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2004 Quetico Trip Report

qpassage

Well-Known Member
Along about Christmas time 2003 I was sitting in my Quetico room checking the boards and chatting and thinking about the up and coming new year. Hoping that it held a Quetico trip within its bounds. The last few months in talking with friends on the CCBB I found a friend that he as well as I were interested in doing a trip together. As I was sitting there I was thinking about all the things we all think about in the planning stages. First and far most important who’s going? Well Troutlane and I had been talking some the months before about doing a trip. So as things would have it we were planning a new trip.
Shortly there after my Son pops in the Q room to ask his Dad a question. The one and dearest question that all of us as fathers look and wait for. I believe it was put to me as, Hey Dad, can I go with you to Canada this year. All in one motion I looked and said yes. I was so excited that I started the planning. Soon I told Troutlane of this and we were deep into the planning stages.
Three months later at Canoecopia TL and I were sitting at a table laying out the route. Many choices arose, where would we enter? Where should we go? Soon we had our route and then setting the plans into motion.
The plan is to enter at Nym Lake heading into Jesse Lake. From there to where ever chose. Also included in the trip were Mrs. Troutlane and TL Jr. Still not sure if we would travel the entire trip together or split up. We decided on a date, and proceeded to get two permits at Nym Lake the same day. Well I can tell you if you don’t know, you do now, Nym Lake only has two permits allowed per day for entry. That plus the fact that it was a Holiday Weekend in Canada made it impossible to even get one permit. We both started calling 10 min before they opened up on the first day allowed for permits. That night TL and I touched base on the phone to regroup and figure out what our next move was to be. We decided to try for Monday thinking most enter the park on the weekends. I managed to get a permit but we only had one.
So it was like someone was telling us to just stick together. I tell you though, when your entering and see that other party it does give you a feeling of reward. Just knowing that someone else is sharing this great place with you.
Permits we had, now for the packing and planning of the trip it’s self.
Then about 10 days before the trip I got the news that this trip could be called off. I think we all worry about this as we plan our trips. I had a very ill Aunt and was told she didn’t have much time with us. On top of that things were becoming tight with the dollars a few unexpected things that required spending my Q money. Three days pass and I find that this trip isn’t going to happen. I was so disappointed, the hardest part would be telling my son. Packs were packed and ready but the funds were so close that I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough to do the 1200 miles each way. Then 6 days before the trip my Aunt passed, a very sad and emotional day as well as a happy day knowing she was with her creator. I only mention this as my Aunt and Uncle were the one’s that first turned this Indiana boy into loving the fishing and trekking in northern MN. Yes as a youngster I traveled with them and my Grandparents to fish on the Crow Wing Lakes in MN. Not realizing then but understanding now how that does tend to get in you blood.
So the decision I had made, I wasn’t going to go. Just felt that with everything happening I should just stay home.
I had mentioned this to a couple close friends just telling them that I just felt it would be best not to go. The next day I receive a phone call, my close friend on the other end said you are going. He had made arrangements for me to get a canoe. So now the trip is on, well I’m hoping but still wondering if I should. Two night before the trip I’m at the funeral home. Still wondering if I’m doing the right thing by going. As I sat talking with my family I learn that my Uncle had also had a trip planned into MN. He was planning to leave the following week, which I had just assumed he wasn’t going. After a long talk with my father he said I needed to go if I could. He’s never been on a trip up there but from talking to my uncle he understood the constant lure that calls us there.
Then he tells me that my uncle is still going north, he said that my Aunt would have wanted it that way, and I’d have guessed that she had made him promise to go before she died.
So on Thursday night, after the funeral, I drove to get my son. We are on our road trip the next morning by 8.
On Saturday we picked up the canoe and headed towards the border. Very quickly we were across the border and heading east to Atikokan. Arriving in Atikokan one day before our trip mates, my son and I decided to camp at French Lake Camp Ground. Having no reservations we called to see if they had any openings. They had 4, so we drove to French Lake and camped that night.
Checking in at the hotel in Atikokan, the next day, was at 11 am. We headed there shortly after a very nice breakfast at Quetico North.
The Troutlane's arrived around 4 and we talked a while then heading back to French Lake for the permits and fees.
I’ll tell you that if you ever have the chance to visit the library at French Lake plan a little time there, lots of interesting things to see and read. Back at the hotel we finalize the packing and head off for pizza in down town Atikokan.
It was hard for me to believe the trip was on and in fact we were there all ready.

Day 1
We all ate a quick breakfast at the hotel, before leaving for Nym Lake put in.
A cloudy day it was, and it looked like rain. Was this a sign of the days to come? The weather had been cool there the week before and they really hadn’t had a summer yet.
Arriving at Nym Lake we unloaded the cars and portages to the dock below. We all sat for a photo and then shoved off. We hadn’t traveled 100 yards and it started to sprinkle, soon turning harder so we stopped to put on our rain suits. Other than the rain drops splashing into Nym Lake the water was perfectly calm.
As we neared our first portage the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to pop out.
The portage isn’t the easiest portage in Quetico but much easer than the many Quetico Portages I’ve been on. Just 167 rods up over a hill. Which I should ad ends at a very nice sandy beach.
Being my son’s first trip I was a little concerned about how he would do on the portages with the pack. Fifteen years old he was a real trooper, not even thinking about giving up or resting on the portage.

Soon all 6 of us were paddling on Batchewaung Lake. I say 6 but it was really 5 of us right then, the night before Mr. and Mrs. Troutlane announced that they were expecting another paddler/fisherperson in the future. Congrats to the Troulane’s!

Batchewaung was almost like glass, the rain had stopped and the sun was coming out.
We paddled thru the narrows into Batchewaung Bay into the Narrows of Pickerel Lake. Deciding we needed a break and our bellies needed food we stop at a campsite on Mosquito Point. From researching this trip, there was once an old Ranger Cabin near there, as well as just west of there was an old lookout tower. All of which are gone now.
We took about 30 minutes to eat and stretch then back in the canoe to the portage.
The portage into Maria Lake isn’t that long, only 47 rods. But thankful it was dry, actually very dry, this portage would be muddy in wet conditions.
Maria Lake an awesome looking lake. A short paddle to the south and we were at the last portage of the day. We met a group coming from Jesse as we paddled near the portage.

The 147-rod portage to Jesse Lake is for the most part flat. It looked as if there would be 3 major areas to cross which would but swampy under wet conditions. There were 3 areas, which also had cord wood piled rather deep, actually deeper than I have seen in the Quetico. At the Jesse side of the portage Troutlane points out the clearing there, that once was the camp loggers used back in the 1920’s and 30’s. The undergrowth was taking over the clearing, but, you could clearly see where the building once stood.
We took our time shoving off onto Jesse Lake TL Jr was splashing his feet in the warm waters. We all knew that soon, we would be in camp setting up and prepping to spend our first night in the Quetico.
The Troutlane Family had the destination picked for camp. We all were hoping it wasn’t taken. Arriving at camp around 3:30 it was open. It took about 6-½ hours to get there but we took our time so we all could take in the first day of the Q.
After setting up camp we took the canoes out to gather firewood. The camp was an island site, which had very little firewood on it. After gathering a couple days worth of firewood we came back to camp and fixed dinner.
Soon we all loaded into our canoes with fishing poles in hand. It was Waldo time. My son having never caught a walleye made me I think, more excided than he was. Soon into the fishing he hooked one. Only to get it to the canoe and it got off. By the way it was the biggest fish of the week. But, TL said they don’t count unless they are in your hand. Thinking back on the trip, you know I only recall seeing TL hold a couple fish though. Just teasing Troutlane. As the sun was starting to set my son and I headed towards camp. The Troutlane Family soon followed.
Back in camp I started a pot of swamp water (coffee). My son was working on the fire, as I made him some hot chocolate. Soon after the mosquito’s moved in moving all of us to the tents. It was a perfect day, and a perfect beginning of a trip to come.

Day 2

We kind of slept in this morning. I guess the relaxation from being back in the Q was taking it’s toll. The Trout’s were out and about before us; I think it was the calling coming from the ghost of Jesse about finding the big Waldo that had lured them out early.
While they fished I cooked breakfast. for my son and I After which I decided on this beautiful warm morning a swim was in order. After convincing my son he soon was in too. Swimming in the Q is a rather scarce event for me. The last ten years it’s been really cool to get in. As this was my first trip in the month of August since 1994, usually going in September.
We then decided to join the Trout’s in fishing. But as we headed to the secret spot, they were heading back. They had their limit and were planning on a shore lunch. My son and I headed on to the spot just to try a few. Soon hooking a fish that again got off the hook. But then he hooked one, as I paddle to the shore he landed it in the canoe.

I had to get to the shore, you know a photo of the first waldo IN hand was a must.
Back at camp



MORE TO COME
 

qpassage

Well-Known Member
TL had the fish ready for the frying pan. I can vouch for TL not only is he a great fisherman. He can cook those so they just melt in your mouth. I can still taste them just thinking about it. We ate all the fish and all of us were stuffed full. Mrs TL made hash browns too, what a treat this was, I think my son was hooked on the Quetico Passion from that point on.
After we ate my son and I decided to try our luck at some exploring. TL Jr was sleepy and we were interested in a spot on Oraina Lake.
A gentle breeze was blowing in our face as we paddled towards the west end of Jesse Lake. We quickly do the 2 or 3 rods around the rapids then putting into the creek. The creek was shallow but we slid right on thru. At the 143 rod portage we met a group of young guys coming from Oraina Lake. Poor guy was almost in tears carrying that heavy aluminum canoe. A group of 8 these guys were giving the canoe carrier a hard way to go.
The portage starting from Jesse Lake heads up hill a little in the beginning. The down hill to Oraina the rest of the way. There was one area that during a rain or high water it could be a challenge but the rest of it was for the most part easy.
Once we were on the creek we paddled thru a shallow area to get to the main lake. We were just about to the exploring area we wanted to see. I was hoping we might be able to paddle up the creek so to get into Cain Lake. But it was very over grown and looked to be more of a challenge than we had time for today. We paddle west on the lake a little , we thought of checking out a campsite there to the west. But as we neared we saw that it was taken. We turned back towards Jesse stopping on a very old no longer used campsite not far from the creek. Taking a short break and eating a snack there before the portage back.
Back on Jesse we decided that we had time to visit an Unnamed lake to the south. We paddled to the portage then walked over to see the lake. Soon we were back in the canoe heading back to camp.
Back in camp I started cooking dinner. Chicken Helper one of our favorite meals. The Trout’s were just heading out to fish so we caught up later after we ate. My son and I had a few good bites but caught nothing. The sun was setting so we headed back to camp.
After a pot of coffee and hot chocolate. We out ran the mosquitoes to the tent where I then taught my son the card game called cribbage. After the one game he was fast asleep. I looked out the screen of the tent to watch the full moon a little then I to was fast asleep.

Day 3
The wind last night was out of the northeast, therefore making it cooler. We were up earlier this morning as this was a travel day.
Our plan today was to camp on a 5 star site on Walter Lake.

The Troutlane’s were traveling with us today but my son and I planning on camping there, they are planning on coming back to Jesse Lake.
My son and I ate breakfast while the Trout’s were in search of Waldo again. By the time they returned we had our camp broke and we were ready to head south.
Again the wind was out of the northeast, so it was a very easy paddle to Elizabeth Lake Portage. The sandy beach was the beginning of a portage that travels up over yet another hill.
My first impression of Elizabeth wasn’t much, A dark stained lake. But as we passed on to the south I looked to the east at a beautiful lake. It appeared to have a few really nice camps along the north shore too.
A short paddle we were at the portage to Walter Lake. As usual my son took his pack and I the canoe across the portage first. I would then return alone to retrieve my pack. This is a really cool portage. Just as you top the hill there is a small overlook towering above the overgrown creek area below. Then it entered thru a grove of large pines creating a cloud of shade, which towers over the portage. Just a few yards from Walter Lake the trail splits. I had been told that this trail takes you to a great campsite on the north shore of Walter and it does indeed.
In awe I look at Walter a few seconds before heading back for my pack. Troutlane said he would meet us on the campsite while he fished Walter to the south.
I soon returned with my pack finding the wind blowing a little harder than when I left. Lucky for us it was to our back making a swift paddle to the south. As we neared the south half of the lake we had small white caps, nothing serious, but it was enough that paddling for our friends would be harder than earlier. Soon we met them they said they were going on to the north end for lunch. I could see at that point the island site would be more work than we wanted. We were planning on Draper anyways for tomorrow so we just went on south.
Arriving at the Draper Lake Portage we start across, what is marked, as a 60- rod portage is very wrong. More like 150 rods, somewhat over grown too. A smile came across my face as I figured this meant we would have the off the beat and path lake to ourselves. About an hour later all the gear was sitting on the Draper Lake side of the portage.
Draper was much calmer than Walter and we slid across to the nice campsite on the west side. Both of us very excited to arrive and hoping we had this site.

We got camp set up and decided it was time to jump in the water to wash the portage sweat off our bodies. Rinsing out our cloths too and hanging them to dry. A nap was in order so we sat around on the warm rocks just enjoying the view and time alone as a father son team.
After we ate dinner we paddled out to find us a smallie or two. But they just weren’t biting, so we headed back to camp. As darkness came so did the mosquito’s we headed to the tent playing a couple games of cribbage. Soon we were sound asleep, but only to be woke up around 2 am. A wolf pack was moving on the south shore howling very loudly for a few hours. The moon was still full as I stepped out to look at the star lit sky. Back to the tent I went drifting off to sleep as the peaceful sound from a forest full of the sound I like to call home.

Day 4
We broke our camp on Draper this morning, packing things up and taking a few pictures. Still recalling the wilderness music we heard all night long. Starting with a hum of a single mosquito, which by nightfall was a loud continued hum from around our tent. As I sit here writing I take a break, close my eyes, and I hear it again a soft sound now, which I really miss.
The mosquitoes were really bad but were completely gone when the wolves awakened me. It then cooled to a night of a very comfortable sleeping temperature.
As we double-checked the site making sure we are not leaving anything behind. Our goal today is to go back to Elizabeth Lake. Fishing for smallies were the attraction this afternoon. We quickly made our way across Draper to the portage, up Walter camping on Elizabeth tonight.
We crossed the portage with ease it seemed this time. As we paddled into the large body of water on Walter we found the lake as calm as it can be. Wow, just like paddling on glass. We swung by the 2 islands camps checking them out. The one on the north point is a very nice site. Since the water was calm we crossed Walter towards the northwest end. Paddling by a few unmarked campsites. We found an eagle feather on one site, and a few items of trash, which we picked up and packed out.
We soon were back at the portage to Elizabeth Lake. Then on Elizabeth looking along the north shore for a camp to stay on. Even though this area looked great the day before we couldn’t really find that campsite which we were interested in. We fished the lake but the smallies just weren’t interested. We soon decided that we would just go back to Jesse Lake. After all tomorrow is my birthday and I was thinking more along the lines of a relaxing day. We entered the campsite area thinking the Trout’s were out day tripping. Only to find the camp very quiet and they were napping.

It was a grand day sunny and warm with a nice breeze was blowing too.
That evening my son and I sat around camp. Just taking in all the things we all enjoy so much from the north. From the campfire to the sound of the breeze blowing thru the trees. I think we both had feelings of the cleansing process we get from this place.
I started an early dinner of Hamburger Helper Cheesy Hash browns with the burger in the bag. Only to top it off with a cup of coffee. At dark it was again time to hit the tent. We played cribbage again till finally going to sleep a couple hours later.

Day 5
Today I just laid in the tent thinking of the last time I got to spend my birthday in the Q. I soon realized it has been 10 years to the day that I had done so. Then thinking a little more I also realized that was the last time I also hadn’t worked on my B Day.
The Troutlane gang were up and moving about the camp. I remember hearing TL Jr running around asking his parents questions that I couldn’t make out.
Soon qp jr woke up; first thing he said was Happy Birthday Dad.
Soon I was up and heading out of the tent. Looking around there were balloons hanging from a tree. Then again I was welcomed to this new day with a Birthday greeting.
The Troutlane’s were doing a day trip today to Oraina Lake. So they were getting things in order to do just that.
We had to get water for breakfast and as we were doing that they were shoving off.
This morning we made pancakes and bacon, the blueberries were a great addition to the pancakes. We couldn’t believe they were still in season. I had packed a special bag of Kona Coffee for this day, I decided that next year it all would be Kona. After washing everything up I headed to the tent. Putting on my swimsuit and mimicking a beaver in the water I soon had my son in the water too.
We then just decided we would hang around camp most of the day.
We were just chilling when he yelled. My son had been just messing around when a squirrel decided to bomb him with a pinecone. A direct hit too.
We sat around planning the rest of the trip. We decided that we would depart in the morning heading to Batchewaung Lake. Camping near the car for an early start on that long 22-hour drive home.
Around noon we decided that we should check out Jesse Lake a little closer. Hoping maybe we would see a moose or some kind of wildlife. No Moose but we did manage to explore a few unoccupied campsites. We just chilled taking photo’s of things that interested us. After a couple hours we headed back to eat lunch. A lite lunch as I’m cooking my pizza’s tonight for everyone.
Soon the Troutlane’s returned from Oraina Lake. We talked about how nice that lake looked, but TL saw much more of it than we did. Sitting around camp TL made a comment about a big mound of dirt in our camp. We talked about the possible ideas as to what it could be, an Indian Mound? We all agreed that it was something man made. Tossing ideas around like that or maybe a bored boy scout group at one time, who had a leader with a mission. But truthfully after thinking on it I think TL knew what it really was, just wanted our reaction to it. The mound was about 15 feet or so long, 3 feet wide, and another 3 feet tall. It had an opening on the hill side just as big looking like it had been dug out. It was very interesting. My thought on it was, knowing the Troutlane’s were there the year before and how much they love this site. That he had buried that big ole fish he caught there last year. You know if you really think about it. Sitting around camp just knowing that big boy was still there. He sure did prize that spot. I caught him looking over there at it several times too. I still can’t figure out why he moved so much dirt, I guess it’s something to do with calling it a big fish story? Kind of like having proof don’t you think? The only other thought that came to mind was Mrs. Troutlane really caught it and Mr. Was trying to hid it.
I soon started dinner, which sure was good, but a big surprise the apple crisp that Mrs. Troutlane made for my birthday. Yup candles and all, I sure was glad there were only 3 candles on it, after a week smoking cigars I’m not sure I could have blew out any more.
That evening while the Troutlane’s were fishing I took a few sunset photos.

We sat and visited some as my son and I were leaving in the morning for Batchewaung. The Troutlane’s were staying on Jesse another night.

Day 6
We got up early today; earliest we had managed all week. We had everything packed up about the time the others were getting up. We were on the water about 8:30 hoping to arrive on Batchewaung by 2:00 pm. We paddled up Jesse to the portage we had come in on just days before. But it had seemed like it was just yesterday funny how time seems to change when you’re in a place like the Q. We soon were on Maria Lake heading towards what we thought was the next portage. I can tell you that for some reason Maria can be confusing. Somehow we ended up farther north up near the islands before I noticed we were to far. But soon we were back on track .My son was the first to point it out he has a very good memory. As well as the many times he pointed out certain areas after the next portage. By 1:00 pm we were getting near the main part of Batchewaung Lake. It was cloudy today and as we came up the narrows it started to rain. I ask him if he wanted to camp in the rain and pack up wet in the morning or paddle another hour and head home. We both thought about it a little bit but soon came to the conclusion that we should just head on out. We stopped put on our suits and paddled across the main part of the lake. As we neared the portage to Nym there were many people heading in, the portage was crowded as well.

I took the canoe and headed on my son was soon behind me. On the Nym Lake side I sat the canoe down, turned and saw my son. I was looking at him wondering what the deal was. He had the pack on and acted as if he was having trouble. Then looking again I noticed that his pants were about down to his knees. I said, Son what in the world is the matter. He smiled said he couldn’t keep his pants up. Looking closer I found his pants pockets full of rocks. I helped him out and returned for my pack.
A short paddle across Nym Lake we quickly loaded the car and were on the road towards Atikokan. We went back into town to get us each a small paddle to take home to remind us of our trip.

Then on to Ft Frances only to wait 2 ½ hours to get back in the USA. By 8 pm we had dropped the canoe off and on the road home. I had planned on spending the night on the road but ended up driving all the way home.

In closing I’ll say that we both had a great time. The Troutlane Family is a very polished team that enjoy and share a common need with us to go to the Quetico. My son and I talked a long time on our trip home. Yup, you guessed it planning next years trip. A new Quetico Passage has evolved and I think he’s hooked even more than me. I would like to thank everyone that helped in every aspect of this trip. Without you I’d have never known and understood how important a trip like this is, The sharing as many of you did, as I shared with my son. What better of a way, to think now that when were long gone from this world, a part of us will still exits within my son’s new passion.
God Bless and Thank You
qp

Oh yeah just one last thing. Anyone got a clue as to what this is?
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,431
113
78
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
Pirogue and some of the guy's he knows are planning a trip up there in a month or two, after he reads this report he will really want to be up there.
Now I'm not sure if he will fill his pockets full of rocks but a person never knows. :lol:

Chuck.
 

bearridge

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
3,092
4
way down yonder
Friend qp,

That wuz some fine tale tellin'. I liked the pichurs. I wonder why Kayak Jack dont ever show us pichurs with hiz tales?

Dont git up, I'll go over 'n fetch anuther log.

respectfully,

bearridge
sideways bound

P.S. Takin' the little pardners out in woods 'n down the rivers iz mitey special.


The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
Albert Einstein
 

Swampy

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
1,736
0
Southeastern North Carolina
Q that was one sweet report.
All my children are grown and busy now. I remember back to those trips we had when they were youngsters. However their trails go they always come together with the stories of camping.

My youngest now is away from home and with all his ramblings and his weird ways, he has mentioned in a letter about the "old days". Some times a tear has no way to stop when a dad remembers the times when his children smiled in camp....

Thanks for a very nice report and all the details that makes a wonderful trip.
swampy