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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 20 2024

Entry Point 30 - Lake One

Lake One entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 21 miles. Access is a canoe landing at Lake One.

Number of Permits per Day: 13
Elevation: 1230 feet
Latitude: 47.9391
Longitude: -91.4792
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!

Cold Clear Silence

by pdesigninc
Trip Report

Entry Date: February 23, 2013
Entry Point: Little Gabbro Lake
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
This was a trip we had never seriously considering until we heard how differently beautiful the BWCA can be in the winter — the night sky, the crisp clear feeling, the sounds of wolves or being able to hear the wings of a bird flapping and the idea you are snowshoeing and tenting on a lake.

Report


Our planning for a BWCA winter trek covered just about every possible thing we thought we would encounter, however, there were a good number of little things we would change that would make a big difference in our next trip. The weather forecast was ideal and leaving early on Saturday from Minneapolis the sky was cloudy and temperatures in the 20s. By the time we reached Ely the sky had opened to sunshine, temperatures in the high 20s and little or no wind. No gear was forgotten and we had everything for a 3 day / 2 night trip. We were a bit surprised only one outfitter was open and our favorite haunt for lunch had a sign posted they were not going to be open until spring.

Our goal was to reach the far end of Gabbro Lake, set basecamp on the ice close to one of the campsites. The drive to the road up to the entry road to Little Gabbro was well-plowed and a side area was open for parking. From there we had to trek 1 mile to the entry point road. The most dangerous part of the trip was snowshoeing this road shared by snowmobiles, but everyone accommodated our presence, but it would be very easy to get hit since speeds are not regulated and there were several blind turns.

The entry road and 200-rod portage was an interesting trek with our home-made pulks. We learned many maneuvering tricks quickly when going downhill or around sharp corners. I highly recommend having rigid poles and a rudder. We did pass one team that was bailing because of open water danger and looking ill-equipped. They had a huge sled (possibly a collapsible ice fishing shed) and were wearing a good deal of cotton. We tried to convince them they would be fine staying overnight since the forecast was good, but made passage and entered Little Gabbro. It now felt like we really had arrived. With at least 2 hours of good daylight we figured there was plenty of time to reach our destination.

We quickly noticed a path across the lake and determined it the best route since we were warned of open water. Our original plan was to trek between the connection from Little Gabbro to Gabbro Lake, but that was exactly the open water area. This forced us to take a longer route following the path taken by others. Noting that the snow was almost 2 feet thick in some spots we decided to make one of the finger inlets our basecamp destination since we did not know how long it would take to shovel an area and get equipment set up. It was also, at this point, we started using snowshoes. On our way over we did greet another group who was ice fishing for the day and had no plans to camp overnight. One other lone trekker passed us and indicated he had not seen any other campers.

Set up went smoothly and we now looked forward to some Imperial Stout and a roaring fire. The Stout delivered, but the fire did not. We used a Duraflame log to get things started, but over the course of 3 days we never were able to maintain a good fire for cooking needs. Not sure if the oxygen levels are lower in the cold or setting a on ice were factors, but would love any input and suggestions.

Even though temperatures reached close to 30 during the day the nights still got pretty cold. Our weather radio said to expect lows of 8, but we woke to 0 according to our thermometer — my feet can attest to that. I never felt as cold as I did when winter camping in Michigan once when it got down to 20 below and woke every half hour shivering in my 20 rated sleeping bag, but was a bit uncomfortable from the early morning onward. The most challenging part of the morning was greeting your boots. I had removed the liners, but the boots were frozen solid. An idea next time is to either sleep with your boots or toss some hand warmers in before committing oneself to getting out of the tent.

One of our day treks consisted of exploring Gabbro Lake and the huge open water area, how beautiful, almost as cool as seeing Curtain Falls or the fall color in the BWCA. We encountered many wolf tracks, but the area mainly had a cold clear silence. The sky was cloudless and we traversed with little more than a single layer, no hat or gloves, quite a contrast from the night and morning time. We were actually wishing for more extreme conditions and this trek seemed easier than many of our regular fall trips.

Many of the things we heard at the winter camping seminars were true: everything takes longer in the winter; you need to constantly keep your temperature in check; don’t get too hot or too cold; don’t rely on water from the lake; stay well-hydrated; eat more calories; snowshoeing 1 mile equates to about 3 miles regular hiking; keep your batteries insulated and many other small details. However, there are also many things you need to experience yourself and customize to your approach to make it a great outing. To hear wolves howling in the distance at night, being able to hear birds’ wings flapping, viewing the winter night sky or viewing the rainbow-glinted snow effect or ice fog are amazingly subtle experiences that make winter camping well worth it.

Next time we plan on further venturing, harsher conditions and keeping the fire going. Also might invest in a better sleeping bag, but always good to be reminded of how much nature is in control.

 

Lakes Traveled:   Gabbro Lake,

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