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LostInREI
member (10)member
 
10/11/2019 10:08AM
Let me start by thanking anyone who responds to this, I appreciate you taking the time to do that. Here is a bit about us.

We are both in our 30s. We are in pretty good shape and enjoy physical activity. One of us is a decent fisherman and we both enjoy being outdoors. We're not afraid to adventure out and push ourselves physically a bit on this trip but we also don't want to get in over our heads. We are going through an outfitter in Ely who we will trust for our trip but also want to go in with a few ideas just so we're not going into trip planning blind.

This will be a 5 day trip probably in August. We're planning to pack camp up most days, if not everyday. I'd like to base camp a couple days but my travel partner wants to move everyday, and I don't really care enough to really push for base camping because I also think it would be fun to be different places every night.

-We are glad to portage a few days. If there is something really worth seeing or doing, we can handle a longer one or multiple in one day if necessary but we're also happy to not portage too much.

-We'd like to fish every day and I've been reading you can also troll off the back of the canoe as you paddle and sometimes have some luck. We're wondering if there's any truth to that in addition to wanting to find a couple good fishing spots.

-If there are good pictographs close to a route you've done in the past, we'd be open to going to those but they aren't extremely high on our priority list.

-We'd like to be away from people as much as possible. If there are really popular areas that are worth seeing, we're up for that but the less traffic at the campsites the better.

-Did you just fill a couple of flasks with bourbon or how did you bring your spirits?

Other random questions:
We are thinking about buying or renting a GPS device as back up in case of difficulty with any portions of the map. Is this worth it, or should we just use an app like Gaia GPS?

Do we need to bring a sweater or sweatshirt, hats/gloves in August? Looking at the average temps, it looks like that might not be a bad idea but we don't want to over pack.

Do you always pack bear spray?

I'm sure I'll have more stupid questions to add to this, but that's what we've been talking about the most as we start to nail down specifics.

 
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Tomcat
distinguished member (311)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/11/2019 11:21AM
I will add my 2 cents about your plan to move everyday. I usually move everyday but last July my wife and I chose to lengthen our travel time and lay over twice in order to complete our intended route while avoiding forecasted wind and weather. Have a plan but be flexible.

P.S.
I normally wake early, break camp, and travel to avoid wind and find an empty campsite.

SlowElk
member (49)member
 
10/11/2019 12:06PM
Oh Tom beat me to it.

Get up early and travel before the wind kicks up. Also gives you a chance to find a campsite earlier in the day if you find yourself in a congested area.

Much easier/faster to portage when you have less loose items.

Some of the larger lakes are prone to have large waves, and less portaging.
10/11/2019 12:33PM
"We are glad to portage a few days. If there is something really worth seeing or doing, we can handle a longer one or multiple in one day if necessary but we're also happy to not portage too much."
Be prepared to portage. I think that many of the best areas are several portages away from the entry points.

"We'd like to fish every day and I've been reading you can also troll off the back of the canoe as you paddle and sometimes have some luck. We're wondering if there's any truth to that in addition to wanting to find a couple good fishing spots."
I/we have trolled many times while traveling. Both of you can troll, not just the stern paddler. Put your lines on opposite sides of the canoe, obviously. This activity will slow you down a bit and is best suited to longer distances between portages.

"We'd like to be away from people as much as possible. If there are really popular areas that are worth seeing, we're up for that but the less traffic at the campsites the better."
Again, the more portages you do, the fewer people you will see. This is only a rule of thumb, of course.

"We are thinking about buying or renting a GPS device as back up in case of difficulty with any portions of the map. Is this worth it, or should we just use an app like Gaia GPS?"
I can't comment on GPS apps because I don't use them. I have, however, owned and used a GPS for many years. Most people probably don't need a GPS, but I appreciate it and use it frequently.

"Do we need to bring a sweater or sweatshirt, hats/gloves in August? Looking at the average temps, it looks like that might not be a bad idea but we don't want to over pack."
When I go in August into the BWCA/Quetico areas, I have found that I generally need just a long-sleeved polyester or polypropylene base layer and a wind breaker (or rain jacket as a wind breaker). Checking the area forecast before going is a good idea, however.

"Do you always pack bear spray?"
Yes, but I've never had to use it. You probably won't need it."
SlowElk
member (49)member
 
10/11/2019 12:34PM
Unless you are in good shape or really pushing yourself, most people feel stronger towards the end of a trip then the beginning. Food pack is lighter as well. You don’t have to kill yourself on the first day if you don’t want to.
SlowElk
member (49)member
 
10/11/2019 12:56PM
The fishing is better on Thursday & Friday than on a Monday. But seriously, spending more than one day in a given area will max your chances at being there at the right time.

Some wise person once told me that you can lift a light weight many times, and a heavy weight just a few. Double portaging is three times the distance as single portaging. All I know is that I can walk all day with a daypack on and never feel as tired as when wearing a full pack.
10/11/2019 12:58PM
If you want to see fewer people, check out Schweady's 2019 permit availabilty study to see which entry points may have more permits available in August. Also, get advice from your outfitter.
10/11/2019 01:21PM
Yes, repackage your spirits in a plastic/aluminum container or just buy stuff that already comes in a plastic bottle. There also exists box wine in 1L sizes that travels ok. If you're really into wine, get a box of your favorite kind and then play "slap the bag."

I have yet to bring bear spray. Keep a clean campsite, and keep your food put away when not using. Many people use plastic barrels with sealing lids to keep smells contained, but there's plenty of other people who hang their food, others that stash it on the ground, and some that tie it to trees. Chances are if you're keeping a clean site and you have an encounter you could just be on that bear's "route" and provided they're not rewarded should move on shortly.

You'll see more people in August, so pressure for sites may be higher. Get up early and move quick on travel days. Plan your menu accordingly.

Jaywalker
distinguished member(1973)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/11/2019 03:34PM
Good for you for being adventurous. Do keep in mind August is busy time up there. How people disperse is pretty random, but in general the less you portage the more people you will be around. A couple members this past August posted reports mentioning problems finding campsites in areas fairly close in to entry points. Start early and camp early.

August is not usually the best month for fishing, but can certainly work. For walleyes, bring leeches and learn the TGO method (well documented on this site) or slip bobbers. Also if intent on eating fish, learn the 5 fillet/no bones way of cleaning a northern to increase your odds.

Your outfitter will give you several good options for pictos out of Ely. My first thought was Kekekebek - maybe not the finest of pictos but that loop would meet your criteria for good fishing and a bit more remote challenge.

GPS - never used one. Not much can go wrong with a map and compass if you know how to use one. They are waterproof, and I keep mine in a zip loc freezer bag so they float too in the unlikely case they fall overboard.

Yes, a plastic nalgene works very well for bourbon. Boxed wine also a good idea as mentioned above.

In August chances are you will be happy in shorts and t-shirt most of the time, but cooler weather can pop up any time. Last year on a 10 day August trip, I was happy in shorts/t-shirt most days, but two days woke up to cool weather and was happy to have fleece long pants and a light weight down sweater to wear while the sun warmed things up.

Bear spray - I'd say your chances of seeing a bear or having one come into your camp is really small. Many here on this forum have never seen one up there. I've seen two in 25 trips, and the one I had in camp bolted like a race horse when he saw me. I sometimes bring a can along as I'm traveling solo, but honestly if I got up there and realized I left it at home I would not lose any sleep over it. I'd say the vast majority of people up there do not bring it, but if you have some and would feel better then bring it.
SurlyDude
member (28)member
 
10/11/2019 03:35PM
You could definitely troll during travel - would echo other sentiments and say only do it on a longer paddle. Personally I would rather travel when I am traveling and fish when I can focus on it.

I use the Navionics app on my phone for fishing and occasional navigation. I believe $10 and it has been well worth that investment. Particularly if you weren't planning to bring a depth finder. Just make sure to download the areas where you are traveling before you go.

Hat and gloves feels like overkill in August to me - but temperature tolerances are personal. Keep an eye on the forecast and go from there.

Bourbon typically goes in a nalgene for me. Upside is that it won't spill or break in the bag, downside is it doesn't pack down once finished. I sometimes grab a 750 that's already in a plastic, those crush down a little once you finish them off. I know there are playtpus bags out there as another option but I have never tried them.

Best of luck - you will likely be hooked after one trip.
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2527)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/11/2019 04:48PM
Bear Spray: I always bring one (soloist) but have never used it nor have I had a bear in camp in 12 years of BWCA. Keep a clean camp and you'll likely not see one. What's a clean camp? Tidy up after meals. Don't leave the bacon grease/food laying out when you go off fishing. Food odors linger to a bear's nose so no stashing candy bars or crackers in the tent, especially. Hang the food bag or everything goes back in the blue barrel w/ring clasped closed. Common sense stuff, really. My Counter Assault bear spray bottles have expired one me, in fact. ( 5 yrs. +/-)

Personally, I do not wear shorts due to ticks, mosquitoes & biting flies. Either way you dress, pretreat your clothes with permethrin as it makes a BIG difference. The easy way is to buy the ready-mix from REI or WalMart locations.

I like and use my Garmin Oregon GPS each trip. Perspective is altered when one paddling the flat surface of a sizeable lake. It has been a time saver on lakes with many bays and inlets. Lets me know exact position on a given lake in an instant. (I am given to lingering and daydreaming and just drifting, at times. ) GPS unit does not replace a map and compass.

Booze: I'm usually packing a pint nalgene flask for the whiskey & a smaller metal flask for hi-octane moonshine nips. It doesn't bother me that it doesn't collapse. It's lightweight.

There's a lot of personal preferences when it comes to choosing entry point/route. So many choices. I will add that I've paddled a clockwise loop entering Mudro (restricted)-->Fourtown-->Boot-->Fairy-->Gun-->Moosecamp-->Moosecamp river-->Fourtown--Mudro during the second week of September. It was peaceful and I encountered few people. Maybe just a quirk but that's how it played. The weather was just plain gorgeous the whole week, too. Mornings a bit nippy. I am glad I had the leather gloves that I use when chopping wood.

You can learn a lot by reading trip reports of particular routes that interest you/ your group. Lots of good tips and advice contained in those trip reports.
(edited for correction: my mudro route was clockwise loop. )
bwcadan
distinguished member(1343)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/11/2019 06:03PM
Buy a bug whacker for each tent if you are taking 2 tents. Check out the forum on this site for many base camping ideas. Included are taking long day trips and stay another night at the camp you started your day trip. You can travel at least 20/30 miles if on a day trip if traveling light and leave early. If you are in several portages, no loss of anything is likely while you are gone. We leave a chair or something bright to alert anyone wanting a camp that this sone is taken. Check out your water filtration system. Many if not most here use a gravity filter system when in camp.
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member (337)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/11/2019 09:28PM
I never carry bear spray in the BWCA.

I am like your friend, I much prefer to travel everyday unless I am out for 2 weeks or more. With only 5 days, you will have an easier time getting away from the crowds if you are willing to travel more and aren't afraid of portages.

Clothing...people have strong preferences but for our trip this past August 9-17, I packed a light fleece jacket, a thin wool hat, and a set of long underwear. I wore all of them at some point in the trip. This was partly because we had a cold night and my sleeping bag is getting kind of old and thin so I added layers sleeping. My husband is always cold so he packed a thick fleece and a thin fleece. My son never carries more than a thin fleece, but that is all he ever wears all winter unless it is below 0. Do NOT pack cotton sweatshirts! If they get wet, they will never dry and won't keep you warm when wet.

I hate wearing long pants when I portage, but others hate shorts. So the best option is to wear quick dry convertible pants so you can figure out what you like.

Don't make the beginner mistake of taking too much stuff. Especially if you are traveling each day and planning lots of portages.

Do you know which outfitter you are using yet? Going up through Ely or Grand Marais or other?

Keep asking questions as they arise.
cyclones30
distinguished member(1770)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/11/2019 10:14PM
Never taken bear spray.

Never taken GPS.

Find an entry point (and a backup nearby) that are lesser traveled if seclusion is your primary goal. We can help, so can your outfitter. Out of Ely there are some extremely popular and little used entry points and some in between.

In August take something lightweight and long sleeve and that plus your rain jacket should be fine.

I like to fish a lot, but like to paddle if I'm traveling with gear. I'll fish once I have a campsite.
10/12/2019 09:10AM
You won't need a GPS. Pay attention to your maps and you won't get lost. I had no idea what I was doing on my first trip, just myself and 9 year old son, but we managed to not get lost, ....even if you did get truly lost, you're going to run into somebody in the BWCA sooner or later that can re-orient you.

Our first trip was late July/early August, but it still got down into the 40's at night, so you will appreciate a sweatshirt or other, preferably non-cotton overshirt or jacket, especially when rolling out of the sack in the morning. But don't overpack, after mid-morning we spend the rest of everyday in shorts and short sleeve athletic shirts. You won't need gloves, but I always have a hat, not for warmth but to keep the sun off my head.

Bear spray - I take it only for my wife's peace of mind. (she doesn't trip with us). You won't need it.

Layover day - Wind and weather can easily change your best-laid plans, especially if you're on a big lake. We always plan for at least one lay-over day just to have some flexibility in our schedule. On one trip we had about an 8 mile paddle our last day to meet our tow boat on a big lake, and though we started out plenty early, progress was extremely slow and we missed our designated pick-up time.

Don't forget the spirits, very enjoyable around a campfire looking at the stars on a nice night.

Fishing - avoid the urge to take too much stuff, but consider live bait, especially leeches, that time of year.

Have fun.



unshavenman
distinguished member(1159)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/12/2019 10:57AM
Welcome to the forum LostInREI! As you've seen you will get a lot of very good advice from the members here.
Personally, if you are outfitting through Ely and have five nights in August, I would recommend entry point 16 and do the Nina Moose River/Nina Moose lake/Agnes/Oyster/Rocky/Green/Ge-be/Ge-be creek/Lac La Croix/Agnes/Nina Moose Lake and back out. The loop is 45 miles and allows for a layover day if desired or required. You will be paddling small rivers/creeks, smaller lakes, and big LLC with excellent fishing and pictos. Leeches are great to have with, but remember that it's one more thing to portage. If you do bring leeches, be sure to carry them in the Bait King leech locker.
Inevitably you will run into others, but Oyster and above give you some nice isolation.
I do bring bear spray, but only to make my wife feel better. I've only encountered one problem bear in the past (on South Arm Knife), but passing through Agnes this past September there was a nuisance bear warning for that lake, so you never know. I also bring a Garmin 62S GPS with their Inland Lakes Boundary Waters chip. While a McKenzie map is in front of me at all times, the GPS can provide some reassurance and save time on big water, and the trip details can be transferred to my computer for future enjoyment when the water hardens.
As others have said, even in August it can get chilly, so having at least a fleece with is a good idea. Years ago the army issued me silk long underwear and they are light & pack down small. They come with on every trip. I hammock camp, so it's what I wear every night. You will want a baseball cap or Tilly hat for sun protection.
Like others here, my single malt travels in a narrow neck Nalgene bottle.
MikeinMpls
distinguished member (431)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/15/2019 09:23AM
Some responses to some of your questions:

"We'd like to fish every day and I've been reading you can also troll off the back of the canoe as you paddle and sometimes have some luck. We're wondering if there's any truth to that in addition to wanting to find a couple good fishing spots."

Mike: My philosophy is different than others. I'm either paddling (traveling) or fishing, but not both. Fishing slows paddling tremendously, even if trolling. I find that paddling a tandem is too fast for trolling, but trolling speed is too slow to make headway at a decent clip. Plus, fishing poles are out, tackle boxes are out, and these need to be stowed to make portaging efficient. All my fishing stuff is packed up on a travel day and I get it out when I arrive at camp.

"Did you just fill a couple of flasks with bourbon or how did you bring your spirits?"

Mike: I've put scotch in a metal flask. I've taken schnapps (seems gross now) in a plastic flask.

"We are thinking about buying or renting a GPS device as back up in case of difficulty with any portions of the map. Is this worth it, or should we just use an app like Gaia GPS?"

Mike: I use maps only. Most people think they're better map readers than they are. When using a map, always associate the terrain with the map ("terrain association"), and ALWAYS know where you are. Always. Also, orient the map so that the direction of travel is the direction the map is facing. Many people refuse to read a map upside down, and end up all messed up. As for GPS: Learn any GPS device intimately before you use it. Perhaps buying your own would be better. Make sure the device has maps with sufficient detail so you always know where you are.

"Do we need to bring a sweater or sweatshirt, hats/gloves in August? Looking at the average temps, it looks like that might not be a bad idea but we don't want to over pack."

Mike: a raincoat should be sufficient if it gets cool, but August should be plenty warm, if not hot. If you hit an unusual cool spell, layering with the clothes you have will be enough.

"Do you always pack bear spray?"

Mike: In 40 years of paddling, I've seen a lot of bears, but I've only had bears in camp twice. I have never packed bear spray. Rocks and banging on pots have worked fine for me when I've had bears in camp. Having tripped with Cliff Jacobson, I have adopted his philosophy of bear prevention. (Google or YouTube it), so I seldom hang packs, or do so nominally to deter mice, squirrels, chipmunks or other destructive critters. Personally, I think bear spray is overkill and completely unnecessary. If/when you hang a food pack, or even in camp when the pack is not hung, hang a small cooking pot from a pack strap and fill the pot with pebbles. That way, you'll hear when the pack is being disturbed.

Mike



LostInREI
member (10)member
 
10/15/2019 01:46PM
Thank you all for the responses, they will certainly come in handy as we plan for the trip. It sounds like our outfitter is planning a Saganaga-Cherry-Ottertrack loop, but removing the 2 mile portage somehow.
10/15/2019 04:12PM
LostInREI: "Thank you all for the responses, they will certainly come in handy as we plan for the trip. It sounds like our outfitter is planning a Saganaga-Cherry-Ottertrack loop, but removing the 2 mile portage somehow. "

Where is there a 2 mile portage on this route? longest I can find is the Swamp -> Ashdick portage which is about .5 miles 1 way. Maybe if you're double portaging, then that's a 2 mile portage?
The swamp portage is about .2 miles 1 way, then Ottertrack -> Ester is another .2 miles 1 way.

Looks like this alternate route's portages are flatter than Swamp -> Ashdick.
oth
Guest Paddler
 
10/15/2019 04:13PM
All great advice. I seldom troll until camp. GPS used only to mark a fishing spot out in a big lake. Map and compass to navigate. Even if no basecamping; A FLEXIBLE agenda/route for mood and weather/wind. Clean camp = no spray needed 99.8% of the time would be my guess. Bring leeches an research the TGO Method for supper!
LostInREI
member (10)member
 
10/17/2019 08:43AM
mirth: "LostInREI: "Thank you all for the responses, they will certainly come in handy as we plan for the trip. It sounds like our outfitter is planning a Saganaga-Cherry-Ottertrack loop, but removing the 2 mile portage somehow. "


Where is there a 2 mile portage on this route? longest I can find is the Swamp -> Ashdick portage which is about .5 miles 1 way. Maybe if you're double portaging, then that's a 2 mile portage?
The swamp portage is about .2 miles 1 way, then Ottertrack -> Ester is another .2 miles 1 way.


Looks like this alternate route's portages are flatter than Swamp -> Ashdick."


I think my travel partner misunderstood when talking to VN. He was under the impression we were taking the portage from Saganaga to Saganagons, which we are not. Glad you pointed out our error, I was NOT in favor of this route when I thought that portage was on it.
cyclones30
distinguished member(1770)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/17/2019 10:30PM
That's a nice area. The portage on the west end of cherry is short and easy. We came in and out that way last spring via north and south arms of Knife. The north and east portages to or from Cherry are not easy. How do you plan on getting to and from Cherry and Ottertrack? Amoeber>Topaz>Cherry is easy.
LostInREI
member (10)member
 
10/18/2019 02:30PM
Can I give an update? I'm going to give an update.

I'm having a lot of trouble not making fun of my travel partner. I've been talking with Voyageur North, and he kind of took over because I can't talk on the phone much during the day due to my job. Well when he googled, he googled Voyageur Canoes. He booked the sag-cherry loop with them. Long story short, in addition to that being a longer drive it was also much more expensive and provided way less items than Voyageur North. So.... We cancelled with Voyageur Canoes and booked our ACTUAL trip with Voyageur North.

He got a tentative loop of something like Bald Eagle--> Gull--> Phosphor (this seems a bit lofty, I wouldn't mind nixing that part) -->Pietro --> Turtle --> Gabbro. I was all pumped up about our Sag-Cherry loop, so now I need to familiarize myself with this route. Looks like lots of big portages so hopefully it's a solid route. Any campsite recommendations are welcome. Thanks again!
canoe212
distinguished member(1015)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/22/2019 08:45AM
LostInREI: -We'd like to fish every day and I've been reading you can also troll off the back of the canoe as you paddle and sometimes have some luck. We're wondering if there's any truth to that in addition to wanting to find a couple good fishing spots."

Yes trolling is a great way to fish.

LostInREI: -If there are good pictographs close to a route you've done in the past, we'd be open to going to those but they aren't extremely high on our priority list."

Fishdance Lake

LostInREI:-We'd like to be away from people as much as possible. If there are really popular areas that are worth seeing, we're up for that but the less traffic at the campsites the better."

Lakes with lots of bays can feel more quite despite not being the only group on a particular lake.

LostInREI:-Did you just fill a couple of flasks with bourbon or how did you bring your spirits?"

20oz pop bottles are cheap and very tough.

LostInREI:We are thinking about buying or renting a GPS device as back up in case of difficulty with any portions of the map. Is this worth it, or should we just use an app like Gaia GPS?"

I have an old Android with "Topo Maps". It works fine but I prefer paper maps.

LostInREI:Do we need to bring a sweater or sweatshirt, hats/gloves in August? Looking at the average temps, it looks like that might not be a bad idea but we don't want to over pack."

I bring a stocking cap and thin sweatshirt on the warmest of trips. Check the weather and plan for worst case.

LostInREI:Do you always pack bear spray?"

No. I rarely take bear spray. Only when solo and headed to a known trouble bear spot.

LostInREI:I'm sure I'll have more stupid questions to add to this, but that's what we've been talking about the most as we start to nail down specifics."

Ask away. The only reason I'm here is to talk canoe camping.
Grandma L
distinguished member(5204)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
10/22/2019 10:08AM
The guys seem to have answered most of your general travel questions. You might think of renting a SPOT so the folks at home can see your travel progress and you have the ability to contact help in an emergency.

My suggestions is to WHERE to go. My vote is west out the Echo Trail from Ely. Put in at Entry #16 - Moose River North and head north up to Nina Moose, Agnes, and on to Tiger Bay, LLC, the pictographs on the west side of Irving island, maybe east over to Curtain Falls and back home via the same route. Beautiful scenery, some good fishing and easy water to navigate.
If that seems too much - just go in Lake One and do the chain (1-2-3-4) over to Insula and Alice. Good beach sites on the east side of both Insula and Alice.

Get you permit in January when they open and you won't have trouble getting what you want.
 
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