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tuscarorasurvivor
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12/27/2015 03:31PM
Thinking of taking my first Quetico trip in early May - entering 7th or 8th for a week.

It's earlier than I'd like to go by a little bit, but I need to utilize those dates due to a variety of other events in our lives - 1 high school graduation, 1 college graduation, AP exams, potential state track meet to consider, at least one potential family trip this summer (non-wilderness), a Boy Scout BWCA trip. Plus I'd like to work in a solo trip and a fall trip with my wife - I can only take her after bug season. Life is complicated. Anyway,

We've done many BWCA trips. I'm 53 and in decent shape. My sons are 18 and 20 and in phenomenal shape. Just the 3 of us. We would plan on 5 travel days and 2 layover days. We are looking for a trip with wildlife, solitude, scenery, waterfalls, pictographs and perhaps other historical locations, some good fishing but not the focus of the trip, a good variety of bigger lakes, smaller lakes, rivers, streams, portages. Not afraid of work.

So, what are the chances ice will be off the lakes that time of year with El NiƱo in play?

If ice is off the lakes, I'm looking for suggestions where to go. I'm starting to go through the Paddler's Guide to Quetico Provincial Park, and getting some ideas there, but looking for voices of experience also.
 
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12/28/2015 10:46AM
For my first week-long trip into Quetico, we entered through Prairie Portage and traveled to the south end of Agnes Lake the first day. After establishing a camp, we spent some time at Louisa Falls. The 2nd day we traveled the length of Agnes, checked out some of the many pictographs on the lake, and camped at the north end. The 3rd day we went through Keewatin into Kawnipi where we camped for a layover day. The fifth day we retraced our route south through Keewatin, looking at more pictographs, and then went though the S-chain to camp on Noon Lake. The 6th day we checked out a pictograph on Shade Lake before moving on to Basswood's North Bay. The last day we traveled out through Burke to Prairie Portage. That agenda gives you just one layover day, but time to fish, explore, and not push too hard (except for Kawnipi to Noon). The route has lots of pictographs, one spectacular waterfall, rapids between other lakes, a mix of large and small lakes, and reasonably good fishing.

You should check with the park about paying entry fees and permitting for those dates. I think that the ranger station at Prairie Portage might not be open until later in May. The park management might be able to address your question about ice.

12/28/2015 11:50AM
Tuscaroasurvivor,

+1 on Ausable's trip route starting at Prairie Portage and going up thru Agnes and up to Kawnipi and back.

Your boys will have a good time at Louisa Falls. Even though it will be the first week of May and the water will be very cold ... They will have to take a dip in the large pool half way up the falls.

Agnes is one of my favorite lakes to paddle for scenery. The high cliffs are magnificent. And of course the fishing in Kawnipi and its bays should be excellent.

Not sure about how the ice situation will be the first week of May but the odds should be in your favor that they will be ice free by then.

tuscarorasurvivor
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12/28/2015 04:13PM
I may end up either shortening this trip or doing it after graduations - so third week of June. Leaning toward June dates. Other stuff will just need to get shuffled. At least we won't have to worry about the ice issue. Trip length and goals are the same.
Eyedocron
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12/28/2015 04:58PM
Certainly more people in June, but much safer, and even then fewer people than in Boundary Waters. About 20 years ago ran south on Louisa with a great tail wind in mid May. Waves were fully 3 ft high down the lake. If we tried anything other than straight downwind, would have swamped. Very cold water. When we made the final point on the right and ducked to the west to go to the falls, we talked about how swamping would have meant death from hypothermia.
Pinetree
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12/28/2015 05:14PM
Agnes lake is about the last lake to go ice free,one year we portaged into the lake from the south and it was pretty much frozen solid.
The dates you mentioned you got about a 60 % chance of the area being ice free.
12/28/2015 06:51PM
Hope you realize the park won't be "open" on May 7 / 8, so you have to do the self permit thing at the ranger station you plan to enter. No permits to reserve ahead of time either. But since it is self permit you have to do the calculation of your fees in advance and bring the exact amount of cash to drop in the box for your camping fees.
Pinetree
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12/28/2015 07:16PM
Also Remote border pass and fishing license. Great time to do it with the Canadian dollar worth 72 cents on our dollar now.
kanoes
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12/28/2015 07:41PM
check out callans "quetico and beyond" too.

I loved agnes, I could spend 4 days on that lake.
12/28/2015 09:56PM
If you go in early May also note you cannot legally fish for walleyes. Season doesn't open until 3rd Saturday in May. Not a big deal as Lakers, smallys and northerns are still okay to fish for and will keep ya busy.

T
tuscarorasurvivor
distinguished member (142)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/29/2015 08:42PM
quote Ausable: "For my first week-long trip into Quetico, we entered through Prairie Portage and traveled to the south end of Agnes Lake the first day. After establishing a camp, we spent some time at Louisa Falls. The 2nd day we traveled the length of Agnes, checked out some of the many pictographs on the lake, and camped at the north end. The 3rd day we went through Keewatin into Kawnipi where we camped for a layover day. The fifth day we retraced our route south through Keewatin, looking at more pictographs, and then went though the S-chain to camp on Noon Lake. The 6th day we checked out a pictograph on Shade Lake before moving on to Basswood's North Bay. The last day we traveled out through Burke to Prairie Portage. That agenda gives you just one layover day, but time to fish, explore, and not push too hard (except for Kawnipi to Noon). The route has lots of pictographs, one spectacular waterfall, rapids between other lakes, a mix of large and small lakes, and reasonably good fishing.

You should check with the park about paying entry fees and permitting for those dates. I think that the ranger station at Prairie Portage might not be open until later in May. The park management might be able to address your question about ice.

"


Thanks. That looks like a really nice trip. I will probably do it with my 2 boys in Mid-June. I'll take a short solo or do a shorter trip with one or both of them in May. Thanks again for the help.
UP Mac
Guest Paddler
 
01/11/2016 04:13PM
As mentioned earlier going that early in May is risky weather wise. Several years ago my daughter and I went mid-May six days after ice out. We were wind bound the first one and one-half days as well as parts of two other days. We got snowed on and only wet a line one time so we could finish our trip on schedule. I realize this was unusual but you never know about early May. Have fun with those boys.
Pinetree
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01/11/2016 04:16PM
Early May can be a windy wet snow time. the change of seasons it seems it is usually windier.

We been on the Man chain mid May and got caught in temps around freezing and 5 inches of snow. Back than we did not have good rain gear so we also suffered that way. Early season you have to be a little more prepared. I do like early season tho-less people and probably no bugs.

If your going walleye fishing Quetico season usually opens about 1 week after Minnesota opener.
AtwaterGA
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01/14/2016 10:57PM
Be very careful if you go in early May. We have been that early and it was cold and the water was very cold. I much prefer warmer water.
Banksiana
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01/15/2016 12:37AM
Early May is one of my favorite times to go. The water is cold, but things are changing so fast it is astonishing. We've had a few late ice outs in the last decades but for most of the last 25 years the ice has been gone by the 7/8th.
 
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