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Michwall2
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04/17/2021 09:30AM  
This one is hypothetical. Neither I nor anyone I know has encountered this, but I have heard at least one account of something like it. I will reveal that as the "answer" at the end.

There are several places on trips I have taken where "lakes" are really just overblown beaver ponds. Their existence depends almost entirely upon a beaver dam. Two lakes I can think of like this are Elton Lake (southwest of LIttle Sag) and Duck Lake (between Mesaba and Zenith).

Anyhow, this is the scenario. You are on your last day of a trip. Expected out at Sawbill Entry that afternoon at the latest. You approach Duck Lake headed south and note that something seems amiss. As you exit the canoe and look on Duck Lake all you see is a vast plain of mud with a small pond in the deepest section. The beaver dam has a huge hole in it. Without this passage, you are at least 2 days hard travel from Sawbill entry with very low food rations.

What do you do?

 
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paddlinjoe
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04/17/2021 10:53AM  
This did happen to us. 2007 was dry summer until it became very wet in September. A friend returning from a trip just prior to us said they got 8 inches of rain overnight, and the lake they were on rose a foot overnight. Similar to your scenario it was our second to last day and we travelling from Winchell to Brule on our way to Swan Lake. There is a little lake between Wanihigan and Mulligan Lakes. I believe it was called Grassy Lake. The shape of Grassy was narrow and thin. We portaged south from Wanihigan and when we got to Grassy, it was mud everywhere except for a little bit of water in the middle. We just had to keep portaging along the edge of the original lake (very muddy) and bushwhacking through the forest. I think ultimately it turned a ½ mile portage into a 1 1/2 mile portage because once we made it to the far end of Grassy lake we still had the portage to Mulligan to do. It was our assumption that a beaver dam had let loose due to the abundance of rain.
 
Canoearoo
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04/17/2021 04:27PM  
We came across this before when we didn't have kids. We had to portage around on the edge. It was a lot of work
 
Michwall2
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04/20/2021 12:26PM  
There is a large beaver dam upstream of Bug Lake. (Louse River route.). The dam was blown out and there was very little water moving through the stream. The party opted to push on through the mud by poling and wading through the mud. It took them several hours to find enough water to paddle again.

The southern route of the Louse River was not recommended for several years until the beavers rebuilt the dam. Access to the Louse River was through Mesaba and Dent to Bug.

 
Savage Voyageur
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04/20/2021 03:59PM  
If you can’t go forward then you really only have three choices, none good. 1) bushwhack, then find the 500 rod portage and exit. 2) pull through the mud and then do the 500 rod portage and exit. 3) turn around and exit another way. You could maybe get a meal or two from other campers. But my food would be fresh fish. They are everywhere. Then with my Garmin InReach unit I would contact my family to inform them I will be a few days late. When you get to an exit you could bum a ride to your car or get a ride from an outfitter to your car. My money is on option #3.
 
Michwall2
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04/20/2021 07:25PM  
Savage Voyageur: "If you can’t go forward then you really only have three choices, none good. 1) bushwhack, then find the 500 rod portage and exit. 2) pull through the mud and then do the 500 rod portage and exit. 3) turn around and exit another way. You could maybe get a meal or two from other campers. But my food would be fresh fish. They are everywhere. Then with my Garmin InReach unit I would contact my family to inform them I will be a few days late. When you get to an exit you could bum a ride to your car or get a ride from an outfitter to your car. My money is on option #3. "

Those were my thoughts:

1. Pole through or bushwhack. There appears to be a lot of wetland around either side of Duck Lake. Don't know if you could get through or not.

2. Backtrack and take the Frost River. This is really a 2 day trip from the Duck Lake portage. Might get pretty hungry though.

3. Backtrack and exit at 50/51/52. You might be able to do this in one very long day. Try to buy a ride back to Sawbill.
 
04/21/2021 08:05PM  
If you do decide to pull through the mud bottom is likely uncertain and the mud will quickly claim all but the best well tied boots. And plan on a strong and unpleasant odor, social distancing will not be hard to achieve.
 
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