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!
2 weeks of reality in the time of COVID
August 10, 2020
South Kawishiwi River
Sawbill Lake (38)
Number of Days:
Latrine has been chewed on by some animal- sharp edges! Found a rope and weighted bag abandoned in a tree and managed to free it.
Got up before the sun and were on the water by 8. Portaged into Lake One and then took the back way to the main body of the lake, avoiding the entry point. So many people! Found a site on the far shore of Lake Two near the portage into Rifle. Large, spacious, not too many tent pads but a real nice rock kitchen area under the trees. Used my new solar shower for the first time....awesome! Shored up the firegrate, which is rusted out on 3 legs, washed our clothes. Found: 1/2 a cigar.
Decided to take a layover. Explored the cool peninsula near camp, made pancakes, cut wood, and lazed around. Did some swimming. So many people paddling by in both directions! Another really hot windy day. Saw someone looking for a campsite at 730 pm....wonder where they ended up.
Paddled 12 miles today to get through the burn area to the end of Insula. We were both getting a bit hangry by the time we found a site. Lots of shade here and a very nice tent pad. Fire grate rusted out and cracked in half, but usable. Poured last night, lots of thunder and lightening. Thought it would rain all day, but only a few sprinkles. Evidence of spruce budworm everywhere so far- lots of dying spruce.
Super noisy guys across the way from us tonight, hollering to passing canoes and talking about their sonar that came with a radar service, warning everyone that it's gonna rain. Yup, sure is. Sigh.
Nice paddle up the Kawishiwi to Malberg. Saw an eagle eating fish guts and a loon with baby super close to the canoe, making little squeaky noises to each other that I did not know loons made. Only 2 portages, but the 2nd one to Malberg started with a knee deep sucking mud pit and had a beaver pod in the middle of it. Fun!
Baffin Swamp Buggies earned their stripes! They did not get sucked off my feet, and the insides were not full of silt and sticks. Impressive.
Gorgeous campsite down at the end of a bay on Malberg, feels very private for such a busy lake. We've been out a week now.
Found: Green carabiner
Saw loon baby being fed by it's parents just off shore from our campsite this morning, and a kestral being chased by blue jays. Started out real foggy, but now a clear blue sky.
Got to Polly- seemed like all the sites were taken, but found one tucked behind an island and got everything set up before it rained. So many tent pads here! Also a million skeeters- haven't really seen many of them on this trip. Gorgeous sunset, but a lot of canoes on the water.
Up before dawn again, cereal and coffee and on the water by sun-up. Paddled and portaged the Phoebe River to Hazel. Saw one group- they daytripped into Hazel, sat on the shore for 30 minutes, then turned around and left- odd. Other than that, totally deserted back here. HOT! Hung sleeping bags to air out, everything just a bit damp.
The route here was interesting....Phoebe River is little and full of beaver dams. They have widened some areas and made others much more shallow, so portages are only approximate....some treks along the river edge to reach navigable water.
Heating up the solar shower again....could be last shower of the trip.
Layover on Hazel- explored the gorge. Really amazing little place that feels like no one has ever been there before, though I'm sure they have.
Crazy thunderstorm last night with high winds and a little hail, torrential rain. Dog was none too happy about it!
Found: Rayban sunglasses, red stringer
Paddled, portaged, and lined canoe through the shallows to reach Ella Lake. Fell in the river twice before I learned not to have my pack on when walking over algae slimed rocks (LOL) Still have not seen anyone- it's been 3 days now. The portage from Grace into Ella is....quite the boulder field at the start. Ella is deserted. The campsite just across from the portage is a 5 star for sure- All granite and white pines, lots of stone benches/tables. Very flat tent pad.
Last full day on the trail....foggy misty day. Lots of ravens here and still no people. Explored Ella and hiked the portage into Beth to see what's in store tomorrow. Piece of cake- easy as pie. Dreaming of real food, and starting to have attacks of maniacal laughter over...the smell of our scrubbie. Probably have been alone in the woods too long!
Got up and going- we have a smooth routine now. I break down the tent and pack our gear, Jesse makes coffee and breakfast and packs the kitchen pack. and...it's a wrap.
Once we hit Alton, it's crazy again. The portage into Sawbill is a congested madhouse- 8 canoes in the portage and more waiting to load/unload. Nuts.....and then it's back to the world of masks. Sure was a good couple of weeks though...