Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

by TrailZen

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 08/28/2021
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 10
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
We're Chuck & Tia Ramsey. Our first Quetico visit was in 1979, and we've returned many times through the years. In retirement we hoped to have a Quetico-style paddling adventure every year, and had wonderful 10-day trips in 2017, 2018, and 2019. In March of 2020 we pulled an August permit for a 10-day Quetico trip with Prairie Portage/Carp Lake entry. We planned to do the Man Chain, Blackstone, the Falls Chain, Kawnipi, Cairn, Sark, Keefer, Kahshahpiwi, and North Bay as our loop. Everyone remembers how 2020 plans for Quetico worked out. Hoping for 2021 access to Quetico, we kept our 2020 route plans in mind, but when Canada opened the border to fully-vaccinated US citizens, RABC permits were not available, and wildfires had closed the southern portion of the park. With Quetico only accessible from the north, we looked at possible routes, and decided we could do a 10-day trip with a Beaverhouse/Quetico Lake entry. In late-July we made reservations for August 28-Sept 6. We've been in Quetico during a fire ban before, so that wasn't a big deal to us. We began planning meals, drying food, checking and staging gear, and planning travel from our western North Carolina home to Ontario. Then on August 17 Quetico was completely closed due to wildfires. What do we do now? We looked at options and decided Algonquin should work for us. Algonquin outfitters and people who'd paddled there recommended the Kiosk entry point. We canceled our Quetico permit and made Algonquin reservations, using the same August 28-September 6 trip dates. And what a great trip it was!
Part 1 of 12

In late-July, Canada announced that beginning August 9, 2021, the border would be opened to fully-vaccinated US citizens who could also provide negative COVID test results. We're accustomed to the 1250-mile commute between our NC home and Ely, and were surprised to find that the drive to Kiosk, Ontario, was almost 200 miles shorter. The drive, of course, wasn't the issue with getting to Algonquin—we had to show proof of vaccination and negative COVID tests, and had to use the ArriveCAN app to get into Canada. Fortunately, toothmiester and other frequent contributors to forums began posting their experiences with the new border-crossing requirements. We had completed our vaccinations in March, so no issue there, and were able to schedule ID NOW tests at a nearby Walgreens. With vaccination records and test results uploaded to ArriveCAN, we thought we were ready to start the drive, then learned that even though we wouldn't have to quarantine or have a day-8 test in Ontario, we still had to list a Canadian address for contact purposes to complete ArriveCAN. Fortunately, friends own a cabin in Ontario and let us use that address to complete the application.

We drove from NC to near Buffalo, NY, August 26, then crossed into Ontario around 8:00 am August 27. We got to North Bay, Ontario, early that afternoon, and checked an outfitter for Algonquin maps. Turns out the outfitters in North Bay don't deal with Algonquin much, even though it's only an hour away. We drove to an outfitter near Kiosk, bought two Chrismar maps,. The outfitter laughed and asked why we wanted "his and hers" maps--didn't we trust each other? Well, we have a "trust but verify" map & compass policy. Maps in hand, we went on to Kiosk to see what our parking and put-in would be like. Wow—lotsa people!