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schuetpa
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
08/09/2020 12:08PM
I am a high school football coach so have a rare opportunity to do a fall BWCA trip this year with the season being moved to spring. I am looking for advice for a fall trip. Thinking over MEA so it would be like October 15th for about 3 or 4 nights.

We have traditional brought kids we probably would want to leave them home, correct? oldest is 8.

I have done 10ish trips and have ones I love but would have pick of the litter for a short trip and could do any location without the permit pressure. What are your thoughts on best fall 3 or 4 night trips?

Ways to keep warm other than a 0 degree sleeping bag? my wife hates the cold. I have slept in 25 degrees before and I can survive she on the other hand would hate it.

Lastly, when is ice on? just curious

 
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sedges
distinguished member(622)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 12:24PM
The biggest consideration for me is the short days/ long dark time. Happy to carry some things I would never consider in summer. Lantern is very useful. You will be cooking in the dark morning and evening if you want to have any daylight to fish and explore. Tools for processing firewood. Likely to spend a lot more time around the fire and use up a lot more wood. Late trips is the only time I will carry an axe or hatchet for splitting anymore.
 
schuetpa
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
08/09/2020 12:32PM
I have read some of the previous posts on October trips so have some ideas just excited on a potential trip. Also thought of a north shore run but likely to be busier with people with MEA but the kids could come with then.
 
schuetpa
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
08/09/2020 12:34PM
Thank you. It was good to think about day length as I was semi considering Mudro to lower basswood falls but would have to put in a full day of sun up to almost sundown to just get to the falls and repeat to get out. Not used to the short days.
 
Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 03:01PM
Fall is great I'd prepared. I have taken my snowtrekker with woodstove for a Basecamp trip. A light in the tent extends the day. No bugs and way less people. Great time to go.
 
08/09/2020 06:48PM
Birdknowsbest: "Fall is great I'd prepared. I have taken my snowtrekker with woodstove for a Basecamp trip. A light in the tent extends the day. No bugs and way less people. Great time to go. "...



Like I’ve mentioned before... get a good weather report before ya go. In the late ‘70’s we used to duck hunt mea weekend on wood lake. It wasn’t so much in the actual boundary waters back then. My hunting buddy’s cousin worked for the outfitter with the boats there and had a key for them. More then once we’d have to bust ice to get out to our blind. And one year as we were going in a couple was in a canoe and had been trying all night to chop their way through the ice to the landing. They were greatful to see us and the path we made for them. Now it seems to be more into November. But I’ll always have an eye out to possible weather situations in the shoulder seasons.
 
08/09/2020 07:22PM
nctry: "Birdknowsbest: "Fall is great I'd prepared. I have taken my snowtrekker with woodstove for a Basecamp trip. A light in the tent extends the day. No bugs and way less people. Great time to go. "...




Like I’ve mentioned before... get a good weather report before ya go. In the late ‘70’s we used to duck hunt mea weekend on wood lake. It wasn’t so much in the actual boundary waters back then. My hunting buddy’s cousin worked for the outfitter with the boats there and had a key for them. More then once we’d have to bust ice to get out to our blind. And one year as we were going in a couple was in a canoe and had been trying all night to chop their way through the ice to the landing. They were greatful to see us and the path we made for them. Now it seems to be more into November. But I’ll always have an eye out to possible weather situations in the shoulder seasons. "


Like he said. Mid October can be really hit or miss...
 
SevenofNine
distinguished member(2407)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 07:32PM
Be prepared for cold. A tarp will come in handy to block wind. Down coat that packs small. I bring mittens for my hands that have a water resistant shell. A really good set of layers to keep warm along with a winter hat of your choice (I bring a fleece with wind blocker material). Chemical hand/body warmers for emergencies. Lots of lights for the longer nights. Always check the weather forecast. If you don’t like cold and rain then don’t go as I’ve done quite a few in October with both and it is dangerous if you are not prepared or experienced. I’ve only encountered light ice at portages.
 
08/09/2020 07:47PM
I think Mudro is a good entry point for mid October. Get to Horse on day one and if water levels rise, go to Moose Camp. Then around to Fourtown and then out. Or stay on Horse first night then to Basswood falls, up the river, and down through Jackfish Bay to Range River to Sandpit and out. Long underwear is a must and good rain gear. Also several pairs of winter gloves and winter hats.
 
08/09/2020 07:55PM
Merino wool underwear (Icebreaker is my favorite brand) also the Icebreaker lightweight merino wool t-shirts are a good layer, too. Wool socks.

For bedtime we always kept a clean dry pair of wool socks and a set of silk longjohns that were just for sleeping, not for wearing during the day.

I had a zero-degree Big Agnes bag and was warm at night. I think Spartan1's bag was supposed to be good for 10 degrees.

Neoprene paddling gloves are good in winter and you need winter gloves for in camp, too. Wool hat.

The main thing that I didn't like about October was the short days. It seemed hard to get things settled and ready for sunset, which came very early.

It is possible to have beautiful days in October and also possible to have snow and ice.
We have never gone that late in October, but I would imagine all of the leaves will be off the deciduous trees by then.

Have fun!
 
Michwall2
distinguished member(946)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 08:14PM
schuetpa:
Ways to keep warm other than a 0 degree sleeping bag? my wife hates the cold. I have slept in 25 degrees before and I can survive she on the other hand would hate it.
"


Hot Rocks! Put a couple of fist size (or just a little bigger) rocks next to the fire before bedtime. Heat them just to the point where you can still handle them. Drop them into an extra pair of socks and take them to bed with you. You can read about hikers that fill Nalgene bottles with hot water and take them to bed with them.

Be careful though. Don't pull the rocks from the lake. There are stories of exploding rocks from the expansion of water trapped in pockets inside the rocks.
 
Jaywalker
distinguished member(2330)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 09:12PM
October is a great month to go. Ely on October 15 will have a 7:27am sunrise and 6:20pm sunset, so about half light and half dark. Campfires are so nice at this time of year. I’d definitely have an axe and saw for this time. I’ve lugged my big Coleman lantern a time or two which gives off great light, but bringing a few Luci lights will also work.

For warmth, this is a great time for wool everything; merino base layer, wool pants, shirt, and jacket. When I winter camp I toss a hot water filled nalgene in a sock, but not usually an issue for fall for me. Do make sure your sleeping pads have a good R value. An extra wool blanket can help out either above or below for anyone who sleeps cold. It’s also nice to sit on by the fire.

Birdknowsbest mentioned bringing his Snowtrekkertents hot tent. I’ve done this too. The tent and stove will add one more trip across the portage, but it can be a real game changer. On my last October trip I had a couple days of wind and drizzle, and that twnt shined. The real value is not that it can be so warm, it’s that you can get everything bone dry in no time. I know there are a couple places around the BWCA that rent them, so if weather is looking colder or wetter, it’s something to consider.

As for where to go, there’s lots of good choices. Maybe a popular entry like Munro, or a swampier river area where you might see more moose? Can’t go wrong. Do expect some other people. And to be clear, you do need a permit with you in camp - it’s just they are self issued. You can pick up a blank at any ranger station or some entry points (but I would not count on it).
 
Birdknowsbest
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 09:54PM
This and the other thing besides heat is that with good LED lights you can be up as late as want enjoying hanging out in the tent.


 
Blatz
distinguished member(1447)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/09/2020 09:57PM
I did the Mudro Crooked loop in Mid October a few years ago. I had great weather ( Light snow one night). The week before sucked. I brought wood processing tools because of the early sundown. A fire with plenty of wood is nice. You're sleeping pad with insulation is a big help at night. I wear knee high Muck boots for dry portages
 
missmolly
distinguished member(6921)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
08/10/2020 07:14AM
October can be the best. Some of my best memories are those October trips. As others have noted, weather decides whether you huddle under a wet tarp or revel in air stripped of moisture, making everything so clear and shining that you ache with gratitude. So, if at all possible, look at the 14-day forecast and choose your days accordingly.
 
Duckman
distinguished member (405)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/10/2020 07:23AM
I've been very fortunate on my October trips weather wise. And I'll take a cold night needing that extra wool blanket over a balmy night every time. Decent weather and clear skies and I don't mind the early sunset. It's a pretty neat time to stay up late.

The loons being gone is the big thing I miss, and not being able to go after lakers. I took an October trip last year from Sawbill to Frost. On the paddle out, I didn't see anyone from Frost-Gordon-Cherokee-Ada-Sawbill until I got back to Sawbill's landing. That's unheard of during the prime months.

Something satisfying about going up there in October, having the place to yourself, and not needing anything from the outfitter other than a sticker.
 
schuetpa
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
08/10/2020 07:36AM
Ducks I know you teach as well. Have you gone MEA or do you pick earlier October? I am kind of thinking of planning on going and then if t he weather looks really bad but not go. Benefit of self issue permits I guess for October.
 
08/10/2020 09:09AM
How are you doing man? As you stated.... watch the weather and be flexible which is easier with the self issued Oct. permits. Plan it with knowing you may need to back out. MEA is as early as it can possibly be this year so that may help.

Every year (12 years running) we go to Grand Marais over MEA for Moose Madness. It's our kids' favorite vacation of the year. One of the days we always do a bwca daytrip.... if weather report is decent we take the canoe, if not we leave it home and we go hiking. I'd say it's been about 1/2 and 1/2 which one we've done over the years. We've had 70 and sunny down to needing to dress like it's winter during the day. You are correct..... the north shore is crazy busy that weekend every year.

It's been a few years since I've been able to do an Oct. bwca trip because of school soccer. Oct. is my favorite time to be in the bwca. Some people don't like the shorter days but I love it.

I've done about 5 early Oct. trips into the bwca with a wide range of weather. Sometimes during the same trip even. I've had 80 with sun and down to 30 with high winds rain/sleet/snow as the high temp during the day. I've had overnight temps from 50's down to low 20's.

My wife and I were on Sawbill the year when that couple tragically died on Alton from hypothermia. The weather was horrible with a high temp of low 30's, rain/sleet/snow and 30+ mph winds. We should have cancelled and stayed home.... or at least just stayed at the Sawbill campground when we got there. We could see that the 1st campsite on Sawbill in the bay that leads to the Alton portage was open so we went for it. We only saw one other group on the water that day.

Make a plan, have a back up plan, and be ready to cancel if needed. One nice thing about worse weather and you decide to still go is that most people stay home ;).

some Oct. trip pictures.


The 3rd and 4th pictures are from my 1st solo. 1st night it was still high 70's after supper and the 3rd day the high was in the 40's
 
Blatz
distinguished member(1447)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/10/2020 09:33AM
I'm a retired teacher. which make September and October trips nice
 
Chuckles
distinguished member (102)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/10/2020 03:34PM
All my trips to the BW have been late Sep/early Oct except for this July. Like others have said, we've had 70s and t-shirts to high 20s and snow. Some tips:

1. Prepare for cold wind. It makes fishing (especially from a canoe) tough and you'll find an extra tarp that can block the wind a life-saver. NW wind is most common and coldest that time of year, so I'd plan for a campsite that is protected from the NW. I'd also recommend somewhere with access to small water; if the wind is bad you'll be happier.
2. If you're into campfires, you'll need it much bigger to keep warm. We laughed at how easy fires were in July compared to other trips. Would recommend a saw and something to split wood with. I'm partial to the Irwin saw, but other people like other saws. My favorite way to split wood is with a plastic chainsaw wedge.
3. Bring WAY more cold-weather stuff than you'll need and hand it out before anyone asks. One of my tripping partners tends to get grumpy in the cold and I've learned that pulling out a blanket and wrapping it around his shoulders works. If I ask, he'll never take it. These cheap-o down blankets from Costco are the best money I've ever spent.
Down Blankets
4. Hot water is your friend. Fill water bottles with boiling water, wrap bottle in sock and put at feet in sleeping bag. This will keep you warm for hours. Bigger water bottle=more warmth. Also, drink plenty of hot liquids. Drinking hot broth isn't sweet like cocoa or full of caffeine like coffee. I can get something similar in my grocery storePowdered broth

As for routes, many are good. My first trip was Nina Moose with an aborted attempt to see Warrior Hill (too windy) and it was awesome.

Good luck!
 
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