Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Disappointment Lake
by fitgers1

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/09/2010
Entry & Exit Point: Snowbank Lake (EP 27)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4
Trip Introduction:
This was my first true canoe trip into the B-dub in quite some time. I had been there as a Boy Scout at Sommers canoe base for some winter camping in the early 80's. Did a few trips in with family as a kid and I have been to Basswood via Moose and Prairie Portage in my fishing boat con 25 HP 4 stroke Yamaha. Fun trip, but not quite what I was looking for. That was last year. A couple years ago, I did some canoeing on Seagull when I stayed at the end of Gunflint (Way of the Wilderness I believe). I was there for the Gunflint Green-up the year after the big 2006 fire. I planted 350 red and white pines that day. Exhausting. I'm sure that in this point of my life I would have made it to the B-dub many, many times, but I was in the Navy for 20 years (86-06) paddling around the world. Good times. I grew up mainly in northern Minnesota and have always wanted to go back. I was getting close the last few years, but not close enough! Luckily for me, a friend of mine has been in several times over the last thirty years or so. He went in from the south last year with his three kids. After he got back from his trip and I from mine to Basswood, we began planning this years trip. Much went into it. Books were bought and read. Magazines as well - except for Canoe and Kayak (Boundary Waters Journal). I used to get Canoe and Kayak all the time when I lived in Norfolk, VA 10 -15 years ago. Hadn't bought an issue for a decade. I started looking at them last fall - it's all kayaks now! I wish I would have kept my five years worth of 'zines I had. I have a kayak, but that's just for cruising the Mpls. lakes. Anyway, Gary and I began planning. After the books were bought and read, and websites like this visited studied, I began buying some of the gear I would need. I have plenty from my backpacking years, but just not enough. I bought a used canoe at the Midwest Mountaineering Spring expo auction. Alumacraft. It's funny. I read about how great the kevlars and carbons are but I bet 90% of the canoes we saw up there were all aluminum. I much prefer the rigidity and durability of one. The extra 20 pounds is cake compared to what our forefathers portaged so no biggie there. I looked at packs for months and finally settled on Granite Gear. I was in dire need of a pad - picked up a 2.5 Camp Bed from REI. I tried to find another fuel bottle for my old Coleman Peak 1 Apex stove. No can do. MSR has a similar one but I don't think it will work. Turned out that the two old bottles I have were plenty as we were able to cook a lot on the fire. We studied the maps and both agreed on going in in the Ely area. Gary read a lot of reports on this website and Disappointment via Snowbank and Parent was picked. We attended a BWCA class at REI. Didn't get much info that we didn't already know, but there were a few good pointers and the guy had some good stories. I hit every outdoor store in the Twin Cities looking for anything I might need. Bought a few small odds and ends here and there. We did some food shopping and we were set to go. I apologize that this intro is probably going to be longer than the report itself. June 15, 2011 Wow! I started this a year ago and didn't finish it. I'll try to later but right now I'm packing for the next trip. Leaving in a couple days.
Day 1 of 6
Monday, August 09, 2010 Our trip began by leaving a day earlier and staying at an 80 year old log cabin on Round Lake north of Grand Rapids. We had to stop there to pick up Gary's oldest son. The owner of the cabin has about 300 acres with trails. We walked some of them. It was great being back in a northern MN forest. That night the boys tried for a very long time to make a fire in the lakeside fire pit. They were using tinder and matches. It was hard as the wind was blowing out their fire as soon as they got it going. Finally after 45 minutes or more, a raging fire was in the pit and the sun was setting. Oh yeah, and the clouds were moving in. We had a fire for about an hour before the rain began to pour. Inside the old cabin we went. Beautiful inside and out. The owner was there. I believe he was in his late 70's as he was in the military in the late 40's. He told many stories of the old days when he was young of running around the northern woods. The roadless area (BWCA), the north shore and other parts of Minnesota. He and his friends hunted, fished and camped. I loved his line about five of them getting a cabin for two-fifty for the weekend up by Isabella. I thought that was kind of high back then. Then he said, "That was 50 cents a piece for the cabin" he said. We woke up early and left the cabin at 7:20 en route for Vermillion Lake. We traveled east to Hwy 65 and then north. We found a lot of construction on Hwy 65 as the road was being re-done for many miles. Arriving at Tower-Soudan we drove up to the south shore of Vermillion where we picked up Gary's Grumman canoe. We strapped it on the roof next to mine and we were off. At 40 miles an hour the loudest, crazy vibrating hum started. We stopped and checked the straps and tightened them up. Continuing on, the noise started again. A second time we stopped and re-did the straps. Success! The noise was gone. We arrived in Ely and stopped at Zup's. I ran in and grabbed enough ham and Swiss for a couple meals of sandwiches. A stop at the Ranger station to check in proved to be valuable as we learned about the Disappointment bears. I had read about the bear on this web site, however, we did not know that there were cubs involved. Off to LaTourells on Moose lake to rent a couple more packs and two bed pads. Bought a couple pounds of leeches as well. Originally we were going to rent three as I did not have one yet (untill a week or two before the trip). Gary got three and we drove away. A couple miles down the road he said "You bought a pad didn't you?" Yes I did I told him. Crap! Back to LaTourells to turn one back in. They were kind enough to cancel the charge right away. A quick side-note here...While there I spoke with Missy for a while. She knows my brother as he worked Prairie Portage while he was attending Vermillion College back in the 90's. On the road again. We arrived at EP 27 about 12:30 and started loading. We were the only people putting in so we had a lot of room to lay stuff out and get ready. Loaded boats, 87 degrees and no wind, we started out for Parent Lake. I should add, we also picked up a pound of leeches at LaTourells. They all fit (barely) in the leech container. We arrived at the 85(?) rod portage to Parent. Parent was calm as could be. We spied the two north side campsites and continued on. The boys thought we should stop there and camp. They didn't want to do another portage. The portage into Parent had a few steep spots and was pretty rocky. I think they felt that was enough for one day. Now these boys are mid and late teens so Gary and I knew they could handle another. As we arrived at the portage to Disappointment we met two guys coming into Parent. We talked to them for a while. They stated they had been going all day and were going to take a site on Parent. They asked if we could please tell the rest of their group behind them they would be on Parent. We portaged to Disappointment. At the shore, we met the rest of the group. They were very unhappy portagers from Iowa. They were burned out. Looked like a guy in his 20's, a girl around 20 and two kids - very early teens. They told us the first two guys were pushing them all hard. They were about to make their 14th portage for the day. Many were short, however, there was a long one after they left Alice Lake. Our portaging consisted of two trips a person. We decided to go a little heavy on the gear and food as we would be basing out of Disappointment and not moving camp everyday. We found a great site on the west tip of a peninsula at the south end of the lake. Best one on the lake that we could figure after seeing the others. We made camp and relaxed. Took a bath in the lake and was still sweating afterward. Still hot out! Way too hot! That evening as the sun was going down we had a baby otter run across the rocky beach in front of us. The boys caught a northern off the shore. The sky was beautiful as the sun went down. A clear sky allowed us to see every star in the universe. Just beautiful. The loons were calling all over the lake. We had a baby loon and its parents by the site all week. Still hot as we all went to bed. We complained back and forth through tent walls about the heat. I found it hard to fall asleep in the heat. I was really hoping to have some cool northern MN nights. They would come later in the week. Too be continued...on Day 2.