was "pristine" looking.  Rangeline Lake campsite gets a solid 9 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Beautiful Lake.  Pine covered flat table rock setting looking out at a string of islands.  Only down side might be bugs - it looked "buggy".  Pageant Lake campsite also gets a good 9, with it's only downside being access to the water being a little difficult to negotiate. Devil's Cascade site gets a 7, primarily for the distance from water (it's way above the river) and portage traffic not too far from the site.  Between Rangeline and Hustler Lakes there was some old growth pine - nice, but as large as I remember on Old Pines Loop.  I crossed the outlet of Hustler Lake in a swampy looking area of alder.  There was no trail to the northern Hustler Lake campsite (that I saw).  The trail from there to the eastern tip was relatively flat with no view of the water.  I ate lunch at the eastern Hustler Lake campsite.  Long trail, average site (5 out of a possible 10).  I left Hustler at 1:10pm.  On the way to Emerald Lake there was a climb with some decent bald spots, but no vistas.

I didn't go to the southern Emerald Lake campsite, but it too looked to have a long spur.  Shohola Creek had the highest dam so far - I'd say a good 8 feet tall.  After the creek you climb.  At the top is a decent overlook to the east at the "corner".  Here the trail cuts back to the west, while an old (not maintained) version of the trail goes south.  I ate my Power Bar and was back on the trail a few minutes after 3pm.

West from the corner the trail stayed pretty high.  In a couple places along the "ridge" there were some bald spots, but the views were somewhat limited to the immediate forest below.  I took a 5 minute break at the last spot before the trail descended into the forest below.  There was no trail to Agawato Lake (that I saw, but others have since said it exists), but I did jump off the trail and climb a cliff/rock on the south side of the trail that overlooks Agawato.  While I was on top of this rock, looking out over Agawato and some of Lynx Lakes I heard what I thought was an owl chirp like a hawk.  I could see it in a tree not too far away and it seemed mad.  Then it swooped at me like it was going to attack.  It happened twice more before I basically ran away from the spot.  It must have had young nearby.  I decided I'd camp on Shell Lake since I couldn't on Agawato.  The trail had some overlooks, but more than anything, I noticed that it had been cleared fairly wide in many places (10 - 15 feet), but the waist to head high brush was terrible in places.  The trail along Little Shell is actually right on the water which is really nice for a change.  There was a nice flat spot just after the Shell Lake flowage to camp on Little Shell, but I passed it up and decided to try for the peninsula site on Shell even though there was no trail to the site and it was a decent distance off the trail.  The spot on Little Shell was just too close to the trail, portage and lake for my comfort.  About halfway I found a decent spot and dropped my stuff.  I was over 100 yds from the trail, but fairly close to the lake.  I made camp at 5:45pm.  One group paddled by and must have wondered who and what I was doing.  While I was back some from the water, the cover was pretty light and they must have seen me.  I camped in a grove of pines.  The wind is blowing in from the south to keep the bugs in check.  Even though I'm camped in a great place for fishing (the inlet is only 150 yds away), I opt for relaxation .  I cook rice for dinner on my fire tonight.  I can't tell what the weather is doing.  Just when I think it's going to rain, the sun comes out.  Looks pretty, I take a picture

My wildlife sightings for the day where relatively eventful.  I saw a spruce grouse appearing to be injured (protecting some young I'm sure).  The owl (or hawk) that wanted my head.  I also saw another short-tailed shrew (I think that's what it was).  I head another half dozen grouse drummings.  At Emerald Lake (north) I saw two fish splashing along shore, but was over 100 ft away and couldn't make out exact size or species.

Tuesday, 5/23/95

I woke up to cloudy skies, but got up and left camp before 7:30am.  The walk out started out with a walk along Little Shell, then cutting over to Shell with a few good overlooks in the misting skies.  I watched a guy fish from an island campsite.  The Shell River crossing was very difficult.  I crossed atop a very slippery downed tree.  The "beaver dam" was too wet to use.

After the dam, it was pretty much up hill, but not too bad.  I made bad time to the river, but good time to the intersection of the main trail.  The main trail was a little wet again, but I managed to do a little better this time.

I stopped for lunch at teh rapids of the Little Indian Sioux River.  I watched a couple groups portage and they never even looked at the river!  After unch  I pretty much cruised out.  I jumped a deer at the last beaver dam, only about 1/4 mile off the "road" part of the trail.  I got to the car just before 2pm.

After an attempt at bathing along side the Nina Moose River south of the Echo Trail in the near freezing drizzle, I headed to Ely to resupply and meet a couple friends along the North Shore for my Border Route Trail hike.

My summary of the Sioux-Hustler.  The trail was relatively flat.  The scenery was good, but nothing extra-ordinary.  The trail was good and only hard to follow in a couple areas of extreme storm damage.  Parts of the trail where wet, but this is spring and it rained every day I was on the trail.  I really wish there was a hiking campsite on Little Shell or Shell Lake for proper spacing.  I saw a couple deer, but no moose.  The lakes in the interior, Pageant and Rangeline especially, are really beautiful with beautiful campsites that rank up there with the best I've seen.  Good trail and good trip!
Posted: 30-Apr-2007