First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

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mossanimal
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First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:34 pm

Hi.... We will be arriving in Rock Harbor in just a few weeks and I'm trying to make a plan. It will be my wife and I and our 2 kids... 8 and 10. We've taken them canoe camping to the Boundary Waters twice and they have done 1 backpacking trip to the Porkies. The original plan was to backpack but I'm worried about crowded campsites and having to hike further than planned to get to the 'next one'. I'm now wondering if we should canoe camp instead. We have 5 days on the island. If we canoe I'd really like to take the portage over to Duncan Bay and then to the Five Fingers.. but not excited about that portage.. which we would have to do twice. My other idea is to stick within Rock Harbor and Tobin with the canoe, stay at those campsites and then do day hiking into the interior.

As to backpacking... how hard is it to get a campsite in mid-august? I dread hiking 7-10 miles just to find out that we have to keep moving to the next one...


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:41 pm

hmmmm... reading through some of the trip reports (paddling)... it sounds like it can be pretty rough in Rock Harbor. Don't want to negotiate waves with 2 kids onboard.... :-(


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by johnhens » Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:41 am

Rock Harbor can get rough. Helpful to have a handheld VHF for weather. Gives you options. Nice paddle along the shore and the islands. You will still have to contend with the campsites, may not get a shelter and may have to double up at tent site. The Duncan portage would be tough with an aluminum canoe.

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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Ingo » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:38 am

As pointed out, the campsite issue shouldn't be your deciding factor, since you can just as well have full paddling/boating sites. But folks are expected to, and do, double up when things get full so you shouldn't have to move on.

But if you do decide to paddle and are taking the Voyageur II, you could get off at Belle Isle and end at Rock Harbor, and only do the Duncan/Tobin portage once. We did that in 5 days when our kids were a little older (13 & 15) for a nice relaxed trip. Any of the waters can be rough at times, so pay attention to the forecasts (bring a weather radio, or better yet a VHF). The bays on the north side are fairly protected except for NE winds. Bring a compass because fog can roll in quickly (and be thick). You may only be able to get a Canadian weather station, so know the basic conversions (winds are reported in meters per second).

Have a great trip, whatever you decide!
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:24 pm

Hi.. thank you for the responses. As to the Duncan portage.. we do have a kevlar canoe.. a Mad River Malecite which is only 40 pounds I think.

Good to hear about the campsites. That is a relief.. we don't mind doubling up and going without a shelter.

Ingo... we are arriving in Rock Harbor via the Ranger II... but was thinking about using the Voyageur for the 2pm pick up at Belle Isle (portaging into the bay).. OR... arranging a water taxi pick up at Duncan Narrows. Does that make sense to you???

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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Ingo » Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:09 pm

mossanimal wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:24 pm
Ingo... we are arriving in Rock Harbor via the Ranger II... but was thinking about using the Voyageur for the 2pm pick up at Belle Isle (portaging into the bay).. OR... arranging a water taxi pick up at Duncan Narrows. Does that make sense to you???
Unfortunately the Voyageur II schedule doesn't line up to get you into R.H. the day before the Ranger III departs. And you can't stay 2 consecutive nights in the Rock Harbor campground, unless it's after Labor Day. So the water taxi would be your only option to avoid doing the portage twice.

Part of me is thinking you might want to stick with your original backpacking plan (as much as I like canoeing), thinking about a fully loaded canoe with 2 kids in it. While things usually go fine, there's the additional safely issues on the (cold) water and you need to be flexible and allow for weather, which could be more stressful with the kids and canoe. (do I put my family at risk to make the boat home?) I'm thinking about the one time paddling Duncan and Tobin Harbors in 20-30 mph winds and taking water over the gunnels--only happened once, but if it's the wrong day... That said, it's cool you're getting the kids out at an early age, and I'm sure you'll have a great trip in any case.
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:45 pm

Yes I’m going back and forth on the safety issue. We do have a lot of Boundary Waters experience with them and we live on the South Shore of Lake Superior and spend nearly every weekend in the summer in the Apostle Islands... so very familiar with conditions, cold water and pop-up storms. But... I don’t enjoy a canoe in big, exposed water. As to being overloaded... the plan would be to pack like we were backpacking rather than canoe camping which would bring it down to two backpacks rather than the 4 or so canoe packs we would normally use. I’m also back to not using a water taxi... and just doing the portage twice and without any ambitious plans. I feel one hundred percent comfortable with Duncan bay and Stockly at least... and Lane Cove. I can see how it could be hairy leaving Lane to get to Belle Isle and beyond though. Ughhh.... decisions.

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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Ingo » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:05 pm

Sounds like you got it under control. (at least the issues, if not the decisions ...)
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:32 pm

I guess the main driving factor in favor of the canoe is the fear of the rush of people coming off the boat and racing to get to Three Mile and Daisy etc and having to feel like we need to rush to get to campsites.


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Midwest Ed » Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:31 pm

Ingo wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:09 pm
mossanimal wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:24 pm
Ingo... we are arriving in Rock Harbor via the Ranger II... but was thinking about using the Voyageur for the 2pm pick up at Belle Isle (portaging into the bay).. OR... arranging a water taxi pick up at Duncan Narrows. Does that make sense to you???
Unfortunately the Voyageur II schedule doesn't line up to get you into R.H. the day before the Ranger III departs. And you can't stay 2 consecutive nights in the Rock Harbor campground, unless it's after Labor Day. So the water taxi would be your only option to avoid doing the portage twice.
What about a plan heading to Tooker's Island or Three Mile when you arrive in Rock Harbor for the first of the 2 nights? If there is unsafe canoe weather or an impending hard blow forecast for the next day I think the Rock Harbor Rangers would make an exception. Also, what would a portage from the end of Tobin Harbor to Three Mile CG look like, in case Rock Harbor Channel looked too rough?
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:47 am

Hmmm... didn’t notice Tookers. Are your thoughts that this plan is overall safer than heading over to Duncan?

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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Tom » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:23 am

Safer? In general, I'd say no. Easier? Yes, if the weather is solid.

Tookers (and Rock Harbor in general) is more exposed and can find you laid up on shore. Both from general size of the body of water, as well as there are some unprotected areas where rollers from the South can rock in.
Tobin and Duncan Bays are both far more protected from Mother Superior herself, and only if the wind is in a specific direction to they start to get much wave action. There is that darn portage, though...

In South Shore terms, it's sort of like the difference between paddling Bark Bay or Big Bay on Madeline, where there is plenty of exposure to the lake, vs say, a paddle from Red Cliff to Basswood...

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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Ingo » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:04 am

Tom wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:23 am
Safer? In general, I'd say no. Easier? Yes, if the weather is solid.

Tookers (and Rock Harbor in general) is more exposed and can find you laid up on shore. Both from general size of the body of water, as well as there are some unprotected areas where rollers from the South can rock in.
Tobin and Duncan Bays are both far more protected from Mother Superior herself, and only if the wind is in a specific direction to they start to get much wave action. There is that darn portage, though...

In South Shore terms, it's sort of like the difference between paddling Bark Bay or Big Bay on Madeline, where there is plenty of exposure to the lake, vs say, a paddle from Red Cliff to Basswood...
Well said, Tom.

Plus, Tookers only has 2 shelters, no tent sites, and is popular with boaters and kayakers, so it is one of the few campsites where you may have to actually move on.
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by mossanimal » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:11 am

Okay... great input. Well no matter what we are bringing the canoe but packed for backpacking. And an attitude amenable to flexibility. I sure like the look of that Five Finger area on the chart... just my sort of terrain (the rock ‘looking’ MUST be good over there too?) so hopefully that will work out. Also... I’ve some pretty long and rugged portages in the bwca and they never ruined a trip... just take your time.


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Re: First trip coming up this month.. need advice!

Post by Midwest Ed » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:21 pm

So what's the opinion on whether a canoe portage from somewhere on the Tobin Harbor trail to Three Mile CG is any sort of reasonable option, in the situation where the Rock Harbor Channel weather is too rough? Spending your first night off the Voyageur at Three Mile is certainly doable even if you had to stash your canoe at Rock Harbor and hike to 3 Mile as you said you'll be prepared for backpacking. A simple cable and small padlock (or even a just a note) will stop any kids looking to joy ride in Snug Harbor or more likely someone mistaking your ride for a rental unit. Anywhere else on the Island, except maybe Windigo, this would not be needed.

Also, I believe the Rock Harbor ranger would make a 2nd night exception for you if they thought the weather was too dangerous for you to leave. You would of course need to demonstrate a pre-planned agenda to head to 3 Mile for the night.

Another interesting question...
I wonder if a Ranger in Rock Harbor would be able to know if anyone is scheduled to be at Tookers on a given date? I know they could look it up in an emergency but how readily available is that info to them? I realize it could always be occupied due to a group's last minute changes, just curious about the situation.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

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