BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 23 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!
Lake One to Kawishiwi River
September 12, 2008
Number of Days:
The four of us all took off work a little early and met at Patrick’s house to load up the vehicle, strap on the canoe and hit the road. We had one little stop to make and that was to pick up a treat from Adam’s wife downtown Minneapolis; some carrot cake muffins for the road and an Incredible Hulk notebook to journal in! The ride up to Ely was pretty eventful, we got to listen to Patrick work via his cell phone and many inside jokes that would continue throughout the trip were created. Usually we have entered the BWCA from the Grand Marais side and this would be the first time we have entered through Ely. We made it to Ely and were a bit unsure on how close the Kawishiwi Lodge was and it ended up being a little farther out then we had expected. We called the lodge and asked them to stay open so we could get our permits that night so we could head out early in the morning the next day; they obliged! About a mile away from the lodge we almost ran over a wolf standing in the middle of the road, I think it was there to welcome us!
We finally arrived to our destination, the Kawishiwi lodge, just before 9:00PM. We checked in, got our permits, and headed to the bunk house.
We arrived to the nice little bunkhouse, which included a bathroom and kitchen, located right on the lake (great spot) repacked our gear, had some dinner, some beers and did a little night fishing on the dock (no luck).
We woke up at 4:30 AM and when we stepped outside realized that it was still pitch black outside (lesson learned for future trips). This gave us time to eat breakfast, drink some coffee and get ready to leave the first sign of light.
Around 5:45 AM, that moment finally came and we headed out on our journey. It was a perfect calm day but the fog was dense and did not lift until just before noon that day. The GPS proved to be very handy in the fog situation as it was very hard to see landmarks navigating via a map.
A few portages later and one slight detour, we had arrived on the Kawishiwi River. It was very scenic; we saw a bald eagle just before reaching our destination. The island site we hoped for was occupied so we double back about a stones throw away to a peninsula we passed that looked nice. The site turned out to be a 4 star site (imo), perfect for our three tents, great views of the lake too! We had camp set up and were sitting around the grate by noon.
Bobby Kielty (Patrick) and Paul Molitor (Chris) would pay us a visit through out our trip… one of the random inside joke things but the pictures don’t lie.
We did a little fishing but only managed one smallie. There was not a lot of dead wood to burn around camp so our fire was not the greatest for the first night but we would remedy that the next day/night.
We cooked monster steaks that night which took forever over our weak fire. Lesson learned… bring thinner steaks next year because we can hardly wait to eat them and the quicker the better!
The weather was perfect, no bugs; we crashed around 10:00PM
We woke to another wonderful calm day. We made some fresh coffee and enjoyed a fruit cup and breakfast bar then decided to venture out and get some real wood for the night’s fire, do some fishing, and explore a bit. We were very successful finding lots of drift wood to burn! We only caught a few fish during our exploration , and we hiked to Conchu lake that turned out to be a designated trout lake; because not all of us had trout stamps, we decided to not fish it and head back. It was a great day on the water. [paragraph break]
We got back to camp around 5 PM and started a fire and spent a lot of time fishing from shore and telling stories (often continuing our inside jokes). The randomness of stories and adventures are things that make these trips so special! [paragraph break] [paragraph break]
Later that evening it began to rain but because we were now well equipped with wood and had a perfect tarp set up over the fire/grate area, we enjoyed the night eating hot chili, drinking semi cold cocktails and telling even more stories… while staying dry for the most part.[paragraph break]
The rain would continue through the night. I was worried about my tent location as I was down hill and could see a stream flow under, however, when I crawled in my tent to sleep, it was bone dry! My cheap $70 Gander Mtn 2 man tent has survived a bear stomping from a previous trip and a few monster rain storms, so far a great buy! The two guys sharing a tent had a brand new tent that did not do so well in the rain making their night a bit more uncomfortable.
We woke up to more light rain in the morning but this was not a big deal because as we were going to be heading out today anyway and a little rain was just part of our adventure. We packed our gear and again had some coffee and breakfast before paddling back. We were in no hurry and I decided to fish at one of the rapids at a portage and caught a little pike. I had a few more strikes on the other side of the portage also but could not land.
We made it back to the outfitters around 2:00 PM, showered up and headed to the steakhouse in Ely for some big greasy burgers and a couple of cold beers!
It was a great trip with friends and we all agreed that we will make this an annual adventure!
Lessons Learned:[paragraph break] - Bring an Axe or Hatchet[paragraph break] - Check Sunrise time[paragraph break] - A Monkey (to hang food bag)[paragraph break] - Make that 2 Monkey’s (to chase red squirrel away)[paragraph break] - Liquid proof container for oil or use Crisco bar![paragraph break] - More Gummies![paragraph break] - Thinner steaks (hotter fire)[paragraph break]
Bobby Kielty Says…[paragraph break] - “Let the saw do the sawin’”[paragraph break] - “If you want to catch a fish, stay with your pole at all times”[paragraph break] - “Let gravity do the work”[paragraph break] - “Give to God what belongs to God”[paragraph break] - “You can’t catch a fish if you are not fishing”[paragraph break]