BWCA Skipper Portage ep 49 Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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01/22/2019 10:04AM  
Would you travel this East or West? Thinking about a loop in this area
 
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treehorn
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01/22/2019 10:12AM  
EP 49 goes east to west from Poplar to Skipper, and doesn't really give you any option to start heading back west until you've made a circle out to Long Island, etc.

So I guess I'm unclear about what you're asking.

Are you asking about that specific portage from Skipper to Poplar? Or a particular loop, and which direction you should go?
01/22/2019 11:55AM  
treehorn: "EP 49 goes east to west from Poplar to Skipper, and doesn't really give you any option to start heading back west until you've made a circle out to Long Island, etc.


So I guess I'm unclear about what you're asking.


Are you asking about that specific portage from Skipper to Poplar? Or a particular loop, and which direction you should go?"
Is it better going East or West,making a loop, starting at Mead's or skipper, I know on the bottom part West of Mead's there's some or one step hill heading to Long Island,
Krien2731
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01/22/2019 12:29PM  
The 3/4 mile long portage itself from Poplar to Skipper is relatively flat and not all that difficult other than being long--plus you're fresh that way. I did a solo trip from Poplar west towards Long Island, then looped back through Omega, Henson, Caribou (others) and back up to Poplar in 2016. I got lucky and the wind was blowing east to west the first two days of my trip and hard west to east the last three. Could not have been any more favorable.

I would rather take the long portage from Poplar to Skipper with an empty pack--however then I would have to do the God &@#* portage from Kiskadinna into Muskeg again and I won't ever take that trip again. Loved the area, but nearly shot myself to put myself out of my misery on that portage. Steep, buggy and every time I thought I was past the worst part, another steep climb/descent appeared in front of me.

I would extend my trip another day or two and go all the way down to Cherokee and Brule, then back up through Winchell and out the way I mentioned above in order to avoid that one portage. As far as East to West or West to East--check the weather, or hope to just get lucky like I did.
01/22/2019 03:42PM  
Krien2731:


I would rather take the long portage from Poplar to Skipper with an empty pack--however then I would have to do the God &@#* portage from Kiskadinna into Muskeg again and I won't ever take that trip again. Loved the area, but nearly shot myself to put myself out of my misery on that portage. Steep, buggy and every time I thought I was past the worst part, another steep climb/descent appeared in front of me.


"
I've done that portage and going down was better then carrying gear and canoe up it, might have to save this route for another solo, girlfriend may not like that one.
01/22/2019 03:56PM  
Ive done the portage going both directions to start and end a trip. From what I remember the portage was the exact same length each direction ;).

There are advantages and disadvantages to doing the it either way.

Portage to start your trip - heading west.

Pros - legs are fresh and you're eager to start your trip so your mind will be in the best place.

Cons - food pack is the heaviest its going to get and you'll be heading west into the prevailing winds (Although who knows what wind you'll actually get)

Portage at the end of your trip - heading east.

Pros - lighter food pack and you'll have prevailing winds at your back (although who knows what wind you'll actually get).

Cons - You'll have already traveled a good distance and likely be tired and depending on how the prior days go you may want to be done and now you've got the longest portage of the trip to deal with. Could be in the worst place mentally.

Personally I like doing that portage on the front end when I'm fresh and excited. The lakes heading toward Long Island are long and skinny so if you get any sort of north or south wind you can hug either shoreline for some relief making a head wind less of an issue. Only a true west wind would be a big headache.
sunnybear09
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01/22/2019 06:14PM  
This is a tough route. Both portages are almost a mile long and you will know it. If you go in at Skipper and the campsite is taken you will have to portage two more times to get to Rush where there are 4 campsites. Rush is a fine lake with good fishing and nice sites. You can also move on to Banadad over a short portage and have again good sites and good fishing. This is a long day after the hike in from Poplar. To get to Long Island Lake the 4 portages are demanding and you have no campsites till you get to Long Island Lake. The two campsites on the east end of LIL are very nice especially the island one. It is a fine big-group site, and sits ready to go to Muskeg. The portage into Muskeg is rocky and can be very slippery if it is raining. When you get to Muskeg you have to climb a high beaver dam to get into the lake. I have not had to portage the second short one shown on the map, you can push thru thanks to the beavers raising the lake level.

The portage into Kiskadinna is brutal. I have done it twice, last time in June. From there on it is fairly easy with lots of site choices on thru Omega and Henson , but the campsites on Pillsbury are both minimal in size and quality. You then have two portages of a third of a mile each to get to Meeds. The portage out of Meeds seems to go forever--then you hit the Banadad Trail and realize you are only a third of the way out. And it is fairly steep in places. Both times I have taken this route I have wished I made the decision to go from Pillsbury to Allen to Horsehoe to Caribou to Lizz to Poplar instead. They are shorter and relatively flat and the total portage distance is less. These are popular lakes and you will meet people. It depends on your condition when you get there. I came out last June trying to beat a severe thunderstorm from Pillsbury thru Meeds to Poplar, hoping to make time, but failed anyway and had a terrorstricken paddle down Poplar to the landing. I should have taken the easy route and will next time if there is one.

In short, both of the long portages are tough, the route is tough, but you will be largely alone if you can go early or late in the season. I have only met one other group on the portages, a first-time young couple going in to Meeds last year when I was coming out. It is a less-traveled route to be sure!
TuscaroraBorealis
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01/23/2019 08:18AM  
We traveled west from Banadad to Long Island on this trip. They were challenging (by BWCA standards) trails in either direction but, as I recall, the steeper sections of climbs were when traveling east.
 
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