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      Was this years trip my last?     

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paramedicscan
member (17)member
 
09/04/2017 07:04PM
Please help. I know I am in the right spot. I have been given good advice and have seen plenty of knowledge from the people posting on this board. I am desperately seeking that knowledge now.

The Boundary Waters has been good to me. It's in my blood. My family were Voyageurs and there were others who explored this area and the Canadian Wilderness north of Minnesota in the 16 and 1700's. I have been to many parts of the US and have never found anyplace that gives me the peace and contentment that I have found here.

Sadly this years trip may have been my last. You see, I know everything ends eventually, but my Father and the BW are inexorably linked in my mind. When I think of the BW, I think of my Dad, and when I think of my Dad, I think of the BW.

My Dad may not be able to make any more trips, which is why I am here. Sadly age is catching up to him. His balance is not good, he doesn't have the stamina that he had even in his late 50's and early 60's. He has neck, back, hip, and knee problems.

We went up this year and he fell on the portage trail. This is the second time in 5 years this has happened. We ended up spending one day in canoe country this trip.

Sadly I think this trip might have been the last for both of us. I have made 3-4 solo trips over the last 5 years, and to be honest while I enjoy it, I also don't. Its strange, I know that even though I don't really enjoy the solo trip, I'll probably do it again, because I so badly want to be in the BW.

Like I said earlier I just can't stand the trip because my Dad isn't there. It isn't so much a solitude thing. I live alone. I am an only child. My friends are all dead, in jail, or live so far away we haven't seen each other for 7-10 years depending on the friend, I don't mind being alone, I just need someone to share my trip with.

Anyways, I just want to see if anyone can suggest a trip for Dad and myself. He isn't so old no trips can be made, we just need to find a trip that he is able to do. Maybe such a trip doesn't exist, I don't know, but thats why I am here today.

I am looking for something that probably doesn't exist but what harm is there in asking. I need short portages. Less than 100 yards, preferably in the 50-75ish range. It doesn't matter if there are 10 of them, they just need to be short. The longer he walks, the higher the chance of falling again.

Flat level trails are preferable, or trails with only slight inclines and declines. No trails with roots, and rocks scattered all over. Nothing with 30 degree angles.

We don't need solitude. If we are near an entry point thats ok. It doesn't matter if the trip is through Ely, Tofte, or Grand Marais.

Dad like to fish, but he's not the best fisherman. He likes fishing for Northern although Walleye is ok. We don't need record fish, or 50 of them in one trip, but enough for one meal would be fantastic.

Does anyone know a trip like this? Something easy to get to but with decent fishing. We want to base camp but that doesn't mean we couldn't take a day trip somewhere further in to find fish.

Sorry for the very long post. I know our trips will end one day, I just hope that day hasn't come yet. To be honest I'm not ready for that day. I would appreciate any suggestion even if it deviates slightly from what I am looking for. I can always research the trip for myself and see if it will work or not.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Jeremy

Edit: Typos
 
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carmike
distinguished member(1031)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/04/2017 07:52PM
My first thought would be Ensign. One very easy portage in there, and some solid smallmouth, largemouth, and walleye fishing. It's a busy lake, to be sure, but any easy-to-get-to lake will be. Entering at Brule or Isabella would also work. You could even get up into Knife Lake with only a few short portages. Big Sag or Seagull would work, too, as would Pine up the Arrowhead Trail.

Is Quetico an option? One very overlooked area is the west side of Beaverhouse. One very flat, almost paved portage in, and then head west. You'd likely not see anyone as long as you were there. Same would be true of Pickerel, but there's more wind to worry about. You could even get up into the Canadian side of Basswood and have amazing fishing with only Prairie Portage to worry about.
09/04/2017 08:26PM
I don't fish, but an easy lake to get to is Alder. Very easy entry on East Bearskin, one very easy short flat portage out of the south arm to Alder. Alder is a pretty, nice lake. Easy portages also to Pierz and Canoe, and also from Canoe to Crystal. I don't fish, so you'll need to check that out, although a group on Crystal told me they were slaying walleye.
09/04/2017 08:30PM
Carp lake entry in Quetico and stay in Carp or go to Polaris. The Carp portage isn't bad if it's not wet. You might want to stay close if he has any footing problems in the middle section. Tow to Prairie portage.
billconner
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09/04/2017 08:39PM
Good suggestions. Also Basswood - I've been thinking about a no portage trip circumstances navigating it.

Frankly, I think I have tripped and fallen a few times. Not sure it's reason to stop. But lots of options with few and no tough portages.
09/04/2017 08:57PM
Lake one has no portages. Paddle to campsite and that's it. I'd also consider getting an outfitter to help. Some outfitters can take you out and even set everything up for you. There are a number of outfitters that can take you to Basswood and set everything up for you and your dad.
09/04/2017 09:08PM
I can't speak for the fishing on Alder but as Boonie mentioned the south of the 2 portages from East Bearskin is very easy and Alder is a very nice lake.
lindylair
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09/04/2017 09:31PM
Alder would be good but here's another option...as a disclaimer I have not been here but want to go. Easy in to a nice lake with more daytripping opps but those portages could be a little more challenging. Anyways, Slim lake west of Burntside has a 90 rod portage that appears to be flat, wide and level for the most part. Slim itself looks to be a very pretty lake with 3 good campsites and fishing for pike and walleye. Sounds like an easy trip with a lot of upside.

Check out these reviews of the portage into Slim with photos:




Gettin to Slim
lindylair
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09/04/2017 09:45PM
Another good option would be to go in at Kawishiwi Lake. There is a very nice sand/gravel landing to put in from and several campsites to choose from on this medium sized lake with lots of points, bays and islands. Also good fishing to be had. There are daytrip options to the north as well, up a neat little stream, at least until you start to hit the likely beaver dams. You can evaluate them as you come across them as to how far you can go.

Map of Kawishiwi Lake:


Kawishiwi lake and campsites
Grandma L
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09/04/2017 10:16PM
I have also struggled with mobility issues. The easiest trips for me are the direct entry lakes with little or no portages, flat site landings and level sites.
1. Check Lake one to Lake Three-2 short portages - a 30 and a 40 rod. Good sites on Lake 3 as you go through the 2-3 narrows.
2. Get a Tow up Moose to Birch - and paddle around the corner- nice site on the north side of the "witch head" peninsula. no portages and some nice sites.



Ohiopikeman
senior member (60)senior membersenior member
 
09/04/2017 10:27PM
While it's not the same as a canoe trip, renting a 14'~16' boat with a 15hp~25hp outboard is a great way to get into Basswoood and experience some of the best fishing in the BWCA. By taking the boat portage across, you have super easy access for your Dad with no worries about portaging anything.

I did a motor boat trip with my father a number of years ago and it worked out great. We got into some awesome fishing and the mobility issue was not a problem. It was also much more comfortable for my Dad to sit in the 14' boat vs. a canoe.

The other advantage to going this route is that you can take along some extra "comfort" gear to make sure your father does OK for a week in the woods (lawn chair, cot to sleep on, nice coleman burner stove, etc.).

Dave


jhb8426
distinguished member (491)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/05/2017 12:12AM
Have you considered a place like Sawbill? You can camp in the forest service camp ground there and take day trips as desired, or pick a camp site on Sawbill for a no portage option or go to Alton, where the portage is basically a walk in the park.
09/05/2017 05:24AM
On the Gunflint side, get a tow to Red Rock Bay.

The first portage into Red Rock is under 10 rods. Red Rock is a decent fishing lake.

Portage from Red Rock to Alpine is 45 rods, and not too difficult. Alpine is another good fishing lake. Lots of campsites on Alpine. If you want to keep going next portage into Jasper is 37 rods. You can reverse this route back to
Red Rock Bay and get a tow back from there.

It's not a loop but you'll see burn area, non-burn area, have good fishing and other scenery on this route.
ockycamper
distinguished member (383)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/05/2017 05:25AM
If falling on portages is the issue, why would you not consider "no portage" or base camp tripping. Our groups have done this for years.

Seagull Lake off Gunflint offers the ability to explore and fish for years due to size and number of islands. It has the Palisades and offers solitude as well. Best of all, the outfitter helps everyone into the canoes. . .and then you can paddle to one of many camp sites. . .several with sandy beach access.

I would challenge you to forgo the portages and explore the many opportunities for paddling in the BWCA that don't require portages.
BigTim
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09/05/2017 06:01AM
And think about Clearwater and Duncan - EP 62 & 60. Duncan has a flat wide open portage from West Bearskin while Clearwater is no portage. The smallies are pretty easy to catch on those two lakes.
lundojam
distinguished member(2161)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/05/2017 06:30AM
Keep going.
Get a tow from Anderson's into Lac LaCroix. Then, either portage in one lake or don't. Beautiful country, fun boat ride. It is spendy, but it sounds to me like it would be worth it to you. Take a few bucks out of each check until next summer and you'll have it.
Northwoodsman
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09/05/2017 07:46AM
I second #37 Kawishiwi & #38 Sawbill. Sawbill Lake Campground is beautiful with an outfitter right on sight. Kawishiwi is a little more rustic.
bobbernumber3
distinguished member(598)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/05/2017 08:08AM
Base camp at Fall Lake Campground and make day trips in or out of the BWCA.
Jackfish
Moderator
 
09/05/2017 08:19AM
Several years ago, we were staying at a motel in Atikokan the night before we went into Q. There were four guys from central Wisconsin sitting outside having a beer so we wandered over to say hello. Turns out it was three guys in their 60s/70s and a 45 year old friend who was the self-proclaimed "camp cook".

They were headed into Pickerel in the morning. No portages. Just fishing and camping on Pickerel. Experiencing Q in their later years was exactly what they wanted and it's exactly what they got. You can do the same thing with your dad.

And if that doesn't work for your dad, then you will have many, many fond memories of the joyful canoe trips you took together. And I can't imagine a better way to pay tribute to your dad than to keep taking canoe trips, be it solo or with another friend. Take lots of photos, then sit down with your dad after the trip and show him what you did, where you went, fish you caught, campsites where you stayed... all that kind of stuff. As a father myself, nothing would please me more than to see my son continuing our canoe camping tradition after I couldn't go anymore.
bobbernumber3
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09/05/2017 08:42AM
This is similar to the "Eye Opener" thread but asks the question What are my options. Rather than Whoa is me I'm too old.
Savage Voyageur
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09/05/2017 08:58AM
Find a lake that has a tow boat to get you to and from your base camp lake. There are plenty to choose from. This way you just get into a boat and it takes you to the drop off point. Then just paddle a short ways and base camp. Repeat the same thing on the way back. I plan on canoeing until I can't walk.
overthehill
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09/05/2017 10:10AM
quote Savage Voyageur: "Find a lake that has a tow boat to get you to and from your base camp lake. There are plenty to choose from. This way you just get into a boat and it takes you to the drop off point. Then just paddle a short ways and base camp. Repeat the same thing on the way back. I plan on canoeing until I can't walk. "

+1. 2010 it was 'Week with Bernie" (the movie). I was Bernie. My back was OUT. Taking 3 newbie friends with reservations and their vacations already made. Otherwise I would have definitely skipped out. Canceled permit and luckily got one for Moose. We took a tow to Splash/Ensign and based on Ensign. One short level, very easy portage. I could portage slowly but not without help getting the pack on.
Did a daytrip to Ashigan, later to Vera. Just slow going. Fishing was decent but in Ashigan we caught only smallies. Our last night was on Splash (10 minutes from tow pickup) and the pike were there for us.
1bogfrog
distinguished member (140)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/05/2017 10:18AM
quote jhb8426: "Have you considered a place like Sawbill? You can camp in the forest service camp ground there and take day trips as desired, or pick a camp site on Sawbill for a no portage option or go to Alton, where the portage is basically a walk in the park."

I'd second this as an option. We have been doing this for several years now with my parents. Dad has a bad back, and mom has two replaced knees, so the long travels in aren't an option for them anymore. They stay in the main campground in what we have fondly dubbed the Taj Matent on the thickest air mattress I have ever seen, but are still able to day trip out on Sawbill as well as on the easy portages into Alton and Kelso. Frankly, there's no reason they couldn't camp on those lakes with our help to portage, but I think the hot showers and coffee from the outfitters are a big draw.

Most often, my husband and I come up before them for our portage out trip and meet them in the main campground for the remainder of the week.

Where there's a will, I am sure you can make a way! Don't give up on it yet paramedicscan!
Banksiana
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09/05/2017 10:23AM
Consider Burntside Lake out of Ely. Not in the B-dub, but beautiful with lots of bays and islands to stay hidden in. Campsites along the southwest see very little boat traffic and are equipped with picnic tables.
LuvMyBell
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09/05/2017 10:38AM
Lots of great options suggested so far. One that hasn't been is Pine Lake.

Only 1 shirt 5 rid portage from McFarland into Pine. Most of the time you don't even need to empty your canoe. Just walk the canoe through the portage.

Pine Lake has excellent fishing and several good campsites to choose from. The downside is that Pine is subject to winds and the portages into other lakes are not easy. But Pine is 8 miles long so there is plenty of room to paddle and fish.
pswith5
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09/05/2017 11:24AM
quote jhb8426: "Have you considered a place like Sawbill? You can camp in the forest service camp ground there and take day trips as desired, or pick a camp site on Sawbill for a no portage option or go to Alton, where the portage is basically a walk in the park."
I will second this thought. Short portage in and flat. Stay on Alton. May need to go mid week or shoulder season due to being busy area. But you will be there.
bruleman
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09/05/2017 11:41AM
My dad and I began going to the BWCA in 1957 and took many trips over the years, trying all different approaches. My son began going along and then my grandson. Jacob began working at a Gunflint outfitters three years ago and that was my last trip. He is now in the Army, so I am left with attempting to get old friends to go, but have not been successful, being 75 years old, possibly close to your dads age.

Ten years ago, we began staying at some of the fine resort accommodations, hiring a fishing guide. We had some great times and caught a lot of nice fish, had excellent meals on the American Plan and also went the housekeeping route. All this is very expensive, but found it to be well worth it. Kind of nice having someone to do all the chores and not even get your feet wet, not to mention cleaning the catch. You have the option to fish and portage on your own, while experiencing the great wilderness.

There are many variables to these trips and I am confident that you can find the right niche for you and your dad. I wish that I were going along.
jamotrade
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09/05/2017 02:11PM
Try Hog Creek to Perent. One short portage that is not steep. Nice paddle down a winding creek through a very "moosey" area. Perent is a large lake with many nice campsites and easy walleye and pike fishing. You won't be alone, but it's not like you will see a lot of others either.

missmolly
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09/05/2017 02:17PM
If you have a truck or SUV, consider driving a logging road to a lake on Crown Land in Ontario. There are thousands of them and at many of them, you can park right beside the lake.
LB
Guest Paddler
 
09/05/2017 04:09PM
I literally JUST returned from this trip. Your dad could definitely do this one! Context...we celebrated my 13th birthday on our first trip. Last weekend was my 41st birthday. Our group, other than myself and my partner, are in their 60s and late 70s, one with a shoulder issue, another with an ankle issue. We went in at Crane Lake (there's cabins to rent right on Crane Lake the night before you go in). Anderson Outfitters dropped us off in Lac La Croix - miles of paddling that our group can not do anymore. We paddled a couple miles and base camped for the long weekend, taking day trips, fishing, reading...
sylvesterii
member (12)member
 
09/05/2017 04:54PM
If the entire area is in your blood and important to you, then why worry about the BWCA at all? It's really just an arbitrary line drawn on a map anyway. Many of the lakes in and around Ely could provide all of the things you are looking for, without the difficulty. You might even have less traffic than in the BWCA!
bwcadan
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09/05/2017 04:57PM
Looks like from the read that you will be doing good if your dad actually is alive to make any trip. If he makes it and if cabin camping or camp site on border is not doable, I suggest the about a mile trip from Fall Lake to the island where there is a very flat site. The latrine is up a hill, so a portable potty may be needed here, but is a small price to pay for a last or if lucky one of several last trips into the BW. I am surprised an experienced BW man would actually need these suggestions, but am also glad that I and others are more than willing to offer doable ideas. Good luck.
blutofish1
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09/05/2017 05:29PM


As others have said, take a tow to Basswood or other lakes and let the outfitter set up your site. I used to do this with my father when he was in his 70's. We had oversized cots, screened cook tent ,and a triple burner stove. Not exactly roughing it but he loved it. Many outfitters on Moose lake offer this service.
Michwall2
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09/06/2017 11:39AM
I like all the suggestions for in and stay lakes: e.g. Sawbill (Alton) and Seagull. Another option might be Brule (to South Temperance Lake?). Those larger lakes do leave you open to being wind-bound more days. But, You are still in the BW!

Another option not yet mentioned would be to purchase a pair of trekking poles for your father. They would provide additional stability and also relieve some of the pressure on the knees and hips. They could be used from the time he has to step out of the canoe (usually into uneven footing) . Most trekking poles are collapsable (make sure they are properly adjusted) so they could be set nearby but not in the way for paddling. You can also put different feet on them for better traction on rocks and roots. They have the added convenience of being available in camp. Just a thought.



BuckFlicks
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/06/2017 01:46PM
quote Northwoodsman: "I second #37 Kawishiwi & #38 Sawbill. Sawbill Lake Campground is beautiful with an outfitter right on sight. Kawishiwi is a little more rustic."

I was going to make these two recommendations as well.

Would be pretty easy to spend a couple days on Kawishiwi itself, plus there's the creek going up to Square and Kawasachnog which can be easily navigable in high water conditions. I think we've made it to Kawasachong before with only having to drag the canoe through some low water. I may be mis-remembering that. I like Kawasachong, one of my favorite nights camping I spent on Campsite 1018.
paramedicscan
member (17)member
 
09/06/2017 05:58PM
Lots of very good suggestions here. Thank you for the feedback. While I have probably taken 30 trips to 15-20 different lakes, we have never done any of the types of trips suggested with tows into Crane for example or entry directly into something like Baker Lake for example.

My main concern was that he was no longer able to make the types of trips we had made in the past and so was looking for new options to find new types of trips. None of the trips that I knew about, or had maps for indicated the kinds of things I was looking for.

Lots to digest here. Thank you again for your suggestions.

SaganagaJoe
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09/07/2017 02:35PM
quote Ohiopikeman: "While it's not the same as a canoe trip, renting a 14'~16' boat with a 15hp~25hp outboard is a great way to get into Basswoood and experience some of the best fishing in the BWCA. By taking the boat portage across, you have super easy access for your Dad with no worries about portaging anything.

I did a motor boat trip with my father a number of years ago and it worked out great. We got into some awesome fishing and the mobility issue was not a problem. It was also much more comfortable for my Dad to sit in the 14' boat vs. a canoe.

The other advantage to going this route is that you can take along some extra "comfort" gear to make sure your father does OK for a week in the woods (lawn chair, cot to sleep on, nice coleman burner stove, etc.).

Dave

"


I always tell Grandpa that when he can't paddle anymore I'll rent a boat and 25 horse and do motor trips on Sag and Seagull. I'd recommend that for you too. You need to get a separate motor permit though.

I hear ya on the attachment between your dad and the BWCA. I definitely feel the same way with the BWCA and Grandpa. But God's already taken care of that one. My little brother is exactly like my grandpa. I'll have a replacement when Grandpa is gone or can't go anymore. Someday, Lord willing, my wife/sons/daughters and grandsons and granddaughters too. Or, if I'm not so blessed, nephews or nieces or adopted sons and grandsons.
09/09/2017 08:41AM
quote Michwall2: "I like all the suggestions for in and stay lakes: e.g. Sawbill (Alton) and Seagull. Another option might be Brule (to South Temperance Lake?). Those larger lakes do leave you open to being wind-bound more days. But, You are still in the BW!


Another option not yet mentioned would be to purchase a pair of trekking poles for your father. They would provide additional stability and also relieve some of the pressure on the knees and hips. They could be used from the time he has to step out of the canoe (usually into uneven footing) . Most trekking poles are collapsable (make sure they are properly adjusted) so they could be set nearby but not in the way for paddling. You can also put different feet on them for better traction on rocks and roots. They have the added convenience of being available in camp. Just a thought.



"


The trekking poles are an excellent idea. I have a pair that I use all of the time now when traveling on uneven ground or on portages on day trips. We no longer do canoe trips, but we do go to the canoe country and stay in a cabin. We swim and paddle and have campfires. For hiking, I find my trekking poles very valuable.
Savage Voyageur
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09/09/2017 09:25AM
Like Michwall2 said is correct, get him some trekking poles. With these you have 4 points of balance, and they help you climb and descend an incline. Truly a game changer for someone with balance problems on uneven ground.

I plan on using them on a trip to the Rockies next year. They work a hundred times better than a cane for balance. Get the good ones with some shock absorbers and are collapsable. I have a pair of Black Diamond Trail Shock Pro trekking poles, and I'm going to get another set for my wife. REI and many outdoor stores sell them.
09/09/2017 09:38AM
Lots of great info provided by the wonderful people on this messageboard. There are many options for trips with a short/easy portage or no portaging at all.

During my father in laws last 6 years of his life while he battled cancer and whittled down from 240-120 lbs he definitely couldn't do a bwca trip, BUT loved the bwca. So each year I would take him to the Kawishiwi Lake campground (primitive/rustic/and only 5 sites) so he could be in the bwca the only way possible for him. He brought a big cot to sleep on because he couldn't get up off of the ground anymore and we had the van right there if we needed it.

I love your plan to change up your tripping style so you can still enjoy it with your dad.
 
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