Post Number: 5
|Posted on Monday, July 21, 2008 - 10:01 pm: ||
I appreciate the advice I got here before my first trip back to the area in many years. There haven't been many change since my last visit although I think that one portage trail I used years ago has moved slightly. I had it hand-drawn in on my map in a slightly different spot (opposite side of a swampy stream) on one lake and after crossing it the second time on a double carry, I could see where the old trail veered off. The newer section went to a little higher ground. Good idea. I updated my map.
I also ran into several youth groups, mostly from Keewaydin, but from 2 other camps as well. My previous trips to the area were outside their normal time frame, so I was surprised to see that many groups. Other than myself, I saw only one other private group (not with one of the youth camps).
It was nice to see so many young men and women enjoying canoe tripping. In each case, they were a a bunch of polite, hardworking kids, who consistently refused offers of help on long portages (I was double and triple carrying the opposite direction so was often going their direction empty handed). With one exception, their trip leaders discouraged me from helping, so I respected that. Seems silly, but so does carrying gear in a wannagin. At what point does technology trump tradition? I've been using high capacity portage packs with hip and sternum straps for over 20 years. I thought that things like packbaskets, Duluth packs, duffels, wannagins and tump lines were all things of the past. Although much of my gear is decades old, it looked like some newfangled high-tech stuff compared to what those kids use. Saw some boys learning to be men, so did nothing more than offer encouragement.
If I hadn't done the same thing at their age, I probably wouldn't be canoe-tripping nearly 40 years later. I "grew up" on a portage trail in Quetico when I was a teenager, so I get it. If it weren't for that experience, I probably would've been appalled at the suffering I witnessed on the portage trails and what appeared to be indifference of the trip leaders. I had much respect for the kids who all told me it was "hard work, but fun". In these days of a world gone soft, that was comforting to hear.
The Sugar Lake to Lady Evelyn carry was very popular as I met 4 different youth groups going through there. I also saw a group come out of the South Muskego. On one occasion I actually smelled a group before seeing or hearing them. They cooked a lunch and I smelled it about a half mile away. Makes you wonder how far away the animals can smell it.
One change I did notice was one campsite that I spent the night on in 2 separate trips was completely grown over and pretty much unusable. Also several campsites (especially on Lady Evelyn Lake)were littered pretty bad. I packed out way more trash then I generated myself and that was disappointing. I carried out everything but the bigger, heavier stuff. I don't understand why folks can't clean up after themselves. Some clearly looked like it was left behind by fishermen (from the fishing lodges)doing shore lunches, but others in more out of the way places were probably from canoe trippers. EVERY campsite I visited had some trash and I stopped at many sites. I cleaned up one on my first day, and passed through it again a week later and picked up more trash. That's pretty sad.
But overall, the Temagami area was as I remembered it: pretty rugged with rocky landings, relentless winds, constantly changing weather, and with a very wet summer, hordes of mosquitos like I've never seen. I was prepared for mosquitos, but they were the worst I've ever seen this late in a season - anywhere (Quetico, Maine, Labrador, Northern Quebec, etc). Daytime bugs could be controlled with DEET, citronellea, Buzz Off clothing, but the night time hordes werene't fazed by any form of repellenet. The only remedy was no exposed skin whatsoever when on shore at dusk/dark.
Oh yeah, the fishing was just plain awesome and the evening skies spectacular! I can't wait to go back.