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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

June 22 2024

Entry Point 75 - Little Isabella River

Little Isabella River entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Isabella, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 30 miles. Access is a 20-rod portage to the Little Isabella River. Several short portages before you reach th e Isabella River.

Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1276 feet
Latitude: 47.7760
Longitude: -91.4885
Little Isabella River - 75

South Hegman

by SevenofNine
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 03, 2010
Entry Point: South Hegman Lake
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
My wife was willing to try another boundary waters trip after years of not going. I think the main motivation was for her to post the trip on her uncle's website and say "see what I did!". I didn't care because I could finally get her up north and maybe she would take a liking to it.

Day 1 of 4

Friday, September 03, 2010

We had a brutal first day for the start of our adventure. It actually started the night before when we tried to sleep in the car at the entrance point. Not enough room and the wife was cold as it rained all night. And it rained almost all day the next day when we went in.

We had to hide the kayak as Scott brought it after being told I only wanted to use the canoe. My wife couldn't paddle as she injured her arm the day before the trip. We did a decent job of camouflaging the kayak and no one bothered it.

The 1/4 mile portage is a breeze and the trail is in good shape. We double portaged since there was a lot of little stuff we bought at the last minute and I had to carry my wife's pack since she injured her arm. No problems except the rain made things miserable and slick.

After portaging all our gear we loaded and set off. However, as we got on the water the canoe felt really unstable. I had brought my solo canoe so this would be a challenge for it. I think it was because my wife was crouching instead of sitting on the canoe floor. Once we gave my pack to my buddy and my wife sat down we were good.

Thankfully there should be no more portaging unless all the campsites are taken! Hopefully we can find on on Hegman because the wind and the rain are a blowing. We pass by what must be the first campsite near the entry but I can't make out any fire grate. So we move on to the channel and the other part of the lake.

By the time we reached our campsite everyone is tired and ready to be off the water. The rain was driving and tough to deal with but we had breaks in the rain to put up our tent.

We rigged up a tarp and took shelter under it. It took forever to rig the tarp with ropes but once we got it done and added a paddle as a tent pole we had a nice area out of the rain.

Love having a tarp in the rain today. We really needed it and thankfully we rigged it up right for the three of us.

We collected fire wood from a beaver dam in a bay near by. It's really fun collecting firewood in the rain. My buddy got on shore since he has chest waders on. He would pick up beaver wood and toss it towards the canoe. If we were lucky the wood would float and act as a torpedo towards the boat. If we were unlucky the wood simply torpedoed into the lake bottom which more than not this day happens with all the rain we had the previous day and today. When we got back to camp we put it under the tarp to dry and it turned out to be a smart move.

My buddy decides he wants to try a fire after the clouds stop raining and it looks like its going to clear. I think he's nuts but I'm not going to stop a man on a mission. Amazing but he got it going and with our help feeding it we got a decent fire going.

It cleared up enough to see the stars and we really enjoyed the fire. Thanks to Scott for being dedicated to fire! My wife was your typical fire feeder, playing with it and of course adding wood constantly.

Recap, it got cold tonight as well as the next. There were strong winds today and we could watch the wind push the rain through the channel we were near. We would have gorgeous Fall days the next couple days.

All the hard work in planning and getting to our campsite was well worth it over the coming days.


Day 2 of 4

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A cool night of sleeping but we were exhausted and slept through the night never waking up like we usually do.

Tried a little fishing today in the morning from shore with no success. My wife tried a bit and didn't get a bite as well. With the rain I could see fishing an issue. I tried in earnest with a different rig and bait that night and still couldn't get a bite from shore.

My buddy decides it's time to swim so in he goes. Followed shortly by me. Of course the wife thinks we are crazy so she photographs from shore. It really is refreshing to get cleaned up from the day before. After you are in for a while you get used to the water temp. It was great.

We discover the squirrels love to pick pine cones and drop them onto our tarp and our canoes which we pulled up onto the campsite. There's at least two here if not more chattering.

Time to take a trip to the pictographs. I'm excited to canoe in nice weather and for my wife to see the pictographs. The wind is a bit strong still coming in from the other area of the lake.

Today I decide to see if having my wife sit in the back of the canoe will be a better way to travel, mistake. Try as we might I can't turn the canoe into the wind. We land on the small island off our campsite. The wife gets in front of me and there she will stay the entire time we are paddling. It's just the best way to go.

Our paddle over brings us to the short portage into N. Hegman. Most people put in at the shallow channel rather than walk the 30 feet to the official put in. It's just easier and shorter!

There's a family with mother, father, two kids and a dog. Surprisingly the wife takes the stern position. I even checked to see if that was really what they were doing. I guess it works because off they go.

We are next and no big deal here getting in. Just a little hassle and we are off. Easy portages are my kind of thing. There's a bit of a wind coming into the channel so I paddle hard to avoid hitting a rock at the narrows to the lake.

I think I am more tired than I realized but once I relax paddling gets easier. The wife said to relax but I was fighting a head wind that kept wanting to turn us so it wasn't a fun paddle.

Finally we get to the pictographs. The rock face they are on is impressive from the water. There's not a lot to see of the pictographs . But I'm glad we made the trip. I just wonder how they did it? Was the water that high at one time that they simply could draw the characters. Or did they lower themselves from the cliffs. Still that they lasted this long over weather and time is awesome.

We paddle to the Angleworm portage at the end of Trease Lake. We get out and stretch our legs. My buddy scouts the portage while my wife and I hang around at the point. I find a downed tree limb from the huge pine at the portage point. I cut it up and put into the canoe for use later tonight.

It seems this trip, getting good firewood is a breeze over previous trips.

Eventually my buddy comes back and asks where we were? I guess he thought we wanted to hike the trail. We didn't think he would hike that far and so miss-communication reigns that day.

We head out after I told a couple of guys coming in where the actual portage is located. We got out where everyone else stops to the west of the actual landing.

We get back to the campsite and cook up some food. It's a great night that night with some star viewing, meter watches and satellite spotting. What a difference a day makes. Everyone passes some booze around for a swig. We just sit and watch the stars from our chairs, awesome.


Day 3 of 4

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Our final full day we had the warmest day of the trip. The chattering squirrels run like a herd of buffalo past the outside of our tent as soon as sunrise hits. Not at all possible to sleep with that racket going on.

The three of us set out to look for some firewood because some of us (not me) thought we needed more firewood. After we ate breakfast we paddled the short distance to the hill near our campsite to explore. It was a moss covered hill and we were not the first visitors to scout for wood. I don't know if we had enough but we didn't find anything decent on our hikes up the first bluff across from our campsite. People obviously had the same idea as us as you can see cut trees.

We hiked to the top of the hill and looked out onto the lake. It was nice and I enjoyed the view. We hiked until the trail ended and turned back for a second look out on the lake.

We headed over to Nels creek to see if we might pass through to Nels lake. No such luck here. Hegman drops into the creek and it was very rocky and full of twists and turns from what we could see from shore. The channel was not navigable by canoe from what I could see. My friend and my wife weren't really motivated to go further and I didn't push the issue.

We then toured the back bay of S. Hegman to look at the other campsite. We were lucky in our choice of campsite as it sheltered us from the NW wind/rain so the other campsite would have been a tough place to be on the first day. The campsite was occupied so we didn't paddle very close.

My wife and I decided we wanted to take the long paddle to a very long hike to Angleworm lake. My friend decided he wanted to swim and collect firewood. So we parted company back at the campsite after we picked up some water and snack bars.

The portage, 1.3 miles over rough trail to Angleworm was quite hard and we were exhausted when we reached the lake. There much wasn't much nice about this section of trail as a lot of it was closed in and we had a large section of swamp mud to negotiate.

We hiked to the second campsite on the west side of Angleworm and looked out on the lake. Both of us were really tired and we ate a Cliff bar and a fruit bar to get some energy back into us. We climbed down to the lake and got water.

Someone left clothing hanging from a tree and I noticed a scarf with Santa Claus on it hanging. Who knows how long that scarf and clothing had been there but we didn't have anything to put it in to take it out so we left it for its owner to return and retrieve it.

Our long hike back was unadventurous thankfully and we made it back safe to the canoe that no one touched. The wife and I bonded on that hike and as hard as it was I'm glad we did it.

Of course that was followed by the paddle back to the campsite but at least the wind was mostly calm. This time we negotiated the lakes and portages without the map and spotted the pictographs again. Lots of traffic on the lake this day but no issues.

We got back to the campsite only to find our friend fast asleep from a long swim and a big day of collecting firewood. Turns out he was exhausted and slightly hypothermic when he finished his swim. If you don't know Scott, you don't know the length of his swims. I'm talking half a mile swims to the opposite shore followed by a swim across the bay to a peninsula just for the fun of it.

We made a cooking fire because it was getting later in the evening and clouds were moving in so it felt like night was coming on quick. What a fire, with Scott having collected tons of wood we made a massive cooking fire. That night we had a great night fire as well. It was sad to think that we would be leaving the next day. We were a bit bummed that Scott was too tired to join us that night but I think he almost killed himself swimming.

We took down the tarp since the sky is clear and I want things put away dry before we head out tomorrow. It's supposed to rain tomorrow but I hope it stays dry enough for us to get to the car since it's a very short paddle in from the back bay. We packed up loose items of everyones and placed them away or near tents for easy retrieval.


Day 4 of 4

Monday, September 06, 2010

A foggy start to the day after a short night. We didn't get on the water as soon as I wanted but we were on the water and back at the car by around 9:30.

The forecast for today is rain so I hoped to stay dry at least until the car. Thankfully all was well and we stayed dry. Said our goodbyes to Scott and headed into town for breakfast.

I don't have the heart to post foggy/drizzle pictures so I place more from the previous days.

Stopped at Britons in Ely for breakfast. Shared a large pancake with my wife. Traffic was bad on our way home but we made it safely.


Having my wife along was great. She weathered the storm on the first day and didn't complain. She was cold but never complained more than once a day about it!

Iso/Butane gas cooking works short term but you need to warm the canister if you are going to cook something that takes a long time. The canisters don't last very long either so buying the larger canister is a good thing. Or better yet bring white gas instead.

Cooking pancakes is not fun and this is my second and last time I will cook pancakes in the field. They just aren't worth the time and effort to make.

Dried hashbrowns are wonderful even with steak in the evening. Thanks MOgirl for the suggestion. Pouch potatoes from Idahoan make more than the two of us can eat and less water is better than too much.

Having the tarp was a godsend for us. We were able to take refuge from not only the rain but the wind. We were lucky to get our choice of a campsite and the protected site we chose was really nice, large and sheltered.

A smaller collapsible cooler is in the works rather than using the one I used. A larger pack is much needed, preferably a waterproof one.

My wife was injured prior to our trip which made my choice of a solo canoe a wise choice. A true tandem canoe is what we need to bring next time. We were a bit overloaded and it was hard to get a good balance in the canoe no matter where I placed gear.

Canoe: Bell Magic Kevlar

Stove: Primus


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