Post Number: 1
|Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - 11:41 am: ||
General Route Outline:
Day 1- access road to Obabika
Day 2- Wawiagama
Day 3- Lower Goose Falls
Day 4- Wawiashkashi
Day 5- Temagami
Day 6- Paddle out to Access Road
Access Road to Obabika to Sturgeon River to Wawiashkashi Loop
Total distance (approximate- lots of twists and turns on Obabika and Sturgeon Rivers) 140km
Portages: 13 totalling 8445 metres. (times 3 because I did 2 trips)
My original route plan of paddling to Florence Lake and back went out the window when I had to get stitches in my left hand after slicing it open with a knife. I spent a few days in town at the Temagami Shores and then re-vamped my route. I had to choose a route that would take about 6 days, but that would allow me to paddle out and get to a medical clinic reasonably quickly should my stitches become infected.
Temagami Access Road to Lake Obabika
Ellie (a golden retriever, also known as The Belle) and I set out from the access road into a slight headwind. Long paddle- straightforward. I havenít been up through Obabika Inlet in a while, so itís interesting to see the re-growth in the fire area. I came to the area in the early 90ís as a teenager and remember the burn area distinctly.
Saw a bear as we approached the portage. It was eating some berries, I think. Got a photo.
Camped on the small island campsite just south of the 940m portage into Obabika.
Got in the tent just as it started to rain.
Obabika to Wawiagama
It had rained all night and was still raining in the morning when I got up. I made coffee and ate some cereal and then realized that Iíd made decaf and took it as a sign that I should go back to sleep until the rain let up.
I slept for a little while and then decided to try getting up again- the rain didnít appear to be on the decline.
My stove wouldnít work, so I had to take it apart and re-assemble. Itís an MSR whisperlite that I bought in 1996. It works really well but about once a year it likes to be dismantles and put back together again- usually when itís cold an rainy.
I saw the only other canoe trippers Iíd see for the week- four boats of two men wearing ponchos over rain coats. That was a good idea given the sheer volume of water falling, so I made a poncho out of a spare garbage bag to supplement my rain gear.
The rain let up as I headed down Obabika to Wawiagama.
I messed up the portage a bit, heading through the trailer campground to the road and then through the old logging camp/parking area to Wawiagama instead of the actual portage trail. But it got me there reasonably quickly, so I stuck to this route when I did my second trip.
From Wawiagama my plan was to get to either Lower Goose falls or a campsite on the Obabika river. This went out the window when I took the wrong ďriverĒ out of Wawiagama and ended up slogging up an almost dried out creek, unloading my canoe and moving everything bit by bit. In my defense, the guide book says that the Wawiagama river is little more than a ditch and that in low water there would be some dragging involved. I thought I was on the right track. But, I realized Iíd made an error when I also noted that the water was supposed to be flowing out of Wawiagama and the creek I was on flowed into Wawiagama. So, I retraced my steps and explored the shoreline and found what I thought must be the correct entrance to the river, but decided to try again in the morning.
We camped on the north side of the lake on a rocky campsite. I think that the spot I chose was home to a bunch of loons. There were 40 loons on the lake and at one point a gaggle of them (what do you call a group of loons?) paddled over towards my campsite, saw me and then put up a ruckus realizing that theyíd have to go elsewhere.
Wawiagama to Lower Goose Falls
We headed back to the Wawiagama River for take 2. This was the actual river and it was great- you could paddle it no problem. There was one liftover, but thatís about it. The Obabika River had a couple of spots that required liftovers, though. One of them over an old wooden bridge that is partially submerged.
There is also a bridge that you pass underneath that was not on my map. The Paddling the Obabika took a bit longer than I anticipated.
The portage was easy to find and easy to do- just one steep drop going down to the river at the end. (I saw the wrecked canoe- ouch).
After the portage, we were on the Sturgeon. It took maybe 45 minutes to paddle to Lower Goose Falls.
The portage at Lower Goose Falls is on river right, even though my map had it marked on river left.
There is a take-out upriver from the bridge. Follow the trail to the road. Hang a right onto the road and then left into the parking/campsite and then follow the atv trail down to the large sandy area.
We camped up top, away from the beach because the wet sand would have covered and got into everythingÖ
This was a short day, but Ellie the dog needed a few hours to run and play and fetch, since I knew the next day would be portage-free.
Lower Goose Falls to Wawiashkashi
I wasnít sure how long it would take to paddle to the portage to Wawiashkashi, so we left relatively early. I wanted to make it to ďKellyís FarmĒ, the main campsite on this stretch of river about 5 km from the portage. There are a lot of twists and turns, so I didnít know how much this would slow down our momentum.
To be honest, ití was a bit of a slog at first (paddling in molasses). The riverís not fast-moving . But, after the first rapid (there are two, easy class ones) the pace picked up a bit for me- I think I got into more of a groove.
Iíd also brought an mp3 player on this trip and got to listen to some tunes, which Iíve been against in the past, but thought Iíd try on this trip (and actually I could get CBC radio for most of the trip). Not a bad idea on a solo trip, although I did end up dropping the darn thing into the water on my last dayÖ
I wasnít ever sure if I found the campsites (I didnít get out to look). But they donít seem heavily used and would be easy to miss. That being said, there were sand bars all along the river where you could easily camp for the night if you were a small group.
After the second rapid is a good time to start paying attention to the curves in the river so as not to miss the portage. Itís easy to find as the Manitou River is larger than many of the creeks entering the Sturgeon along the way.
I, stupidly, did not bring a topo- just Hapís book and the Temagami canoe routes map.
The portage was very easy (I did it in crocs). There was a bit of thunder as we entered Wawiashkashi, and I put on my trusty garbage bag just in time for the skies to open and unleash buckets on my head. Luckily, the storm never took off- just rain.
Wawiashkashi is a marshy lake for the most part. The campsite at the portage looked decent (and some nice person had left a huge pile of firewood), but I decided to go for the larger site on the lake. This turned out to be a mistake as this campsite was trashed out- old boots, underwear, beer cans among other things. It was one of those sites where I didnít want to touch anything, but there werenít any other options. Thereís a tiny site just to the west of the main site, but it was a bit trashy too.
I suggest not camping on Wawiashkashi at all.
Wawiashkashi to Temagami.
I set out in the morning at about 8:30am. Headed to the 1350. Got a bit confused about where youíre supposed to take out, but went for what seemed to be an old campground with several abandoned structures (it would be a good setting for a horror film) on the north side of the north eastern end of the lake.
Then I got confused about where I was supposed to put in- the place on the map that seems to be the put in has lots of No Tresspassing signs and is a small resort. It was all closed up and there was nobody there to ask, so I just put in at their beach. I was glad I had the Hap Wilson book, because the map doesnít indicate it, but you have to drag your canoe up a few shallow spots on a creek flowing into the small inlet where you enter Manitou.
When I emerged onto Manitou, I was immediately struck by the face in the cliffs. You canít miss it. It looks a bit like Aslan.
The paddle up Manitou is straightforward.
The three portages to Turtleshell (or is it turtleback?) Lake are quick. The 680 follows the road entirely- donít turn off, even though on the Temagami Canoe routes map it looks as though you should.
I had a growing tailwind as I got to Turtleshell. I thought Iíd have a floating lunch and let the wind carry me up the lake. Of course, as I got into the canoe, the wind died entirely and it started to pour! On went the garbage bag. My bagel got a bit soggy, but still yummy after all the portaging.
Once I got onto Gull, where I thought Iíd camp, I decided it would be nice to wake up the next morning on Temagami instead.
I was a bit concerned about my stitches and figured that if I changed the dressing in the morning, it would be an easy paddle out.
So we motored through the final three portages.
Skunk Lake (which could be called Sunk Lake, as it seems to be flooded all around) looks like a nice place to camp.
We made it through the easy 680 and headed to the campsite on Temagami. It felt great to arrive on Temagami. The lake was calm and glassy and it seemed so vast. The campsite about a kilometre (if that) up the shore from the portage turned out to be really lovely. I got the tent up before dark and ate dinner in the dark with Ellie sitting next to me.
Temagami to Car
I woke up to a reasonably sunny sky and a growing wind from the North. I tried to hurry a bit to beat the wind, but Iíd slept in a little after the long day the day before (and Iíd slept badly because of loud critters trying to get into the food barrel during the night).
The wind was fierce by the time I got going. I decided to make a break for Temagami Island, but the wind just kept growing and the swells were getting a bit too high for my canoe. I was fairly far from any shore, and if we did get swamped it would be a long, cold swim to land. It was getting to the point where the waves would grab the canoe and then pull us into their backwash, so I turned the canoe and headed to the nearest island hoping that weíd make it.
The island had a cottage on the side facing me, so I paddle around to the lee of the island and pulled up to the dock. I went to see if anybody was there to explain my presence, but everything was closed up.
I decided to wait out the wind- there was no rush and I could stay out another night if needed.
As I was sitting there, reading. I heard voices. I went an introduced myself and the folks turned out to be the Young family. Theyíd owned the island since 1908.
Anyhow, they offered to throw my canoe on their boat and take me to the landing.
I accepted their gracious offer.
It turns out that the driver of the boat was in the group of 4 canoes Iíd seen on Obabika the first morning out of my trip. Small world.
So it was back to the landing at warp speed. It started to rain as I began to load up my car, and I was happy with my decision.
My hand was starting to get a bit red around the wound, so the timing worked out well because I was able to get the stitches removed and then leave my hand uncovered so it could heal sans antibiotics.