BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 25 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!
North Kawishiwi 2009
June 19, 2009
Number of Days:
Well, the day didn't exactly start the way we wanted it. Brandon lives in Duluth and I in St Louis Park, so I drove to Duluth on Thursday night and the plan was to head to Ely at 4 am. Brandon called me on Wednesday afternoon, he just got done with his physical for school. The bad news? He had a TB test, which can only be checked at least 48-72 hours after it is given. The only time he could get in was 8 am on Friday. We are already 4 hours behind schedule!
The doctors visit was short and we were actually on the road before 8. Made it to Ely, got our canoe, leeches, booze and permit, and were in the water by 11, not bad.
It was a gorgeous day, but which one isn't when it is your first day away from the real world and about to enter the BWCA? I've waited for this day forever![paragraph break]
We paddle on our way, getting a little confused in spots, but get it figured out. About an hour in, we run into a group who is leaving today. Asked them where they stayed and how many people they have seen. They camped on the island site just to the west of the fork of the North and South Kawishiwi. They really enjoyed the sight but said they have already seen 4 groups heading in that direction. Brandon and I decide that we will quit fishing and find a decent site before they are taken. Seems we are base-camping and the main goal is fishing, we make it to the site that was recommended within another two hours. It was a site that I had read about and we were happy that it was open after finding so many filled along the way. We decide this 4 star will be our home for the next few days and set up camp.
Shortly after getting camp set up, the sky clouds up and it begins to rain. I don't think we could have timed it any better. It only lasts a half hour or so, and soon clears up again.[paragraph break]
After a bite to eat, summer sausage sandwiches and gorp, we decide to head out and do some fishing. Just as we are leaving we notice a deer in the water across the bay. We quietly paddle over and get as close as 15 yards. Very cool to sit and watch him dunk his head under to eat and drink. We leave him to his business after watching for about 10 minutes.[paragraph break]
Fishing was slow and didn't catch a thing until we got back to camp. Just a couple of smallies. We also scared up a couple of turtles as we got back to camp. Made a nice dinner of ribeyes and mashed potatoes, very tasty. Caught a beautiful sunset and had a wonderful campfire. What a great day![paragraph break]
Got kind of a late start this morning, didn't wake up until 7. Had the morning coffee along with eggs, sausage and bagels. The sausages took forever to cook. By the time we got things cleaned up and on the water it was 9. Bright sunny day and already starting to get warm.[paragraph break]
We started the day off fishing in a bay that was just around the corner from our campsite. It took some time, but eventually the fish started biting. We both caught a walleye and a few northerns. Not a bad way to start the day![paragraph break]
After fishing in this bay for a few hours, we decided to make our way to Conchu Lake and try our luck at some brook trout. After the buggy portage, we toured the lake briefly. We found a spot that had some trout swimming around, but alas they were not hungry, at least for what we were throwing at them. I did manage to catch a very small largemouth bass, couldn't have been more than 5 inches long.[paragraph break]
After our short stint and Conchu, we decided to make waves toward the large portage to the west. We parked our boat on shore and out of the way and continued the hike down the trail. I had read about the nice falls at this area, but were unable to locate them. We didn't look too terribly hard because it was very hot and buggy. Saw some very nice rapids and was worth the walk for some scenery and to stretch the legs.[paragraph break]
After leaving the portage we hopped in our canoe and hit the water. It was so hot out, we let our feet dangle in the water and let the wind blow us around. We decided to take a lunch break on a small island near the portage to Conchu. Had summer sausage sandwiches and gorp once again. Nice to lay back and take a quick cat nap in the nice breeze and shade of a tree. When we were getting ready to leave we were surprised by a snapping turtle near our canoe.[paragraph break]
We slowly worked our way back to camp, catching only a couple of fish along the way. Back at camp, we decided to brew up some coffee and throw some bobbers in. Once the fire was going, we decided to cook up some chicken breasts for an early dinner. Once the clean up was done, it was back in the canoe to see what we could catch.[paragraph break]
It was terribly hot and muggy, and hardly a breeze in the air. We tried some of the small bays near camp, but nothing was biting. It was too miserable to stay out too long so we snapped a few photos and made way to get a fire going. It was a great night and Brandon and I were able to catch up with each other's lives, as we don't get to see each other too often.[paragraph break]
Another morning of waking up at 7, I can't believe I am sleeping in this late. Got the coffee going, then the eggs and bacon, which went much more smoothly than yesterday's breakfast. Cleaned up and hit the water. Today, we were going to explore the South Kawishiwi.[paragraph break]
Once we got to the first set of rapids, we tried our luck at fishing. Got a couple of smallies, but not much action so we decided to move on. All day, we just worked the shorelines and small bays. Good luck in some spots, not so good in others, but that's the way it goes. Had a nice sized northern on for a bit, but shook itself off as I was pulling out of the water. We did manage to get a few in the boat.[paragraph break]
It was getting very hot today and found a small island out in the breeze on which to take a break. Did a little fishing from shore and ended up breaking a pole. I guess that's why you always bring a spare. Took a quick cat nap in the breeze before turning around toward camp.[paragraph break]
On our way back to camp, we ran into a group that was fishing below the rapids where we had little luck. Of course they were catching them left and right. Not enough room for all of us so we ventured on. Stopped for some fire wood before reaching camp.[paragraph break]
By this time, it was extremely hot and almost went for a swim, but opted for a bite to eat and a nice sit in the breeze on a point. We brewed some coffee and decided to eat our main meal at this time so we could be out fishing during prime time. We had pork loin kabobs with potatoes, peppers, and pineapple. Delicious![paragraph break]
We got done eating and were about to lay down for a nap when we heard a couple of canoes stop by. It was an adult with 4 kids in 2 canoes. Seems that they were turned around and separated from the rest of their group. We got them orientated again and pointed out a couple of nice campsites that were open down the river. Just then, the rest of their group came around the corner, waving their paddles in the air. They were very happy to see them and very thankful for the help we provided. [paragraph break]
Well, we were awake now and decided to try our luck in the bay around the corner, where we caught some walleyes earlier. Fishing was a little slow this evening. Brandon was able to wrestle a northern in the canoe. We also had a couple of loons follow us around for quite some time.[paragraph break]
We decided to call it an evening and headed back to camp so we could get a fire started. Upon our return, we found a turtle laying her eggs. It was very cool to watch her dig and push the eggs into the hole before covering them up and camouflaging the nest. Talk about Discovery Channel live and in your face! I could have watched for hours, but wanted to let her do her thing and not disturb her. We were the guests in her home, not the other way around. One last fire and the rest of the vodka lemonades before bed. I can't believe we have to leave tomorrow.[paragraph break]
Woke up this morning to canoes banging around. Sounds like our neighbors are heading out. What time is it anyway? 8 am. Of all the days I wanted to get going early. I was hoping to be at our entry point by noon. Not looking good. Got out of the tent to see that we had at least an inch of rain over night. We thought about making a fire and cooking breakfast, but because everything was wet, and in the interest of time, decided to eat some leftovers from the food pack. Nut rolls, the breakfast of champions. [paragraph break]
After a quick bite, we packed up camp and were on the water. Very overcast day today. Not too much in the way of fishing today, main focus was getting home.[paragraph break]
About halfway back to the truck, a few drops began to fall. Pretty soon it was enough to pull out the rain gear, and thank goodness we did. It began to pour cats and dogs! We thought we were getting near the next portage when it started to thunder and lightning. By this time, I was ankle deep in water and everything was soaked. We talked about pulling over to the side, but decided to go with the philosophy that we couldn't get any wetter and we wouldn't be getting any closer to the truck.[paragraph break]
Once we hit the portage, we waited for 15 minutes or so, just long enough for it to let up. We continued on our way. Soon even the sprinkles went away and it turned out to be a decent day, minus all the mosquitos. Threw in some final casts before reaching the Lake One entry point. Seemed to be a busy place today. We got loaded up and on the road at about 12:30 and our time in the BWCA was officially over.....for this time.[paragraph break]
Made a stop for lunch at the Ely Steakhouse. We then proceeded on to Duluth, where I dropped Brandon off. I continued on my way to Saint Louis Park and was at home at about 6:30, not too bad for time. Part of me is glad to be back at the comforts of home and to be able to see my wife, but part of me also misses what I just left. I definitely could have used another day or two, but you guys know what I am talking about. [paragraph break]
All in all, a great trip! I can't wait until the next one, the wife might even let me get a second trip in later this year, we'll see. Until next time....happy paddling!