BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
December 03 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1845 feet
Morgan Lake - 45
Cold Vista 2015
May 17, 2015
Lizz and Swamp Lakes
Number of Days:
Lake Two to Insula; 12.0 miles, 4 portages, 165 rods
On the water just after 7:00am. Chatted briefly with a couple fishing who asked if I had any ideas or tips as they had no luck. I had nothing to offer, but told them I had heard that all over so far. Just past them a canoe paddled toward me and I was intercepted by two USFS rangers checking permits. As I dug mine out of my PFD they asked if it was our first day out. I think I impressed them just a little bit when I said it was my 7th, and that I started on Hog Creek and was on my way back. They were very fun to talk to for a few minutes.
A young couple caught up to me at the second short portage out of Lake Four. In chatting one mentioned they thought it might storm shortly. I knew the forecast was only for 20% chance today, and after the last two days said I really didn’t think it would. They were single portaging and passed on by.
Once out on Hudson I stopped to apply sunscreen as I could feel my legs starting to get warm. I should have put it on an hour or so before. On the eastern side of Hudson I stopped and floated for a few minutes before the portage to have some snack mix and homemade beef jerky. The 105 portage over to Insula has a steep climb on each end with most of the portage on top of the hill, and exposed to the sun since the Pagami Creek Fire. It felt hot, and I was drinking a lot of water. There were more thunderheads forming in several directions, but once again it was hard to tell which way they were moving, if they were moving at all.
On the insula side I could hear rumblings of thunder again as I packed up my canoe. I paddled out about 100 yards and stopped, as I could now see the sky to the northeast, and it was very dark, with a dark low-hanging part like a wall cloud and it was coming my way. I turned around and went back to the portage. I tied my canoe, grabbed the 7x7 foot 1.1 ounce silnylon tarp (homemade) from under my canoe seat and the Thermorest pad Rainy sits on in the canoe and made a quick shelter next to a fallen log. I had less than 60 seconds before there was a downpour, and lightening was getting closer too. Rainy and I crawled under the low tarp and onto the pad which helped keep us dry and was more comfortable than rock, and though not much insulation might just help reduce any ground current in case of close by lightening. Fortunately there was a hill behind with taller trees to help reduce this risk.
After about 20-30 minutes, the downpour faded and the storm was mostly over except for a few last thunder claps. My canoe had in that short time collected several inches of water, so I had to unload just to empty it. Another group was now coming across the portage, and with some blue sky above I stared off, again.
This time I made it about 250 yards off shore when – this is getting old – the wind shifted 180º. I kept paddling, and to my surprise the storm that just passed over appeared to be coming back over me again. A light rain started falling, and a bolt of lightning struck about a quarter mile to my right. Now the closest land was straight ahead and I paddled hard, landed, and got my small shelter out once again. Rainy and I sat under it on the pad for another 20-30 minutes. I put a leash on (both times) just to make sure she could not run in case of a close ground strike, and I held her between my legs to keep her off the ground. She really took it well.
When the storm moved off for the second time, I emptied my canoe again and started paddling. I could see the group behind me, as well as three other groups in front of me had ditched on shore and taken cover. Everyone seemed ok. I paddled on, and the sky cleared up a little.
I passed through the burn area up to the northern forested part of Insula, and took a mediocre campsite on an island with a sandy beach. The sun was now out so I set out all sorts of gear like a lawn sale in hopes of it getting dry. Camp was wet up and I played fetch with Rainy for a while before dinner. Just after we ate, I heard a loud crashing sound just back behind my tent. It sounded like timber, but there was absolutely no wind. Given it was a single sound rather than a continuous sound I assumed bear instead of moose, so grabbed a leash for Rainy and my bear spray, pulled the safety off the spray, and walked back to investigate. By my tent, I noticed a 30+ foot balsam fir had just tipped over – 10 feet from my tent, and with no wind. It did not look that healthy, and its root system was weak. That was weird, but I guess it was just it’s time.
A few minutes after that, the wind picked up again from the east, and a small thunderstorm blew in causing me to run to gather all my drying stuff asap. That storm moved south west, and was followed by one more smaller one around dusk. And I didn’t think it would rain today.
Dark Clouds Over Insula from Portage
Quick Shelter - The First Time
Water In Boat
Quick Shelter - The Second Time
Third Storm of Day - Over Number Lakes Seen from Insula