We will be doing our first Quetico trip and will be going through Praire Portage to Sarah and then doing a loop exiting at Mudro. We have most of our route planned out but I'm wondering what the best way to get to Sarah is. Anyone have any advice?
we've had a sarah permit the last couple of years. there didn't seem to be very many good options available as we explored the idea of trying to go in a different route the 2nd year (although time was an issue for us as we wanted to get in and beyond sarah fairly quickly). i don't have a map handy, but the route we took into sarah twice, and out once, was up thru north bay into several small lakes (including side lake?) into the southeastern corner of sarah.
Notes: there are probably 5-8 portages. the last one being the toughest.
we are fairly young (30's) and fairly fit (a triathlete, a runner, kayaker, etc.) but those portages seem to take it out of ya. we made it to sarah in 6 hours last year, but we were beat and went no further.
there seems to be some easier ways in on the map, but apparently they are thru swamps... although this may be the year those are high and dry.
Let me if you have some specific questions and i'll try to find a map in the mean time.
Leute has the route, North bay of Basswood up the river to Isabella then work your way to Side Lake and into Sarah....those swamp portages I have never taken, I've always gone up and over. 6 hours is mov'in!
How are the water levels in the river into Isabella? Is deep enough that we should still be able to paddle it in a dry year like this? With all the talk of low water levels I was wondering if the swamp portages wouldn't be the way to go.
you may be right, however i get the impression those portages are not used often, if at all, so they might hard to navigate. hopefully someone with more knowledge then me can help you with that.
i didn't quite finish my thoughts about the distance and time. so, just to clarify, it took 6 hours last year, but we had wind at our backs the whole way and had just taken the same route the year before so we found the portages rather quickly. the year before it took more like 9 hours. we had a strong wind in our face the first year and spent time searching for portages. we also stopped and camped on an island right near the last portage into sarah the first year (the second year we made it to the north side of the lake). both years we were hustling, beat and ready to stop. the point being i feel it's a FULL days worth of work to get to sarah that route. i would suggest getting an early start, etc.
also, after north bay the lakes are small and, although there were some camping spots on them, they weren't great and we didn't care to camp on those small lakes. so, if you feel the same, there's sort of a point where you kind of feel committed to reach sarah.
PP to Sarah, for me, has always depended on the mood of North Bay. If the winds kick up, I turn west and go through Nest/Point. The Isabella creek is about 1/2 walking and 1/2 paddling. The walk is actually kind of a nice change of pace given the day at hand.
My daughter and I tried this last summer, the second week of August. We started too late in the day off Isabella on one of the warmest days I can remember and lost a lot of time finding one of the portages - we didn't make it.
Outdoors4me - I would be interested in hearing how you end up doing it. Best of luck!
"....and, when there are no longer any beckoning mirages ahead, a man dies. With an open horizon constantly before him, life can be an eternal challenge". - Sigurd F. Olson.