2013 Trip: Quetico, Heart of the Park

The lakes are calling us

MOS Adventurers-

Ready to shake off the winter chill?  Just imagine paddling across a cool lake on a warm, sunny summer day, in the middle of millions of acres of rugged wilderness beauty.  Or seeing the setting sun, bathing wisps of clouds in orange and red, while the loons begin their evening calls.  Oh yeah and, after 6 days in the woods, the best hot shower, cold beer and hot tub soak you’ve ever had.  That’s right kiddies… after 4 years in other locales, we’re headed back to Quetico!


WHAT: 6 Days of canoeing (and portaging), camping, fishing, exploration and fun

WHERE: Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

WHEN: August 17-24, 2013

WHO: Group size is limited to 9 people.  We’ll take people until we’re full-up, so first-come first-served!  ***UPDATE 4/22: 8 of the 9 slots are taken, only 1 remains.  Get your name in by 5/1 if you want to go!***

HOW MUCH: Budgeted from Chicago and back, about $600-$800 per person.  Includes: permits, all in-park food, canoe rentals (if needed), group meals in transit, hotel nights (1 in, 1 out), group gear (packs, stove, etc.), gas for the drive up and back from Chicago, and any other group outfitting needs.  Does NOT include beers to drink in the hot tub after we exit the park, that’s seperate.


Quetico Provincial Park is the Canadian mirror to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  Bigger and much less travelled than its border-sharing American cousin, Quetico and the surrounding crown lands make up a nearly 2 million acre roadless wilderness of lakes, streams and ancient forests clinging to ancient rock.  The only way in, out or through the park is with a canoe to paddle and 2 feet to portage from lake to lake – no motorized boats or vehicles of any kind on these waters.  You can go days or more without seeing another human soul, but you won’t likely leave without seeing a moose or two, or maybe hearing wolves howling in the distance.  Fishing is superb for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and lake trout.  There are archaelogical sites scattered throughout the park, reminding you whose path you are following.  The night sky is a riot of stars and sometimes, the Northern Lights.

So what does a Quetico trip look like?  For those uninitiated, here’s how this goes.  The group leaves in cars from Chicago early on Saturday morning, to make the long drive up to Ely, Minnesota, where we will stay (with the outfitter/resort in a cabin) for the night (do final gear shake-out, out to dinner, etc.).  Sunday morning (early again) we put our boats, our gear and ourselves on a motor boat, and the outfitter drives us across some lakes to the edge of the park to drop us off.  That is where the trip really starts.  We will spend 6 days and 5 nights canoeing, portaging, camping, fishing and exploring in the park, probably in a 2-days-in, 2-days-base-camp, 2-days-out format.  Most of the travelling is done in canoes on the water, but some connections between lakes require portagingfollowing a trail (sometimes a rough one) ranging from a few yards to a mile, carrying the canoes and gear to the next lake.  The camping is primitive – there are no facilities or enhancements, the campsites are just areas where you can put a tent or two down, and might have a fire ring to gather ’round.  On the final day we get a boat hop back out to our cars from the edge of the park, and drive back into Ely to check into a hotel for much-needed showers, followed by dinner, beers, swimming, etc.  Then on Saturday, we drive back to Chi-town.

And what about this particular trip – what route are we taking this time?  Each trip we do, we visit different places – if you don’t have a Quetico map this paragraph may seem like a foreign language.  This trip, we are putting in at Lac La Croix, which is the southwest of 6 primary put-ins, and the only one we haven’t yet used.  We’ll be headed east over the Black Robe Portage to McAree, Pond and Wicksteed lakes, to camp the first night on Wicksteed or Darky.  2nd day in, its Darky, Brent, possibly William and on to either Suzanette or Conmee for a base camp.  We camp there 3 nights and 2 days, doing day trips into the very heart of the park – Delahey and Veron, Camel, and anywhere else we want to visit.  On the way back out, we can either do the Memory Lane portages to Poohbah and then the Maligne River out (Via Minn), or one of a few other routes, back to Lac La Croix.

In terms of personal gear, you’ll need a sleeping bag, appropriate clothing/shoes and either a passport or similar identification to enter Canada.  A gear list will be sent out to people going with further details, and if you don’t have a passport, we can discuss with you what your other options are.  Also, IMPORTANT: YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO SWIM TO GO ON A QUETICO TRIP.  You don’t have to be a life guard or anything, but you need to be able to handle yourself in the water.  We will have life vests and other safety equipment, but strange things sometimes happen, and we will be spending a lot of time on the water.  If you don’t feel comfortable in the water, but want to go, then you best get to work on some lessons.

A brief warning, as we do with all of our trips, especially if you are new to the wilderness… a wilderness is by nature and name, wild.  We will be, at times, multiple days’ travel from any sort of civilization or help, and you are exposed to all the elements while on the trip.  Weather can be erratic, trails poorly marked and maintained, and waters unforgiving.  Make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for that.

Now with all that stuff out of the way, what is your reward?  All the beauty of a unique wilderness, stunning sunsets and night skies, tranquility, comraderie and an adventure unlike any other.  Sound good?  Are you ready for the challenge?

 If you are interested in this trip, please contact Matt Cassidy (dwt -at- middleofsomewhere -dot- com), or talk to us on the MOS Co-op Facebook page.  We are taking names now on a first-come, first-serve basis, and we have a limit of 9 people (park rules).  So if you are considering it, you should get in touch soon!  Feel free to ask us any anything, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

We hope to see you outside!


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