BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

November 20 2018

Entry Point 27 - Snowbank Lake

Snowbank Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 24 miles. Access is a boat landing or canoe launch at Snowbank Lake. Many trip options for paddlers. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Latitude: 47.9716
Longitude: -91.4326
Snowbank Lake - 27

3-day out-and-back to Fraser Oct. 2017

by NotSoFast
Trip Report

Entry Date: October 09, 2017
Entry Point: Snowbank Lake
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
Enjoyable but brief get-away.

Day 1 of 3


Monday, October 09, 2017 Tammy and I drove up to Ely late on Sunday, kept alert by frequent deer sightings along the dark highways. We napped in the van, then by 5 a.m. on Monday were boiling water for coffee. It was in the mid-30s, and moonlight in a mostly clear sky helped us unstrap the canoe and pack our last bits of gear. We pushed off from the canoe dock at Snowbank (27) about 6:15 a.m., with stars visible above, a light breeze, and dawn a promise on the eastern horizon.

By the time we had portaged to Disappointment, it was full daylight and the wind was strengthening out of the northwest. For most of the morning, it seemed like the sun was racing increased clouds from the southeast, and losing. After a mostly clear start, it turned into a mostly cloudy day.

The lakes were empty as we worked our way toward Hatchet, and our only encounter with other paddlers was a young couple, homeward bound, at the lift-over between Jordan and Ima. They warned us that, "that last lake (Ima) was a real struggle." With the wind at our backs, we had no trouble.

The baggage for this trip was two Duluth packs, neither terribly heavy, in our Wenonah Jensen 18. On all but the shortest portages, we each started off with a pack. At the halfway point, I would leave my pack to the side of the trail, and return for the canoe; meanwhile, Tammy completed the portage and then retrieved the mid-portage pack.

Our plan was to camp on Hatchet, but because neither site offered shelter from the cold wind, we pushed on to Thomas. There we took a right turn out of the portage bay, and set up camp at the first site (No. 1680), which was nicely sheltered. We changed into warm camp clothes and spent a couple pleasant hours by the fire before an early supper and then bed about 6:30 p.m.

 



Day 2 of 3


Tuesday, October 10, 2017 When we woke the sky was clear, the sun was slanting directly into our site, and there was a faint coating of frost on our tent fly and tarp. I was cold during the night, waking at some point to put on my down jacket, but Tammy reported a comfortable evening. Our sleeping bag is a Big Agnes double, which we generally find plenty warm. We had slept until nearly 7:30 a.m., probably the longest rest for either of us during the busy past year.

We rekindled the fire, and took our time making coffee and oatmeal, enjoying the sun and slowly peeling off layers of down and fleece as the day warmed. Tammy read by the fire, and I enjoyed packing up camp at a leisurely pace. We were on the water at 10:30, paddled the channel from Thomas into Fraser. We paused for water and trail mix on a small island that offered a nice view, shelter from the northwest breeze, and plenty of sun.

As we snacked, we reached a near-simultaneous conclusion that this -- enjoying the view, sitting comfortably in the sun -- was our new plan for the day. We paddled about 5 minutes back to a campsite (No. 1395), unloaded the canoe and began gathering firewood. It was not yet noon. This is not our typical trip pattern; usually, we are up early and travel most of the day. As we discussed this change, Tammy and I realized just how tired we had been for the past few months, and gave ourselves permission to simply relax. Because I enjoy making camp, I worked slowly at that during the afternoon while Tammy finished her book sitting in the sun. We enjoyed our usual freezer-bag supper, took an evening paddle around a nearby bay, and sat by the fire for a couple hours in the evening listening to a ruffed grouse drum in the woods behind camp.

 



Day 3 of 3


Wednesday, October 11, 2017 Apparently caught up on our sleep, we were awake well before dawn. The grouse was still drumming. It was clear and cold, and the tips of pine branches glowed with frost in the light of our headlamps. We rekindled the fire, lit the stove, and began packing up. We were enjoying our second cups of coffee and tea as the sun rose, and 30 minutes after that we were on the water, with wind building from the southeast.

As we traveled back toward Snowbank the lakes remained empty except for a couples of distant eagles, an occasional raven, and a few last ducks in the marshy areas. As we paddled down the handle of Hatchet we heard the flat report of a shotgun somewhere to the south -- a hunter, perhaps after grouse or ducks.

Our plan had been to get only to Ima. But when we stopped there at a south-facing island campsite, we realized we were enjoying the rhythm of paddle and portage on this day. We resumed our journey toward the entry point and it was not until we were near the end of the portage from Disappointment to Snowbank that we suddenly felt physically spent. We had a snack, drank some water, and braced ourselves for a windy paddle back to the landing, which we reached about 4 p.m.

This was not the trip we had envisioned when we left home, but we agreed it had been enjoyable, with satisfying measures of hard work and relaxation. We had sought quiet, and we had found it, seeing only one group on Day 1, and another outbound on Disappointment on Day 3. We treated ourselves to dinner, spent the night at Ely's Adventure Inn, and the next morning headed east on Minnesota 1 toward the north shore, where we walked the Superior Hiking Trail for a couple of days.

 


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