BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 23 2023
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!
Bizarre event on Ima Lake - photos added.....
June 07, 2012
Snowbank Lake Only (28)
Number of Days:
Well at this site Laurel comes running back from the toilet and says “There is a duck in the toilet.” We all assumed she was joking but she assured us she was not. My natural assumption at that point was that it was dead and someone had thrown it in there for some reason. But, no, she assured us it was very much alive. Up to the toilet we trooped and sure enough, there was a live merganser trapped in a foul mess that it had thoroughly trampled down. It had obviously been there for a while.
Now the dilemma – do we paddle off and leave the duck to her fate, or do we figure out how to get her out. If we stay, she has to come out as we are surely not using a toilet with a duck in it! Over lunch we discussed several options for getting the duck out, none of which seemed to keep us adequately separated from a crap covered bird, and a large one at that. Using a noose to pull the bird out was discarded early in the discussion as the thought of a mad merganser covered in crap flapping around on the end of a rope with one of us on the other end did not seem like a sound idea. In the end we decided on dropping a large trash bag over the bird to allow one of us (this is the first time in my life where I have not been happy to have long arms…) grab the bird and pull it out. I had calculated the probability of carrying out the assignment without coming in direct contact with the pooped bird as slim to none, but was prepared for my fate.
Standing around the toilet getting up my nerve I had a flash of common sense and told John to grab the other side of the toilet and lift. We had not gotten it two feet into the air when the bird blasted out of there and half flew, half ran the 100 yards to the water. Why we did not think of that simple solution right away I don’t know. Perhaps the complete implausibility of the whole situation clouded our minds. Anyway, we ran down to the water and watched the merganser splash and dive in the water like a kid at a water park for the first time. Over and over the bird dove and splashed until it was out of sight. I can only imagine the relief it felt to be released from that foul den.
Now as to how it got in there we can only speculate. I suppose someone could have put it in there as a nasty joke but they would have had to catch it first; no easy feat. I do know that mergansers are a cavity nesting duck. So my best guess is that it was looking for a cavity and saw the black hole of the toilet and went in for a look. Once in, it could not climb out nor open its wings enough to fly out so found itself trapped until we found it. I can only hope that it is more careful next time.
I have been going to the Boundary Waters annually for about 15 years and must say that I have generally avoided looking down into the pit toilets. After this event, however, I suspect I will now always look down even with the knowledge that I will never see another duck inside a toilet. It just seems prudent.