Quetico Trip 06


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This was by far the best trip into the woods I've had in Quetico in the 19 years I been going.

Started with planning almost a year in advance with 9 other friends I met online.


At Scotty’s on Crane Lake we start loading the packs on the dock and soon put them in the Jet Boat for our long tow to Zup’s. I recall looking at the dock full of gear and thinking, ' I hope those pack are lighter than they look'. There were so many of them I feared I might have to double portage with two packs on.
The driver backs the boat out onto the lake. The boat was loaded too, maybe even over loaded. With 10 people and all the gear it was very heavy. As the driver kicked the motor into high he turned and said, everyone to the front of the boat. Seems there was so much weight he needed us to help plane the boat out. Soon after we all returned to our seats.

The tow was taking us first to Customs

then to the mechanic portages on over to Lac La Croix Lake. At the first portage we find Zup sitting there waiting for us. Our boat pulls up and they switch the gear and us over to the other boat. After loading the boat we walk the portage while the cart pulls the boat up over the hill to the next lake. Zoom away we go to the next portage. Once again, the same thing as the last mechanical portage falls behind.

The Jet Boat is cool, I was impressed with the speed it made crossing the lake. Where I was sitting I could see we were going nearly 45 mph! At Zup’s Resort we all check in. They have the evening all set for us; we have the entire upstairs bunkhouse all to ourselves. Dinner is at 6 sharp, breakfast tomorrow at 6 am sharp. Dinner was pork steaks, potatoes, soup, dinner roll and a salad. The service and the meal were outstanding. After dinner we all sat around the lake enjoying the clean air and the smell of the near by Quetico.
The resort dog was a playful thing. His toy of choice was a stick he had found, brining it to whom ever would toss it for him. He loved to swim chasing the stick out several yards from shore. As the bugs started coming out we all headed to the bunkhouse. A little conversation then it was lights out.

DAY 1 "The Paddle Begins"
Ding! Ding! Ding! I heard shortly after waking up. Being an early riser I was to find I was the last to get up. Quickly I made my way to the resort to eat. Breakfast I recall was delicious however with the excitement building I couldn’t even begin to tell you what it was. I was ready for paddling and portaging. This was the only thing on my mind this morning.


left to right:: QPassage, Yellowbird, Jimbo, Pepper, Matunik, Kingfisher, Magic Paddler, The Fireman and Old Salt

Soon we were on the tow to Bottle Portage. We asked our tow driver if he would take us by the pictos on Lac La Croix before dropping us at the portage. Just as we were speeding into the picto area we saw a moose and two calves swimming mid lake.

Mother Moose and her two little ones.

The tow driver pulled us close for a better look and for photograph opportunities. Then he swung us around to the picots. Getting a good look we find several of them, even the one the QJ site has on there website.

La Lac Croix Paintings

Soon we are at the Bottle Portage. We are greeted there by Arkansas man. He had planned on spending the day traveling with us and the night in camp. However he had injured his leg and decided to head out instead.
Our plans had changed yesterday as well. Our original plan was to get to Middle Roland on the first night. However we learned that the portage from Darky to Brent Lake would be better avoided. So our plan was Gardner Bay to get into Brent Lake on day two.From the drop off point we must paddle a short distance to the Bottle Portage to Iron Lake.

Iron lake side of the Botle Portage

The portage was dry and very easy. I did however find the food pack Old Salt had prepared to be quit heavy. I, none the less, threw it on my back and moved it to the other side. Mid way I could tell I was home again. This was signaled by the mosquitoes! Swatting those pesky skeets always remind me that I have returned. Some people look forward to the fishing, I look forward to hum they make which swirls in your ear when your hands are full and you can only hum along as you would with the radio tuned in to your favorite station.
Soon we cross Bottle Lake up into the narrows to Iron Lake. This was my first visit to Iron Lake. I’m looking forward to seeing Rebecca Falls. Rebecca Falls consists of two waterfalls around an island. My stern partner “Jimboâ€Â


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Day 5 "Day Two of Jimboree Commences" Part 1
Once again, I would be the last to get out of the tent this morning. I actually was up early but decided since it was a layover day I’d take my time. Once I did get moving I fixed a typical Quetico breakfast for myself. Blueberry Oatmeal, Hot Cocoa, Apple Spice drink mix, and a cup of coffee from Intrepid Camper.
I actually may be aiming higher than I should be, but I am hopeful of getting my picture on an Oatmeal Box someday. This will most likely be after the Magic Bait hits the retail stores and I draw my first check from Berkley Gulp as their new spokesperson. I will earn this position by catching bass in deep waters. After this, I am banking on next the cover of Wheaties. But until that time I’ll just be very happy to be in the Q again eating from a stainless steel spoon. But just so you know , I will keep the golden spoon hidden till the proper time.

For some unkown reason I find today to be a day filled with pink. Last years Jimboree I was nearly color blind to this color and this year it seems it is the only color I see, especially on this day.
It all started with this beautiful Pinkus Water Lily I found on Conmee Lake.

I must say though halfway through this trip I like the concept of base camping more and more.
Around 9 this morning Jimbo and I shove off to loop around through walleye country “Conmeeâ€Â


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Day 8

I was up very early this morning and felt the approaching sunrise calling me to the shoreline for a fantastic picture this morning.

Today is another moving day. From William Lake we are heading to Darky Lake, also known as Spirit Lake and Dark Water Lake.
We broke camp and were on the water by 7:30. The plan is to go up through William Creek to the northeast end of Darky Lake.

Entering the bay, northwest of our campsite, we find a beaver dam, which I'll add, has preformed quite well for the beavers.

With a water level difference of about 4 feet it meant unloading the canoe just to slide it over the dam. As we entered the first part of the creek we find yet one smaller beaver dam to slide over. This one was much easier to get over.
The creek is very scenic and full of lilies, grass, and everything is blooming. On around the creek we get to our first portage. This portage was short and easy and we soon were back on the creek paddling.
Through the second open area of water we paddle to another beaver dam. This one, however, has managed to dry up the creek below it to a degree where we must portage.
The portage, at first, was somewhat difficult to find but once we found the beginning of it, it was quite obvious as to it’s location.. The portage crews had been thru not to long ago as all the under brush had been cut away.
After completing the first trip across this 45-rod portage we head back for our second load. Arriving back at our gear, we find Intrepid Camper starting her trek across the portage. Looking up the bay we see the others closing in on us.
Loaded and moving on down stream, paddling through a grassy low area with a stream, which is only a few yards wide in places.
The next portage is located on the north side of the creek. Hard to see and not marked very well, some scouting was in order to find it, then there it was staring at us as we had just looked right past it. The portage rises gently up a small crest of a ridge. Looking back offers a splendid view of the creek 25 yards below. The portage then climbs some more until cresting over a hill which, then leads down hill the rest of the way across the portage. Much easier going the way we are instead of the other way.
Paddling through this section we see a white tail in the tall grass just to our north. When he ran off and all you could see was his white tail and a rack clearing the tall grasses. This area is beautiful and we paddle through lilies which in places are completely across the creek.
After paddling 30 minutes we see the next portage located on the south side of the creek, it was only 26 rods long, flat and a very easy portage. It bypasses a small rocky area in the creek.
Finishing the portage we load the canoe knowing we are near Darky Lake. The creek makes a bend and is yet another ¼ mile long before opening into Darky Lake. We head to the Island site just ahead to make camp. Deciding on the camp on the west side of the island as it is bigger and will hold the entire group tonight.

Landing the canoes we set up camp, eat lunch, and wash laundry. I decided to use my solar shower to wash the sweat created from this morning’s journey.
Soon thereafter Jimbo and I were heading out to fish and explore the lake. Today is the first time we see other canoes, (which are not in our group) since our first day on Brent Lake. They were paddling up the west side of Darky Lake to a campsite near the Wicksteed Portage. Jimbo and I headed towards the Ballard Lake area of Darky. Then moving along the shoreline toward the west side Indian Paintings.
The paintings, located near the Argo Lake Portage are outstanding and of high quality. As we are looking at them, we wonder how a couple were painted, they were kind of high off the water.
Since we had bypassed our planned trip through Argo Lake, Jimbo dropped me off so I could pay this beautiful lake a visit. He fished as I investigated the portage and the clear blue green waters of Argo Lake, which I had once before visited on a trip in 2003.
Upon my return to Darky, Yellowbird and Kingfisher had decided to see Argo. Since my ride “Jimboâ€Â


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Day 9
Sunrise on Darky Lake

Today is our last full day in Quetico kind of a bitter sweet feeling within my soul. It’s been a great trip and the last 10 days have passed all to fast. The food packs are just now getting to the weight they should be, and I must admit, all though heavy, I have enjoyed the fresh food this trip over the usual dried stuff.
Intrepid Camper will part from our group today heading south towards Argo Lake. She will be spending few more days "in the wilderness" unlike our group having only one more day. It’s always fun and interesting to learn the other's ways in the woods. Her helping me bake last night was a lesson I'll use and cherish on future Quetico trips. Building the reflector oven was one thing, understanding the technique of using it is yet another challenge. The old saying lives on in you’re never to old to learn something new, and we learn still everyday. We say our goodbyes and head towards the mouth of the Darky River.

On the water around 8am the water is calm and the shadows of the rising sun create the beauty shown within this wilderness.

The wind has change from the northwest to now the southwest making it the warmest morning thus far on this trip.
We paddle into the river from our island camp to our first portage, located on the west side of the river. We start our trek across beginning with a small climb that quickly levels out, then dropping slightly to the river below. Along this portage there is a huge tree that had blown down sometime ago. The portage crews or someone had cut it from the portage trail, it was a very large tree at one time, but now only a log reminding us of the life it once contained..
On down river there is an area where several trees lie across the river blocking our way. Reminding me of those old logging days where they jam up in the narrow sections of the river. We thought we would have a lift over but we soon found a slough through on the east side, which, only a couple feet wide was just enough to let us thru.
The next portage on the east side of the river we felt inclined to line the canoe saving a short portage. No such luck, only got wet and added a few new scratches to Jimbo’s canoe.
Back on the river we now have a long section to paddle without portaging. Up to the eastward bend near Andrews Creek, then on west to the next portage.

The grass underneath the waters surface was quite mesmerizing. It moves with the flowing rivers current waving to us with it’s own beauty. Magic Paddler shows us in this video the peacefulness of the morning.

The next portage is about 45 rods long the take out is on the southern shore in a low line area along the river. There’s no way to line this section of the river, but the portage very easy.
The last portage to Minn Lake is one portage, which could be broken into two sections We opted for one longer carry over the two short ones. This flat portage follows along the river ending in yet another scenic area. The river flows for a small section before opening up into Minn Lake. I recall the last time I was on Minn Lake at how windy it was then, the same as now. I was glad then we only were skirting across the north end this time however we would be crossing the length of Minn Lake with a fierce wind blowing in our face. Not bad but we were seeing white caps with waves up to one and a half feet at times.

We quarter into the wind heading for the next point using the islands to shield us as much as possible. Magic Paddler headed right out in front and was soon way ahead of us. Jimbo and I were just amazed at how well his Rob Roy handled. His set up is very convent for fishing, portaging and speed on the water.
We finally arrive at the portage to McAree Lake this superhighway portage wide, flat, and well over used. Old Salt had mention that they keep a boat truck there, as McAree and Minn are both motorized lakes.

Tonight we are camping on this northern section of McAree Lake. The maps show two campsites on the north shore and we need both of them, as they are much smaller than what we have become accustom to on this trip.
We pass the first campsite dropping off the food pack for to nights planned dinner. Then we move on to the next site to set up our camp.

We ate lunch, some of the guys went for a swim others like me enjoyed the breezy afternoon with a nap. At about 4 I awoke and found The Fireman still napping, and everyone else gone. He woke up for a few minutes, I ask if he wanted to head over to the other camp. He opted out so I took the canoe out for a solo spin in the wind.
Paddling to the other camp I find Old Salt preparing for dinner. Jimbo and Matunik were heading back to camp so I stayed there trying to be useful in helping Old Salt with dinner. I think I was mostly just a good wind block for the stove.
Dinner tonight fried fish with vanilla pudding including dried cherries for desert.

After dinner Jimbo was presented with the Jimboree awards from Old Salt. More pink toys, which, I think it was rigged.

I’m sure the reward was for Jimbo talking qp into carrying that big old heavy pack on this trip. Most likely the pack with the extenders inside. I’m still wondering if the joke was really on me or Jimbo.

I took a moment to enjoy the view on Mc Aree Lake.

Tomorrow is the last day of our trip I’m saddened the trip has passed by so quickly. It has been a great trip and the weather has cooperated 99 percent of the time.
We as in Matunik, The Fireman, Magic Paddler, Jimbo and myself head off towards camp in the twilight of the evening sun. Arriving we build a campfire and the five of us sit and tell stories, tall tales of past and present adventures. Stories only to be shared with, past, present, and future Jimboreer’s. It was a grand ending to our final night in Quetico saddened by thoughts of it being concluded. But smiling as I zipped up the tent door for the last time tonight knowing I’ll have a lifetime of memories. Smiling even more so as I drifted off to sleep thinking of the patton I’ll be getting on those pack extenders and of who’ll be carrying them next year.


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Day 10 JIMBOREE Last Day

Still somewhat breezy this morning as I’m packing up the tent. I look across the camp to see Magic Paddler, Jimbo, Matunik and The Fireman are eating breakfast. I sampled the sauage, egg mix Magic had cooked and it is a must on the next trip.

The short order of the day for me is one last chance at a lake trout this morning before heading to the Black Rob Portage for our tow. None the less, I’ll go without catching a trout again this year. Maybe next year I’ll catch my first one? All in all I’m not that big of a fisherman, but I do enjoy it to a degree and even more after this trip.
At about 11 am Jimbo and I head our canoe back toward our camp to pick up our already packed up gear. Loading the canoe we head for our tow back to Zup’s on the other side of the Black Robe Portage.
As we were paddling past a motorboat with three fishermen in it, I made a last ditched effort to catch my last Quetico fish this year. Not far from their boat I had a nice small mouth hit and my retrieval began.

Nice bass eh?

Casting and catching one more I then packed the fishing gear down one last and final time. We cross the portage with ease as

The Jersey Boys had already completed their portage and were so kind to offer assistance helping Jimbo and I across.

Finally our entire group has portaged over to Lac La Croix side of the portage. As we were waiting for our tow, a boat pulled up. Guessing I’d say they were a couple guys just heading in for a day of fishing with a guide. Looked like lots of bait and beer to me. Didn’t see a tent so I figured they were day tripping or maybe their plan in to just get drunk and sleep under the stars, who knows, I was already jealous at the fact they were heading in and I was heading out.
As the Indian Guide passed by Yellowbird and I, he pointed at the front of Jimbo’s canoe. Something was said like, Ahh Picto’s! Along with a nod of his head, one can only wonder the thought’s he had as he crossed the portage. Someday, after I get a canoe I’ll have to be sure to get me a Quiet Journey sticker .

Soon Zup’s arrived and started loading our gear. Once it was loaded we all hopped in the Jet Boat and they shoved off. As the driver went to start the boat, low and behold it wouldn’t start. With the wind blowing at us towards the portage the boat was quickly drifting into shallow water. Everyone quickly grabbed a paddle and enjoyed one last paddle adventure on our trip.

Thanks to Kingfisher he managed to get the boat started and off we went across the lake.

The water was rough on Lac La Croix, and the boat bouncing along, managed to get some of the guys wet. As we neared Zup’s a float plane was landing, it was interesting to watch the plane land, omly a few hundred feet from our boat.
At Zup’s we all take turns at the shower house, concluding with a toast and award from Magic Paddler for the biggest fish caught. Paying our bill we all sit waiting on a towboat for our final tow to Crane Lake.
Zup’s takes us across the second mechanical portage where we meet up with the towboat from Scotty’s. Then we loaded the gear and canoe’s over to this boat before heading across our final lake.

Back at Scotty’s we were greeted with US Customs, Everyone passed back into the states and we soon headed to get the trucks. Looking up on the dock we find Wenonah Rider and his son there to greet us.

He had driven a couple hours just to meet us and welcome us back.

We get everything loaded up, and just about ready to head out. One last plan was made, that being to meet for dinner at Gordy’s Hi Top in Cloquet MN.
Gordy’s is a great spot to stop. Great fish and burgers and they have an ice cream/coffee shop next door. Couldn’t ask for much more than that. Goodbyes were said and the group split up one final time.


Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2005
Queensland, Australia
That is an epic report man.

I m only on dialup and it took over an hour for all the piccies to load. Every piccie was worth the wait. thank you very much for sharing.

I can only dream about paddling places like that.


Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
One great report and fantastic pictures! Good job.
My daughter was a canoe guide up I know what she was trying to tell me from your report.


Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
Central , Florida
Like Mick , sort of , I am not on dial up but only have a normal monitor so if the pictuires can be keep at a reasonable size ( a 3x5 or 5x7 ) it would help tremendously.
When I was on dial up those oversize pictures are killers when downloading them.

Thank you.



Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
way down yonder
qpassage said:
Someday, after I get a canoe
Friend QP,

Anuther swell report, with more pichurs than last time. Me'n my new Mac computer wuz havin' a ball.......readin', then waitin' on ya ta post the next few days.

Ninteen years paddlin' up there 'n ya dont have a canoe? I dont mean ta pry......well, yeah, I do. How come ya dont have a canoe? :wink: Look down in the Serius Boat Building Section......they will tell ya how ta build one. I'd like ta git a Wennonah. 8)


The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.  George Washington?

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Helluva trip, QP. Reading about the mosquitoes and ticks yesterday, I stopped in the middle of your report and ordered more permethrin. Not only kills bugs, kept Chuck at bay too. (God! I hope that ain't too humorous.)

I paddle in Lake Superior Provincial Park on the eastern end of Superior (Gitche Gumi).. Territory is much the same. Lots of granite, gneiss, quartz, pine, oak, etc.


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bearridge thats correct 19 years and still no canoe. But I'm going all out his fall building 3.
1 for show
1 for play
1 for the Quetico
I guess the main reason I've always rented I've never wanted to haul the canoe the 1000 miles each way getting there. That and I've rented several diferent canoes and have found the one I really like finally.
Souris River Quetico 17
It's one heck of a canoe if you've ever paddled one.
This year will be the last year I'll rent. From then on I'll have a canoe setting up there in a friends building.
Last years trip was more of a fishing trip and we base camped more than the norm for me. But it was a fantastic trip as you read. I must say only knowing 3 of the guys on that trip before going I was hesitant as to how it would go. Each of us met online and then again at
in the spring, found we all had the same desire in mind and the trip went off without a glitch.
I leave in early Sept for Quetico, nine days. Planned route will take my pal and I across 40 plus lakes, 49 portages, covering close to 100 miles in 9 days. We travel light and fast, have to, so we have fishing time in the mornings and evening. :wink: BIG Lake Trout are on the agenda this year.


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

I paddled with folks I met on the computer. You were dang lucky. I begun ta wonder if mebbe I wuz born under a bad sign. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


ps How much does that canoe ya aim ta tote weigh? Do the folks up on the tundra figger those 23 pound high tech canoes will hold up over beaver dams 'n rocks?

Common sense is in spite of, not as a result of an education. Victor Hugo


Well-Known Member
Apr 5, 2005

Hello QP,

I know you probably don't remember, but my group was coming out and ran into your group on Curtain falls. One of your guys took our picture. Looks like ya'll had a great trip. I know we did. Took 2 of my 4 sons and they can't wait to go back.

If it helps you to remember I was the big good looking guy with 2 boys with him....



Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2007
jesup, ga.
Hey qp man that was a great trip report . Looks like & sounds you guys ha da great time. That is the kind of stories I like to read & see pics. Hope to take a trip like that some day. thanks for sharing. cat