BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 20 2022
Number of Permits per Day: 13
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!
August 2004 - South Kawishiwi/Clearwater Loop
August 02, 2004
South Kawishiwi River
Little Gabbro Lake (33)
Number of Days:
The paddle up the beautiful South Kawishiwi River was an enjoyable way to get our “sea legs” under us and to get used to our canoe mate. About 2-3/4 miles up the river we had a quick five rod portage around a small rapid. The portage path on the left bank was flat and wide, allowing us a partial unload and four-carry the balance of equipment in the canoes.
We paddled on another 2-1/4 miles or so to the 125 rod portage to Little Gabbro Lake. With the water levels low, this portage and most of the portages encountered on our trip had very shallow water landing and leaving. The portage to Little Gabbro seemed longer than the stated 125 rods. It is a reasonably good path climbing the first 50 rods then a steeper section of about 10 rods. It then flattens out until the last 10 rods where it descends steeply to the lake. The lake side was shallow and sandy so we got wet feet, but not muddy.
Little Gabbro Lake is a relatively shallow lake about 150 acres in size that supports four campsites. The channel to the east provides access to the much larger Gabbro Lake.
Gabbro Lake is about 2-1/2 miles long (about 900 acres) with most of its depth over 15 feet. Gabbro supports nine campsites. The east end of Gabbro has a channel that connects to Bald Eagle Lake. Traveling east usually requires a short portage around a small rapid. Traveling west out of Bald Eagle this rapid is often run by experienced paddlers.
We had planned to camp half way down Gabbro Lake on the first day, but all campsites were taken well before lunch. This forced us to continue on to Bald Eagle Lake. We did the short portage around the drain for Bald Eagle, walked the canoes through very shallow water just passed the drain and continued down the lake looking for an empty campsite.
Bald Eagle Lake is a pretty lake that stretches east from Gabbro for about 3-1/2 miles (about 1200 acres). It has a 36’ max. depth and hosts 13 campsites. Caution when crossing Bald Eagle, its waves can be quite impressive.
We were almost to the point of giving up on finding a campsite on Bald Eagle and heading back to the long portage to Turtle Lake when we found a little used campsite hidden behind an island. It was not a choice campsite. The low water and rocks made getting close to shore a problem. This made unloading and loading a chore, but under the circumstances we were tickled to find a place to stop. It had been a much longer first-day paddle than what we had planned.
DAY TWO: We awoke early, had a quick breakfast and broke camp. Since we were so far down Bald Eagle from our planned portage to Turtle Lake and very close to the return portage from Gull Lake, we decided to reverse our planned loop and headed for the Gull Lake portage.
We had a little trouble locating the portage and once found faced another shallow/muddy unload. The 190 rod portage climbs steeply for the first 50 rods then is rolling for the next 50 rods. A gradual descent drops steeply the last few rods as is gets to Gull Creek. This portage path was very rocky and required much care where you placed your feet. The creek-side exit was very small and would handle only one canoe at a time. Many rocks in front of the narrow exit made getting out into the creek with loaded canoes a real challenge.
The short paddle up Gull Creek was a pleasant change from the miles of into-the-wind lake travel we had been experiencing. We made our way up the creek to the portage to Gull Lake and again found very shallow water and lots of mud. The 40 rod portage from the creek to Gull Lake was steep for the first 10 rods, levels off and then drops into gull Lake.
Gull Lake is a larger lake about 2-1/4 miles long (about 500 acres) situated in the hills north of Bald Eagle. Maximum depth is 31 feet. It has five established campsites.
We located a pretty nice campsite on Gull and quickly had camp setup. We had planned a layover day on Gull and ended up glad we did. The fishing on Gull was much better than we had expected for an August trip. Quite a few pike and smallmouth bass were caught and released.
DAY THREE: Awoke to a north breeze with a little touch of Fall in it. The breeze made it a little difficult to fish from the canoes, but we still managed to boat and release enough to keep our interest high.
DAY FOUR: This was to be a travel day so we awoke early to find the lake engulfed in a pea soup thick fog. We broke camp and got on the lake about 7:00 am. Finding the portage on the other side of the lake in a dense fog was interesting, but did not present any undo problems.
The 60 rod portage from Gull to Pietro Lake is pretty much a lousy trail. It is basically flat, but even in dry weather was still very muddy.
Pietro Lake is a pretty lake with clear water. It is about 1-1/2 miles long (about 340 acres) with a maximum depth of 31 feet. It supports four campsites.
We continued on, paddling across Pietro into a north breeze. The portage out of Pietro to Camdre Lake is a ways down the bank from the location shown on the maps (both Fisher and McKensie) and a little hard to spot. The 65 rod portage is in pretty good shape, but seemed to be little used. It climbs steeply the first 20 rods and then levels off and gradually drops down to Camdre. The short paddle (1/4 mile) across Camdre was a little break between portages.
Camdre Lake is small and shallow. ¼ mile across (about 50 acres), it has no game fish and no campsites. Note: The McKensie map wrongly shows the portage to Clearwater in the northeast corner of the lake. The Fisher map shows it correctly in the northwest corner of the lake.
The 125 rod portage from Camdre to Clearwater Lake was very shallow on both ends. Unloading and loading was again a wet, muddy affair. The portage path is little used, narrow, rocky and muddy in spots. It rises over a small hill and then gradually drops to Clearwater.
Clearwater Lake is large (2 miles long and about 650 acres) and deep with remarkably clear water. It is a pretty lake with four campsites.
We found a nice campsite on Clearwater and proceeded to setup camp. The clear water and bright sunshine made it a real challenge for the fishermen. One average size largemouth bass was all that they caught in Clearwater. We won’t waste our time fishing the next time through that lake.
DAY FIVE: We left the camp on Clearwater about 7:30 am and again had to paddle into the wind to get to the Turtle Lake portage. The 200 rod portage climbs steadily for the first 60 rods then levels off pretty much for the next 80 rods. It then descends gradually into Turtle. The trail is not traveled much and is very rocky and muddy in spots. About 2/3 the way across there is a muddy section of about five rods that can’t be avoided. The Turtle side of the portage is very shallow with knee deep mud that slowed our progress.
Turtle Lake is a shallow lake (15’ max.) about 1-1/4 mile across (about 340 acres) with distinctly cloudy water. It has four campsites. The campsite on the northern island is very nice. The only game fish in Turtle are pike.
All of the campsites on Turtle were vacant so we opted for the island site. It sits well above the water level and provides a beautiful view of the lake. Fishing on Turtle was good. We didn’t catch huge numbers, but the pike we caught were large. The largest was 37” long and weighed 11 pounds. With the good fishing and great campsite, we decided to make Turtle another layover lake.
DAY SIX: We awoke this morning to a beautiful rainbow right out in front of our campsite. It was quite a thrill to awake to God’s handiwork like that. The breeze this day was cooler and a light rain started to fall at about 8:00 am. The rain stopped at lunch time, but the wind continued to blow. We spent much of the afternoon playing Spades in the tent. After supper the wind subsided enough to allow the fishermen one more opportunity to catch a few fish. Late evening was spent doing some preliminary packing for our trip out the next day.
DAY SEVEN: We left camp about 7:00 am with the weather cool and overcast. It seems that some days it doesn’t matter what direction you are paddling, the wind is always in your face. This was one of those days. We paddled across Turtle to the Bald Eagle portage to find another shallow/rocky entry. The 186 rod portage climbs steeply the first 30 rods then is slightly downhill for the next 120 rods. The last part drops sharply down into Bald Eagle Lake. The portage exit is very shallow and muddy.
Mist fell on our group as we paddled across Bald Eagle, while we did the short portage into Gabbro, across Gabbro and Little Gabbro. The mist stopped as we approached the portage out to Entry 33. The portage landing was a bit crowded so we took advantage of a nearby campsite to pause and have a bite of lunch. This gave the portage crowd time to pass through and since we were ahead of schedule, allowed us to kill some time.
The 200 rod carry from Little Gabbro to Entry 33 has a nice landing area (no wet muddy feet here!). The path climbs the first 20 rods and then is rolling the rest of the way. This is an excellent trail with only a few rocky spots. Probably the best trail we traveled all week. For its length, it is not a difficult portage.
Duane’s picked us up at Entry 33 about 2:15 pm. We hated to have it end so quickly, but a great time was had by all. Good weather, good fishing and good companions in the BWCA – it made for a great week.