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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Solo Tripping
      Solo in Quetico     



David B
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
06/17/2016 06:06PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
I truly enjoy reading the messages on the solo site. It is comforting to read of all of the concerns and worries of especially first time solo trippers and know that we all have those feelings of uncertainty and insecurity when heading off on our own. Having those feelings and then conquering them is part of what makes a solo trip special

I am 67, soon 68, and share those kinds of concerns but love being alone in the north woods. I hope to do my second solo trip this September. The first was in BWCA for 10 days, 3 or 4 years ago, and am contemplating this one in to Quetico, perhaps to the Kawnipi Lake area. I would certainly welcome any and all thoughts and suggestions on this.

I plan to go in about Sept 9 for ten or twelve days and would like to hear from others about their experiences. Are there outfitters you'd recommend and is this the best choice? My priorities are solitude and enough walleyes for a few good dinners by the campfire.

Anything will be appreciated.

David B

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distinguished member(1919)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/17/2016 06:46PM  
Going to Quetico will mean much more solitude than staying in the BW. It also means much more money---daily fee, RABC, fishing license, etc.
There is a notable difference, for me, between seeing folks in the BW much of the time and knowing there are few people wandering around the middle of the Q in September. I like the solitude but it does give me a more vulnerable feeling.
06/17/2016 08:20PM  
Shorter days in September......long nights in camp.
06/18/2016 08:43AM  
Sorry, but the Q is all fished out of walleyes by the time September comes. Especially Kawnipi. Gotta wait till spring restock.

Seriously, I'll be in that same area during same timeframe.

I agree, the fees are pricey. Having never been to the Q I'll find out in a few months if it's worthwhile.

What entry are you considering?
distinguished member(4847)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
06/18/2016 02:20PM  
You won't be crowded but you won't be alone. Out of French Lake onto Pickerel and Dore and Sturgeon. Russell to Chatterton Falls..

Its a nice route. I went some further down to the foot of Agnes some years ago on an 11 day solo. I think it was about nine years ago.

The carries are fine. The one out of Russell to the Poets Chain a little steep but not long.

Its unclear if you want to start in Canada or the US. I have almost always started in Canada which obliterates the need for a RABC. Outfitters are in Atikokan ( probably other places) but I have always had my own boat.

Pickerel can be busy on a weekend but you would still get a site. Its only ninety minutes from a city of 150,000.

David B
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
06/18/2016 04:46PM  
Driving from CT, I have really only considered entering from US because of distances involved going to Canada. My entry point might be Falls Chain EP 73 I suppose, but all of the advice I have gotten so far has just come from emailing with a couple of the outfitters near the end of the Gunflint Rd. Open to suggestions. I guess I should probably post to the Quetico site as well. David B
distinguished member(4847)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
06/18/2016 05:31PM  
I did some solos in Quetico coming from CT.. Its quite a bit faster going to Canada at Ogdensburg NY then up 416 to Ottawa..17 West all the way to Thunder Ba

avoids all cities save North Bay (50,000 people) and almost all of Ottawa is avoided

I wish Chicago only on bad people. And once it took me four hours to get to NYC from New Haven..

The upside is no tolls save on the 1000 Is Bridge. The downside is gas is pricier in Canada but your dollar goes a Looong way with the exchange rate.

I kind of never went to the Bdub as Quetico was easier from CT. Wait we did Sag to the Falls Chain and along the CDN-USA line once. The Falls Chain is very nice and ought to factor in if you have not seen it.

06/18/2016 08:40PM  
The Falls Chain and Kawnipi are really nice areas, lots to see so do not rush through. McKenzie Bay has some great old growth pine camp sites. It is a route I have taken several times, but am seriously looking at going into Canada and checking out some of the other areas both due to savings in daily fees and RABC and to explore new areas.
You will be happy you made this trip.
06/19/2016 10:37AM  
There are a lot of routes starting off the falls chain. I've read many here write that the falls chain should be done in two days instead of 1 because of all the beauty.

We are starting at Prairie Portage and paddling up to the falls chain via theMan Chain. Then Kawnipi and further west before heading towards Kashapiwi.
06/19/2016 02:31PM  
I stayed at Bald rock Falls campsite in 2013 and if you co down the falls chain and its open I would consider spending a night. There's a trail to the falls from the site and lots of nice open ledge rock for stargazing and swimming.

You could go north on falls chain to Kawnipi then south on agnes to the Man Chain and then east back home. A very popular route. If you want off the beaten path and smaller water you could detour west through McEwen and follow the trail to Louisa Falls. McEwen has nice fishing.

I wrote up a trip report that went that way in 2013 if interested. If you do the Man Chain consider going west to east. I went the other way and had headwinds that made it really tough through those narrow lakes.

David B
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
06/19/2016 03:53PM  
Thank you for this good input. I am having a little trouble following and will need to hold of a better map. What entry points are you taking into the Man Chain - Prairie Portage? And are you then coming in from Ely. Sorry, I think these are probably stupid questions that would be resolved with a good map. DB
06/19/2016 04:26PM  
The Man Chain is west to east and accessible from both entry points. A nice loop might be entering off the Gunflint Trail and going through Saganagons (real good walleye lake) to the falls chain north downstream to McEwen then west to Agnes.

You have the opportunity to bypass a long and rough portage from Kenny Lk. to McEwen by exiting early through Wet Lake to McEwen. Depends on your adventure level and how you feel.

McEwen Creek is gorgeous and wild. Lots of solitude on the way to Agnes Lk. Louisa Falls flowing into Agnes is a highlight and if it's warm out I recommend giving the "bathtub" at the base of the falls a wade. You can stand under the falls in 5 feet of water.

From agnes you go south either to the Man Chain or the border lakes and home going west hopefully with the wind at your back.

Heres a link to a clockwise loop of that route going out of Prairie Portage. It has maps for you to look at as well.

David B
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
06/19/2016 07:26PM  
Thanks, Tom. Great trip report and a beautiful dog - just the right kind of companion for a solo.
06/19/2016 10:04PM  
There is a nice maps website that cannot be named. Google earth is a bit difficult to navigate, but if you locate a campsite, portage, and lake .kmz file to import it makes route planning a breeze.

If you do go early sept. You've less than 3 months to secure a entry, get RABC (if needed) and plan your route(s.). Personally, at this point, I would just want to get familiar with the area and wing it. If the fishing is good in an area I would forgo an extended loop and shorten it. And if fishing sucked I would put some serious paddle time in.
06/20/2016 05:04AM  
This is the excellent website Exo talks about. The spelling is backwards because we are unable to post that site name on here. moc.rennalpelddap

You know, that loop I describe is probably a bit much. You could just go up to Kawnipi and hang out on that great fishing lake. There are all the different bays that you could move camp to and then just take the falls chain back. Saganagons is another lake you could do that with. McEwen would be a nice fishing diversion too.

06/20/2016 06:08AM  
quote David B: "Driving from CT, I have really only considered entering from US because of distances involved going to Canada. My entry point might be Falls Chain EP 73 I suppose, but all of the advice I have gotten so far has just come from emailing with a couple of the outfitters near the end of the Gunflint Rd. Open to suggestions. I guess I should probably post to the Quetico site as well. David B"

A couple of years ago, I came back from Grand Marais, MN, by way of Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie, completing the Lake Superior Circle Tour, after being told it was only about 50 miles and an hour longer than my usual route across the Upper Peninsula of MI back to WV. I have never gone back by Chicago since I took the U.P. route. I don't know exactly where you are in CT, but if you use Google maps or MapQuest, I think you'll find there's not much difference in mileage or time going to Atikokan or Grand Marais plus the end of the Gunflint Trail (or Ely, MN). Good luck with your planning and trip.

P. S. It is a spectacular drive back along the northern shore of Lake Superior. I stopped at Pukaskwa NP on the way back - it is stunningly beautiful.
David B
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
06/20/2016 09:12AM  
Driving across Canada to enter from the north sounds very appealing. Is there a preferred route in to Kawnipi that can minimize travel across stretches of big windy lakes? about a solo at age 68. I'm sure if I swamped my only out would be to try to swim to shore with the boat. Otherwise, the idea of getting to Kawnipi and then exploring for several days would be great.
06/20/2016 06:34PM  
I suppose you could do a lollipop loop out of Nym/Pickerel. It will take you more than a day to get to Kawnipi. And some big water just briefly looking at the lakes en-route.

Based on the comments here and elsewhere a trip into Kawnipi from Clay Lake (fly-in?) is ill-advised. I've also read that French to Cache is real difficult as well.

Seems going north through Agnes or up the Falls Chain is the fastest preferred route?

Do it, don't regret it, spend a little on the fees for experience.

Kawnipi appears so large that once you get to it, you can paddle, fish, break and make camp to your hearts desire without ever having to portage.
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