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Guest Paddler
01/11/2018 05:30PM
I am in Central Florida and am starting to plan a trip to BWCA for August. This will be my fi rst time. I do camp and canoe camp but just on rivers here in Florida like the Suwannee or Santa Fe for a few days .at a time so I do have some gear. Has anyone here done trips from Florida. Did you do full outfitted, partial or just rent canoe. What outfitter would you recommend..what area east vs west and why. I was thing minimal seeing no crowded some fishing..explore some..can do a few camps maybe from 1 to 3 days max at an area..probably planning 7 day trip. If you flew how hard taking your own gear.
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distinguished member(3404)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/11/2018 05:49PM
Hello, welcome. I have not done a trip from Florida to bwca but have traveled with camping gear many times. As long as you are checking your bag you can bring most of your own gear. Excluding fuel for camping stove. Outfitters are generally all pretty good. And you can set up partial packages. August is fairly busy due to our short season. But, if you pick an entry and have an aggressive first day you can get away some. If you enjoy river paddling the Little Indian Souix is a nice choice. East or west both have their charm. Lakes bigger and deeper on east side I would say. You will probably get many opinions. Take it all in. Explore this site, it is great. Good luck, Pete
Guest Paddler
01/11/2018 07:16PM
Thanks Pete..very excited to finally be here and planning.
01/11/2018 08:29PM
I have not done trips from FL, but have done quite a few from WV. I just rent a canoe since I have my own backpacking camping gear and prefer to use it. It is good lightweight gear and I am familiar with it.

It's important to think about your route and portaging your gear if that's not something you are used to, and I'm assuming it's not. I double portage, which means I carry the canoe and a small pack on one trip, then I walk back and get the heavier pack. That means I walk a half mile portage 3X (1.5 miles), 2 of them with a 40-45 lb. load.

I drive and if you have the time and decide to do that, feel free to email me for some information. I think many people who fly have their stuff shipped by UPS, etc.

The outfitter would depend on where you plan to enter - they don't service all entry points since it's a LONG way from the eastern side of the BW to the western side. The key is to determine your entry point and your needs, then choose the outfitter who meets your needs and is close to your entry point.

I did my first trips on the west side on the Echo Trail out of Ely, but have done most of them on the east off the Gunflint Trail or Sawbill Trail. There are good trips to be done in all areas. From Duluth it's about the same time to Ely or Grand Marais. The drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior on the way to Grand Marais is beautiful, and is especially nice if you have extra time to stop at some of the places.

Avoiding crowds in August will primarily require traveling deeper over some longer/more difficult portages or using less popular entries and areas.
Grandma L
distinguished member(5222)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/11/2018 09:22PM
Florida - check out the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge race - in early march - starting near Tampa - some of the members will be paddling in that race.
distinguished member(735)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/12/2018 06:07AM
I go to Quetico every year from SE Florida, Vero Beach. I also do annual, but shorter, trips on the Suwannee. I drive up because I have my own gear, but I do rent the canoe up there. It is 2000 miles from here to Atikokan. The first time I did a full outfitting package and over the years it has been reduced to drop-off and canoe(s). Last year I was up for 3 weeks, one with my son and 2 solo.

I go in mid September because by then I'm sick of summer and need some cool air! Can't really speak for BWCA because I want to get away from people!
member (13)member
01/12/2018 08:12AM
Thanks...some cool weather would be nice..I'm pretty flexible on dates..August/September. Mainly do not want to see crowd's..see some new country do some fishing and just spending time paddling and looking..and suggestions on east vs west or crisis g over to the Canadian side for part or all of the trip or saw that for the next trip
distinguished member(4125)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/12/2018 08:48AM

You complicate your planning and costs 10-fold by combining BWCAW and Quetico trips. For your first time, you should do one or the other. Cost structure and permitting are different, and you’d be crossing an international border, which comes with its own set of difficulties.

By waiting until September, you will avoid any "crowds". Since you’re coming from Florida and looking forward to seeing new country, go to the east end. To get there you will be traveling the rugged North Shore of Lake Superior, which in itself is a destination.

distinguished member(2218)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/12/2018 09:54AM
Agree with Inspector 13.
Early to mid-September is better. Almost completely bugless and crowd-free at the BWCA east end entry points.
Grand Marais is a pretty, quaint town to visit. Close to the beginning of the Gunflint Trail. Touristy but not in an overwhelming sense.
01/12/2018 10:21AM
I also agree with inspector13. You'll be fried after a long drive, I'd take the time to decompress and see the sights driving up Rt. 61 and the north shore. Gooseberry Falls is one of our favorites, nice welcome center and scenic waterfalls about a 3 minute walk away from the parking lot.

We have about a 16 hour drive to the outfitter we usually use on the Gunflint Trail. The first estimated 14 hours of the drive takes us about 14 hours. The last of what should be 2 hours take us about 6 hours.
member (13)member
01/12/2018 02:52PM
Thanks.plan to fly up and back..don't want to waste the travel time driving
Grandma L
distinguished member(5222)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/12/2018 03:59PM
Bowdier: "Thanks.plan to fly up and back..don't want to waste the travel time driving " You should keep us posted - several of us go up and down from the Minneapolis Metro area fairly often - you might hitch a ride if you are not renting a car.
member (13)member
01/12/2018 09:15PM
I definitely will keep ya updated..thanks..this is really an awesome site

member (13)member
01/13/2018 08:07PM
Is there a certain outfitter that you recommend. Several have nice websites when looking at them. Do they all have basically the same equipment quality. Still not sure if will do guided or unguided for this first one...have never uses a guide. Leaning to unguided..I like to cook and do things around camp myself..think it's what makes it enjoyable.
01/13/2018 09:24PM
Have you decided where you want to enter yet?

I have used several outfitters on both sides of the BW and been happy with all, BUT I've mostly only rented canoes (and bunkhouses) and used my own equipment and done my own food, so I can't speak directly to anything else. One outfitter's kevlar Wenonah canoe is pretty much like another's and bunkhouses are pretty basic with some slight differences; I don't know about other stuff. I have used Piragis and Voyageur North Outfitters (VNO) in Ely, Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte, and Rockwood Outfitters on Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail. I have heard good things about many other outfitters and rarely anything negative about anyone.

Not necessarily a negative, but I have heard you usually get plenty of food to carry around! :) Although I wouldn't expect a problem, I'd probably double check that all gear (and food) rented is there and useable. Some people have left behind things they weren't going to use to lighten the load and you may want to do so also.

You probably don't need a guide, especially if you don't plan to travel far and know how to do camp things. Make sure you know how things work - the stove, water filter, how to set up the tent, the sleeping pad, how to put the portage yoke on the canoe and shoulder it if that's new to you. Outfitters don't provide "painters", so I'd bring some rope for those for the bow and stern.
member (13)member
01/14/2018 07:02AM
Thanks for the information. Yeah trying to learn all that new gear may be why i bring some of my own basic equipment like tent and stove. Is it easy to get some Coleman fuel from the outfitters. Since flying we will have to get fuel there.
01/14/2018 08:17AM
That's another one of those things I can't give you a definitive answer on since I have my fuel for my JetBoil stove already packed. All of the issues with flying are part of the reason I prefer driving, but I do have the time and a shorter (although not short) drive than some.

I keep hoping some of those people who fly will chime in, but you might get more and better information if you post a separate thread specifically about flying with that in the title. I assume you're flying into either Minneapolis or Duluth and renting a car to drive from there?

I assume you're talking white gas and not canisters, which Coleman also makes. My guess is you would be able to, especially if they rent those kind of stoves. There are probably other options along the way, especially going up the North Shore, although when I've gone to Ely, I've driven up from Two Harbors rather than through Virginia, but after Two Harbors, there's essentially nothing until Ely.

I also don't know whether you can ship fuel, but doubt that you can. I'm sure you can't fly with it.

People do fly, so there's a way to do it.
distinguished member(2218)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/14/2018 09:17AM
renting stove and fuel from whichever outfitter you use would not be a bad idea. otherwise, make darn sure your stove is cleaned and free from slightest traces of fuel from previous use(s). renting would keep you from having to pack a stove that has tiny amount or traces of fuel. partial outfitting isn't expensive compared to confiscated equipment by airport security.
when you decide on your route/destination lake, a map to plan your route is essential.
easy to pack & fly with your own gear. I did accordingly on my trip to AK last year.
the way I handled the stove & fuel situation was unique on this trip. I purchased a new backpacker stove and fuel upon arrival in Anchorage and a friend (Linden3 on this site) purchased the stove from me before I departed. He was in need of a new Jetboil.
Link below is an option that is not a significant loss if confiscated by TSA. Buy your canister fuel upon arrival from an outfitter and donate any unused fuel to outfitter/fellow campers.
member (13)member
01/14/2018 08:01PM
Thanks for the information on flying. I have heard to fell stove up with water and dump to get smell out to help get through airports. What did you do in Alaska. For Christmas my wife wanted to give me a hunt in Kodiak...but last week told her I might like to go to BWCA instead...been on my list for years to see.
distinguished member(4455)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/15/2018 01:10AM
We were usually going for long enough and bringing gear for other people that excess baggage fees were prohibitive. We took to shipping gear back and forth with Fedex ground. It was very reliable. We would ship from a Fedex site on the way there and then have them pickup at the outfitter in Ely for the way back. We had no problem with stoves and bought fuel in MN.
distinguished member(514)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/15/2018 07:22AM
One advantage of going through Ely if you fly is that I believe the outfitters can arrange for a van to pick you up at the Duluth airport.

I have used Voyager North and Canoe Country Outfitters and recommend them both. On the other hand, as others have said, all the outfitters probably provide excellent service. If they didn't, people would hear about it and the outfitter would not stay in business. Any outfitter you pick would be happy to give you route guidance and fishing advice for a trip that would meet your needs.

As a first trip, with good fishing, I would recommend going in at EP16, going through Agnes into Lac la Croix to Lady Boot Bay, then in to Ge be, down to Oyster and back out at 16. This will give you a chance to experience big water, small water, and great fishing opportunities.

If this is your first time, you might want to consider full outfitting to see how its done, because a canoe camping trip is a little different that backpacking. Two exceptions to full outfitting is I think you would be better off bringing your own food, and your own sleeping bag if you have a lightweight one. For sure you should rent a canoe pack if you don't already have one.
distinguished member(2218)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/15/2018 08:35AM
quote>Bowdier: "Thanks for the information on flying. I have heard to fell stove up with water and dump to get smell out to help get through airports. What did you do in Alaska. For Christmas my wife wanted to give me a hunt in Kodiak...but last week told her I might like to go to BWCA instead...been on my list for years to see."

The way I handled the stove & fuel situation was unique on this trip. I purchased a new JetBoil stove and fuel upon arrival in AK at REI store in Anchorage. A friend living there purchased the stove & bear spray from me the day before I departed. He was in need of a new Jetboil so that worked out well. I carried no stove/fuel/bear spray in my luggage on return flight home.
sidenote: On a trip to Yellowstone years ago, I flew to Bozeman and rented a car. I was able to ship a newly purchased canister of bear spray home via USPS ground only--from a USPS postal station in Gardiner, MT. Had to double wrap the canister really well in case of any accidental leakage. Also, USPS worker had to eyeball my wrapping job before I taped up the shipping box. That was for bear spray & a small backpacker stove only. I can't comment about shipping flammables.
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