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  1. #101
    Senior Member Ryvr's Avatar
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    I'd like to change my vote depending on the answer to a question. All of my experience in camping stems from canoe trips. I have no background to rely on in terms of a hiking scenario. Most of my trips surround the North Tea/Biggar/Manitou lakes in Algonquin. All very large lakes in comparison to the trip we are talking about here. But the portages are relatively short and well travelled. My trepidation on the other routes stems primarily from the difficulty these portages represent or more to the point may represent.

    What are the portages like on the routes that have more/longer ones?

    If they are similar to those found in the Northern ares of Algonquin then I would say I really have no preference in the route taken. Other then to say that larger lakes will invite more wind and potentially less bugs. Trips on smaller lakes though safer in a storm tend to be more buggy and muggy in warm weather.

    Ryvr
    When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.

  2. #102
    Chard's Avatar
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    Sorry Ryvr, it's been so many years since I was in the Park's northwest that I've forgotten what the portages are like.

    The first few portages away from Highway 60 are very well travelled, likely to have soggy sections in the spring, and south of 60, tend to be a bit steeper. Most of the routes I mentioned generally have portages of less than 500m.

    Personally, I'm still leaning towards base-camping on TomT. Paddling out of Cache or Rock involve long portages, and I'll have been on Smoke/Ragged/Big Porcupine only two weeks earlier. When it comes to it, I'm easy and just want everybody to have three great nights in the Park.

    My only thought is that Ryvr and Odd_Duck would be paddling up all the way from Canoe Lake on their own Saturday morning.

    By the way, I updated the trip list with portage lengths.

    Chard
    Last edited by Chard; 03-08-2011 at 17:49.

  3. #103
    Senior Member [o]TTeR's Avatar
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    Personally, I'm still leaning towards base-camping on TomT. Paddling out of Cache or Rock involve long portages, and I'll have been on Smoke/Ragged/Big Porcupine only two weeks earlier. When it comes to it, I'm easy and just want everybody to have three great nights in the Park.
    The island on TomT has my vote, 2 short portages and good odds on a couple of exclusive sites together. Sounds like utopia to me?
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"
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  4. #104
    Senior Member BrianWillan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chardpp View Post
    Hi guys,

    I think the discussion we're having on canoeing experience, and how it affects our choice of routes, is interesting. If canoeing experience and safety are our main concerns, then minimizing long sections of paddling and avoiding large lakes would be likely be the best course of action, and that would certainly impact our choice in routes. Don't forget, portaging can always be carried out over multiple trips if necessary. Id be interested in what some of our veteran trippers have to say on the matter.

    I break down canoeing of the two basic sets of skills, essentially those of boating and of hiking, to which people bring varying degrees of "experience".
    Chardpp

    If you choose your route based on smaller lakes being safer to paddle for less experience paddlers, the number of portages would need to go up as a result. I thought we were going to try and pair up the veteran paddlers with the less experienced ones. If that is the case then dealing with one large lake would be less of an issue. In studying the route to Tom Thomson lake from the Canoe Lake access point, it appears that after crossing Canoe Lake (a little more than 3km) the remainder of the route is in small lakes and rivers and only has 1 portage that I saw marked on the map.

    In my view portaging is the major drawback to canoe camping. Even if you go with lightweight gear for your sleep and shelter systems and use dehydrated food, you still have to carry the canoe and associated gear across the portage. Granted some portages are short, some are long, either way you look at carrying 100 pounds for any distance just plain sucks. If your route has many portages than taking any luxury items negates some of the advantages to using a canoe in the first place.

    This is just the viewpoint of someone that hasn't canoe camped before, but take it for what it is worth. We could also do a loop of the Western Uplands Backpacking trail.

    Cheers

    Brian

  5. #105
    Chard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWillan View Post
    If you choose your route based on smaller lakes being safer to paddle for less experience paddlers, the number of portages would need to go up as a result. I thought we were going to try and pair up the veteran paddlers with the less experienced ones. If that is the case then dealing with one large lake would be less of an issue. In studying the route to Tom Thomson lake from the Canoe Lake access point, it appears that after crossing Canoe Lake (a little more than 3km) the remainder of the route is in small lakes and rivers and only has 1 portage that I saw marked on the map.
    Hey BrianWillan,

    You're absolutely right, the plan is to balance out the experience of the paddlers in each canoe. Canoe is the biggest lake on route, but they all demand respect. Once we get into the narrows north of Tepee, we should be fine. Incidentially, there's an unmarked liftover over a huge beaver dam just west of Littledoe.


    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWillan View Post
    In my view portaging is the major drawback to canoe camping. Even if you go with lightweight gear for your sleep and shelter systems and use dehydrated food, you still have to carry the canoe and associated gear across the portage. Granted some portages are short, some are long, either way you look at carrying 100 pounds for any distance just plain sucks. If your route has many portages than taking any luxury items negates some of the advantages to using a canoe in the first place.
    You've hit upon what is, shall we say, is the one major difference between hiking and canoeing. We'll be travelling roughly thirteen kilometers in four or so hours and only have to carry the gear on our back for three hundred metres. The math isn't too bad on that. Even on routes with a number of hops, you still usually have at least three quarters of your trip on the water, giving you plenty of time to rest and relax between portages. On the other hand, hiking means that you have the load on your back the full journey and must be careful to absolutely minimize weight, sometimes at the expense of safety. In my view, cutting too many corners to save a few ounces can be a recipe for disaster in emergency situations. Canoeing permits carrying a little more gear, a little more insurance, and a heck of a lot more luxuries.

    Granted, humping a forty pound canoe takes some getting used to, it really only becomes a pain on the steep hills, but putting it down and coming back for it is perfectly fine. No one's awarding hero points. On the flats, portaging is suprisingly easy, as long as the canoe is balanced and the shoulder yoke is comfortable.

    Believe it or not, I actually prefer trips that have a good number of portages. It gives me a chance to stretch my legs, get some exercise and look at the scenery close up. Even the longer portages are fine with me, and I don't generally think twice about setting off on a 3k portage, knowing that I'll appreciate the "blue" on the other side all the more. That's not to say I don't swear and curse my heavy load, but I never regret the trip. It's even easier in the summer when paddlers can go truely lightweight, and going with a partner makes it even easier.

    Hiking is a wonderful way to intimately connect with the land. For me, canoeing does the same, but allows for more flexibility. There's a good reason the first Canadians developed the canoe to travel across this landscape. It works. Neither approach is "right". They're just different sides of the same coin.

    Chard
    Last edited by Chard; 03-09-2011 at 21:17.

  6. #106
    Senior Member Ryvr's Avatar
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    Brian don't sweat the portages too much from the sounds of it they will likely be in good condition, albeit a little muddy in spots. What I was more worried about was lugging the canoes up down 100 metre rock scrims. I've done that and it sucks, particularly if your partner is unsure of themselves.

    Charrd is completely right about the flat stretches being very easy and getting the opportunity to stretch those legs and break up a few blood clots.

    The group I routinely go with for our annual paddle all have varying degrees of exp and physical fitness, and we often do even the short portages in several trips, with everyone helping to carry gear across.

    All that said I prefer my time on the water for me its a calming cleansing exp. A time to reflect and be reflected upon. Its quiet and calm, its exhilarating and terrifying its the perfect dichotomy.

    Ryvr
    When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.

  7. #107
    Chard's Avatar
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    Hey Ryvr,

    Now that you mention it, I do remember, many years ago, that my buddies did the northern lakes (Cedar, Kioshkokwi, Manitou, North Tea) going westward and they mentioned a short but brutally steep portage, like you say, more like a cliff than a trail.

    There aren't any of those near the Highway 60 corridor, as least as far as I can recall. The worst we did recently was on the 2010 Fall Hang between Lawrence and Rod and Gun which was a switchback up a steep hill. It was only a 415, but you felt every metre.

    Ironically, I found the Bon Echo hike more physically demanding than most canoe trips I've taken.

    Chard

  8. #108
    Senior Member BrianWillan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chardpp View Post

    Ironically, I found the Bon Echo hike more physically demanding than most canoe trips I've taken.
    As I recall on that Bon Echo hike, Chardpp, your pack wouldn't exactly qualify as light weight. That Abes and Essens Lake trail was pretty demanding, I will give you that.

    Cheers

    Brian

  9. #109
    Senior Member bcaron's Avatar
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    Some huge percentage of all High School trips made on the planet, it seems, head out across Canoe Lake. We are perhaps overstating the peril that is Canoe Lake. Let's book Tom T and be done with it....this is gonna rock
    " I have not yet begun to procrastinate!"

  10. #110
    entropy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWillan View Post
    Chardpp

    If you choose your route based on smaller lakes being safer to paddle for less experience paddlers, the number of portages would need to go up as a result. I thought we were going to try and pair up the veteran paddlers with the less experienced ones. If that is the case then dealing with one large lake would be less of an issue. In studying the route to Tom Thomson lake from the Canoe Lake access point, it appears that after crossing Canoe Lake (a little more than 3km) the remainder of the route is in small lakes and rivers and only has 1 portage that I saw marked on the map.

    In my view portaging is the major drawback to canoe camping. Even if you go with lightweight gear for your sleep and shelter systems and use dehydrated food, you still have to carry the canoe and associated gear across the portage. Granted some portages are short, some are long, either way you look at carrying 100 pounds for any distance just plain sucks. If your route has many portages than taking any luxury items negates some of the advantages to using a canoe in the first place.

    This is just the viewpoint of someone that hasn't canoe camped before, but take it for what it is worth. We could also do a loop of the Western Uplands Backpacking trail.

    Cheers

    Brian
    A word of warning, the Upland's Trail is far more demanding than the trail at Bon Echo. We did it early in the spring two years ago and it was a mucky mess with downed trees everywhere. Lots of ups and downs including some pretty gnarley climbs and descents

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