Portage Planning

I admit it, I like to portage.  According to Bill Mason, "Anyone who tells you portaging is fun is either a liar or crazy."   I guess I am crazy because I do think portaging is fun.  There is something very rewarding about carrying a pack or a canoe across difficult terrain from one lake to another.  It is a challenge, both mentally and physically, to make it across a portage without mishap or in my case, taking a rest.  I’m one of those people who like to try to single portage, get it all in one trip across.  Not because I wouldn’t enjoy the time walking back through the woods without a load, but just because I am stubborn.  It annoys me to have to set my pack down and return for it later.  I know taking a trip and a half or even two across a portage is sometimes necessary and of course much safer.  Some people learn this the hard way by blowing out a knee by trying to carry too much weight.   I found this out when taking early Spring and Fall trips when more gear and clothing are needed for comfort and safety.  I’ve ended up on my back like a turtle attempting to wiggle out of my pack so I could stand up again.    I also learned that paddling with kids is easy, portaging all of their stuff for them isn’t.  In any case, portaging can be fun and is part of the wilderness canoe camping experience.  Some things I’ve learned that make portaging easier; 

  • Pack everything into a pack(no loose articles).
  • Wear your lifevest across the portage so you don’t have to carry it.
  • Be careful not too tie too many items into the canoe, this can make it off-balance.(You can easily velcro or tie your rod into your canoe without affecting the balance, but be careful when adding much more).
  • If you will be doing a lot of portages then use a kevlar canoe and make sure the portage pads are comfortable.