The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2002

PAGE 3

OUTFIT 109
 

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In this issue

Front Page

Expeditions

Spring Run

Summer Packet

Canoesworthy

From the Editor

Canoelit

 

 

 

   Expeditions

Part  1  2  3

Two-person canvas duffel bags held sleeping and personal gear, a wooden wanigan held pots and pans and additional duffels contained foodstuff. Tents without floors and air mattresses provided shelter and sleeping comfort. Now none of us could estimate what the fully loaded three-person canoe might have weighed.

Water and Wilderness

The first afternoon of our 120-mile, 10-day journey, we paddled canoes the length of the north arm of Rainy Lake. One kid or leader knelt in the stern, one knelt in the bow and one perched in the middle on a duffel bag. After the five-mile crossing of big water, all welcomed the opportunity o rest tender arm muscles and set up camp. Now we recall this initial stretch of water as quite tame when compared with the fun and challenges encountered once we left Rainy Lake behind.

Our trip plan included leaving and returning to Rainy Lake by a route that, according to the outfitter, had not been followed for several years. This led to enjoyments and surprises as we paddled and portaged between Mainville Lake, Obikoba Lake, Cuttle Lake, Weller Lake (now accessible by road!), Pickwick Lake, Vista Lake, Dogfly Lake and down the Manitou River.

Rough terrain and woods made it virtually impossible for two guys to carry a canoe and see where they were going. Instead, a kid held the front end of the canoe while one of the leaders or bigger kids crouched under it and lifted the heavy canoe onto his shoulders. The first kid would then guide the canoe along the trail, if there was one, or find a way if there wasn’t . Those not carrying canoes made several trips with duffels and made certain nothing was left behind.

The third day was a layover day on the shore of Cuttle Lake for a day of rest and on the fifth day we took another layover on small island in Vista Lake. We caught numerous pike before breakfast from Cuttle Lake using large heavy lures. Pine needles covered the Vista Lake so thickly we didn’t dare start a campfire. This circumstance meant we would have a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches or something simple that didn’t require cooking or much preparation. It also meant we could forego cooked apricots and prunes which were consumed to keep us in touch with the infamous “bugwah” log!

The welcoming border town of Fort Francis, Ont., c. 1953.   Photo: Donald Silva

For fun on the Lake Vista layover, several kids tied two canoes together, side by side, and used paddles as a mast and yardarm and a poncho as a sail. They sailed in their catamaran but did have to paddle back to camp. Years later one of those kids took sailing very seriously and became captain for his college sailing team.

On the seventh day, we ate lunch at the foot of a long, small stream while standing in cool, clear water next to our canoes. Afterward, someone discovered a leech on his leg. Soon we were using matches to burn the bothersome, but harmless, creatures off our legs.

Later, on the seventh day, we portaged the canoes and equipment upstream to the next lake in a somewhat different manner. We carried duffels but because the stream was so shallow (maybe 20 inches down to bare rocks) we pushed the canoes upstream, dragging them over rocks where necessary. And what did we find at the top of the three-quarter mile long stream-a swamp extending as far as we could see with trees growing out of it every few feet. Beavers had built a dam of log, sticks and mud about six feet high and eighty feet long.

The beaver dam proved to be a very large obstacle. Our map indicated the stream flowed between lakes but with the beaver dam before us, we discovered we were lost. The upper part of the stream had become a huge muddy swamp. With no stream or trail to follow, we encountered on swamp in every direction.

Cont'd

 

 

 

 Summer 2002         Outfit 109 

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