BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 03 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Snowbank Lake - 27
No disappointment on Disappointment
September 25, 2014
Snowbank Lake Only
Number of Days:
My plan is to propose to my girlfriend. We've been blessed to travel all around the world, to see amazing places, to do amazing things. But we --even before dating-- took camping and hiking trips to some amazing places here in Minnesota. The weather forecast was amazing, so I proposed a last-minute trip to the BWCA as a get-away from work and stress and responsibility. She agreed.
Arrive in Ely fairly late. Pick up permit, hustle to Snowbank entry, drop stuff in canoe. Paddle through Snowbank and Parent, portage into Disappointment, and take the first camp we find. It's crappy, but we plan to move and darkness comes early this time of year. On the way in, we picked up a few chunks of driftwood from the shorelines...this makes for a nice short fire before heading to the tent.
Today is the day.
We sleep in. Drink coffee and hot chocolate in camp. Watch the sun rise in a cloud- free sky. Dawdle some more. No hurry, right? It's late September, and there shouldn't be much demand for campsites. I was wrong...the traffic on the lake was very high, all things considering. I think I counter 14 canoes the first day.
We were lucky to get a campsite on Disappointment, the same lake we stayed at the first night. Almost all the sites were taken (we had arrived late at night and taken the first available). We spent some time wondering why we had tried to upgrade campsites, as the site we found wasn't much better than the one we left.
But--and this is a BIG but--our site faced north. During the day, we trolled some rapalas with no success. We did find lots of driftwood, so we picked up a bunch. It was a good thing we did.
Fire started. Dinner eaten. Proposal accepted. All is good in the world.
And then the northern sky lit up with some aurora borealis. Not much of color, but there were hours and hours of waves of white northern lights with some greens mixed in. We eventually put out the fire, went down on the rock point, and watched the waves in white and green wash over us. Mixed in with the northern lights were numerous shooting stars.
Maybe others of you married folks have had such amazing experiences on the day/night you got engaged, but a night in the BWCA, perfect unseasonably warm weather, green and white northern lights washing over you interspersed with multiple shooting stars...I can't imagine a better setting for such a night. Magic and miracles and grace. Nights like that are a beneficence.
Slept in and, after copious amounts of hot chocolate, reading good books, watching people paddle by, and planning our future, we headed to Cattyman Falls.
Water was low, but the falls were impressive. We sat on a fallen tree beneath the falls, didn't talk much, and just watched the water tumble by.
Night was spent burning up remaining firewood, talking about growing old, planning weddings, and getting to know each other a little better.
Paddled out through Snowbank on a day warm enough to be too warm, calm enough to see reflections of yellow birch, and so full of happiness that trying to explain it would lessen it.