Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Snowbank Loop 2015(Through Frasier, Adams, Alice, and Ima)
by wrestlencanoe

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/22/2015
Entry & Exit Point: Snowbank Lake (EP 27)
Number of Days: 10
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
A trip with my 2 sons Sam(19) and Ryan(15) beginning at Snowbank and traveling through Disappointment,Jordan, Ima, Thomas, Frasier, Sagus, Roe, Cap, Boulder,Adams, Beaver, Trapline, River, Fishdance, Alice, Cacabic, Thomas, Ima, Ashub, and back to Snowbank.
Report A video of the trip.

Mon, June 22, 2015 Left Manchester, Iowa at 6am drove the 510 miles to Ely, Mn arriving at Voyager North Outfitters at 3pm. Picked up our permit and 2 pounds of leaches and we were off to the Forest Service office. I had some questions about the non-bwca campsites on Snowbank Lake. I believe it was Tom at the forest service who confirmed that there were a few non reservable boat/canoe in sites outside of the BWCA boundary. He also mentioned that since it is in the national forest that dispersed camping is also allowed. With that information, we were off to the Ely DQ to have an early supper and discussed where we would be spending the night. We decided that we would either camp at the Fall Lake campground or put in at Snowbank and possibly get one of the forest service sites outside of the BWCA. Well, we drove through the Fall Lake campground and then we drove up to the Snowbank landing. The lake was calm looking to the south and so we unloaded the gear and would attempt to get to one of the sites outside of the BWCA. These sites are to the north and west of the canoe launch and getting to them became hazardous as the winds picked up from the north and whitecaps developed. We searched and were successful at finding a dispersed site just big enough for our tent in the southern and protected area of the lake. We were asleep by 10 knowing that we were planning a long day tomorrow.

Tue, June 23, 2015 Today would be our biggest travel day of the trip. I guess I like to push hard on the first day to get away from the crowds. We were up at 5:15 and on the water by 6. I do like to get an early start because most of the time you have the lakes and portages to yourself. We made it through Disappointment, Ahsub, Jitterbug, Adventure, Cattyman, Jordan, and were on Ima by 10:30. We stopped at the north campsite on the island to take a break and have a snack. It’s really a great site so I asked the boys if they wanted to stop for the day but they chose to keep moving. We paddles our way down to the portage to hatchet just as the wind started to pick up. We found this portage to be pretty cool as it cuts through some steep terrain on the Ima side. We made 3 more portages on Hatchet creek and were on Thomas. From Thomas we made our way through the narrows and made it to Frasier. It was about 3pm when we hit Frasier and 3:45 when we made it to campsite 1400 in the north bay by Sagus. We set up camp, ate, relaxed, did some camp chores and were in the tent by 9pm. Thunderstorms moved in overnight and it rained until midmorning the next day.  

Wed, June 24, 2015 With the long travel day the day before and the rain all night none of us felt the urge to get up early and I was the first one to get out of the tent around 10:30. Sam and Ryan got up around 11. Today we paddled, fished and explored Frasier. The fish were not being cooperative but we did find a reef and I thought it might be a good place to try come dusk. So after supper we went back out to the reef the boys rigged up with bobbers and leaches and I was going to do some jigging. The first hour of fishing we got nothing and then from about 8:45 to 9:30 it was nonstop action. Ryan ended up catching and releasing a nice 26 inch walleye and Sam a 24. We kept 2 for breakfast on the stringer.

Thu, June 25, 2015 I was the first out of the tent this morning and thought we would have walleye and tators for breakfast. Well a turtle got one of the walleyes overnight but there was still a nice 20 incher for us to eat. Breakfast was a great then we cleaned up, broke camp and were on the water for Sagus by 10:30. Only one portage and we were on Sagus. We made our way down to site 1910 and set up camp. It’s a beautiful site on another beautiful lake and I would have been content to stay close to camp for the day but we decided to see if we could get to Raven and possibly catch a laker. We made over to Roe Lake and found the fist old portage up the creek to Raven. The creek really winds around and gets really narrow. Once we got closer to Raven we had to pull the canoe through thigh deep mud until we reached the second old portage to Raven.

This portage was longer than the first and had many downed trees to maneuver around. I have to admit that I was a little whipped after finally getting to Raven. The lake is beautiful and we had a snack and a swim to wash off the muck before getting back in the canoe to do a little fishing. We ended up catching 3 lakers, 2 on blue and silver little cleos and one on a mooselook wobbler. We kept 2 for supper and they were the best fish the boys ever tasted.

Fri, June 26, 2015 Today I think we slept in until about 8 and were on the water at 9:30 with the goal of making it to Adams Lake. We made back to Roe Lake but then had difficulty finding the Cap Lake portage. After about an hour of searching we finally found it. I don’t know why we had such difficulty as it is right there. Cap is a small lake and you can see the 2 portages out of it when you first reach the lake. We decided to take the old portage that goes from Cap to a pond and then paddle down the pond and pick up the portage to Boulder.

The old portage was in good shape so I think we made the right decision. Boulder is another nice lake which has a nice campsite on an island.
We were going to stop there for lunch but there was a person camping there so we continued on having lunch before we reached the creek portages to Adams.
We got to Adams and took the island site. Adams is another great lake and we saw no one the 3days and 2 nights we were there.

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 We spent the day fishing and exploring Adams.

Sun, June 28, 2015 We were on the water at 7 am with the goal of making it over to Alice.
The first portage out of Adams to Beaver is pretty much downhill and it has some nice stairs. There was nobody camped on Beaver as we passed and Trapline was quiet as well. We did notice that one campsite was taken on River Lake but we were the only ones in a canoe all the way to Alice.
Alice was calm as glass when we arrived at 11 am and remained so as we paddle up the east side on our way to the north side of the lake. We checked out a few campsites since I only saw 2 of the sites occupied. The beach sites looked nice but we decided we are more flat rock people than sand people. We picked site 1174 which had a nice lounging rock. We took a nap on the rock and did some fishing after supper.

Monday, Jun 29, 2015 We were on the water again this morning at 7 am. We made it over the short portage to Cacabic and then the much longer one to Thomas. Thomas is a lake that I would like to spend some time at but we decided we would paddle up to Ima to the nice island site that we saw when we began the trip. Around 10:30 we got to the island site (1195) and set up camp. The wind picked up to a pretty good breeze and we had not a desire to get in the canoe and fish.

We played cribbage,
fished from shore, and watched the people as they paddled by. I could tell we were getting closer to an entry point because of the many people that went by our site. A couple of groups over the 9 person 4 canoe rule and parents with small kids paddling the middle of a choppy lake and the parents not wearing life jackets. What chance would the young ones have if their parents unfortunately drowned?

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 After a relaxing day at Ima we decided we move a bit closer to our take out and head over to Ahsub. Ahsub is a small lake but the DNR report says it has been stocked with brookies. We didn’t catch any brookies but we did catch some of the smallest bass of the trip.
We also people watched as numerous groups paddled by.

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015 The last day and we had to paddle out and drive the 500 miles back to Iowa. I think it got in the 40’s over night so it was cooler than normal and the fog was out as we were up and paddling at the crack of dawn. We made our way over to a quiet Disappointment Lake and then over to Parent lake just so we could cross one more lake off our list. I was amazed that no one was camping on the 2 sites on Parent this close to a holiday weekend. We met no one on the portages and didn’t see anyone out paddling until we neared the Snowbank landing. We had everything in the Traverse and the canoe tied down and then made it to Ely by 9 am. We stopped at Voyager North for showers and then on to Tower for some pastries at Tim Horton’s. The traffic through the cities was smooth and we made it back home by 7pm. It was another great trip in the books.