Chat Rooms (0 Chatting)  |  Search  |   Login/Join
* For the benefit of the community, commercial posting is not allowed.
Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Listening Point - General Discussion
      Why are portages not marked on trees?     
 Forum Sponsor

Author

Text

Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (174)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2018 08:31PM
I have always wondered this. If you go to Algonquin park there are signs like the one I posted below. I always tell newbies to the bdubs to make sure they know this before they go. The first time I went years ago, I was really surprised the portages were not marked.

I feel a small sign on a tree with the length of the portage in rods and what lake you are headed to would make it easier and safer for everyone. A lot of the time what you think is a portage is a game trail or the portage has blown down and doesnt look like a portage from the lake. Especially when you get to lakes not traveled as often.

Second question is why isnt there an equivalent Jeffs maps for the Bwca/Quetico. Would be great to have a proper map on your phone as well besides a paper map.

I am not saying we need a huge sign to disturb from the natural surroundings, but a small sign to know you are on the right track, especially when it gets closer to dark.

Just curious why these signs dont exist.
 
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
nooneuno
distinguished member (130)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2018 08:57PM
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Yes in reality it is a park, the signs were once there, frankly I'm glad there gone, read the map, take solace in the experience, there are plenty of signs on the highway back home...
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(12629)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
02/12/2018 09:35PM
The sign you posted is a thin plastic card with 4 galvanized nails, cost about 20 cents. They look ugly as can be.

The ones that I used to see in the BWCA in the 70s were made out of wood. Very nice quality and looked good. They were cut with a router to show the name of the Lake or trail with the rods in yellow letters. Cost about $40.00 to make,nowdays it would be more for the government so I’ll say about $400.00 a sign to install. I have read that the forest service wanted then all gone, maintenance issue and a cost thing.

I would rather pay the rangers than have a sign to look at.
schweady
distinguished member(6488)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/12/2018 09:41PM
There used to be signs. Now, they're only marked on your map.



Stuart River
1978
andym
distinguished member(3863)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2018 09:48PM
A few improvements such as the signs and canoe rests on longer portages were taken out in favor of making it more like a wilderness. Yes, it would make it easier and safer but wouldn't develop wilderness skills in the same way. If someone isn't sure about a trail they could walk it for a bit. It usually becomes very clear. There's one time I wish we had done that. We were following our niece who is a great route finder but had found an older portage trail that was marked on a Fisher map.

I'm pretty neutral about the signs and such but don't mind things the way they are and you are never misled by a missing sign.

We don't use a map on our phones but do use the Red Pine Mapping BWCA microSD chip in our Garmin GPS. I suppose if there is a market for a phone based map then someone could develop one. Maybe the company you mention would be interested.
02/12/2018 10:05PM
I'm with the others in that I hope they never put the signs back up. I'm too young to remember when there were portage markers, canoe rests and picnic tables but I've seen plenty of pics. I've always carried a GPS but only used it seldomly for fishing. All I've ever used for navigation is the paper maps and have yet to waste any time looking for portages and we have spent plenty of time off the beaten path. I get the feeling the BW is a glorified state park the way it is, adding anything that would make life "easier" would only take away from the wilderness experience even more.
halvorsonchristopher
distinguished member(1057)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2018 11:41PM
What would signs benefit? Most trails are maintained and well traveled.
Im not sure they would add anything besides distraction from the wilderness.
rdricker
senior member (51)senior membersenior member
 
02/13/2018 12:43AM
I could go either way if it was the old style wooden signs. Don't much care for those yellow plastic ones. I think part of the fun of the Q is that a fair number of portages are a challenge to find.
mjmkjun
distinguished member(1868)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 06:46AM
Those yellow signs are ugly, though. Ug-ga-lee!
I'd bet FS Rangers are happy not to have to maintain portage posts or signs anymore. We have comfy plastic thrones and iron firegrates which are convenient, yet intrusive, enough.

inspector13
distinguished member(3755)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 07:58AM

There are no signs precisely because the BWCAW is not a park. It is a portion of the Superior National Forest that is managed by the US Forest Service in a way to be consistent with the Wilderness Act of 1964, and subsequent Acts and laws. If someone wants safer and easier, there are plenty of other outdoor spaces to enjoy.

BlueSkiesWI
distinguished member(541)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 08:47AM
While I do prefer there being no signs, I don't think I'd be particularly bothered by signs. I enjoy the challenge of finding portages and the sometimes uncertainty of following them. When else do you get that rush of relying on yourself and your map in an old-school way to navigate the wilderness? Makes me feel awfully good when I can locate and navigate tricky or confusing portages.

Last year I set out to take a non-maintained portage between lakes early in the season before others had the chance to beat the trail down. I found the old trail and made it to the lake, later in the afternoon 2 guys came onto the lake from the middle of the woods, said they couldn't find the old portage and bushwacked and had a hell of a hard time. It was satisfying to know I had found it!
02/13/2018 09:15AM
I remember the old signs, canoe rests and tables. Also, the wood biffies.
Now I prefer no signs.
That is one reason I really enjoy Q, Wab and WCPP.
One must rely on one's own skills.
I have been a bit confused as to where I was relative to a map once or twice.
Not lost, mind you, just not at the spot on the map I thought I should be....
Blatz
distinguished member(533)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 09:26AM
Most portages are marked with signs. Just not man made ones
Lotw
distinguished member (166)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 12:19PM
when did the signs come out? late 90s? I often miss the canoe rests.
KarlBAndersen1
distinguished member(704)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 12:23PM
andym: "A few improvements such as the signs and canoe rests on longer portages were taken out in favor of making it more like a wilderness. "

Uumm, yeah........that's the point of going there.
IceColdGold
distinguished member(756)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2018 07:05PM
I have only gotten burned once because here was no sign. I always research the area I am going, and at the last minute the guy organizing the pickup by the outfitter decided to exit at EP 33. As some of you know, this portage moved to the east side of the bay from the west side and my map was wrong. I spent an hour bush-whacking the wrong shoreline trying to find the portage.

I do not have an issue with a small marker on a tree to mark portages for safety reasons. It's all fun to search out portages until someone has an emergency and you have to exit somewhere that you are not familiar with.
mjmkjun
distinguished member(1868)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 04:42AM
IceColdGold: "I have only gotten burned once because here was no sign. I always research the area I am going, and at the last minute the guy organizing the pickup by the outfitter decided to exit at EP 33. As some of you know, this portage moved to the east side of the bay from the west side and my map was wrong. I spent an hour bush-whacking the wrong shoreline trying to find the portage.

I do not have an issue with a small marker on a tree to mark portages for safety reasons. It's all fun to search out portages until someone has an emergency and you have to exit somewhere that you are not familiar with."

Oops! Those impulsive last-minute decisions can be a bugger and invite unforeseen challenges & calamities.

02/14/2018 05:10AM
They took them out in case someone wanted to start a service of holding people's hands so they don't get lost... Haha. If it's that much of a concern, there is like mentioned red pine mapping with GPS. The yellow plastic crap is just that... Crap we don't need out there. The Forest service has enough to maintain in my opinion.
goatroti
distinguished member (126)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 05:36AM


Here's what you get in Wabakimi and other parks in Northern Ontario. Now go find the trail. No one has used this one in more than ten years. Most portages up there are a blaze on a tree and a rumor.

old_salt
distinguished member(2057)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 06:35AM
If you like signs, go for a drive.
02/14/2018 10:09AM
You can canoe Manitoba. Nopiming PP uses these.



Whiteshell PP uses this type.



I prefer no markings and portages that are hard to find. It is a pretty good indication you will not run into many people.
Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (174)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 10:46AM
I can see everyone on here is very anti signs. I was just curious why there are not any. I now know why and that there used to be signs. I have no issues without the signs, but I just curious why there are not any. Thank you to all for the information.
Pinetree
distinguished member(12042)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
02/14/2018 10:54AM
If you need street signs stay on the highway. Signs not needed.
LindenTree3
distinguished member(2038)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 12:04PM
The portages were marked with signs in the Kenai Canoe Wilderness of Ak where I worked for 3 years.
I canoed in that system many times and called it "Canoeing for Dummies" because of those signs.

One pays much more atteniton to details with maps and their surroundings, without those signs. It keeps you sharp.
DrBobDg
distinguished member(677)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 01:12PM
time to bring back the lob trees...at least an ax mark of the tree for a hint
:-)
dr bob
schweady
distinguished member(6488)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/14/2018 03:53PM
They just get vandalized or stolen, anyway. In 1997, we actually did see one instance remaining, but probably because it was at a rather involved intersection with signs pointing the various directions to Angleworm Trail, Trease Lake, and Angleworm Lake. (Of course, the 'Angleworm Lake' sign had been stolen.) I really wish I had a picture, but our designated cameraman (a newbie) was so worked up by this time that we had dragged him on "a canoe trip with no water!! WTF?!"
mastertangler
distinguished member(3905)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 04:09PM
I am familiar with the yellow signs at Algonquin..........They also use them on their hiking trail system and I found them rather helpful for the not oft used backpacking trails. The portage signs didn't seem to bother me all that much at Algonquin but I can't imagine signs at the Quetico and I would object.

Isle Royale had nice wooden signs as does most of the National Parks. Woodland Caribou Provincial Park generally has a very old and barely visible blaze on a tree as a "sign" which can be helpful as well.

May I admonish (ever so slightly ;-) the naysayers of the query. No need to get snarky about the question. Seems like reasonable curiosity and should be met with tolerance IMHO.
Pinetree
distinguished member(12042)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
02/14/2018 05:37PM
schweady: "They just get vandalized or stolen, anyway. In 1997, we actually did see one instance remaining, but probably because it was at a rather involved intersection with signs pointing the various directions to Angleworm Trail, Trease Lake, and Angleworm Lake. (Of course, the 'Angleworm Lake' sign had been stolen.) I really wish I had a picture, but our designated cameraman (a newbie) was so worked up by this time that we had dragged him on "a canoe trip with no water!! WTF?!"
"


Very popular in Dorms and Dens of some people.
LindenTree3
distinguished member(2038)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 06:45PM
I personally would not care either way if there were or were not portage signs in the BW.

Here is a personal story on portage signs,
As i mentioned earlier in the Kenai Canoe Wilderness of Ak, the portages are marked with signs. (Mostly about 90%)
The 10% of signs that were missing can really throw somone off their game.
I got to relying on these signs when canoeing, if a sign was missing I found myself canoeing past or around the portage sometimes for 10 - 20 minutes, trying to locate the portage.
Granted these portages in AK even though usually marked, they are not very heavily used and therefore do not have the numerous human disturbances that the BW portages do.

In my defense about paddling around unmarked portages in Ak.
I had no maps like you do in the BW, only small aerial photographs, that were no match compared to MacKenzie or Fisher maps.

I will never take those BW maps for granted again after having to paddle without them for 3 years, we seriously do not know how lucky we are.
yogi59weedr
distinguished member(1863)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 07:25PM
One word....
TRACE.
nooneuno
distinguished member (130)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 08:02PM
Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (174)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/14/2018 08:05PM
nooneuno: " "

cant read that
jhb8426
distinguished member(537)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/15/2018 12:09AM
I've hiked in the Big Horn mountains where the trails are marked with small signs on the trees. Not offended by them nor would I be if there were signs marking the portages.
bwcasolo
distinguished member(1449)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/15/2018 05:17AM
so i guess we don't like signs leading the way-i don't either, don't need them.
missmolly
distinguished member(7247)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/15/2018 08:10AM
I would LOVE signs, but so would others. Best to do without to paddle without a crowd.
02/15/2018 08:15AM
Wouldn't that take to fun out of it?
OldFingers57
distinguished member(5264)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/15/2018 08:23AM
Probably the same reason we are seeing a lot of trails not marked while out hiking and backpacking. First it takes someone to do upkeep on the signs or blazes if painted on trees. If they are signs those get damaged or in a lot of cases stolen by people who want a memento of the trail. So the agencies have to buy or make new signs and then someone has to go out and install it.
 
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
Listening Point - General Discussion Sponsor: Red Lake Outfitters Inc.