Chat Rooms (0 Chatting)  |  Search  |   Login/Join
* For the benefit of the community, commercial posting is not allowed.
Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: GPS
      BWCA portage trails clearing/maintenance crews     
 Forum Sponsor

Author

Text

RC
distinguished member (348)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2020 09:23AM  
Does anyone know if the BWCA portage clearing crews carry GPS to create tracks of the portages?
Also, I have tried all the links to get data for BWCA portages but all the the data is out of date. Does anyone know where I can get data for BWCA portage trails that is fairly recent?
 
      Print Top Bottom Previous Next
02/26/2020 01:39PM  
Portages can change in the course of a single season. That's probably why no one can keep current trails.

butthead
 
02/26/2020 03:25PM  
Depending on the portage, it is sometimes possible to see the portage landings and trail in satellite photos. If you wanted the most up-to-date portage GPS info, you could conceivably create your own portage points and tracks using the most recent images available in whatever mapping application you use. This wouldn't be feasible for the whole BWCA, but for a small subset of portages, say for a single trip, this might be doable.

The most "up to date" info can be downloaded from the forest service website, but note that the download is for ALL NFS trails, not just BWCA trails.

In my experience, portage locations and distances on maps and available as downloads of GPS data from the Forest Service are approximations at best.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7205)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/26/2020 04:09PM  
butthead: "Portages can change in the course of a single season. That's probably why no one can keep current trails."
True. But most are located where they have been for centuries, which has allowed me to keep using tracks from the old Arch Harris database which includes over 900 BWCAW portages, while only adding or slightly editing a few.
 
02/26/2020 06:02PM  
schweady: "butthead: "Portages can change in the course of a single season. That's probably why no one can keep current trails."
True. But most are located where they have been for centuries, which has allowed me to keep using tracks from the old Arch Harris database which includes over 900 BWCAW portages, while only adding or slightly editing a few.
"


That's my way also! The actual route may change but the landings stay pretty constant.

butthead
 
RC
distinguished member (348)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/27/2020 07:45PM  
Thank you all for your advice and support.
This quest started because I was reading through an old BWJ and I noticed an article where Rob Kesselring mentioned that the portage along the border between Iron and Crooked Lakes was moved to a safer location. Previously the west (Iron) end of the portage was near the fast moving water so the end of the portage was moved south to a quiet bay.
Actual west end location:


Forest Service data still shows the former location:


Portage Keeper, Superior National Forest people and others gave me a links to online data but the data is out of date. I emailed with Ann Schwaller, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Program Manager with Superior National Forest. Ann said and I quote: "Our wilderness rangers do not use (GPS) tracks for management . . .
Concerning your comment about certain portages being difficult to find – we manage the BWCAW for risk, self-discovery, freedom and challenge. We do not manage for safety in particular or travel ease as designated wilderness is supposed to be a primitive experience and a challenge. Fast moving water is part of the recreational setting. For those that aren’t good with primitive navigation/skills, we have other backcountry paddle sites/rec areas that are easier. it sounds like you have the wilderness skills you need to read a map or can visually discern where a portage would most likely be, based on the general location of a destination lake"
So the people in charge provide data online that shows the wrong location for the portage and those same people say we should figure out where a portage would most likely be. I would never, ever assume that the most likely location for the west end of that portage would be in the bay where it is actually located.
 
schweady
distinguished member(7205)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/27/2020 08:43PM  
RC - Thanks for the details and for following up with the FS. You made me take a look to see if this was one that I had updated. Turns out I've kept the old Arch Harris portage track but dropped in a waypoint marking the newer, safer start on Iron Lake. Perhaps if I ever walk it someday, I'll re-do the track.

For me, this highlights another major strength of this site: I would never have heard of this safer solution or known to look anywhere near its location without reading about it here... and here.


 
02/27/2020 10:41PM  
This has gotten me missing the Delorme topo program I used to use. Along with good topos I had download subscriptions to Quad USGS and NOAA Harbor Charts. These were extra useful along the border and showed both Canadian and US portages. Ah thing do change.

butthead
 
02/28/2020 09:49AM  
Thanks for the heads up on this updated location. I dropped a marker in my copy of Basecamp.
 
      Print Top Bottom Previous Next