Ishpatina Adventure

In search of the rooftop of Ontario

Page 2

Fifteen minutes later, I turned off of the paved highway and drove onto a dirt road, which led to the Wanapitei River. The [Portelance] road wasn't as bad as I had anticipated, but the fastest I could drive was 50 kilometers an hour before my car started to jump around uncontrollably. After driving about 60 kilometers up the logging road, I finally reached the turnoff to the east, which slowly winds itself towards the Sturgeon River.

Caching the car on the Portelance Road

In contrast to the main logging road, the sideroad was only one car-width wide and made the previous road feel like a newly-paved highway. Some of the potholes were large enough to swallow a small animal, and the roads were just bursting with rocks the size of grapefruits. After about a dozen scrapes and crunches (some of which were so hard that the force could be felt under my feet), I decided to park my car on the side of the road and call it a day. The time was 21:15 and I had felt as though I had just competed in a rodeo. But then again, I'm sure my car felt a lot worse than I did...

The next morning, I woke up at around 7:00 to the sound of thunder and light rain. I reluctantly crawled out of the drivers seat and removed my mountain bike from the back of my car. I then made a quick check of my gear and proceeded to pedal down the poor-excuse-of-a-road.

After about two hours of cycling, I finally reached my first landmark; the Sturgeon River. The river was approximately 20 meters wide and was relatively easy to ford because it was down to its low water level. (The deepest part of the river was just above my knees.) From here on, I continued north past an old sawmill until I reached the supposed bridge between Little Scarecrow Lake and Hamlow Lake. To my dismay, the bridge was simply nonexistent and required another time consuming crossing on foot. After another 15 minutes of cycling, I finally reached the area near the Bailey bridge between Stull Lake and Upper Stull Lake. I continued along a dirt road to the north - just before the bridge - when things began to get a little confusing. The topo clearly indicated a path branching off to the east from this road, which led to a small lake due west of Scarecrow Lake. Well, after 15 minutes of searching back and forth, I came to the conclusion that the map was incorrect since there was absolutely no sign of any path leading to the east. I realized that I had no option but to start bushwhacking.

I took a moment to mark the position of my hidden bike into my GPS and walked towards the side of the road. The first thought that came to my mind was, "What the hell is this?! There's absolutely no way that I can penetrate this forest!" Trees of maple, birch and cedar stood united, side by side, determined not to let anyone pass.

But I wasn't just "anyone." I was a crazy guy on a serious outing who decided to drive his Camaro onto a road that was made for Humvees and Land Rovers. I lowered my head, closed my eyes and started to push into the depths of the forest.

Sturgeon River crossing where Portelance Road ends.

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