The Quetico

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Climbatree813
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:06 pm

The Quetico

Post by Climbatree813 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:26 pm

I just returned from a week long 85 mile canoe/fishing trip in the Quetico. The trip was amazing, but, being the tree crazed person I am (=)) I couldn't help but notice some trees along the way. I was unable to measure heights as I didn't feel right risking electronics on a trip where tree hunting was not my goal, but I did have a tape measure so I was able to measure for circumference. The Quetico is a wilderness area that tries to be as human hands off as possible. The campsites are very minimal, the portages are left to as little human intrusion as possible, and only fires that were started by humans and/or are threatening life and property will be fought. There was a significant chunk that was burned in 1995 and, as a result, there were only a few sections with monstrous trees, but I appreciated that which there was.

The tree species I did not get specific measurements on were White Spruce, Black Spruce, Jack Pine, Paper Birch, Balsam Fir, Red Maple, and Aspen. For white spruce I know I saw numerous specimens well over 120 ft tall, of course I have no measurements for them (as stated earlier) but they were exceptional. Same thing with the Black Spruce and Jack Pine. I saw a fair number of them over 100 feet but had nothing to measure them with. As for Balsam Fir or Red Maple I could not pick out any exceptionally large specimen, but I do not doubt I passed some. The Birch were not particularly impressive, though a few caught my eye, none were that enormous. The Aspen, however, were huge. I don't see Aspen as tall or as large back home as I did in the Quetico (not surprisingly). I didn't get any good, solid measurements for height, again as I said earlier.

Red Pine: Red Pine is one of my favorite trees to just stare at. I love their scaly red bark and their often massive crowns. The best red pine I measured on the trip were in a portage around Silver Falls off of Cache Bay. The area is primarily Red Pine and there are a few massive individuals. I could only measure what was near the path (too many packs to get very far off) but I did get some. The best I had was 11 ft 11 circumference on a tree with a pretty serious taper near the bottom. There was also a large, hollow red pine at about 11 ft around close by. Many of the individuals were near 100 ft tall but I could not get actual heights.

White Pine: The White Pine is one of those iconic trees of the Quetico/ Boundary Waters area. Their enormous crowns and soaring heights outdo all but the White Spruce for height and are unchallenged for girth in the North Woods. I know there are far larger individuals hidden deep in some of the forests, but I appreciated the large girth on some of the trees. One the most difficult portages for us was from from Cullen to Munro. Along that portage is a landmark white pine of 14ft 4 inches around. The tree is now even more of a landmark because of the fire of 1995. The fire tore through the area and killed many of the other trees around it but somehow the beast survived (with a serious fire scar I might add.) There is a patch of information on it in the Ranger Station on Saganaga Lake. The largest White Pine I was able to find for circumference was near Dead Man's portage across Saganagons Lake. It towers above its neighbors. I did go off the trail a ways for this tree, but it was worth it. I had it measured to 14 ft 11 circumference at 4.5 ft. Unfortunately I would estimate this tree has 1-2 years left to live, maybe a little more. The majority of the canopy is dead and the remaining vegetation is very sparse. It has dropped some sizable limbs lately and there is a giant weeping crack near the base running 10 ft up the tree. Who knows, it may stand for some time, but I don't think it will live too much longer. There were plenty of other remarkable pines, most of which were impressive for their crowns and heights (something I couldn't effectively measure) but a good many more were still in the 12-13 ft circumference range. I wish I could have measured every one, but that would have slowed an already busy trip immensely.

Eastern Larch, Tamarack: The size of the Tamaracks up there impressed me. Tamarack is by far one of my favorite species of tree (for many reasons.) The most impressive I saw on this trip were along the Wawiag River (same place as the largest Black Spruce.) There were three Tamarack along the route that really amazed me. All were in the 60-70 ft tall range from my estimations. The largest in circumference was 10 ft 2 in circumference at 4.5 ft. The Wawiag also provided another surprise. For about a 100 ft stretch the banks were dominated by Mountain Maple (in that area of Canada called the Moose Maple.) The size of some of the Maples were quite impressive. The largest were in the 30-40 ft tall range with the largest circumference being 4ft 4 in circumference. There may have been many more larger that that, but we were in a time crunch that day and bushwhacking through the bogs wasn't something my group would have given me too much time for.

Northern White Cedar: There were plenty of very large individuals on this trip. I wish I could have measured height because I walked past many an individual far taller than I have ever seen before. The largest circumference I had for a White Cedar was 9 ft 8 on the portage from Ross to Cullen.

I wish I had had time to do a more in depth search and really get some numbers, but as I said, it wasn't the main focus of our trip. I'll try to get some pictures up if I can.

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Will Blozan
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:13 pm

Re: The Quetico

Post by Will Blozan » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:29 am

Geez- this place will set numerous new records! NTS must return armed and ready!

Climbatree813
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:06 pm

Re: The Quetico

Post by Climbatree813 » Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:36 pm

Here is the pertaining pictures I said I would get up for this post. The photo quality wasn't the best (disposable camera) but it did the job pretty well.


Click on image to see its original size
If you look off into the distance on this photo you can see that a good portion of the Quetico burned about 15 years ago. Thus there is sections that are nothing but aspen. When you finally paddle into an unburned area though, it is magical.


Click on image to see its original size
This shows the majority of the conifer species from the Quetico. I can't specifically pick a Northern White Cedar or a Eastern Larch out of this picture, but they might be there.


Click on image to see its original size
This is the largest (in girth) of the Red Pines I measured. Sorry that it doesn't show the upper canopy very well.

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Larry Tucei
Posts: 2014
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:44 am

Re: The Quetico

Post by Larry Tucei » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:03 pm

Wow those White Pines are off the scale at 14' CBH. The largest at Cathedral Pines was 12' 2"! Sounds like a place to break some records! Larry

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tsharp
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Re: The Quetico

Post by tsharp » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:15 pm

Pack your electronics in a dry bag or better yet buy some Pelican cases and custom fit any electronics within. They are Bombproof and float if packed correctly. I understand your reluctance but it works. Your estimates of height beg to be verified.

Climbatree813
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:06 pm

Re: The Quetico

Post by Climbatree813 » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:39 pm

If the trip had been more laid back I would have brought the electronics, but we were moving too fast for me to do real in depth measuring (80 miles of canoeing/portaging in 7 days.) I really would have loved to have measured more.

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