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snakecharmer
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09/05/2009 08:16AM
Reaching out to those with some Quetico experience. We went through some new territory this past spring on only my 2nd Quetico trip. It entailed some beautiful country, great fishing, and THE toughest portage I've crossed to date. I'm curious to know if it falls into anybody else's list. What are the top 5 toughest Quetico portages you've been on?
 
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Jackfish
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09/05/2009 09:41AM
I'll weigh in on this one, although there are plenty of Q portages I have yet to take.

In order, the toughest Q portages I've taken are:

1. Pond to Unnamed (between McAree and Wicksteed): 220 rods of continual uphill grade with a 50' drop down to the water at the end.

2. Quetico Lake (West Bay) to Badwater: 320 rods (one mile) of ups and downs, water, mud and two corduroyed bogs to cross.

3. Kahshahpiwi to McNiece: A 220 rod narrow, winding trail with a steep rise coming out of Kahshahpiwi along with some ups and downs on rock faces.

bojibob
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09/05/2009 04:38PM
My Q Top 5:


1. Memory Lane Portages: (Poo Bah to Conmee) A series of three long portages (726 m, 1.3 km, 1.7 km) taken in succession with 2 short paddles in between. You cross multiple bogs and travel through several dense stretches that are seldom traveled. It has that remote Alaska feel to it with all the spruce and bog walking.


2. Yum Yum: (I have taken it both directions) This is a physically demanding portage that goes up/down steep on both ends. There is some soft spots that will test your log walking skills. Some rock climbing. This is a huffer and a puffer better saved for end of trips.


3. Meadows Portages: The rock garden from hell. Forget getting in a walking rhythm on this one. You will take odd length steps, side steps, boot sucking steps and then some more steps. Get the point? - one inch on the map is not one inch on the ground. You will take 3X the number of steps you think it should take. This will make your day I promise!


4. Metacryst to Cub: (Unmarked - I have taken both directions) This portage follows the creek from the Northwestern Bay of Metacryst to Cub Lake for about 1.5 km. The pond is not paddled. You spend about 1 1/2 hours walking through very dense woods on more of a game trail or very seldom used portage trail, its very wet, but there were a lot of logs spread throughout which made it possible.


5. Camel Lake to Hoare Lake: (Unmarked - Taken Both Directions) This is a pure Bushwhacker route. From Camel you have a 850m walk through a old burn area (Early 70's)that the terrain pushes you to the creek, which is bone dry and has many a deadfalls to duck under or go around. Then you get a quick 3 minute paddle to a 50m lift over of some rocks into your next long paddle of 2 minutes to the final leg of a steep down hill walk through 150 year old ancient forest. This is total 2 - 2 1/2 hour trip.


As an FYI I did all of these portages as a 17 or 18 years old kid standing 5'9" and 130 lbs. We thought we were pretty studly back then!


QPassage
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09/05/2009 05:40PM
My top 5 are.

1. McDougall to Keats: Uphill climb from the beginning on McDougall. At the top, you see beautiful Keats Lake sum 200 feet below. One take a rope, two have good climbing boots on, and three avoid at all cost the route around Split Rock Fallls will be easier and quicker.

2. Cutty to Sark: One of only a few portages in Quetico that had a swampy crossing on top of a hill. The climb isn't to bad up or down but the portage has to be much longer than the 480 meters it shows on the maps.

3. Cone to Brent: Steep portage out of Cone and again seems longer than it should be.

4. Conmee to Delahey: Not a difficult portage but long. The last section can be hard to locate and be sure to find it a bush whacked will certainly be an overnight experience. We missed it and spent another hour wasting time on top of the 2 1/2 hours it took us to double the portage.

5. Earl "Fishhook" to McIntyre "From the north end of Earl": Three portages in this route the first two out of Earl are fairly easy. Trail is narrow and not used much. The third trail starts out about the same. However, the closer you get to McIntyre the fainter the trail seems to get. Almost like people have tried this route then half way across, they turn around and head back. Once the trail leads downhill to McIntyre it becomes very over grown and in places it disappears. Brush as tall as people until you reach the shore.

09/05/2009 07:44PM
Yum Yum


Very rocky, long, and there is a steep incline/decline in many parts of it.

Pond to No name "The Long Haul" or some call it "The Gratton Death March"


This portage is very steep at the beginning and the end. The rest of it is just long.


Portage difficulty is highly subjective and seasonal though. FOr example in low water years I first did the Ted to Gardner Bay route and would rate it impossible. 2 years later it was very easy--of course it had just been cleared by Rangers. Then there are the meadows portages---don't really remember anything that hard. The Hurn to Ted and no name to COne form Argo were much more rockier. But I am definitely in the Minority with that opinion. Then there are small parts of portages that you remember that make an easy portage seem hard. This year we did William to Conmee. It starts off from William very rocky, but once you get going it is relatively flat and easy---just a lot longer than the maps says---so you leave with the feeling it is worse than it really was in my opinion.

T
Obergut
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09/08/2009 11:17AM
Mack to Munro. Did it in a steady rain. Learned a lot of new words on this MF.

Cutty to Sark. Also a wet portage. A hell of a lot longer than expected.

PoohBah to Conmee. Just a long work out. Not bad on a cool day.

Conmee to Delahy. Long. Did this in hot weather and ran out of water.

Side to Pond. Not particularily fond of this one. Steep hill! Something bad always happens on this one.
gannettpk97
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09/08/2009 11:49AM
I have been on many Quetico trips through much of the park. The two most difficult are as follows:

1) Poohbah to the Maligne River - This portage is not shown on many of the new maps. You have to be aware of the blazes to navigate. It is very long and very wet with a lot of deep mud and the bugs are incredible. This is the most difficult portage I have very been on by far! When I got to the Malgne River I dropped everything on the bank and kept right on walking into the river. I recommend taking the Poohbah Creek way out.

2) Ferguson Lake to the Cache River - I have taken this portage twice. The first time was in the Fall and it was wet. The second time was in the Summer and it was very dry and the portage still had a lot of deep mud. The problem with the dry second trip was the Cache River was dry in spots so we had a huge number of portages to get out.
Maverick
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09/08/2009 10:56PM
I think mine are kind of influenced by the day, and maybe even time of day that I hit them, ie early vs late in the day of a long travel day. Also, the later in a trip I go, the easy the portages get. In no particular order:

1) Earl to McIntire, north portage - refer to QP, he describes this well.
2) Meadows Portages - did this with my young son on day 1, essentially I had single portage weight, but had to double portage. Also did the north portage previous to this, which wasn't a cake walk either.
3) Pond to Gratton- double portage turned into a triple as buddy left my paddle at the other end of portage.
4) Darky to Brent - Drank too much the night before, ouch. No level footing.
5) Burntside to Bentpine - way longer than listed on map, plus hit at end of the day.
6) Badwater - long and muddy, but not as bad as I thought
7) Falls Chain to McEwan- Muddy as I have seen. Water up to the knees for about 50rods.

#5 probably surprised me the most, as I was expecting a shorter more level portage. There was a part in here that went straight up a hill. #2 due to being day 1 on a hot day, and carrying a ton of weight twice on each portage, probably whipped me the most, although I don't think this was the toughest portage.
oldmil
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09/10/2009 09:50PM
Bonhomme and Sauvage. Did them back to back in the mid 90's. Mud, hills, rocks, bugs, mud, beaver ponds and misery. We survived and had some great fishing afterwards. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger as they say.

Oldmil
Ho Ho
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09/16/2009 02:01PM
I'll add one that no one else put on the list: Bell to Blackstone. Just did that last week. It's obviously not used much, with very thick growth making it hard to get a canoe through. Also lots of tricky rock faces and turns between close trees and a good helping of boggy areas (although these were relatively dry this September). The trail never really completely disappeared, but it was faint enough that I was happy whenever we came upon a downed tree that had been sawn by some portage crew years or decades ago - it meant we were still on the right track. It was fun!
jdddl8
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09/16/2009 10:12PM
I have a particular aversion to cliffs. I would prefer to fall into bogs, tiptoe over rock gardens, bounce over moose pasture, be sucked dry by mosquitoes or lose my portage path than climb steep cliffs. Here is my list of hard climbing portages:

- Halliday to Sturgeon Narrows
- Russell to Sturgeon Narrows
- Antoine to Sturgeon Narrows
- Camel to Vernon
- Sarah to Side
- Wink to Poobah

If you love climbing take your pick.
TomT
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09/17/2009 06:53AM
Side to Sarah kicked my ass in 2001. That's when I truly knew I had reached middle age.
oldmil
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09/17/2009 07:23PM
We did the Russell to Sturgeon last year. Couldn't get up the river due to heavy current (first time in 5 trips to Russell we didn't make it up the river).

The portage was not fun. Not too long but wicked steep at the beginning and rocky the whole way. Had to double up on the canoe to get it up the first rock face.

Oldmil
Jackfish
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04/06/2012 11:15PM
I was doing a little portage research and came across this thread. Thought it deserved a bump.
AdamXChicago
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04/07/2012 02:21AM
Surprised that the Cache Lake portages didn't make the list. Although there isn't the same climb as some of the others mentioned, the marsh bog stretches and just the sheer length put these at the top of my list. It's arguably the number one reason Cache Lake gets so few visitors.

AdamX
RaisedByBears99
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04/07/2012 04:31AM
quote Ho Ho: "I'll add one that no one else put on the list: Bell to Blackstone. Just did that last week. It's obviously not used much, with very thick growth making it hard to get a canoe through. Also lots of tricky rock faces and turns between close trees and a good helping of boggy areas (although these were relatively dry this September). The trail never really completely disappeared, but it was faint enough that I was happy whenever we came upon a downed tree that had been sawn by some portage crew years or decades ago - it meant we were still on the right track. It was fun!"

Might be trees I sawed. Seems like I'm sawing trees every time I go through there. I don't think there is a portage crew. Defininitly a #%$&*!

billconner
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04/07/2012 08:20AM
Well, I still find the portage at 6 pm no matter how short and level to be tougher than Yum Yum at 8 am.

Meadows - do you all mean Sunday to Meadows to Agnes? So wide and well worn - I guess I forget they are longish and with up and down.

McNiece to Kash - that was a test - but end of day also.

Side to Sarah - discover the northern route - piece of cake in comparison to the over the hill route

And boy am I spoiled - paddled from Falls Chain to McEwen last year - not even a lift. Maybe you came from north and through Kenny. I came from south east and came through Sidney.

I have avoided Conmee to Delahy - Death March Portage on some maps - and might continue to avoid.

Thanks for the thread bump - good one.

tumblehome
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04/07/2012 04:02PM
quote Jackfish: "I was doing a little portage research and came across this thread. Thought it deserved a bump."
Ya, especially since I'll be doing two of the mentioned portages this spring. I kind of wish I just didn't know about them. Now I'm bummed out!

Tom
Jackfish
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04/07/2012 04:46PM
quote tumblehome: "Ya, especially since I'll be doing two of the mentioned portages this spring. I kind of wish I just didn't know about them. Now I'm bummed out!"
Bummed out? Why? I'd look at it just the opposite! You have a chance to do a couple of the tougher portages in Quetico and you know you're going to survive, right? Just do 'em and wear them as a badge of honor after your trip. :)

For the record, we did the Yeh-to-Lonely Portage and the Staircase Portage (Sturgeon-to-Russell) on the same day a couple years ago. The Yeh-to-Lonely was tough, but actually turned out to be easier than we expected. Just long. The Staircase was a ball buster.
jtoutdoors
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04/07/2012 09:35PM
I've done Sarah to Mcintyre several times and that portage, even though short, kills me every time. It seems to go straight up forever!
TomT
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04/07/2012 10:23PM
I went from Kett to Basswood Lake last year when it was 86 degrees in Sept. It's long and has a bit of everything from mature forests to granite slabs to deadfalls. It pooped me out pretty good.



OldGreyGoose
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04/08/2012 01:50PM
Jackfish: Thanks for bumping this. We did Kash to McNiece last summer and really enjoyed it. Next day (day 7), our seventh portage (in an 8-hour day) from Point to Nest nearly killed me. But the Badwater portage is still my choice for toughest. (Done it twice.) --Goose
tumblehome
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04/08/2012 04:13PM
quote Jackfish: Bummed out? Why? I'd look at it just the opposite! You have a chance to do a couple of the tougher portages in Quetico and you know you're going to survive, right? Just do 'em and wear them as a badge of honor after your trip. :)
I'm bummed because I'm doing this trip solo and trying to single portage.

The Badwater portage is the worst portage I've ever done. I'm told it's been improved but back in 2000 it sucked.

Tom
PineKnot
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04/08/2012 06:51PM
The toughest I've done:

1. Death March (Delahey to Conmee) on a sunny, windless, 90+ degree day
2. Yum Yum during a steady drizzle
3. Meadows portages during a steady rain
4. Gratton Death March
5. McNiece to Kahshapiwi

The toughest ones I've heard about but haven't yet done:

1. Mackenzie to Cache Lake to Trousers
2. Memory Portages between Poohbah and Conmee
3. Bonhomme and Sauvage
04/08/2012 11:11PM
quote PineKnot: "The toughest I've done:

1. Death March (Delahey to Conmee) on a sunny, windless, 90+ degree day
2. Yum Yum during a steady drizzle
3. Meadows portages during a steady rain
4. Gratton Death March
5. McNiece to Kahshapiwi

The toughest ones I've heard about but haven't yet done:

1. Mackenzie to Cache Lake to Trousers
2. Memory Portages between Poohbah and Conmee
3. Bonhomme and Sauvage"

Yum Yum when wet ....ouch. It is on my list and when I did it, it was bone dry. That steep rock face near the Yum Yum end had to be slippery.

T

PineKnot
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04/09/2012 09:02AM
quote timatkn: "Yum Yum when wet ....ouch. It is on my list and when I did it, it was bone dry. That steep rock face near the Yum Yum end had to be slippery.
T "

Yup. Almost had to crawl up the rock. But I actually had more trouble coming down that steep slope at the end, trying not to slip and tumble head over heels...
04/09/2012 01:09PM
quote PineKnot: "quote timatkn: "Yum Yum when wet ....ouch. It is on my list and when I did it, it was bone dry. That steep rock face near the Yum Yum end had to be slippery.
T "

Yup. Almost had to crawl up the rock. But I actually had more trouble coming down that steep slope at the end, trying not to slip and tumble head over heels...
"


Ya I'd worry more about goign down than up too. I sort of turned sideways and straddled my way down. Not sure I could do that wet---that was in my mind the whoel time "What the heck do peopel do when it is wet?" My wife did a control slide. I just remember coming along the portage and then looking down. Stood there for a minute or 2 (felt like an eternity) trying to figure out how to get down without falling. Haven't tried it goign up yet...maybe I won't :)

T
Bushwacker
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04/09/2012 02:07PM
No Wawiag to Bellaire mention? Maybe it doesn't get enough traffic. Someone's doing the Cache to Zephira bushwack this summer. That may top the list.
billconner
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04/09/2012 04:30PM
I guess time and memory sweeten some things but I recall my early morning Yum Yum portage fondly. Took a snack break at the top overlooking meadow on a sunny day. First trip and only trip with aluminum. About 100 yards of blowdown towards Yum Yum and just slid canoe over pine boughs while crawling under trees. Packs not so easy but still fond memories.
04/09/2012 05:06PM
Have fond memories of Yum Yum too. Just not that one rock face. It was one of our first trips for any time away form my first born son. Just before the trip he got into the cookie monster and was singing "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me...Yum YUm Yum Yum" I smiled the whole portage thinking of that. I think my wife and I might have sung it a few time----thank goodness no one else was on it.

T
arctic
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04/10/2012 12:27PM
I didn't think the Yum Yum was all that bad. My then 14-year-old son and I did it first thing in the morning last summer, single portaging in about 40 minutes. From Kahshapiwi, it basically goes over a big hill, has a great overlook, down a STEEP but fairly short rock face, and then descends gradually to Yum Yum Lake.

I think it would seem way harder late in the day, with lots of bugs and heat, or if you were travelling heavy.

* * *

I think the Cache Lake Portages are much harder carries, and along with the Poohbah East (Memory Lane) Portages, are arguably the toughest in the park.

Jackfish
Moderator
 
04/10/2012 04:09PM
I love this thread. Does anyone else feel like I do and want to go out and kick these portages' asses? :)
billconner
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04/10/2012 06:54PM
Agree - good thread. What amazes me is how many of these I have done since I try to plan to avoid tough portages. My toughest has to be from north of Side into Kashapiwi when it was on west side of bog and started it at five or six - dark on other side in first week of August. First trip - leader for Scouts - ended up quad portage - I think three with alumacrafts.
tumblehome
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04/10/2012 08:45PM
I've enjoyed this thread too. Based on the responses, I would say that the difficulty of the portage has a lot to do with the weather at the time the portage was traversed. If the Yum Yum portage is not the hardest, it is the most memorable portage! I have yet to do it myself and frankly, it doesn't sound like I need to right now :)

For me, the worst portage I ever have used was the Badwater portage, and the weather played a role. It rained like I've never seen just as we approached the portage. Once we got to it, the portage was literally a stream of water. The portage was so bad that the three women in my group refused to go back for a second trip. I ended up doing that portage three times that day. I remember the endless corduroy and the incredible heat and mosquitos.

Tom
hexnymph
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04/20/2012 01:56PM
These seem to ring a bell for me.

Trousers to Cache

Sturgeon to Halliday

Delahey to Conmee

Yeh to Lonely

Quetico to Badwater

But I'm sure we will find others.

Hex
Miami1
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04/20/2012 03:04PM
Bonhomme and Sauvage. I floated the canoe almost as much as I carried it! After these portages we decided to camp on Fern lake, western most Island. No sooner had we set up camp a large Bear decided to join us. After running around in our underwear banging on pots and pans and throwing rocks, we decided he could have the Island and left. Anthony
Stumpy
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04/21/2012 02:44AM
quote Bushwacker: "No Wawiag to Bellaire mention? Maybe it doesn't get enough traffic. Someone's doing the Cache to Zephira bushwack this summer. That may top the list. "
You can't count a bushwhack, that's a whole other animal.
Keats to Baird
Wawiag to Bellaire
Yum Yum (but only with a big load)
Many others were just long walks
TomT
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04/22/2012 08:35AM
The meadows portages are most memorable for me. I was there in 1992 and those boulder strewn paths were intense with a load on your back.

Just for kicks I'm gonna include this video I made last fall during the portage of McNiece to Kahshahpiwi Lake. It's long but the only really hairy part is the steep down I did. You can see it here but the video doesn't do it justice. All I can say is that I was happy it was a dry day.

Portage Video

bojibob
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04/22/2012 09:19AM
quote TomT: "The meadows portages are most memorable for me. I was there in 1992 and those boulder strewn paths were intense with a load on your back.

Just for kicks I'm gonna include this video I made last fall during the portage of McNiece to Kahshahpiwi Lake. It's long but the only really hairy part is the steep down I did. You can see it here but the video doesn't do it justice. All I can say is that I was happy it was a dry day.

Portage Video "

I think the things about the Meadows portages for me is they have always been on Day One and for a once a year tripper the combination of the back to back without being in Portage "mode" yet is the biggest factor. I think individually taken in later parts of a trip would make them much less memorable.

I enjoyed the Video, I hope to do this portage someday since I already have a couple of Yum Yum notches on my belt and the Side Portage into Kahs and its bog doesn't sound like a fun day to me.
TomT
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04/22/2012 02:51PM
I took my 16 year old brother for his first canoe trip on a loop through Kawnipi and we did the Meadows portages on the second day. The packs were heavy and he did not like it. This was in 1992 and he hasn't been back canoeing at all. He says he wants to go again but I don't hear about it unless I bring it up.

I prbably should have had an easier trip planned for him. But Louisa falls is something he really enjoyed and the fishing in Kawnipi was spectacular. Ya gots ta pay to play in Quetico though.
Springer2
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04/22/2012 07:46PM
We did the Bon Homme and Sauvage portages back in the 1970's with aluminum canoes and canvas tents--too young and dumb to know any better.

That climb from Side toward Isabella--must be 75 yards straight up. I'll probably die on that one one of these days.



McNiece to Kahshapiwi was a toughie, but beautiful, as are the Kett portages.



McIntyre Creek is an adventure.

msray53
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04/22/2012 08:26PM
It is so true that weather and unusual circumstances can make a normally routine portage extremely dangerous. Last year I lost a contact lens and had to resort to using an old pair of glasses.

Early one steamy morning while making the heavy used, short, rocky portage from North Bay to the stream leading to Burke Lake a moderate rain was falling. There was no wind and I had worked up a good sweat paddling to the portage. Worst of all my glasses completely fogged up and no amount to cleaning did any good for longer than 3 seconds. I ended up taking off my glasses and bent at the waist and knees, with a heavy backpack and both hands loaded with gear, to get my eyes about three feet above the ground to make out the jagged rocks and find a place to make the next step with my poor uncorrected eyesight. It wasn't exactly portaging by Braille but I was relieved to complete the double portage without injury.

Mike

JLockard
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04/24/2012 11:50AM
quote Springer2: "That climb from Side toward Isabella--must be 75 yards straight up. I'll probably die on that one one of these days."

So, I'm doing Isabella toward Side in late June, never been there before, so you're saying I'll have 75 yards straight down?

That's the start of the trip. I'll have the Meadows portages at the end of the trip. Hopefully we'll eat enough food to make the packs seem light.

-John
04/24/2012 12:16PM
quote JLockard: "quote Springer2: "That climb from Side toward Isabella--must be 75 yards straight up. I'll probably die on that one one of these days."


So, I'm doing Isabella toward Side in late June, never been there before, so you're saying I'll have 75 yards straight down?

That's the start of the trip. I'll have the Meadows portages at the end of the trip. Hopefully we'll eat enough food to make the packs seem light.

-John"


There is an alternative route that is much easier. I did both last year. It was like night and day. Just check the maps you will see it.

T
billconner
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04/24/2012 05:17PM
Isabella to no-name then into another no-name and then the Heart Attack Hill portage into Side. Done it several times - all good weather so not so bad. I did paddle and pull out of the first no-name into a little no-name south of Side in a high water year, and that trek avoids Heart Attack Hill. Make sure you have your bearings - I've made the wrong turn on the portage "T" twice. Doh!

I'd rank the high road from Side to Sarah as tougher than Heart Attack Hill (which is why I take the low road from Side to Sarah).
Hawbakers
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05/14/2012 09:14PM
Anybody remember the canoe rests that used to be at the halfway point on the longest of the two Meadows portages? That would have been sometime in the 80's, I believe.
ranger185
 
06/13/2012 10:36AM
Did Kahs to McNiece Tuesday June 5, 2012. Brutal. Dubbed it "the McNiece Challenge". So many downed trees from the fire to go through or around. Including one huge white pine. Had to take the canoe off 4 or 5 times just to get through/over/around them. Soot all over clothes when done. That thing is a mess. When we pulled up to shore on Kahs to start the portage it smelled like someone had a campfire going nearby. I guess the fire was a while back but I did not see any trace of it in the video the guy did last September.
06/13/2012 12:22PM
quote ranger185: "Did Kahs to McNiece Tuesday June 5, 2012. Brutal. Dubbed it "the McNiece Challenge". So many downed trees from the fire to go through or around. Including one huge white pine. Had to take the canoe off 4 or 5 times just to get through/over/around them. Soot all over clothes when done. That thing is a mess. When we pulled up to shore on Kahs to start the portage it smelled like someone had a campfire going nearby. I guess the fire was a while back but I did not see any trace of it in the video the guy did last September."

Probably the one in this trip report.
kanoes
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06/13/2012 09:49PM
after the last trip ill always remember 3 of them.

unnamed to grey. i thought of someone trying to snake a MNII thru there.

THE yum yum. lived up to everything id read about.

meadows. each on their own, no big deal. back to back? draining.

north portage wasnt a big deal at all...i had read it was.

oh yeah...portages in and out of high man were kinda challenging. high man, funkiest lake ive ever seen.
miketp
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06/13/2012 09:56PM
Worst 5 in my experiences not in any special order.

1. Yum Yum to Kashapiwi. It did not help that we had just slogged through thigh deep mud on the Grey Lake portage on a hot day but then that rock face at the beginning took what was left out of us.

2. Wicksteed to Pond. 1200 yards uphill most of the way followed by swarms of mosquitoes.

3. Meadows -- enough said about this one already.

4 Ferguson to Cache River. Trail barely marked.

5.Delahy to Conmee Long muddy and poorly marked.
Maverick
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06/28/2012 06:58PM
We just did yum yum in the rain, same day that caused all the flooding in Duluth. We were coming from Kash to yum yum, and the only way to do the granite part was to slide down, including packs and canoes. It was so slick that it felt like a water slide. I also think that Mcniece portage is just as tough. That Grey to no name is no cakewalk either.
SummerSkin
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06/29/2012 09:44AM
A few weeks ago, my group of 8 carried non-lightweight aluminum canoes through the Meadows portages on a hot muggy day. We were double-portaging everything those canoes were so dang-blasted heavy. It was difficult even when you had a second person helping you carry the canoe. And with no yoke... ouch.

I'm embarrassed to say that even though all of us were fit and in shape, we clogged up the Meadows portages with 2 or 3 separate groups queued up to go through after we cleared out. A couple of the guys hit a low point on the trip with those portages. It exhausted all of us.

Even though we saved substantial money by borrowing the aluminum canoes from a friend's summer camp, I will *never* go into the Quetico again without a lightweight canoe.

shsylvester
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06/30/2012 03:59PM
Agree on the memory lane portages. Did them about 10 days ago. During the middle one we got hit by hail and high winds. A large birch went down parallel to the portage not 20 feet from us. Perhaps the toughest thing, however, was skipping a gorgeous site on Poobah in order to camp on Conmee.
shsylvester
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06/30/2012 04:06PM
quote JLockard: "quote Springer2: "That climb from Side toward Isabella--must be 75 yards straight up. I'll probably die on that one one of these days."
So, I'm doing Isabella toward Side in late June, never been there before, so you're saying I'll have 75 yards straight down?

That's the start of the trip. I'll have the Meadows portages at the end of the trip. Hopefully we'll eat enough food to make the packs seem light.

-John"

Just did that portage several days ago. I don't remember it being that difficult or steep. Not nearly as tough as Poobah toward Conmee.

Maverick
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07/01/2012 06:31AM
Was that wind and hail on June 18th, early afternoon? We were on Burt that day when it blew in, knocked a couple trees over in camp too. It was kind of exciting watching it cross the lake and hammer us.

Also, how long did it take you to do the memory lane portages? Were you single or double portaging? Are they just long and one after another, or are there any other reasons they are tough?
AdamXChicago
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07/01/2012 11:16AM
quote SummerSkin: "Even though we saved substantial money by borrowing the aluminum canoes from a friend's summer camp, I will *never* go into the Quetico again without a lightweight canoe.

"


You will SO enjoy the next trip :-)

AdamX
shsylvester
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07/01/2012 12:30PM
quote Maverick: "Was that wind and hail on June 18th, early afternoon? We were on Burt that day when it blew in, knocked a couple trees over in camp too. It was kind of exciting watching it cross the lake and hammer us.

Also, how long did it take you to do the memory lane portages? Were you single or double portaging? Are they just long and one after another, or are there any other reasons they are tough? "


I think it might have been the 18th. I'm really bad at keeping track of dates on trail. Those portages took us 6 hours. The first portage out of Poobah goes to a small no name, then #2 to another small no name. The third portage goes into Conmee. Our canoe was my 18' 1925 Otca (about 95 lbs.), so we did double portage. The reasons they are tough is that #1 starts straight up hill (I mean STRAIGHT up hill. The steepest portage I've ever been on) and then gets boggy, #2 goes through, around and over fallen trees (it's a little better after the bit of trail maintenance we did) and #3 is boggy and is also little maintained (although better after we went through it). So, long, tough footing, obstacles, all back to back to back.
shsylvester
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07/01/2012 12:36PM
quote AdamXChicago: "quote SummerSkin: "Even though we saved substantial money by borrowing the aluminum canoes from a friend's summer camp, I will *never* go into the Quetico again without a lightweight canoe. "
You will SO enjoy the next trip :-)

AdamX"

We did the Hunter Island loop in 14 days (dogging the last four because we were ahead of schedule) with my 18' 1925 Old Town Otca (about 95 lbs.). W/C just paddles better than any kev canoe I've paddled, so it's worth the weight.

Debbie
 
07/06/2012 06:04PM
Fun to read thread !!!! sure helps me decide what portages I'm NOT going to take...and then...will be prepared for them !!!
Debbie..
arctic
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07/07/2012 08:11PM
quote shsylvester: "quote AdamXChicago: "quote SummerSkin: "Even though we saved substantial money by borrowing the aluminum canoes from a friend's summer camp, I will *never* go into the Quetico again without a lightweight canoe. "
You will SO enjoy the next trip :-)

AdamX"

We did the Hunter Island loop in 14 days (dogging the last four because we were ahead of schedule) with my 18' 1925 Old Town Otca (about 95 lbs.). W/C just paddles better than any kev canoe I've paddled, so it's worth the weight.

"


I used to paddle/guide all summer in wood/canvas canoes. Well-built ones are not that heavy. I've had many in the 60 to 70 pound range.
Springer2
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07/07/2012 09:14PM
In recent memory the McNiece was the toughest--the attached photo does not do this incline justice. It 's long and gnarly in places, a tough, rocky goat climb, this cliff, a boggy stretch--a classic Quetico portage. It's also beautiful--there's a stretch through the old red pines (similar to the north half of the Kahshahpiwi bog portage) that I love. Enormous old pines you can't get your arms around, and areas covered with ladyslippers in the spring.

I've been across the Kahshahpiwi bog portage six times in the last two years and although it' too damn long there are so many delights along the way, from pitcher plants and the sweet smells of the bog to the incredible scenery--the cliffs to the north, always with eagles and ravens in the air. New corduroy was laid late last fall or early this spring, because it wasn't there when I can out Sept. 9 and it was June 4. (see photo).

We used to always use the Kett portages coming and going to McIntyre country, the first few times with aluminum canoes and heavier equipment. Again, long, hard, buggy, but some beautiful scenery along the way, and some classic challenges. One time it was such a wet spring and raining so hard that the steep inclines were torrents--like hiking up a rapids. Another time about 10 years ago we got within about 100 yards of Basswood and the trail was completely under water. Beavers had dammed something up and there were so many downed spruce trees that it couldn't be paddled. And the black flies were fierce. We had a hardcore bushwhack around the new pond, every step raised a cloud of flies.

Heart Attack Hill between Isabella and Side is always formidable, but, once again, very beautiful, and the sense of accomplishment (or at least "thank God I didn't have a heart attack") is quite gratifying. It's the big brother to the Sarah to McINtyre goat portage (see photo). The Pickerel River portage heading uphill from Oliphant to Fern is tough, tough, tough, especially when it's wet, but, as beautiful a hike along that gorgeous long series of rapids and pools, potentially holding some nice fish, as you are going to find.


McIntyre Creek was an adventure (see photo), we ran out of water pretty quick, then the fun began (very rocky and steep, and it was raining and the bugs were intense).


I did do the Bon Homme and Savauge portages between Alice and Fern in Quetico back in the '70's, but that was another lifetime, canvas pyramid tent, Grumman lightweight 15' canoe, 50 pounds of cast iron fry pans, Dinty Moore beef stew, etc.
Maverick
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07/10/2012 07:40PM
Updated:
Cache lake portages - mostly just long, although the Lindsey one goes through a knee deep swamp and it's hard to find the way - look for ribbons in the small trees.
McNiece to Kash
Burntside to Bentpine
Kash to Yum Yum in a monsoon - not as bad as I thought it'd be, but still tough.
Falls chain to McEwan
Badwater



bojibob
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03/30/2014 07:52PM
Any new thoughts?
Gmorgan
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03/30/2014 08:32PM
I like to think about it in terms of the overall difficulty of the travel day. So for me it would be Silence to Kahshapiwi. It's a series of portages through a handful of unnamed lakes then a slog through the Trant portage to Kahshapiwi. They are all boulder fields and they have small rocky and deep put ins. String em all together and they will wear you down. 7 portages ~ 500 rods. Once you comit you have to at least get to Trant for a campsite.
JackpineJim
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03/30/2014 08:54PM
quote bojibob: "Any new thoughts?"

The worst I've done are:

1) Raven Lake PMA portage - impassable creek at low water, knee deep muck, then nearly impenetrable downed dead spruce thicket all with major black flies hatch. Just plain evil in June '85

2) Yum Yum in the rain - had to use a rope to belay up the rock face

3) Sark to Cutty - long with short steep sections. Mucky swamp sections too

4) McNiece to Kashapiwi - was long with steep sections before the fire - more scrambling after the fire

5) No Name to Grey - First time took a wrong turn at the marsh and followed the trail right back to the No Name lake. Next year we took the right path across the open swamp but my buddy went into the muck on the north side up to his chest and couldn't get out. Had to go get the canoe and set it in the slop next to him and lift him straight up, he almost lost his rubber boots to the suction.
OldGreyGoose
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03/31/2014 10:00AM
Thanks for the bump, I have a few thoughts . . . Gmorgan is right on for me and perhaps others (especially older ones) the (8?) portages from Yum Yum to Nest about did me in 2011 -- Grey to no-name was our 2nd portage that day and was actually easier than Point to Nest which was our last. (P-N -- 720m -- featured clutchy-grabby foilage, swamp-like portions and a lengthy boulder field that coupled with an 8-hour day was brutal.) JackpineJim mentioned Cutty-Sark which we had done the day before. It was only the second one of the day and we were able to get within one canoe length of solid ground on the Cutty side, so it was not terribly mucky. After the 3 or so ups and downs, we decided to drop everything and "leap frog," which was a really good call. JJ also mentioned McNiece to Kash and I have to say that while it was hard it is hands down my all-time favorite portage. --Goose
DancesWithTrees
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03/31/2014 10:04AM
I feel like I replied to a thread like this before, but not this one maybe. I should note I haven't done the "Death March" or a couple other of the really long ones in the middle of the park.

1. Trousers-Cache and Cache-MacKenzie - the longest pair in the park (I think), and when its wet, they are both pretty tough slogs. Neither have a ton of up and down, but both have some serious bogs and mud. Hard to find another portage as bad in the park overall.

2. Yum-Yum to Kahshahpiwi is fairly long, but what makes it tough is there is a lot of steep up and down and sheer facings to scale. One of the tougher ones.

3. Ross-Cullen was pretty tough but I haven't been on it since the 90's. Some decent vertical and a lot of mud when I did it way back when.

4. Q-Badwater is pretty long and rough, though it wasn't as bad as some folks had said, at least for us. It was fairly dry that year, which probably helped. Still long and lots of roots and knots and the like.

5. This is maybe a stretch, but there is supposedly a portage from Jean to Albert, on some older maps. There is not, at least not any more - it is steep and the trail, if there was one, is basically gone. Very tough going.

Hard to come up with a 5th, a lot become pretty similar after these for me.
billconner
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03/31/2014 12:17PM
Weather, time of day, perhaps more important than time is how many that day - all seem to be more of a factor than length and grade and muck - though that no name to Grey where you can end up hip deep - more than one on my trips - is one I avoid now. And I plan long ones for mornings, mm of late day.
OldGreyGoose
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03/31/2014 01:17PM
No-name to Grey is another "great" portage, IMO. We actually thought the portage was pretty “easy.” (Relatively speaking, and maybe because the bog logs were high and dry and there had been no rain of late). On the second carry, I asked Joe to lead so I could get some pictures of him on the logs. I got some, all was well, I had put the camera away and was just thinking how relatively mud-free I was. Jinx! My left foot slipped off a log and that leg went in over the knee. Fortunately I only had the Guide pack on and the right leg was still on solid footing. I found a solid place to use my left arm to leverage myself up and get going again. I asked Joe if he wanted to walk back over a couple more times to see if he would get a mud bath too, but he said “no.” (Neat pond in between the lakes, too.) --Goose
carmike
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03/31/2014 08:43PM
Awesome thread. I haven't been on any of the ones mentioned except for the one from Quetico to Badwater. I highly suspect it was improved before I took it, as the descriptions I've read don't match my experience on it.

I also really, really, really don't like when the trees are running parallel to the trail. When they're perpendicular to the trail it's one thing, but when the logs are running up-down the trail--and when they're wet--I don't know if there's anything as likely to send me toppling as that.

arctic
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03/31/2014 09:22PM
Ferguson Lake to Cache River is pretty tough. It's also in a part of the park where you DO NOT want to have an accident, as help might be a LONG time coming.

My teenaged son and I, along with our dog Wilson, passed through there last July (I had also done it many years ago), and found it a combination of alder swamp, spruce bog, and brush for about a mile. It looked like it hadn't been maintained in years.

Luckily, we were single-portaging, so the mosquitoes didn't get all of our blood.
OldGreyGoose
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04/07/2014 03:30PM
One portage mentioned by "Maverick" back in 2009 -- Darky to Brent -- "Drank too much the night before, ouch. No level footing" may be on my agenda this September. Even if it's not on "your" list, does anyone have a fresh perspective on this one? --Goose
linkster
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04/09/2014 03:03PM
We are making a loop through PP, Agnes, Kawnipi, Kahshahpiwi, and will be hitting a couple of the top 5. The Grey to Noname portage sounds the worst due to the muck issue. My Garmin shows a portage around the bog on the east side. Does anybody know if it is really there? That corduroy laying parallel to the portage looks like an ankle breaker, log roller obstacle course.
bojibob
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04/09/2014 04:43PM
quote OldGreyGoose: "One portage mentioned by "Maverick" back in 2009 -- Darky to Brent -- "Drank too much the night before, ouch. No level footing" may be on my agenda this September. Even if it's not on "your" list, does anyone have a fresh perspective on this one? --Goose"
I did it in 2011 and I had not been drinking :-) We took it from Darky to Brent in late Aug with moderate early morning temps.

We paddle through the first take out and saved maybe 40-50 meters then the portage starts out walking side slope for about 100 meters





It has two places along the trail where you could put in the water and paddle 50-100 yards but we looked at it and just kept on humping. Make it about a 880 meter portage.

Trail is dry and after you are about half way it is a slow but steady easy uphill to the end.

It's one of those portage where you just keep walking into the water when done, probably due to the tough beginning slope and overall length.

Not a Killer but you will feel it old man :-)

As an FYI we camped at BB on Darky and stopped early at LD on Brent.

Both very nice sites.
Longpaddler
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04/09/2014 06:33PM
The Meadows Portages
Yum Yum
Both kicked our collective bums...
PineKnot
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04/10/2014 07:25AM
quote linkster: "We are making a loop through PP, Agnes, Kawnipi, Kahshahpiwi, and will be hitting a couple of the top 5. The Grey to Noname portage sounds the worst due to the muck issue. My Garmin shows a portage around the bog on the east side. Does anybody know if it is really there? That corduroy laying parallel to the portage looks like an ankle breaker, log roller obstacle course. "

I've done the boggy portage a few times, most recently in 2011. As I recall, I was able to skirt left of the logs heading towards Grey. The grassy hummocks were enough to hold me up with a heavy pack getting a couple of inches of water on my shoes. It was only the last 20 yards or so where I had to step on the logs to get to the small cliffy area for the remainder of the portage into Grey.

The logs are not that troublesome so long as you have a free hand to use a paddle for balancing....carrying the canoe is a bit trickier...
OldGreyGoose
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04/10/2014 04:58PM
Bojibob, thanks for the good info! "Not a Killer but you will feel it old man :-)" BWJ Stu said in 2011 (I think) they did it and it was easier than the way he usually goes, which is out of Argo into Cone to Brent. (We did the Cone-Brent one in 2009, it was pretty steep.) Some folks have said that they do NOT portage the whole way, but paddle a pond near the Brent end then make another portage of 20 rods or so. Sounds like you multiple choices. The side-hill walk doesn't look fun -- I haven't seen that much in Quetico -- but the view alongside is kind of cool. (Do you "see" water most of the way?) Thanks for the campsite info, too. We stayed at the "other" island site on Darky, (BE) not the BB Hilton, and we hope camp in east Brent, also. --Goose
bojibob
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04/10/2014 05:32PM
quote OldGreyGoose: "Bojibob, thanks for the good info! "Not a Killer but you will feel it old man :-)" BWJ Stu said in 2011 (I think) they did it and it was easier than the way he usually goes, which is out of Argo into Cone to Brent. (We did the Cone-Brent one in 2009, it was pretty steep.) Some folks have said that they do NOT portage the whole way, but paddle a pond near the Brent end then make another portage of 20 rods or so. Sounds like you multiple choices. The side-hill walk doesn't look fun -- I haven't seen that much in Quetico -- but the view alongside is kind of cool. (Do you "see" water most of the way?) Thanks for the campsite info, too. We stayed at the "other" island site on Darky, (BE) not the BB Hilton, and we hope camp in east Brent, also. --Goose"

The portage walk is actually beautiful.... some parts you see a few sets of little falls and you hear the water almost all the way through.

The part towards the end through the woods was a nice trail and had a park like walk through the woods feel.

My guess is you will look at the short paddle and opt to walk it... when I looked at it... i thought loading and unloading again when I can see the other landing 100 meters away was silly.

Not one to dread other than its got a little length and side slope at the beginning

OldGreyGoose
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04/10/2014 05:43PM
Bojibob, I think I am going to enjoy this one. I've always said that the Olifaunt to Fern uphill long one was "enjoyable" because the view took my mind off the load and ascent. As for the pond, you sound like me, but Joe always carries the canoe when we go together, so if he feels like getting it off his shoulders and into the water, well . . . --Goose
07/21/2015 09:23PM
Trousers to Cache in a torrential 4 hour thunderstorm made the bushwack to Zephira look like a cake walk.
DancesWithTrees
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07/22/2015 09:20AM
quote walllee: "Trousers to Cache in a torrential 4 hour thunderstorm made the bushwack to Zephira look like a cake walk. "

HE'S ALIVE!

But yeah, that portage can be a monster when it's wet.
linkster
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08/02/2015 07:16AM
Just and update to my "Boggy Portage" post.

I am glad I read the board and we did not do the infinite loop that others have described. The "Boggy Portage" was boggy when we went through it last June. We entered from Grey. We tried following a trail through the tall grass on the left side as we entered; however, it started to fade into the tall grass after about 100 yards. It felt like we were walking on a mattress, so we turned around and headed for the corduroy right through the bog.

First trip across the bog was uneventful. The second trip, one of my sons was in the lead. He slipped off the corduroy, and it looked liked he was floating up to his waist in the muck, with one of the packs on his back holding on to one of the logs. I ran up, unclipped his pack, and hauled him out. He was a muck monster. We had our rain gear on, so he was able to rinse most of the muck off when we hit the other side.
08/02/2015 10:43AM
May 2014...going south from Grey to no-name. Crossing the bog wasn't too bad but when we hit the woods on the other side we missed the sharp turn to the left that follows the edge and we went up a game trail into the woods. Things got tight and we backed out until we saw the real trail. When headed south....keep taking the left "forks".

CanvasAndSteel
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08/03/2015 11:01AM
quote bojibob: "1. Memory Lane Portages: (Poo Bah to Conmee) A series of three long portages (726 m, 1.3 km, 1.7 km) taken in succession with 2 short paddles in between. You cross multiple bogs and travel through several dense stretches that are seldom traveled. It has that remote Alaska feel to it with all the spruce and bog walking. "
I agree with the Memory Lane portages. I've done most of the portages listed in this thread and none compare with those three in succession. Once did a 5 mile crash portage farther north that was more difficult (and worrisome, since everything was done with compass bearings and blaze tape), but nothing in Q. When I did them in 2012 with a friend it was raining cats and dogs and there was a good blow. A large birch went down 20 feet from us parallel to the portage. I was half exepcting to see flying monkeys.

arctic
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08/04/2015 09:14AM
The Memory Lane Portages are definitely a good workout--and never seem to be the same year to year due to the amount of rain that has fallen or blowdowns that have occurred since the last portage crew passed through. The key to those portages is single-portaging, so you can get from Poohbah to Conmee in about two hours.

The same goes for the Death March from Delahey to Conmee. The worst part are the beaver ponds at the west end, but if you single portage, the trek from Delahey takes about one and a half hours. I was through there last week.

The Death March Portages are WAY better now than they were back in the 1980s. I remember not finding the last one into Delahey at all and had to bushwhack for several hours.
OldGreyGoose
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08/04/2015 12:46PM
Hard to believe it's been about 5 years since this great thread started. I'm 71 now and ANY portage can be a pain, especially solo carrying the canoe. Badwater is still my "worst" and McNiece-Kash is still by all-time favorite in spite if it's difficulty. Trying nowadays to take trips with easier portages...it's that or quit and I'm not ready to quit. Did a solo in June with only 2 lakes, Beaverhouse and Quetico. Doing a tandem in September starting from French--easy as it gets--down to the "B" lakes and back out, avoiding the long one to Olifaunt. Happy portaging! --Goose
Banksiana
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08/05/2015 08:51AM
quote cowdoc: "May 2014...going south from Grey to no-name. Crossing the bog wasn't too bad but when we hit the woods on the other side we missed the sharp turn to the left that follows the edge and we went up a game trail into the woods. Things got tight and we backed out until we saw the real trail. When headed south....keep taking the left "forks".

"


I prefer the route into the woods rather than the left turn along the swamp. It is a maintained trail (chainsaw cut logs) and I think it's a little easier than following the edge of the swamp to unnamed. I'd never used the edge of the swamp route until earlier this week when I took it jus to compare.
08/05/2015 10:02AM
I've read about the route through the woods being decent....but we were not on it! Must have been a game trail spur. Does it come straight off the bog trail or is it further to the right (west)?
Banksiana
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08/05/2015 10:58AM
It's a slight jog to the right. When I followed the trail along the swamp I did follow a dead end into the woods a few hundred yards past the bog crossing. It was a well defined trail that went away from the swamp (towards no name) and then vanished.

I will say both trails are pretty grown in as they split the traffic on a not too well traveled route.
Rusty Paddler
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08/12/2015 04:42PM
I am convinced that the portages that get only occasional maintenance are the most difficult. How many who are posting here have taken the eastern most routes in the Quetico? The shear length of Trousers-Cache Lake and Cache Lake-McKenzie Lake make them significant even to consider. Then add the fact that they get maintained only once very 2 to 3 years at best and you've got a true challenge. Then, for those that have taken the route, consider that McKenzie-Belaire is actually tougher (steep, deep, wet, vague - and especially dangerous if you veer off on an old fire-tower trail to nowhere)you might vote that 3 of the top 5 toughest are on this rarely-taken route. I've done Death March, Quetico-Yum Yum, Bonhomme and Sauvage and those Eastern portages continue to rank at the top of my list. However, the TOUGHEST portage I've ever done was the year Mack Creek was "dry" between the Wawiag and Mack Lake on a 90+ degree day. You couldn't paddle, line or drag you canoes as the creek bed was shoe-sucking mud and the tufts of bog grass that usually float were far apart and tipped over if you tried to hop from tuft to tuft. A new-to-Quetico trip partner gave up and asked for an air-evac. I tried several times to talk him out of the trip but he was convinced his "voyageur re-enactment" experience would carry him through. He never uttered a word to the 3 other "crazy" people that accompanied him on this trip after that afternoon of slogging in the hot sun. Mack was worth it - outstanding top water smallies in the 4 to 5 pound range for almost an hour that evening.
arctic
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08/13/2015 09:59AM
quote Rusty Paddler: "The shear length of Trousers-Cache Lake and Cache Lake-McKenzie Lake make them significant even to consider. "
From my experience, the Cache Lake Portages are the toughest in the park. The Ferguson-Cache River is no walk in the park either. Then again, no portage is as tough as a four-hour bushwhack, something I've done on several occasions outside of any park!

starryridge
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08/16/2015 09:52AM
I agree that the Cache Lake portages are miserable. I've done them a number of times, the worst was July '96. It rained lightly but continuously, we were overloaded with too much food for an 18-day trip, and we had two small dogs. In the really tough spots the Sheltie would give up and just stand in the muck waiting for me to extract him from the swamp and carry him. In some places logs that had been laid lengthwise through the bog were bare of bark and starting to rot. They were less than useless, in fact, they were a hazard. Nothing to do but to push/pull the canoe through calf-deep muck with the two dogs as passengers. The mosquitoes were horrible.

The log entry for that trip was really fun to read again. I still have the most vivid memories of our white-and-tan Sheltie at the end of the portages. His 6" long silky hair almost completely black, smelling like a sewer. Even after several thorough baths he still had a bit of o' de swamp.

-- Dave
mastertangler
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08/27/2015 10:44AM
nice post Starryridge

I think we can all agree that established portages and their difficulty is much about conditions.........conditions of the portage and conditions of the portager.

I have done several of the named portages in the park and seen them as little more than a nice walk in the woods. But i took them on when I was fresh and the conditions were perfect, that being cool and dry. Badwater was a bit bumpy and the Memory lane and Death March were anti climactic in many respects.

But throw in a bunch of mud, lots of downed trees or high heat and humidity at the end of a long day and I bet they could become quite memorable indeed!
Tippytop
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12/05/2015 11:12AM
quote Maverick: "Updated:
Cache lake portages - mostly just long, although the Lindsey one goes through a knee deep swamp and it's hard to find the way - look for ribbons in the small trees.
McNiece to Kash
Burntside to Bentpine
Kash to Yum Yum in a monsoon - not as bad as I thought it'd be, but still tough.
Falls chain to McEwan
Badwater "

We are possibly taking the Cache lake portages in early June to get to Kawnipi and the north end of Agnes. I assume the flagging along the route into Linsey would long be gone. Your thoughts?

Eyedocron
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12/05/2015 04:44PM
Amazing that this discussion continues. No question, in my opinion. Having done it three times, the Ferguson, Cache River portage is the worst, Unless you enjoy 800 meters of waist deep muck. The redeeming value is the remote value of Ferguson, and the Cache River half day beautiful journey down to Kawnipi.
07/17/2017 02:08PM
bump again for updates as conditions has changed in the park.
Guest Paddler
 
07/17/2017 07:39PM
I did this one, two years ago on my first solo. I did other direction, but wow, came out in total swamp. "Knew" where I was, but still doubted it. Finally after long mediation, just walked into the water. After about 2oo yards - and chest deep, could set canoe in water and gondola it the rest of the way. Came out on the GRAND HOOVER DAM of beaver dams. It was fifteen feet high and forty five feet across. It explained the Fischer Map deficiencies. Perfect Quetico!
snakecharmer
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02/18/2018 09:13AM
Jackfish: "I'll weigh in on this one, although there are plenty of Q portages I have yet to take.

In order, the toughest Q portages I've taken are:

1. Pond to Unnamed (between McAree and Wicksteed): 220 rods of continual uphill grade with a 50' drop down to the water at the end.

2. Quetico Lake (West Bay) to Badwater: 320 rods (one mile) of ups and downs, water, mud and two corduroyed bogs to cross.

3. Kahshahpiwi to McNiece: A 220 rod narrow, winding trail with a steep rise coming out of Kahshahpiwi along with some ups and downs on rock faces.

"


That "Pond to Unnamed" portage still tops my list. Local conditions certainly played into it the day we passed through - temps in the mid 80s with high humidity. But that unrelenting uphill climb! Just when you thought you had surely reached the peak, you'd turn a corner and be staring uphill again. If a portage could be evil... :)
02/18/2018 12:21PM
Before the last couple of seasons, I've made it a habit to revisit this thread before I plan my first May adventure into the park. If for no other reason, it reminds what my limits are so that I can have a "positive" first trip. I've had plenty of the other kind in past seasons when I've packed too much, chosen an ambitious route or just plain thought I could tackle more than what was reasonable.
TomT
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02/18/2018 08:46PM
In Sept. 2017 I did the Staircase portage from Sturgeon to Russell late in the day. I arrived on Russell around 4:00 - 4:30. It's very tough with steep climbs on both ends but what made it especially difficult was not eating a lunch that day and starting from Camel around 9:30.

Later in the trip I did Bon Homme and Sauvage portages back to back. Grueling is a word to describe it. Really rough put ins at the end of each portage too. I'm looking for an easy trip this year. :)

GirlOnARock
member (43)member
 
02/19/2018 10:03AM
AdamXChicago: "Surprised that the Cache Lake portages didn't make the list. Although there isn't the same climb as some of the others mentioned, the marsh bog stretches and just the sheer length put these at the top of my list. It's arguably the number one reason Cache Lake gets so few visitors.


AdamX"


I will second this!!! The whole baptism creek route is a tough one before you even hit the grueling cache, as well!
02/19/2018 10:32AM
TomT: "In Sept. 2017 I did the Staircase portage from Sturgeon to Russell late in the day. I arrived on Russell around 4:00 - 4:30. It's very tough with steep climbs on both ends but what made it especially difficult was not eating a lunch that day and starting from Camel around 9:30.


Later in the trip I did Bon Homme and Sauvage portages back to back. Grueling is a word to describe it. Really rough put ins at the end of each portage too. I'm looking for an easy trip this year. :)


"


I hear what you're saying TomT. I've been researching going in Gardner Bay up through Elk and Cone. That Cone portage to Brent looks like a bit of a challenge so at least I'll be prepared. Flexibility on route options will probably be key.
03/27/2018 06:19PM
Another bump for this thread. A lot of the portages in these posts are on an upcoming trip; not sure if I should be afraid or excited! I will opt for excited, or I might as well head to a resort on Mille Lacs for a couple of weeks.

In my favor, i think, I have a "warm up" trip of sorts planned three weeks before this in the Clearwater area of the BW. Good place to find my portaging legs.
03/27/2018 09:49PM
What's your route Frenchy?.....I know you've asked about Allen Creek.....how you getting there?

As far as others go......did the Falls Chain last August. Surprised nobody has mentioned Koko or Canyon Falls. Not super long, but they are kinda nasty. I guess the lure of Kawnipi makes you forget about them. The other portage on that trip that comes to mind was Fauquier to Dumas.....I think it was that one. Again, not super long, but some big steps along a steep creek valley to gain a perch, and then a walk along a 4" edge. Always hairy with a canoe on your head.
03/28/2018 08:53AM
cowdoc: "What's your route Frenchy?.....I know you've asked about Allen Creek.....how you getting there?


As far as others go......did the Falls Chain last August. Surprised nobody has mentioned Koko or Canyon Falls. Not super long, but they are kinda nasty. I guess the lure of Kawnipi makes you forget about them. The other portage on that trip that comes to mind was Fauquier to Dumas.....I think it was that one. Again, not super long, but some big steps along a steep creek valley to gain a perch, and then a walk along a 4" edge. Always hairy with a canoe on your head."


Agree on the Koko and Canyon Falls treks!

Potential route as follows: Beaverhouse, Quetico, Conk, Jean, Little Jean, Yeh, Lonely, Sturgeon, Heron Bay, Fred, Allen Creek, Allen Lake, Berniece,
Poohbah, Conmee, Brent, McIntyre, Tuck River, Irene, Kashapiwi, YumYum, Grey, Shade, West, South, North Bay, Burke, Bayley Bay, Inlet Bay, Sucker, Newfound to Moose.

AmarilloJim
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03/28/2018 11:11AM
No Louisa Falls?
That was the first portage in 40+ years that I'm glad I had someone with me to help get the canoe up! I was dreading going back down it, as it had been raining, but I figured out how to brace the bow in some crevices and pivot down the rock face.
TomT
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03/29/2018 07:00AM
AmarilloJim: "No Louisa Falls?
That was the first portage in 40+ years that I'm glad I had someone with me to help get the canoe up! I was dreading going back down it, as it had been raining, but I figured out how to brace the bow in some crevices and pivot down the rock face."


I was solo with my dog and went up that portage in the rain and swore I would never do it going down if wet and I was solo. My dog couldn't get up that rock and I had to push her up it.

Yeah, that one is a broken hip waiting to happen when it's wet.

oldguide2
member (18)member
 
04/05/2018 02:42PM
Been canoeing the Quetico for half a century. My experience has been its as much the conditions as the portage. A sleet storm with high winds can make an ordinary portage not fun. Downed trees are a pain. Running into other parties on narrow trails can be dicey especially if they are turists. What you are carrying also figures in. Yum Yum with 120 is a lot different than Yum Yum with 45 pounds of Kevlar. That's why this thread needs to stay so folks can update.
gymcoachdon
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04/05/2018 11:22PM
My first trip to Quetico last year, so limited experience. Toughest was Olifaunt to Fern. 190 rods of up and down, up and down, up and down! The scenery was amazing though! I passed a nice campsite on Olifaunt late in a long day, and decided to get that long portage out of the way. So timing had a lot to do with it! The trail itself was in good condition.
The steepest portage I did was the 58 rod from McDougall to Keats. That last section to Keats is really steep for a short section!
AmarilloJim
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04/06/2018 08:34AM
gymcoachdon: " Toughest was Olifaunt to Fern. 190 rods of up and down, up and down, up and down! "
That was the first portage my dad let me carry the canoe back when I was a skinny high school freshman. I remember it so well.
Frankie_Paull
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04/11/2018 09:12AM
For some reason the first one that comes to mind is Crooked to Argo.
cburton103
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04/11/2018 11:26AM
Here are the toughest portages I've done in Quetico:

1) Kahshapiwi to McNiece. They had recently rerouted the portage trail (I took it in June of 2016) and it was difficult to follow in spots, long, some steep ups and downs, as well as some downfall. The most memorable part however was the huge horseflies that bit my hands while I held the canoe gunnels. I must have killed at least five or six of them just by squeezing them between my otherwise occupied fingers.

2) The unmaintained bog portage between the northernmost bay of Point Lake and the unnamed lake to its north. We sank past waist deep for probably 30 yards. That is a bit unnerving and incredibly exhausting!

3) The last portage into Kahshapiwi coming from Joyce. Lots of up and down with a fair amount of rocks. I recall there being one really steep rock of about a 15-20 foot gain/loss that we had to lower the canoes down over.
TomT
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04/11/2018 06:51PM
cburton103: "Here are the toughest portages I've done in Quetico:

2) The unmaintained bog portage between the northernmost bay of Point Lake and the unnamed lake to its north. We sank past waist deep for probably 30 yards. That is a bit unnerving and incredibly exhausting!

3) The last portage into Kahshapiwi coming from Joyce. Lots of up and down with a fair amount of rocks. I recall there being one really steep rock of about a 15-20 foot gain/loss that we had to lower the canoes down over."


I'm so glad I passed on that bog portage out of Point Lake. I've done that portage from Joyce to Kahsh twice and yeah, there's two back to back there and it's real rough. There are some massive white pines along those though.

04/11/2018 10:18PM
I took Point Lake portage by mistake when looking for the marshy stream/beaver dam portage towards Side Lake. It was treacherous in both directions when I had to backtrack.
cburton103
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04/12/2018 11:38AM
Ouch, rough mistake, HighnDry. That one was tough enough just going through once!
GraniteCliffs
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04/14/2018 10:57AM
Portages with bugs that won't stop attacking.
Portages with slick and deep mud combined with rain that won't stop
Portages that turn out not to be portages
Portages in 90 degree temperature and high humidity
Portages where whatever you are carrying begins to slip, slide, poke you in the back or somehow throw you out of sync.
I would add number 6, portages where there are a million people milling around with gear all over the place but the question was Quetico, not the BW
ParkerMag
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06/11/2018 01:02PM
Did Yeh to Lonely last week. A LOT of freshly-downed trees and wads of trees. That one of our three was injured and couldn't carry anything didn't help. Was a rigorous walk there!
OldGreyGoose
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06/12/2018 12:58PM
After doing the "improved" Badwater portage last fall at age 73, nonstop, I would remove it from my 5 worst list now. A lot of improvements were apparently made to the North/wet end prior to our trip. Much appreciated! --Goose
OldGreyGoose
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06/12/2018 12:58PM
After doing the "improved" Badwater portage last fall at age 73, nonstop, I would remove it from my 5 worst list now. A lot of improvements were apparently made to the North/wet end prior to our trip. Much appreciated! --Goose
 
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