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PortageKeeper
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09/27/2017 11:18AM
After another recent visit to the Q, I again tried to figure out why some of the portages that have been used for eons are not even cut for a standard 17' canoe. We went through some portages that, at best, were cut for a 12 footer. At one portage, I had to throw the canoe up on edge and zig back and forth to make a corner. At others I would still have to go forward and back to get through.

After years of doing portage work in the BWCA (a wilderness that has a flat fee for as long as you care to stay), I sure can't figure out why a park like the Q charges roughly $15/night, has no latrine maintenance, no fire grates, and can't at least cut their portages to accommodate a standard length canoe!
 
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Jackfish
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09/27/2017 02:40PM
Joe, sounds like a fair question. Why don't you call or email the Q headquarters in Atikokan and ask them? If you do, share here what they tell you.
OldFingers57
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09/27/2017 03:08PM
They have no latrine maintenance as they have no latrines. Which I think is fine as most backcountry campsites that I have been to when canoe camping or backpacking and are overflowing with crap. As for the grates you can always bring your own. I think it encourages people to use a stove instead of using a campfire to cook on. The $15 per night fee isn't that bad. Also consider the numbers of people who come to the BWCA versus going to Quetico. 10 times more go to BWCA then to the Q. So thus less money per group.
billconner
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09/27/2017 08:20PM
A former park superintendent told me they get free health care and pay for their leisure. We get free leisure but pay for healthcare. Q fees pay for the park. BWCA fees dont cover but a tiny bit of the cost.

mastertangler
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09/28/2017 06:29AM
Um, excuse me Bill, there is no "free" health care and that money for leisure is called "disposable income"....... I actually get to decide what I want to do with my own money........I'm using mine for lots of other things than "leisure".

Now that we have that out of the way it may be a matter of just not really having a discriminating eye when it comes to trail clearing. The crews may not be experienced and simply walk what is already established looking for the obvious fallen tree. I do not know how prevalent the problem is in the Quetico as I typically portage a solo boat. As the old saying goes, it is what it is..............
old_salt
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09/28/2017 12:20PM
quote PortageKeeper: "After another recent visit to the Q, I again tried to figure out why some of the portages that have been used for eons are not even cut for a standard 17' canoe. We went through some portages that, at best, were cut for a 12 footer. At one portage, I had to throw the canoe up on edge and zig back and forth to make a corner. At others I would still have to go forward and back to get through.

After years of doing portage work in the BWCA (a wilderness that has a flat fee for as long as you care to stay), I sure can't figure out why a park like the Q charges roughly $15/night, has no latrine maintenance, no fire grates, and can't at least cut their portages to accommodate a standard length canoe! "


If you want amenities, go to a resort...
PortageKeeper
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09/28/2017 01:34PM
After seeing a lot of the 'wrong answers', I see that the problem was that I asked the question poorly.
My point/question was...
When they do not have the expense of maintaining camp sites i.e. fire grates, latrines etc, why not at least spend a few bucks on creating more portages that are 17' canoe friendly?
I certainly was not asking for anything else.
mastertangler
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09/28/2017 03:09PM
quote PortageKeeper: "After seeing a lot of the 'wrong answers', I see that the problem was that I asked the question poorly.
My point/question was...
When they do not have the expense of maintaining camp sites i.e. fire grates, latrines etc, why not at least spend a few bucks on creating more portages that are 17' canoe friendly?
I certainly was not asking for anything else."


Your original post seemed clear enough to me, but sometimes its easy to misconstrue intent via printed media / emails. On the other hand one comment seems particularly uncalled for.

Portage Keeper you have a discriminating eye because its "what you do". It seems likely that most trail crews aren't distinguishing between a 15' boat or an 18' boat but rather if there is a tree down. After all, these portage trails have been there for many years and folk seem to get through. I am not so sure its a question of funding.
Banksiana
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09/28/2017 03:22PM
I spend as much time as I can afford in the Q each year (about 4-5 weeks). I am content with the minimal clearing that they do to open the portages. In fact I am impressed with the degree to which they clear the trails. I occasionally have issues with length but if I keep my eyes open and plan ahead it's fairly minimal. I tend to seek out less trafficked routes, sometimes it's hard simply to keep track of the trail. I prefer it that way.
billconner
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09/29/2017 07:28AM
I just reported what the Quetico superintendent said in response to the question about park fees in comparison to BWCA. I get it that some don't like the message so kill the messenger.

While the superindent's comments were based in fact, it was answered and reported here with a smile. It is simply a fact that user - permit - fees pay for the costs of Quetico, and the taxpayers of the US pay for the costs of the BWCAW. It explains the why of the basic question of comparing the maintenance and facilities differences of the two parks.
mastertangler
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09/29/2017 05:22PM
Yup didn't like the message Bill so I shot some holes in it. I don't remember shooting the messenger however, not my style.
carmike
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09/29/2017 10:25PM
I actually like a pay-for-use system like they have in Quetico. I don't think it's fair for my neighbor who doesn't go to the BWCA to help pay my tab (and I don't want to pay others' tab for football stadiums and walleye stocking and, well, lots of stuff :). Super complicated discussion, for sure, but kind of a fun one.

Anyways, I guess I don't pay too much attention during portages, but I can't say I've ever run into that many problems hauling a MNII throughout much of Quetico.

I do think it's a bit silly that the "wilderness ethic" doesn't allow putting campsites on the maps. And a latrine would be nice, especially on a few of the sites that see very regular use.
billconner
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09/30/2017 03:38PM
Carmike - +1 on points 1 and 2

Not sure I understand the campsites on maps issue since my Fisher and McKenzie maps have a good number of established Q sites. Is it the Chrismar map not having sites that is the issue? I suppose since the "official" connection with the park makes that trickier, plus its updated often and seems to claim more accuracy. The problem with latrines is they need maintaining. Interesting idea though - a few key sites. It might make those sites more overused than they already are.
carmike
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09/30/2017 08:50PM
I was under the impression -- very possibly in error -- that the locations of viable pre-existing campsites in the Q are not updated on the McKenzie or Fisher maps. Some of the dots do in fact correspond to viable sites; many don't seem to. I don't know where I read it, but I once read that the reason the sites are not updated is to maintain the wilderness ethic and also to minimize overuse on the popular sites.

I hear you re: the problem of latrines leading to more overuse issues. That certainly could happen. My initial inclination is that the benefit of the latrine would outweigh the increased use. Either way, it's probably a moot point because I haven't heard any talk of adding them.
billconner
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10/01/2017 06:17AM
Close call between wilderness ethic and overuse, versus the lower impact on the wilderness of not creating new sites.

As far as being on the maps, I've rarely not seen plentiful sites just from my canoe.
OldFingers57
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10/01/2017 07:43AM
quote carmike: "I was under the impression -- very possibly in error -- that the locations of viable pre-existing campsites in the Q are not updated on the McKenzie or Fisher maps. Some of the dots do in fact correspond to viable sites; many don't seem to. I don't know where I read it, but I once read that the reason the sites are not updated is to maintain the wilderness ethic and also to minimize overuse on the popular sites.


I hear you re: the problem of latrines leading to more overuse issues. That certainly could happen. My initial inclination is that the benefit of the latrine would outweigh the increased use. Either way, it's probably a moot point because I haven't heard any talk of adding them. "


We noticed that when up on Quetico and Conk lakes this year that a lot of campsites shown on the maps and even on another paddling site no not exist or are not where they are shown on the maps. I bet there a good 8-10 that we could not find.
QueticoMike
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10/01/2017 09:24AM
I'm just happy when they actually cut the fallen trees out of the way. This spring we had to climb over and around a lot of downed trees. Maybe I should go later in the year?
GraniteCliffs
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10/02/2017 07:05PM
I am likely in the minority. I actually like the way the portages are maintained in the Q. They are clearly not maintained in the same manner as the BW but it is part of the allure or mystique that makes the Q more of a draw and challenge. I was dismayed this year to see "improvements" slotted for the Sunday to Agnes portages. Just as I was dismayed to see the "improvements" on the Sunday Bay to Sunday portages. The changes make the portages easier but I am not sure that is what I am looking for.

As for cost I have no complaints. I don't feel like I am paying for latrines, portage improvements or grills. I am paying to spend time in what I think is one of the greatest places in the world. I am paying to have lakes to myself. To travel all day and not see a soul. To not hear a sound. To be able to immerse myself completely in the woods and water that surround me.

The daily fee helps to protect the long term health of the park as it is today. From my perspective I am happy to pay and make a contribution to that goal. Just my perspective.
rdricker
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10/02/2017 10:05PM
Granite Cliffs, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think it's both part of the allure and part of what keeps a crowd away..that and the fees. To me that's worth it. I may feel differently as I get on in years, but for now I like it!
ogarza
member (45)member
 
10/03/2017 12:35AM
I enjoy the portages in the Q, it feel like you are actually doing something fun.

I've done about 180 miles in the last two years in the Q, only repeating 3 lakes and had no major trouble getting through an 18.5 and a 17 canoe, except for the occasional recently downed tree or backup maneuver.

We did some less popular portages, too.

I really wouldn't like it slowly turning into the BWCA.
Lailoken
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10/03/2017 04:19PM
It is wilderness and I think it is great!
TomF
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10/05/2017 09:07AM
This may be a case of "be careful what you wish for".

This last fall trip we started via the Man and Falls chains and were expecting to see lots of folks on these popular sections; but saw no-one on the Man Chain and very few on the Falls Chain. Then headed down to Agnes - Woodside - back to Agnes and again saw no one until Louisa Falls. Yes, we had 3-4 instances that the boat got hung up around a corner on a portage, all part of the package of dancing over and around boulders, struggling through muck, actually getting lost on a portage.

That feeling that you have a stretch of lakes all to yourself and you click off the days you do not see another party is incomparable. So if no latrines or fire grates, rougher/tighter portages, extra cost of crown camping fees and RABC, inaccurate maps, no canoe rests, having to search for a campsite ... all sort of discourage use in Quetico... perfect. There should always be places where you can earn wildness and solitude.

I know that sounds snobbish and selfish, but I will not soon forget the one mid-August day I spent in BWCAW at the end of a Quetico trip, being the third party in line waiting to complete a portage, and the difficulty in finding one unoccupied campsite of the 7 or so available on the average sized lake. BWCAW is a very special place, but Quetico is pretty close to heaven partly because of it's wildness. I hope that never changes.

mgraber
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10/07/2017 01:38AM
If they add latrines, fire grates, and BWCA type portages, I will likely be headed elsewhere. Not having these are all part of why many of us go there. The funding for BW is larger than the Q, because only users pay for the Q and there are relatively few visitors. I completely understand differing opinions, I'm not trying to debate or change anyone's mind, just giving my personal thoughts. My last trip to BW was very disappointing due to traffic, noise, trampled campsites, trash, poor fishing,hideous latrines,campsites that looked too much like campsites, etc. Still a great place but not the Q.
TomT
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10/07/2017 06:35AM
quote mgraber: "If they add latrines, fire grates, and BWCA type portages, I will likely be headed elsewhere. Not having these are all part of why many of us go there. The funding for BW is larger than the Q, because only users pay for the Q and there are relatively few visitors. I completely understand differing opinions, I'm not trying to debate or change anyone's mind, just giving my personal thoughts. My last trip to BW was very disappointing due to traffic, noise, trampled campsites, trash, poor fishing,hideous latrines,campsites that looked too much like campsites, etc. Still a great place but not the Q."

Agree 100%. I went for 9 nights in Sept with 5 camps and they were all clean. No blowdown whatsoever on the portages. I saw one group in the interior the whole time. Even the back areas around camp were very clean. No TP laying around this trip. You just don't get this experience in the BW.

arctic
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10/09/2017 02:23PM
A rough, poorly maintained portage is very typical of true wilderness canoe tripping on the Canadian Shield. Most are user maintained and at a level just good enough to get through. The vast majority of portages in Quetico are in WAY better condition than you will find in the North.
mapsguy1955
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10/10/2017 01:50PM
I just got back from 2 trips (20 days total) into Quetico and found the portages were fine. I absolutely don't want latrines... How would they maintain them in a canoe only wilderness? I'm of the view that the harder it is to get somewhere, within some sort of reason, the more pristine it will be and the greater the solitude. My only complaint is those pesky jets WAY overhead, especially between 6-8 pm...
carmike
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10/10/2017 04:51PM
I think there's a reason for the phrase "Quetico snob." I've become one, too, and the cost is "expensive" *only* in relation to a BWCA trip. Compared with any other vacation or type of entertainment, a trip to the Q is a steal. A friend of mine who refuses to go to the Q with me because it's too expensive has no problem dumping hundreds of dollars into pull-tab boxes and slot machines. Different strokes for different folks.

I've almost come to the point that I'd rather not go on a canoe trip to the BWCA during "prime time" if there's another option available (hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail, a river trip down the Big/Little Fork, Miss, etc., a fishing trip to LoTW or Rainy or Leech, etc.). On the other hand, there's nothing else I'd rather do than take a trip to the Q (or Wabakimi, Woodland Caribou, etc.).
mgraber
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10/11/2017 08:49PM
Well said.
TomT
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10/11/2017 09:07PM
I quit going to the BW because it just doesn't have a wilderness feel for me anymore. Now, if I was going on my first wilderness canoe trip I would certainly feel differently. But after 19 week long or longer trips I've "graduated". Am I a snob? No, I just want more quality in my experience.

I would still go to the BW but the thrill just isn't the same as Quetico is for me. I'm now thinking about other more remote parks like WCCP and Wabakimi. Let's ratchet up the adventure, shall we? Reading Rob Kesselring's article in the current BWJ about planning a far north canoe trip. Hmmm.... it's something I'd like to experience before I leave this planet. Then I can be a "Far North Snob". :)



Minnesotian
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10/11/2017 09:52PM
I agree with what you said, TomT and CarMike. I guess I just am a Q-Snob too.

Last year, I made a New Years Resolutuon to go out camping every month. I was successful. In that time I went to the Boundary Waters twice, but having been to the Quetico, I just couldn’t do a “normal” BWCA trip.

No, instead, in august of last year I did a trip into a PMA, and that was amazing. It was like having a Quetico trip. There was no one else, the “portage trails” were narrow and difficult, and it was quiet. No latrines, no fire grates, just wilderness. Loved it.

Then in October, on a stormy and crappy weekend, I entered Mudro, camped at Table Rock, and didn’t see anyone during that time either. Great and silent trip.

I love the Boundary Waters. My life changed focus after my first trip there. But it is being loved to death, and Quetico is satisfying my needs for the outdoors: discovery, introspection, challenge, and beauty. But like TomT, I am starting to look further North now, for that spirit of adventure and discovery.

Anyone here want to do the path of Sig Olsen and his book The Lonely Land?
Pinetree
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11/11/2017 09:49PM
quote carmike: "I think there's a reason for the phrase "Quetico snob." I've become one, too, and the cost is "expensive" *only* in relation to a BWCA trip. Compared with any other vacation or type of entertainment, a trip to the Q is a steal. A friend of mine who refuses to go to the Q with me because it's too expensive has no problem dumping hundreds of dollars into pull-tab boxes and slot machines. Different strokes for different folks.


I've almost come to the point that I'd rather not go on a canoe trip to the BWCA during "prime time" if there's another option available (hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail, a river trip down the Big/Little Fork, Miss, etc., a fishing trip to LoTW or Rainy or Leech, etc.). On the other hand, there's nothing else I'd rather do than take a trip to the Q (or Wabakimi, Woodland Caribou, etc.). "


Like many places Ontario has cut funds to the park and it is more self-supporting. Also having a remote entrance point is not cheap. Also I know the Quetico Rangers make a modest living at best and Quetico has had a big turnover of personnel in recent years.
The park is great and love it like it is at present.
Captn Tony
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11/12/2017 06:17AM
I like the bdub because it is more user friendly especially when I take new news and little tykes.
I like Quetico because of it's remoteness and better fishing.
Side note
I like state parks because camping is better then no camping and they are far more accessible for me.
Pinetree
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11/12/2017 06:58AM
quote Captn Tony: "I like the bdub because it is more user friendly especially when I take new news and little tykes.
I like Quetico because of it's remoteness and better fishing.
Side note
I like state parks because camping is better then no camping and they are far more accessible for me."

Nice-diversity
Minnesotian
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11/12/2017 08:17PM
quote Captn Tony: "I like the bdub because it is more user friendly especially when I take new news and little tykes.
I like Quetico because of it's remoteness and better fishing.
Side note
I like state parks because camping is better then no camping and they are far more accessible for me."


Agreed with eveything you said. I’ll go on a state park camping run at least twice a year.
 
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