Lazy Summer Days


By Ben Strege Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:July 2-5, 2010
Entry Point:27 - Snowbank Lake (BWCA)
Type:Canoeing
Lakes:Adventure, Ahsub, Cattyman, Disappointment, Ima, Jitterbug, Jordan, Snowbank, Three Eagle

Friday, July 2, 2010

Snowbank Entry Point
Snowbank Entry Point
Snowbank Morning
Snowbank Morning

As is typical of our canoeing trips, we woke up around 3:00 AM to begin the drive to Ely. Auralee and I arrived at Voyageur North Outfitters just as they were opening. We quickly got our permit and took off for Snowbank. The drive only took about 30 minutes - Snowbank is one of the closest entry points to Ely. The day dawned clear, cloudless, and warm. There was very little wind, which was fortunate for us since Snowbank is a large lake. This would change later in the morning.

The Snowbank entry point had a couple of docks that made loading the canoes much easier. Normally we are fighting to get the canoe loaded by hopping across rocks, so this was a nice change of pace.

I had been a little hesitant to book the permit for Snowbank since it would be my first time canoeing across a motorized lake, but everything turned out all right. There were quite a few boats out on the lake, but they didn't bother us. It took us 45 minutes to get across Snowbank to the portage to Disappointment.
Disappointment-Snowbank Portage
Disappointment-Snowbank Portage

We tried to single portage, which didn't work out too well. I was carrying too much, the canoe was unbalanced, and everything was getting in my way. I gave it up and dropped off some stuff in the middle. We went the rest of the way without incident. By the time we shoved off onto Disappointment, the wind had started picking up. There were already a few people camping on Disappointment. I knew that it would be pretty crowded this weekend, so we wanted to get to a less crowded lake (as if you can really say the BWCA is crowded compared to other vacation destinations such as, well, the Mall of America). We paddled across Disappointment in 30-40 minutes.
Jordan Lake Portage
Jordan Lake Portage

From Disappointment to Jordan, we went across a bunch of little lakes and portages - Ahsub, Jitterbug, Adventure, Cattyman, and finally Jordan. By this time the wind had really picked up. All of the campsites, including the "five-star" campsite north of the portage, were open, so we had our pick. We stopped at all of them. The five-star was really nice - it was big, had a sandy beach, and had some nice shade. However, it was on the main travel route through the lake, and we were looking for some solitude.

The next campsite was also pretty nice. It had a grassy area - which I normally like, but this one was full of bees, so I wouldn't be able to enjoy it. The toilet was very close to the kitchen and could be seen from the firegrate - not a problem with just the two of us, but I imagine in larger "mixed" groups this could prove awkward. Although this campsite wasn't as close to the main route as the first, we could still see all of the canoes going through to Ima.

Since we had the time, we went down the little narrow part of the lake to the southern-most campsite. In quality, it was similar to the second one, but we just loved the seclusion. We felt like we had our own little lake. We decided to stop here (we also didn't want to paddle back against the strong wind and waves). This, I think, proved to be a good decision. We ended up loving the little campsite and, especially, the privacy.
Tarp Set-up at Jordan Lake Campsite
Tarp Set-up at Jordan Lake Campsite
Hanging Tree on Jordan
Hanging Tree on Jordan
Tent Pad at Jordan Lake Site
Tent Pad at Jordan Lake Site

We set up camp and had lunch. We didn't feel like going fishing in the wind, so we relaxed in camp until dinner time. For dinner, we tried something new. I had frozen some hot dogs (the expensive kind) and brought them for our first dinner. We roasted them over a campfire. They tasted all right - they probably would have tasted better if it hadn't been so hot out. After dinner, the wind died down somewhat, so we tried fishing near our campsite without much luck (a theme over the next couple of days).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blueberries on Jordan
Blueberries on Jordan
Blueberry Pancakes
Blueberry Pancakes
We had found blueberries in our camp the day before, so we collected some this morning and had blueberry pancakes - yummm! We went out fishing in the morning. We decided to take the narrows down to Ima - not a bite. We then crossed over the portage and tried there - no luck. We went back over to Jordan and fished the bay near the portage - nada. Finally, as we were going back through the narrows, I caught a 3-lb northern. This was probably going to be the only fish we caught today, so we kept it (and it was going to die anyway since the hook was caught in its gill).

We got back to camp around noon. The temperature had really risen by this time, and we didn't feel like doing anything. We sat in our hammock reading and jumped in the lake every ten minutes to cool off. We had the fish on a stringer tied to the canoe, but it was already dead. I was just trying to keep the meat cool in the lake. While I was in the hammock dozing, I heard a "whoosh" above my head. I looked up, and there was an eagle just a few yards above me. It circled around again and was coming back over. In my groggy state I was thinking, "Wow, that is close..." Then I realized what was happening - "It's going for the fish," I yelled. The eagle was past me and had the claws out and ready. I jumped up and down and yelled at it. I only had seconds (if even that) to spare. The eagle was scared away from the fish, but it went across the narrow stretch of water and sat in a tree.

Auralee and I looked at each other, and we decided it was best to clean the fish now and try to keep the meat cool by putting it in some water in the shade. While I was cleaning it, another eagle came and sat it another tree. Now I had two eagerly waiting for me to finish - this was going to be some show. The eagles were chattering at each other the whole time. I left the fish remains on the rock for the eagles. Soon after I left, one came down, grabbed the remains, and took off. That was quite something to see!
Cleaning Northern
Cleaning Northern

The plan of keeping the fish in some water worked pretty well. It tasted really good that night!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This day was much like the day before - hot. These are the kind of days that you just lie around, what may be called "lazy summer days." We still went fishing to try and catch dinner. This time we went to the north end of the lake. We had some better luck today than on Saturday. I caught another northern that was worthy of our dinner plates.

The highlight of the day, though, was seeing a raft of loons. Yes, that's right, a raft (which is a fancy word for a group of loons - I had to look it up, too). While we were fishing, there were 8 or 9 loons together. We decided to see how close we could get to take a picture. The answer was pretty darn close. The loons just kept swimming in front of us rather than diving or flying. We got some good pictures and even a couple of movies.
Raft of Loons
Raft of Loons
Herding Loons
Herding Loons

The afternoon was spent, again, reading and swimming. It was still very hot! In the evening, I wanted to try fishing Three Eagle Lake, which was just a short bushwhack north of Jordan. It is actually a part of a primitive management area (PMA), so there are no campsites or portages. However, the lake was not always a part of a PMA, so there is an old portage leading to the lake (you can still see the faint trail) and an old campsite on the lake. The portage wasn't too bad - the hardest part was finding it. The end was a little wet, but it was worth it. We visited the old campsite. It was pretty small and has been a little overgrown. We fished around the entire lake. It was full of northerns. We caught more fish in the 45 minutes we were there than the rest of the weekend combined.
Three Eagle Northern
Three Eagle Northern
Three Eagle Northern
Three Eagle Northern


Monday, July 5, 2010

Morning Moon
Morning Moon
Jordan Lake Sunrise
Jordan Lake Sunrise

We got up with the sun this morning. It was just a gorgeous morning. It was pretty windy all weekend, so the calm waters were a relief. I took a few pictures of the scenery before starting to pack up. We loaded up the canoes and said goodbye to the great campsite and lake. The lakes and portages were beautiful during the calm morning. The sun was shining, and we seemed to be the only ones on the water. It took us three hours to get back to the entry point (we normally cut 25% off the time it took to come in). At the entry point a Boy Scout troop preparing to head out, and I remembered my own scouting days and thought, "They are in for a great adventure!"