Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places

Snowshoeing on Hard Water

By Riley Smith Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:December 9-10, 2019
Entry Point:77 - South Hegman Lake (BWCA)
Lakes:Angleworm, North Hegman, South Hegman, Whiskey Jack

We started our day before sun up. Ironically, though it had snowed the morning of our October and November trips, it was not snowing this day. It may have even been WARMER than our November CANOE trip. We dropped our gear at the South Hegman Entry Point and drove to the Angleworm lot to hike back. We opted to leave our car at our finishing point and take the road walk on the first morning. Once back at Hegman, with the first light starting to show, we ate breakfast and prepped our gear. This would be quite the adventure!

We took the hike into South Hegman as we began to figure out how exactly to strap the Jet Sleds to ourselves most comfortably. As we hiked up the lake we began to settle into a bit of a rhythm. Someone else had been in to ice fish since the last snow. There were also these goofy fox tracks that kept jumping up cliffs and climbing huge boulders. From the amount of climbing, I would guess it was a Grey Fox. He was very good at climbing. Check out his tracks on this boulder in North Hegman:

We stopped at the pictographs on N Hegman. It was so cool having them completely to ourselves, especially with the icicle framing around them today.

It was a quick walk through Trease before coming to the most difficult part of our day. The 400 rod North into Angleworm would eventually take us nearly two hours to complete on this day. It doesn't seem like many people come through this way, and the portage didn't look like it had seen maintenance in a decade. Down trees all over the trail, brush encroaching from every side, and deep snow made for quite the workout. Sled tip overs and snag ups didn't help.

We were both exhausted by the time we finally reached Angleworm for lunch. We set up camp on the ice about half way up the lake just a little North and East from the old firetower. We ditched the gear there. We knew we had to stay active and use all of our daylight, so we went on a hike up to Whiskey Jack. The hills were tough in the snow, but it was cool to get a ways back in there. Scenery was well worth it as well. Sunset came a little after 4:00, and we ended up hiking back down Angleworm in the dark to reach camp and a warm dinner. What a day!

The goal of day 2 was to enjoy a little more time on Angleworm and take the 700 rod portage out to the car. We spent the morning loading up on calories and water and packing up camp. If the difficulty of the 400 was any indication, we were in for quite the day. We started the 700 and quickly discovered that it received much better maintenance (likely from the volunteer trail clearing crew.) This gave us time to enjoy the hike. The 700 rod maintains a fairly steady uphill most of its distance going back to the lot. With deep snow and the dead-weight of sleds, this proved rather taxing. I couldn't imagine hauling a canoe back up here, but people do. There were wildlife tracks everywhere, including all sorts of wolf tracks that lined the entirety of the 700 rods. There was one wolf in particular though whose tracks kept popping up, and he was huge. The average wolf in Minnesota has tracks 3.5-4 inches in size, but this guy had tracks well over 5". I can't image the size of him. We also saw tracks from Deer, Moose, Martin, Fox, Mice, Squirrels, and Beaver along the way. The beaver pond midway was gorgeous in the snow. It was a good steady climb back to the car, with the grey jays making a showing to try to steal some lunch. The big boardwalk over Spring Creek was brutal with snowshoes as the sleds wanted to slide right off and the creek wasn't iced over. We spent nearly a half hour crossing what must be one of the most impressive boardwalks in the BWCA. It was an enjoyable hike out. I hope I can do the entire Angleworm trail someday in the warmer seasons. In any case, snowshoeing went better than expected. I can't believe I made it into the BWCA in June, July, August, October, November, and December this year! Wouldn't have it any other way.

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