Portaging can be difficult and to some it’s nothing but a pain to avoid. However you feel about the subject, you have to agree that portages are at least a necessary evil to get you to the best back country areas. There are several ways to lessen their burden. One way is called the “One And A Half Method”.
While the hard core enthusiasts travel over portages in one grueling uber-manly trip, most portageurs will portage by travelling the way once with all their gear, then turn around and walk back to go and get the canoe (or vice versa). Why not? You’re not in any hurry – you’re on vacation after all – and what exactly do you need to prove anyway? Either way, it’s your preference. The trouble starts when half your group wants to do it one way and the rest another. Nevertheless, like most things in life, there’s a middle ground. Here’s how it works:
Easy. You’ve done it faster than in two trips without the drudgery of one. (It should also be noted that when we’re not carrying our gear or canoes, we’ve left them off the trail to be courteous to other travelers.) Obviously, the primary benefit to this technique is that you can get over portages more quickly.
Statisticians, computer programmers or general know-it-alls will immediately suggest that if you work out the math, it really should be called the “2” method, in the sense that you’re only travelling the distance of the portage twice instead of three times (1+1/2+1/2). Sure, gold star for you. Everyone else can appreciate that you’ll have a load on your back for only one and a half the length of the portage instead of two full carries. (There’s actually another type of one-and-a-half method: the one where you carry for the first trip and let half your group go and get the rest. But you can probably guess why that’s not the most popular method)
Of course, you may find some minor issues with this method:
Then again, if all else fails, just do it in two carries. I’ll say it again: you’re on vacation! Enjoy the surroundings and have a snack on the way back for the canoes. I’ve found that there’s too much emphasis on shortening the time on portages and too little on appreciating where you are. How many times have you had a canoe on your head, or been bogged down by gear, watching your feet, too focused on the “chore” of portaging that you completely miss the scenery around you? Take the time to enjoy it. The walk back is a great excuse to take out the camera because more often than not, the very reason you have to portage (waterfall, hills, beaver dams etc.) make for some great pictures.