Post Number: 38
|Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 10:31 am: ||
Arrived last night from a great snowshoe trip to the cottage. Left Sunday at 3:30am from Ottawa in horrible conditions but being adventurous or “crazy” my cousin and I left anyway. The drive to Thistle Lake Road took seven and a half hours (close to two hours longer than normal). Since Gord from Island Lake is not staying at the lodge this year the road is not plowed or maintained so we would have to snowshoe in. Coming in to Field we were surprised to see the landmark grocery store burnt to the ground.
The road into Thistle Lake had about 15 inches of snow at least on it and we had to shovel the road where the plow had left three foot drifts so we could get the car off highway 64.
The three and a half mile walk on the road was difficult as we were pulling sleds loaded with our backpacks containing, food, safety gear and extra clothes. I went to the front as my fitness level is better than my cousins. Our smaller snowshoes sank quite deep and our toboggans dug into the soft snow. It took us about two and a half hours to complete the road and arrive at Gord’s Island Lake Camp.
I had promised Gord to look into his camps and make sure everyone was good and I would later email him as he planned to be in Florida. Everything seemed great. The next stretch was not too bad as a skidoo had probably made the trip recently and provided a hard surface to grip under the soft snow. The Big Dam on Red Cedar Lake was quite beautiful when we reached it as it was blanketed under thick ice.
A couple on our lake (Larry and Judy) have spent the last five years wintering near the small dam so there are some trails that pepper the area so we were lucky enough to cross with relative ease although it would take us another hour to cross the island and then make our way to the small dam and then across very thick brush and deep snow with little to no trails. I had sent them an email as they have internet access to let them know that we would be near them and to ask if they needed anything). They are very hardy people to be able to winter in this tough area.
At this point due to the thick brush we had no option but to put aside our toboggans and carry our heavy packs. This was very difficult as the hills were numerous and every step forced us to balance our heavy packs as we sank into the heavy snow.
After crossing this stretch I knew we could near the shoreline and finish the route by snowshoeing on the ice. As there were no trails and the bush in this area is near impenetrable, this helped us although every step on the slushy surface created extra weight on our snowshoes. By the end of the hour our legs were exhausted and we could not wait to arrive. It was getting dark by five fifteen and luckily I was able to start the generator (love those Honda’s) and start a fire in the cottage. Now the cottages are not winterized and that first night the only available heat was 3-4 feet from the fire. We pulled a futon near the fire and our sleeping bags ensured us a decent sleep. Luckily I had stocked the cottage with a ton of wood in November.
The following day was filled with daily chores of getting water, firewood, trying to shuffle from one cottage to another etc…The snow is about two feet deep in the area with zero foot traffic. We did have an opportunity to bring my cousins fathers ashes (he passed away two weeks ago) to the top of the Thistle Lake Mountain (see picture) where my grandmother, grandfather and a cousin’s ashes are. It’s incredibly beautiful up there and gives us a view of Thistle Lake in the distance.
The next morning we had to leave so I locked up cottages, generator, bathroom, etc..when someone said hello. It was Larry who winters up near the small dam. We introduced ourselves and Larry told us that he had gotten my email and that he wanted to know that it was safe to cross in a small section in front of his cottage. He told us they had been doing this for about 3 weeks. It would save us an hour or so and the most difficult snowshoeing section around the small dam.
Larry even went back and recovered our sleds and left them for us at the front of the ice crossing. It proved to be a godsend and we were able to do the return trip in just over 4 hours vs. the more than six earlier.
We had a great trip but it would not suit most people as the snowshoeing and backpacking was extremely arduous and the nights cold. Even after two days of continuous heating the cottage was still extremely cold and windows all frozen. Having said that I might make it back up there in another month or so.
Thanks to all for comments on snow levels and mode of transportation.
Post Number: 196
|Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 7:06 pm: ||
Temagami = big snowshoe country. Leave the little aluminum ones for city parks.
Post Number: 6
|Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 10:20 pm: ||
Thanks for the report bigwolf.