BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 24 2021
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 15, 2021
Number of Days:
My plan was to launch and head northeast by the lodge and turn southwest into Lake One. That part worked until I ran into a blocked channel. Not being familiar with the area, other than maps, I wasted some time trying to find the way through. I eventually gave up after a couple of hours and headed for the portages.
The portages were fairly crowded, but not real bad. As to the portages themselves, I found all three to be rocky, rooty and thankfully short. Still a bit of a workout for an old man who thought he was in shape. I would guess I got onto Lake One at about 12 or 12:30.
I started looking for a site and headed west from the last portage. All those sites seemed to be taken, so I reversed course and went to the eastern side. No luck there, but I went down to the portage into Lake Two just in case. It is now around 2 or 2:30, hot and the wind is picking up. I was going to go up the eastern shore and into the bay northeast where there were two sites. By this time I was hot and getting tired, drinking as much water as I could filter from the lake while paddling. I noticed that I wasn't sweating, I was getting nowhere against the wind, and had a couple of short dizzy or woozy spells. I knew what that meant, so I pulled up at the first good looking spot and stopped.
Yeah, I know it was against everything, but I bushwhacked for the night and replenished myself with a lot of water,and some food. About the only sign I was there are the footprints I left on the shore and the tent peg holes. I did find some broken glass, which I packed out.
Got up before the sun, ate a quick breakfast, and made sure I had plenty of water. I changed my plan, and headed across to the west side and went up around Pagami Creek, figuring I would take a look at the fire scar. Reminded me of Custer State Park in the early 90's after the fire out there.
I continued along the western shore, and went around the point to where I could see campsite 1147. Eureka, it was open. I paddled my old arse as fast as I could got there about 8:30 or so. Nice sandy landing, but a little exposed, as was the kitchen area. By exposed, I mean NO shade anywhere. Down from the kitchen area was another area where you could probably fit 2 tents into. This was enclosed on all sides by brush, and had some shade, but got stuffy as the day (and the heat) wore on.
I decided to set up on the landing since there was a spot for a tent there. After setting up, eating a few big handfuls of homemade trail mix, and filling my gallon sized water bladder, I decided to get a line wet. Put a daredevle on and started casting out from shore. Lo and behold, I got a strike after about 15 minutes, even though it was hot and the middle of the day. Just a little pike, probably not even a pound, and after that nothing.
Ate some dinner and did some reading. One thing I should mention is that on all 3 nights, at around 5 or 6 in the evening, the smoke would roll in. Not heavy, but you could tell. It reminded me of early mornings when fog comes up from the lake.
Up early, as usual. Gorgeous sunrise, as were all of them for the time I was there. It is kind of ironic, since the only reason that they were so striking is because of all the wildfires. Had my required 2 cups of tea, and got the fishing pole in my hand. Did a little better than on Tuesday, using the daredevle again, caught 2 more pike, one around a pound, maybe a little more, and one nice one, maybe 3-4 pounds. Put the canoe in, and went around the point to the marshy area NE of my camp. Put on a bare hook with a medium sized spinner attached and a leech. Went through about 8 or 9 leeches, but did catch a couple of smallies, 2 to 3 pounds I guess. But by 10 o'clock, they just shut down. All fish were released.
Spent the rest of the day getting the camp organized and exploring the site. And swimming, which I did 2 or 3 times, as it was about the only way to keep cool. The wind was not blowing enough to keep the heat down. Fortunately, the sand on the landing extends out so I had an actual beach.
Now, I am not a digital type person. I have a PC, which I am not very adept at, and have never owned a cell phone. However, my wife insisted that I get one since I was alone, and would need it in case of emergencies. I hate it when she is right. So, kicking and screaming, I purchased a flip phone and brought it along. I couldn't get through in the camp, or even up on the kitchen area, both of which are clear of trees or any other possible interference. I then went out in the lake up to my knees and bingo! I was able to get through. Talked for a bit, and then I called it a night.
Up early, and after my tea and breakfast, I started tearing down. I wanted to get an early start to avoid any congestion on the portages. Got on the water about 6:30 or so, and headed to the first portage out.
I don't know why, but I had a hard time locating the portages. Map, compass and faulty memory just weren't working for me, and I would like to thank everyone I asked my stupid question of "Do you know where the portage is"? for being so polite. I would have found them eventually, I suppose, but it sure saved time.
Coming off the last portage, I ran into a couple of guys going in. We chit-chatted, I mentioned the fishing and how I had to bushwhack on Monday night. Turned out they were rangers ! So I showed the required papers, and went into a little more detail about the circumstances of my illegal camping. They were pretty nice about it, and basically said you did what you had to do. I didn't get their names, but I do want to thank them for being understanding.
I got to the EP at about 10, pulled ashore and unloaded. I got the cell phone out and was going to call Ryan at Cliff Wolds that I was off the lake and they could come and get the canoe. Well, evidently you have to turn the dang thing off. I thought, for whatever reason, that when you closed it, it would turn itself off. No, you have to press a button. Here I was, checking the time on it by flipping it open, then flipping closed. So off to Ely I went, sans canoe. I need to buy a rack for my pick-up.
Got to town and Ryan told me about the present fire, asked if I was going down Highway 1, which I wasn't, and told me it was closed. I was a little shocked about this news, since my brother-in-law lives in Ely, and I was kind of concerned about him and his wife. So far (as of yesterday) they were fine, but keeping a close eye on developments. Gassed up, and headed for home.
So ends my 1st solo. What did I learn ? Well, I learned that I enjoyed being by myself, and having to rely on myself to get out of any jams I may get myself into. The solitude of being able to sit on a rock, and look over the water and just soak it in, was priceless. I enjoy being with others, but by nature I am quite happy being alone with my my thoughts. I learned that my directional skills need to be worked on, and my planning could be better. I also learned that red squirrels can swim, and that there is a species of bee that is like a bumblebee, but instead of a gold band on its body, it has a cinnamon or rust colored band. And I enjoyed the company of two very unafraid chipmunks at site 1147, who shamelessly took advantage of my distraction to chew a hole in my trail mix bag and eat some. I also learned that solo is a lot of work, maybe because of my age(62), or maybe because it was my first one. All in all though, I won't hesitate to do it again if I have to, and to thoroughly enjoy it, as I did enjoy this.