Canoe Country Wilderness Canoeing
by © Lee Hegstrand



Canoe voyaging is a lesson in proper navigation and part of the satisfaction of the trip is meeting this challenge successfully without wasting time and energy searching for your destination. So, to avoid terrible frustration, it is very important to know where you are always on the water or in the woods. Use your map, common sense, compass and observe! If you get lost on land or water, stop! Do not panic, instead relax and think.

Chances are that you will determine your error. Remember to always carry a compass. Protect your maps against damage. It is wise not to leave the navigation entirely up to the stern person, he or she never has all the answers! It is a good idea to pack duplicate maps in case you lose or damage any. Magnetic declination is too small in the Canoe Country to be important, so true north and magnetic north are essentially the same. As a last resort, for those who find navigation a hopeless task, global positioning devices can help. Maps can be obtained by visiting web site www.mckenziemaps.com.

Portages very often begin at a low point on the horizon, often following a creek or river. Look for a worn spot on the shore and note canoe scrapes on underwater rocks. On rivers, portages often begin just before the inside bend of the stream. On large lakes with many bays and islands be extra careful, follow your map and use compass bearings.

It best to "aim off' portages, i.e., get close to land before the portage and then follow the shoreline to its beginning. This is the best method when the portage is not definitely obvious at some distance out in the lake. Be careful: there are many false portages in the Canoe Country; be certain where you are! Also some portages have false splits in them - look for tree blazes and follow the well-worn path.

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