BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 27 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1230 feet
My son Remy and I, and my friend Keith and his son Charlie put our canoes into Lake one at 9:30 Monday morning after dropping off a car at the Snowbank Lake landing. Lake One can be tricky to navigate. On our way to Lake Two we turned East too early and ended up paddling about a mile out of our way into a dead-end bay before we realized our mistake. We blamed the fact that Lake One was split between Fisher Maps #10 and #4 for our error. If the entire lake had been visible at once on a single map, we would not have made the wrong turn. Once we got back on course we portaged the 30 rods into a pond and then portaged the 40 rods into Lake Two. The weather was nice, and there was a bit of a tail wind out of the West. We stopped for lunch on the shore of Lake Two. After lunch we canoed through the North end of Lake Three and into Lake Four. We stopped for the night at a campsite on the West shore of Lake Four, just North of the channel heading toward Hudson Lake. We had to battle swarms of mosquitoes as we set up the tents. We then had a nice refreshing swim. Because we had brought steaks along for the first night, we didn't go fishing.
On Tuesday morning we had a bacon and eggs breakfast then packed up camp and headed out in our canoes. As we canoed past our campsite, we realized that Remy & I had left our hammocks pitched between trees. We landed again and quickly packed them up. Once again we had beautiful weather. We paddled East and completed 3 short portages before entering Hudson Lake. The 105 rod portage into Lake Insula was exhausting! Lake Insula is a large gorgeous lake broken up by multiple islands and penninsulas. We had lunch at a campsite on a large island just East of Hudson Lake. It felt like we had a tail wind as we were heading East, and then as we turned North it seemed like the wind shifted and was at our backs once again. We navigated Lake Insula flawlessly and camped for the night on the island just West of Williamson Island. After setting up the tents and a refreshing swim, Remy & I got back into the canoe and tried to catch some fish. We had no luck! At 9PM that night, just as we were going to bed, a thunderstorm rolled through. That night I was awakened several times by the loud croaking of bullfrogs from the shallows around our island. What noisy neighbors!
By Wednesday morning the weather had cleared, but the wind was now coming from the Northwest, pretty much in our faces. We paddled to the North end of Lake Insula and tackled the largest portage of our trip. The 180 rod walk to Kiana Lake actually seemed easier than the 105 rod carry into Lake Insula. We headed onward into Thomas Lake where we really started feeling the headwind. We finally made it to the campsite just Northeast of the portage into Thomas Pond in time for lunch. After lunch we proceeded across Thomas Pond and into Thomas Creek after hiking across the famous Kekekabic Trail. We managed to easily run the rapids in Thomas Creek and avoid the 2 short portages. We camped for the night on Hatchet Lake at the northern campsite. It was cool and windy, so we didn't swim. There was lots of threatening weather going by to the North of us, but we stayed dry. After supper we canoed back to Thomas Creek to fish and look for moose. No luck on either count, but we did see a beaver swimmming.
The weather was nice again Thursday morning, but the wind was out of the West which was the direction we were heading. We portaged into Ima Lake and canoed across it. Before portaging into Jordan Lake, we watched a bald eagle sitting in a tree get harrassed repeatedly by a seagull. The narrow channel leading into Jordan Lake is quite beautiful. It is narrow like a river with big rock outcroppings. We paddled across Jordan, Cattyman, Adventure, and Jitterbug Lakes. We found the Eastern campsite on Ahsub Lake taken, so we camped at the Western campsite which had a great place for swimming in front of it. There was a very brave loon in front of the campsite who didn't seem to mind if we got close to it. We tried our luck at fishing, but only caught 1 smallmouth which was too small to eat. Between 5:00 and 7:30 that evening we saw a number of canoes heading across Ahsub Lake from Disappointment Lake to Jitterbug Lake. We weren't sure where they were planning to camp, but it was getting late.
On Friday we awoke again to good weather. We paddled the length of Disappointment Lake and portaged into to Parent Lake and then on to Snowbank Lake. It was July 4th, and as we entered Snowbank Lake the sounfd of firecrackers reminded us we weren't in the wilderness anaymore. After a brief splash war on our way across Snowbank, we made it to the landing and our car was still there. What a great trip!
Paddle n Puke
September 02, 2008
Number of Days:
Wouldn't you know that only after ever locking my keys in my car twice in my life I locked my keys in my truck that evening after I had dropped off the spare set with Ely Cab, (lesson #1 always wire another spare pair under the truck) after rounding up a chunk of wire and pliers and about 45 minutes of fooling around, I almost had the wing window open when smash, I pushed a little to hard and poof no wing window, but at least now I had my keys. Hot,sweaty and disgusted I went to bed after a quick shower.
Tuesday morning got up early but feeling a bit sluggish, I had breakfast there at CBO, then off to the launch site. First order of buisness was to repair my wing window which I did with some cardboard, plastic and duct tape which I must say worked out pretty well and as of today I'm still driving around with it that way.
Got everything down to the launch and loaded up. I had practice getting things in the canoe at home and they had to be packed exactly a certain way in order to cram everything in my Prism but this was the first time I had actually paddled it loaded this way. The only pack that fit below or at least even with the gunwales was the 60ltr barrel, fortunately it was the heaviest at 87#, The Duluth kitchen pack was 83# and leaned against the barrel, half sticking above the canoe. The front two packs, a Duluth Cruiser combo at 71# and a Duluth Hudson Bay pack at 58# were crammed in the front. Sitting in the canoe slightly forward of center I could immediately see I was loaded front heavy once I was also in the canoe. I also quickly learned that with half of each pack sticking above the gunwales that the canoe was much to top heavy and therefore tippy. Wide tandems are much more forgiving. (lesson #2, no packs that don't fit easily into a solo(narrow)
Off I went, (carefully) it seemed like I had hardily dipped my paddle in and I was at the first portage, the day was over cast and the air hung with moisture threatening to rain soon. I wrestled my packs out of the canoe, then do the prep for the taking the canoe across first. Slide the seat all the way forward, flip the yoke around, strap the life jacket to the seat pedestal, bdb the paddle to the seat pedestal, water bottle snaps to the thwart, thwart bag ties to foot rest and we're off. Next back for the packs, I would sit each pack on top of the barrel pack, back up to it, put it on and take it over. Last was the barrel pack which I would put atop of the tallest rock I could find otherwise you just had to hoist it on. The first portage went by in a whiz and with the aid of tump lines I thought this isn't going to be so bad crossing each portage five times loaded.
A couple more paddle strokes and I was at the second portage, same routine but this time I also got out the water pump and made up some lemonade, it was now lightly raining and it felt good so I did not bother getting out any rain gear. At the end of the second portage I was really wishing my packs were about 4" narrower to they weren't so hard to wrestle in and out past the gunwales. Off to the third and last portage into the main part of Lake One.
Arriving at the third portage the first thing I did was make water/lemonade. It was now raining pretty good and a breeze was picking up, it was no longer a warm rain but had cooled of a bit but it still felt good at the start of this portage. With each pack I carried across I could feel things cooling off and the wind picking up. With the canoe and one pack across I began to rest a little longer inbetween carrys and drink more water, I could feel my legs getting a bit tired so I wondered if I should paddle into Lake Two or turn in early on Lake One,(this decision would later be made for me) by the time I finished this portage the wind was blowing good and the rain had turned so cold my glasses were fogging up.
I headed out into the lake aiming between the two islands, the fog on my glasses and wind made difficult to get anywhere. I rested a bit between the two islands and then headed towards the next island, the wind was blowing right down that part of the lake, I almost dumped, I had to turn more into the wind and landed mid point on the island, I lined my canoe around the end of the island got out of the wind got back in a made couse for between a large rock and where I believed there was a campsite. I made it sort of, it turned out to be a abandoned campsite as you could see were the fire grate had been removed, after exploring the site it was obvious someone else had recently camped there so I put my tent up in the same spot, tied my canoe up on the leeward side and prepped to hang my food pack. I was going nowhere as the wind was howling pretty good. Got the tent all ready inside and dried myself off put on dry warm woolens, put packs away for the night then down to make water and eat something. Had a meal of Gatorade and tail mix and some beef jerky. Tried to hang the food barrel and kitchen pack together and there was no way I was getting them off the ground with out a winch, so the food barrel just got lashed to a tree and I hung the kitchen pack, it was getting late so I was getting stuff ready to hunker down for the night, this is where things started going down hill. It hadn't been more than 15 or 20 minutes since I had eaten and everything was hurled out. After settling down for a bit I figured I had eaten to fast so I got some more stuff out to eat and I ate a bit slower, not much later I got the same result. I put some stuff in a zip lock and brought it in the tent with me and figured I'd just let my stomach settle for awhile. (I normally have a iron stomach) Later I ate a little of the trail mix and some Gatorade cause I felt hungry so figured that was a good sign, sometime in the night I had to go out and throw up again.
Wednesday morning after a terrible night sleep, throwing up, wind howling I felt even worse. I had sweats or chills and so weak I could hardly bring my hands up to my face, I just laid there till sometime in the afternoon. The sun had broke out late in the afternoon and the wind let up a bit. I rousted myself and took some pepto bismol, got my camera and took a few shots. I felt hungry or at least a pain like it but was afraid to eat so I just kept taking sips of Gatorade. It wasn't long before the sun disappeared and the wind was back to howling. Wednesday night was another night of chills/sweats and lousy sleep if any. I actually wrote a short letter to misses incase I died in my sleep I felt that bad.
Thursday I just laid there but I was sure I needed to eat something to get some strength back although I did feel just a tad stronger then wed. Late in the afternoon I started nibbling on some trail mix and kept sipping on Gatorade, I would get nauseous but didn't throw up, so I just kept nibbling thru till evening. During the day I started to think about what might be wrong, I had used a water filter but maybe I was sloppy, just the flu? something else? I knew Ely Cab would be picking my truck up on Saturday so I started to wonder if I had Giardia or something should I try to get out before Sat or if its the flu should I just wait it out. I decided to let the weather decide, if I was still pinned down by the wind on Friday I would wait and try to get better if it was calm I would pack out before my truck was gone. I set my alarm for 5am and looked forward to another poor nights sleep.
Friday morning the alarm didn't have to beep, I was already awake. I really didn't feel well but not as bad as Wednesday. I listened...no wind. I laid there and tried to talk myself into getting up on my knees, quarter to six it was still nice and calm out so I figured If I'm going to do this I better get to it. I packed up camp as quickly as I could, by the time I had the canoe packed up and ready to go I felt like maybe I had already spent all my energy for the day. A pepto bismol and nibble of trail mix a sip of Gatorade and off I went, as I headed back I felt very disappointed and bit ashamed, here I had up to two months off and here after only four days I'm headed back to my truck sick, maybe I should just tuff it out but when in dought I always lean toward the cautious side.
I plodded everything acrossed each portage, with each pack I would take a sip of Gatorade and eat a spoonful of trail mix. I was nauseous but keeping it down and I would have to say I actually felt somewhat better at the end of the last portage then at the beginning of the day.
After getting everything loaded up I headed back into Ely and gave Kevin a call told him what happened and I was heading over to pick up my spare keys. On the way home I stopped at McDonalds in Two Harbors and ordered some french fries, the hot salty potatoes felt very good in my stomach and they stayed there. When I got home later that evening everyone was quite shocked to see me. I laid in bed all Saturday and half of Sunday, my stomach got steadily better but I had diarrhea for the following week so I don't know what I got into but it wasn't good and I was glad I packed out.
When my employer learned I was back and well again I got sent to Chicago for two weeks so repacking and heading back up didn't happen. I'm still not giving up on this trip though but next time there will be a few new rules. NO packs above the gunwales, no packs over 70#, they must fit in and out of the canoe easily, no more than three packs on a solo trip(however far and long that gets ya that's it), boil out the water filter and put in a new cartridge, wire spare keys to the vehicle, try out a kayak paddle. Its to late to try to return this year so I'll shoot for next summer early/mid June, maybe I can find a partner, and there would be less clothing/boots to have to bring at that time of year. Feel free to shoot me any ideas for extended tripping, especially if you can recommend any well made packs that fit a Prism. I saw one fella that had a pack that even fit the bottom curve of the boat, looked like maybe a granite gear pack. A couple things I was really glad I invested in for this trip was my exped9 sleeping pad and Icebreaker wool clothing and my Hood river boots. Well that will be all the trip reporting from me for awhile unless I can find a opportunity in the south.