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October 21 2021

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

Solo on the rivers

by dogwoodgirl
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 15, 2021
Entry Point: Little Isabella River
Exit Point: Snake River (84)
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:

Day 1 of 4


Sunday, August 15, 2021

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.

 



Day 2 of 4


Monday, August 16, 2021 Got up before dawn again to beat the wind/heat. No coffee, a granola bar in my pocket. Amelia got her breakfast and we were packed and in the canoe. The Isabella is certainly a lovely river. Haven't been on it for many years. Deep enough to paddle, narrow enough to feel private- everything I love about rivers. Saw SO many beavers this morning! First 8 rod portage not needed, even in this drought- easy to paddle through the narrows. Got the 141 r portage out of the way easily. Only had to set the canoe down once...not bad for an old lady. Amelia stepped on a garter snake and just about jumped higher than the treetops! Every stick on a trail she saw for the rest of the trip was greeted with suspicion.

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.

 



Day 3 of 4


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

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.

 



Day 4 of 4


Wednesday, August 18, 2021 Woke up to an almost calm morning, my first on this trip. Had coffee and oatmeal, packed up and was on the Snake River early.

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.

All in all, a great few days in the woods. Not the 2 week solo that I had planned last winter, but that's how it goes!

 


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