BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 30 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!
My first solo - lake one loop
September 26, 2007
Number of Days:
I woke up about 4:00am and finished packing up the last few things I needed. Pretty soon the car was loaded and I hit the road. Oddly enough the power was out that morning in our neighborhood, so I got a headstart on getting by without power:)
After several coffee stops and breakfast along the way I pulled into Ely around 9:00 am. I picked up my permit and chatted with the rangers for a few minutes and headed out. I decided to stop at Voyageur North and pick up one of their used Kondos packs while I was in the area. Then it was off to Lake One.
I got everything unloaded and down to the landing and parked the car. A group there was learning how to paddle from a guide and I said a quick hello and was off. I think it was getting kind of late, maybe 11:00 or so by the time I was on the water. I wasn't planning on going real far so I wasn't too worried about getting going late. My goal was to get to Rifle Lake and spend the night there. This was my first trip in my Bell Magic and I gained confidence with every stroke. There was a bit of wind to deal with, but once I got it trimmed right I didn't have any problems. This is also the first trip I had my new waterproof digital Olympus camera with, so I took a ton of photos.
Here are a few on the Lake One/Two area on my way to rifle.
I had a bit of difficulty finding the Rifle portage, it was alot further down the shore than it showed on my map. The portage was a little bit rocky if I remember right, but not awful. Rifle is a very cool little lake. As I had hoped, the one site on Rifle was open so I took that for the night. I had been up since very early in the morning and was happy to set up camp.
After I got camp set up and found some firewood I sat there for a second and though "now what?" For the first time on the trip the fact that I was alone sunk in. It was a bit weird to be quite honest. I decided to break out the small backpack guitar I brought and play a few tunes. Soon the sun was going down and I was eating my fire cooked steak and sipping some Grand Marnier. I grabbed a book and passed the time away sipping, playing and reading. Great night.
About 3am I had to water a tree and apparently surprised a beaver that was working on the camp's shoreline. He slapped his tale and, in my half asleep state, it startled the bejeezes out of me. I yelped like a cross between a Homer Simpson "Doh" and a school girl scream. I'm glad no one was around to hear it:)
The next morning I awoke and started up breakfast. I made some cache lake scones with a little squeeze jelly and some coffee. For the first time in my BWCA experience I started portaging right from camp since the camp is connected to the Bridge Lake portage. This was a long one and I took the time on the return trip (I double portaged) to take some photos. Here are a couple:
I was a bit bummed I missed the peak color up there by a week or two. Oh well.
Bridge was a nice little paddle, I passed another solo guy on the way to the portage into Lake 4. The portage between these two was very scenic. A cool little narrow pond with some cliffs surrounding it.
I paddled away and headed back up north towards Fire and then on to Hudson. A Storm was moving in and the thunder and lightening kept threatening. I was having a hard time telling which way the weather was heading. It ended up heading SE and I stayed right on the edge of it. I waited it out for a little bit on shore, but soon I was aboe to get back on the water. Here's a pic while on Hudson where I was right at the edge of the storm.
I paddled on south then headed west a bit back towards Lake Four. I camped at the first site on the western arm of the lake. It turned out to be my favorite campsite of the trip. I saw some traffic moving through but not too much. I think I took about 100 pictures at this campsite alone! I'll spare you the vast majority of them:) I didn't really get a great view of the sunset like I had hoped, but I caught the tail end of it as the clouds broke a bit.
Dinner that night was some Bear Creek Wildrice soup. I had a great night, I was getting used to just being alone. It was wonderfully quiet. I read, I played,I sipped, and I slept.
Then it was some breakfast and some coffee and some good chilling time. I was in no rush today. I only planned to get to lake two today so I took my time getting moving.
On one of the portages I ran into a couple of moose hunters on their way in. Their canoe was enormous! It took both of them to carry it and they were some pretty big guys. I would guess it probably weighed 150 lbs or so. I suppose you'd need one that big if you got a bullwinkle.
The calm waters began stirring up a bit as the day moved on, by late afternoon I would guess the winds were approaching 15-20mph and I was glad I had claimed a site, even if it was a poor one. It was on a northern point, right in the middle of the lake. It has been well used over the years being so close to the entry I guess.
That night I just munched on snacks for dinner. Beef sticks and string cheese tasted pretty good. It stayed windy, but died down a little bit as night came in. The Harvest Moon was a few days earlier, but it had been at the start of each night so I missed the moon rise. I was able to catch it tonight and it was beautiful! I set up the small tripod and the camera and played with he nightmode setting and snapped a few pics of the moon and the fire.
After that I took a few more sips of the Grand Marnier and headed into the tent for the night.
The wind was still blowing pretty hard and Lake Two greeted me with some Whitecaps. I made some coffee and munched on some granola and cliff bars for breakfast. I decided to break camp and wait out the wind and hope it'd die down enough for me to take off. I was on the windward side of a point, and new if I could get around the point I'd be sheltered from the wind the rest of the way to the car. So I waited....and waited. I even thought of bushwacking my way to the other side of the point to avoid the wind. It was about then that I noticed some dark clouds on the horizon heading my way. I debated setting the tent back up but instead just dug out the tarp and decided I could just wait it out. It looked like it was moving pretty fast so I thought it'd be over pretty quick. The thunder and lightening soon kicked in and it was a bit more of a thunderstorm than I thought it'd be. I just huddled in camp and wrapped up in the tarp and waited. It was a weird storm, it's like there was a hole in the clouds that the storm dumped out of. I also disrupted some feathered friends around camp (Mergansers?)
Soon I decided it had died down enough to make a run for it, so I loaded up and headed out. There were still some whitecaps, but it wasn't too bad. As soon as I could get around the point I was able to stay pretty sheltered. I even had the wind to my back most of the way out! A BWCA first for me! Before I knew it I was chatting with some folks at the landing of Lake One and loading up the car.
This was my first solo. Once I got used to the fact that it was just me and developed my routine, I really enjoyed it. I've always needed a fair amount of "Me" time and this just reinforced that. It was just what I needed at the time. I'll continue to enjoy trips with my friends, but I know I'll be doing this again soon.