Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Isabella - 35 to Kawishiwi River - 32
by aj1959

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/29/2018
Entry Point: Isabella Lake (EP 35)
Exit Point: South Kawishiwi River (EP 32)  
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
I decide to do a partial visit of my first BWCA adventure.
I took my annual canoe trip the end of August, this one was a four-night solo trip to the BWCAW, Boundry Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I made arrangements for Piragis Outdoors, an outfitter in Ely Mn to do a shuttle. I left Willmar at 1:30 am and arrived in Ely just after 7 am. My shuttle appointment wasn't until 9 so I had a too-large breakfast at Britton's Cafe, big meal not a big cost. I wandered down to Piragis a little after 8 and my driver had just ducked out for a cup of coffee. I picked up my permit, we loaded all my gear into their van and were on the road by 8:30. (if you ever do a BWCA trip out of Ely I highly recommend Piragis, you can't get more professional). I followed the shuttle driver, I wish I remembered his name, very friendly guy, to Entry Point 32 on the Kawishiwi River, where I left my truck. This is the point I was going to paddle to over the next 4 days. I am guessing 25-30 miles..... I got into shuttle van and we headed to Entry Point 35, Lake Isabella, arriving about 10. We unloaded all my gear, canoe, 2 packs, misc. canoe stuff, fishing gear and 2 paddles, a bent shaft which I made a couple of years ago, and a solo canoe paddle by Bending Branches. (Think a very long kayak paddle, for me, it's a lifesaver in strong winds and big waves). I did a double portage from the parking lot to the lake, around 70 rods each way, a rod equaling 16.5 feet. By 10:30 I was ready to head out. Spent the first night on the Isabella River, I was going to try for Quadga Lake, however, several years ago a fire went through the area so I wasn't sure on the availability of campsites. The one I found on the river had the only unburned trees as far as I could see. Other than a beaver that was rather loud, splashing around all night I had a good sleep. The next morning early I headed down the Isabella River, the plan was to cross Bald Eagle Lake and the to spend the next 2 nights on Gabbro Lake. The new growth from the fire recovery was 8-10 feet high and there were signs of animals all along the burned-out stretch. I didn't see much activity but you could see areas where moose had been, along with many, many beaver channels. I arrived at Bald Eagle Lake in good time, right into a strong wind and smaller white-caps. Out came the solo canoe paddle and by hugging the west shore I made it to Gabbro Lake, proceeded across that lake and I found an open campsite toward the west end. I set up camp and settled in for the next day. My plan had been to do some fishing that day but the wind was uncooperative, so I spent most of the time reading, doing laundry and just relaxing. The smart purchase for this trip was a Leki Chiller camp chair. Wow for comfort, beats sitting on a log! Saturday I packed up and headed out of Gabbro Lake, through Little Gabbro, portaged around an old dam put in years ago by the logging companies, and then started downstream to my final campsite on the Kawashiwi River. I found an open site just upriver from my take-out point at EP 32. A big wind must have gone through a few years ago as some very large trees were down. I woke up Sunday morning at about 6 and thought I would stay in the sack till 6:30. That is until 6:10 when I heard a gunshot from the next site upriver from me! I am guessing a 9mm handgun. Why I don't know, did he see a bear? Signaling a friend? Shot himself in the foot? (I have since had comments that the sound was a breaking branch, and this is very likely based on the trees down in the area) Needless to say, I was then awake, so I had breakfast, loaded up my gear, found the portage trail to my truck and was loaded up by 9. Stopped at the Northern Grounds coffee shop in Ely for 2 cups of coffee, 2 pastries and headed for home, arriving around 5. Another great trip!