BWCA 2011 Wilderness Challenge #2 (Holy Smoke) Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wilderness Challenges
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bojibob
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01/17/2011 07:58PM  
This is #2 of 10 Wilderness Challenges I will be posting. The purpose of these is to get feedback on what you would do under these circumstances. I'm not looking for a "Right Answer" I'm looking to see how the many very knowledgeable people here on BWCA.com would react in a time of decision in Canoe Country.

Challenge #2: (Holy Smoke!)

Situation: You are traveling in a party of 4 (Combined crew weight of 800 lbs) in two rental Old Town Penobscot 17 foot Royalex Canoes (max load weight of 1100-1150 Lbs). You are carrying 4 large packs, 4 smaller personal packs and misc. fishing gear with a total gear weight of approximately 350 lbs split evenly between the two canoes.

Your current location: You are the Echo Trail and preparing to take the long portage to Angleworm Lake (See Map)







Items of interest in your gear pack:

You have a Map & Compass

You DO NOT have: SPOT, PLB, Cell Phone, etc.

The Challenge: As you were dropped off by the Bojibob Outfitters Van Shuttle, you are now standing on the trail head with your crew and gear and are ready to start down the portage. You can smell smoke in the air but there is no smoke visible. The wind is blowing strong from the Southwest.

As you continue down the trail, the haze of smoke begins to fill the woods. At the ½ mile point of this 2 ½ mile portage you realize something is very wrong. The trailing member of your party comes running down the trail and screams “FIRE”.

He said its maybe a 150 yards behind us and with the high winds is coming on fast.












Now What?
 
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01/17/2011 08:12PM  
wet down everyone with what ever water you have....drop everything and head for the creek, preferably the pond.
 
Savage Voyageur
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01/17/2011 08:20PM  
I would head left/west to Ed Shave lake on the north side of the hill. The wind is driving the flames from the starting point to the end point. If you travel in a 90 deg direction to the wind you will live another day. That is also where the lake is. dump the heavy packs and take just what you need to survive. Then run like the wind.
 
PineKnot
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01/17/2011 08:25PM  
Plan 1: Drop everything but the canoes, paddles and PFDs and race to Angleworm.

Plan 2: If the fire is overtaking us, I'd drop the canoes and paddles, and run with the PFDs to Angleworm.
 
01/17/2011 08:39PM  
Bushwhacking can be slow and confusing when smoke doesn't fill the woods and you aren't running for your life. I would stick to the trail. Clearly you can't run into the fire so head towards Angleworm.

I don't think that creek will provide much protection. The pond looks usable in the satellite image. Double time it with the gear you have already on your back until you get to the pond. Throw all the gear in the water.

The pond might provide protection from flame but if it isn't very big it won't provide much protection from smoke inhalation. Leave the gear and head for Angleworm. Get out in the water with your PFD and look for a break in the smoke. Maybe in the leeward side of that small island?

When you determine it is safe you can go back and see if your gear survived then hike back out to the road.

I am really curious to know what a fire jumper would recommend.
 
Canoearoo
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01/17/2011 09:04PM  
run like crazy to the end of the portage but I think your dead. Fires move to fast to outrun, but I would try anyway; just like the people did in the hinckley fire. Never give up till your dead
 
schweady
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01/17/2011 09:11PM  
This brings back some memories. In 1997, while camping on Angleworm (site #1897, on the peninsula), the sound of a low-flying Beaver airplane scared the bejeezus out of us very early on our first morning. It was running north to south, coming down to fill her tanks with water to douse a fire to the NW of us. If you know that campsite, you can picture us standing out on the huge rocks jutting out from shore looking north at that plane bearing straight down at us over and over all morning.

The last thing you want to be doing is bushwhacking into a forest fire. You don't mention what time of year it is, but I'm hoping there is some water in that creek. It wasn't an incredible amount when we crossed it in August that year, but it's a low spot -- which provides some hope of a crowning fire flying over you in these high winds rather than following the ground so much -- and there are ponds and beaver activity which should provide some areas to sink yourself in. See what gear you can manage to get that far, too, but leave the canoes. We single portaged our gear down that 2-1/2 miles; I know you won't be outrunning a fire all the way to the lake with your boats and everything.

And, what's up with those high school kids that bojibob hires to drive his vans?? For a fire to be 150 yds behind you after portaging that 1/2 mi, you'd think there would have been a better indication at the drop off point not to leave you there right then. I think you might be toast.
 
01/17/2011 09:16PM  
150 yards? pray that you have lived a pure and virtuous life and are ready to meet your maker. mine has been questionable, i have a few red flags by my name so my plan would be to drop everything and run. grab the everclear though, this is going to be a very bad day. the woods here are impenetrable second growth, stay on the trail. the wetland on the map would offer no protection, hopefully you can make it to spring creek, and hopefully spring creek isn't dry at the trail crossing, it will have mud though and i know that there is a beaver dam within 100 yards of the crossing (I've canoed spring creek). wallow in the stinking beaver pond mud and hope that the grasses of the wetland don't burn too hot. there is a nice wetland further up the trail that has open water, if you make it this far your chances are a little better. now you will be glad you brought the everclear, things are going to get hot and scary, i've seen this in disney movies, all the bears and wolves will be fighting for prime swamp space, the everclear will give you the courage needed to fight off the rampaging beasts.
 
01/18/2011 01:29AM  
Drop the packs and take limited survival gear the pfd's, canoes and the paddles and get to Angle worm as fast as you can. Switch off carrying the canoes when the first guys get tired. Once at Angleworm paddle out into the middle of the lake and try to avoid the direction the fire is going.

Most places I have seen in the Bdub you wont be able to bushwhack across country very fast. You will be able to make better time by sticking to the trail.

tony
 
01/18/2011 07:30AM  
Two miles of portage to cover with a fire on my heals a 150yds back and closing?!?!? Crap. And, Double Crap.

I guess I am at a loss to know what to do other than run. I think I would try to get all of our gear to the creek (pond preferably) and hop in, depending on the water depth and if it looks "wet" enough. I don't think there would be enough time to get to Angleworm.

If, however, you are able to keep pace with the advancement of the fire I would go for Angleworm. Perhaps take the gear of the weakest person (carrying wise) and have him monitor the fire progression (if he wants to) in order to see how much distance you are loosing between you and the fire. That might dictate the choice between Angleworm and the creek/pond.
 
inthewoods
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01/18/2011 08:26AM  
From the looks of the topo you have not dropped over the edgw of the hill yet and the trail back to were you were dropped of is virtually flat. The road would serve as a fire break to a certain point. I have seen roads stop a fire but i have also seen a wind driven forest fire jump the missouri river in montana.

I would try the trail to get back to the road, if blocked by fire i would head northwest to the marsh area and then southwest to get back to the road. The fire will follow the topography but will most likely burn the top of the ridge you are on, follow the topo around the flat area to the road if the top of the ridge starts to burn then drop down the back side of the ridge to the marsh area when the fire hits the back edge of the ridge it will slow down. Fire doesnt burn down a hill as fast as it burns up a hill. Follow the marsh area back to the road.

I would have left the canoes but carried the packs in case i was out over night, chances are you will be picked up on the road by the forest service.

 
Minnesotian
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01/18/2011 08:37AM  
Drop everything but your PFD and run. Stay on the path. And don't stop until you find water. Hope you packed a stash of food in that PFD.

Let's be optimistic as say you made it to Angleworm. If the fire comes all the way down to the shore, you are going to have to head out a ways into the lake because the reach of the fire and the heat will be too much for you right along the shore. Once out a ways, you will have to wait...for awhile. The smoke is going to be bad making breathing hard, the embers flying through the air are going to be bad possibly singeing your face and clothing, and depending on the year, the water might be freaking cold, so cold you probably won't want to be there for too long, BUT you will have to wait even more after the fire has passed because those shore rocks are going to take a bit to cool off. Did you bring your PFD? If not, I hope you know how to conserve energy and float while waiting because this will be a tough one. Swimming across the lake might be your best bet, but be ready to move again when the fire jumps to the other side.

Good luck.

 
CaptainJack
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01/18/2011 09:02AM  
I don't have experience with forest fires, and I hope to keep it that way. However, I DO have 20+ years of pyromania under my belt so I know 1 thing about this fire;

If this is your typical pine/evergreen old growth north forest then it's going to burn extremely fast especially given that the floor is probably littered with dead, resin filled trees.

That said, I'm not betting I can get to Angleworm before the fire closes that 150 yards, even without the gear, and I'm taking some gear. I drop the canoes and take one pack/item each. As long as we have a tent, PFDs and a paddle, at least 2 sleeping bags, ditch kit, cookware + water filter, and fishing equipment then I'm confident we can survive as needed (assuming we survive the fire). Also as posted above I think if you survive the fire and can make it back to the road after things have calmed down you're likely to be picked up quickly.


That said, I'm heading for the creek/pond via the trail. If there's water in the pond then I'm running straight in, gear and all, and bobbing in the middle to wait it out. If not, then I'm headed for the most open and muddy area I can find nearby, taking that paddle to help scoop out a trench for us as best we can, and laying down and covering up. Hopefully the fire will be moving so fast, and the area is open enough that it will be around and past us in a matter of minutes. Also, I'd use standing water if it's available, filtered if not, to wet some torn up tshirt strips to put over our mouths and noses to help with the smoke.

Hopefully, the area is wide enough that we don't bake and the smoke is thin enough at ground level to breathe. If these things hold true, I think we'd be ok.
 
01/18/2011 11:25AM  
Drop the canoes & paddles, grab the packs and PFDS, and run like crazy down the trail to the NE. If that 'swamp' area that appears to be 1/8 of a mile (or less) from you appears to have enough open water areas, ditch into that and hope for the best. If not, continue running to the creek. Once in the creek, head south down it toward that area that appears to be 'more open'.

All of your gear should be OK if you packed like I do, and hopefully there is enough open water for you to be safe. The fire should 'leapfrog' over you fast enough for you to survive.

should being the key word.

Say lots of prayers while doing this and hope for the best :)
 
01/18/2011 12:10PM  
Drop all gear except paddles, life jackets and 1 canoe. Take turns with the canoe as fast as you can and get to Angleworm lake. I wouldn't think you'd be safe on skinny Angleworm because a forest fire can get really hot and also suck all the oxygen out of the air. I would paddle and portage to Crooked Lake. I'd make sure to yell to other campers that a forest fire is on it's way and hope someone in the Crooked lake area would be more then accommodating if needed. You should be able to make great time with 4 people paddling 1 canoe downwind and no packs.

On Crooked I'd head West and beg for some group to hold us up for the night. I wouldn't go to sleep unless at least one person was going to stay watch and then take shifts through the night making sure everything was OK.
 
01/18/2011 01:40PM  
About 1/2 mile down the trail should be very close to the wetland area just left of the 31 section number. Everyone grabs only their personal pack (including water bottles) and the paddles and head as far in the wetland as possible. Usually these areas are damp and only contain grasses and low brush that will burn slowly, if at all. If it does start to burn, get to the largest grass area. Wet a shirt or other clothing with water to use as a smoke mask. If the fire approaches, use the paddles to swat the flames out in a perimeter pattern. The grass will burn quickly at a much lower heat than wood, and the fire should be past you very soon. If you can't keep the flames from entering your perimeter, have everyone concentrate on beating out the flames to make a pathway into the area already burned. Take any remaining water to douse any smoldering grass under foot. Stay where you are in the open. Someone will be looking for you in short order, probably from a search plane.

Alternate plan, drop everything and run like hell up the trail hoping you die of a heart attack before burning alive.
 
01/18/2011 02:23PM  
I would guess that we are likely toast and taking any amount of time to do anything but run- would destroy any chance we had of survival.

So I would...

Drop everything except PDF's run like hell toward Ed Shave Lake. My rationale would be the same as others- wind direction etc... but I would add that I would consider the marshy area before the lake as potential buffer if it was wet enough. I would also stay downhill as much as possible in the route to Ed Shave- maybe slowing the distance between me and fire.

How to Survive a Forest Fire

..sorry is this against the rules?
 
01/18/2011 02:31PM  
Look at the second paragraph under Fire Behaviour
 
01/18/2011 02:49PM  
For starters, I really don't think you have a good chance to survive this. Bojibob mentioned high winds, so I would assume that means no less than 15-20 mph. According to some quick research I have found that most fires burn area increases at about 9-12 mph. And an average human being could probably sprint at about 11 mph on the trail. There are too many variables to be exact about this. Assuming that the fire is gaining on you by only 1 mph, every minute you run, the fire will have gained 30 yards on your group. At that rate, you could possibly run for about 5 minutes on a clear trail before it caught up to you.

With this in mind, I would be traveling for any source of water as fast as I can along the trail. I would be dropping everything except for my pfd and sleeping bag because it will block smoke and is fire retardant. I would sprint to where Spring Creek crosses the Angleworm trail and hope there is a decent pool of water there. I would submerge myself as much as possible and cover up with my sleeping bag. The creek runs through the lowest level terrain in the area so hopefully the fire will jump the creek and smoke will not be as bad as in a higher region. I think waiting it out here would give you your best chance of survival.

I do not believe bushwacking would get you very far before the fire caught up to you. I believe that would be suicide.

 
PineKnot
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01/18/2011 03:01PM  
quote Unas10: "Look at the second paragraph under Fire Behaviour "

So, if the maximum known downwind rate of advance is about 100 m/min, that means the fire can move about a mile every 15 minutes or so. I would think we'd be able to make it to Angleworm with a brisk walking pace before roasting...?

Or am I missing something?
 
CaptainJack
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01/18/2011 03:07PM  
That's good info to know, so the answer is "it depends" :).

So if most fires move at 25m/min or less, let's use that (25) as a baseline. Assuming I'm 150m ahead of the fire that means I've got roughly a 6 min head start on it. No way I'm making Angleworm (2 miles) in 6 mins. Given that it's generally downhill to that creek and also that the creek appears to be in a pretty significant valley it's still my bet. Although, with that sharp decline into the valley the fire will certainly slow up a bit. If I have built up a comfortable buffer and the valley is extremely dry and looks bad I'd make the run to angleworm. Although I'd like to change my comment earlier about the gear I'd grab. Other than the PFD's, water, and a ditch kit I'm chucking everything else off to the side.
 
CaptainJack
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01/18/2011 03:17PM  
Unless I missed something too PineKnot :)

Actually, that makes more sense. in 6 mins the fire will be where I was standing when I started running. 6 mins of me running would put me past the creek. I still run, pause at the creek to assess, then if I'm still far enough ahead I run for angleworm and bob around in our PFD's for a couple hours.
 
solotrek
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01/18/2011 05:23PM  

I think my best bet would be to grab my ditch kit, a paddle and a PFD and run like heck to Angleworm. I would hesitate going cross country because I wouldn't know how wide the fire is. I would stick to the portage trail because that will offer me the least resistance while traveling. Once at Angleworm, I would head out into the water and watch the fire advance. I would head to whichever shore wasn't burning or wait the fire out if all shores are burning.
 
bojibob
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01/18/2011 05:36PM  
quote ripple: "I would guess that we are likely toast and taking any amount of time to do anything but run- would destroy any chance we had of survival.

So I would...

Drop everything except PDF's run like hell toward Ed Shave Lake. My rationale would be the same as others- wind direction etc... but I would add that I would consider the marshy area before the lake as potential buffer if it was wet enough. I would also stay downhill as much as possible in the route to Ed Shave- maybe slowing the distance between me and fire.


How to Survive a Forest Fire

..sorry is this against the rules? "


There are no rules. I actually would encourage references. This is learning exercise that could save someones life - not a contest :-)
 
bojibob
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01/18/2011 05:42PM  
If this scenario is giving you pause. Consider the reference below for personal Fire Shelter and a low cost purchase.

Personal Fire Shelter

available cheap on eBay

USFS Fire Shelter
 
01/18/2011 06:47PM  

Tough call but I think I would grab a few clothing items and a bottle of water and head north towards Ed Shave Lake as quickly as possible in an effort to get out of the way of the fire.
 
CaptainJack
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01/19/2011 08:28AM  
quote bojibob: "If this scenario is giving you pause. Consider the reference below for personal Fire Shelter and a low cost purchase.


Personal Fire Shelter


available cheap on eBay


USFS Fire Shelter "



Looks ominously like a couple of baked potatoes...
 
inthewoods
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01/19/2011 08:36AM  
I worked for the forest service in montana fighting fires for 2 seasons and for a local dept. in Wolfcreek MT. The fire shelters are no joke, When i was in the forest service there were 6 smoke jumpers that were burned over in there shelters and 3 of them died if you dont clear an area of debris good enough it just cooks you like a baked potatoe on the grill. there is not a very good chance that you will survive a burn over without a shelter(or with) that is the last option. Always move around the fire not run from it
 
01/19/2011 01:00PM  
quote inthewoods: "I worked for the forest service in montana fighting fires for 2 seasons and for a local dept. in Wolfcreek MT. The fire shelters are no joke, When i was in the forest service there were 6 smoke jumpers that were burned over in there shelters and 3 of them died if you dont clear an area of debris good enough it just cooks you like a baked potatoe on the grill. there is not a very good chance that you will survive a burn over without a shelter(or with) that is the last option. Always move around the fire not run from it"


So, what would be your strategy in bojibob's given situation?
 
01/19/2011 03:39PM  
Oops. Overlooked that you had already responded.
 
solotrek
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01/19/2011 04:01PM  
quote inthewoods: "I worked for the forest service in montana fighting fires for 2 seasons and for a local dept. in Wolfcreek MT. The fire shelters are no joke, When I was in the forest service there were 6 smoke jumpers that were burned over in there shelters and 3 of them died if you dont clear an area of debris good enough it just cooks you like a baked potatoe on the grill. there is not a very good chance that you will survive a burn over without a shelter(or with) that is the last option. Always move around the fire not run from it"

I would like to learn a bit more about moving around the fire. How would you know where you were in relation to the size of the fire? You could be 100 yards from one end of it or you may be in the middle of a fire many miles wide. How do you determine where you are and in which direction to move? Thanks!
 
Trygve
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01/19/2011 04:55PM  
If this fire is just kicking up, you will more than likely be able to reach Angleworm well ahead of the fire with most of your gear.

If the fire is ripping to a point at which you would have trouble staying ahead of it, you would have noticed it when you got out of the van.

Even in the dryest conditions, this takes some time to build up.

Hang out in angleworm for a while, then come back out in the black.
 
kbalser
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01/20/2011 05:35PM  
The first option I see is to head for the creek and fast. Hopefully the little blue spot on the map near the portage represents enough water to protect you from the fire. If this doesn't look good and you are staying ahead of the fire, maybe you can hoof it to the lake. Better be in shape. I'm guessing you will have to just dump your stuff. Just worry about surviving so you can plan another trip later.

Now to see the other replies.

I go along with keeping the PFD's and paddles if you have them. I like the idea of hauling the packs to the creek if possible. It still seems to me that you won't have time to do much planning and sorting, mostly you just have to move.
 
01/20/2011 09:10PM  
W/O reading other responses or thinking about this for very many minutes, I think the best course of action is:
1. Drop canoes and heavy packs.
2. Keep PFD's and daypacks.
3. Run your a** off toward Angleworm. I think you could get there in 15 minutes.
4. Wait on the shore of Angleworm unless and until you are forced into the water.
5. Put on PFDs, the daypacks. If you have rope, tie yourselves together. If no rope, hold onto each other. Maybe you could clip one belt of each PFD to the one next to you.
6. Wait it out. It likely won't be more than a few hours until you can get out of the water and go back to the trailhead.
7. Wait at the trailhead or you might start walking toward town.
 
01/20/2011 09:26PM  
OK, now I read the other replies:
1. I would not think to look at my map. It would be in a pack until we are loading the canoe at the water's edge. So I would not know about the swamp to NW.
2. The creek is in a pretty good little ravine and we might think about hunkering down in there if the fire was catching up to us.
3. I wouldn't consider for even one second carrying the canoes or heavy packs.
4. I didn't think about swimming across the lake. I don't think I would do that unless the water was really cold. And then I would try to swim to the closest point around the southern shore.
5. I didn't think about the paddle being useful to dig a trench. I know that now and would bring the paddles.
6. I never thought about being in a forest fire or about how fast a fire progresses. Thanks to this exercise I now have a bit more knowledge on this issue.
7. I do always ask my outfitter about fire bans. So usually I would have at least a rudimentary idea about how dry the forest is when entering, but would that knowledge save me?? I don't really believe so.
8. I would not try to bushwack. I would stay on the trail. I understand that firefighters are told to move around a fire, but I think they have a lot more knowledge about extent and direction going in than this scenario gives me. How would I have any idea how wide the fire is or even if I was traveling the right direction if I tried to go any way but down toward the lake? The only thing I know at the time the fire is discovered is where Angelworm is, so I go for the known escape route.
 
inthewoods
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01/24/2011 09:38AM  
quote solotrek: "
quote inthewoods: "I worked for the forest service in montana fighting fires for 2 seasons and for a local dept. in Wolfcreek MT. The fire shelters are no joke, When I was in the forest service there were 6 smoke jumpers that were burned over in there shelters and 3 of them died if you dont clear an area of debris good enough it just cooks you like a baked potatoe on the grill. there is not a very good chance that you will survive a burn over without a shelter(or with) that is the last option. Always move around the fire not run from it"

I would like to learn a bit more about moving around the fire. How would you know where you were in relation to the size of the fire? You could be 100 yards from one end of it or you may be in the middle of a fire many miles wide. How do you determine where you are and in which direction to move? Thanks!"


When you were dropped off there was no sign of fire and the forest service is apparently unaware of the fire at this point, so the fire is just getting started.

Once the fire reaches the top of the rigde it will slow when it hits the downhill side to the north of the ridge you are on. I would travel northwest thru the saddle area downhill to the marsh area. Try to cross the marsh towards ed shave lake and head back to the road and travel road away from the fire.

if you make it to angelworm with the wind direction and the way the lake is shaped it will likely burn both sides of the lake trapping you in the middle, alot of heat and smoke to deal with while your floating around in the lake.

I am no expert by no means, but i have dug and cleared miles of fireline and done many back fires, and we were always told move around fire not to run because it will catch you. There are alot of variables in this situation hopefully you pick the right plan of action
 
brerud
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01/24/2011 03:02PM  
In this scenario, knowing I am close to the Echo Trail. I would head back that way. There is no way that we got dropped off at the trailhead without noticing a big fire lurching towards us. It just simply isn't possible. The fire can't advance fast enough to catch us at that point without us noticing any smoke from the road. We are definitely on the north edge of a little fire and I would be heading back to the trail with a story to tell. And I would be too scared to think about bringing anything with me. I would drop everything except maybe my personal daypack that has my camera in it and run out of the fire's path.
 
Beemer01
Moderator
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01/29/2011 12:39PM  
OK - Get to open water on Angleworm and paddle to escape.

I'm a little surprised that the outfitter let us off, not sure how a fire got this big this quickly without the FS issuing a general alert.

 
01/30/2011 09:36AM  
What month is it?

For some reason I thought I remembered hearing that you should capsize your canoe and float underneath it - breathing clearer air trapped under canoe and some protection overhead...

That said, not sure I could make 2 miles carrying a canoe before fire caught up. Depending on depth of creek/swamp, could try using it overhead there.

Like the idea of dropping packs in creek/swamp, don't think I'd worry about bringing anything with me except maybe ditch kit (in water bottle) and pfd. WOULD worry about being in water to wait it out if it's May or earlier or September or later... maybe even June.
 
01/31/2011 05:58PM  
I learned a lot on this one thanks for all the info on fires. The picture threw me off a little on what to do as I kinda figured that's what was heading our way and many of the fires that happened lately were in very dry periods and I guess that's what I assumed. Can't wait for the next one!
 
NDCanoe
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02/01/2011 09:28AM  
Might be stating the obvious, but STAY TOGETHER!

 
520eek
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02/02/2011 10:17PM  
I had no clue but to run like the wind with pfd to angleworm. And after I have read posts.... I think I would still make it to angleworm (based on opinions of others about scenario). But, in my excited state, I may have run to angleworm with nothing else. Hope it was the right thing to do....
 
Mad_Angler
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03/08/2012 11:50AM  
quote bojibob: "This is #2 of 10 Wilderness Challenges I will be posting. ...Now What? "


II'd keep the group together, drop the canoes, and run down the portage trail. I'd try to keep packs on if they don't slow folks down too much.

Hopefully, we'd run into a pond or creek. If not, we'd be dead.

Assuming we made it to water, I'd wet down the packs and splash a lot of water around them. Then, I'd have everyone get in the water and try to as far from shore as possible. We can breath through wet clothing over our mouths.

We'd hang out in the water and pray as the fire raged around us...
 
03/08/2012 02:38PM  
Drop everything. Pull out the map and then look at the area quickly. This shouldn't take long though as the maps are studied prior to entry anyway. After realizing the best bet would be to continue on to the lake we would don the pfd's. While one person is looking at the maps, have a couple of the people grab the small packs and quickly jam some food into them from the food pack. The fourth would be the fire watch while this is going on. Then run like all hell is breaking loose (because it is) to Angleworm Lake.

I considered the lake to the west but I am not going to start bushwhacking through unfimiliar area through low swampy area to get there. I considered the stream and the small pond but the fire will most likely burn right to the edge and depending on the vegation/trees around it, it could possibly become intensely hot. Even in that pond - which doesn't look very big.

I feel the best bet for survival is getting to Angleworm with a few supplies in the small packs and with pfd's on, swim out as far into the middle or even the opposite shore of the lake. If going to the far shore, then get to shore and wait. If the fire begins to surround the lake, then swim back to the middle or to the portage if that area is done burning.

 
Naguethey
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03/09/2012 02:07PM  
I would run like hell for water.. But I've learned alot reading through this section.

Cant' say I've ever given forest fire too much thought. And will definatelly keep it in the back of my mind. And go over scenarios with my group.
 
straighthairedcurly
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03/21/2019 08:22AM  
I just found this forum and it looks like it has been pretty inactive, but still fun to read.

I did extensive wilderness tripping in my younger days and have had 3 experiences with forest fires in varying capacity so I definitely think about them. First my experiences then notes on this scenario.

1) Paddling on a large lake in Ontario, approaching the Kopka River area. We had seen smoke on the horizon for a number of days but didn't know anything about location or size. We paddled around a corner on a fairly large lake and the entire northern lake shore was fully engulfed in flames for a few hundred yards. We promptly turned our canoes around and paddled back the way we came. Soon after, a float plane landed asking if we had seen another group...we had not. We continued to one of our emergency exit points safely.

2) Put on the water near Norway House, Manitoba. For the last hours of the drive up, the skies had been filled with smoke, but no indication the fires would be specifically along our route. We paddled the Nelson R. for 3 days with no sign of flames. But when we reached the town of Cross Lake we discovered the entire town had been evacuated due to extensive forest fires. Only a crew of fire fighters and support crew were there. We helped cook for them for 3 days until we got permission to travel the road out by hitching a ride. We made it to Thompson where we tried for days to fly further north to the Seal River, but smoke turned us around each time.

3) While paddling our alternative route on the Attawapiskat in Ontario (after the #2 scenario) we came across a lightening strike area that had the beginnings of a fire. The tree roots were smoldering. We dug around to uncover the roots and hauled buckets of water up the steep bank until we felt we had controlled it.

The scenario presented is interesting, but not very realistic in my experience with fires. Fires take awhile to gain the kind of energy and travel speed hinted at here. There would have been earlier signs that a big fire was in the area, especially since the source seems to be right near the drop off point only a short while before. So I am going to assume that the fire is smaller and traveling slower than it might have seemed at first glance. I would evaluate the route back to the road before panicking. If it seemed too risky, I would hurry along the path toward the lake. If it was a fit group, I would keep gear with us as long as possible.
 
mvillasuso
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12/04/2020 07:17PM  
 
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