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Jenny
 
05/13/2019 08:58AM
Good morning!

My friend and I are planning to enter at Ram Lake and exit at Poplar Lake. We want solitude, and the outfitter recommended this entry point. She said that the first three portages scare off a lot of people, but if you get past that point, it's very quiet and pleasant. Has anyone took on the first three portages? Is it worth it? Will we survive?! She showed us the elevation and it spooked us. They are not long portages, but they are very hilly. Please give us your opinion! Thank you
 
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treehorn
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05/13/2019 09:14AM
I did these last year on a solo. They are pretty hilly and boulder-ey, but like you said, they are short enough to get through before you really hate life.

Personally, the hills don't bother me that much - I look at it like a workout. Power up the hill and embrace the burn. I found the landings probably more annoying than the hills...the landings are mostly just fields of boulders with no obvious place to put your boat while you load it and then get in to start paddling. Be prepared to wetfoot.

Little Trout is very reachable on day 1 - you'll be there before you know it and will be ready to relax and make camp, but not completely exhausted. None of the three sites on that lake are all that great, but for two people, you'll find something suitable. It's a beautiful, peaceful lake. You didn't say what time of year your trip is planned for...I think people target Little Trout in the spring moreso than any other time of the year, chasing Lake Trout, but even in the spring I think you'll find the solitude you're looking for there.

Then you'll have to take on the portage to Misquah. This one is definitely longer and just as hilly and boulder-ey as the other ones, but I really don't think it should scare you away from this route. Just take your time, place your feet with care so you don't turn an ankle, and rest if you need to after the hills.

Once you get past Misquah to Vista, finding solitude may be more difficult for the rest of your trip on your way to Poplar. You have many options, and didn't say how long your trip is. Horseshoe and Caribou are probably going to be the busiest lakes around, Gaskin can be busy too, but if you find a site you like on any of those lakes, I think you'll enjoy them. Some of the smaller lakes like Allen, Pillsbury or Henson might be the ticket as well. If the wind is down, people love Winchell too.

Here's my trip report from last year - you might find some useful info here.
inspector13
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05/13/2019 10:01AM

I have no personal experience with the portages from Ram to Little Trout, but the portage from Little Trout to Misquah Lake is one of the toughest in the BWCAW. It starts out a very steep rise out of Little Trout and goes up and down a couple times along its length. All other portages along the way to Poplar Lake will seem like a cakewalk after that one. The boulder field landings exist throughout that whole area.

Jenny
 
05/13/2019 10:12AM
Thank you so much! I'll discuss with my friend.

We are going late July for 3 full days, and 3 nights.
Jenny
 
05/13/2019 10:13AM
If it is one of the toughest, maybe we WANT to do that portage! :D
treehorn
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05/13/2019 10:25AM
Jenny: "If it is one of the toughest, maybe we WANT to do that portage! :D
"


That's the spirit! Life is boring without challenges.
Jenny
 
05/13/2019 10:30AM
agreed.
TuscaroraBorealis
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05/13/2019 10:35AM
We entered at Ram last year. Trip report

The EP trail and the portages in/out of Little Trout Lake that are quite challenging. Especially when entering there as packs will likely be at their fullest/heaviest. It's one of the toughest entries in the BWCA but, the Misquah hills are breathtaking in the other (beauty) sense too.

My 6 year old made it across and had a great time.
fishnfreak
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05/13/2019 10:40AM
I've done this trip a couple of different ways. Ram up to Vista and out at Morgan and I've done it in reverse from Morgan to Ram.

I prefer Morgan to Ram. The portages going in from Morgan are a little easier. My group and I like the first day to be easier and save the tougher ones to later in the trip when the food pack is lighter in weight and the muscles have hardened a little. Also, my group tends to be hung over the first day after a night on the town or up late playing cards so we set our routes up for an easier first day.

That area will get you solitude for the most part, however Vista gets traffic from three directions and its quite good for fishing so it does get visitors. Little trout gets visitors early in the year and late for the lake trout season.
MattM
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05/13/2019 12:17PM
That is the exact same three night route that I took on my first trip. It was our first trip and we over packed, so we had to double portage but still had no trouble. It is a nice route and if you are in somewhat decent shape, you should have no problems.

As others have said, the portages have some challenges, but not something that should scare you away from the trip.

My trip partner and I stayed two nights on the island site on Little Trout and spent our last night on horseshoe.
05/13/2019 06:12PM
Jenny: "If it is one of the toughest, maybe we WANT to do that portage! :D
"


Bragging rights! :)

I haven't let any portage stop me from doing a route I wanted to do. Usually having a couple of longer and/or tougher ones in there will thin the crowd a little. Just pack light and do it.
scramble4a5
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05/13/2019 06:57PM
I agree. We just walked this portage with day packs and thought it was brutal. I can't imagine carrying a heavy pack or a canoe.

Although the portage is longer it isn't as tough if you go in at Morgan. Either way you are in for a. Workout.
lindylair
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05/13/2019 08:34PM
Jenny, nothing wrong with your idea at all. If significant mental and physical challenge is part of what makes a trip enjoyable for you, this is the perfect route. However there are other less challenging routes with plenty to offer including the sought after solitude that would be a little to a lot less strenuous. For me, while I enjoy paddling and portaging, it is somewhat of a means to an end which is the time spent in camp relaxing, or in the canoe exploring and fishing the area. If there is a reward in terms of beauty, solitude and/or fishing for all that extra toil then it might be worth it. While the lakes from Ram north are nice, they have nothing in particular over many other areas. And i love Vista Lake, one of my favorites. perhaps that trip in and the portages aren't as bas as I remember but here is what I wrote on a recent post about memorable portages:

"Back in the mid 70's a group of four young and fit guys went in at Ram lake heading north towards Vista on what was supposed to be an out and back trip. After the day from Hell and finally getting to Vista we decided that we would find another way...any other way to get back to our car at the end of the trip. After scouring maps and checking out the South Brule River we determined that the only other way out was over the long portage from Morgan lake.
The fact that we had a 5-6 mile hike to the car from the end of that portage back to the Ram lake entry didn't deter us - anything was better than retracing those portages back to the entry. So my buddy and I took that long walk/jog back. "

Wherever you go , I hope it is an awesome trip.
DanCooke
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05/14/2019 10:22AM
When you enter on Ram be sure to look behind you as you near the height of the portage and look back over the Misqua hills- Very beautiful in the fall with colors. Done this route several times. Yes the portage to Misqua will test you.
Your attitude as you come up to the portage often will color what you remember about a portage, more than the physicality of it.
You will never see a beautiful area unless you put the work in. Well worth it in my opinion.
treehorn
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05/14/2019 12:04PM
DanCooke: "
Your attitude as you come up to the portage often will color what you remember about a portage, more than the physicality of it.
"


This is very true...something I've known/experienced, but never really seen stated as such.
lindylair
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05/16/2019 08:31PM
Maybe so...maybe not.As stated we were young and fit and full of excitement and optimism. At the far end of the portage we met a couple rangers who were surprised to see us. They seemed shocked that we actually took this portage and told us that it was the toughest in the eastern half of the BWCA.

Maybe this reinforced our disdain for it but we weren't about to do it again.

This portage is obviously among the tougher BWCA portages. If that challenge is what you want and it adds to your enjoyment or feeling of satisfaction, go for it. If a portage like this is the only way to get to an incredible natural feature or amazing fishing then it makes sense. If there are several other ways to get to the same destination and you choose this portage anyways, good for you.

Looking back I think, it couldn't be that bad. But then I remember our resolve to find any other way back to our entry point...
scat
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05/17/2019 08:06PM
I consider that Misquah portage the roughest I’ve been through. Stepping from slippery rock to slimy rock at the tail end of my first real portaging trip was a trip in itself. Up and down hills. A few years later I camped at Ram on a solo and did it again on a day trip to Little Trout, and yes there are little trout in Little Trout, just to do it again, twice, and it wasn’t as bad as I remembered, but I had only a day pack and my Prism on my back. Go for it. You have to do it to say you did it. There is no other way. Have fun!
DanCooke
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05/17/2019 11:13PM
The Misqua little trout portage doesn't play fair. 3 major ups and the wayer doesn't come till the third downhill. Most portages that have a major up, when you start going down you get to the water. Knowing that helps keep false hopes of the portaging coming to a conclusion on the second down.
scat
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05/18/2019 06:05AM
If I close my eyes I can still feel myself picking my steps carefully from rock to rock and looking uphill with a heavy pack on my back. And having to go back for the canoe... Oh man, that is a beauty.
TuscaroraBorealis
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07/25/2019 01:38PM
DanCooke: "When you enter on Ram be sure to look behind you as you near the height of the portage and look back over the Misqua hills- Very beautiful in the fall with colors. Done this route several times. Yes the portage to Misqua will test you.
Your attitude as you come up to the portage often will color what you remember about a portage, more than the physicality of it.
You will never see a beautiful area unless you put the work in. Well worth it in my opinion."
 
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