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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through July 25, 2006 * Trip report: smoothwater to mowat's landing < Previous Next >

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Post Number: 10
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 - 12:46 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

I just returned on friday from 2 weeks in Temagami. After hearing a family's experience on the south lady evelyn river who returned the day before we left, a route change was in order because of low water. Our new challenge was a long, overgrown portage.

We started on the montreal river at the beauty lake access road and headed to smoothwater, which was beautiful. there was a small fire nearby, which the MNR came by to contain with 2 planes and a helicopter. we watched them perfect their water pick ups, and they dropped their final loads on either side of our camp, i suppose as a precaution (although there was no fire ban). we headed into sunnywater lake, which is absolutely gorgeous. i've never seen water so turquoise and so clear except at a few ocean beaches. those portages were reasonably passable, but thankfully easier on eastward travel. Whitepine lake, between Marina and Wilderness lakes, is closed to fishing, probably given its proximity to the Aurora trout area. the challenge came the next day with a few small overgrown portages, and a very overgrown 4km portage (which we baptised screaming pine for the sound the branches made on the canoes, and for what we felt like doing) that turned out to be flooded near the end. after some unhappy moments thinking we might have to backtrack to find a new path we found the rest of the trail into Gamble lake, along the north shore of this beaver-made lake nearly due west. other than that detour, the terrain isn't too bad, with some sinking mud sections (nearly lost 2 shoes), a rocky creek to cross and a very stagnant pool of water to wade through that gets waist deep on a shorty like me, or more if you fall.

the campsite at the junction of the north and south branches of the lady evelyn was one of the dirtiest I have encountered. we tried to bury the human waste and pick up garbage, but it was everywhere. the low water and next few days of rain made the river difficult and slow going. portages have extra rocks (extra slippery) to climb at the beginning and ends, and sections that should be passable by canoe had dried to a trickle. no portage trail meant some slow manoeuvering on wet rocks. we proceeded down the north channel, which was beautiful, but still low. Centre falls was the clearest indication of how little volume was passing through. we headed to Hobart lake for the Maple mountain climb, and only had to wait a day for the view-- warm and sunny. on our arrival to Hobart we checked out the first campsite on the east side just as it starts to widen, and there was a fire still going in a very makeshift looking pit. we put it out for good and moved on. it had just finished pouring rain, so this may have been serious only a little bit earlier. I saw most dramatically on this trip how a little bit of carelessness can lead to intense danger and damage.

we chose to head to Mowat's landing via Lady Evelyn lake rather than the small lakes north of the mountain because we really hadn't done any paddling yet. The shocking thing was that there was not a breath of wind for the 2 days we had left ourselves to cross the lake. we could have done it in a day with no effort. instead we enjoyed the sun and stayed awake for the northern lights.

i realise i rambled on a bit about the trip, but it was a great experience. i was reminded of the challenges temagami presents to its visitors. thanks to everyone whose knowledge I borrowed to help put this trip together. if anyone would like more specific details i am happy to provide what i can. i'll try to add a few pictures in the next week or so.
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Post Number: 9
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 - 1:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

I did the portages from Gamble Lake across to Smoothwater Lake about fifteen years ago. The long portage between Gamble and Sunnywater Lake doesn't sound as if it has changed much apart from being a bit more overgrown. The first kilometre or so of the portage we waded through the reedy lake up to our thighs in mud and water.

When I did that trip with my buddy, we did it as a loop. We put into the Montreal River at the Beauty Lake Access Road and went down into Smoothwater Lake (Stunning!!!). We then went down and did the Ispatina Ridge hike and carried on to the Sturgeon River. We went down the Sturgeon a ways and then went across a mountain range through a series of finger lakes and into Florence Lake. From there we went north on the Lady Evelyn River to Gamble lake and then went across to Smoothwater Lake and back to the car. We were in the bush for ten days, but had only planned for eight, so on the last day we had to go all the way from Gamble Lake to the car. It was the toughest trip that I have ever taken. My friend and I refer to it as the trip from Hell... we are thinking about doing it again (only now that we are in our forties I think that we will plan on two weeks vice one). I would highly recommend this trip for anyone who wants a bit of a challenge for the sake of some spectacular scenery.
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Post Number: 38
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 - 12:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post


Glad you had a good trip. Sorry to hear about the dirty campsite but good on you for cleaning up a bit. I don't think that is the norm for that part of Temagami country.

I just got back from backpacking in the Rockies but I am looking forward to my upcoming Temagami trip just as much. It's a great place to paddle!


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