Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

October 06 2022

Entry Point 27 - Snowbank Lake

Snowbank Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 24 miles. Access is a boat landing or canoe launch at Snowbank Lake. Many trip options for paddlers. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Latitude: 47.9716
Longitude: -91.4326
Snowbank Lake - 27

Solo Disappointment

by billtwalsh
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 06, 2022
Entry Point: Snowbank Lake
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
After several trips in high school and a couple with dads ands sons, it was time for me to try a solo trip to the BWCA. I chose a relatively easy trip in a lake I was familiar with. But it was still a mental and physical challenge.

Day 1 of 3


Tuesday, September 06, 2022 Left White Bear Lake at 9:15. Arrived at Cloquet Walmart at 11 am. Lots of cars with canoes coming home. Hope that’s a good sign. Talked to Steve on the way to review equipment choices. Made it to Fall Lake Campground at 2 pm. Set up my tent. Got the same campsite we had with the boys 6 years ago. And it was the last site available. Weird. Checked in with outfitter Voyageurs North (also same as 2016). Very helpful but left a lot of what they offered behind. Too heavy.

Light dinner in camp. Went down to the lake to watch the sunset and smoke a cigar. Also enjoyed a Guinness in a bottle. Cigar was Connecticut NUB. Flavor came out at the end, which is different. Or it could be that I started eating peanut butter M&Ms with the cigar. Good combo.

Day One Woke at 6 am. Cleared camp by 7:10. Met the outfitter, ride to entry point at 8 am. Shoved off at 8:15. Felt hurried by the guy giving me a ride, even though he was nice as can be. Seems like he wanted to wait until I shoved off. I should have let him go and regrouped. Once I left the dock, I realized my cell phone was in my pocket and nothing was tied down. Even my wallet was still in my pocket. Paddling on the biggest lake, worried I would tip and the whole trip would end right there.

Paddled across Snowbank. Got lost a couple times but hugged the shore and found the portage to Disappointment. Was able to rework the equipment on dry land. I had a large Granite Gear Pack and a small bear barrel from Voyagers North for my food. First run hard on my neck. It was shorter than expected (good). I carried both packs together with the barrel on my front and the pack on my back. Next time I’ll just make three trips.

Pushed off into Disappointment at 10:30.

One hour paddle, got lost twice. Found a great campsite. Think I’ll stay here for two days. They even left wood for me. Great fireplace sheltered from the wind off the lake.

Good thing I took that site as three more groups came behind me eyeballing the site. Very busy up here.

Started a fire at 4 pm to get some hot coals for cooking my steak. The wood left from the last group was too green and did not burn very well. I found enough small stuff to keep the fire going for a couple hours. Steak and mashed potatoes pretty good meal for the BWCA.

I would not have an outfitter do my meals again. They gave me way too much food and too much cooking equipment. I could have easily packed some light dry food like beef jerky, cheese and crackers and been just as happy. And way less to carry.

One of my lunches was supposed to be peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They packed a whole loaf of bread, a small jar of peanut butter and a full plastic bottle of jelly. Each lunch had a full tube of Pringles potato chips. For one guy!

Hit the sack early. The night started hot but got cold eventually. Woke up at midnight and put the hoodie back on. Woke up at 3 am and out pants on. This is the last time I’m using a sleeping “bag.” They are really hard to sleep in. Can’t move around, spread your legs. Have to research other solutions. My friend Mike has something he sewed together. Might be heavier but worth it.

 



Day 2 of 3


Wednesday, September 07, 2022 I swear I heard a bear walk right by my tent at 6:15 am. Made a low grunting/snorting noise. What else would make that sound? I froze and did not open the tent to look. Whatever it was it kept on going through camp. Every morsel of food was packed airtight into that barrel and it obviously worked. Bear couldn’t smell anything.

Fog on the water at 7:30 am. Made myself hot chocolate and ate peanut butter M&Ms for breakfast. The outfitter packed me a bagel with cream cheese and an apple. I ate the apple for lunch. Next time I bring my own food.

Went for a paddle Wed morning around 9 am to look for the hiking trail. Got lost again (the map does not show every inlet and bay so I keep going down dead ends).

Went to the portage into Ashub looking for the hiking trail and couldn’t find it. Everything is overgrown.

When I came back there were people in my camp. I could hear hammering and as I got closer realized it was two women from the Forest Service replacing my fire grate. We had a nice visit and I got some intel on where I can access the hiking trail tomorrow on my way out from Parent Lake.

Went for a swim around 3:30. Water was surprisingly warm. Wednesday afternoon was absolutely gorgeous on the lake. No wind, sunny, warm. Only issue is there is a camp site right around the corner and I can hear talking. So much for being alone.

Speaking of being alone, there is a chipmunk in this camp who obviously has been fed by other campers. He is not afraid of me and keeps coming right into my area looking for food. Some will say “cute!” I say leave me alone. Wish I had a BB gun.

As far away as the BWCA is from civilization, the one noise you still hear is airplanes overhead. Really high altitude but you can still hear them and sometimes see them.

It always takes me until the second day away to get peace. This trip it happened at 4 pm on Wed after my swim. Everything calmed down and became very peaceful. Until then, I was going through the motions, still a little anxious. Enjoyed a really good cigar after dinner waiting for it to get dark so I could see the famous BWCA stars. Turns out the moon was so bright it drowned out the stars.

Tomorrow I begin the long journey home from this remote campsite. Paddle across Disappointment Lake, find the portage to Parent. Plan to find the hiking trail and do a hike. The nice thing is you can leave all your gear on shore. No one is going to steal anything up here. Then portage into Snowbank and paddle back to Entry Point 27 for my 4 pm pick up. Then a half hour ride back to my car. Then the 4 hour drive home from Ely. Looking forward to my own bed (and bathroom!).

 



Day 3 of 3


Thursday, September 08, 2022 Camp taken down by 9:15. Hot chocolate and M&Ms for breakfast. Now just have to wait for the wind to die down. It kicked up at 11:30 last night and blew all night. I preferred that to Tuesday night’s complete calm and silence when I could hear every creature moving around outside my tent.

Wind did not die down and clouds formed overhead so I decided to hit the lake at 11:30. Wind picked up and it was hard to keep the bow headed into the waves. Got some relief from an island but it was hard paddling all the way across Disappointment north to south.

The Wenonah solo canoe was awesome. Really light for portaging and easy to paddle with the kayak paddle I brought. A little tippy when there was no gear in it. More like a kayak.

It was calm in the south side of Disappointment. I checked out the campsite near the portage - very nice but you’d have traffic going by all day to and from the portage.

Took the 85 rod portage into Parent thinking it would easier paddling in the smaller lake and worth the extra portage. Was I wrong! Parent was bigger than I remembered and there was a huge wind right in my face. I waited 30 minutes to see if it would calm down and then set out. Toughest paddling yet. Two-foot waves. Paddled hard to move and harder to keep the bow into the waves. If I got sideways, I would have capsized for sure. Had to paddle straight into the waves across the lake and then tack back to the portage entrance. Half hour of hard paddling.

Took the portage into Snowbank and it was calm! Outfitter told me Snowbank has more hills surrounding it to break up the wind than Parent. Relatively easy paddle across Snowbank to the landing. Arrived at 3:25 for my 4:00 pickup.

It was a great solo trip and I’m glad I checked this off my list, but next time I will invite friends.

 


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