View topic - Finding campsites and portages in non provincial parks

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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2020, 4:19 pm 
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Joined: March 17th, 2016, 2:10 am
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I am planning to do some more paddling. I'd like to just put in at a river or lake and then just go with the flow. The problem I have is that outside the provincial parks, I don't think anything is marked. While some stuff might be more obvious than others, how do you figure out where the head of a portage is or where a good spot to camp is? Is there some sort of crown land marking that has been established?


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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2020, 9:34 pm 
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Joined: August 29th, 2006, 7:57 pm
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"Going with the flow" means not worrying about the fact that "nothing is marked". Your willingness to face the unknown with your experience in reading rivers and your bush skills will get you through. It is really not that complicated to figure out necessary portages and acceptable campsites.

However, it is highly unlikely that you will be paddling down a river that you can’t find information on - other paddlers’ trip reports, myccr threads, etc. And even if you have such an undocumented river in mind, studying topo maps and satellite images of the river will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into.

Going with the flow sounds good; knowing what you’re getting into sounds better.

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PostPosted: October 4th, 2020, 5:40 am 
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Joined: July 9th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario
On most routes outside parks, nothing is marked. On rivers, mandatory portages are usually obvious. On lake routes portages are often less obvious, but not difficult to find if you know the general area in which to look for them. Campsite locations are often near significant river features, on points, at confluences, on higher or exposed areas, on beaches and along longer portage trails. Keep in mind that a most of these 'campsites' can be pretty rough compared to what you find in a park - a place to camp vs a campsite. The same rule applies that it helps to know where to look for them. Sometimes decent places to camp are few and far between and this is compounded the larger your group is. Trying to hack out a spot to pitch a tent in the fading hours of day light is never fun. I second true north's recommendations.


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PostPosted: October 4th, 2020, 7:41 am 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2006, 4:25 pm
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Location: Milton
What they said :thumbup:
Some routes may have not been used in a long time, but that is the fun of it!
Learning what those old markings are and finding them truely is a joy when you do.
Not so much fun when there is heavy undergrowth or areas that have suffered blowdowns or are recovering from forest fires.
Many area had very vibrant tripping communities in the 60's & 70's and some forums like here on MYCCR and people people like Rob Haslam (Greenstone area canoe routes Greenstone and area Canoe Routes https://www.facebook.com/groups/2430359543862050/ ) have saved and recorded much of the information.
Rivers change but I really doubt that there is any watershed in Ontario that has not seen paddlers over the last 10,000 years.
Some routes just get a lot more use.
And the others are treasures to be enjoyed if you get the chance.
Jeff

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PostPosted: October 4th, 2020, 8:41 am 
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Look at sat pix as well as topos---they can reveal alt routes. Ports are often where you would expect them to be if you have looked at the pix and topos. A bonus for me is finding perfectly good sites that have not been used for a while, sometimes years---lots of fresh firewood, less concern about bears. We have seen more people on one port in Algon than a whole week on crown land.

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PostPosted: October 5th, 2020, 5:12 am 
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Joined: August 27th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
You are assuming that portages will still be there. On many Crown Land routes, after a few years, if the ports are not maintained, they will be reclaimed by the bush.


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PostPosted: October 5th, 2020, 7:14 am 
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RHaslam wrote:
You are assuming that portages will still be there. On many Crown Land routes, after a few years, if the ports are not maintained, they will be reclaimed by the bush.


Here in S Ont they tend to be used enough to still exist.

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PostPosted: October 6th, 2020, 10:07 pm 
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In my experience, which admittedly is not extensive, think like an animal. If you were a deer wanting to get from one lake to the next, or around a rapids, which route would you take?

Keep in mind that portages very quickly get hidden by shore growth (where there is more water and hence more shrubbery), but once you get offshore they may become so obvious you wonder how you ever missed them. Figure out a general area to look for a portage and then scout the shore, and in most cases, you'll find one. It does take some experience.

When heading downriver, portages around rapids tend to be in the eddy nearest the rapids. If you're unsure of which side of the river to risk, pick the one easiest to backtrack on. It also helps to look for other obvious signs of a portage - rock cairns, paddles where they shouldn't be, cached boats, footprints, odd grassy clearings - essentially anything that seems out of place will mark a portage. I've found it very helpful to intentionally overshoot where I think a portage should be, and then double back, so as to avoid gallavanting back and forth looking for it on the shore - this mostly applies to lake shores.

RHaslam wrote:
You are assuming that portages will still be there. On many Crown Land routes, after a few years, if the ports are not maintained, they will be reclaimed by the bush.


In southern Ontario yes. But it has been my experience that in wilder areas, most portages are maintained at the very least, as game trails, by game. Hard to find for sure, but still there.

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