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Old 02-22-2021, 09:05 PM   #41
DSettahr
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A few questions:
  • Would you be paddling with another person?
  • Is it a beefier portage cart with mountain bike-like tires that can handle rougher terrain?
  • Can the portage cart strap on at or close to the center of the canoe so that it can take all (or nearly all) of the weight?
  • Will you be carrying lots of pain killers? Whether in pill form (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) or liquid form (alcohol).
  • Are you a masochist?
The more of the above questions that you can answer "yes" to, the more doable it is.

Little Tupper, Lila, Lows, and the lower Owegatchie can individually all be enjoyed pretty readily via aluminum canoe. Each has enough to offer by itself that it could probably keep you busy for a weekend. Some considerations:
  • Little Tupper can get windy in the afternoon. Trying to paddle west up the lake against the headwinds solo and in a larger canoe could be a bit of a challenge. This is a good one to get an early start on if heading west up the lake.
  • Lila does have the 0.3 mile portage from the parking area to the put in.
  • Lows has 1 short portage around the Upper Dam, but even if it takes 10 trips back and forth to shuttle gear this portage is no big challenge. At low water, there is also another very short portage around a piece of floating bog mat jammed in the outlet.
  • Beaver dams become more prevalent the further up the Oswegatchie you travel. The lower stretch isn't too bad- but you can count on crossing quite a few of them to get even as far as High Falls. I would suggest paddling as far upstream with overnight gear as you like, grabbing a tent site and setting up base camp, and exploring further upstream via day trips from camp.
In terms of trying to do a longer traverse with an aluminum canoe... I think the stretch I would pick personally would be the Low's-Oswegatchie Traverse. The portage trails between Lows and Big Deer Pond and the Oswegatchie Headwaters were in the best shape overall out of all of the portage trails- and probably the most friendly to a portage cart as well. You'd still have epic numbers of beaver dams to deal with- but at least by going from Lows you'd be pulling your canoe over and down the dams, rather than up.

Little Tupper to Lila is probably doable, but the beaver activity on the Rock Pond to Hardigan Pond portage would make it kind of tough to do with a heavier boat- whether on your back or on a cart.

I would very much not want to do the Lila to Harrington Brook portage with a heavier canoe, due to the rough shape of that portage trail. As it was with a lightweight canoe- and with making separate trips, one for the canoe and one for gear- I was still pretty wary about twisting an ankle.

FWIW, though: My friends and I have often talked about doing a paddling trip for our annual backcountry get together. And in our discussions of potential trips, the Lows-Oswegatchie Traverse has nearly always been on the short list of options. But we tend to be a bit larger of a group, and not everyone owns their own canoe- so it's almost certain that we'd have 1 or 2 aluminum canoes in our flotilla. Even with the understanding that all group members are responsible for helping to get all boats over any portage, I still can't help but expect that the Big Deer to Oswegatchie Headwaters portage in particular would likely be an all day affair for us.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:35 PM   #42
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Yes, to the pain killers, pill form, I don't drink alcohol enough to bring it with me in the wilds. Two, I would love to do this with another bud, but schedules never seem to meet when I have the time or ambition myself. Three, the cart is strong but not with mt. bike tires. It has never been tested I guess for durability, so, anything could happen. As for pain and boredom, I think it is going to happen regardless. Not so much the boredom, but the pain is inevitable.

All of this being said, yes, I think it's possible for me to complete, but in a much longer time frame, even with a much lighter canoe and a Satellite phone for emergency evac. (lol) I am no fool. I did look over some canoe routes on paper and the offered routes mentioned previously and thought about which one I would do. I just haven't put any solid plans together just yet. Thanks, DSettahr for the considerations.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:20 AM   #43
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I think if nothing else, with a canoe that heavy, I would anticipate likely doing most of the portages twice- once with the canoe, and once with gear. In practicality, this has the effect of actually making you traverse each portage three times- out, back, out.

If you have a partner, there's a way you can shuttle gear and the canoe separately that only forces each person to do the portage twice (including retracing your steps), and each person only has to do half the portage with the canoe. It works like this:
  1. Person A takes the canoe to the mid point of the portage, drops it there, and then returns to the start of the portage. Person A then takes their gear to the end of the portage.
  2. Person B takes their gear to the end of the portage, drops there gear there. Person B then returns to the midpoint of the portage, grabs the canoe, and returns to the end of the portage with the canoe.
My apologies if you're already familiar with the technique- but I figure it will be new to some reading this thread. Worth also pointing out that this method assumes that each paddler can carry all of their gear in a single trip (not necessarily possible if you've packed the kitchen sink), and it also assumes that each paddler can handle carrying the canoe solo.

For what it's worth considering timing- my overall pace was very much on the leisurely end of the spectrum. Even with an aluminum canoe I don't think it would be hard to make this trip in 8 days. Tupper to Lila I would anticipate taking more time than I spent, but the Oswegatchie especially would go faster if you wanted it to- even with the beaver dams. Since I was bagging lean-tos along the way, a couple of the days I was only on the river for an hour or two before reaching my destination for the night.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:47 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
  1. Person A takes the canoe to the mid point of the portage, drops it there, and then returns to the start of the portage. Person A then takes their gear to the end of the portage.
  2. Person B takes their gear to the end of the portage, drops there gear there. Person B then returns to the midpoint of the portage, grabs the canoe, and returns to the end of the portage with the canoe.
.
I'm glad someone finally got this 6th grade math problem correct.

I've heard people explain this many different ways, and in solo context, but I could never understand how they were gaining anything.

It only works this way.

I'm not sure you gain a lot like this though. I think the best method for a tandem paddlers is the heavy/light gear split:

Paddler A carries the canoe and a "light" pack.

Paddler B carries the "heavy" pack.

The idea here is to distribute the load between each person, and depending on their strength/endurance.

If you get to the point where you have too much to where the "light" load is too heavy, then you resort to the above, or a good old fashioned double carry (sometimes Paddler B can't carry the canoe).
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:07 AM   #45
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DSettahr's tandem portage plan is a good one, but it does have one disadvantage and a caution. Especially when solo and double (really triple) traversing an unfamiliar trail with a canoe overhead, the question may be, "do I carry my gear first or the canoe first"? The answer, especially on a complex or unfamiliar trail, is to go first with gear, so that you can clearly see to navigate, see any obstacles, familiarize yourself with the trail conditions, and make note of the difficult portions before you get there with a canoe over your head. If there happens to be a branching trail, you wouldn't believe how easy it is to take the wrong branch with a heavy canoe blocking your view.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:15 AM   #46
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If the carry is unfamiliar and long, I like to leap frog (split) it. I carry my gear roughly half way, leave it and go back for the canoe. Then I do the same thing to the end of the carry.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:15 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
DSettahr's tandem portage plan is a good one, but it does have one disadvantage and a caution. Especially when solo and double (really triple) traversing an unfamiliar trail with a canoe overhead, the question may be, "do I carry my gear first or the canoe first"? The answer, especially on a complex or unfamiliar trail, is to go first with gear, so that you can clearly see to navigate, see any obstacles, familiarize yourself with the trail conditions, and make note of the difficult portions before you get there with a canoe over your head. If there happens to be a branching trail, you wouldn't believe how easy it is to take the wrong branch with a heavy canoe blocking your view.
I agree with Wldrns, definitely the gear first. Like anything else, the initial trip will give you the advantage of having been through it once already.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:42 AM   #48
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If the carry is unfamiliar and long, I like to leap frog (split) it. I carry my gear roughly half way, leave it and go back for the canoe. Then I do the same thing to the end of the carry.
If you are solo, there's absolutely zero advantage to this (draw it out, you walk the trail exactly 3X).

There may be some psychological advantage to this though. I know I've been absolutely spent half way on a long carry, and dropped my canoe, and went back for my gear. The walk with no gear allowed me to recharge a bit and cool off. And typically, even a really heavy pack is a lot easier to carry than a light canoe.

I don't know... I usually just do a single carry and keep my weight to a manageable level. For me, it's about 70-80lbs. With a solo canoe and 3 days of gear, not an issue. For a tandem, that requires the other paddler carry a heavy pack as I said above. Even so, I'd much rather do the same weight with the solo because the canoe weighs less and it's less stress on my shoulders and neck. Maybe I'm the only one, but single blading makes my trapezius muscles pretty sore, and it's always adding insult to injury by throwing 40-50lbs right there. But everyone's bodies are different.

As far as pain killers, I don't think Ibuprofen and Aspirin will cut it for the short term pain. I recommend some kind of nerve blocker. Be it mental or chemical.
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:12 PM   #49
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Understood. I now prefer the leapfrog method because I usually (bad weather and bugs are the exceptions) don't mind taking my time, taking photos as I walk and stretching my legs on the carries. Even though my Sawyer is only around 40 lbs., at this point I find it too much to single carry it with even my minimal kit. The only time a single carry is doable for me now is when I take the Hornbeck, which is not my preferred boat on large lakes. I admit to easing back as I have gotten older - more basecamp canoe trips with zero days enjoying camp and taking day trips. Similarly with my backpacking trips - shorter daily mileage and zero days with local exploration.
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