BWCA Snowbank entry last week in August questions Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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04/15/2021 09:43AM  
Ok, I think I have it planned. Snowbank to Disappointment to Ima to Hatchet to Thomas to Fraser to Sagus to Row to Cap to Boulder to Adams to Kawishiwi river to Alice to Insula to Hudson to lake Four, Three, Two and One.... and done.

Two questions,
How hard will it be to find campsites? (I expect to go past Disappointment on the first day) We are coming into the Lake One area on Labor Day Weekend.
This we have seven days and are planning five of travel. Is the proposed route too aggressive? What software is best for planning?

Pic of me planning trip
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distinguished member (159)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/15/2021 10:37AM  
I have done a similar route several times. Only once did I have a campsite problem at the start and ended up going to Thomas before I got a site. Twice I left Insula planning to stop on Lake Three or Two and ended up going all the way out and every other time have only had 1 or 2 sites to choose from. With it being Labor Day weekend it might be wise to stop on Insula. Everything in between should be no problem. In fact you may see no other groups in those area.
04/15/2021 10:41AM  
I'd say the route is doable in 5-6 days. How easy/hard that is depends on group experience, condition, organization, etc. You are probably in the range of 6 hours of travel per day to do in 5 days. I'm assuming you can average about 2 mph travel speed, but have no way of knowing. It could be a little longer or shorter and one never knows about wind, thunderstorms. Good to have a couple of extra days for weather.

To do it in 5 days, Ima is probably your first night destination. Disappointment is probably half the average daily mileage you need to make. You have the option to shorten the route if necessary by going south out of Thomas. You may want to make a short side trip to Fishdance to see the pictographs there.

At any rate you'll want to start very early in the morning the first day as Snowbank is notoriously difficult if windy. I'd be looking for campsites by early afternoon, say 2 PM. That applies to the other days as well.

BW was considerably busier last year and is expected to be this year, so it's hard to say about the campsites, especially in the Lake One area. I'd suggest checking permit availability there for the days leading up to your dates. If you see a campsite, take it. Finding one will likely be easier if you can spend a whole day's travel exiting.
distinguished member(5058)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/15/2021 12:54PM  
I did a very similar trip a couple years ago. Trip report although, I went in May.

Some general comments about campsite availability. There's no guarantees but, the nice thing about this route is that there will be lots of options. You may not always be able to get the best site (or maybe even the lake you want) but, there should usually be something available nearby.
distinguished member(3899)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/15/2021 12:55PM  
It's typically hardest to find a site on your first and last day since that has you nearest the EP or EP's. This should be true on this trip too as your middle stretch is in some lesser used areas. (in a normal year)

Sounds like you have a good plan and yes, if things aren't going well you have a shortcut or two.
distinguished member(5094)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/15/2021 01:43PM  
If you can make an afternoon exit, then I agree with the plan to do that from Insula or Hudson. Otherwise, I would camp as soon as you find a campsite on the numbers chain. The only problem with going from Insula is if the weather doesn't cooperate on your last day. The advantage of being on the numbers is minimal portaging on the last day. But I know other people who have failed to find a site on Lake One or Two on their last day. I've exited through there on Labor Day and it was crowded.
04/15/2021 07:34PM  
OK thanks for the info. Seems I'm on the right track from what you all said.
member (19)member
04/20/2021 07:02PM  
Just to give you a time reference, in September of 2019, my brother and I entered into Snowbank, like they said, start early, it can get windy quick. We chose the 2 shorter portages through Parent Lake instead of the longer, busier one to Disappointment, double portaging. We left Snowbank at sunrise, between 7-7:30, and we base camped on Ahsub, took us about 4 hours to get to Ahsub. Just keep in mind, I think there are another 4 portages after Ahsub, with no campsites on any of them, although a couple of them are some real quick up and overs, before you get to Jordan, and then Ima. That time of year can be busy, so hopefully there will be campsites available by time you get to Ima. If you have some spare time, swing over and see Cattyman Falls! Have fun and good luck!
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