Post Number: 13
|Posted on Friday, October 8, 2021 - 12:33 pm: ||
For anyone interested and for the record books, I was finally blessed with the opportunity to run (as much as it could be run) the Stull Creek. Here is my trip report:
I was using Hap Wilson’s 1989 write-up of the creek which is still very much accurate over thirty-years later (with the only difference being that the bush road campsite no longer has “unlimited space” as the forest has taken over).
What is interesting to me is that back in 1989, there were three “preferred routes” to get from Hamlow to the Sturgeon. According to Hap, Stull Creek was the “preferred route” for spring travel. There was no mention back in 1989 of the old nastawagan and I understand this may be because the area had been clear cut from logging and that in 1989, the old nastawagan was not locatable. It seems these days the old nastawagan is the “preferred route” and for some reason the new additions of the guidebook no longer include the Stull Creek write-up – more on this later.
I was dropped off at the Gervais Road landing at 3pm on Saturday October 2, 2021. The plan was to stay at the old bush road campsite adjacent to Stull Creek on Saturday night before a Sunday run of the creek.
After getting dropped off at the Gervais Road landing, I travelled upstream on the Sturgeon River until I reached the 1.5 km old nastawagan. I then portaged my pack and food barrel up the 1.5 km old nastawagan a few hundred meters until I reached the old bush road. From there I headed west along the old bush road (which has now become overgrown with alders) until I reached the campsite. I set up camp and then headed back to get the canoe. I portaged the canoe all the way up to Hamlow Lake so I did not have to do this the next morning. I headed back to camp to settle in for the night. Unfortunately it rained heavy for the entire first night.
The next morning I packed up camp but left my pack and food barrel at the side of the creek to be picked up on the way down (this was a very good decision because if I had had full gear it would have added more time and energy running the creek).
I got to the logjam (the start of Stull Creek) on Hamlow Lake at 10:45am. I had no idea what to expect but previous trip reports had referred to Stull Creek as a “hell-hole” and a route that should be avoided in favour of the easier 1.5 km nastawagan. I guess the adage of this story is one man’s hell is another man’s heaven because this place was awesome.
It took me exactly 1 hour to reach my pack and food barrel at the campsite and another 45 minutes from my campsite to reach the Sturgeon River (Note: it would have taken longer if I was packing full gear but this creek can be done in around two hours give or take).
I am not sure how long it would take to double portage gear along the old 1.5 km nastawagan (4.5 km total walking distance) but for me the time difference between the creek and the nastawagan would be negligible. I love portaging and the 1.5 km nastawagan is not a difficult portage aside from its length, but I only love portaging when I have to.
For me, if I am ever back in the area and need to get from Hamlow to the Sturgeon, I will never walk the nastawagan again. I would take Stull Creek on any day, at any time of year. It was not as difficult as I was expecting and I would suggest that anyone with moderate canoeing skills could easily take on this route (no children). I was greatly surprised at how well travelled the route was. All of the trails were well trodden and there were even Friends of Temagami portage indicators in two portage locations along the creek. There was some lining necessary and portaging around falls or cascades along boulders adjacent to the creek, but it was not difficult. Compared to parts of the Pilgrim Creek which I had previously run, Stull Creek was a breeze.
The only disclaimer I would add is that I did Stull Creek in October in low water. I would imagine that in high water it would have been a different creek and that sweepers etc. would have been a concern as the creek is very narrow in certain locations and the flow would have made it harder to avoid the obstacles. Nevertheless, Stull Creek is a beautiful place with falls, cascades and certainly more fun than walking the nastawagan.
All in all, I don’t think Stull Creek should have been removed from the guidebooks. I had previously walked the nastawagan on the two prior occasions when I had to travel from Hamlow to the Stugeon and I avoided Stull Creek because of the bad reputation it has been given. I loved Stull Creek. I hope others enjoy it too.
Post Number: 200
|Posted on Saturday, October 9, 2021 - 5:44 pm: ||
Thank you, bushwhacker! Very tempting - especially an option to do both the portage and the creek (I have done neither).
Post Number: 461
|Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 11:19 pm: ||
Thanks for the trip report!
Thought I would chime in and mention that Stull Creek is also a great option going upstream. My wife and I did that in 1994 on our first trip to the Sturgeon via the 13 lakes, Solace and back by way of Sunnywater/LER... a 23 day trip! Ah the good ol’ days...
As I recall it was approximately 2 hours which is comparable to the portage when doing 2 trips but much more enjoyable... nice to hear it’s being maintained which was definitely not the case in 1994! But back then you had to routinely clear all portages and creek routes in that area as they were little used.
We found an old campsite off one of the portages with a well established fire pit which hadn’t been used for many years. The portage was on the left side going upstream.