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10/11/16

#BWCA 2016 - Monument Portage in Canada Part 2

10/11/2016
After a nice solid sleep our first night on Swamp Lake, we woke up to an overcast quiet morning out in the woods. I can't say I slept great because I slept on the ground which isn't exactly soft in the Boundary Waters, in fact it is hard as rock. Everywhere is rocky up North and the best thing a camper could do is bring good hiking boots to navigate all the rocky paths. And today we would be able to do just that.

Our plan included four portages (the yellow line in picture) this day 2, bringing us into Canada (the red line is border) and back again to Minnesota in the Ottertrack Lake, then Ester Lake and into Hansen Lake, then ending up in South Arm Knife Lake where we would set up camp.

In case you're wondering what the brown and pink shaded areas are on the map; it outlines burn area where there were forest fires in the past years. We tried to plan our trip to minimize burn area because its just not that pretty with the big trees burned down and sticks pointing up in the air in their place.
The first portage was short, only 10 rods which was just enough of a bother to have to empty the canoe and just carry is upright across this big rock. The interesting thing this trip was all the different portages (we did 14 of them) and how they look from the lakes and how to find them. I would have to say that finding a portage is a learned skill and by the end of the trip we were able to notice tell tale signs of human traffic and sandy launches that indicate a portage, or a campsite. 
 



Our next portage was 79 rods from Swamp Lake to Ottertrack lake and it is a dock out into the swamp on one end, and a beach on the other end. Its uphill both ways which is marked with monuments on the each end and one on the border line on the top of the hill.



The beach end of Ottertrack lake portage heading to United States and Canada monuments on the trail.

This was our first long portage and we decided against taking a pack and the canoe, so we had to make two trips on each path, one carrying the canoe and going back empty to fetch a Duluth pack (we had two) plus the jug of water and the dry bag. So, in actuality we did each portage twice. The canoe was 17 ft long so it was a little more difficult to navigate through trees or down or up steep hills.

After the monument portage we portaged 69 rods from Ottertrack to Ester Lakes. It is a steep, rocky uphill climb and it was muddy near the top. Then it was a long canoe ride down Ester Lake, into Hansen Lake and on to our final portage into South Arm Knife Lake. That final portage was 118 rods. A pretty landing on the Hanson Lake end - on a large tree/root cluster jutting out into the water. More of a walk through an enchanted forest than a portage trail. There is a significant drop/climb where there is a pretty little waterfall alongside the trail. But it is a well worn trail that gets easier towards the South Arm side where there is a nice landing.
 
Here are some videos of Scott portaging the pack and then the canoe. We also learned to do the canoe first after this trip because poor dear was a bit tired and cranky after this portage. And that darn GoPro happened to capture it all!
 


In case you're just joining our adventure, you can read earlier excerpts at the links below.
Part 1

 

 
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