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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through February 3, 2011 * Chiniguchi - Temagami's West Side Story < Previous Next >

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Post Number: 9
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 6:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

“BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!!!” screams the alarm set for 4:30am, as I stumble out of bed. Now I’m stoked to get on the road, but Chuck, not an early morning person, is slowly waking saying, “Yeah, I’m getting up, zzzz, okay, okay”.

On the 401 Eastbound I’m driving and enjoying the low volume of traffic through Toronto, then onto 400. Stop at McD’s for quick brekky as we’re now starving and also appreciate the chance to stretch. Stop in Parry Sound to top up the fuel tank. We leave Hwy. 69 to take Hwy. 537. Once we got to the Trans-Canada Hwy. 17 we made a stop at a Subway for lunch. How can we be so hungry with all this sitting and driving?

We arrive at Sportsman’s Lodge for our shuttle from George shortly before our booked time of 1:00pm. Before we know it George is dropping us at the Matagamasi launch and now the best part of the trip can begin!

There are three other canoes ready to leave before us and all are headed to Wolf Lake. Rather than compete or end up sharing a site Chuck and I decide to take one on Mata within a 30 minute or so paddle to the fabled Paradise Lagoon portages.

With the wind at our backs it was a leisurely afternoon as we set up camp and reviewed our maps. We still hadn’t completely decided our exact route or how far we’d actually paddle other than to end up back on Kukagami Lake no later than nine days from now. We decided we’d let each day dictate what we felt like doing. Now that’s FREEDOM!
No real schedule.

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Overnight was cool and come morning we decided to keep the same site and paddled up Paradise Lagoon and spend some time there for the afternoon. It stayed a little on the cool side all day. We met and spoke with a family from our hometown of Cambridge. As we talked the man mentioned he belonged to the WCA for thirty years and hosts a spring Grand River trip and BBQ for members, I remembered seeing that event listed in the Nastawgan newsletter. I asked if he was Doug Ashton and he looked surprised and so we also met his wife Lisa and son Robbie (we share the same name!). Small world!

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We all left Paradise Lagoon at the same time. The Ashton family needed to find a site and it was getting late. The sites we passed on the way in were occupied so I offered to share ours. There was a small area on the side of our site but they needed to put up two tents and there were no level spots left so they decided to try and push on. Hope the Ashton family found a good spot before dark.

Following morning was COLD! Wind from the north, white caps rolling down the lake. Two canoeists were slowly trying to make headway passed by our site. All our gear was packed and we sat hoping the wind would let up. It did shortly before lunch time and it actually started to warm up too.

At the first portage there was a two family group and dog. We spoke briefly and now post trip I believe it may have been Paul Hoy (yellowcanoe)? It’s funny but maybe we should all wear those name tags, “HELLO, my name is…”

We walk the now familiar portages and push on to Wolf. The water is so wonderfully clear and soon the tumbled white rock cliffs come into view. We took the site on the far northeast end. Nice big site with a table in the kitchen! We pitched our tent beside a very large boulder and then wondered when the next rock would decide to fall from above us. It looks like it also has a great jumping rock into the water below. I went for a swim but when did I become so chicken about jumping off a rock?

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We found a thunderbox, perfectly roomed in by trees for privacy, but inspection revealed an overly full hole so I walked further away with my shovel. I was going to make and hang an “OUT OF ORDER” sign but I forgot.

Next morning we were packed and as I waited for Chuck to walk down so we could load the canoe, I followed a path and found a large dead pine tree that had turned into an ant dispensing machine. It looked like the bear wasn’t getting what he wanted by all those claw marks in the wood.

Goal today was Chiniguchi Lake. We made a stop on Dewdney to check out the towerman’s cabin. The roof looks in really good shape. Looking into the attic we could see beautiful pine boards. The walls could tell some stories by all the graffiti from previous visitors. I think I recognized a couple of names too. We were not impressed by the shot gun blast to the outside wall. Next time we’re up here we decided we need to have enough time to hike to the firetower.

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Crazy headwinds all the way make us take the first campsite before crossing the main part of Chiniguchi towards the Elephant. We didn’t like the open, overly sunny site but liked the rolling white waves even less. As we sat eating a late supper a couple paddled
past and were able to paddle to the Blueberry Island site on a much less angry looking lake.

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Following a lazy morning with pancakes and watching the wind ramp up again we decided to paddle the back bays and try a little fishing. No luck fish-wise but found an abandoned beaver lodge and loaded the canoe with firewood for the evening. I found a stick wedged into the caved in roof with wire wrapped around it. I imagine that was used as part of a trap long ago. Sitting around the blazing fire that night we decide to do a turn around back out to Matagamasi the following morning.

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Just as we approached a site on Mata I caught sight of a doe and fawn standing on a high rocky edge. What was she doing there, would they jump the six or so feet into the water? Well, not if we were in front of her. We all just quietly and calmly regarded one another for a minute and then off she ran, into the bush.

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On the site first order of business in the fading light would be the rope for the barrel. Mission accomplished by Chuck in record time. I’ve got water on to boil for supper and notice a couple of fishermen quietly motoring by and Chuck waves a greeting to them. They fish a nearby bay then start back towards our campsite. Chuck tells me it looks like we have visitors. We say our helloes and he asks how long we been out and where. We tell him 5 days and up to Chini and back. Bob asks if we’d like a bottle of ice water, “sure, thanks” and as we guzzle the icy coldness down, he asks if we’d like a cold beer! Who are we to decline such generosity.

Bob is retired from the mines and has a cabin here. To keep his lease he needs to trap five beaver per year. He tells us of times he’s run an ATV on shoreline ice to cross over a shallow area to get to the cabin and snowmobiling in the winter, of hunting moose and bear and trapping marten, fisher and wolf in years past. He worries what a park will mean to his current use of the area. I think there should be room for some traditional usages as long as the environment is not impacted negatively.

Next morning Bob and Roger are fishing in the early morning mist and come over to stop by with a gift of foil potatoes, sausage and a piece of blueberry pie. We had plenty of food but we accepted the gift from the gracious resident. Bob also gave us his phone number and the cabin key location if we are ever up this way again we were welcome to use it. Wow!

On down the North Arm in morning calm and as we round the point and up to McCarthy Bay the wind pushes at our backs. We stop and gaze at the pictographs and photograph them. I want to leave an offering but didn’t prepare ahead of time. I leave my last couple of swallows of Gatorade and thanks at the base of the rock and paddle away, thirsty.

Quick lunch on a narrow campsite on the east shore and the wind is building even more. Back in the canoe, we feel like we’re flying along as the shore speeds by. It’s hot and sunny too and we pass a group stopped on the first island site enjoying a swim. We look for the small site on another island but couldn’t find it so carried on the portage at the dam.

It’s a large grassy area, but we decided to stay there as we were going to head to Gold-Colin Scott the next morning. We found some names chiseled/etched into the flat rock paved area. Could it have been a prospector in June of ’31?

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We enjoyed the morning calm for a short paddle starting at 9:15am to the portage. We should have moved the canoe a little more out of the way at the landing for on the return trip for the second load the group that had been enjoying a swim the previous day arrived with three canoes.

Gold Lake was very different looking from what we had already paddled. It looked very boreal-like with open spaces and mosses between the trees. The water was absolutely clear pale blue crystal.

We spoke on and off over the next three portages. They were Americans that have also tripped in Temagami over the years. Their goal was Donald Lake that day. Our goal was Sportsman’s Lodge.

The portage into Donald descends down a steep rock slope. One needed to watch for small rocks that could turn into skates. I had no fear of descending too quickly though because the wind was blasting the length of the lake and up the slope.

We said our final goodbyes to the Americans and set our bow headed for the shelter of the opposite shore. This was proving to be a challenging day with headwinds. After the first crossing the group behind us was nowhere to be seen.

Lunch, on a site with a creepy windowless cabin back in the woods, prepared us for the windy crossing for the portage. The Americans said the portage was supposed to be pretty. I had visions of flat forest path with a canoe cart. Parts were quite pretty. I noticed many rocks had scratches that I assume are from being used as a snowmobile trail.

Kukagami winds centred all their might on that shore. It was difficult loading the bucking canoe. The landing for the next portage was sheltered from the wind so we could catch our breath.

I thought I had seen the brunt of the wind on the last portage but this one was a tiny inlet that seemed to receive all the flotsam and jetsam of wood and garbage.

Long slog of head down paddling wishing the west shore would be closer than it was each time I did look up. The bow smacked down a few times in some waves. I must say our Winisk is designed exactly for these conditions with the load we had.

We reach the west shore where it was more sheltered and stopped to pump some water. We were so thirsty. We look at cottages and cabins that dot the shore. One newly built mega-mansion with large concrete block retaining walls and trucked in fill for grass looks so out of place here. Other cabins were constructed of the very same wood and stone that they sit under and upon and just seemed to blend in with and complement their surroundings - I like it that way.

The wind pretty much dropped when we portaged over the sand spit and paddled up to the Lodge. Our bodies were tired but we were relaxed and happy we completed a challenging day. It was 7:30pm so we loaded up the van, said thanks and goodbye to George and headed to Sudbury for a well earned motel room.
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Post Number: 1245
Registered: 02-2004

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 - 10:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Great report.
That campsite at the portage has a lot of carvings and some mention old youth camps. Pretty unusual for a prospector to carve a name, though not unheard of.

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