Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Larway Solo
by jdddl8

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/17/2014
Entry Point: Quetico
Exit Point: Quetico  
Number of Days: 21
Group Size: 1
Trip Introduction:
Trip summary Although I have done over fifteen three week solo trips this was the most ambitious for a number of years. I saw more people than normal but fewer animals. The weather wasn’t utterly bad but my route had too much travel into the normally strong Quetico winds. The bugs were not an issue except at two campsites. The fishing and water levels were above average. My level of enjoyment was high and my number of dumb moves was low. Here is my daily summary. I have plenty of pictures so email me if you are interested.
Day 1 – My outfitter and I drove from Atikokan to the Lake La Croix ranger station on a dark and windy morning. I decided that my best course was to head into the wind and get to the American side and then skirt the islands to get to the Martin Bay entrance. It worked like a charm and then I spent the afternoon padding Martin Bay and then looked for a campsite on Nimm. It was actually harder than I anticipated because most of the campsites had recent deadfall covering them. Finally I found a nice campsite near the south end of the lake and had an uneventful night.

Day 2 – It was another dark morning and I got off to a bad start by portraying a ten yard peninsula thinking it was the McAcree portage. Finally I got to McAcree and worked my way to the Brewer rapids. I then padded up Brewer to the long set of rapids back to La Croix. Fishing so far was spotty. I then tried to find the portage to Cushing but after an exhaustive search I gave up. I did the portage to Iron Lake and found a campsite near Curtain Falls.

Day 3 – Again it was a dark morning and so far it hadn’t rained but I haven’t seen the sun. I did the Curtain Falls portage into Crooked and then worked my way through the Roland chain and camped on the north side of the big island in Argo. I actually got some nice bass in Roland. The sun came out for about half an hour while I paddled around the big island but then it disappeared again.

Day 4 – It was cloudy in the morning and it did rain later on. I portaged into Darky and set up camp on an island near the Wicksteed portage. I got scared when I thought I heard a gun shot but I think a raven dropped something from way up on a rock. I then did a circle going into Wicksteed over to Ballard and then back to my Darky campsite. I got some nice bass in Wickstead but the rest of the way was too windy to be enjoyable. Day 5 – There was still no sun but there was no wind either. I started up the river to Williams Lake. I spent the morning doing numerous portage and finally made the lake around noon. I fished up the whole lake, looked at the other campsites and walked the portage to Conmee. I caught some nice fish and had a good day.

Day 6 – I spent the day moving from William to Brent and then onto Commie. I found the day difficult because of the wind. I did a little fishing on Commee and caught some walleyes. Overall it was a day to spend some time on shore.

Day 7 – The cloudy weather continued and the wind picked up with vengeance. I made it down Conmee and actually caught walleye. But by the time I portage to Suzette it was rough and against me. I made it through the Blackwater portages and fought my way to the Burt, Marj & Pauline intersection. I decided against going into Burt as it wouldn’t have been worth the effort. So I headed to an island in Pauline and made camp. The wind died down that night and I did fish.

Day 8 – I decided to leave early in case the wind came again. So I portaged into McIntyre and paddled through the wide part before the wind became impossible. I then did a number of small portages and finally got to the no name lake at the intersection of Tuck & Robinson. Similar to the day before I decided against going into Robinson and had lunch before I set up camp. But the wind was so strong I thought the campsite was too exposed so I portaged into Tuck and found a campsite out of the wind.

Day 9 – I made my way across Tuck and into Sarah. It was another miserable day with rain and wind so I moved quickly through Sarah although I did catch some lake trout and bass. Because of the weather I decided to keep going and did the three portage to get me to Irene. I was able to fish Irene a little but it was too windy to enjoy it.

Day 10 – I did the three portages from Irene to Kashshahwipi and was happy to get through that area as the portages have some steep hills. The wind was still bad but I was able to proceed up the west side of Kashshahwipi and portage into Keefer. I camped on an island on the north end of Keefer. The wind died some near dusk so I was able to fish but without a lot of success.

Day 11 – I worked my way from Keefer to Sark and after some indecision selected a campsite. I then spent the day exploring Sark. First I tried to get into the no name lakes east of Sark. I bushwhacked up the creek to a swamp but the bush was too thick to carry a canoe. Next I checked out the two creeks at the north end of the lake and finally the creek to the west side of the lake. None of these were navigable beyond a few yards.

Day 12 – Shortly after I broke camp it started to pour. It continued that way until late afternoon. I did the long portage from Sark into Cutty while it was pouring. I paddled down to the far end of Cutty and looked at the one campsite but it was too exposed so I headed back to the other end. The fishing was so good the large walleye just jumped into the boat. I set up camp just as it stopped raining. I was just thinking how isolated the lake was when a canoe went by. When I returned from fishing that night there was a couple camped about a hundred yards away at the only other campsite.

Day 13 – I did the portage into Metacryst and worked my way up the lake but again it was windy. I portaged into Heronshaw set up camp and then went fishing. Some idiots had taken an axe to a lot of living trees to make the site more user friendly. As it usually is the fishing was amazing. Unfortunately I had a mixed experience that night. As I returned to camp after great fishing I trolled deep in the middle of the lake and caught the biggest walleye of my life. As I held it up by the gill I grabbed my camera and just as I went to click it twisted away and left me with memories and no proof.

Day 14 – I portaged into Shelly and made my way up to the No Name lake heading toward Alice I did the portage and made my way to Alice Creek. There was plenty of water and I got through the portage and into the lake but the wind was nearly impossible so I spent the rest of the day on shore. Day 15 – I made my way up Alice into the wind and rain. It was offset by fantastic bass fishing. I then portaged into Chaterton and then did the hill portage into Russell. I had to stay on shore until late evening as the wind was too strong.

Day 16 – Unfortunately the wind just kept coming from the west as I struggled out of Russell, through Sturgeon narrows and out into Sturgeon. I finally made it to my favorite island in Walsh Bay. I was able to fish but I didn’t have great luck. Day 17 – The wind was a little lighter but I still paddled to the south side of the lake. Finally I got off the wide part of the lake and headed up the narrows toward March. I did the portage and then fished and caught walleyes before I headed to Bentpine. I fished Bentpine that night but it wasn’t great. Day 18 – I started up Bentpine as the wind pick up and the rain came down. As I started the long portage to Clare it was still pouring. But the portage is a lot easier this way as you go down the cliff. The wind was still really strong as I paddled across Clare. When I got to the Clare creek I thought it was fine but I quickly realized there was no water. I was able to pole and push the canoe up to the lake but the creek beyond the lake was empty. So I had to portage down the side of the creek till I got to the normal portage. After the portage I was able to paddle and make it to Burntside. Because the weather was still miserable I decided to push right through to Jean. So I did the portage to Jean and paddle up the lake to my favorite island.

Day 19 – I stayed put because I was ahead of schedule and the weather was awful. It got really cold and the wind was coming strong from the north. I was able to do some lake trout fishing late that night and early the next morning and caught enough to keep me happy. Day 20 - I moved from Jean through Conk to Quetico and literally fought my way up Quetico into a ferocious west wind. I finally decided that this was stupid and dangerous so I stopped and set up and early camp. Again I was land locked as the wind didn’t die until dusk.

Day 21 – I got up in the dark and was ready to leave at dawn. The problem was that there was ground fog and I couldn’t see anything so I had to navigate using my compass. By the time I got to the Beaverhouse portage the fog had cleared but the wind was picking up. I decided I had enough so I called my outfitter and got picked up a day early.