Post Number: 9
|Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 12:06 am: ||
For those from my other thread, I wasn't able to do the Wolf Lake--Sturgeon--Obabika route because the group I was hoping to split a ($500!) shuttle with backed out. Thanks for all the comments there. So, I did a little walking-intensive trip around Temagami:
Late start first day, camped at the mouth of Spawning Bay on Temagami, on the south side. Site has a good thunderbox, some relics of previous development (large cement blocks, old bed frames) and coloured fabric tied to trees back in the woods a bit. (Must be a camp thing?) Incredible orange sunset, and plenty of the Temagami dragonflies I love in the evening eating the annoying bugs. I blazed a steak crispy on the outside and on the rare side of medium-rare with just some salt, which was great.
Cross-winds from the West were my reality for most of the trip, which translated into a challenging trip up the north west arm and a headwind around every corner of Obabika Inlet. Camped at the well-used site a few clicks up from the portage on the east coast. Saw ~4 canoe groups plus boats on Temagami.
Obabika was glass-smooth in the morning. A canoeing couple helped me find the portage north from Obabika into the lake with the "spire" on it. (I've only come down from the north before.) The trail is maintained, and not too bad. Logs bound with rope hold you through the marsh at the end. The dry weather kept things civil. There was a ~5 canoe camp group on the lake screaming and jumping into the water when I arrived, damping the "spiritual" aspect to the place, but beautiful all the same. There are two sites on the lake now---the kids at one south of the site marked on the Hap map. Took the portage into Bob and canoed up to the top of the lake hoping for the northern site, but found another ~6 canoe group there... and smoke rising behind them. Turns out there was a small fire between Bob and Diamond, I got a front row seat for the aerial work of spotter and water planes from the site in the south of the lake.
The OMNR were camped at the Diamond end of the portage out of Bob---I could hear their water pump from the start of the portage. Somehow the camp group missed the smoke and didn't connect the planes with a fire, but I don't think they were a group based in the neighbouhood, as it were. Saw a 'copter land dropping off supplies as I walked back for my second trip and talked to two nice firefighters about the fishing on Diamond at the end. The camp group on Bob started the portage about the time of my second trip, and a 6 canoe group with little kids from Wanapitei were coming down from the north. Sigh. Solitude eluded me this solo trip.
I paddled up past the pictographs on Diamond into Lady Ev. and took the 600m into Walsh. Ran into two fisherman and a staff from Temagami Lodge at the portage. One of them asked me if I was going to carry the canoe on the trail... believe it or not, I didn't have another canoe waiting for me at the other end. I spared them the sarcasm of course. When I got to the marked site at the south end of Walsh I found a root fire in front of the fireplace. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but when I found hot rocks in the fireplace I dug around a little and found new glowing embers in the roots. (DROWN YOUR G*DD**MF'N FIRES! ...Sorry, I can't really express my anger here.)
Next day was long getting me to Aston lake through 7 portages totaling about 4.5 km. And they're not pretty. Hills, swamps, and boulders make things "strenuous," and I had multiple times where I had to flip my canoe down onto one (now bruised) arm to fit through trees. Again, dry conditions---which made the fire above even more irresponsible---made the portages much easier. Jackladders built in 2008 are in good shape on the longer portage (1.4k? I don't have the map in front of me). There are a number of sections with pretty serious windfalls that if a group with several axes and saws had some time could do some good. I stopped to snap back some bushes and branches that were growing into the trails, but again a larger group could make quick work of this. There are two cabins on Siridivan Lake which I was disappointed to see (is it legal to have a place on the shore there?) but saw no people. Of course, there were many fishermen on Aston. Plenty of wind but not much rain, sunset was beautiful from the island site at the top of the lake.
Aston was relatively calm in the morning and the 1.1k trail to Whitefish Bay is fine, except for one recent large windfall which forces you to scramble under three downed trees from about 3ft to 5ft off the ground and drag loads under or lift canoes over. I exited the trail at a mucky opening in the reeds a few hundred metres from the actual take out that I saw as I paddled away. I walked the canoe through some sand (enough water to float the canoe) to get out of the reeds, cutting the trail short.
I had a light tailwind coming down into the North Arm of Temagami, with some strange weather---visible patches of rain and blue patches between clouds. This tail wind from the north became a wicked crosswind just as I was passing Keewaydin as the north arm opens into Granny's Bay. Of course. In my too-long rental canoe (17') this was a serious challenge in the midst of a long paddle. I brought an extra 30L dry bag to fill with water (so ~70lbs) for ballast in the bow, and it was a great decision. It fit wrapped around the stern handle (name?) for partages. I fought over to the site at Devil point and sat the wind out for a while. Continuing down the north arm I had an amazing ~30 mins of suddenly glass-calm water and no-one else on the lake. No motor boats on the horizon, no canoes. It was wonderful. Then some boats appeared to the south and I passed five canoes coming north in a long line with a logo of a blue field on top of green with a circle in the centre. I camped at the site at long island where I found yet another undoused fire, this one still with billets smouldering. With the serious winds, orange embers were being kicked up, and I doused it with my nalgene. Also, I forgot that Canadian Adventure Camp blasts music at night (late for camps to be in session, no?) Anyway, I enjoyed the site regardless, and someone left behind some cedar.
Paddled to the end of the mine road in another relatively serious south/west wind, island hopping to take out around 1 pm. (And, don't motorboaters slow down when passing canoeists anymore? I know I was in the main channels, but I've always tried not to make the waves worse for anyone sweating for their mileage.)
Obviously there were some frustrations finding crowds and seeing dangerous irresponsibility around fires, but the beauty of the region was stunning---especially some incredible sunsets. I saw plenty of loons up close, lots of frogs, snakes, seagulls, chipmunks, and bugs, and not much else. I was hoping for something in the small marshy lakes between Walsh and Aston, but no luck on moose, water mammals, etc.
After taking it relatively easy tripping with my father the last few years, it was good to tough out some serious trails. I only wish I had an extra few days to turn north from Lynx lake and cut through Turner--Eagle--Little Eagle--White Water--Anima Nip. Maybe next year. With a few rest days a route including Bob and Little Eagle would make a nice walking / hiking tour through the trails and lookouts.
(Message edited by gravitysrainbow on August 25, 2011)
Post Number: 1084
|Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:53 am: ||
I like your idea about using a 30L dry bag full of water for ballast, but I would suggest that you don't tie it in in case you do go turtle. Better to have the bag drifting about or sinking than risk taking the whole canoe down with it. Then again, your canoe may have lot's of flotation.
Sounds like it was pretty busy out there in Temagami.
I think I will stay home for a while, until it gets quieter and all the campfires get put out.
It almost sounds like you were tripping through Algonquin.
Post Number: 10
|Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 1:40 pm: ||
Thanks Ed, about the bag, I tied it in during portages, not while I was paddling. It didn't hold water perfectly, especially if it was lying flat instead of propped up, but I think it worked really well overall. And it pushed my load above 350lbs, which you really need, I think. Unless you were in a river and it could get caught on something, the bag could only increase the flotation of the canoe, because there's some air in it... and the rest is water, i.e. neutral for buoyancy.
And Ed, apparently we need _more_ people out there: people who know how to drown a fire
Post Number: 1086
|Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 3:41 pm: ||
Many years ago in Algonquin I came across a fire that was still going strong underground at the north end of Opeongo. We found another one in Killarney on the hiking trail several years ago. This one was still burning well... They had simply left it going as they moved on....On another site we stayed at, the previous occupants had burned candles, about a dozen of them, the previous night and left the remains where they happened to be.Presumably they were afraid of bears? or wolves? and this must have been their way of feeling more comfortable.
In Temagami we sometimes find fireplaces assembed on organic soils. Not often, but when we do we destroy them.The campsite at the north end of Obabika where you access the trail to the "spire', Shish-Kong Abikong, or the place of the big rock is popular for building fires in the bush where they should not be built.Usually this seems to happen when people are still travelling late in the Season, after September.
There was a discussion about the use of rocks as ballast on myccr.com a few years ago for solo canoeists and it was concluded that if you tipped, the rocks might stay in the canoe if they got caught under the small deck in the front of the canoe, causing you to lose buoyancy in some cases.
I sometimes use rocks in very adverse conditions when going solo, but I have never tipped in strong winds.But I suppose it can happen.
Aston lake is a nasty place when the winds are strong.
Sounds like you had a good trip in spite of the problems you encountered.
Post Number: 344
|Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 6:13 pm: ||
Great report, I've heard the Muskego area is under used and wild, at least by canoeists. There is a good pic of the water bomber on the FOT facebook page.
We came across a smoldering fire this spring on the Yorston and put it out but that is all I can recall.
Post Number: 11
|Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 8:35 pm: ||
Thanks alscool, I actually had to stop and take a picture of one of (!) the boulders you have to scale between Walsh and Aston. I'm glad it was dry.
There was plenty of red and green paint on the rocks. I managed it with the canoe properly on my shoulders. I'm not sure the picture shows it well, but it's pretty steep, and has a narrower twin a few metres up the trail.
(plus you see my souris river kevlar rental, pfd, bowline, paddle bungied in place and t-shirt shoulder pads.)