BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

December 17 2017

Entry Point 84 - Snake River

Snake River entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Isabella, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 30 miles. Access is a 160-rod portage to Snake River & several short portages before reaching Bald Eagle Lake.

Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1274 feet
Latitude: 47.7734
Longitude: -91.5261
Snake River - 84

Snake River soggy slog

by Magrockt
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 05, 2014
Entry Point: Snake River
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
A trip of high expectations - valuable lessons learned.

Day 1 of 3


Thursday, June 05, 2014 Headed out at 5 am from Pine City. Stopped for Denny's $50 breakfast in Duluth, then on to Maple Grove Bait for our permit and leeches. So foolishly I'd been just using Google maps for navigating up Hwy 1. Missed the Tomahawk Rd and drove all the way to Gabbro. I had to fish my Beymer book out as he has detailed directions turn by forest road turn. Three miles to go, hauling butt over a small hill and I suddenly have to swerve around a huge pothole and I'm off the road in boggy ditch. Stuck to the frame in my 2wd Dakota! Yelled a bunch, took some deep breath's and we started unloading...everything. My wife had suggested I throw in my homemade portage wheels. It was apparent we now had a four mile portage ahead of us. [paragraph break]

While loading the canoe on the road two vehicles drove by w/o stopping. I was writing a note about our intent when a truck and trailer stopped. Chris, our Angel, rolled his window down, smiled and said, "Oww this is gonna cost you!" We unhooked his trailer, used the log chain I wisely packed and yanked it out. Disaster averted! Thank you stranger. So we were arriving around ten am at the portage parking lot. Marked incorrectly at 198 rods its actually about 270. A beautiful hike on the old logging road for the first 200 rods then a boulder path down to the Snake River. It took a couple hrs carrying and leap frogging. I had 55 and 50 lbs in the two Kondos packs so I had to carry the heavier the pack and the over accessorized Grumman the whole portage. Loaded and ready to push off we put on a brave smile for the camera. Now you would think I'd have the map out as there are three short portages in the first couple miles. "What a swampy campsite Dad!" Said by my 12 yr old son as we pass the first portage! Well we proved ourselves capable under pressure. The boys bog hopped to the portage trail and we lined the canoe backwards through the Rapids. Turned out there was a Spruce uprooted blocking the portage trail anyways. Anyone who has been down these slow creeks in the BWCA understands the intimacy of being able the brush both shorelines yet pass through silently. Just trying to push on quickly we dipped and drank the most awesome cold mineral water I've ever had. We actually filled a bottle on the way out to take home just to be sure it was that good. Through the winding snake channel of the confluence of Snake and Isabella. The western sky had continually clouded up throughout the afternoon. As we entered the southern end of Bald Eagle Lake we started the long stares for campsite availability. Up the west shore as all three taken on the east. The wind really started to blow so we took the site with the huge rock wall built around the fire grate area. [paragraph break] The sky got darker yet as we strung up my 10x12 poly tarp that I didn't know how to hang. With assistance of a center pole the rain didn't pool to bad. Yes, it wasn't two minutes after getting the tent up and gear under tarp that it opened up for a ten minute shower. [paragraph break] The site was obviously used once around fishing opener and all the garbage still there. First business was cleaning up firepit and around camp. As I this was to be a fishing intro trip for son and son2, I got some pole strung up and in the water. After much bushwacking for firewood, I got a cooking fire goinc despite wet wood. I fried up hamburgers in my small cast iron skillet. They were pretty dry. We were thirsty too. The lake was too windy to launch out to fill water bag so we filled from shore. It looked like pee. We had to scrub the ceramic filter after each bottle. We were drinking the filtered water as fast as we could pump it. In hindsight boiling would have caught us up but I wasn't up on all the alternative filtering methods then. [paragraph break]. As dark came and the fire was dying, the Mosquitos really moved in. They deserve proper noun status! Guess my all black clothing and campfire smoke actually attracts them. So into the tent after securing a bear bag in the dark. Who forgot the ear plugs??? You hear each one individually then they swarm every couple minutes. Thankfully the wind picked up. Or not - The tarp center pole fell over with all the fishing poles and cups attached. The boys though Mr Bear was right outside the tent! Picked everything up and tried to sleep some, waking as water pooled then dumped off the cheap tarp. Spooky sounds in the wildness. Lol

 



Day 2 of 3


Friday, June 06, 2014 I was up by 5 and boiling water, retrieving bear bag and getting lines in the water. The boys emerged around 7 and I made them more cocoa. Eggs, hash browns, and campfire baked bacon for breakfast. We spent considerable time collecting distant firewood. The woods behind the actually site were picked clean. It was oddly park like, until discovering old previous sites from at least 30 yrs past by judging tree size. [paragraph break] Most of my fishing mods were useless at best and in the way mostly. I'm talking about rods holders, depth finder mounts, and foam float stabalizers. They were fun winter projects I should've left home. I did get all three of us in the canoe to mark around the point we were on. We tried a few passes trolling my newly tied lindy type spinners. With the wind, we couldn't stay on a course without me paddling too. Oh well back to shore fishing. I caught a sunny and later a small northern at dusk. [paragraph break] With the new cell tower out of Ely I was able to get radar and forecast weather all trip. Another storm was moving in the next evening so a vote was taken and we decided to head out the next morning. The boys played cards in the tent and I finally had a glass of warm red Francis from the 5 l bag I made us carry in. (How'd that slip by?). We had brats and Mac and cheese made on the propane single burner stove earlier then more s'more's at the campfire. I hung the bear bag again and fished after dark with my night bobbies. Beautiful moonlit night in the B'dub!

 



Day 3 of 3


Saturday, June 07, 2014 It was lightly misting on the tent when I awoke before dawn again. I wanted something warm to eat for breakfast before the long hike out. I made two kinds of bannock using Parkay squeeze in the cast iron pan. The first one was wonderful tasting with cinnamon and sugar. The second one burned while we were enjoying the first. Whoops. The misting had mostly stopped and we commenced breaking camping. I mostly packed and tried to keep the boys busy.

All packed, we all practiced LNT and did one more round before pushing off. The paddle back south to the Isabella river was quick and smooth. We kept our rainwear on as storm clouds looked threatening.  There were multiple canoes fishing the channel as we passed and turned back upstream of the Snake River. It was such a great feeling back paddling after being stuck in camp for two days. The portages back were slick and muddy landings. I found a huge Rattlin' Rap at the first portage.  Almost the biggest fish we caught!

The boys were of little help, constantly having to be told what to do. I thought after the same routine 5 times we'd have got it. Nope, both paddles got broken from being thrown at rocks on shore. We figured we might see a group coming in as I had checked permits reserved. Sure enough on the tightest corner we met two kevlar’s. One had a 6 inch pvc rod tube at least 8 ft long sticking straight up behind the bow paddler. That must've been as fun through the brush as our stabalizers. 

We did the same leapfrogging on the portage. About 90 rds each time totaling the 270. We stopped in the old logging camp for a break. Its on the North side of the Snake River (rushing creek) bridge. I wonder if anyone's tried to put in there! The boys were spent, and we were all dispersed along the portage. I tried the last section with the #4 pack and the Grummman. Must've been almost 140 lbs. I made it about 200 yards, and realized I might actually get hurt. Setting the canoe down, the pack overbalanced, and there I was turtled in the middle of the trail. I took a two minute breather, and laughed it off.  T was at the truck thinking he was done carrying. Ha Ha  another 90 rds back for the last load!

I drove much slower on the way out and we stopped for some clarity on the pothole incident. Took some pictures and away towards Ely we went. The drive home was a blur and took a couple hrs longer than expected. We had everything at Wendy’s and offended all who came near us, with our BO and campfire smell. Back home, T told the wife of the horrors and wonders of the wilderness. I can't wait to get back. She caught the bug again and we were back at Sawbill two weeks later. 

 


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