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!
The Calm Between the Storms
July 17, 2016
South Kawishiwi River
Number of Days:
Lesson #1 - Taking your father and three 12- and 13-year olds is work, not rest.
Day One - After meeting up at my home in Shakopee, MN and distributing gear, we got a good night’s sleep for an early start north. Rain was in the forecast so our early start on Sunday was accompanied by intermediate showers as we drove north through the Twin Cities. An hour north of Minneapolis, the rain began to break and we drove with a magnificent rainbow to the west.
After picking up our permit and grabbing lunch in Ely, we hit the trail at about 1 pm. A half mile carry to the water got us excited as we found blueberries and raspberries. My eldest got a small pike while waiting for the rest of us at the end of the portage. It would be our biggest fish of the trip.
The rain began again almost as soon as we were on the water. It came down hard for short spells, causing us to hide beneath cedar trees on the bank. We passed the first few camp sites and found one on a nice, rocky outcrop. As we were landing the rain broke and we were able to get our gear set up and a fire started. Of course, as soon as we started cooking our steaks and potatoes, it came down again. As the cook, I had to dodge the drops and feed a hurried dinner to our hungry group hunkered down under the tarp.
At about 7 pm, the rain started to come in hard. The wind was whipping hard from the west off the lake and rather than dodge falling trees in the woods by our hammocks, we put on our rain gear and braved the weather in the open. The rain came in so hard, one of our canoes was picked up and thrown thirty feet, thankfully without any damage. A couple decent size spruce trees fell near our hammocks so we were glad we stayed outside.
After about thirty minutes, the rain broke, the sky cleared. We hauled out our wet sleeping bags from the hammocks to dry and did a little fishing. Just a few small bass and walleye. Nothing worth eating.
One of our hammocks was soaked through so I slept underneath the tarp. Morning couldn’t come soon enough.
Lesson #2 - Keep in the open during windstorms. Lesson #3 - Sleeping on the ground under a tarp isn’t fun. Hammocks are good.
Days Two and Three - We paddled north through a short couple portages into Clear Lake. Most of the campsites were taken so we grabbed an open site on an island. It turned out to be a great site for our six hammocks. We spent the next two days exploring the lake and day tripping to fish, pick blueberries, and try to beat the 90 degree heat with lots of swimming. Evenings were spent striking out with the fish, but enjoying amazing sunsets and a spectacular full moon and its reflection on the water. The boys spent their time fishing, exploring the island, and messing around. The sunset on night three was one of the more spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was spread out over the top of the trees like a wildfire. One of the more amazing scenes I’ve ever seen in my time outdoors.
Day Four - Our original plan was to go back to the first campsite, but after listening to the weather report’s warning of severe thunderstorms that night into the morning, we elected to head all the way back to the car and shorten the trip by twelve hours. We spent a lazy lunch swimming in some mild rapids. Our decision to come out early turned out to be a good decision. That night’s windstorm killed two people not to far north of us when a tree fell on their tent.
We had a great, but wet trip. Wished we caught more fish, but the blueberry haul, the great swimming, and the beautiful sunsets and moonrises will be in all six of our memories.
Lesson #3 - Be safe. Lesson #4 - Swimming beats the heat in the Boundary Waters.