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!
August 18, 2019
Number of Days:
This was our first BWCA trip for both my girlfriend and I. We arrived in Ely on a Saturday and checked into the Canoe on Inn. After dinner at Insula we finalized our packing lists and got to bed early. Woke up on Sunday early with a hearty breakfast at Britton's, followed by picking up canoe, portage pack, food pack from Piragis Outfitters. We loaded the canoe and headed to EP30. Packs were slightly heavier than expected. We had the canoe dropped in the water and loaded at 9:15 a.m., weather was cool and cloudy.
We are both avid campers but have never been to BWCA, this has been a bucket list trip since moving to MPLS a few years ago. After putting in around 9 we spent some time catching our bearings and reading a map. I managed to get us turned around within 15 minutes! A short while later is started to rain heavily, put on our rain coats, and had some difficulty finding the first portage. My girlfriend pre downloaded some google maps so was able to re orient us. As the day wore on and the sun dried us out, we improved our map skills, and had the wind to our backs. We made it through Lake One, Lake Two, Lake Three, Lake Four and into Hudson lake where we headed north toward Fire Lake. We settled on site #1368 just north of the burn, and arrived at 3:30. This is a beautiful sight on a peninsula perched up on a hill.
We set up camp and I got our fishing rods set up for slip bobber fishing with leeches. My girlfriend caught an 18 inch walleye within 5 minutes! We caught a few more walleye that evening after dinner. Dinner was steak, grean beans, walleye. Into the evening we were looking to the south west toward the burn area when we noticed a very odd looking light. After much speculation about what it could be (thought it was a fire initially), a bright red moon rose over the horizon! It was a great first day and we were exhausted. The night was finished with whiskey and red wine around the fire.
Day 2, we were up at 6 a.m. for some early morning fishing, coffee and oatmeal. We packed up camp and were onward to Insula. A quick paddle and we were at the 95 rod portage to Insula from Hudson. We double portaged for most of the trip to avoid carrying canoe and heavy pack at the same time. Sunny and mid 70's with a breeze today. Lake Insula can be difficult to navigate due to its many islands but eventually made our way above the burn area and into wilderness. We didn't see anyone until later in the afternoon. We chose site #1334. A 4-star site with a very large sandy beach. The beach was great for relaxing on, but not very good for shore fishing due to shallow water. Lunch was tuna salad wraps. We spent the afternoon swimming, hammock napping and happy hour cocktails on the beach. For dinner we had a pre made vegetable Indian curry, rice, and added chicken. This night the mosquitoes were out in full force so ended the night early playing Yahtzee in the tent.
Day 3- We slept in due to a slow thunderstorm rolling through that provided some rumbles of thunder and a reason to continue snoozing. For breakfast we made Ova-Easy dehydrated eggs, pre cooked bacon, and dehydrated hasbrowns with coffee. This was our layover day and we decided to head toward Fishdance Lake to see the pictographs. I trolled a rapala on the way and caught a good size Northern Pike, but forgot the needle nose at camp, luckily the fish shook out the lure in the net and off it went! Got caught in a downpour on our way but eventually skies parted and sun was shining. Very beautiful paddle to Fishdance. The pictographs were enjoyable to see, but it turned out to be a long day since we got a late start. Lunch was salami, cheese, crackers and trail mix. We caught some smallmouth bass below the rapids at the portage.
We were back around 7 p.m. and pretty exhausted. We made our fire and and cooked pizza quesadilla's, these were the best meal of the trip! Enjoyed a nice sunset from the beach and relaxed around the campfire in our Helinox camp chairs. These were a game changer the whole trip and I highly recommend renting if possible.
Day 4- We were up early and packed up camp. Breakfast was breakfast burritos and coffee. The plan was to find a site north of the burn area on Lake Four. This was our toughest day paddling. With a strong headwind and multiple portages, we made our way back from Insula to Hudson and then Lake Four. Our preferred sites (1483, 1484) were both occupied and we were getting a little worried. We paddled further west and found the last site (#1485). This site is up on a hill and had a flat camping pad but the kitchen and fire grate were on a slope. Did some fishing after setting up camp with minimal success. Dinner was cheese and shells with spam. The weather was low 70's and partly cloudy during day. This was the coolest of the nights dropping into mid 40's overnight.
Day 5- This was our last day of what was an amazing adventure that was both challenging and rewarding. We started off with an immediate portage that had tough landings on both sides, very rocky. This was followed by a 156 rod portage into Rifle lake. Weather was calm and cool, with no wind, great paddling weather! After a few more short portages we were back at the EP 30 entry point. We loaded up the canoe and returned to Piragis. I was never more excited to demolish a Subway footlong.
Overall the trip went pretty smoothly and the weather was very cooperative. Here is a list of things we learned. 1. Pack a little lighter- bringing more people would help better distribute gear! 2. Give ourselves more planned time for paddling/portaging 3. Plan more time for relaxing- This could be done by adding an extra day or basecamping