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12/09/2023 08:39AM  
I recently read an interesting article related to backpacking posted by Outdoor Life. Paragraph four caught my attention and made me think about using bwca.com as a primary source of information when planning a canoe trip.

I changed a couple words in the paragraph (backpacking => canoe, trail => route) and pasted as follows.

The best canoe routes are discovered through word of mouth—as in, you are lucky enough to know someone who has already been somewhere great, and has decided you are worthy of sharing that information with. However, if you have no canoe friends, the next best route guides are found in books.

I have long ago burned any potential bridges to sponsorship by BWCA.com so I don’t feel bad about telling you the truth; most people who write about routes online are lying to you. However, people who write about routes in books tend to be certified experts whose advice has gone through a panel of editors and fact checkers. These people understand that if they make mistakes or fabricate information, it could ruin their career. People writing online have no such compunction. As such, they tend to give incomplete, amateur, or incorrect advice, even if they don’t mean any harm.

You absolutely can and should research up-to-date weather and route condition reports for a particular trip. But do not let any casual public online forum be your only source of planning wisdom.

I’m telling you this as someone who used internet-only sources to plan a canoeing trip in BWCA, and ended up portaging through poison oak for a mile. Twice.

original article link
 
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12/09/2023 09:52AM  
Interesting article, indeed. I consider BWCA.com "word of mouth", and after several years' membership have come to know the paddling preferences of many contributors to the forums. The article's author mentions AllTrails, which I've found to be a poor source of hiking, backpacking, or mountain biking info because I have no clue as to the contributors' perspectives. I've even found AllTrails to have a North Carolina State Forest with an 80-mile trail system posted as a "...great trail..." but no mention of a suggested loop or route.

BWCA.com forums, especially most of the trip reports, give details that (with some insight to the authors paddling preferences) help me plan better visits to Canoe Country, something I never got from an AllTrails post.

TZ
 
LesliesDad
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12/09/2023 09:54AM  
Well . . . . I'm not so sure that I agree with the point of view in the paragraph quoted. That being said, opinions are like noses, everyone has one and they are all different. Me personally? I rely on the trip reports by TuscaroraBorealis. ;-)
 
iwegean
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12/09/2023 11:31AM  
If you're looking for fault in any ones statement on any subject you chose, you will surely find it. No information, freely given on this forum, should be taken as gospel.
Go out and experience the BWCAW for what it is, a wilderness. Every day is different.
Conditions change. The unknown, that challenge to adapt, is what draws many people to experience this jewl we call the BWCAW.
 
12/09/2023 11:36AM  
LesliesDad: "I rely on the trip reports by TuscaroraBorealis. ;-)"


+1. I think his reports should be published in a book! :)
 
Deeznuts
distinguished member (442)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/09/2023 07:29PM  
I exclusively use BWCA to plan my trips. I do like to find out for myself, but this site is such a plethora of information. Some is dated, but I love the community feel. Its almost like a townhall in that I can get insight from everyone, experienced and novices. Sometimes the newbies give great advise too, and I feel like I'd be cheating myself not to have as much info as possible.
I will also say that not everyone is a great author, but has experiences they can share with the world. The trip reports and searching the forum topics on here gave me way more info than any book I read.

 
12/09/2023 10:05PM  
I agree a lot with what’s been commented. Many people see things differently than another person. So I don’t think many are lying… more like another perspective. If your going to go off trip reports… you should read two or more of the same trip if possible. Also, two different groups can paddle the same trip and experience totally different circumstances. Water levels, weather, season…
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1912)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/10/2023 01:56AM  
YetiJedi: "
LesliesDad: "I rely on the trip reports by TuscaroraBorealis. ;-)"



+1. I think his reports should be published in a book! :)
"


Just thinking the same thing the other day.

BWCA.com is a lot different than something AllTrails or some other forums. Many of us get to know each other personally. I think that creates incentive to provide good information and build a good online reputation...at least it does for me. While I do research via books as well, I find that conditions on many routes can change year-to-year or even month-to-month (as in the case of the Long Portage out of Rose) so bwca.com is a great place to keep up with recent happenings that a book would never be able to provide.

But I avoid basing my route decisions or campsites based on subjective ratings such as "that was the hardest portage ever" unless I have come to know that paddler's style/experience/competency.
 
12/10/2023 05:12AM  
straighthairedcurly: "
YetiJedi: "
LesliesDad: "I rely on the trip reports by TuscaroraBorealis. ;-)"




+1. I think his reports should be published in a book! :)
"



Just thinking the same thing the other day.


BWCA.com is a lot different than something AllTrails or some other forums. Many of us get to know each other personally. I think that creates incentive to provide good information and build a good online reputation...at least it does for me. While I do research via books as well, I find that conditions on many routes can change year-to-year or even month-to-month (as in the case of the Long Portage out of Rose) so bwca.com is a great place to keep up with recent happenings that a book would never be able to provide.

But I avoid basing my route decisions or campsites based on subjective ratings such as "that was the hardest portage ever" unless I have come to know that paddler's style/experience/competency. "


Your comment on subjective ratings is spot on. One of the portages I took when I was in my 30's gave me no problems. It was much more difficult now in my 70's. I have had to give up some areas because my body (and my wife) refuse to make some of the portages.
 
LesliesDad
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12/10/2023 09:28AM  
YetiJedi: "
LesliesDad: "I rely on the trip reports by TuscaroraBorealis. ;-)"



+1. I think his reports should be published in a book! :)
"


It would have to be a "coffee table book" so as to include all those great photos.
 
thegildedgopher
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12/10/2023 11:12AM  
“Trust the experts,” they say. I’ve found that’s a lot more important in some areas (medical, financial planning) than it is in others. Each of us are unique individuals. Books are written for general audiences and cater to the least common denominator. If you want general basics, grab a book. If you want general basics AND the chance to hear from someone who can answer your specific questions considering your unique scenario, I have found no better resource than right here.
 
analyzer
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12/10/2023 01:43PM  
"Lying" is kind of harsh. I think some go on a trip, didn't take any notes, and when they report, it's to the best of their recollection. Sometimes there are some inadvertent errors. I don't think I'd call it lying.

As a couple have mentioned, routes, and portages can change significantly from one season to the next, even one month to the next. I've done some portages that were listed as the "portage from hell", and didn't think it was that bad. But then, I realized it's a dry year, and a particular portage would be significantly worse if it were a wet year, or even had a recent heavy rain. There's a big difference between walking on dry rocks/slabs etc, and walking on a slippery surface, or walking on dry dirt, versus sinking in mid shin, in wet muck. I've often been paddling through some very shallow areas, wondering how I would get through them if the water was any lower. If you happened through there a month later, when you cant float through there, you might hate the same route. In some cases it might be virtually impossible to pass.

Lots of fishing reports are circumstantial. Time of day, weather, barometer, weed growth, water temp, oxygen levels, feeding patterns all change from day to day, week to week, month to month. I've fished the same lake for 50 years, some times spots are very productive, and other times you get nothing. You learn patterns over time, but they're not 100%. It doesn't mean someone is lying about a particular "hot spot", the conditions just changed, and it wasn't good at that particular time.

I love the information that is available on this site, and am very thankful to the people that take the time to provide it.
 
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(1328)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/10/2023 02:19PM  
I consider BWCA.com as a reference library, and one that I don't mind paying for. I get my moneys worth.

Mike
 
12/10/2023 02:50PM  
I'm always a bit skeptical of any canoe route recommendations unless I know the evaluator personally. Even more so, I take campsite evaluations with a grain of salt. I like a few difficult portages to separate myself from the weekend warriors while many rate a route on the ease of access. I also like the more intimate campsites where there may only be space for one small tent while many enjoy a wide open Taj Mahal campsite with plentiful space for lawn chairs and bug tents . It's very subjective and so one person's trash is often another's treasure.
 
12/10/2023 05:14PM  
An excellent topic reminding us about subjective information and objective information. I use the mentioned trails app and BWCA as important and useful information and as noted more current than most books. Pictures and objective data and sources like TB who post pictures and objective data get my attention.
BWCA.com is more than a trip planning go to. Gear input where butthead is the stove guru is another real benefit. And again is the camaraderie.
Lying is a subjective concept. I am pretty sure I have posted something later to learn I was incorrect.
 
KawnipiKid
distinguished member (177)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/10/2023 05:45PM  
Interesting stuff. I think the concept of "lying" is misused in lots of communication. My friend suggested we go to a bar for a sandwich and that he thought they were open. We got there, they were closed and he said "I lied." He didn't. Lying is intentionally telling a falsehood with intent to deceive.

In all the great stuff I've learned here and a few things that weren't exactly factual, the mismatched stuff has always been based on differing opinion, confusion or misremembering. Maybe some over or understating at worst. God help me, I can mix up my own kids' names, let alone lake names.

I really don't think there's much lying going on here. It's just not this community's style. I may mistakenly say Alice when I meant Agnes. I wasn't lying and I know you're smart enough to check the maps yourself before taking my word as fact.
 
12/10/2023 06:33PM  
KawnipiKid: "Interesting stuff. I think the concept of "lying" is misused lots of communication.... I really don't think there's much lying going on here.... "


I agree. I think most people here are posting in the best interests of the community. And very little, if any, posting to mis-lead others.

The author of the original article seems to have an odd life-view... "I got into backpacking to indulge my hatred of society" and "Backpacking is a great way to run away from your problems, while convincing your friends and family you are actually very responsible."

I enjoyed reading her article and thinking about how her comments apply to this forum. I won't be buying her book.
 
12/11/2023 08:07AM  
I had a few books I used a couple decades ago, but frankly they didn't come close to providing the same relevance, accuracy, and up to date information that I find here. TuscaroraBorealis, butthead, and many others played essential roles in making my first trip in 20 years a success last year.

Sounds to me like she's shilling for her own profession, which has been dying for some time now due to the proliferation of click bait over actual journalism. With any information source you need to do your due diligence. Just because it's published does not mean it's infallible or comprehensive. Far from it.
 
alpinebrule
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12/11/2023 10:02AM  
As with all information, "trust but verify."
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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12/11/2023 07:41PM  
WOW! Thank you all for the charitable comments - much appreciated. But I offer all glory & praise to The Lord Jesus.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't forward credit to Adam & the moderators for creating & maintaining such a user-friendly atmosphere that is so conducive to sharing information/experiences etc. And to the many friendly and knowledgeable members who inhabit this wonderful online universe.

With regard to the OP... I've done no official research but, I would put more stock in the authenticity of the information provided here than most other venues. Ex. Does anyone trust or take anything they hear on mainstream (or most other) media sources seriously anymore? If so, why??? CNN, MSNBC, the list goes on etc. have all been successfully sued for hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years for falsifying or misrepresenting the truth. (Not trying to start a political debate and fervently hope my comments here don't begin a devolution into that.) The point being most places that provide information these days have an agenda they're trying to promote which usually supersedes whether the facts support their position. Which includes the linked story! I don't see that on BWCA.com.

For me BWCA.com is a breath of fresh air. I seldom see that misinformation playing out on here and the rare occurrence when it does surface, it's usually so obvious that it's easily ignored. And, in my online experiences, it seems if a detail or something of that nature is unwittingly/or otherwise forgotten there are those who are only too willing to point out any deficiency (whether real or perceived) in an assessment - 'Most' of the time in a good-natured way. :)

 
Moonbeam
member (41)member
  
12/13/2023 08:42AM  
It is a "tell" when a person posts something he or she knows is political, and then adds that they do not want to start
a political debate. Interestingly enough, both CNN and MSN were mentioned regarding news sources that have been sued, and yet one prominent "news" station was not.
Hmmm?

 
LesliesDad
distinguished member (283)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/13/2023 10:23AM  
Moonbeam: "It is a "tell" when a person posts something he or she knows is political, and then adds that they do not want to start
a political debate. Interestingly enough, both CNN and MSN were mentioned regarding news sources that have been sued, and yet one prominent "news" station was not.
Hmmm?

"


Well . . . in TB's defense (not that he needs any help from me), he did say " . . . . the list goes on etc. "
 
Moonbeam
member (41)member
  
12/13/2023 11:00AM  
The list?
Ok
But why were two named?
A glaring omission of Fox IMHO.

 
12/13/2023 12:21PM  
Moonbeam: "The list?
Ok
But why were two named?
A glaring omission of Fox IMHO.


"


Fox is just another liberal news network, the inclusion or exclusion of this network from his list has no impact on the point he was making.

I only trust information from people with three or more pine trees in their avatar.
 
freeboard
member (12)member
  
12/13/2023 01:28PM  
Back to the original topic, I figured this was a good spot to put in my $0.02. I'm a long-time lurker -- I see on my profile page that next year will be ten years on the site for me. I've read countless trip reports about areas where I've tripped and messageboard posts on topics I want to learn more about, and I can't emphasize enough how helpful this site has been to me. I am deeply indebted to many of you for the observations and insights I've been able to utilize to avoid learning the hard way out in the field. To me, this site is absolutely reliable and far more helpful than any published BWCA guide.

Thanks to all of you for everything you share on this site. It's a goal of mine to give back to the BWCA.com community start participating in more discussions here and share MY insights. Otherwise, I'll be obligated to ask Adam to change my handle from "freeboard" to "freeload" and I don't want to do that.
 
12/13/2023 02:28PM  
YaMarVa: ",,,I only trust information from people with three or more pine trees in their avatar. "


Don't mistake activity on the internet for experience and skill in the field.

 
TuscaroraBorealis
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12/13/2023 02:47PM  
Moonbeam: "The list?
Ok
But why were two named?
A glaring omission of Fox IMHO.


"


Thank you for so adroitly illustrating the point I made about bwca.com. (See last sentences of my previous response)

BTW I will freely add Fox or any other mainstream media source to that list which is clearly not comprehensive.
 
12/13/2023 03:08PM  
bobbernumber3: "
YaMarVa: ",,,I only trust information from people with three or more pine trees in their avatar. "



Don't mistake activity on the internet for experience and skill in the field.


"


Since you have five pine trees I will trust you on this one.
 
LesliesDad
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12/13/2023 03:39PM  
Okay . . . now I had to go look up "adroitly" just to keep up (insert smiley face here).
 
Moonbeam
member (41)member
  
12/13/2023 04:37PM  
LesliesDad: "Okay . . . now I had to go look up "adroitly" just to keep up (insert smiley face here)."

Perhaps some of you folks should also look up the correct definition of "liberal" and not rely on "the current negativity and bullying" so prevalent in our culture today.

 
Someday
member (37)member
  
12/13/2023 06:07PM  
Moonbeam: "The list?
Ok
But why were two named?
A glaring omission of Fox IMHO.


"

Yep
 
12/13/2023 08:06PM  
YaMarVa: "
Since you have five pine trees I will trust you on this one. "


Good one!!
 
12/15/2023 10:48AM  
"Fox is just another liberal news network . . . ."

Good one. Made me spit my coffee out laughing.


 
12/16/2023 04:26PM  
Moonbeam: "It is a "tell" when a person posts something he or she knows is political, and then adds that they do not want to start
a political debate. Interestingly enough, both CNN and MSN were mentioned regarding news sources that have been sued, and yet one prominent "news" station was not.
Hmmm?

"




So what!
TB has a point and you can take it how you want… seemed pretty straightforward and just fact vs political… I don’t see that has anything to do with his remark…
But I do know TB is a great resource of info… he has a great writing style… if I write people thank me not for the info… but helping them go to sleep. Haha! Some very good photographers and writers here. I learned to just read and look at pictures…
 
tumblehome
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12/17/2023 06:51AM  
bobbernumber3: "
YaMarVa: ",,,I only trust information from people with three or more pine trees in their avatar. "



Don't mistake activity on the internet for experience and skill in the field.

"


+1

Pine trees do not reflect experience or accurate writing.

Now the bear claw… well…
 
12/17/2023 08:16AM  
tumblehome: "
bobbernumber3: "
YaMarVa: ",,,I only trust information from people with three or more pine trees in their avatar. "

Don't mistake activity on the internet for experience and skill in the field."

+1

Pine trees do not reflect experience or accurate writing.

Now the bear claw… well…"

You both know, my comments were a joke. Just a little light trolling.
 
12/17/2023 08:18AM  
rertel: ""Fox is just another liberal news network . . . ."

Good one. Made me spit my coffee out laughing."

Glad you laughed. Others took my trolling seriously.
 
uqme2
distinguished member (181)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/18/2023 04:17PM  
YaMarVa: "Glad you laughed. Others took my trolling seriously. "


Was that a self own -er- a group own?
 
12/20/2023 11:41AM  
I find BWCA.com to be a fabulous resource. I read about people's trips, the gear that they use, the sights and sounds they experienced and I am grateful that they took the time to to share it with some internet strangers.

I don't take anyone's comments as gospel, but if a number of members say that a portage is terrible, that Ensign is busy on holiday weekends, that blackflies seem to like running water in June, that a headnet and longsleeve shirts and pants beat smearing yourself with DEET, I being to believe them.

Now when it comes to fishing spots... you are all a bunch of liars as we all know that there are no fish in the BWCA. It couldn't possibly be that I'm a terrible fisherman. Nope.

I'm glad to be a member here, even though I don't post much. Thanks Adam and everyone else that continue to share your knowledge with a guy form Cinti.
 
andym
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12/22/2023 12:02AM  
Glad to see this get back to the topic. I agree with Hank, the good thing about this site is that you get a variety of opinions and can tell if there is a consensus or not. After a while you can judge whether people have enough experience to have informed opinions. I'd say the main thing you have to watch out for is that we all have different physical capabilities and so what seems like reasonable weight to carry varies a lot. But having field tested a fair bit of advice I've gotten on here, I'm ready for more.
 
JohnGalt
distinguished member (392)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/25/2023 03:25PM  
They sound butt-hurt about something. Why would I trust what they have to say? If I have learned anything over these past few years, it is that 'experts' should be looked at with a hefty grain of salt.
 
Someday
member (37)member
  
12/25/2023 07:04PM  
JohnGalt: "They sound butt-hurt about something. Why would I trust what they have to say? If I have learned anything over these past few years, it is that 'experts' should be looked at with a hefty grain of salt."

Very lame response…
 
Someday
member (37)member
  
12/25/2023 07:05PM  
Okay. I actually read this, and the things that you all are being negative about seem to be things that she was just being sarcastic about.
 
12/27/2023 08:32AM  
I know others have commented on this as well…

If I was a first time tripper…getting information from a book or an outfitter would probably be the most relevant. A book like Beymer where they tend to write in generalities is very valuable when starting out.

Websites like this one are very valuable and have more information than any book, magazine, or outfitter could ever give, but when you are new to an activity you can’t disseminate opinion and personal experience as well.

I’ve gone on over `50 trips now and approaching 25 years… what I might say is an easy trip, might be a nightmare for someone else. The gear I use now, is not for a new person that might never go on another trip. I might put them in bankruptcy:)… It took most of a us a lifetime to accrue what we have.

The thing a website like this provides is further details/info beyond the basics to fuel a new or old passion and more importantly connecting with others who have a similar interest. We aren’t everywhere anymore :)

They both have their place and value.

T
 
12/27/2023 12:22PM  
The thing a website like this provides is further details/info beyond the basics to fuel a new or old passion and more importantly connecting with others who have a similar interest. We aren’t everywhere anymore :)
Well said, particularly the part about fueling a passion. Having multiple trips over 47 years I feel the energy in stories and memories brought back. Thanks to all of you and you can trust in that.
 
izzy052
member (34)member
  
12/27/2023 05:22PM  
Only took four days for politics to start. We all have opinions but leave politics out of it. This is a site for information.
 
01/04/2024 12:02PM  
I agree Ben, I have gotten tons of great info on this site and have been making trips for 40 years.
 
OldGuide2
distinguished member (115)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
01/09/2024 03:32PM  
I do not read the trip reports for accuracy, but because they are interesting reading and always have stunning pictures. Having been over many of the routes, they bring back old memories. The big thing about trip reports and accurate information is that conditions change, sometimes dramatically. What one trip reported as a nice, dry, grassy campsite may turn into a mudhole with a downpour. It isn't so much that anyone is deliberately falsifying information, something I still have yet to find here, it is just that places change with the weather. That is usually why I urge newcomers to contact an outfitter or someone with considerable experience in the area. They can tell you what an area is like in the best of times and the worst of times.
 
treehorn
distinguished member(715)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
01/10/2024 03:45PM  
plmn: "Sounds to me like she's shilling for her own profession, which has been dying for some time now due to the proliferation of click bait over actual journalism. With any information source you need to do your due diligence. Just because it's published does not mean it's infallible or comprehensive. Far from it. "


Bingo!
 
01/10/2024 04:24PM  
Hank: "I find BWCA.com to be a fabulous resource. I read about people's trips, the gear that they use, the sights and sounds they experienced and I am grateful that they took the time to to share it with some internet strangers.


I don't take anyone's comments as gospel, but if a number of members say that a portage is terrible, that Ensign is busy on holiday weekends, that blackflies seem to like running water in June, that a headnet and longsleeve shirts and pants beat smearing yourself with DEET, I being to believe them.


Now when it comes to fishing spots... you are all a bunch of liars as we all know that there are no fish in the BWCA. It couldn't possibly be that I'm a terrible fisherman. Nope.


I'm glad to be a member here, even though I don't post much. Thanks Adam and everyone else that continue to share your knowledge with a guy form Cinti."


I have to say, this is pretty much how I approach it too. I've gotten a ton of info here over the years. And I find that people are actually pretty forthcoming with fishing information around here :)
 
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