BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 27 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!
First time for the family - adapt and overcome
August 09, 2020
Number of Days:
Here's the original plan: Day #1: Enter at Lake One, paddle to Lake Three, camping on the islands in the southern side, near the portage the Horseshoe Lake. Use literally any campsite that's on the way as a backup.
Day #2 & #3: Day trip to Hudson/Insula or Bridge Lake.
Day #4: Pack up camp, paddle back to Lake One and head out.
We drove up from Duluth to Ely on Sunday the 9th, putting on at about 1pm on Lake One. We rented canoes from Kawishiwi Lodge, right on the lake, avoiding any shuttle or carrying canoes on top of our car. It was great. Straightforward, unloaded the car right at the lake, loaded up the canoes, talked with Frank for just a bit about alternative routes and campsites and put on.
We started paddling down the length of Lake One, with storm clouds rolling in. It had been raining for most of the morning, and the sky was still looking perilous. As we paddled, one kayaker (go kayakers! -she did have a canoe in her group too, so not a kayak solo) asked us if we knew about the storms coming in. I kind of looked up and said, "well, I don't know when, but it sure looks like one's coming."
She said she had a radio and had heard about thunderstorms coming in that afternoon, and suggested we don't try to reach Lake Two, but just camp on Lake One, so we didn't get caught out in the storm. I agreed, and she gave us directions to the site they had just left, pointing out that the map showed an island, but it isn't actually navigable, just a stream. We followed her advice and found campground 1676 in a little inlet just off the lake just as the wind started picking up. I also
We got our campsite put together just as the skies opened up and the rain started pouring down. The storm blew through just in time for us to start dinner, but all of the wood was soaking wet, so I ended up boiling the brats on my stove.
Day Two began with the clouds and rain all gone, but a steady (and hard) wind blowing across the lake from the east. We spent the morning in camp, tidying up things that had been blown around or gotten wet the night before. After lunch, we pulled out to go over to check out Lake Two. We found (to our dismay) that the wind was blowing hard, and our inlet protected us from the bulk of it. Sustained winds were at 15mph, with gusts up to 25. We did not make it to Lake Two, instead just checking out the campsite to our west, and then working our way back to our site. I set up a hammock in our campsite and we just relaxed. Dinner this night was macaroni and cheese (when you're cooking for kids, you cook what they want). At least we were able to start a small fire this night, so the kids got to roast some marshmallows before bed. That night was COLD. It was certainly colder than I had expected. I blame the wind - I was in a 20 degree bag and still felt cold, although the kids didn't complain, and my wife said I just need to toughen up.
The wind continued on Day Three, but we did manage to get over to Lake Two. My son got himself stung/bit by some kind of hornet/wasp (still not sure what it was - it looked and flew very much like a honeybee, but was black and white instead of yellow) twice - once in the morning before breakfast, and once at lunch on one of the island campsites in Lake Two. It took us about 45 minutes to get from our campsite to Lake Two, but two hours to get back heading into the wind. At one point, I started leapfrogging boats - I'd paddle ahead with my oldest in one boat, then beach it, walk back along the shore to the other boat with my wife and the younger two, and then paddle ahead past the first boat, then repeat. Dinner was backpacking meals (Mountain House), which I found pretty darn bad. The kids didn't even really like the Mac and Cheese. Maybe I'm spoiled, but blech. Right before dinner was ready, I started noticing little fish poking at the lure I was tossing in the water near the campsite. My oldest saw that, took over, swapped in a small Beetle Spin jig, and hooked a little baby bass, her first fish ever. I unhooked it and let it go, and we ate dinner. After dinner, we cleaned up and started packing what we could. Day four was time to leave. The boy had some horrible allergic reaction - his eye was all swollen up, and since the wind was gone (FINALLY), the flies were coming out. Combine that with his stings yesterday, he was not in an attitude to help. We ate breakfast, packed everything up, made one last sweep for trash, and paddled back to Kawishiwi Lodge, where we showered and headed out.