BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
January 18 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!
Family Aventure to Insula and back
August 04, 2012
Number of Days:
We woke up at 3:30AM excited about our first Boundary Waters trip as a family. We wanted to get as early a start as possible so that we could have a full day of travel and paddling especially, because we wanted to try to make it to Insula in one day if we could. We had packed up and loaded everything the night before so we would just have to get up, eat and go in the morning. It was around a four hour drive up to Ely from our home in Wisconsin so we wanted to get to the Ranger Station as soon as it opened. We got off to a little bit of a slow start as expected so we didn’t leave home until like 4:30AM. We got to the ranger station between 9 and 10 and we were at the entry point paddling out around 11. My brother and I were worried because of our late start and slower travel time due to the greenhorns in our family but we tried to be patient as we traveled towards Insula. The portages were actually fairly smooth and quick for the most part even with our group size. We didn’t want to stop and eat because we wanted to get to Insula and get a campsite as soon as possible. After a while we knew we weren’t going to get there fast enough and the wind was picking up so we linked up our 3 canoes and took a break and ate some snacks and filled up on water as we let the wind blow us across Hudson. We had a couple different campsites in mind that we wanted but as it was like 3 to 4 o clock when we reached Insula we weren’t too optimistic. Once we reached Insula the wind had really started to pick up from the southwest. My sister was in my canoe and we got out the tent fly and sailed for a while which was pretty entertaining and was faster than paddling. We got turned around several times as we made our way to the North most part of Insula but eventually we made it there and thankfully we got the campsite we wanted as it was just being vacated as we got there at just after 5 which was really strange but we were very thankful! So exhausted from our long day and lack of food we set up camp and relaxed and ate the rest of our lunch at like 5:30ish. My brother and I were itching to wet our lines so we headed out to explore and fish a bit as the rest of our family took naps or relaxed. We caught a few smallmouths and northerns in an hour or so of fishing. We’ve generally taken trips in June or early July so have usually found lots of success fishing bays and shoreline either casting rapalas or jigging but figured this wouldn’t be the case in August because all the fish are deeper on reefs and humps. So after getting a layout of the surrounding area and catching some fish we headed back to camp to collect firewood, tidy up camp, look for a bear bag tree, and that kind of stuff while supper was cooking. We ate supper then my brother and I headed out for an evening of fishing. We weren’t exactly sure what to try so we decided we’d troll some blue rapalas around islands and through narrow spots because that’s normally what we’ve done a lot at night. We caught 7 walleyes in like two hours so it was pretty slow but we figured trolling probably wasn’t an ideal way to fish in August because they don’t come up very shallow even to feed. We were happy to just be in the BW though so we weren’t complaining and we caught some decent walleyes. We headed back to camp and hung out as a family for a while and then went to bed around 11:30. Lakes traveled: Lake One, Two, Three, and Four, Hudson, and Insula.
Today was a fishing and rest day so we woke up early in the morning to head out on the lake and catch some fish. My dad wanted to go as well so I went with him and my brother went solo. My brother and I have never been particularly effective at morning fishing. I think my brother went back in a bay and my dad and I decided to jig the area from a point out towards Williamson Island. We jigged the drop off, boulder fields, deeper holes. We fished everywhere from 10 feet down to about 30 feet down with no luck whatsoever. So I don’t know what else I could have done but I guess all you can do is try and experiment in different areas. If anyone has any advice about morning fishing in August I’d love to hear it! My brother caught a few bass but didn’t have much luck either. So we headed back and the girls had breakfast almost ready which was really nice for a change! So we ate breakfast of pancake/muffins and then everyone busied themselves with camp chores while I cast out two slip bobbers. It wasn’t fantastic but I was able to catch several small bass in an hour. We had seen a really good cliff jumping spot while passing through Insula the previous day so we decided to make a day trip as a family there and do some swimming and exploring. The girls and my dad were taking a while so me and Brad rigged some Lindy rigs and decided to some trolling and see if we couldn’t find some structure to fish later. It was mid-day so we weren’t really expecting to find fish but find them we did on a reef in about 20 feet of water out towards an island. So we trolled back and forth for about an hour catching 7 walleyes and 4 smallmouths. The rest of our family came by so we were supposed to head out but Brad and I didn’t want to leave but we didn’t want to ditch the family. So we relunctantly left while catching fish. we had lunch when we go to the island then went cliff jumping on the 20ft tall cliff which was super fun and we took lots of cool pictures and video. Then Brad and I went right back to fishing catching several more walleyes and smallmouth as we explored the lake more. We also caught a couple np s as well unfortunately. Then we went back to camp and everyone was going to relax for a bit. I still had a leech on my jig so I propped my pole up against a rock bank with the jig in about 4 inches of water. Then I went to read my Bible for a while. I was just dosing off to sleep when I heard rocks splashing into the water. I look and I see my dad chasing my pole along the rock face out towards the point. Evidently a bass had swam into the shallows and bit onto my jig and tried to swim off and luckily my dad was over there at the time. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in my life though as my dad slipped on the rocks and fell over like 3 times trying to catch and grab my pole. It was pretty entertaining. I was amazed that a bass would come in that shallow. We made some supper of rice and fish and then went out fishing for the evening to see if we could find a sunken island or ridge where the walleyes were coming up to feed. We didn’t find the hot spot but caught several decent walleyes in a couple hours work. Then we headed back to camp had some hot chocolate and tea and talked about life and a lot of other stuff as a family. It was a very enjoyable evening with the family.
Today we were heading back to Lake 3 to spend our last night. We ate some breakfast and packed up camp and were headed out by 9. The portages went smoothly for the most part. At one point we got stuck between a big group of girls with a guide who were on the 22nd day of their month long trip. Dang I want to do one of those sometime! We actually got to our site by 2ish and we got the campsite we wanted so we set up when we got there. My brother and I went out fishing like usual to get a feel for the area and scout out areas to go later. We caught a few smallies and a couple walleyes in like 3 hours so it was pretty slow so we were a little disappointed. We came back and ate some supper of instant potatoes and ham. Then after supper we headed out fishing again. This time my brother and dad went together and I went solo. I headed South along the shoreline while they headed North towards Lake Four and the islands up there. In the first hour I caught a couple walleyes and 3 smallies. Then a thunderstorm came up really fast and it started pouring and the wind started to pick up. I had fun fighting the wind as I headed back towards camp and I love fishing too much to not troll on the way back to camp. Then of course I caught one and while I reeled it in of course the wind just tossed me around. I landed the fish and then cast out again and started back towards camp again, and once again I caught a walleye. This happened 6 straight times as I passed over this reef or whatever where all the walleyes were hanging out. By this time there is like 3 inches of water in the canoe and I’m drenched to the bone and the thunder is rumbling all around me. Eventually I made it back to camp because I figured my family was worried about me so I had to stop fishing. So I had caught 9 walleyes a northern and 3 smallies and my brother and dad said they caught 7 walleyes so it was a pretty good night! It was still raining so I went for a swim and then put on some dry clothes and we played some card games as a family. The rain continued all through the night so we retired early.
We woke up packed up camp and then relunctantly headed out the last couple lakes. It was a very fun trip but way too short for my brother and my liking. It was an excellent way to spend some quality time with the family though out in the beautiful wilderness that God created for us. We will definitely be doing it again this summer! I love the BWCA I'm hooked for life.