Butt End: The Masochist's Guide to Portaging | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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Portage from Hell Photo: Tim Irvin

Kevin Callan tips for successful portaging

A truly laborious portage isn’t characterized by steepness of grade or total length. It’s what blocks your way that defines how punishing it will be. If the portage has a sign indicating that a maintenance crew gives it a visit now and then, you can’t complain. But if you need a compass to guess the line of sight and there’s only a rusty beer can or a strip of discolored flagging tape marking the starting point, then you’ve got every right to curse.

Though I’ve had my share of nasty portages, I met my nemesis in the Diablo portage on the Steel River—a good example of a bad bushwhack. Moss, rocks, rotting logs, branches and knee-high dead trees cover the ground obscuring holes, stumps and other boot-snagging hazards.

The route becomes almost vertical at one point—I knew I’d reached this section when the bow of the canoe continuously rammed the trail in front of me. With forward motion impossible, I resorted to winching the canoe uphill by looping a rope...Click here to continue reading in the free desktop edition of The 2015 Paddling Buyer's Guide.  

Screen_Shot_2014-12-23_at_12.39.44_PM.pngThis article originally appeared in The 2015 Paddling Buyer's GuideRead the entire issue on your desktop, Apple  or Android device. 

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