Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Pt. 2 Quetico Solo 2011 McNiece, Burt, and Ted
by TomT

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/31/2011
Entry Point: Quetico
Exit Point: Moose Lake Chain Only (EP F)  
Number of Days: 11
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
The conclusion of my 5th solo and 3rd to Quetico. This is days 6 through 10
Part 1 of 5
Tuesday September 6th, 2011

*Note: I did not use Voyager Maps for this trip and where I mention them I was referring to MCKENZIE maps.

Got up at 6:00 this morning and it was the best night of sleep yet. I didn’t wake at all except for a bathroom break. I walked out to the open rock front porch and was blown away by the stars. It’s hard to describe. It’s like you are in a planetarium. The starlight and moon light up everything and cast shadows in the woods. I wonder what it would be like out on the lake and laying on my back in the canoe?

It wasn’t so cold this morning and I feel good. The rest day really helped my muscles. It’s gonna be a long travel day but it promises to get warm so I go with a T-shirt and shorts. I make the oatmeal w/dried apples and down 2 cups of coffee. I wasn’t sure about using coffee singles because in the past I used my French press with fresh grounds. To save space and cleanup time I decided to try Maxwell house singles and I gotta say it’s not bad coffee at all.

After clean up and camp tear down I’m on the water at 8:10, my best time yet. Since I fell a day behind schedule with my portaging mishaps earlier in the trip I decide to cut out going to Suzannette Lake to the west. I’ll be back on schedule if I take the most direct way to Ted.

There’s a 10 mile per hour south westerly breeze coming right at me as I push away from my camp on Burt towards the Darky River. In the river I turn left into a bay and easily find the 88 rod portage into Paulene. This lake is known for it’s largemouth bass and I’m in the mood for some fishing.

I cast a spinner bait towards the southern shore but the wind pushes me back the other way when I’m reeling in. This is frustrating but I catch 2 small largemouth before moving on.

For the heck of it I attach my camera to the portage yoke in front of me and shoot some video of me paddling.

* because it’s in HD it might need to buffer first. Just pause it and wait a few seconds.

I take the 112 rod portage into McIntyre Lake. Here is the landing at McIntyre. I was looking for this portage landing in 2000 on another solo and couldn’t find it. It’s not very typical being nice and grassy.

McIntyre is a large lake and I’ve camped on a great island site here twice before. I pass by and see it’s still beautiful. After this island I fight against a steady wind with a few white caps along the way. It’s not as fun as having the wind at my back. It’s not as difficult as my first day on Burt but I still use up a lot of energy. As I approach my turn the wind magically goes away. I now have to go west through a series of no names on the way to Earl.

Sometimes at a portage you’ll get lucky and have a shelf to put the heavy pack on. It makes it easy to get it on by just backing into it.

I pass this tree seemingly growing right out of the rock. Stuff like this amazes me.

I am through the first no name and take the 90 rod to the next one. This portage is beautiful. It has high bluffs and there’s wide open granite trails marked with rock cairns.

When I finish portaging at the no name landing I really need to eat. If I don’t, I doubt I will have the strength to get to Ted today. For some reason I’ve been forgetting to pack a lunch and put it on TOP of the pack. Now I have to empty everything out of the big pack to get at the food case. When will I learn?

After some P and J’s on tortillas, trail mix and oatmeal cookies with Gatorade I’m ready to roll again. Once into the main part of this no name lake I see several very large glacier erratic boulders. These are always very cool to see.

At the far end both of my maps say the portage is at the end of a sliver of a bay. In this bay it peters out in a narrow trail that goes into a bog. It’s just wide enough for my canoe so I follow it hoping it ends at an obvious portage trail.

After fighting my way in here by poling the canoe along a mucky, stinky bottom I don’t see any sign of a portage and it ends at a swamp. There’s no real sign of use except by deer or moose. This can’t possibly be right. So now I decide to back my way out of this mess. With considerable effort pushing against the hummocks with my paddle I’m back in water that doesn‘t stink.

Now what. I go along the south shore very slowly looking for a landing. After 50 yards there it is! It’s not easy to spot unless your close to it. Both maps have it wrong. Man oh man, I sure didn’t need to waste all that time. But I signed up for adventure, right?

The trail is a long one listed at 155 rods. Along the way are several piles of rock cairns to show the way.

At one point I have to cross a grassy area and the trail gets very faint. Luckily I can see where the grass is parted and then see a cairn at the wood line. It would not be good to get lost on a long portage like this. I really appreciate whoever took the time to make those cairns.

There’s also many huge red pines along the way. This portage is pretty spectacular.

This last picture was taken at 3:04 PM. It won’t be long to Ted now. Just gotta go through Earl. I check the maps and both McKenzie and Chrismar tell me to look in the middle of the bay closest to Ted. It’s in the middle of that western shore. I go up and down and don’t see any sign of a portage. “This can’t be happening“… I go to the south end of the bay and there it is. Both maps are wrong again. Who’s making these maps anyway?

Here’s the landing on Earl to Ted.

It’s not a long portage but very scenic.

Once on Ted I look to camp on a 4 star site that also contains a message jar. I paddle in that direction when I suddenly see movement at the site. A group is camped there so I turn around and head for an alternate site suggested by board member Banksiana. It’s rated at 3 stars and sits on a small penninsula across from a pictogragh site. Those were the first signs of people I’ve seen since my first day and will be the last ones I see till my last day of the trip.

I pull up to a decent landing on a large front porch of granite. It’s a short walk to the kitchen. I can tell this place doesn’t get much use and it’s fairly small. Initially I’m disappointed that the other site is taken.

I find a nice spot right off the kitchen for my hammock. The fireplace is very nice. The seating is low so I take a large flat rock and put on top of the seating logs to boost it up and I put my pfd on top of this. Yeah, not bad at all. I’m hungry so I boil water for some turkey tetrazinni. These are nice because all you do is pour the water into the pouch and mix it all up. Then seal the pouch and wait approx. 8 minutes. I gotta say, it’s really good eatin’ especially after a long day.

I get everything squared away and take the campsite tour video. I’m starting to really like this place now. It’s very quaint and perfect for a solo guy like myself.

In the good light I take this pic.

In the hammock I listen to my weather radio then tune in stations on AM. It’s surprising what you can get at night this far out in the middle of the Q. This was the first time I have brought a radio and it was a good idea. It helped with the inevitable loneliness issues that crop up during a solo trip.

Tour of campsite video.