BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
April 21 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!
The Circle Tour
September 25, 2020
Number of Days:
The other crew had camped on Alice. We camped on the south end of Polly; they made it into Polly and camped on the north end.
Birds seen on Circle Tour:
Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal,Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Common Loon, Horned Grebe,Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Lapland Longspur, Rusty Blackbird
September 30 - photo of beaver dam location is 47.870831, -91.102836 and the beaver dam overlays a constructed dam feature built sometime shortly after 1925. The project was prescribed by Arthur Carhart in his 1922 recreation report to raise the water levels of both Square and Kawishiwi Lakes. This rise in the water level eliminates a portage between Square and Kawishiwi and shortens the portage between Kawishiwi to Perent. Beavers have not fully covered all of the original rock work in the construction.
we planned to rendezvous with the other crew and meet friends at the Kawishiwi Lake rustic campground. Everyone arrived as planned and the rendezvous coordinators had a nice campsite picked out for us. We spent the afternoon drying gear, re-supplying with food and fuel, swapping stories and relaxing into the evening.
This portage was developed by North Shore trappers Tom Parent and Bill Pembles (Tame Tom and Wild Bill) sometime around 1901 or so. The Forest Service maintained it until the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. The Kawishiwi Lake end was located in fall, 2019. Scouting work was completed in summer 2020. Amazingly after 60 years or so of no-use, the path was still there pretty much as mapped on the 1960 USGS Quad map. The portage is two miles long which is longer than the old canoe maps show. Avenza Maps was invaluable for this effort. [paragraph break] After a hearty Paddlers Breakfast, the crews headed for Perent Lake. All gear, canoes and people were at Perent Lake in 3 1/2 hours. Zoom in in the map. Notice the actual alignment (gps) vs the quad map location.
The Perent River portages are examples of the excellent work done in the 1930´s by the CCC. The circle tour was once a very popular route and the significant investment shows how important the route was back then.[paragraph break]. The water level is low during this time of year, especially at the end of an extended summer drought. We used some advanced canoeing techniques. Some of the largest trees seen on the trip were along the Perent River.
We camped on the east shore of Isabella Lake. As darkness fell we noticed a lot of glow from towns of Aurora/Hoyt Lakes, Babbit, Ely. We also noticed the whirling Ely airport light and the ARMER radio tower. Although this was disappointing, I’m confident that future management using Dark Skies will curtail future growth in the effects of artificial lights on the night sky.
The experience of paddling the Kawishiwi Watershed, two legs of it was instructive in letting us see how quickly water accumulates into the system and the role that beaver have in regulating the flow. Upper reaches of the Watershed are well stocked with beaver. Due to the young age class of the forests in the Pagami fire, beaver will be around for a long time.[paragraph break] Amazingly on the entire Circle Tour, we did not see a single moose track, pellet group or antler rub. They are gone. We only spotted 3 wolf scats on the 51 portages of the trip. For all intents, they are gone too. No bear sign either.