BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
April 20 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Snowbank Lake - 27
No Disappointment for Wife
June 06, 2011
Number of Days:
We drove up the night before our trip from the far southern suburbs of Chicago. My wife's nerves were on edge as she had never spent the night camping ever before. She agreed to come on this trip with me because she knew I loved camping in the BWCAW. I recently began taking our children with me last year and so she wanted to get a feel for it to see if this is something she would like to do with my children and me. This trip would allow us to spend some needed alone time together. So I planned a trip for the two of us as a way to ease her into it. I settled upon base camping on Disappointment Lake. We took the scenic route up Hwy 1. Even though there was a detour we were in no rush and enjoyed the scenery and the time to talk with no children in the car and the radio off. After arriving in Ely we drove to Jordan's Canoe Outfitters and checked into our bunkhouse and picked up our canoe. I knew I was in good shape when my wife kept commenting how nice the bunkhouse was. We had an enjoyable talk with Mark the owner and he went over the maps and he gave us some fishing tips. We then reorganized our gear and my wife volunteered to carry the food pack, that a girl!! No complaining from me. We had a nice dinner and then settled in for the night at the bunkhouse dreaming of our trip ahead.
I always have trouble sleeping the night before I head in, and today was the same case. Since my wife likes to sleep in a little later then I do and we were set to eat breakfast at 6 a.m., I got up around 4:30, went to the shower house and worked out for about an hour to pass the time. After a quick breakfast and last we headed off towards Snowbank and reached the launching point around 7. Before entering the canoe, we realized that we left our first nights dinner in the freezer at the bunkhouse. We had two options, head back to get our dinner and lose at least an hour, or catch dinner the first night. We opted for the 2nd choice. Snowbank was very calm and beautiful and we made our way across the the portage to Disappointment with no problems. Besides the thousands of mosquitoes that attacked us, the portage was quick and painless, especially since my wife decided to carry the food pack. Man, she was really surprising me!!! Our target campsite was the island site just as you enter Disappointment, but it was taken. We ended up taken the site just to the west of it, and man was it a great site. Nice open fire area, flat and breezy tent pad, and plenty of room to explore. Even the latrine was a thing of beauty, though a hike from camp. We set up camp in no time, had lunch, and I threw out my line to catch dinner from shore. Within 1 hour I caught 3 20 inch Walleye, dinner was served! They were probably in about 8 feet of water mid-day, so I knew luck was on my side.
After a while, I saw 2 canoes approaching our campsite and heading straight for my fishing line. I made a comment to my wife how out of this whole lake, why and the H E double hockey sticks are these guys choosing to pass right by my campsite? I was really ticked off, but as they got closer I realized it was a friend of mine from back home who was exiting on that day from the lake. He knew I was camping on Disappointment and we had planned to meet up, but not until the next day. It was nice to chat with him for a while. After they left, my wife continued to read I fished and gathered wood for the night. Then it was time for dinner so we headed across to an island to filet the fish. After we were done, I left a peace offering for the eagles and within no time they were there having there dinner as well. My wife sat in amazement seeing these beautiful birds feast. She often sat in awe just watching them fly, as she had only seen them in the zoo before. One time, as she was reading in the hammock they flew right over her and the sound that they made left her speechless. I think she gained a new appreciation of them.
For dinner we had Walleye and cornbread made in my new reflector oven. I have to say, the reflector oven was amazing. We had great side dishes in it every night. After dinner we made a fire and had our night cap for the night. There were literally no mosquitoes at all, so we stayed up till late in the night chatting and looking forward to the days ahead. It was nice to not have to worry about bed time routines, phone calls, and making lunches.
Every day consisted of the same routine. I am an early riser, my wife, she likes to sleep. I got up around 6, crept out of the tent made my coffee, fished, and messed around in camp. Around 8 my wife got up and we planned our day. Our plan for the day was to head up to Cattyman falls for a day trip. We made fry pan bread and eggs for breakfast packed up, and set out on our journey. The day was sunny with no rain in the forecast. The little lakes to the North of Disappointment are a wonderful. Short portages and beautiful scenery. Within about 2 hours we reached the falls. Cattyman falls is just gorgeous. The water was rushing over the falls and making a thunderous sound. We decided to eat lunch just below the falls on the bank. It was so relaxing. After lunch, we paddled around Cattyman lake, I caught a northern, and we then headed home. The trip home took longer then expected, my wife got pretty tired out so paddling took longer then expected. But hey, were in no rush. We especially enjoyed Adventure lake on the way home and wished there would have been a campsite there, what a gem.
After we got back from camp, we cooled off in the lake, took a little nap, and then made dinner, Fajitas. For desert, it was reflector oven brownies, AMAZING!!!! Before we made our dinner and fire for the night I was searching for fire wood I came across an intact turtle shell in the woods, pretty cool to find. After dinner we sat around the fire, my wife wrote in her journal, and then we ate marshmallows and talked late into the night again under the bright stars.
The one thing that did bother us was the amount of ticks. I have never seen that many ticks up there before. They were everywhere. We at least pulled 20 off us a day.
We woke up Friday to the threat of Thunderstorms, but none came! It was awesome to hear the thunder roar and crash around us but never actually hit us. I love how quiet it is up here. We spent the morning piddling around camp, her reading, me catching and releasing more Walleye. She actually fished today and \caught her one and only fish of the trip. Man what a whopper of a fish!!! We then decided after lunch to head to the Snowbank lake trail.
It took sometime to find the trail on the Western shore. When we finally found it, it was very overgrown and buggy. However, we trekked on searching for adventure, and did we find it, or at least for her it was!!!! I was commenting on how I thought her pants were to big. She then lifted her shirt to show me the waist when she discovered a tick on her stomach burred inn. That made her lose it!!! She had done so well up until this point, but this she could not handle. I was able to remove it and she continued on, but I could tell she had enough of the hike. Just before we headed back, we encountered a latrine on the trail. To my amazement, the trail runs right through a campsite. Good thing no one was using the throne!! After we got back in the canoe, we were loaded with ticks!!! We were glad to be off the trail.
For dinner, we had reflector oven pizza and muffins, once again delicious! During our fireside chat, we watched a light show in the distance. There was a storm off to the East. What a site to see. Another great day.
Today was our lazy day. It was also an extremely hot day. It was reported in Ely that it was 88 degrees. We hung around camp in the morning and then decided to go on a cruise around the lake, check out campsites, and try to catch some fish. We trolled around for a while, caught a few bass and then checked out the Eastern most campsite on the lake. To me it seems like a hikers campsite. It is up on a huge cliff, has no good canoe landing, and the site is really far from the landing. We opted not to eat lunch there and just at by the canoe. One mistake I made was eating summer sausage I had opened two days earlier. I do not know if it was the heat or the sausage but I got extremely ill. We headed back to our site and I laid down to rest. I woke up extremely hot and sick and I contemplated going home that day just because of how I felt. However, the wind had picked up and I knew you don't mess with Snowbank and wind. With he way I was feeling and her not being a strong paddler I did not want to take the risk. About an hour later I felt better and was moving around again. I was glad I did not leave and was motivated to make this a fun last night in the woods. I gathered wood and we ate our last dinner in the woods. After dinner we went for a sunset cruise and reflected on our trip. We had a great talk by the fire and enjoyed each others company and instead headed back to our campsite to relax and start to pack things up.
The one thing that is funny is as how as the days progress, you start to cut down on things. At first, my wife liked to eat separate plates, bowls, silver ware etc. This last night, we ate directly out of the pot, less clean up!!
We woke up to a windy day on Disappointment. I decided to take the two Parent lake portages, as I had heard when there is strong wind it would be easier when crossing Snowbank. As we got on Parent, the wind picked up considerably and it was a tough paddle. The waves were a good two feet high. On Snowbank, the waves kept on a coming. It was a really difficult paddle. My wife was getting tired and I was working my butt off trying to keep us straight. There was no need for a workout this morning, I definitely got my fill on Snowbank. We finally reached the car and we were both wiped out. We headed back to outfitters, took the best shower God could ever create and got my ritual Ice Cream and hamburger from the DQ. Nothing better then Ice Cream after being in the woods!!
This was an outstanding trip. It was great to spend quality time with the woman I have been married to for 9 memorable years. So often we get so busy with work, kids, and other responsibilities that we forget were it all started. It was great to reconnect with her in the BWCA. She really enjoyed her trip and wants to take a trip with our kids up here next year. I think she's hooked!!! Also, Jordan's Canoe Outfitters was great and I highly recommend them.