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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through May 30, 2010 * Elk Lake to Maple Mountain - Ski/Snowshoe < Previous Next >

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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - 8:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I've been considering an overland trip to Maple Mountain from Elk Lake possibly as soon as this weekend and wanted to tap into the knowledge base here before the trip.

There is a KMZ file of the route attached. If you have Google Earth installed, after unzipping the files into a folder on your desktop, you can double click the KMZ file (maple3.kmz) and Google Earth will launch and zoom to the route. The imagery shown in Google Earth is high resolution but is from September 2003.

application/x-zip-compressed
Maple.zip (9.3 k)


The route follows the Cooke Lake Road south of Elk Lake, eventually skirting along the west shore of Skull Lake and then past Duncanson Lake to Morin Lake. From Morin Lake the trip goes for about 5 km south on old mineral exploration roads to the north end of Handel Lake. From there, it's a little over 3 km of bush crashing to link in with the standard summit route from Tupper Lake.

The main reason for choosing the overland alternative rather than the standard Lady Evelyn Lake approach is my inexperience in judging lake ice hazards. The 50 km route in from Elk Lake is about 5 km longer than that from Mowat Landing.

I anticipate using Nordic backcountry skis on the roads and snowshoes for the bush crashing and summit trail.

One of the main obstacles I'm facing is that I'm not geared up for winter overnights. I don't have a tent or a bivi sac. I've got a -5C down bag and a synthetic +5C overbag.

Another obstacle is covering the large distance in the span of at most a few days. I've tried out some longer days on foot or snowshoes around Kirkland Lake since moving here a couple months ago, with the longest trip of 55 km in 14.5 hours return from Kirkland Lake to Esker Lakes. However, since a long day trip in early December, a knee overuse injury has been slowing me down. With that said, a short trip I did the other night on skis after a week of rest made me wonder if I can avoid flaring up my knee injury by travelling on skis as much as possible.

A solution to these obstacles could be to drive in on the Cooke Lake Road to Barber Creek, shaving 20 km off the route. A May 2007 SPOT satellite image makes the Cooke Lake Road from Elk Lake to Barber Creek look clear and wide, but I don't suspect that this road would be ploughed all the way to Barber Creek. If it was, I'd attempt the 45 km return trip to Maple Mountain from Barber Creek in a day.

Any insight or advice would be highly appreciated.


Dave

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curly
Member

Post Number: 193
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - 3:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Dave, I'm concerned for your safety. I see a number of "lemons" in your post, to use a risk management term. You don't have proper winter gear. It sounds like you haven't done any practice winter overnights. You have a lingering overuse injury. You have chosen a route which would challenge experienced winter travellers. And if you are not comfortable judging lake ice, then you have minimal wintertime outdoor experience.

5 lemons. Usually 3 lemons is sufficient for misadventure.

45 km day + lingering overuse injury = disaster

Here's my advice. Go on an overnight with people who know what they're doing. Then go on a two night trip. Then do a solo trip, but don't go too far from your vehicle. Read. Learn. Enjoy. What's the rush? You've got all winter. And the winter after that. Don't make this your last winter.

After you've done a few short trips, you will have a much better idea of your limitations and a much better idea of whether or not you're ready for Maple Mtn.
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bigwolf
Member

Post Number: 36
Registered: 04-2005


Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2009 - 9:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Be careful Dave, Curly provides some great suggestions. My biggest worry for your safety would be the lack of proper winter gear. I am actually heading out on a snowshoe trip on January 2nd but have the right gear plus three places along my route where I could potentially crash for an overnight if necessary. Cottage owners have given me permission if necessary.

I like you love testing myself and pushing the limits but have learnt through some really astuate outdoorsmen that it's not worth it because what you dont expect will probably happen.

Keep us posted and good luck
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preacher
Member

Post Number: 83
Registered: 09-2007
Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2009 - 12:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

My 2 cents.

If you're not geared for a night of -20 or colder, you're not geared at all. Shelter, stove, food, clothing.
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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Friday, January 1, 2010 - 12:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for the good feedback folks.

It's clear now that in order to explore some of the most impressive places during the winter one of my top priorities is to learn about and practice how to do winter overnights. Previous to this realization, my approach to exploring far off places was to build up my ability to cover large distances in a day. Can anyone suggest some tips on how to acquire winter overnight gear when on a budget? I won't be able to afford quality winter gear (e.g., -40 down bag, bivi sac, and floorless tent or tarp) for a while, and I'd rather not wait until then. Are there any budget sleeping and shelter systems, or other tricks, for people in my position? I have most essentials (e.g., stove, cookset, clothing) except the sleeping system and shelter.

I'm living in Kirkland Lake, currently without a vehicle, on a 10-month work contract that comes up in July. Been out west the last four years, originally from southern Ontario. I'd like to get out "on an overnight with people who know what they're doing". Do you folks know anyone who would be willing to take a novice like me out on a weekend winter trip?

I'd still like to make an attempt to ski and snowshoe onto Maple Mountain this winter, if I'm ready. What do folks think of the overland route from Elk Lake versus the standard summer route in from Mowat Landing? Does anyone know if the Cooke Lake road gets ploughed regularly and if so how far south would it be ploughed?

In what shape is the old cabin at the north end of Duncanson Lake? The cabin appears to be located on Crown Land. There's a cabin on a private property at the north end of Darby Lake; anyone know who owns it? On a 1948 map of the relic White Reserve Mine, there's a store house, office, ice house, stable, cookery, and bunk houses at the south end of Darby Lake; are any of these structures still there today? A 1948 report suggests that the mine facilities could accomodate 50 men. There's also a cabin on a private property inside the park on a ridge overlooking Anvil Lake to the southeast. If I was to do a Land Title search for the two private properties east of Maple Mountain, what do you think the chances would be of the owners letting me use their cabins on a weekend trip? I've attached a map that shows cabins northeast of Maple Mountain, red dots for cabins on private land and green for those on Crown Land. Anyone ever seen the mine shafts south of Darby Lake?

application/pdf
Maple.pdf (98.0 k)

What is the condition of the old roads from Morin Lake to Handel Lake? What would the Maple Mountain summit trail from Tupper Lake be like on skis or snowshoes? If it was a lot easier to snowshoe rather than ski up the summit trail, would it be worthwhile bringing the skis to allow a ski-descent of any part of the mountain?

It's too bad that there isn't a hut system in Temiskaming like the huts in the Rockies and Coast Mountains out west.

Thanks and Happy New Year.

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curly
Member

Post Number: 194
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Friday, January 1, 2010 - 2:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Is there an outdoor store or x-c ski club in KL? Ask around there for local winter camper types.

Phone the Elk Lake municipal office or an Elk Lake fishing lodge to ask about plowing. Try also the Elk Lake Trail Blazers http://www.elklaketrailblazers.com/

Wouldn't a hut-to-hut system be great? There is a hut-to-hut system at a provincial park in Quebec close to you for a very reasonable price. I can't remember the name, but ask around and you should find it. There's also two cabins on the Smoothwater trail system (www.smoothwater.com). If you were to rent one of those cabins, you could get by with your current sleeping bag and not have to worry about the tent or bivvy sack. Just bring your clothes, sleeping bag, skis, and food. They provide the cabin, wood, propane stove, dishes, etc. You can take the train or bus to Temagami, and they will pick you up.

I know nothing about the route you've chosen, so will not comment on the cabins, etc. But if you wait until late March for your epic adventure, you will have the time to get some equipment and some experience. The days will also be longer, and the snow more packed for quicker travel.

Your epic day trips and your overuse injury are related. Keep this in mind when planning. 10 km/day is plenty in the winter, especially when you're carrying all your gear.

Try to get an old wooden toboggan from a 2nd hand shop. You can also score great wool clothes there too. Get a copy of Garrett and Alexandra Conover's book A Snow Walker's Companion. If the library doesn't have it, they can get it by interlibrary loan. Read every page. It's the best book out there on the topic.

http://www.northwoodsways.com/media/books.html

I'm sure someone here can suggest a great forum for winter camping where you can get all your equipment and technique questions answered. Try these ones:

http://www.myccr.com/SectionForums/viewforum.php?f =36&sid=b761d8d761bad1b767b3fc9cbec11128
http://waterwalker.ca/fireside/index.php?board=11. 0

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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 699
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Friday, January 1, 2010 - 2:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Also try this site for winter camping:
http://wintertrekking.com/

I would go slow and learn how to do it before you take on an adventure, that could cause you harm.

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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Friday, January 1, 2010 - 6:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for all the great info and suggestions.

Smoothwater winter ski trails and cabin-to-cabin option looks pretty interesting, especially because the bus goes right there.

I found the park in Quebec that you mentioned:

Parc national d'Aiguebelle (http://www.sepaq.com/pq/aig/index.dot?language_id= 1)

Enthusiasts of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can take advantage of a 38-km network of marked trails linking 8 cozy rustic cabins. There are two-person rustic cabins available for $55/person/night.

Thanks again.
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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 700
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2010 - 7:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Dave_vz:
I am not sure if Smoothwater is operating their winter program this year. If you are thinking about this option, you should call soon to confirm, before you do a lot of personal planning for a trip there.
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curly
Member

Post Number: 195
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2010 - 9:18 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

They are operating, Ed. I'm headed there today to help with some trail work.

(Aside: Will also see the Muirs to discuss routes in Temiskaming.)
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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 701
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2010 - 10:46 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks Bob... I was not sure about the winter trail situation.
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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Sunday, January 3, 2010 - 10:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks gents.
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preacher
Member

Post Number: 84
Registered: 09-2007
Posted on Monday, January 4, 2010 - 11:24 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Some great suggestions & links.

I started my forays into winter camping last year. So far I've just done a couple winter car camping trips with mixed results. That's a great way to start as it lets you experience the cold with an easy exit plan if/when things get too much.

There's little room for error when you could be facing a -40 night.

You can get a lot of your clothing at discount stores & army surplus. Craigslist & Kijiji are great places for deals, but you gotta get in the practice of checking them regularly. Good stuff goes fast.

Maybe you can rent some gear?
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1129
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - 9:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Dave, you were asking about private property near Anvil. There are no legal cabins. There are only mining claims just outside the boundary of the park. You have misread the mining map. Those black squares are not cabins, but claim markers.
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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 5
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - 9:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for the correction Brian! The black squares that I was misinterpreting as cabins are actually surface and mining rights land tenure symbols on leasehold patents MR12838 and RSC57. As a result, I don't know of any cabins inside the park here.

The 1996 Lady Evelyn NTS sheet shows a cabin just north of Duncanson Lake, and I found a late-1960s mining exploration sketch that shows eight buildings in this location, which the author labeled as the 'Whitson Camp'. I'm interested to know more about this site if anyone has info.

I'm also interested to learn about the condition of the structures south of Darby Lake, part of the old White Reserve Mine. I'm imagining that the park boundary hooks south here to steer away from the old mine workings and mineral potential. Someone told me that the park never used to include Anvil Lake.

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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1130
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 10:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Duncanson Lake was an old sawmill site. The mill built the road south of Cooke Lake. I believe it was Liskeard Lumber. I don't think there are any cabins left standing.

I'd be surprised if there is anything standing around the mine. There was exploration done in the 1970s and the government requires all structures to be removed and shafts closed.

The park boundaries have never been changed.


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fireman
Member

Post Number: 36
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Friday, January 29, 2010 - 11:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

have you climbed Maple Mountain before, at any time? I would imagine getting up that trail when it is unbroken in deep snow would be almost impossible. It is very steep in sections, to say nothing of the ladder climb at the end. I've been winter camping in Algonquin a fair bit, pulling komatiks with big trapper tents and woodstoves and have met guys on skis and snowshoes going lightweight and even they have small tobaggans, full of stuff. I can't see dragging that up Maple Mountain. It would have to all be in a back pack and even then you would need pretty large snow shoes to get through that snow.
Minus 20 is nothing up there. It is -23 right now and it is not nearly the coldest day so far this year. I think you are putting yourself at great risk. If you wait until mid-March you can travel the lakes on skis no problem as the snow is firm.
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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Saturday, February 27, 2010 - 10:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hey, does anyone know if 558 from HWY 11 to Mowat Landing is plowed? Is that a road that a car can drive on this time of year?

Are there any ice fishing huts on Lady Evelyn Lake?




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curly
Member

Post Number: 204
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2010 - 10:02 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Yes, as a provincial highway, it is ploughed.
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mr_pike
Member

Post Number: 31
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2010 - 11:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Use caution going on Evelyn, sections of that lake rarely freeze and remain open water year round.
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irishfield
Member

Post Number: 224
Registered: 11-2004


Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2010 - 2:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

What Mr_pike said! If you don't know.. don't go! My guests have bugged me, for 5 winters now, to do a trip into Lady E for Pickeral via sleds, and I refuse to take them there for that exact reason.

(Message edited by irishfield on February 28, 2010)
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dave_vz
Member

Post Number: 8
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2010 - 10:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who posted. I ended up not doing the Maple Mountain trip.

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