BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 23 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Snowbank Lake - 27
Kevin's first overnight BWCAW trip to Jordan Lake
August 19, 2006
Number of Days:
My wife, Kevin and I head north with the SR attached firmly to the truck. I need to drop Betsy off at her sisters in Poplar, Wisconsin so they can prepare for my nieces bridal shower the following day. I’ve never enjoyed bridal showers much so Kevin and I decide to take a one night trip and grab a surprisingly available permit going in Snowbank Lake.
After we drop Betsy off, Kevin and I are off to Ely to see Lynn at VNO. We arrive to find Lynn in the back room. She comes out to meet us and prepare the paperwork for our permit and Bunkhouse. She tells me she sees no need for us to watch the video as she knows I know the routine. Kevin, however objects and insists he watches the video. I decide he can watch it on his own while Lynn and I chat and finish the paperwork. Lynn gives him a trick question quiz at the end that he barely passes and we are given the go ahead to enter the wilderness.
Kevin and I have a room in the loft. Room B is new and very clean. It has three separate rooms for others and we will be sharing it with a couple of others tonight. Kevin and I settle in and get out the cribbage board for a quick game before bed as it is already about 9:00.
As we start to play a gentlemen walks up and asks if I am Bogwalker. It’s Indiana Paddler who has just returned from a week in the woods. We have a nice chat about his trip entering Wood Lake while Kevin and I play cribbage. It sure is a small world sometimes.
I win the cribbage game, just barely, and we decide its time for bed as we want to get up at 5:00 to hit the entry point early.
Destination Disappointment or Ahsub Lake[paragraph break]
We get up at 5:00 and quietly get dressed and head down to the truck to make our way to Snowbank. Our goal for the day is one of the campsites on Ahsub. It’s a short distance but being it's Kevin’s first trip and we have to pick up Betsy in Superior, Wisconsin Sunday afternoon before heading home it seems like a good idea. Plus I worry about wind on Snowbank as the day progresses, especially on Sunday.[paragraph break]
We arrive at the Snowbank parking lot as the sun is just starting to peak its way above the horizon. It’s a cool beautiful, cloudless day with a mist floating above the lake. It sure feels good to be hitting the water again, and very exciting to watch Kevin experience it all.[paragraph break]
Kevin is very excited as we go over last minute instructions and where we are headed. We load the canoe, hop in and head off into the fog and mist of Snowbank. We are the only ones on the water and it feels great.[paragraph break]
I give Kevin some more paddling instructions and before long he is paddling pretty well. We decide for today we will go across the portage directly to Disappointment and come back through Parent tomorrow to add that lake to his list. Ahsub is a short distance so we should easily be there by mid morning as people are exiting sites.[paragraph break]
Along the portage we meet the first people of the day. It’s a big group who stayed on Disappointment last night at the island site. He says that Ahsub was full last night as was Disappointment. Maybe we should grab the island and not risk getting to Ahsub to find its full. Kevin and I discuss this and think it’s a good idea. We finish the portage and head into Disappointment taking our time knowing this will be where we will camp and then take a day trip further on after lunch.[paragraph break]
As we paddle along we notice all campsites we pass are full and no one seems likely to be moving. It is Saturday so we suppose many are queuing up for leaving on Sunday and will just relax today. We are OK with this as we know the island site was just vacated and should be open for us.[paragraph break]
As we arrive at the island site we see someone there. Confused we watch as we can not tell if they are coming or going. It turns out it is a big group of 18 people who shared a site on the mainland the night before and now are splitting up. Clearly illegal, but who I am I to do anything. I discuss the issue with Kevin and go over why a big group like this should not camp or travel together. He sees how it can affect the experience of others. We stop at a small island north of the site to watch the activity of shuttling gear across plus the inevitable yelling from one campsite to another. It was a good teachable moment for Kevin.[paragraph break]
Kevin on the small island watching the chaos[paragraph break]
We continue on our way looking for open sites as we go. All we get to are occupied with little indication that they will be vacant soon. Our slow travel and thoughts of staying on Disappointment now have the time approaching 10:30. Clearly if people were leaving they might be packing up by now. Kevin and I discuss this and decide to make a bee-line for Ahsub and grab a site there.[paragraph break]
The portage to Ahsub is easy and quickly we are there. Around the corner to the west is site number one. Looks open so we start heading that way. Suddenly a couple scramble from the water from skinny-dipping. It’s not real warm, but I guess they are just taking a bath. They are back packers and plan on staying there this day. [paragraph break]
The site further east is hidden behind a small island. A couple in a canoe is just leaving so it looks like we are in luck. We start to head for the site but notice a tent up on the hill. As we approach the couple leaving we learn they are just going for a day trip and not vacating the site.[paragraph break]
So-it is now about 11:00 and all of Ahsub and Disappointment are already full. Kevin and my only choice is to continue on. I had mentally prepared my mind and body for only these couple of lakes. We discuss the fact that we now have to make at least Jordan and maybe Ima in hopes of getting a site. This will mean a few portages and more travel and we need to move more quickly then we have up until now. Kevin gets in the right frame of mind and off we head.[paragraph break]
We cross through the lily pad filled Jitterbug and hit the portage into Adventure. We share the portage with a group that has left Ima that morning. I ask what the campsites look like ahead and they tell us that Ima was empty when they left and only one site was filled on Jordan. Thank goodness!! With renewed spirit Kevin and I finish the portage, head across Adventure and cross Cattyman saving the falls for tomorrow. We want to grab a site before the afternoon traffic picks up.[paragraph break]
By the time we get to Jordan both sites on the main part of the lake are available. We decide to grab the one at the south end of the lake-not back in the bay. It feels good to land and unload in our home for the night. We have traveled further than we had intended so we discuss the fact that we will need to get an early start in the morning. Before setting up camp we have lunch and relax and regain our strength. It’s about 1:30 and we are tapped. Peanut butter sandwiches, gorp and chocolate pudding with kool-aid hits the spot.[paragraph break]
Jordan Lake campsite view[paragraph break]
After lunch we set up camp. Kevin decides to go for a swim and play while I relax and read and keep an eye on him. It's fun watching Kevin enjoy himself without video games, TV or other distractions. Today’s kids do have an imagination and can find ways to entertain themselves if they have the distractions removed.[paragraph break]
It’s a whopper dad!!![paragraph break]
Preparing wood for tonight’s fire.[paragraph break]
Soon it is dinnertime and we are having steaks and fried potatoes. Kevin gets the fire going and he will do the cooking. He has spent time gathering and preparing a nice supply of wood for dinner and for smores later. I am impressed with his enthusiasm as he goes about these tasks. I am getting to relax now as he tends to the camp chores and the cooking.[paragraph break]
Dad-take a picture of me and my fire to show everyone![paragraph break]
MM, MM those will be good.[paragraph break]
After dinner we put the fire out and head for an evening paddle. I want to check out the site in the south bay that was occupied but the group left about 5:00 to head out. They passed us as we ate dinner. We also want to see if we can find the pictographs on the way to Ima.[paragraph break]
The campsite in the bay looks great and is secluded from the main path. If I ever stay on Jordan again this would be my first choice for a site. There is a low lying grassy area that appears like good Moose habitat and a nice site up on a rock face. It was tempting to move, but it is late and the site we have is pretty nice as well.[paragraph break]
As we paddle out of the bay and toward the entry to the portage to Ima a family of three loons follows us. They dive and play and talk to us as we paddle. It is quite enjoyable, as they seem intent on entertaining us. We paddle slowly with them until we get to the turn off toward Ima.[paragraph break]
Those Looney Loons.[paragraph break]
The sun is sinking lower as we get to the cliffs that must have the pictos. We search and search but can not locate them. I tell Kevin these are known to be hard to find so not to worry. We probably are right by them, but with the sun at the low angle and twilight approaching we just can’t locate them. We decide to head back to camp for our evening of smores and cribbage.
Jordan begins its evening slumber[paragraph break]
Kevin making smores.[paragraph break]
We watch the stars for a little while until the skeeters drive us to the tent. It is ok as we want to get up early to start our trip back out in the morning.
Final day-We depart.[paragraph break]
We get up early, have oatmeal for breakfast and pack up to depart. We hit the water before 8:00 and start backtracking for Snowbank. Our first order of business is to go see Cattyman Falls, which we passed up on the way in to make sure we could get a campsite.[paragraph break]
The low water levels means the falls are not as impressive as they can be, but still a nice site. I like the intimate falls better than the great big ones anyway.[paragraph break]
After we see the falls we head across the remaining lakes. When we arrive at Ahsub it is totally empty and Disappointment is less than half full. Sunday is a day of departure for many and we can tell as we cross. The large group is still there however taking up two campsites and being fairly noisy as we pass. I am tempted to ask what gives them the right, but decide with my son along to just let things be.[paragraph break]
On the way out we decide to head to Parent instead of straight to Snowbank. The wind is picking up from the south so maybe its better as well as we will hit Snowbank further south and closer to the safety of the lee of the island.[paragraph break]
The portage into Parent is easy going. Parent has 2 decent looking sites that are both empty. I wonder how often people pass on Parent and go right to Disappointment? Maybe if we had backtracked we could have stayed on Parent. I’m glad we decided to do what we did and Kevin agrees.[paragraph break]
The portage from Parent to Snowbank is clogged with more than 9 people. There is a group of 4 just starting their trip-even though it is starting to get a bit late. They intend to stop on Ahsub. There is also a group of 6 girls picnicking and swimming at the portage. It makes for a crowded spot, but Kevin enjoys watching the girls in their swimsuits. We wait off shore while the group of 4 finishes and then we land to cross to Snowbank.[paragraph break]
The wind has picked up quite a bit and Snowbank is starting to roll a bit. I discuss the plan with Kevin and off we go. No significant problems are encountered other then the one motorboat who puts up a wake. That plus the waves from the wind make for an interesting few minutes of paddling.[paragraph break]
We finish the crossing, land the canoe and reload everything on the truck. Kevin and I have stashed a couple of pops and candy bars in a cooler with ice from the day before and they are still ice cold. It’s a nice treat for finishing the trip.[paragraph break]
Kevin and I discuss the trip all the way to Wisconsin to pick up Betsy. Once we get there he gets the chance to relive it all again.[paragraph break]
On the way home I ask if he had a good time and if he wants to go again. I think you all know the answer to that question.[paragraph break]
Thanks Kevin!! I loved reliving my first trip and the excitement through you. You and I will have more trips and you will have tons of trips in the future with friends. A new steward of the area has been born.[paragraph break]