BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
October 04 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 1
Elevation: 1276 feet
Little Isabella River - 75
Solo on the rivers
August 15, 2021
Little Isabella River
Snake River (84)
Number of Days:
Got up at 430 and made some coffee, then threw the packs in the truck and hit the trail with Amelia, my trusty sidekick. On the Little Isabella River by 730. Water levels were really low- some paddling, but mostly poling and a fair bit of walking the canoe through ankle deep water and muck. Sounds rough, but I was actually expecting much worse. By noon I got to the Isabella River, and saw a group that had come from Isabella Lake 2 days ago. They said one day was 5 hours of pulling the canoes through the rice beds, not even enough water to pole.
Took the first campsite heading towards Bald Eagle, since it was getting really hot and windy. this was to become the theme of the trip- hot and windy.
Went swimming, felt amazing! Had this idea that with the low water, all those rocks at the bottom of the river that gaze longingly up, dreaming of tasting the blood of canoes, are finally getting their dreams fulfilled.
Saw weird reddish purple clouds on the SE horizon that afternoon- figured out when I got back- that was the start of the Greenwood fire.
Amelia and I had a leisurely afternoon watching critters and lazing in the shade.
Critters seen: Sharp Shinned Hawk, toads, garter snake, hummingbird, nuthatches, vulture, some small marsh bird- a Sora? Size of a large sparrow/small thrush, brown, walking in the reeds.
First campsite in the narrows at the S end of Bald Eagle was open, and the wind was picking up, so I took it. Main tent pads were in full sun, but there was a lovely shady spot under the cedars that was perfect for my 2 person tent.
Made coffee and breakfast, lounged around the kitchen area under the trees. If you look back towards land it is very open and sad looking- so much dead balsam and spruce from budworm. But, if you look off towards the lake, it is lovely and green.
Around mid-late afternoon, smoke really started moving in- felt bad to breathe. Sky was white- yesterday clear blue. So windy that I had every guyline on the tent staked out taut. Have seen no one all day.
Critters seen today: Beavers, garter snakes, jays, hummingbirds, northern harrier, raven, goldeneye, swamp sparrow, chippies.
A lazy morning, wind never died down last night. Sun just barely risen when I got up. Made coffee and santa fe corn pudding- really good. A group paddled by- asked them if they had been down the Snake. They said it was passable, but "not optimal", and we all had a laugh about that! I paddled off to find the mouth of the Snake and explore a little. It was fairly easy to find where it runs into Bald Eagle through the.....wait for it....beds of wild rice! Paddled up it a little, saw a juvenile bald eagle screeching pathetically for it's parents to feed it. They were ignoring it completely. Dangled a fishing line in the river, no nibbles.
I put the solar shower out to warm up before I left, and once it was warmish I showered....damn that always feels so good. Left it hanging all day and periodically got back under it to wet down and cool off. Musta been over 90.
Mini bear was not impressed with my new acquisition- a bear vault.
And, saw lots of plane activity, although the smoke was less thick for the majority of the day.
Critters today: Juvenile bald eagle, hairy woodpecker, frogs, ravens, crows, chippies, northern harrier, beavers.
The river was twisty and full of wild rice at first, but fairly deep and good paddling much of the rest of the way. A few beaver dams to pull over, and one stretch where I had to get out and guide the canoe through the shallows, but so much easier than the Little Isabella. That final portage though....it says 160 rods on my map....but it feels so much more! It's not hilly particularly, or filled with boulders, or deep mud. It's really just a pretty nice path through the woods. BUT....it feels so very long. Leapfrogged canoe and gear and made it out. The walk back to little Isabella parking lot was brutal in the mid day heat...weird though, both parking lots were empty.
Once I got loaded up, started driving down Hwy 1 towards Lk Superior...and the road is closed. Finally the ball dropped. Hot and windy, lotsa smoke, empty parking lots, not seeing any people, closed hwy.....yup, there's a new fire around here somewhere. Had to detour up through Ely and Virginia to get home, but that's a small price to pay.