BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 19 2019
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!
First Solo Lake One #30
August 07, 2009
Number of Days:
Plan was to leave early morning. Ended up making major plan change. I ordered a new Big Agnes sleeping pad and a cookset from Hermits Hut on 7/17. Great prices, but customer service sucks. I told them I wanted it by 8/1, just so I knew I would have it on time. I added a stupid Mountain House dessert on the order to get the total on the invoice to $199 for free shipping. Dessert was backordered. They never notified me. They could have exchanged it for some crappy egg breakfast meal for all I cared. Long story short, I decided to wait for UPS today. I REALLY wanted that stuff for this trip. UPS showed up at 2:00. Those morons forgot to pack 1 sleeping pad! I am so pi**ed! I ordered 2 and only need 1, but the b.s. I have been putting up with this company is getting to me. Went to bed at 6:30.
Woke up at midnight, car was already packed, on the road by 12:30. Stopped in Twin Harbors at McD's, and stopped for gas and fishing license. Arrived in Ely at the ranger station to pick up permit at 5 minutes to 7. They open at 7. Perfect timing! Picked up Prism canoe at Kawishiwi Lodge. Super nice guy. I recommend them.
I hit the water a little after 8. Very cloudy and gloomy day, but very light wind. Not bad paddling. Lake One was a piece of cake. The 2 portages into Lake Two (one 27 rod, one 38 rod) were really easy. EXCEPT all the freakin' people. I know its the second busiest entry point, but the lack of courtesy is unbelievable. Specifically one group of 8 guys and 4 canoes. Just plow right through. I did run into the guys I went canoeing with 4 years ago. What are the odds? Well, at least I can say I did the number chain. 'Cause I ain't using entry 30 again!
Lake Two was another gravy paddle. Lake Three/Four seemed to take forever. Small portages between Three/Four and Hudson were easy. Nice rapids. Took pics.
I think the current must be strong on Hudson. Seemed like a lot of work getting across. I was going to stay on Hudson for 1 night, but I was making great time, so I decided to venture on to Lake Insula. Totally spaced out where I was on the map and started looking for the portage in the wrong bay. The 95 rod portage was interesting. Rugged uphill climb, I've been on worse though. Not too bad overall.
Lost my bearing (or a marble) on Insula, paddled around the wrong island looking for a campsite. Thats twice in the past hour my canoe went the wrong way. Time to find a campsite before I paddle in more circles. Found lots of open sites. Still a lot of traffic. Found a site on a small island. Time to check it out (now that I have a clue where I am). Its open. Woo Hoo!!! 4 years and I finally got an island site. And its only 3:30.
I set up the tent right away. It looked like it may want to rain. Put up rain fly, decided to put hammock under it right away. Found a tree to hang food bag. It took a while, but I eventually got the rope over the branch.
A little after 6 now, and I am beat. Right between my shoulder blades and my hip joints ache. Time to do some reading, writing, and crash for the night. Tomorrow will be an easy day. Approximately 14 miles today.
Awoke around 8. Slept good, very sore muscles today. Original plan today........girlfriend's (ex-girlfriend) birthday.....I had some very nice meals planned, and to spend the day just relaxing around camp. Same plan......doing it for me. (she did kinda show up)
11: a.m. Mist still hanging around. Messed around taking pics for a while. Noon- humidity dropped, breeze, well more like wind, actually feels kinda cool. Time to walk the island for pictures and blueberries. There is a well beaten path around the island. Found a handful of berries. Some idiot took a hatchet to 2 live trees. Speaking of idiots, I filled a sandwich bag full of garbage from around camp, picked up 30' of rope tied to a rock for an anchor, and there is an iron sandwich maker and a large fry pan too. Those I can't pack out because of size and weight. Hopefully the next group can.
Took the canoe out to take pics and fish. As soon as I got in the middle of the lake, the wind picked up, small whitecaps. Tried fishing. No luck. It was very hard to deal with the wind. I will try again this evening. Spent the afternoon in the hammock studying and daydreaming.
Woke up around 7. Heard a big "KER-PLUNK!" in the water last night just as I went to bed. Sounded like a boulder fell in the water. I slept fine until about 2 am, started tossing and turning because of a sore shoulder. Had a cup of coffee and a pop tart. Threw the fishing gear, bag of snacks & goodies, and water bottle in the canoe. I am off to do the fishdance. Fishdance Lake that is.
VERY foggy this morning, weather radio says there is a fast moving strong storm near Crane Lake and into Canada. Shouldn't be a problem for me. Headed through Insula, light breeze, fog lifting. Past a few happy campers headed the other direction just before I got to the small portage (can't be more than 15 rod). This has got to be the easiest portage this whole trip. Nice landings, nice trail. As I ventured up the mighty Kawishiwi, as soon as I got to the 90` dogleg, it started to sprinkle. I didn't think much of it, the sky didn't look THAT bad. Then it started to rain. Hurry up, grab rain gear.
The portage after Alice Lake (17 rod), was something else. The west end wasn't bad. but the east end was pretty steep, and the rain made the rocks slick. It didn't help that 2 guys were parked there hiding from the rain under their canoe. Grrrrrrr!! The 95 rod portage wasn't bad at all. Paddled around Fishdance Lake. Tried to take pictures of the pictographs, I thought they may not turn out. Found out this to be true when I got back to camp. The lighting and rain messed things up. Oh well. Rain stopped, fished a bit.One small walleye, 2 smallies, catch and release. One o'clock, better make my way back. Wind is picking up, butt is getting sore.
When I got to Alice, the wind was coming straight out of the north.It took a lot of work going that short distance across the south end. Wind wasn't a bother on the river. Insula was another story. Wind was coming out of the northwest. I fought my way to Williamson Island and then rode the wind as far as I could. Then I did the same thing at "The Rock". Finally turned the corner heading northwest to home sweet home. I had to fight the wind the last mile and a half. CAMP AT LAST!!! My butt is SO sore.
3 days alone and I haven't lost my mind yet :)
.......Last nights kerplunk was a beaver. He cruised in front of camp tonight. Approximately 27 miles paddled.
I don't think I got too burnt in the sun. It sure did feel good to just lie around. Today is the first time I have seen other canoeists within sight of my camp. 2 had sails, 1 didn't. I heard 2 guys talking while I was laying in the sun in my under britches. Never seen them. Probably scared them off.
Not much luck fishing. A few smallies and another small northern. 6:30 everything is packed that I can pack. Except hammock. Still in use. Just going to relax and see if I can get a good sunset picture. Mr. beaver is out early tonight, cruising along the shoreline across from camp. 8:30 all is packed except tent, sleeping bag, and pad.
Got into a fight with "myself" over packing the tent. "I" got a fat lip, "myself" got a bloody nose, and "me" ran into the woods screaming like a little school girl. And the pine tree they call "Sticky" ALWAYS takes myself's side I swear I could hear the turtles laughing the whole time. Maybe 5 day alone is too much. Just kiddin' Still sane......somewhat.
Woke up at 6. Packed remaining things. On the water at 6;30. Calm out, water is like glass. Took a wrong turn around an island to get to the portage. CRAP!!! Just added an extra couple of miles of paddling. Made it to the 95 rod portage. Not a soul in sight. Hudson was a very easy paddle (I think I was right about the current). At the pond between the 2 small portages Hudson, there was a mother duck with little ones scooping bugs off the top of the water. Very cool to watch. Wind is picking up. Lake Three, I had to help 2 guys find themselves on the map. Wind is getting worse. Whitecaps. Stopped at an empty campsite before Lake Two. Had a snack and caught my breath. Lake Two wasn't too bad, wind was easier to deal with. Not much traffic on portages Two to One. 4 college age kids that looked like they belonged at a Yogi Bear campground. Kinda funny watching them.Lake One seemed like a long paddle, just because my butt was getting really sore. Kawishiwi Lodge in sight. Wooo Hooo!!!! Unload canoe, pack car, square up on bill, chat a bit, and head home. 1:45
Final words and thoughts........
This was originally suppose to be a 7 day 6 night trip. Three reasons it was cut short.... 1. I made the mistake to basecamp, I got pretty bored with myself in the same spot. 2. The main day trip was extremely long and took a lot out of me, putting a damper on other day trips. 3. My state of mind, personal issues made the alone time kinda weird.
I have been bitten by the "solo bug". I look forward to doing this again.
Changes......5 day 4 night seems like a good length of time for me. Pack lighter. So I can travel easier (thats why I basecamped, too much stuff). Maybe do a short loop. Finally, go where there are less people. It kinda loses the challenge aspect when there are so many people so close.
Overall...... It was a great trip. My first solo, a big accomplishment in my life to be proud of. The only way this trip could have been better.......If the best canoe partner I ever had would have joined me. She made last years trip the best. I REALLY missed her.