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      Thoughts? My dear old man - Malberg vs Horshoe/Caribou     
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distinguished member (382)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/20/2020 10:26AM
Hey folks - time is ticking down till permit day! I have my full-family trip laid out. We're going to take a full two weeks to go Moose RN to Mudro (woo hoo!) - and my son and I were thinking of an early(ish) June fishing-focused trip to Malberg. We'd have a full week. We got to talking with my almost 80 year-old father and he is showing interest in tagging along. He's never done the BWCA, but has done a lot of camping. He is a life-time fisherman and got us all hooked on the outdoors...but walking for him is getting painful. Chatting with my mom, she thinks it would be good for him to set a goal, start doing some walking, work his way up to it. We have a MN3 and would carry all the gear, would bring a comfy chair, he would just need to walk it. We have a Hennessy Hammock for him to sleep comfortably.

So, I'm requesting feedback. We were originally looking at Malberg area to basecamp and explore/fish for a few days, then maybe head up to Alice for a couple of days to do the same, back out the way we came (Kawishiwi Lake). Thinking about him walking, I also thought about Poplar EP to Horshoe or Caribou. We have not been to either EP, though. I've been looking at the portage reports on here, wonder for those of you who have done tough of a trip is it for an older guy to get to Malberg? We don't mind taking our time, could stop at Polly or Koma. Or would it be better to go the Horshoe route, how's the fishing in that area? It would certainly be a lot less portaging, but I'm guessing busy and maybe not as good fishing...Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. I love my dad, cherish him, and it's funny my son now calls me "old man" as his pet name, but I just think it would be really an amazing experience for all of us to get up there. Not sure he would have another trip in him after this summer. Cheers to all of you, and happy planning.
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distinguished member(1441)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/20/2020 11:00AM
The portages to Caribou from Poplar are super easy. From Caribou to Horseshoe wasn't bad either
distinguished member(7149)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/20/2020 01:01PM
Portage landings can be tricky before u get to the walking. Bring some hiking sticks to help him on portages. I think easier is better. Get to a lake u can base camp and then day trip without gear. The poplar area is much easier access than getting to mahlberg, imo.
distinguished member(6975)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/20/2020 01:15PM
The route from Poplar through Lizz to Horseshoe is quite easy. My wife and I paddled and portaged from Rockwood to Horseshoe site 673 in just over 2 hours. Nice and quiet basecamp and allowed a nice day trip to Winchell Lake, too. Be prepared to get wet and muddy feet helping Dad on the portage landings, and he'll be fine.

And, yes, Horseshoe has fish.

senior member (100)senior membersenior member
01/20/2020 02:09PM
Congrats to the old- old man, 80 is not too old to enjoy the bwca. The ep47 route is a good route IMOP under these circumstances, fairly easy without crazy ups and downs. I would give some thought to him getting out of canoe at the portages and the mud more than the walk itself. ( my 69 year old knees have a hard time lifting my lard ass up and out) a good walking stick is the key.
I have had poor luck fishing Caribou much better success on Horseshoe and Vista.

I will be doing that same route solo in May. Please post when you get back, I think others will be interested in how he handles the trip I'm sure he's going to love it!
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
01/20/2020 04:24PM
I agree with everyone above that the EP47 route would definitely be easier. Beyond just the portaging and shorter overall distance, I'd be concerned about the beaver dams on the Malberg route. I haven't been to Malberg in almost 10 years, but I remember having a couple good size beaver dams we had to get out and pull over.
distinguished member(962)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/20/2020 04:27PM
+1 on Horseshoe. There simply isn't much you can access from the Kawishiwi EP without multiple portages. Malberg isn't that easy to get to.

I agree with the walking stick idea. One thing to consider though is where he will brace them while getting in and out of the canoe if he has any difficulty with that. If he is going to put any pressure from the walking stick on the canoe bottom, you might want a rubber pad or something similar to prevent damage. Some of those walking sticks can have sharp bottoms and you don't want to scratch your canoe or possibly even put a hole in it. Rubber also won't slip. Getting in and out of the canoe is going to be the trickiest part.
distinguished member (159)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/20/2020 04:44PM
I only know the Malberg route but agree with others that the beaver dams could make things difficult, and if you go that route would suggest taking two days to get there. Another consideration I have not heard here is just to make sure he's able to sit comfortably in a canoe for several hours. The low sitting position gives me hip pain and I'm only in my 40's. Hopefully you have some time in the spring to get him out locally and see how an afternoon in a canoe feels for him.
distinguished member(2525)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/20/2020 09:22PM
None of the portages to Malberg are notably hard but there are many and some are longer. Not all are easy landings...and one giant beaver dam for sure.

If you want another option in that area, do Hog Creek to Perent. One short portage and unless there are beaver dams nothing else except a few miles of narrow river and you're at your basecamp lake. Lots of campsites, plenty of fish, etc.
01/21/2020 09:36AM
Mocha: "Portage landings can be tricky before u get to the walking. Bring some hiking sticks to help him on portages. I think easier is better. Get to a lake u can base camp and then day trip without gear. The poplar area is much easier access than getting to mahlberg, imo."

I totally agree on this one. It isn't the portages that are difficult (especially if you are just walking them) but the landings can be tricky. Also sometimes the biffy trails. On my last couple of trips I had trekking poles and they were a godsend! Be prepared to help him out of the canoe and make sure he gets a good footing to start his portage trek.

Horseshoe has some nice campsites and the possibility of seeing moose is another plus. We didn't fish, so I cannot comment on the fishing on either route.

Have a great trip! Good for you for including your dad.
distinguished member (128)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/21/2020 11:00AM
I went to Malberg on my first BWCA trip.
It was epic. We caught fish in every lake and river we paddled, the bugs were insane, we got a great campsite on Malberg, saw pictographs, the whole thing...

But I think going up to Malberg should be a 2-day trip for an 80-year-old man with limited tripping ability.
Furthermore, you're pretty far 'out there' if someone has a slip on a rock and needs to come back.
I'd consider a different trip, or making Polly the destination lake. Polly is beautiful and has a ton of campsites. I have read that only a very small amount of the shoreline on Polly was burned during the Pagami Creek Fire in 2011. Outstanding bass fishing all the lakes in the area, also.

Alternates: Pauness, Big Moose Lake.

Happy planning! :)
distinguished member(1849)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/21/2020 08:28PM
I would bet he would be happy just to camp anywhere in the BW. It really isn’t about how far or where but rather just being there with him, at least from my perspective. I would hesitate to make the trip hard for him at all.
My brother and I took our 85 or 86 year old mom to Knife Lake for several days a number of years ago. Perhaps the best trip I have taken.
Wherever you go enjoy it!!
senior member (60)senior membersenior member
01/22/2020 09:31AM
I use to take my Mom to Malberg and she loved that area. She had very bad knees due to injuries when she was in her 20s and had a hard time walking. Her last trip to bw (not Malberg) was at 78 a few months before her passing. We would always stop on Polly the first night. I was never afraid to put lots of extra scratches on my canoe to get her in and out at landings. Just part of getting her there. We double portage and that gave her plenty of time to stop and rest along the way. We also took extra stuff for her comfort like a bigger chair. I look back on those trips now and am forever thank full for them.
distinguished member(2142)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/22/2020 12:24PM
I've brought my grandpa up a few times, up until he turned 75. The best way to ensure safety is to think ahead - the best way to avoid an accident is to not get in it in the first place. Take your time, drink lots of water, scale travel days appropriately. Have a comfortable sleeping arrangement in place. Finding a comfortable sleeping arrangement is what was most difficult for Grandpa. He did well with a large single-bed sized, full-thickness air mattress, but even this was uncomfortable for him at times. We did most of our traveling and fishing in the morning and left afternoons open for him to nap. Base camping will make things a lot easier.

That said, it will be the trip of a lifetime. Your son in particular will have memories he will never forget.

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