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gopackers12
member (33)member
  
07/08/2023 03:23PM  
Looking into Bushwhacking for the first time. Clearly understand basic rules like leave no trace, start early, long sleeves/pants required, check compass very often, and stay close together at all times, but I’m looking for input from people that have actually bushwhacked or used a phone as a GPS in Quetico.
- Do people use satellite images for scouting? I’ve read to not expect areas to look anything like what they do on google earth.
- Do people use topo maps to help decide a path? Is it a better strategy to follow low points like streams or low land bridges or to get some elevation and follow ridges to avoid thick underbrush that comes around streams and low land bridges?
- Do people actually wear light gloves? This sounds like a good idea, but do people actually do it?
- Assuming we should expect to find campsites that are small and grown over.
- Do people try to get all gear in 1 trip, or take multiple trips and use flagging to know where left gear? We single portage, but seems unrealistic to single portage on a bushwhack. What is best approach with 6 guys and 3 canoes?
- Do people use GPS on their phones? Has anyone tried saving a map of an area in Quetico on Google Maps, and then used Google Maps as a GPS in Quetico by loading the saved map while in airplane mode?
- Has anyone used other GPS apps on their phone in Quetico that work offline without cell service? (We don’t have a handheld GPS).
Thanks for any experiences you can share!
 
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tumblehome
distinguished member(2949)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/09/2023 06:13AM  
I’ve done some bushwhacking.

It’s harder than it looks on a map. It can be scary, it was for me.

I did not use technology for my bushwhacking in part that it wasn’t too available to me at the time, and I still am in the camp that it should not be trusted enough to rely on it. I use a compass and it’s all you need.

On my last bush whack to a far away lake in the Q I had to portage through one other lake without a portage first. I left as much gear as I could in the woods as well as some of my food and hung the pack.

I put a string on my glasses so if I lost them, they would stay with me. Other than that I didn’t wear anything special.

The only advice I would offer is to trust your compass, know it well, practice walking in the woods with it before your trip so you are confident in using it.

Tom
07/09/2023 08:27AM  
gopackers12: "- Do people actually wear light gloves? This sounds like a good idea, but do people actually do it?"


Standard Operating Procedure on all portages.
MagicPaddler
distinguished member(1492)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/10/2023 08:42AM  
I wear gloves and glasses. I use a hand held Garmin and a compos both tied to me with a string. I take printout of satellite photo with a proposed rout which is rarely followed. Plan on where you can get water. Bring a filter. I did a 2 day bushwhack this year and my partner and I both drank a gallon of water a day.
Minnesotian
distinguished member(2348)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/10/2023 09:42AM  

Good luck. Bushwhacking is great fun with a hint of serious danger. But that danger can be mitigated if you are well prepared, which it looks like you are well on the way.

I study satellite images plenty before a trip, but I have yet to bring a print out along. I find the difference between what I can discern on a satellite image to be wholly different from what I see once I am at location. Wouldn't hurt to bring a print out, but not critical in my opinion.

Topo maps are critical when scouting a route at home and even more so when in the field. Especially when you are in the thick of the woods and can't see the horizon or even the sun at some points. But your feet can feel that you are going uphill or down. And deciding a path is kinda a happy medium between keeping close to a stream or low point and heading to ridges. A stream can be easily followed, thus why so may portages are right next to streams. However, they tend to be very thick with vegetation, unexpectedly boggy at points, and ankle snapping dangerous from a slippery rock. But, a ridge line, while maybe being able to see the horizon and less vegetation, may bring you to a spot where you can't climb down due to a cliff. May have looked easier on the topo map, but there isn't any way to climb with a canoe. I tend to stick to streams or low points. Look for snapped branches, previously cut logs, and footprints to also aid in finding a path.

Gloves, yes. Eye Protection, yes. Long sleeves and pants, yes. Expect any clothing you wear to get snagged and ripped, no matter how careful you are.

If you find a campsite, it will be tiny. I have a challenging time setting up a tent and have started bringing a hammock more often for bushwhacking. Don't expect any fire rings or a place to cook over a fire. Bring stoves.

For portaging, I can only speak for myself as I usually go solo. But I bring over a light pack first, and maybe paddles as well. What I have found is that my first portage is typically the hardest, as I bust through. Once I hit my destination lake, the "path" that everyone else has taken reveals itself. My return trip is usually a lot easer because of that.

I have a dedicated GPS unit with maps of Quetico loaded on it. I have not utilized an Iphone and Google Maps in airplane mode, nor would I feel comfortable using that method as there are too many variables that may change the google maps settings. I also bring my compass and set a heading to my designation lake, knowing I will have deviations off the heading to get around obstacles. And a topo map. As you are crashing through the brush, every 30 feet or so, look behind you. Be familiar with where you have come though.

Since there are 6 of you, I recommend you all going as a group or at least staying in sight of each other, or create a buddy system. No one should be left alone or separated from the group. All of you should have a whistle, compass, map, and a water bottle and snack when portaging, and possibly a headlamp. After completing the portage, slam some water and maybe the snack before heading back to get the rest of the gear if needed. Bushwacking takes serious energy and you can sweat a lot out quickly. Dehydration in turn leads to poor decisions.

Whoever doesn't have a canoe on their head is a navigator and amongst the 3 of you come to a consensus on where to go, minimizing a "blindly following the leader over a cliff" mentality. Trust the compass.

If you do get turned around lost, stop, drop the gear, take a seat for about 5 min. Take a breather. Drink some water, have a snack and calm down. Then look at the map/compass/GPS and start again.

Have a good time!
07/10/2023 01:26PM  
Lots of good responses. I plan to bushwhack in Quetico in Sept. I will go first with the heavy pack and work out a route. Keep the saw handy and use flagging as I go. No electronics for me. Map and compass, plenty of water and watch where I step.

Bring canoe and small pack through the established route.
goatroti
distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/10/2023 08:14PM  
Flagging and a saw? Both plants and animals are protected in Quetico. Don't cut shrubs and bushes. Ask the park office if you are going into a protected area. Do not leave flagging. Hey, why not just stay home and destroy your own country.
Guestguy
Guest Paddler
  
07/11/2023 08:08PM  
I’m sure he meant a saw for deadfall’s blocking a certain path,not blatant destruction,jeeeesh this site is full on over reactors on every subject.
Stumpy
distinguished member(2154)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/11/2023 08:37PM  
Guestguy: "I’m sure he meant a saw for deadfall’s blocking a certain path,not blatant destruction,jeeeesh this site is full on over reactors on every subject."

Got that right
goatroti
distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/12/2023 04:54AM  
Guestguy: "I’m sure he meant a saw for deadfall’s blocking a certain path,not blatant destruction,jeeeesh this site is full on over reactors on every subject."


Nonsense. If you want to bushwhack, then bushwhack. Don't cut a trail. When these so-called bushwhackers get up the nerve to come to a foreign and sovereign country and ask the Park Superintendent if the area they're going through is free of biologically sensitive areas, breeding or nesting sites and historically or culturally important sites, and they get the okay, then you can spout over reacting. Why is it that Americans feel the need to go north of the border to cloak their activities? Is America not big enough to get hacked through?
Stumpy
distinguished member(2154)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/12/2023 10:32AM  
goatroti: "
Guestguy: "I’m sure he meant a saw for deadfall’s blocking a certain path,not blatant destruction,jeeeesh this site is full on over reactors on every subject."



Nonsense. If you want to bushwhack, then bushwhack. Don't cut a trail. When these so-called bushwhackers get up the nerve to come to a foreign and sovereign country and ask the Park Superintendent if the area they're going through is free of biologically sensitive areas, breeding or nesting sites and historically or culturally important sites, and they get the okay, then you can spout over reacting. Why is it that Americans feel the need to go north of the border to cloak their activities? Is America not big enough to get hacked through? "

Jeez
Calm down
You will not find any "trail" or sign of any lake I have bushwhacked into....and it has been dozens, at least.
I pay for my permit, my camping fees, my fishing license, my outdoor card, and used to pay my food duty.
tumblehome
distinguished member(2949)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/13/2023 06:45PM  
I found that my Dewalt battery chainsaw does quick work at cutting trails when bushwhacking.
07/13/2023 07:08PM  
tumblehome: "I found that my Dewalt battery chainsaw does quick work at cutting trails when bushwhacking."


Real men use flamethrowers.
07/13/2023 08:28PM  
tumblehome: "I found that my Dewalt battery chainsaw does quick work at cutting trails when bushwhacking."


Watch out for nails in trees. I've heard a lot about that lately.
gopackers12
member (33)member
  
07/13/2023 09:41PM  
Thanks for the responses. Didn’t mean to cause a controversy. I get the concern, but We don’t plan to cut a path or anything. The chainsaw is staying at home, and my flamethrower is broken. Just looking for advise on best strategies to bushwhack with a group of 6, from people with actual experience.
Thanks for any input!
07/14/2023 07:23AM  
The flagging part is a bit of a head scratcher. Does the last person through the trail collect it?
Minnesotian
distinguished member(2348)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/14/2023 07:58AM  
Argo: "The flagging part is a bit of a head scratcher. Does the last person through the trail collect it?"


Agreed. I have never used flagging myself. What happens if you find a better route back after the first portage? Seems like you are forced to take the crappier path back at least once to remove the flagging.
07/14/2023 08:22AM  
Last time we (as a group - have done some solo more recently) bushcrashed to a lake that had not seen humans in decades it was not in Quetico...

We did not flag. Walked it first without gear, sometimes together, sometimes fanning out. Most of the route we identified was pretty open, and when we walked back there was further refinement of the route. Then we double-portaged it. Don't recall that we needed to even saw any deadfall but it was a few years back. There were some stepovers that were crotch-level.
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1970)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/14/2023 12:32PM  
Haven't bushwhacked in Quetico, but have in a BWCA PMA. We didn't have a GPS and did all our navigating with topo maps (got blown up versions of the maps) and compass. We would plan a general route based on topography, but then adjust it once in the location and could see the actual flora in the way. Thick stands of tag alder is not a good path to take...LOL. We had a group of 4 people, 2 canoes. We would scout a route that was suitable for the canoes while just wearing a pack and would mark it with biodegradable surveyors tape. Then someone would guide the canoe carrier through the route and help pull aside trees or guide them how to step backwards if they got stuck somewhere. The last person to walk through would remove all survey tape. On longer bushwhacks, we would break it into legs and stage all the gear at a central point before starting the next leg. Long pants, long sleeves, safety glasses were all welcome gear to wear...and head nets kept handy.

In a group, make sure everyone has a loud whistle. More than once the whistles helped guide one of the scouts back to the group after they tried, but failed to find a passable route. For me, scouting and ending up in dense trees was the spookiest and most disorienting. Hearing a whistle answer from my group was reassuring. We had predetermined whistle signals for basics like: need you to guide me back, come this way, emergency.

Budget a lot of time for bushwhacking. It takes longer than you imagine. And if for some reason it doesn't, you'll just have extra time to fish. But misjudging the time and ending up still far from water as it gets dark...not fun, especially if low on water.

Make sure everyone has sturdy footwear with good non-slip soles. Moss covered rocks while carrying a canoe are treacherous and in rocky areas a lot of holes are hidden by leaf litter.
07/15/2023 08:58AM  
goatroti: "
Guestguy: "I’m sure he meant a saw for deadfall’s blocking a certain path,not blatant destruction,jeeeesh this site is full on over reactors on every subject."



Nonsense. If you want to bushwhack, then bushwhack. Don't cut a trail. When these so-called bushwhackers get up the nerve to come to a foreign and sovereign country and ask the Park Superintendent if the area they're going through is free of biologically sensitive areas, breeding or nesting sites and historically or culturally important sites, and they get the okay, then you can spout over reacting. Why is it that Americans feel the need to go north of the border to cloak their activities? Is America not big enough to get hacked through? "


Lighten up Francis…I think you make a valid point that people should be careful when they bushwhack on what they cut and the impact on the environment…but you are making a snap judgement on something you obviously have no knowledge of… I’ve bushwhacked in the BWCAW and Quetico. I know others have before me…I could not see where they had gone before and you would never know where I’ve been. I have talked to the Supervisor in the past because I ran into him bushwhacking too LOL…so it’s not just “Americans” as you tried to stereotype…it’s Canadians and Park Officials as well. Need I remind you that the only people who have cut new portage trails that one could argue are unnecessary were Canadian citizens…so please remember who is actually “Hacking” in the Quetico before you make accusations.

T
07/16/2023 01:20PM  
goatroti: "Flagging and a saw? Both plants and animals are protected in Quetico. Don't cut shrubs and bushes. Ask the park office if you are going into a protected area. Do not leave flagging. Hey, why not just stay home and destroy your own country."


Sawing deadfall bothers you? Seriously?

I don’t leave flagging. I’m going in on a day trip to fish a few unnamed lakes that never see anyone. On my way out I remove the flagging. I’m a pretty conscientious camper in any countries parks.
07/16/2023 01:25PM  
Argo: "The flagging part is a bit of a head scratcher. Does the last person through the trail collect it?"


Going in one way coming out the same way. I may not even use the tape but if I do I’ll be sure to remove any.
07/17/2023 06:24AM  
TomT: "
Argo: "The flagging part is a bit of a head scratcher. Does the last person through the trail collect it?"



Going in one way coming out the same way. I may not even use the tape but if I do I’ll be sure to remove any. "


Thanks for clearing that up (excuse the pun).

That's one head scratcher resolved. Next is this one: "it’s Canadians and Park Officials as well. Need I remind you that the only people who have cut new portage trails that one could argue are unnecessary were Canadian citizens…so please remember who is actually “Hacking” in the Quetico...“

That would indeed be a very peculiar argument to advance on a back-country canoe-tripping forum.
gravelroad
distinguished member(1008)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/17/2023 09:53AM  
I was a SAR dog handler for many years, all of which involved bushwhacking for hours on end (much of it at night) except for the part about walking back out of the woods on whatever trail was handy.

I wear glasses constantly and I wear a hat with a brim EVERY time I go into the woods. On two occasions I've had to lead people out of the woods while holding their hand, because they had injured an eye on a twig or branch. One of those occasions involved bandaging both eyes to stop the painful eye movement generated by the uninjured one. A relative of mine also had to have three eye surgeries to save the sight in one eye after having it punctured by a branch.

Gloves are also a must, as others have noted. And I have one simple test for determining whether someone is actually going on SAR missions: Let me see the scars on your shins. :-)

mapsguy1955
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07/18/2023 08:01AM  
Gaia on an iPhone works well but have a backup plan.
WonderMonkey
distinguished member(847)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/12/2024 01:11PM  
I *salute* you, sir. I do SAR and some Disaster Services, and frequently, I accompany our K9s and Handlers. Many hours of training for yourself and the K9s, usually at your own expense.

gravelroad: "I was a SAR dog handler for many years, all of which involved bushwhacking for hours on end (much of it at night) except for the part about walking back out of the woods on whatever trail was handy.


I wear glasses constantly and I wear a hat with a brim EVERY time I go into the woods. On two occasions I've had to lead people out of the woods while holding their hand, because they had injured an eye on a twig or branch. One of those occasions involved bandaging both eyes to stop the painful eye movement generated by the uninjured one. A relative of mine also had to have three eye surgeries to save the sight in one eye after having it punctured by a branch.


Gloves are also a must, as others have noted. And I have one simple test for determining whether someone is actually going on SAR missions: Let me see the scars on your shins. :-)


"
MagicPaddler
distinguished member(1492)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/13/2024 06:36AM  
Most common item lost while bushwhacking is a head net.
JackpineJim
distinguished member(652)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/13/2024 12:21PM  
goatroti: "Flagging and a saw? Both plants and animals are protected in Quetico. Don't cut shrubs and bushes. Ask the park office if you are going into a protected area. Do not leave flagging. Hey, why not just stay home and destroy your own country."


Goatroti, that’s a funny picture of a bushwhacker with a chainsaw in your Photo Journal :)
Photo Journal

Crazy Bushwhacker
portagedog09
distinguished member (174)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/13/2024 03:05PM  
MagicPaddler: "Most common item lost while bushwhacking is a head net. "


That and your sanity.....though maybe that went before getting in the canoe! :O

pd
02/13/2024 06:54PM  
JackpineJim: "
goatroti: "Flagging and a saw? Both plants and animals are protected in Quetico. Don't cut shrubs and bushes. Ask the park office if you are going into a protected area. Do not leave flagging. Hey, why not just stay home and destroy your own country."



Goatroti, that’s a funny picture of a bushwhacker with a chainsaw in your Photo Journal :)
Photo Journal

Crazy Bushwhacker "


Wabakimi Project trip - without the chainsaw we would still be up there hand sawing away. In the early days of the Project just hand and folding saws were used. What would take most the morning or afternoon by hand was done in 30-40 minutes with the chainsaw. So the 14 years of the Project would have been many, many more years.
 
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