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Rockriver
member (31)member
 
05/17/2021 01:58AM  
I'm sure it happens a lot. Hustle all day to arrive near dark and no sites available. The next possibility is hours of portages. Now what?

Anyone have stories of that happening and your solution? Does anyone have protocol if it happens to you? I go solo most times so I think I would sleep in my canoe. I've spent many nights on the floor of a canoe on the wilderness waterway in everglades. Would that be legal? Just curious what others have done or will do if it happens.
 
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Wolfee
member (42)member
 
05/17/2021 05:28AM  
Had it happen once 25 years ago on Pine lake. Late start, high winds, poor planning on our part, yada yada... Pitched our tents in the best commando spot we could find. Made a quick supper and went to bed early. Up super early the next day and on to the next lake. I think we were a group of 4, if I'm remembering correctly. It happens, and you do what you gotta do to be safe. Now I plan better and try to be looking for a campsite early.

mschi772
distinguished member(659)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2021 08:59AM  
If it came to it where I just had to stop, I'd much on some of the food I have that doesn't require cooking, secure my canoe and gear, hang my hammock on a suitable set of trees, and sleep there until morning.
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(873)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2021 08:59AM  
It's never happened to me where I couldn't find a site, though there have been a few times when I thought I might not. If one cannot find a site, I guess there are three options:

1. keep going until you find one. Night paddling is not the best scenario, night portaging even less so.

2. Asking another party if you could share. By that time in the evening, though, doing so will likely rock their world a bit.

3. finding a non-campsite, camp there with minimal footprint, no fire. Get up early so as not to attract attention. Sounds like you've done this option.

I think all of the above would be easier solo or as two, and each option gets progressively more difficult as the group gets bigger. I've seen so many parties of all sizes paddling a lake at near sundown, obviously looking for a site...and I know there isn't an open one on the lake. I've often wondered what they ended up doing...

Mike
ockycamper
distinguished member(575)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2021 11:01AM  
I have been taking groups up for 15 years. We have had years we had to "paddle on" for sites but never found ourselves not having one. The key for us is that we pull in to a site no later then late afternoon. "Pushing on" to find the "that site" into the evening is a recipe for not having a site.
05/17/2021 12:08PM  
Hours of portaging to find the next one? Maybe but...that means the next lakes are all full or you've got one of about 3 portages in the park around 2 miles between you and the next lake.
EddyTurn
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2021 12:39PM  
A few times happened to me, but backwards. Each time we ended up sharing our site with a group that would otherwise have to travel for hours to find another campsite (probably also already taken) or exit the wilderness altogether. People just paddled up to our site and asked if we mind sharing. Never had an issue with our roommates.
05/17/2021 12:51PM  
Most people don't paddle until near dark and expect to find a site open. We did that on the first trip and were lucky somebody offered to share. I haven't done it since.
mgraber
distinguished member(1216)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2021 01:12PM  
As others have stated, never paddle until evening and expect to find a site. That being said, I can absolutely , positively guarantee you that even if you always start to look by 2:00 you will still have times that you will paddle many miles and many hours looking for an open site, and still may fail to find one. We have let people stay with us that were at the end of their rope, and have twice been saved by the same. Many suggest that if you start early enough that you will always find one, and this is usually true, but definitely not always. Like our most recent incident, we traveled hard against a strong headwind from 7AM until noon, covering over 10 miles. We started looking, checking every site we passed, and after many more zigzag miles in wind that was getting dangerous, we rounded a corner at a campsite that was occupied. We decided to ask, as it was now past dinner time, but before we could ask they asked us. They told us they had come from the opposite direction and found no open sites in the last 6 miles, and we were spent, there is a limit to how long you can go. Otherwise we would have just found a place and camped. What else can you do? This was in an area that we had never seen particularly busy before, but if we continued further was headed in to a very busy area with no real alternate routes.
05/17/2021 02:36PM  
I've paddled in late during the fall shoulder-season and just run out of light. I had to emergency bivvy. It was not great in terms of planning....and the slope of my tent! I've managed to avoid it every since. Bad weather is a different game. If it's time to get off the water and stay there....then you make due with the nearest point of land that makes you safe.
05/17/2021 03:28PM  
Never had it happen to me but I have been looking for a campsite as the sun is going down before. We usually work hard to get a ways in before looking for a site though, so it has never been much of an issue for us. We go to the east side, so over-crowding is not as much of a concern, combine that with going further in and some trips we don't see anyone for days.

So I'm a keep paddling person. If you go far enough in, it won't be an issue. If I was in a crowded area, I would plan on being there earlier in the day so paddling on is still not an issue.
05/17/2021 03:31PM  
Almost has happened to me. It was all adults group of 4. I knew it was going to be busy and knew it was going to get dark if first options didn't open up. We did have to portage in the dark... not complete dark but you had a light on. The portage was to a dead end not popular lake with a long portage so I had high hopes that one of the three sites would be available and it was. Other than I probably would have camped on the trail until daylight.
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(956)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/17/2021 03:45PM  
I always start looking for a site no later than 2 or 3 pm. My rule is I take whatever I find and never push my luck if a lake or area seems busy. If an area is more remote or quiet, then I will check out a couple spots before settling. The only time I have had a problem was when storms moved in last summer and Ogish was completely full at 1:00pm. We ended up camping at a closed site along with a father-daughter who were also caught in the storm. If not for the storm, we could have backtracked to an earlier lake we knew had plenty of open sites.

I've had some times I have been pretty nervous...like doing the massive portage from Seagull to Paulson and worried that both sites would be full at 3:00pm...we got the last site and then 2 other groups coming from the other direction arrived at 4:00pm and 5:30 pm and had to keep moving toward Seagull. We would have shared if they had asked.
Rockriver
member (31)member
 
05/17/2021 07:26PM  
cyclones30: "Hours of portaging to find the next one? Maybe but...that means the next lakes are all full or you've got one of about 3 portages in the park around 2 miles between you and the next lake. "

I'll be heading to stuart again this year. I never had a problem but all dates were reserved and I had to go two weeks later. To reach stuart lake isn't hard nor fast. I think 4 sites, maybe 5? The next closest is close to a mile portage into fox lake which has one maybe site. I've never seen it but it's listed as non reviewed. Same for rush lake, only another 1/4 mile portage or so. Again, I've never seen the site that may be there. If not, couple more 1/4 mile portages and two lakes later, you may find a camp on iron lake. But get there early! Lol.

Agnes I've never went that way but it's 2 portages at least and a long way on the river. So yes, I'd say you could be well over two hours from a camp if stuart is full. I scored a pma permit but it's for the next day. I guess I could paddle around till midnight and crash just across the border. Lol.

All the permits being gone is what got me thinking about it. I've only been 7 times, but I try to pick harder to reach places. Stuart's not really hard, but it's long and lots of portages. Thanks for the reply.

Rockriver
member (31)member
 
05/17/2021 07:57PM  
One more thing....I drive up and reach the outfitters about when they open. It's always been in and out and hit the woods. Usually reach stuart around 2pm...not early. This year, I have to go to the ranger station as well. I have no idea how long that will take. Paddling in the dark still beats sitting on the couch. Lol. Hope everyone has a safe and awesome season.
05/17/2021 09:16PM  
The only time we ever bushwhacked for lack of an open campsite was in Algonquin. Their reservation system is different in that for each night camping you have to reserve which lake you stay on and they only issue as many permits for that lake as there are campsites (this was 10 years ago so things may have changed). That's how it worked in theory anyways. We checked every site on that huge lake and every single one was full. Clearly at least one group there wasn't following the rules. We figured it was better to bushwack on our permitted lake than to stay on one where we weren't supposed to be. No fire and we were up and out early.
05/17/2021 10:32PM  
I have only had issues with campsite availability on nights before exit. We usually sleep in my truck at the EP the night before, launch at first light, and put a real solid first day in, stopping at around 4 or so. We stay deep in the park until the day before exit, then try to travel to 2 or 3 hours from the exit. Half of the time we run into issues with lots of base campers. I haven’t had to bushwhack yet, but I’ve had times that I’ve considered it. Dang I miss the Q.
BearBurrito
distinguished member(913)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2021 08:06AM  
I have had it happen, and I believe the appropriate protocol is to stealth camp. I made sure I was at least 200 feet away from the nearest trail or body of water, no campfire, and LNT. I am always solo, and I hammock camp so I have never had an issue finding a space that works for me.
BigBearArlich
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2021 09:05AM  
Happened to me for the first time ever last summer. As the only paddle power in the boat I was not comfortable pushing further to find one. Had my young kids with me. We ended up coming back out the same day we put in and found a nice campground on Moose Lake.
scotttimm
distinguished member (474)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2021 09:40AM  
I have not had this happen to us. We did have one close call on Insula but lucked out with a couple on Williamson Island telling us the beach site across the way was open. One option not mentioned - I would think, as we usually trip with kids - it would be harder for us to bushwack and we would probably opt to camp on or along a portage, be up and on our way at first light. Easier than finding a bush site for a larger group and less impact. I have commented before that if I see someone on a campsite earlier in the day on a full lake and it looks like they may be leaving, I might ask how long they are staying, but I think I would be a little shy to ask if our full group could share a campsite...with kids in tow I think that would be a big ask. I have started to take notice of places along our "regular routes" where it looks like people stealth camp in an emergency for future emergencies on our part. Theres a spot on the north end of Nina Moose right where the river flows towards the next portage, and there is an island on Agnes - both show signs of camper activity.

We're headed to Rose this summer, and I am worried about showing up on Rose and it being full - but we'll leave early enough that we can head west towards South or North Lake if needed. I usually ask the outfitter or folks on here to try and get intel for "plan B" if needed.
05/18/2021 01:56PM  
Happened to me once in early August. I was not looking for a site late in the day; every site that I encountered in mid afternoon was gone. I was on Iron Lake when I started in the morning, and kept looking as I had a couple days left before I planned on exiting. I ended up paddling out that day (Moose River EP). Tis why I really miss Quetico.
Z4K
senior member (94)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2021 02:57PM  
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.

The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.

Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!
Chieflonewatie
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2021 03:19PM  
Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.


The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.


Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"


Thats what you would do. Most would do what they had to do.
schweady
distinguished member(7358)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/18/2021 03:38PM  
45 trips.
Never had to choose whether or not to stealth camp.
Never had to choose whether or not to share or ask others if they'd share.
Can't say whether a health emergency or sudden weather event might change that.
The closest I've come is when my friend died on a portage 5 hours in.
We hunkered down with him for 6 hours until SAR arrived.
Then paddled back in the darkest pitch black imaginable.

Good planning will usually mean an official site, all to one's own.
But, stuff happens.
Don't assume that every stealth camper is just lazy or a cheat.
Z4K
senior member (94)senior membersenior member
 
05/18/2021 04:38PM  
Chieflonewatie: "Thats what you would do. Most would do what they had to do."

If you just 'have to' break a major rule, perhaps you should be vacationing somewhere that's not a protected wilderness area. Dispersed camping is admissible in all areas of the Superior National Forest that do not fall into the designated 'Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.' Inside of the designated wilderness area, however, it is not. I think this falls into the same category as intentionally crossing the international border without the proper permits... This needs to change, before the few ruin it for the rest of us. If too many people end up breaking this rule, I see the BWCA going the way of Sylvania, Everglades NP etc, where permits come with reserved campsites for every night of your trip.

I believe that major injury or loss of life would warrant breaking this rule.
ockycamper
distinguished member(575)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2021 05:21PM  
Agree with most of the comments on this thread. Not finding a site is usually a result of trying to push too far during the day. (A lot like "lets just drive on a few more miles then find a hotel). Get an early start and if you are in an area where there are a lot of paddlers. . .take a spot you find early afternoon.

Or

Do what our groups do. We bring up 14 to 18 men each fall, into 3 groups, and have never had a problem with sites. Because we go the third or fourth week of September.
EddyTurn
distinguished member (120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2021 05:29PM  
Z4K: "Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"
There are other unpredictable things in this life besides the weather. Not finding a site may be a result of being lost or may be all sites are already taken by people base camping there for days. Or beaver dam is busted and there's no water in otherwise easily navigated stream and one has to walk it instead. Or a strained ankle won't let you portage the next 100 rods? I can suggest at least a dozen of likely scenarios. If this thread teaches you that you are in control of the environment then it's indeed a dangerously misleading thread. It's unlikely that memorizing the forecast for the next 2 or 3 weeks really help me to deal with any of them.
05/18/2021 05:43PM  
Agree with most but..... example. Crocodile Lake off Gunflint only has 4 spots. EP 66 allows you to camp on Crocodile Lake. Very possible that (probable this year and last) that all campsites are full. Can't go to Bearskin and if you leave to stay at your car you would not be able to reenter on your permit.

So--you have two options--ask one of the 4 campers if you can share--or leave the BWCA and end your trip the same day it started. Puts one in a pickle.

Not a very good option.

This I know--if I was a camper on that lake and someone came by and asked to share, the kind human thing to do would be to share at least for the night.

Not sure what I would do if I was the guy who couldn't find the site.

GopherAdventure
distinguished member(860)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/18/2021 09:10PM  
Rockriver: "cyclones30: "Hours of portaging to find the next one? Maybe but...that means the next lakes are all full or you've got one of about 3 portages in the park around 2 miles between you and the next lake. "


I'll be heading to stuart again this year. I never had a problem but all dates were reserved and I had to go two weeks later. To reach stuart lake isn't hard nor fast. I think 4 sites, maybe 5? The next closest is close to a mile portage into fox lake which has one maybe site. I've never seen it but it's listed as non reviewed. Same for rush lake, only another 1/4 mile portage or so. Again, I've never seen the site that may be there. If not, couple more 1/4 mile portages and two lakes later, you may find a camp on iron lake. But get there early! Lol.


Agnes I've never went that way but it's 2 portages at least and a long way on the river. So yes, I'd say you could be well over two hours from a camp if stuart is full. I scored a pma permit but it's for the next day. I guess I could paddle around till midnight and crash just across the border. Lol.


All the permits being gone is what got me thinking about it. I've only been 7 times, but I try to pick harder to reach places. Stuart's not really hard, but it's long and lots of portages. Thanks for the reply.


"


What’s your entry day? I’ll be there June 13th. There are 5 sites on Stuart, the site on Rush is awesome, with good fishing from camp.

Tony
Chieflonewatie
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
05/19/2021 07:35AM  
Z4K: "Chieflonewatie: "Thats what you would do. Most would do what they had to do."


If you just 'have to' break a major rule, perhaps you should be vacationing somewhere that's not a protected wilderness area. Dispersed camping is admissible in all areas of the Superior National Forest that do not fall into the designated 'Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.' Inside of the designated wilderness area, however, it is not. I think this falls into the same category as intentionally crossing the international border without the proper permits... This needs to change, before the few ruin it for the rest of us. If too many people end up breaking this rule, I see the BWCA going the way of Sylvania, Everglades NP etc, where permits come with reserved campsites for every night of your trip.


I believe that major injury or loss of life would warrant breaking this rule."

In 30 years of tripping I've never had this happen to me. It did almost happen last September. We traveled all day with the Idea of getting a site around noon. None were available we searched near by lakes all afternoon and early evening and finally found one. We almost had to break your major rule and if we did no amount of shaming by you would make me feel bad about it at all. It makes me laugh that you have the gall to tell someone where to camp.
mgraber
distinguished member(1216)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/19/2021 12:56PM  
Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.


The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.


Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"


So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?
siusaluki23
distinguished member (134)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2021 12:39PM  
mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.



The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.



Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"



So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"


Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake.
Chieflonewatie
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
05/20/2021 03:33PM  
siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.



The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.



Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"




So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"



Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."!$/i
Chieflonewatie
senior member (72)senior membersenior member
 
05/20/2021 03:33PM  
siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.



The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.



Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"




So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"



Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."!$/i
05/20/2021 04:00PM  
Chieflonewatie: "siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.




The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.




Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"




So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"




Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."!$/i
05/20/2021 04:03PM  
Chieflonewatie: "siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.




The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.




Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"




So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"




Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."!$/i
schweady
distinguished member(7358)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
05/20/2021 06:16PM  
HighnDry: "..."

Yet another unsuccessful quote fix attempt...
corvidologist
senior member (51)senior membersenior member
 
05/20/2021 10:11PM  
The fox like site is pretty meager, but it would not be the worst thing in the world!
05/20/2021 10:15PM  
mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.



The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.



Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"



So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"


I’ve been tripping 20 years and this has never happened. I guess it is possible? But if you start looking at noon—-then maybe till 6ish you could cover many lakes...you’d either be going in deeper and eventually you will find a site or if you are on the edge I guess ya just leave rather than break the rules...now I just jinxed myself and won’t find a site this year :)
Michwall2
distinguished member(1117)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/21/2021 06:37AM  
Not so many years ago, there were semi-annual threads on this forum that explored the topic of "how do we get more people and/or younger people to visit this wilderness wonderland". Well, depending upon how you look at it, whether through serendipity or through simply no other good options, we have the conditions now that have many more people enjoying (or ruining) our wilderness. This is going to inevitably lead to more competition for campsites. And as in any area where you introduce competition, you will need to adjust your planning and strategies to be successful.

In the past, as I planned for trips, I would always assume that the first 1-2 lakes from an entry point would be full. Now I would assume the first 3-4 lakes near an entry point will be full. In addition, we all know the high usage areas. e.g. Lake1-4, Mudro, LIS North, Seagull through SAK and Knife Lake, etc. We also know from anecdotal evidence here that the "base camping" style is now much more prevalent than the "tripping/traveling" style. The consequence of which is that there are many fewer campsites turning over. This is especially true in those first 3-4 lakes from the entry and in those heavy use areas.

Even before the pandemic, I would plan trips that either avoided traveling through these high use areas or, if it could not be avoided, I knew that we may have a longer day to get at least 3-4 lakes away (or over a longer portage) again or a longer day searching for a campsite in those areas. Toward the end of the trip, I would stay a day's travel away from the entry points. (Either many portages or a very long portage between me and the exit point). If I crossed nearer to the entry before then, I knew there was a chance that we were going to end our trip a day early because of a lack of campsites.

How are you going to change your "planning strategies" to account for the changing usage patterns in the BW? I know that planning will not completely avoid these types of situations, but I think we can reduce the likelihood of finding ourselves in that situation.
ockycamper
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05/21/2021 08:10AM  
All good points. We take up 3 groups each fall. Because of these issues, we go late September as we need 3 camp sites. We also go to the Gunflint area.
PaddlePricilla
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05/22/2021 09:18PM  
This happened to us last summer. I think there were a lot of extra folks without permits in the area and there just weren't enough campsites for the number of people. We hadn't realized that if you didn't secure a site early, you were in trouble. We found ourselves paddling for hours looking for a site--2 adults, 3 children. Nothing. As it was getting really dark, we began asking if we could share and four times the answer was no. Usually small groups with big sites. On the fifth ask, when it was frankly just plain dark, the group said yes although they were a big group with multiple tents. There wasn't really a proper tent pad but we made do. We were very grateful but also somewhat surprised by how difficult the whole process was. For the next week, we always grabbed a campsite by noon because we didn't want to have that happen again. It was a drag because we had to get up really early and still had to change our whole route plan so that we only paddled 5-6 hours per day. Frankly, it turned us off the whole trip a bit.
EddyTurn
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05/22/2021 09:49PM  
People who won't share a site with another group (especially with kids) are probably the same people who don't answer a greeting on a portage. They might leave no trace, but they don't belong in the wild.
Castaway
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05/22/2021 10:37PM  
Chieflonewatie: "siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.




The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.




Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"




So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"




Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."

If that site is full then what?"
Castaway
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05/22/2021 10:41PM  
Castaway
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05/22/2021 10:53PM  
Chieflonewatie: "siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.

The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.

Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"


So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"


Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."


If that site is full then what?"

Michwall2
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05/23/2021 02:35AM  
Castaway: "Chieflonewatie: "siusaluki23: "mgraber: "Z4K: "Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.
Camping is authorized at improved sites with a fire grate and a latrine only.





The only exception inside of the designated wilderness area is for those with PMA permits.





Unexpected (forecast was wrong) hazardous weather should be the only excuse for this. Print or memorize the forecast before leaving! Cancel trips if the weather is going to be too much for your group. Reading this thread it seems like everyone that's had it happen to them has said the same thing: I learned and it hasn't happened since. So skip a step and learn from this thread!"





So for the people that start looking at noon or early afternoon, and look until late in the day without finding a site, what should they have learned from that experience? What would be your answer for this scenario?"




Find something off the main path. Take a portage to a lake with only one campsite or on a dead end lake."

If that site is full then what?"

"

I guess the "lesson learned" is that you pick a different entry, a different time of year, or a different wilderness strategy for your next trip. (See my previous post.).

And we can "What If" every scenario presented as a solution to this predicament. The answer is - there is no answer. You have just encountered the "Kobayashi Maru" of BWCA tripping. The "no win" scenario.

The answer is that you do what you have to to stay safe with as little LNT impact as possible. (No rule requires that you act in an unsafe/dangerous manner.) You resolve the rule violation (stealth camp, over 9 people/4watercraft, etc), if one has occurred, as soon as practicable. And then move on with your trip.

What I have learned from this thread is:
1. While increasing in incidence, this scenario is still rare.
2. There are strategies that can be employed to make it even less likely to occur.
3. Most people who learned how to share in kindergarten still do.

Voyager
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05/23/2021 12:36PM  
I've offered to share my campsite many times in 53 years of tripping in the BW. Many times folks were desperate. Some accepted and some didn't. I posed the question to a patrolling ranger years ago. His answer was " you do what you have to do to stay safe".
05/23/2021 04:02PM  
I agree with Z4K in principal- follow the rules. BUT Shit Happens!!! Have a plan a-b-c and when they don't work do what you need to to stay safe. I don't want my eulogy to begin "At least he followed the rules"

I have slept twice in my canoe and once under it,( not in the BWCA) that goes to show how well my plans and Mother Nature's jell.
 
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