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chessie
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02/16/2021 09:53AM  
I know I've inquired about this a few times, and appreciate past input. The voyageurs route is a bucket list item for me, but keeps getting put off for various reasons, partly health.

What I'm looking for is 'route' suggestions. By that, I mean, reasonable or recommended stopping points, obstacles/difficulties to watch out for, etc. I know many on this site can do the route in a week.

I am an experienced BWCA tripper, but due to health/arthritis, my pace is slow. Considering I/we travel at about 2/3 per day what Beymer does in his BWCA books, and periodic layover for recovery, I'm looking for the above suggestions for Crane Lake (or there-about) to Grand Portage. It would be summer, either front end (late May/early June), or late July, 1st part of August. Thanks!
 
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Voyager
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02/16/2021 03:49PM  
Lots of big water on this route. I would suggest you take your later summer option; the water will be warmer, in case you capsize. Tandem or solo?
pswith5
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02/16/2021 03:51PM  
Don't have knowledge for you but would be interested in a trip like this. Do you have a full crew?? I am 59 and while I think I am in good shape for my age, I am not up for the race-like pace this route has become. Pretty sure the 80 hour pace might do me in. A few weeks would be more to my liking. I will watch this thread. Pete
cyclones30
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02/16/2021 07:22PM  
I can't speak for the beginning of the trip or the end (some info on those on the race threads) but in the heart of the park like LLC to Sag.....It's big water and not a lot of portages. Some places you've got portages on both sides of the border like between LLC and Iron (bottle portage) and sort of Lower basswood falls and wheelbarrow. When I've done those I thought the Canadian ones were better or shorter.

Lots of very cool sights along the way. Cliffs, waterfalls, pictos, more cliffs, more falls....

I'll try and dig up an old thread on the Iron to Crooked portage that goes around Curtain Falls. There's an alternate landing that's safer than the mapped one when you're heading upstream like you would be.
chessie
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02/16/2021 08:09PM  
Tandem
chessie
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02/16/2021 08:09PM  
cyclones30: "I can't speak for the beginning of the trip or the end (some info on those on the race threads) but in the heart of the park like LLC to Sag.....It's big water and not a lot of portages. Some places you've got portages on both sides of the border like between LLC and Iron (bottle portage) and sort of Lower basswood falls and wheelbarrow. When I've done those I thought the Canadian ones were better or shorter.


Lots of very cool sights along the way. Cliffs, waterfalls, pictos, more cliffs, more falls....


I'll try and dig up an old thread on the Iron to Crooked portage that goes around Curtain Falls. There's an alternate landing that's safer than the mapped one when you're heading upstream like you would be. "


Thank you .... I have been on some of these lakes, but not Curtain Falls area, not the extreme West nor East portions.
OtherBob
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02/16/2021 08:13PM  
My buddy Alan and I did the eastern part of the route, including the Grand Portage, to celebrate our 70th birthdays. A leisurely pace, by this board's standards: put in at Gunflint, 1st night on Rose, 2nd night on Mountain, 3rd night on South Fowl, 4th night at Fort Charlotte (beginning of the Grand Portage). 9 miles or so of GP took about 6 1/2 hours. 5th night at Grand Portage Lodge (doesn't count as a night in the wild, but just to let you know we made it).

Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your border trek. At our ages, it's not likely we'll do it again, much less beat a personal best or somebody's record.

cyclones30
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02/16/2021 08:29PM  
Here's one of the times the alternate landing is talked about. Scroll down and cowdoc talks about bottle portage and farther down I talk about the Curtain falls portage with a map.

https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.thread&threadId=961731&forumID=16&confID=1
Voyager
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02/17/2021 11:30AM  
One part of the route to be aware of is the lack of water after the portage out of Clove Lake. Every year for the last 3 years it gets lower. We used to launch off the sloping rock, now you'll have to walk quite a ways to find water. Then you won't go very far and there won't be enough water to get near the next portage, and you'll have to walk again. It's a puzzlement to me where the water is going in that one particular spot; maybe beavers somewhere.
Grandma L
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02/17/2021 12:20PM  
Voyager has lots of experience with this route! He has participated in the MN Border Route Challenge several times and he is a full fledged member of the "senior" club so his advice is pretty valuable.
You might also do a site search for trip reports from the Border Route Challengers. Several have written good reports - look for BeaV's and Muddyfeet.
Grandma L
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02/17/2021 12:24PM  
Cheesie, Just an idea. You could start at Dove point (Sha Sha Resort on Rainy) and do the Border all the way to Grand Portage. Start before the Annual Fall Border Route Challenge and plan to finish when they do. They will be starting on August 28 and finish by September 4. Move at your own pace but be at Grand Portage for all the post-trip shenanigans.
Contact me directly is you are interested. I do the Challenge coordinating and can link you with the guys and shuttle options.
GopherAdventure
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02/17/2021 01:34PM  
cyclones30: "Here's one of the times the alternate landing is talked about. Scroll down and cowdoc talks about bottle portage and farther down I talk about the Curtain falls portage with a map.


https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.thread&threadId=961731&forumID=16&confID=1 "


Here is a Google earth image of the area. I marker the portage landings with a yellow dot and the trail with a yellow line. The red markings are the spots with hard current, the one farther west being the spot most people paddle up through. You can avoid the fast water spots by paddling around and entering from the bay on the south side of the peninsula.



Hope this helps.
GoWhenYouCan
member (28)member
 
02/17/2021 05:04PM  
If it is on your bucket list I highly, highly recommend you go. We had talked about it for years and finally went in 2018. From August 25 - September 8. We certainly could have did it in less days but speed was not the goal. Our group was my daughter, son, brother and I. The three of us are experienced canoe country trippers. Prior to this trip my daughter had only been on one 4 day no portage trip. We were very fortunate to have manageable winds for most of the trip and the majority of the time was in our favor. There were only two times the wind was a factor. We were paddling on Gunflint in the afternoon and had to wait for a few hours till it calmed down. The other time was on Mountain and being that we were ahead of schedule we decided on a layover day. Except for two nights on Mountain we stayed on a different site each night. Which was quite a change as our annual early summer trips are base camp fishing trips. If you are a experienced tripper you know what portages are like. The Granite River area is very rugged. Due to low water levels the Pigeon River was the most difficult part of our trip. A lot of pulling and in and out of the canoe. Funny thing is whenever we talk about the trip the Pigeon River usually comes up first. My advise would be to leave yourself enough time so you don't feel rushed and you can take everything in. On days when travelling was easier we put in longer days. On tougher days when it was not so pleasant we did shorter. We had planned for two weather days so we were ahead of schedule and had some nice relaxed days towards the end. Our fishing trips each year are great but this was a special, memorable adventure. Advise from my father "Go When You Can".
MagicPaddler
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02/18/2021 05:59AM  
If you are doing the rout at a leisure pace a must see is just off of the portage form South Fowl to the Pigeon. There is a nice landing on Fowl and the portage is clear and well used leaving the landing. It heads up hill at a steep but manageable pace. About 200 feet up the trail it starts to level out and you come to a fork in the trail. The branch headed off to the right is seldom used but the path that goes straight ahead is well worn. At this point set all your gear down except your camera and take the well worn left hand trail. It gets kind of steep and ends at the most spectacular overlook anywhere in the area.
chessie
distinguished member (225)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/07/2021 10:00AM  
Thank you everyone for the ideas/input.
We may decide to do this route in sections, for time and stamina reasons. Most likely will attempt Eastern end first. Question: I've yet to find a 'good' map of Pigeon River -- and am interested in such, including up-to-date info on portaging/locations (including portaging around falls -- ).
Thanks again! (btw, looking at August)
OtherBob
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03/07/2021 03:16PM  
Good luck on finding a "good" map of the Pigeon River; Mackenzie has a map of the Grand Portage that is of some help. Look at Google Earth to see the real thing. A map is not of much help once you get on the river, any way, because you can't get lost and there is no place to stop. Despite what some old maps show, there are no portages before Partridge Falls, and the alders and other shore vegetation are so thick that there are no banks to pull up on. We found one flat beaver lodge pretty far down to land on; we needed to empty out the water we took on wading through the many shallows. You will hear Partridge Falls when you get close; the portage landing is a wide truck track on the right. The take out for the Grand Portage is a wood ramp maintained by the feds with informative and instructive signs to tell you you made it. Enjoy your journey.
chessie
distinguished member (225)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/07/2021 06:24PM  
OtherBob: "Good luck on finding a "good" map of the Pigeon River; Mackenzie has a map of the Grand Portage that is of some help. Look at Google Earth to see the real thing. A map is not of much help once you get on the river, any way, because you can't get lost and there is no place to stop. Despite what some old maps show, there are no portages before Partridge Falls, and the alders and other shore vegetation are so thick that there are no banks to pull up on. We found one flat beaver lodge pretty far down to land on; we needed to empty out the water we took on wading through the many shallows. You will hear Partridge Falls when you get close; the portage landing is a wide truck track on the right. The take out for the Grand Portage is a wood ramp maintained by the feds with informative and instructive signs to tell you you made it. Enjoy your journey. "
Thank you. So it sounds like the initial portage onto the river, then no further until the falls. One reason I inquire re: detailed map, and info on portages, esp at the Partridge Falls is I'm very hearing impaired, so I might NOT hear it! I presume portage is river right, as you are heading East?
Grandma L
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03/10/2021 11:42AM  
Chessie, I just sent you an e-mail with some information that might be helpful.
cmanimal
senior member (73)senior membersenior member
 
04/15/2021 07:13PM  
My wife and I went from Moose lake to GP in 7 days (sun-sat) Aug 2020. We traveled from about 7 am -3 pm most days. single portaging.

From a fitness (geezer) perspective, I wasn't even close to being fit as work was overwhelming in 2020 and I spent most of my spring and summer in a chair (up to 90 hrs./wk.) never having carried a canoe or pack as I had planned to do, and for reference I'm just shy of 50, yes I know far from Geezer but hopefully a reference point for age and fitness.

I used Makenzie maps including the one for the Pigeon river. Even though you can't get lost as stated earlier, I did find it useful in ticking off the turns on the river to have a feeling as to where we were and how far we had to go. The portage around the falls and the G.P. are both on the U.S. (left) side. I did find the start of the portage at the English rapids but it was quickly over grown so we lined/waded this and several other sections of rapids that followed.

Use caution when getting to Ft. Charlotte as the stairs expending into the river had disintegrate leaving stubs of rebar in the mud that you couldn't see. thankfully I found some with my foot before putting one or more through the canoe.

The only other significant piece of advise that I can offer up is that Rose lake fills up, I think (like us) that the long portage is saved for the morning. We had to use the back packing site, as that was the only open site on the lake.

Have fun.

I too plan to do the full route some day, and we are planning to do the Moose to G.P. run again in 2021.
04/19/2021 10:00AM  
chessie: "Thank you everyone for the ideas/input.
Question: I've yet to find a 'good' map of Pigeon River -- and am interested in such, including up-to-date info on portaging/locations (including portaging around falls -- )."

McKenzie Map #98 is good for the Pigeon River, however, they don't show a portage at Partridge Falls (maybe newer maps do now as they were made aware of this HUGE missing info and they said they would make the change on future printings).

I want to correct a couple of incorrect pieces of information stated above:

OtherBob said- "Despite what some old maps show, there are no portages before Partridge Falls, and the alders and other shore vegetation are so thick that there are no banks to pull up on". I think otherBob meant to say "English Rapids" not Partridge Falls. The English Rapids Portage no longer exists. It disappeared with the use of birch bark canoes. The Partridge Falls Portage DOES exist, it just isn't shown on maps.

cmanimal said- "The portage around the falls and the G.P. are both on the U.S. (left) side." The "left" reference is incorrect and could get you dead real quick! Yes the start of the Partridge Falls Portage and Grand Portage is on the U.S. side but they are located on the "river right" as you paddle downstream.

Partridge Falls is a REAL falls, way more spectacular and dangerous than any within the BWCA. Stay alert and ready to exit the river on the right side when paddling downstream.

Although not immediately dangerous if you miss the Grand Portage takeout on river right at Fort Charlotte, if you're not reading your map correctly and you naively keep paddling downstream....the Cascades will likely make you dead. It's only a half mile past Fort Charlotte.
Savage Voyageur
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04/24/2021 08:46AM  
chessie: "Thank you everyone for the ideas/input.
We may decide to do this route in sections, for time and stamina reasons. Most likely will attempt Eastern end first. Question: I've yet to find a 'good' map of Pigeon River -- and am interested in such, including up-to-date info on portaging/locations (including portaging around falls -- ).
Thanks again! (btw, looking at August)"



I bought all the USGS 24000 Topography maps from Grand Portage to Lac la Croix for a trip we took in 1979. I bought them for $2 a map back then. Now they are about $8 plus shipping. These maps were drawn many decades ago, but are updated when needed. Not much need to update them because things don’t change that much compared to like city roads. Every map made today by map companies are drawn off of these maps. Most of my maps show the portage location. I would suggest you look at Topo maps or a Garmin GPS with a Garmin Topo chip. I have Garmin Montana 655T with the USGS 24000 Topo chip that also shows your area in question. If you have a Garmin that takes chips it will cost about a $100 for the chip of every Topo map in the upper Midwest, about 3 or 4 states.
Moose Lake Monster
Guest Paddler
 
04/28/2021 09:58PM  
Have done the border route to GP many times. Do it. You will not regret it. What you do not say is how much time you have and whether you want to do things like fish/explore or just push through. La Croix, Basswood, and Sag can get pretty feisty on some days. If you are lucky they will be smooth as glass, but if not plan on a possible forced layover day. Your one advantage is you are going the direction of prevailing winds, so you might even get to sail. I second what folks said about the Pigeon. Depending on the water level it can be interesting, but it is also a lot of winding. I will also repeat about the falls because of the mistaken post about the portage being on the left. The falls are not to be messed with, easily a 60-foot drop. The portage is on the RIGHT as you head east. Also be aware there are not many places to camp on the Pigeon, so camp as near as you can before starting. The GP itself is just a long slog. While there is something to be said for doing the Pigeon and the portage, if you are short of time you could leave them out. Another option is to do the trip in sections. You might want to get ahold of a copy of Bolz, Portage Into the Past, which is about the border route and Grace Lee Nute's book on the voyageurs. Good luck!
 
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