BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 28 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Snowbank Lake - 27
May 21, 2004
Number of Days:
Snowbank Lake, Parent Lake, Disappointment Lake
We woke up at 5 a.m. in Duluth and headed for Ely. We got liscenses, bait and our permit and hit the entry point around 9 a.m. It felt great to be there, but Snowbank didn't look like a very happy lake. The wind was steady out of the NE and the waves were about 6 in. or so. Not too bad, but we didn't especially want to go broadside, as we were in a shallow, 15 ft. redwood canoe. We were originally going to head straight to the direct portage to Disappointment, but because of the wind, we tacked down around Burnt Island and back up to the portage into Parent. Parent was a little wavy, but we had no trouble getting to the portage to Disappoinment. At the other end, we discovered four separate groups with six total canoes headed into Disappointment, so rather than end up in a huge caravan, we decided to fish our way up the channel just north of the portage. Josh was steering while I was casting a jig with a spinner at shore. Fifteen minutes later, about halfway down the channel, I hooked a fish. We couldn't believe it--a 3 lb., 17.5" Smallmouth Bass. So we checked the map, and headed for the southern island campsite. When we landed on the island, we realized what a beautiful site it was. It has a central tent-pad (out of the wind) and a landing area on the leeward side (at least for that day). So, we cooked and ate the Smallmouth, set up camp and had the rest of the day to relax. Sat around a nice little fire, not too cold, had some beans and rice and a bit of Jameson and went to bed.
Map: [Paddling in green, Portaging in blue, fish marked by red fish]
Disappointment Lake, Ahsub Lake, Jitterbug Lake
We got up early and made Earl Grey with a dash of Bailey's (since it was a bit chilly) and some trail mix for breakfast. Then we packed our fishing gear, stove, kitchen stuff and pans and headed out for a day trip. We fished our way up through most of Disappointment without much luck, but on the SW shore of the big bowl on the north end, I hooked a 24" Northern. So we hauled him in and headed for Ahsub, hoping to find a campsite to cook him up for lunch. But there were no open sites, so we paddled slowly (for the Northern's benefit) through Ahsub and portaged to Jitterbug where we found four canoes and eight people landing to go the other way. Luckily, there was space near the portage to cook and eat the Northern. So we did. Jitterbug didn't look like especially good fishing, so we decided to head back the way we came. We fished Ahsub for a while, but couldn't find the Brook Trout that are stocked there (neither of us really know how to catch stream trout in a cold lake on a cloudy day). So we trolled our way back down through Disappointment, as it was about six o'clock. We were nearly all the way back, literally 50 ft. from the landing point on our island when Josh hooked a 20" Walleye. Beautiful fish. Excellent dinner (we put the larger chunks in the beans and rice--fantastic). We sipped a bit of whiskey, toasted to an excellent day and went to bed.
Map: [Paddling in purple, Portaging in blue, fish marked by red fish]
Disappointment Lake, Parent Lake, Snowbank Lake
This was one of the most ridiculous days i've experienced in the BW. the temperature had risen a bit, but the wind had nearly doubled. the 10-12" waves on Disappointment were a bit disconcerting. we tried a bit of fishing in the morning, hoping the wind would quiet down a little by noon or so, but that didn't work out so well. so we broke camp, packed up, and headed out. the wind was out of the NE and was blowing waves by our island on both sides, which then crossed to the SW of the island, where we needed to head to stay out of most of the waves. it was a bit tricky in our little 15 ft. canoe. but we made it around the little islands and back to the portage. when we reached Parent Lake, the water seemed calm. this was, of course, an illusion. we headed directly for the portage with the wind at our backs. but the waves just kept getting bigger and bigger, topping out at over a foot from trough to crest. i was in the bow, paddling as hard as i could to keep us moving forward and josh was in the stern, draw-stroking as hard as he could to keep us from going broadside. absolutely ridiculous. we ended up going directly east and landing on shore near a campsite. after weighing our options (paddling directly into that wind that had just blown us off course, bushwacking 1/2 a mile to the portage or just jumping out into the freakin' cold water and walking the canoe 1/3 a mile down the shore to the portage). so we jumped out. i'm just happy neither of us twisted an ankle or lost permanent feeling below our knees (it was dang cold). the portage to Snowbank warmed our feet a little, so that was good, but when we got there, we could see huge rollers coming down from the NE corner of the lake, directly across the path we needed to take to get to the landing. as luck would have it, there's an isolated resort near the Parent-Snowbank portage. so we paddled over, and the nice people who own the Wilderness Bay Resort gave us (and our canoe/gear) a ride back on their pontoon boat. altogether a harrowing day. and don't even get me started about the 30 mph crosswinds that tried to blow the canoe off the car between Ely and Duluth...
Map: [Paddling/Walking in the water in red, Portaging in blue, Motorized boat in yellow]