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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through February 3, 2011 * Wolf Lake-Back Door Route < Previous Next >

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Post Number: 121
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 - 8:00 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Well boys, if I have learned anything in the last week, it is that what intrepid canoe enthusiasts on this Forum refer to as "open" and "obvious" is not what I was expecting.
Problem one was that we failed to bring a copy of Brian Back's route maps to accompany our topo. We found everything, but the info was not at our fingertips. When sitting in front of the computer screen, it seems so simple and obvious.
The portage up into Laundry Lake was hampered by no indication on the road that it was the trail. We walked almost its entire length, looking for trail the end,frustrated but not willing to chance it, we opted to bushwack our gear and boat up the stream. Two hours I will never get back in this life. Did i mention it was raining and very slippery. A navigational error after that brought us into the wrong but identical little lake and we wasted another good hour before we realized our mistake.
We finally pulled up on McConnell Bay Beach, exhausted from the day and after discussion with a group from Guelph, understanding that we were not the only ones confused by the route. Fine, lesson learned. It was one of those, "the tough keep going" scenarios you all know and love.
The trip up the Back Door Route was different. Always knew where we were, just getting there wasa the challenge. The second portage, up the stream it says on the map,Well, the lower water made this not an option. We found a trail through the woods that lead, eventually, to the marked trail head. It had two blazes and was barely walked. We cleared it and blazed it well for others, another hour of my life gone. Then, up the creek bed to the trail, such as it is.
these are tough trails. I had no idea. Then again, decades of growth and windfall...
We eventually made it to Kettle Falls on the same day we set out from Dougherty. We were wondering if this is the normal amount of time, as we were exhausted after eight hours of hard work. Rained most of the time, no bugs is about all I can say to the positive. And not any more beautiful than any other area. Just a sense of exploration which made it all worth it. The final insult came on our way back through the Laura Lake, Wessel Route. We had both forgotten the bog of despair and hit it with a sense of great unfairness in the universe. We camped on Evelyn Lake on a beautiful island site. just gorgeous.
anyway, not many people about. Like all trips, it was fantastic. Single carries for eight days is a bit taxing. we had two packs and a day pack so we could just do it. Although with a Yukon, I did notice the trails are designed for shorter canoes. Some of my turns required backing up ten or fifteen times to get between trees. hope all are well, cheers for now.
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Post Number: 270
Registered: 02-2004

Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 - 8:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

So you had a good time then ?
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Post Number: 122
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 - 12:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

but of course!!! I did not mention my cousin pouring freshly boiled tea over my foot on the fifth night, resulting in a serious second degree burn, nor the constant wind that blew through Dougherty Lake both days we camped there.
Let me make it very clear here, the worst day of suffering experienced on a canoe journey is still the best living imaginable. Quite often due to precisely said suffering. It is only physical pain. The humility experienced by two grown, so-called respected men when they realize that they were too absent-minded to correctly interpret a topo map and they are so tired their legs are cramping, well, many people pay good money for that kind of self-discovery. We find it comes along free with every trip.
We also baked twice a day, nailing down a bannock method second to none. Friendly canoeist from Poland showed up one morning on Wolf Lake with the gift of smoked kolbassa sausage, excess as they were on their way out. How much nicer is that?? Free unexpected fresh meat on a canoe trip?
We brought along double smoked bacon from Kensington Market, so it was a meaty trip for sure. Bannock fried in bacon fat. If only my knees weren't screaming every time I crouched, I would be in heaven.
With an 80 pound canoe and a 40 pound pack, I do not think there is any way around the physical pain of tripping. Maybe fewer portages, but where is the fun in that?
I must say, there are a lot of orange ribbons spread about he wilderness that have no bearing on portage trails. I have followed a few to their illogical conclusion.
Water levels on the Sturgeon were low enough that we decided to cut back at Stouffer rather than at Rawson's Crossover. My brand new canoe was foremost in my mind. I could not stomach the idea of all that grinding through low water.
And finally, is there someone out there that can explain just how many socks end up on campsites?
Every second camper must be leaving them behind.
McConnell Bay Beach was full of them. Too much garbage to carry out, but we did consolidate it all and obscure it somewhat. I guess I should of schlepped it out, in retrospect. Back up next Sunday into Temagami for another eight days.
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Post Number: 34
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 - 10:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

The only indication of the trail into Laundry from the road is a few small dead pines cut down and laying along side the road where the trail is - head in there and the trail opens up about 15' off the road. A bit hard to find but if you have Brian's maps it shows which corner the trail is on. I was through there in June on a solo, up the Laura Ck/Evelyn Lk and down through Marjorie from the north and I find it easier to find the ports from that direction. It had been awhile since I'd been across the port from Laura to McConnell Bay and in 5 trips through there over the past 10 years or so, only once have the logs placed across the swamp for footing been visible. In June, I just floated the boat and and pack across the bog and continued carrying on the other side
As for socks, this area is canoed extensively by the kids from the Taylor Statten camp and I figure that's the origin of all the orphan socks in the area especially the McConnell Bay site.

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Post Number: 107
Registered: 12-2005

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 7:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

The trail between Wolf Lk and Landry Lk is definately tricky, but it was recently cleared in May of this year.
Brian's maps are very accurate: I even used a GPS to check the distances and his measurements are bang on. Having these maps with you on the trip would have made your life a lot easier.

The trail was deliberately left grown in where it meets the logging road, so as to discourage ATVs from following it, and creating an illegal landing on Landry Lake - a sad inevitability.

(Message edited by micmac on September 14, 2010)
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Post Number: 1244
Registered: 02-2004

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 9:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

As many of you know, because so many help, I work hard at not only making the maps accurate, but updating when something changes. So if you find anything wrong, missing or changed, please contact me.
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Post Number: 123
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 10:02 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Before I offend anyone here, let me make it as clear as possible. If I had the maps with me, there would have been no confusion. My cousin was responsible for the maps and I was a bit upset to find he had not brought copies of Brian's maps. He also failed to bring the topo for the Lakeland Lodge put-in, so that was a bit of guesswork until we were onto the topo to the north. not having phoned ahead to the Lodge, we started the whole trip confused as to where and how to park. it is clear to us now.
As to the maps, only after checking once home did I see how obvious it was. Not only that, I specifically asked for any advice on this route and "canoedog" make it absolutely clear that the route follows the road. I was going off a memory that seemed to incorporate everything I have ever portaged in the area. I claim "mid-life man stupidity" and I doubt I am the first to fall to this affliction.
As for the Back Door Route, everything jived with the map, but that first access is supposed to be up the stream. When we arrived (once again, no Back Map) there was a pretty obvious trail into the woods and the remains of a trail. I am pretty sure that in high water, one can get up the stream further and take the rest over the rocks. It did not seem do-able to us. the trail we took brought us out within plain view, maybe 50 metres, from the trail head (orange ribbons).

I have never done these re-opened, or nastwagan routes before. Atleast not intentionally. I have bushwacked a fair bit, but that is relying more on map and compass. I fell into a strange place of trying to remember what I had read, what my cousin thought and what his map said. The other issue is that my cousin's topos are from the 80's, which means they were surveyed prior to that. Already almost 40 years old. Well, Mr. Beaver has had lots of time to change things,as you all know.
So, once again, the failing was all mine. Still and all, a difficult hike through the wilderness with a canoe on our heads. Brian, I hope I have made this clear. Your maps are amazing, just not in my pocket where they belonged. I blame my cousin since he is not here to defend himself.
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Post Number: 58
Registered: 06-2008
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 1:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

That's OK --

2 of the 6 on our trip last week forgot things even more impore important than maps ....

Toilet Paper and BOOZE! ...which led to unfortunate rationig of each
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Post Number: 20
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 1:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

know what you mean about the bog of despair- it could sure use a few more well-placed logs. we were there a couple weeks ago and i found several bottomless spots...
i also removed a series of flagging tape that led to another bottomless hole, as though left there by some psycho.
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Post Number: 124
Registered: 08-2009
Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 9:11 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

yes, well, I guess in the larger picture, are problems are small. I am back up to Temagami on Sunday for eight more days. I plan to redeem myself with the mapreading. Bringing the right ones is a good start. I hope to catch Kim at the tail end of the Gathering at Alex's place on Monday morning. Seems like a lot of rain lately, hopefully it will translate to better water levels. The bear hunt is on, I am thinking, so time for the orange toque. Cheers guys.

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