BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 18 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!
June 23, 2021
Number of Days:
The day was finally here! I woke up early without an alarm to pack the final bags in the car and depart from the hotel in Ely. We got the kids up and loaded in to the car to head to Kawishiwi lodge by 6:00 am with a quick stop for coffee and breakfast items from Northwood Grounds. The Coffee was excellent.
The Road to the lodge was better than I had expected and was impressed with how remote the location was. We were arrived and unloaded by 7:30 am but it did no one from the lodge was there yet. It wasn't until past 8 o'clock with several groups waiting that someone showed up. Other than the slight delay the folks at the lodge were very helpful and got us out on the water quickly along with the other groups. I shouldn't have been surprised, but there were lots of folks heading out early that morning.
As I picked up our 18.5 ft, 3 person kevlar canoe I was amazed at how light it was, nothing like the fiberglass canoes I was use to. We were given the instructions to always load them in the water so they are fully floating. As we loaded our gear in the canoe I was happy that it all fit well and left plenty of room for the kids. We were on the water by 8:30 am and the wind was against us from the start, a steady force with occasional guests. Ally was a great "motor" in the front of the boat and successfully navigated us throughout the trip. The varying shoreline and small islands made navigation a bit difficult and we were glad to have studied the map ahead of time. We made several short stops to get snacks out for the kids and take a break from the wind before the portage to Lake Two. We saw a pair of bald eagles as we paddled. The first portage was empty when we arrived, which did not last long....
Soon enough we had groups pass us going in and groups coming out. Almost everyone was polite and patient as we attempted portaging with kids. Although we were slow we had a fine time and the kids enjoyed being on shore and having room to roam. We decided to have an early lunch around 11:30 at the second portage of PB&J. The kids were not super hungry, likely from all the snacking which took place in the canoe. A passing group mentioned nearly every camp on lake two was open and our hopes were high that we would find a good site.
We paddled to the north side of lake two as it seemed many of the campsites were preferable. As we paddled we found site after site occupied. The wind seemed stronger on lake two with small waves. Lila was tired and fell asleep on the bottom of the canoe after about 30 minutes of paddling. We finally made it to the entrance of Lake 3. We decided we would head out and see if any sites were available. The wind was stronger than lake 2 and waves larger. from the entrance we could see the 4 closes sites were occupied. As we struggled to communicate I accidentally splashed water on Lila and she woke up crying. We landed at a small sandy beach to re-group and come up with a plan as Ally and I were both feeling a bit concerned about finding a site.
We decided we would follow the south side of lake two and look for an open site. If we did not find one we would return to lake one. A disappointing prospect but we did not feel confident in finding a site on lake 3 with the additional wind. The paddle on lake two was much more pleasant and we passed every site occupied. Ally called back and said we would check one more site before heading to the portage, 1523. As we turned the point we saw no evidence of occupation and we were MINNESOTA HOME! The site had an excellent sandy beach landing places for maybe 3 tents (1 large and 2 smaller). The cooking area was very exposed and windy. None of the area had a significant amount of shade but the "Biffy" was in good shape and very private.
After unpacking and setting up camp it was time for dinner. Hot dogs cooked over the camp stove were a welcome dinner to a hungry group. The tent was hot and I had forgotten how much longer the sun would be up given that it was just passed the summer solstice. I think everyone was up until about 10pm when it had cooled down enough.
I woke up early to get started getting the bear bag down and breakfast going. It has rained several good downpours and I was happy that our tent and site held up well. Breakfast was Pancakes and pre-cooked bacon cooked over the wisperlite using the "simmer" technique which worked great. The sun did not let up for today but at least the wind did. It was going to be another hot day.
Theo (6), Lila and I canoed down to Site 1522 - which was not as nice as our. Perhaps some better shade but the tent pads were not great and the landing was steep and rocky. The "biffy" was missing part of the seat area too. Theo and Lila both found "paddles" (sticks) for the way back and we had a grand time on our short adventure. Lunch was English muffin pizzas which were a moderate success. The sliced mozzarella was a good idea but it needed papers to keep it from sticking together so much.
Ally and Lila took a nap after lunch, but the heat made it difficult. Theo and I explored the camp area and attempted fishing from shore without much luck. After nap Ally encountered her "Minnesota chicken" likely a grouse during a trip to the biffy.
In the afternoon we hung around camp and Lila found her love of the light, powdery, fine dirt. She had her hands, feet, clothes and face all covered in it. The Lila Dirt Ball was born. Before dinner we all did a quick dip in the lake to clean of the dirt and cool down.
The breakfast of pancakes and oatmeal was a hit again with Theo eating almost 4 good sized pancakes. We planned to do a little more exploring today and packed some day bags and snacks. We first went out and looked for the trail to rock island lake but could not find it. We ended up taking a slow paddle over to the portage area to give the kids an area to hop the rocks and stretch their legs. It was hear that we realized we could see our campsite from the portage... such a short jaunt! We had a snack and took a lezierly paddle back. Since the wind had died down we decided to move the tarp to the point for some shade have nap time there. A great idea, the point was much cooler in the shade than the tent and Lila and Ally both took a nap while Theo and I read. It was still hot, but seemed cooler than Thursday.
After nap we went for quick swim and Theo was very excited, not wanting to get out of the water. At last I convinced him and we all felt better. the rest of the afternoon was spent finding the few ripe blue berries near camp, exploring trails and organizing stuff to pack up for leaving in the morning. We found a "horned" caterpillar and saw a few bald eagles too. Next time we will need to work on bringing less stuff an being more organized. Dinner was Kraft Mac and Cheese made with Gee and powdered milk. The Gee gave a bit of a different taste but no one seemed to mind, it was a hit.
Our last day and we finally got what I would call a "Minnesota day". Cooler weather, a bit overcast with a few sprinkles. I woke at 4:30 and started the long process of packing. By the time we all ate and got the canoe packed it was 8 am. Not quite as well packed as the first day, but it would do.
We met a crowd a few minutes later tat the portage. They were very kind and let us go first. The rocky inlet was a challenge with the canoe fully loaded, not sure how we got out so easily the first time. It turns out the group that let us pass was a scout troop from Nebraska and they helped us carry stuff on both portages, making them much faster than I would have planned.
The paddle back on lake one was quite pleasant and calm. The length of the trip was perfect (ok I would have gone another few days) but everyone has a great time. I would summarize the days of our trip as follows:
Day 1: Anxious and tired, need to find a campsite Day 2: Hot, Tired and too much "parenting" just the kids be kids, don't worry to much. Day 3: Perfect. Embrace the dirt and make a small plan Day 4: Bittersweet.