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11/20/2019 10:44AM  
Hello All,

My wife and I are considering traveling to Quetico during summer 2020 or 2021. Before we decide whether to go to Quetico or remain in the BW as we have in the past, I'm writing to ask for advice about a few things I wasn't able to find out when searching past threads.

1. Is a GPS necessary (or any other equipment in addition to what we would carry in the BW)? My map and compass skills are up to snuff for navigating the BW.

2. What parts of Quetico are heavily versus sparsely traveled? Are there any big lakes where being windbound is a concern?

3. I saw while reading about the permitting process that we have to check in at a port of entry after returning to the US. What is the closest location to Ely where we can do this?

4. Ladies, how unpleasant is it to do your business without an established latrine?

5. Any recommendations for a route for first-time Quetico travelers? We would be putting in at Moose Lake (EP 25) in the BW.

6. Anything else I don't know that I don't know yet?

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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11/20/2019 11:44AM  
1. GPS: useful but not necessary.

2. The southern parts of Quetico receive more people than the northern parts. Lots of folks go in through Moose Lake/Prairie Portage. Most of the big lakes or the long lakes that are oriented roughly east-to-west can be problematic in strong wind. Just use common sense. I've successfully navigated the large lakes in wind in a Minnesota II and III and a Champlain.

3. If you want to check in from Ely, use the Customs and Border Patrol ROAM app or use the kiosk at the ranger station in Ely.

4. No personal experience because I am a man.

5. Agnes to Kawnipi; retrace route back through the northern section of Agnes to the S-chain (Summer, etc) and North Bay of Basswood; return to Prairie Portage through Burke.
11/20/2019 12:29PM  
Ausable said pretty much what I would have stated. I'll just add this info:

#2. Prairie Portage, the ranger station you would use when entering from Moose Lake, is, by far, the busiest entry point of all Quetico entry points. There are several routes out of PP to disperse the groups, but you're still dealing with more people. I would strongly encourage you to consider using a northern entry point - Beaverhouse, Nym or French Lake. Far fewer people and an even better wilderness experience. I won't elaborate here, but if you're interested in that option, we can start a new thread.

#4. LNT latrine usage is not much different for women than men. Dig the hole, do your business, then cover it. Is it unpleasant? I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. Most folks who go to Q make it as brief of an event as possible, then return to their regularly scheduled programming. :)

#5. If you enter from PP, heading northeasterly up Birch and into the Man Chain is a nice area. If you enter from Beaverhouse, you have some larger lakes, but so many islands, peninsulas and landforms that it breaks up some of the wind. The same with Nym to some degree, but somewhat smaller lakes there. Check the maps for ideas.

We have had windy days in Q. Sometimes it's best just to hang out for a while, but mostly, it's all about paddling on.

Good luck with your trip planning.
11/20/2019 03:47PM  
I disagree with the PP entry point being more "crowded"- I see more folks after the first day when paddling from the northern entry points than the south. On my last 11 day trip at the end of August we saw four other parties once we left Basswood. On the northern end the large lakes see a fair amount of traffic.

Man Chain is beautiful but sees more traffic because it can be reached by PP or Saganaga entry points. Agnes also carries a good deal of traffic- 7 permits a day possible though a number of these permits are consumed by North Bay base campers.

Kahahshapiwi, Sarah and Basswood River offer the best chance for solitude. You will earn it however as many of the portages are quite rugged.

The only "special" equipment for the Q would be a portable grate or grill if you're a fan of cooking over the fire.
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11/20/2019 04:08PM  
All good advice above. I will add that as long as you are not very near an entry point, people are seldom a problem in the Q regardless of where you enter. FAR fewer people than BWCA. My wife much prefers not having a latrine, she says latrines are "nasty", I agree. If you are a good squatter it's no problem, just be sure to get off the beaten path so you don't dig up someone else's "treasure". Q-strongly recommended. All entry points have something to offer, so recommendations would depend on what you were looking for.
11/20/2019 08:03PM  
One thing about going to the bathroom - if it's a #2 you can always guarantee privacy and an untouched "dig" if you paddle away from camp to do your business. "Gonna plant some blueberry seeds" is something I heard from a trip mate as he paddled off this last summer. Magicpaddler I'm looking at you. :)

I would get a few books about routes in Quetico. Kevin Callen has one called Quetico And Beyond that details some routes and other good info.

The oldie but goodie A Paddlers Guide to Quetico Lots of routes detailed here.

11/23/2019 11:28PM  
Agree with preferring latrine in Quetico. The squishy gray clay around many BWCA latrines is a little disturbing. The increased traffic in the area is probably responsible for lack of ground cover and muddiness.

We take a bigger bag with tp in a newspaper bag, bug spray, lightweight plastic toilet seat, small shovel and enough brown paper lunch bags for each day. Dig a medium-sized hole and work for a while to find and position several large rocks to support the toilet seat.

We always position it well away from camp and haven't had much trouble with finding other "deposits" except on smaller islands. Hubby had a little trouble with lowness to the ground last time due to lingering back issues, but managed with a little help from a hiking stick.

Oh yeah. save the dirt from the hole in a pile nearby to shovel dirt in each time to "flush" and prevent flies. We only needed to use one hole for a two to three night stay. Roll down the top of a brown paper bag each day and use for tp and burn each night or put in trash (per Quetico ranger advice). I know it's been a source of controversy, but people will burn these in the firepit. Just be sure it is completely consumed in the fire. I worry more about the bacteria in the water and on hands.

Which brings up another point. We fill the sunshower with water and a few iodine tablets and use it for hand washing away from the water and in area draining away from the lake. Leave a bottle of camp soap a small towel for hand drying next to it.

distinguished member(1092)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/24/2019 11:24AM  
Freeleo1: " "

Well you ticked all the boxes and then blew it with the photo. Cat holes need to be 30 meters (~100 feet) from a water source.
distinguished member (103)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
12/01/2019 02:45AM  
1. I've made two trips into the and compass skills are all you need. Make sure to mark camping and portage locations for your'll make your life much easier.

2. I've paddled most of the north half of Q. Western side has more large lakes....never got windbound...but it did get a little hairy a couple of times. It's pretty deserted compares to BWCA, rarely any issue with occupied campsites. June seems lighter...only saw a couple of canoes on my first and last day. July I saw a group every day...but just one.

3. Can't answer this....went into and out of the Q from the north only.

4. One of my trips was with a female Venture Crew. I was the only male. They all did fine. My daughter would rather go in the woods than use a latrine.

5. Can't help you there. Only north experience.

6. Most established campsites in the Q are pretty nice. Portage trails are hit or miss, but nothing to be afraid of...many are pretty well maintained.
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12/02/2019 01:38PM  
Allow a little extra time when planning compared to BWCA. This can vary widely, but we find we always move slower in the Q, mostly due to tougher portages and less map accuracy. This can often be offset with longer travel days since campsite availability is rarely a problem.
distinguished member(1981)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
12/02/2019 04:07PM  
One other thought. If you don't want to move too fast and are only spending a few nights, then the BW could be a reasonable alternative since you would not get far from the border in Quetico. If you have close to a week or more, then Q is far more attractive. Costs a few extra bucks, but really not a huge hassle once you figure out the permits, fishing, etc.

As someone suggested earlier, a run to Kashapiwi or Sarah give you some solitude and a variety of route options.

I am biased. I really love the Q and what it has to offer, both on beautiful main routes and the scenic lesser used lakes. I say go for it and make it happen in 2020. I doubt you would regret your choice.
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12/03/2019 03:16PM  
My daughter and I started in BW and after two trips, "graduated" to Quetico. We have turned snobbish and really value solitude above all else. I don't want to see anybody if possible. We've gone to Woodland Caribou twice now to further the quest. But I later went back to Quetico last fall and we are going back in the spring.

If you are putting in at Moose, go ahead and arrange a tow to Prairie Portage with LaTourell's, and enjoy the earlier entry into the Q. That could be important if the wind picks up, depending on what direction you are going. If you are going to points north, Through Bayley Bay and North Bay, those are big crossings and might be tough, if not problematic, with much wind. If you want, you can stay on smaller water and head down the Man Chain. More rugged, but awesome, is heading for Sarah lake. I think you will find your solitude there. Agnes is the most popular entry in the whole park but I've never seen many people on it, most just stop there on the way to Kawnipi. I don't particularly like Agnes. Our next trip is heading west on Basswood up to Crooked, Iron, and beyond. We usually do 100 mile loops on longer 9-14 day trips.

If you can squat to "go", then no problem in the Q. My daughter has no problem doing so, but my wife can't due to knee issues. We rarely stay more than one night in a camp so no community latrine hole for us. Each person has a little bag with TP, a trowel, a lighter, and wet wipes or hand sanitizer. We practice burning TP in the hole, if not so dry that it is a fire danger. never, ever just bury TP. burn it in the hole or at the firepit or haul it out.

distinguished member(3415)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
12/04/2019 08:44AM  
If squatting is an issue with back problems or something, to do your business go back into the woods and find a tree. Dig the hole next to the tree, then when you squat you get a lot of extra support by leaning against the tree. Much easier. But make sure it's a sturdy enough tree :)

I won't include a diagram unless requested. :)
03/09/2020 08:50AM  
dentondoc: "
Freeleo1: " "

Well you ticked all the boxes and then blew it with the photo. Cat holes need to be 30 meters (~100 feet) from a water source. "
I know it's probably closer than 100 ft but it's farther than it looks. There's a steep drop off there and more land down below. It's as far as possible due to it being an island with a barren rock ridge down the center spine of the island. We weren't the only ones using that area we noticed. Island sites are often limited in choices. We got as far as possible. I guess a better choice would be bag it and carry it out. I'm not sure how many people do that though.
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03/09/2020 09:15AM  
HowardSprague: "If squatting is an issue with back problems or something, to do your business go back into the woods and find a tree. Dig the hole next to the tree, then when you squat you get a lot of extra support by leaning against the tree. Much easier. But make sure it's a sturdy enough tree :)

I won't include a diagram unless requested. :)

I have also done this from time to time. It can help take pressure off your back in case it takes a little longer. It is a quality technique.
Don't forget the bug spray.

member (18)member
07/04/2021 12:20PM  
Or build one of these cheek-spreader latrines.
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