BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 03 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1.5
Elevation: 1235 feet
Little Gabbro Lake - 33
Island River to South Kwishiwi
July 20, 2014
South Kawishiwi River (32)
Number of Days:
Up at 6am after spending the night in the bunkhouse provided by our outfitter: Jordan's Canoe Outfitting, Ely, MN. Mark Bland is the owner and he does an excellent job of getting things ready and although this is only my second trip, I'm planning a third using Mark again.
Breakfast at 7am, pancakes and sausage. Load up and head to the EP.
We entered on Island River, knowing we would paddle through the area of the Pagami Creek fire, but we were interested in seeing the burned area and it's regrowth.
The day was very sunny and hot, we briefly considered a trip south on the Island River to view some pictographs, but I was overruled by the kids, they just wanted to get going and didn't want to backtrack right away.
We didn't paddle too far the first day. The campsite was just past Rice Lake, but on the Isabella River, this was the first campsite along our route that was not closed due to the Pagami Creek fire. The site would have been fine, except there was NO shade and it was a hot sunny day. By sunset a giant boulder was throwing some shade on our tents. The tent pad was grassy, not much use I'm guessing, and had enough room for two three-man dome tents.
The night was hot, but our New York Strip steaks were great cooked on the fire grates.
The night was very still and hot. Sleeping was not great that first night. The bugs were tolerable, but got worse as it got dark.
We got up around 7am, some coffee for me and hot chocolate for my oldest daughter. The other two were adjusting from their routines of going to bed at 4am and sleeping till noon. That only took one day. :D
We had french toast that morning, it was quite good.
We paddled and paddled that day. Many small portages and one longer one. It was very hot and sunny. The kids just wanted to see some trees that were not burned.
As we pasted Quadga there were some green trees. Almost like a line was drawn through the wilderness. Green on one side, burned on the other.
We had lunch at a small site on Isabella. Summer Sausage sandwiches. We considered staying here, but there were lots of bugs and no breeze. So we decided to push-on, to the last site on Isabella River, just before the portage to Bald Eagle. We figured we be rested for that 140 rod portage the next day.
Once we got there, we didn't like that site either, and we knew (Mark showed us) that there were some prime sites on the south end of Bald Eagle.
So at 4pm, we started the 140 rod portage into Bald Eagle. It was hot, humid, and generally miserable. We made it, triple portaging, out by around 4:45.
We got the second sight from the south on the east side of Bald Eagle. It was a very nice site. Camp was made with the intention of laying over the next day. We all swam that night and had a little BWCA bath. :D
We had a small garter snake that lived in the rock pile wind break for the fire pit. He left when we showed up. The mosquitos came out at dark and were fairly intense, so we went in the tents. There was terrible wind that night. It sounded as if someone was driving a train off the lake into our campsite. We had no rain and no downed trees that night. Later I learned that several people were airlifted out due to tree falls.
The day was windy, but dry.
We paddled out of Bald Eagle into Gabbro Lake today. Found a nice site that Mark had indicated on our map.
It was a splendid site. Great water entry point. We swam all afternoon. In the evening we were watching a Bald Eagle have it's supper out on some flat rocks off shore. A couple of brave seagulls were harassing it.
A long day of paddling. We went all the way to our last site of the trip. A site high on a bluff over the South Kwishiwi river. It was a nice site as well. The breeze kept the bugs away during the day.
BUT at dusk....mosquito-apocalypse started. Nothing stopped them...we were driven into the tents and you could just lay there and still hear them buzzing. I think they would have carried off the tent if possible.
Layover day, lots of time in the hammock reading and playing cards with the kids.
Short paddle out on a beautiful morning. The 140 rod portage out was not nearly as hard as the one into Bald Eagle. I think it was a bit more level and the temperature was more tolerable as well.
There were several downed trees, from the wind storm a few nights earlier I suspect.
A hot shower at Jordan's and then into Ely for a burger and fries at The Rockwood.
Overall a great trip, but the 17 year old daughter says she is never going again...she really doesn't like camping, but loves canoeing....