BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
August 04 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 winter experience
February 22, 2008
Number of Days:
As we left this area of the Kawishiwi River and went through our first 20 rod portage we came up to more open water, which wasn't what we had wanted to see. It was directly in our way to getting to the next portage and we were in somewhat of a spot. Around the corner came a man with his 2 daughters and after some friendly greetings, we told him where we were intending to go, he let us know that the only way to get to Lake One was to take a trail he and one of his friends had made to Lake One, which was just a couple hundred yards away. The trail was heavily covered with brush and trees and small hills, but we managed to get through in about 35 minutes. If you look on map 18 on the McKenzie Maps, you'll see an area that is shown in white, just south of the 20 rod portage. That is where we traveled through to Lake One.
Once through, we moved south to the first, what looked to be island and made for the point where we set up camp. I had sweat so much through the portage and pull to where we camped that I was a bit nervous,(I had sweat through all my layers and my outer jacket) so I basically undressed, got dry and put dry clothes on. We set up our tent and made a fire to warm up by and ate some snack food for dinner that night as neither wanted to get all the cooking gear organized and out. The temp. started to drop and at 10:30 when we crawled into our tents, the temp read -10 below. Neither of us had slept in mummy bags before, so it was rather humorous watching eachother try to get the zipper all the way up and velcro the top. Needless to say, it was a very cold night.
One neat thing though was that there were wolf tracks not 20 feet from our tent that were not there the night before! SO COOL!!!
Our feet were so cold that we actually contemplated packing up and staying in a hotel/motel and doing day trips. We have both suffered frostbite on our feet previously so our concerns were valid ones. We decided to walk around for awhile to see if we could warm up. We must have paced about a mile back and fourth along the lake. Eventually, we warmed and decided to stay. Neither one of us wanted to be the cowboy and 'gut' it out, so we made the decision together, which turned out to be the right one.
I had bought the "ICE-BOX" igloo maker at Midwest Mountaineering and we were very motivated to get going on this task as we did not want to sleep in the tent again. It never seems to fail that the one thing that would be of utmost importance to us once "in" -is forgotten back at the truck. The written instructions to the igloo maker! We had watched the how-to video and read the directions a few times, so we gave it our best effort. There are some important things to do right away in the start of making this shelter that we messed up on, so the angle wasn't right for us to get the top on. We secured a tarp on top and had a wonderful 1/2 igloo to sleep in, which was much more comfortable and warmer!
After this project was complete, we took off down the lake's shore looking for a good stash of dead wood and came upon the motherload! A big fallen over pine that produced wonderfully dry and ample wood for the three days and nights that we had fires. Another blessing from nature.
Before retiring for the night, we grilled up our New York Strips and spuds with some wonderful lake water and hot black chi'tea with chocolate for dessert. One thing is for sure, we were not going to go hungry. We didn't bring in a ton of food, but what we had served us well.
Our first night in our make shift igloo was great! We put one of our tarps on the ground, followed by our blue, closed cell pads and our ThermaRests. I forgot to mention that I had also brought along my video camera and had been taking video of various activities throughout the day. I was able to get some cool shots of my brother with the 'nightshot' lens of my camera that night in the igloo...kinda spooky, but funny as well. We were quite comfortable and once all zipped up, we were fast asleep.
We came back to our site and decided to take a rest and just hang out for awhile. There were some cute birds that were our constant companions, especially if we had a few peanuts to share. In the picture of me reading my book, look closely at my leg...there is one of my friends eating a snack!
We ended up napping in our lounge chairs for over an hour and actually got a smidgen of a sunburn! Today, the temp. would eventually reach 60 degrees F on the lake with all the suns energy being reflected off the white white snow!
As fun as it is running around with out my shirt on because of the warmer temps., I had a funny feeling that our 1/2 igloo may not fair so well...and when we got back from another slushy snowshoe walk, we came up to see 1/2 of the igloo had fallen. As things happen, all we could do was wait out the rest of the day for cooler temps to arrive and replace the wall with new bricks. At this point, we had become fairly able and quick with forming bricks so the task took only about an hour. We placed our bedding inside and waited yet again for the snow to harden up with cooler temps still on the way. We needed to put our tarp on top and secure it with bungee's and large tent stakes.
During some of our wait times, Eric tried his luck with fishing and didn't get a bite. Honestly, we didn't put the time into it that maybe could have produced something, but at least he tried...if he had caught one, he would have had bragging rights for the rest of our stay, not to mention for awhile afterwards!
Our night ended with chili and cream of wild rice and ham soup with hot coffee and more chocolate for dessert. Another fine, warming meal. We had also been to our wood stash and had ourselves a wonderful last night bonfire. Our last night in our shelter proved to be the most comfortable and we both slept deeper and harder than the two previous nights. I've always known that the longer I'm in, the more restful my sleep can be. Another blessing brought to us!
The difficult trail that we took in also had to be taken out and thanks to our initial pass, the warmer temps and subsequent cooler temps, our path was basically formed for our sleds and it made things so much easier! I taped the whole portage with my video camera and watched it last night...what a gas! We saw wolf scat on the way out and lots of prints. We came across many wolf tracks and again, felt blessed for the chance to just witness these awesome creature's tell tail signs...well, it was just a thrill!
We walked for a bit and came across a quinzee which we had seen on the way in which was pretty cool. We finally reached our destination, and made it back to my truck and spent some time saying goodbye to this place. Each trip I have ever been on is etched into my mind and soul forever. This trip and experience, although short, was one of my best! This picture is of the 'hidden' trail that we were shown. This is looking at the trail leaving Lake One.