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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through August 18, 2020 * Hap Wilson's Route #3 < Previous Next >

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Post Number: 451
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 1:09 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

We had to put off our canoe trip this year. In the end, what with time constraints and a certain amount of uncertainty about some areas following the fires, we opted to do Hap's Route #3, Upper Temagami R.-Marten R.- Wicksteed L.- Rabbit L.
We always resisted doing this route as it seemed sort of like a circumnavigation of Hwy 11! It's a real "crown land route" with lots of motorboats, places with road access, grocery stores and chip stands at Marten River and Temagami (and LCBO's!!), the ONR railroad, etc. etc.-- not quite what you'd call a remote area... but it all turned out to be extremely enjoyable despite mostly adverse weather, and I would highly recommend it.
And ZERO other canoeists...
We definitely like remote areas as much as the next person, but "remoteness" in this day and age can be... I dunno... a state of mind??!
And: crown land = no park fees, just sayin'!
If this route did not circumnavigate Hwy 11 and so on, if it was in the middle of a wilderness park, it would be considered a classic purely on its scenic merits. Lake Temagami itself, which we all shamelessly take for granted, then the upper Temagami River with several beautifully runnable rapids (we had pretty high water due to the constant rain!), then- the revelation of the trip for me-- the Marten River which the route follows for 30 or 40 km from Red Cedar Lake to Upper Redwater Lake. Plus Wicksteed which is very large and has no cottages...
This route is very little-travelled, and the portages along the Marten R. (and 1 on Rabbit Creek) need some serious attention or they are in danger of being lost. We did what we could, and extended our trip by about a day, by completely clearing the two most in danger of being lost:
1) the 290 between Wicksteed and Boyce; this portage is around a falls on the Marten and the trail from the river up to the railroad tracks was effectively lost! Took me 45 minutes to find the original trail, then about an hour and a half to clear it. Note: once on the tracks, please DISREGARD old blazes on birch trees and simply follow the tracks until they meet the river!
2) the next portage from Boyce, which Hap says is a 200 or a high-water 110-- well forget the 110, the landing is still there but there are many old blowdowns and the trail is lost. I managed to find the 200 and make it passable with the canoe, again after a huge amount of chopping and sawing.
The good news, if you are following Hap's guide, is that the next 3 obstacles, a Track 30, a liftover 10 and a portage 150 around a logjam, are all non-or only marginally existent in 2018. (My "working" edition of Hap is 1989).
However, the portage out of Chokecherry L., "360 to bridge" (there's no bridge anymore), required a good deal of scouting, then clearing as well. I don't consider it adequately cleared even now, since there is a large area of blowdowns blocking the middle section of the trail, way beyond what we could do with axe and saw... needs someone with a chainsaw and even then would take several hours. So we made sure there is a workable do-around on the left side (going upstream), but it's not blazed, since hopefully someone will come along one fine day with that chainsaw and clear the real trail. So the doaround is there but SCOUT FIRST!
After that our time for portage-clearing was severely limited, and we restricted ourselves to just what we had to do to get through.
Note that there is an editing error in Hap's guide, perpetuated in the 2004 Boston Mills Press edition, whereby the 145 and 345 portages before Lower Redwater Lake are conflated in the route description (but not on the map: and believe me, the quite difficult 345 is really there!!)
Lower and Upper Redwater Lakes are bordered by the ONR and it is a very strange experience to be woken up in the middle of the night by passing trains... on Upper Redwater is still to be found the "village" of Redwater, as indicated on the 1:50,000, once a request stop or "whistle-stop" on the railway and to all appearances still mysteriously inhabited, with its barns and circa-1900 buildings... no roads around there... or maybe we just strayed into the twilight zone for awhile...
Hopefully you get the overall picture.
To recap:
LCBO's in Marten River and Temagami!
Fabulous onion rings at Lumpy's chipstand!
Zero canoists in sight, anywhere!
Plenty of portages to clear!
The Robert Aickmanesque Trains and Redwater!
Portaging across Hwy 11 in downtown Temagami! Having bacon and eggs at the PetroCan!
Finally, after all these years, canoeing down the Northeast Arm in a strong SW squall with 4 foot waves: superb!!!!
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Post Number: 1900
Registered: 02-2004

Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 9:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

When did you do the trip?
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Post Number: 452
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 10:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

August 26th to Sept. 6th.
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Post Number: 262
Registered: 03-2004

Posted on Friday, September 14, 2018 - 11:03 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for the trip report. East of Hwy 11 can be very interesting and scenic. I Did Rabbit lake, Fourbass, Cooper, Ross loop in early Aug. We saw a few people fishing on Rabbit and Fourbass but no other canoeists. I was also pleasantly surprised at the amount of old growth pine for an area that has been heavily logged for a long time.

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