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JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
07/28/2021 03:32PM  
I have a trip planned for early September. 4 people, 2 canoes, 3 nights. We’ll be entering at Ram Lake and heading north to Horseshoe and then Meeds. From there we’ll go down to Winchell, Davis, Brule and exit at Bowers Trout. We’re thinking of camping on Horseshoe, Winchell, and Brule. That could change as we go. Looking at the map, I’m thinking this might be a fairly aggressive route for just 3 nights, but my companions all want to push and cover some ground as opposed to taking things easy.

If anyone has experience or things they know about portions of this route, I’d love to hear it. I’ve gotten some good route tips on here in the past. I hear the horseshoe area is a good place for moose sightings.

Thanks in advance!
 
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sedges
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07/28/2021 05:21PM  
The first day has a real tough portage, Little Trout to Misquah I believe. Horseshoe is a real busy lake from the north. I would stop at Vista if a site is open. Winchell is an easy day from Vista.. Get an early start getting off of Winchell. Wind from the wrong direction can make it rough. If the day is windy approaching Brule through the Cones take a site before you get to the main part of the lake. If it is not windy do as much of Brule as you can before stopping. Again, get an early start to exit Brule to avoid wind.

It is a beautiful section of the BWCA. A little pushy for four days, but not too bad.
JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
07/28/2021 06:02PM  
Thanks, Sedges. What makes the Little Trout-Misquah portage rough? Long and wet?
scramble4a5
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07/28/2021 07:10PM  
JN: "Thanks, Sedges. What makes the Little Trout-Misquah portage rough? Long and wet?"

Everything tough about a portage is available that one. It’s long, lots of elevation change, rocky at the lake edge. I just walked it both ways with a day pack and thought it was one of the hardest portages I have experienced. Would love to hear your thoughts when you finish it.
JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
07/28/2021 07:26PM  
scramble4a5: "JN: "Thanks, Sedges. What makes the Little Trout-Misquah portage rough? Long and wet?"


Everything tough about a portage is available that one. It’s long, lots of elevation change, rocky at the lake edge. I just walked it both ways with a day pack and thought it was one of the hardest portages I have experienced. Would love to hear your thoughts when you finish it."


Good to know. We'll be portaging 17 ft Grumnans, so we'll have to be careful.
07/28/2021 07:39PM  
You mentioned going to Davis.....not sure of how, but you may want to rethink that. Real tough from the north and I wouldn't want to lug Alumatubs in from the south either.
sedges
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07/28/2021 08:29PM  
I missed the Davis lake part. There used to be old portages from the west end of Winchell to Davis. I looked for them the last time I camped and had a lay-over day on Winchell. I could find no trace of them. Your route needs to go south to Wanigan, Cliff and the Cones.

The Little Trout-Misquah portage has it all steep hills, deep mud, slippery rocks and logs and the landing at Misquah is drop off a big rock outcrop if I remember it right. I carried an 80 pound canoe over last time I was there, so your boomalums are possible. Just plan on taking your time and travel together over the portage so you can aid each other if necessary. Nothing worse than being thigh deep in loon shit and having to wait until your buddy comes by for help.
JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
07/28/2021 09:29PM  
That's interesting. One of the maps I have been looking at shows a portage from Winchell to Pup and then on to Davis. Good to know. We'll do as you suggest and go down through the cones.

We've done a few rough portages with the old Grummans. I guess we're still young enough to see it as a fun challenge. Or still too poor to buy something lighter...

Thanks! I'm always glad I ask about routes on here!
07/28/2021 09:51PM  
The old Pup portage is now a bushwack. There have been people who have done it but there is a lot of time spent searching.
07/29/2021 09:18AM  
Just my opinion here, but pushing to Horseshoe on Day 1 from Ram is not a great idea.

I know it might be quieter in September, but you are using a very remote and peaceful EP and early portion of your route, only to travel right through that to the busiest lake on your route. Plus you wouldn't be getting there until mid/late afternoon no matter how early of a start you get or how hard you push.

Tackling the Little Trout to Misquah portage in early afternoon after already doing the 4 previous from Ram to LT is no joke, especially with your aluminum boats. You guys will be pretty tired upon entering LT. Sure you can do it, but why? Don't plan to camp on Misquah unless you like a crummy campsite. Vista has one great site that will in all likelihood be occupied, one decent one, and one that you will NOT want to stay at. So options are fairly limited heading north out of LT until you get to Horseshoe.

I know this might limit the amount of ground you will cover on this trip, and I think you should keep all options on the table including the plan to push to Horseshoe on Day 1 (knock yourselves out if that's what you're feeling), but also be prepared for the group to feel like you've gone plenty far once you get to Little Trout and want to stop and camp there for the night, saving the beastly portage to Misquah for when you're fresh the next morning. Little Trout is not a consolation, it's a beautiful lake. Be flexible.
JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
07/29/2021 12:50PM  
cowdoc: "The old Pup portage is now a bushwack. There have been people who have done it but there is a lot of time spent searching."

So why would a portage be abandoned like that?
JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
07/29/2021 12:51PM  
treehorn: "Just my opinion here, but pushing to Horseshoe on Day 1 from Ram is not a great idea.


I know it might be quieter in September, but you are using a very remote and peaceful EP and early portion of your route, only to travel right through that to the busiest lake on your route. Plus you wouldn't be getting there until mid/late afternoon no matter how early of a start you get or how hard you push.


Tackling the Little Trout to Misquah portage in early afternoon after already doing the 4 previous from Ram to LT is no joke, especially with your aluminum boats. You guys will be pretty tired upon entering LT. Sure you can do it, but why? Don't plan to camp on Misquah unless you like a crummy campsite. Vista has one great site that will in all likelihood be occupied, one decent one, and one that you will NOT want to stay at. So options are fairly limited heading north out of LT until you get to Horseshoe.


I know this might limit the amount of ground you will cover on this trip, and I think you should keep all options on the table including the plan to push to Horseshoe on Day 1 (knock yourselves out if that's what you're feeling), but also be prepared for the group to feel like you've gone plenty far once you get to Little Trout and want to stop and camp there for the night, saving the beastly portage to Misquah for when you're fresh the next morning. Little Trout is not a consolation, it's a beautiful lake. Be flexible."


That's not a bad idea. I think we'd be hard pressed to make our entire loop in 4 days if we don't go further than Little Trout on our first day, but maybe if we don't go all the way north to Caribou and Meeds and instead get to Winchell via Gaskin. Either way, we usually play things by ear and adjust plans as we go. Thanks for input!

straighthairedcurly
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07/31/2021 11:45PM  
I did the route from Bower Trout to Ram. I stayed on Bower Trout (because I entered late in the afternoon on day 1), Vernon, Davis, Omega (I had refuges from Winchell arriving late in the day saying all Winchell sites were gone), Horseshoe, Ram (though I had intended to stay on Little Trout). My son did the route the direction you are planning and shortened his route to skip going out to Davis. They managed to get the last spot on Winchell...Brule was totally full.

You have selected the 3 busiest lakes to camp on so you had better be planning to find a campsite early afternoon.

The portages from Ram to Misquah are on the tough side...uphill and rocky.

Little Trout is almost always empty. Vernon site near the portage has a path to a little waterfall.

Portage from Kiskadinna to Davis was very rough. Portage into Davis from the south is no joke either. I did it on a rainy day, slipped and almost injured myself badly enough to end my trip. Davis was empty for me. Cone Lakes were empty when I passed through.

Brule is a very popular base camping lake and it is very tough to get a campsite in my experience.

Winchell and Brule can both have wind issues if the weather works against you.

I don't know you or the group you are traveling with...but in my opinion and experience, doing what you propose in 3 nights will be long days and exhausting. The longs days could make finding a campsite when you need one risky depending on the lake. To shorten, skip going to Meeds, go up to Horseshoe, go west to Kiskadinna (or if wind is not a factor you could do Winchell and then go in and out of Davis from the south), then south through Davis and the Cones . Then head back toward Bower Trout.

Horseshoe is a great place to see moose, but you do not need to camp there to see them. Just paddling through will often score you a viewing. If you do camp on Horseshoe and get there late, the first campsite as you enter from the south is often available because no one entering from the north wants to paddle down there. The lake is shallow there as it transitions to river, but a campsite is a campsite when you are tired at the end of a long day.

My trip report:
Bower Trout to Ram
JN
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
 
09/09/2021 11:32AM  
Thanks all for the input. The trip went well and without mishap. We did cut out going up to Caribou and Meeds and instead went from Horseshoe to Gaskin to Winchell and through the Cones down to Brule. We camped on Horseshoe, Brule, and Swan. A trio of moose crashed past our camp on Horseshoe at 1am and bedded down behind the latrine. We got to see them through the brush the next morning. That was a lot of fun!

Scramble - the Trout to Misquah portage wasn't too bad. Long, hilly, and rocky, but we all agreed it was not a big deal. I do think the dry year helped a lot though. There were several areas that we could see were normally swampy or muddy, but they were firm and dry this year. I think our experience would have been much different had it been a normal year for rainfall.
09/09/2021 02:00PM  
JN: "cowdoc: "The old Pup portage is now a bushwack. There have been people who have done it but there is a lot of time spent searching."


So why would a portage be abandoned like that? "


There have been a number of portages and campsites abandoned over the years. There are campsites in the PMA lakes where there are small trees growing up through the fire grates and old, rotted wooden latrines, and many unmaintained old portages. They were unpopular areas that were not worth the effort of the short handed FS crews to keep maintaining.
 
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