, pub-2049694213563730, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 How to Plan A Canoe Trip to #BWCA - myownplace
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How to Plan A Canoe Trip to #BWCA

One of the first things we had to do when we decided to go back to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in 2016 was to plan a trip. We did a beginner trip in 2015 which was only about a 12 mile  loop through Saganaga Lake, Red Rock Lake, Alpine Lake, and Seagull Lake. There were only 4 portages with the longest being 105 rods (1 rod = 1 canoe length 16 ft) from Alpine to Seagull Lake.

This year we wanted to increase our distance, see more lakes and take the portages as we needed to accomplish this, so we opted to enhance our canoe and use the Wenonah Kevlar Boundary Waters edition which only weighs 42 pounds. We also upgraded our paddles and used the powerful Kevlar Wenonah sport paddles which have a bent paddle area to increase the power of your stroke significantly. And I can attest they do work.

We also wanted to minimize the amount of time in the "burn area" where some forest fires in 2009 burned down much of the trees and is slowly growing back, but is still noticeable. We thought there was less wildlife in these areas and not as beautiful.

So we picked a bigger loop on the Voyageur map 6. We calculated the miles of our trip by using a website that will let you make a path through a distance planner project map at It helps you connect any points in the world to determine the distance. Our route is approximately 40 miles this year, and involves 13 portages through 15 lakes.

We determined we could handle about 10 miles a day because when we canoe at home we easily do 9 miles in a couple hours. With added weight and the whole day at our disposal we figured we could average 10 a day. We planned to go North from our entry point on the Saganaga River at VCO into Saganaga Lake the first day, and find camp on the Montreal border the first night with no portages. The first day we carried two gallons of fresh water and our food bag was the most full. So the plan was to increase the number of portages as our water and food was consumed, giving us less to carry across portage paths.

As you can see, there are many portages in any lake. It is a challenge to stay aware of your position on a map with only islands, points of land, campsites and shapes of lakes to help you navigate your way through the wilderness with out any electronics. Just a map and a compass. It was so interesting to see the variety of portages and trying to find them sometimes. They are usually wonderful walks through the woods with another beautiful lake at the end of the path.

We actually used a couple helpful websites to plan our trip. First thing you need is a Fisher map of the area in the BWCA you are planning on traveling through. This will have all the campsites marked  and the portages labeled with the number of rods in length. We went to  to get ratings on each campsite from previous campers, and then we marked our maps with the number 1-5 to rank the desirability of campsites. Paddleplanners also has suggested scenic interests, suggested routes, markings of burn areas from past fires and photos that campers have uploaded of fish caught, beautiful sights and sunsets.

The other website we used was Daft Logic Advanced Google Map Distance Calculator. You find your route and then you place markers on your route and it adds up the miles. You can only draw a straight line so you'll have to draw a lot of little lines to get an accurate route. You can see above we routed our trip on Daft Logic and it came to about 38 miles.

Once we had our information from the websites, we marked up our map and started packing!

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