Solo Portage

Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
98
Location
Northern Wisconsin
I have decided to try the Boundary Waters this year and I have a question for those of you who solo in busier parks like BWCA or Algonquin. I have to double carry (triple) to carry my gear...canoe and food barrel on first trip, back for Duluth Pack and kitchen pail on second trip.

Do you worry about your gear when you have to leave it at the portages? Do you hide it or stash it down the trail a way? I'd appreciate any insight. BWCA is so close and I'd like to try it.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,392
Location
Raymond, ME
I have decided to try the Boundary Waters this year and I have a question for those of you who solo in busier parks like BWCA or Algonquin. I have to double carry (triple) to carry my gear...canoe and food barrel on first trip, back for Duluth Pack and kitchen pail on second trip.

Do you worry about your gear when you have to leave it at the portages? Do you hide it or stash it down the trail a way? I'd appreciate any insight. BWCA is so close and I'd like to try it.

The chief problem from what I read about the BWCA is that people pick up the wrong gear by mistake. Anything you can do to make it distinctive is a good thing. Seems like the portages get real busy. I sure would consider stashing it out of the way down the trail a bit simply to negate the someone falling on it/picking it up error.

It's been a while since I camped in the BWCA. It's never been high on my want to do again list because of crowding. But its thirty hours away. Sure I would feel differently if it were closer and I did not have to drive across all of Ontario past many wonderful parks to get there.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
98
Location
Northern Wisconsin
Thanks YC, that's what I thought too. I will go up there in September when most of the crowds are gone and will travel mostly into Quetico. I want to avoid the crowds, but I'm only four hours away and would like to see it. Most of the canoe heads that I know always give me a funny look when I tell them I haven't been there. I have canoed and backpacked a number of times in the Superior National Forest, but never in the BWCA.
 
W

Willis

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The BWCA was on my bucket list, but the stories of overcrowding have turned me off.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
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Location
Raymond, ME
The BWCA was on my bucket list, but the stories of overcrowding have turned me off.

Don't be discouraged. Timing is everything. Do some armchair reading of BWCA guides and if you can go after school starts or early in June This might be a lame suggestion if you are tied to a school calendar.

It' s like tripping in Algonquin. Largely vacant before the middle of June and thins out nicely at the end of August. If you can start midweek, so much the better.

It seems I am contradicting my earlier post. I love Quetico and tend to gravitate that way in August. But I start out entering Canada close to my house and continue across Ontario. I am thinking of someday when I am going to Pittsburg and going the southern route anyway to continue to the BWCA.

I think my biggest personal impediment is that I do not understand the permitting process and the nuts and bolts of how to do it for the BWCA. I have the reservation system down well for Algonquin and know the times I might not need it and the times it would be foolhardy to go without one (like fishing season opener).
 
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Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
41
Location
North Iowa
It does really matter what time of you year that you go to the BWCA if you don’t want to see other people. Last year my son and I did 10 days starting on May 21, five of those days we did not see a sole.

This year we did a week going in on May 26th and there was one day that we only saw 4 others but usually saw around 20 I’m guessing.

Most of the people are near the entry points. If you do some long portages, it does seem to thin the crowd out a little.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
I've never been to the BWCA. Most of my "crowded" canoeing is in the Adirondacks. My prefered time is in September/October, when there are fewer bugs, both human and insect.

When I solo canoe, i tend to pack really light anyway, and single portage everything. If i'm heavy, it's because i am with other people or don't have to portage. still, a lighter canoe paddles more easily.

that said, i don't worry about theft... who in their right mind would want to ADD to their load, especially way back in the woods? at a put in or take-out, i'd be somewhat worried, but not out in the middle of nowhere.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
459
Location
Dodgeville, Wi
I may not have much time this year so I think I may go back to the BWCA as travel time is much less than Cananda for me. I was thnking of possibly paddling through the lake 4 area toward Insula and on to Adams. I know the Lake 4 and Hudson area got hit real hard by last years fire. One of my options is to paddle through that area. Does anyone have any info about this area?

Also, I have researched a bit with Sat. images a wasy to travel from Isabella to Insula. I would have to travel east on the Perent river and then north up the Powwow creek ... bush wack to Arrow creek going west and then the Arrow lakes North to the south east of Insula. I am not sure if I can do it and do not know of anyone who has ever attempted it. Is there anyone here on this board that has info I could use regarding this potentially rigourus route?

Bob.
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2012
Messages
393
Location
Altoona, Pennsylvania
I usually go to BWCA the beginning of May or the beginning of October (its cold and no one's around). Last year in Early May I saw one human in 9 days, and he was a park service volunteer clearing the Little Indian Sioux hiking trail. I met him where the trail intersects the Devil's Cascade Portage. If you make a couple portages on your first day, You'll see few people that time of year. I've never had an issue with people taking or mistaking my gear for there own on a portage when there were people there. My gear and canoe when unattended is well off the trail but still in view. I don't think I would enjoy a summer trip there.
 
G

Guest

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If you pack lightly, you can make your portages in one trip then you have no worries.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,392
Location
Raymond, ME
If you pack lightly, you can make your portages in one trip then you have no worries.

Maybe but food for two weeks or more is bulky and some areas have significant climbing such as Chiniguichi and Temagami which makes doubling safer.. There are plenty of places I wouldn't want to single carry. The tundra is another.. the footing looks fine and its not.
 
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