Fishgut's Increditable Quetico Adventure
by fishguts

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/06/2005
Entry Point: Quetico
Exit Point: Quetico  
Number of Days: 11
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
Canadian Quetico trip, starting with a tow across Lac Lacroix to entry #43 McAree and ending with a tow from Prairie Portage
Day 1 of 11
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Having spent the night in Doug Jordan’s bunk house, we got up early, 5:15 AM, and repacked our bags, and had a breakfast of 3 pancakes and 2 sausages each and orange juice. We loaded into a van for the drive to Crane Lake. We made it in time (about 1 1/2 hour drive) for our tow by Zupp’s Outfitters.

We were towed by jet boat to Sand Point Lake where we checked through Canadian Customs. We shared the towboat with a group of 6 from Wisconsin. After customs, we went down the Loon River and over 2 mechanical portages. We were originally scheduled to take the slower boat and the Dawson Portage, which was cheaper, but Zupp’s put us in with the guys from Wisconsin on the jet boat, going down the Loon River Route. The jet boat went very fast down the curvy part of the Loon River. When we got to the mechanical portages, we got out and walked, while the jet boat with 9 people’s worth of baggage and our canoe and their kayak, was pulled up on a funny railroad car contraption over the portage. After the last portage, off we went to Zupp’s base on Lac Lacroix, to buy our fishing licenses, and change boats. They put the Wisconsin guys’ two aluminum canoes that they picked up at Zupp’s and red kayak on the bottom and our tiger 3 person Kevlar canoe in the top.

Zups is on the east side of Lac La Croix, and we were towed all the way across to the east, where we stopped at the Lac La Croix ranger station to pay for our Quetico permit and camping fees. The ranger station is located on an Indian reservation and our ranger was an Indian woman with a bad cold and a young boy asleep on the couch. She said we were the
1st party to come through there in 3 days.

Next we were off to our drop off point for our permit #43-McAree.

Our boat driver, also an Indian woman, coaxed the boat into shore just below the first “Brewer Rapids” which are not shown on the map. Here we unloaded our 4 packs and canoe, said goodbye to the driver and our 6 friends from Wisconsin and started our trip.

Thomas scouted a path, through the woods, to be above the rapids. We made our 1st portage. We paddled up the Brewer River to the rapids and portage to Brewer Lake. Elizabeth took pictures of the rapids.

We paddled across Brewer Lake to the portage to McAree Lake. There is another big rapid that is not shown on the map. We took more pictures. We met another group at the portage from Doug Jordan’s Outfitters.

We found a beautiful spot at the far end of the portage for lunch. There was a big patch of daisies and a great view of McAree.

We crossed McAree and it was warm. We stopped and put on sunscreen. We continued on to the northeast corner of McAree to the small portage into Pond Lake. Just before the big portage to Gratton, a fish rose and Thomas and I couldn’t resist so we unloaded the canoe, left Elizabeth guarding the packs in the shade and caught our 1st fish of the trip. Small mouth bass…we both caught some!

Then we were in for it…The “Death March” portage from Pond Lake to Little Gratton. 220 rods. It started in a moose swamp with Thomas carrying the canoe, sinking above his ankles in the muck. Then up and up some more, with ankle twisting rock gardens and more moose swamp. Then the last 100 yards, steep down a boulder covered path. We accomplished this portage quite well!

We took it in stages and leapfrogged our way across. We worked together and even though it was a long sweaty rough portage, we made it! Longest portage of our trip!

We paddled into Little Gratton Lake, searching for a campsite. A nice site was found on the 2nd island. We set up camp, had dinner, hung the food pack and fished. Thomas and I caught a bunch of Largemouth Bass with 2 big ones, all catch and release. We decided to spend 2 nights on Little Gratton, so we slept in next morning.