Post Number: 44
|Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 10:45 am: ||
11 days in Temagami, absolutely wonderful. Started in the Upper Yorston River area, moved through Solace into the Sturgeon, a fun trip down the Sturgeon to the Obabika, up the river and through Lake Temagami to our exit yesterday. Some good days, some rough days, and many, many HOT days. I have never experienced that kind of heat in the woods, it felt like the city with all the humidity and stickiness. But that's what swimming is for.
All in all a great trip. I may file a trip report sometime in the near future if I can find the motivation. For now I'm just trying to help my body repair from all the nicks, cuts, burns and bruises I gave it.
And before anyone takes a jab, no, I didn't break a canoe this year. Instead, I went in with an already-broken boat. Made life a little easier knowing that I didn't have to do anything to trash my vehicle.
Post Number: 731
|Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 11:00 am: ||
We'd like to see your log.
Did you fly in? Where on the Yorston did you start?
Post Number: 45
|Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 11:22 am: ||
We flew into Seagram Lake. Interestingly, in all the years that Darren has been flying for Lakeland he's never had to fly anyone into Seagram before. First time for everything! The upper section was navigable and the portages fairly easily located, although some lining and wading was required around small rapids.
Post Number: 47
|Posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 - 9:49 am: ||
OK so here it is, I have finished up a trip log. If anyone has any more specific questions do not hesitate ask me either here or by message. If I have time tonight I will edit the message to include some photos. Our trip was Friday, July 27th to Monday, August 6th, starting and finishing in the town of Temagami.
Thursday night, up to Finlayson Point.
Day 1 – Up early at 6 am. Grabbed breakfast in Temagami at around 7 and headed to Lakeland Airways to confirm my flight at 8 am. Bit of a problem with the canoe which I had reserved with Temagami Outfitters as the boat was not there, and no one was in the shop yet! We ended up renting a boat from Lakeland Airways as well, and after a little running around we were in the air by 8:30. Then we ran straight into some fog, which forced the plane down just a few miles from Seagram Lake. After about an hour on a lake (it was killing me not to fish as the bass were jumping like mad) we were able to fly again and we were in our boat, all alone, shortly after 10 o’clock on Seagram Lake.
We paddled west for a brief while through Seagram, which is a pretty lake that obviously doesn’t see much canoe traffic. The first portage out of Seagram was a real killer, as the path is hard to find and weaves around fallen logs, over rocks and through some nasty, scratchy bushes. Thankfully that was the worst we’d see all day. Had lunch at the top of the falls and continued up the Yorston River. The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, although the amount of beaver activity on the upper Yorston is impressive. Beaver lodges and broken dams to be found everywhere. We found a wonderful campsite on a portage around a small falls in the late afternoon and decided to call it quits as there were some emergency boat repairs (fixing of the carrying yoke) that needed to get done. Dinner of steak and veggies but no fish. The blackflies were nearly intolerable at this site, a harbinger of things to come.
Approximately 6 hours of travel, 5 portages totaling 0.8 km, approximately 7.5 km traveled
Day 2 – Up and off the campsite before the blackflies really got out. The trip from this point up to Bluesucker along the Yorston is very pretty. Some small sections of lining/wading with the canoe and a couple of portages before lunch on Bluesucker. Up to this point we still hadn’t seen another soul, which changed after lunch as we portaged through Benner Lake and Rodd Lake into Pilgrim. There were boats (with motors, grrrr) on Benner and again on Pilgrim. From the hooting and yelling I heard I think they had lucked into a pretty good bite on both lakes.
We took the campsite on the point in Pilgrim, enjoyed a hearty dinner and took in a fabulous sunset. Pilgrim is a beautiful lake, especially looking north from our campsite, and had we more time I would totally have spent an extra day exploring. The blackflies had disappeared and the mosquitoes were out in force this night. A new challenge every day. 
Approximately 6 hours of travel, 5 portages totaling 1.4 km plus some lining and wading; 9.1 km total travel
Day 3 – Up fairly early, out and off to Solace Lake. The first two portages from Pilgrim to Maggie and then to Bill Lake are strenuous, in particular the second portage moving west from Pilgrim. It was extremely hot and muggy this day, and my girlfriend and I were chugging water just to try and keep hydrated. The bugs on the portages were pretty brutal, as it wasn’t just one kind of bug, it was all kinds arriving simultaneously. Behind my ears looked like a minefield! This was a complete change from what we saw last year, which was essentially no bugs at all aside from the occasional flurry of mosquitoes at dusk.
Arrived in Solace shortly after 3 o’clock, not a terribly long day but difficult nonetheless. We took the campsite on the west side of Solace on the rock outcropping, one of my favourite sites in this area of the park. I’m not totally sure, but I think that the pile of wood on this site was the same one I left last summer! In any case, some kind soul had left a plentiful supply of driftwood, which is the ultimate cooking wood. Went for a long swim to cool down, had a nice dinner of pork chops, rice and veggies and enjoyed watching a near-full moon rise before crawling into bed at around 11:30.
5 hours of travel, 4 portages totaling 2.4 km. Approximately 5.2 km travel.
Day 4 – A rest day on Solace. Wasn’t quick getting out of bed, or getting around to anything really. Went for a morning paddle around the islands in the north end of Solace, saw another small group of campers who were moving east from Solace. Lunch was in-the-bush pita calzones, a first time for me and now a staple in my backcountry kitchen. So easy, and so delicious!
I think today was even hotter than Day 3, and looking back through the weather records it was almost 36 degrees! I spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging out in the water trying to stay cool. Time not spent in the water was instead spent in the hammock. After dinner (sausage wraps … yes, fresh meat on Day 4 in the sweltering heat) we went for another paddle in the southern bay, trolling around hoping for a nice dessert but with no luck.
I should note that on Solace we witnessed some truly strange loon behaviour. There was a great commotion (and a large group of loons) in the southern end of Solace on our third night, and it started up again early on Day 4. We saw a group of 9 loons, one of which was obviously distraught as it was calling out long, sad wails and behaving erratically. The loons then methodically searched the lake (as a group), heading into every bay and diving around, obviously looking for something. Steph and I figured it must have been a mate which was lost or died somehow … the loons were out and searching until nearly sundown when two or three pairs left the lake to return home. Guesses anyone?
Lastly, I had my first real encounter with a new species of biting fly. Looks a lot like a housefly, except that when they bite it’s a very sharp pain. They don’t leave a mark, but are extremely persistent and were all over my ankles all day! Sadly the only piece of shade we could find down by the water was inhabited by a nest of wasps and a nest of these horrible flies, which I dub Satan’s Flies because they love the heat, hurt like hell and are difficult to kill. Can someone please tell me what these are?
Day 5 – Steph and I decided to take the northern link from Solace to Selkirk, which in retrospect may have been a more difficult selection than heading south. It was boggy, portages were hard to locate and the trails were not in great condition. Our legs were scratched to pieces by all the scruff that we walked through, but that is part of the adventure I suppose. In high water this may be an easier way to go as the portages would be shortened significantly. I can think of at least 3 or 4 portages where we had to walk through long sections of bog and muck to reach the water. We stopped for lunch on Selkirk, which is quite a pretty lake.
From Selkirk to Ghoul Lake the portages were easily located and in great shape. Arrived on Ghoul shortly after 4. I caught a small pike just upstream of Twin Falls, which was released for good karma. We ran into a small camp of boys from Keewaydin on the Twin Falls portage, stopped and chatted for a few minutes before hopping in the boat.
Sidebar: I had a similar trip booked last year which was cut short when a lack of judgment after a long day cost us our boat at the first portage south of Twin Falls. We ended up meeting up with a camp of girl from Keewaydin who had a satellite phone that saved us (well, that and a roll of duck tape), and of all places to get stranded in this world, the campsite at Twin Falls just might be the nicest. . Not this time!
We paddled another hour or so past Twin Falls through Eaglenest Lake. At the portage where we met our demise last year, we stopped and took a few photos, and then proceeded to take the first campsite south of the portage. Had ourselves a quick dinner and then went back up to the portage for some more photos and a little session of spiteful cursing at the rock, but mostly at ourselves for falling victim to poor judgment last year. On this rock I surprised Steph with a request for her hand in marriage (she said yes, whew! A “no” would have made the rest of the trip awkward), as I figured if we could get through the nightmare that was that fateful night last year, we could accomplish just about anything. The blackflies and mosquitoes were out in force, and when they eventually got to us we returned to our campsite to call it a night.
9 hours of travel, 9 portages totaling approximately 3.7 km; approximately 12 km travel .
Day 6 – A really, really fun day on the Sturgeon. Water levels were decent, which made navigating the swifts and C1 rapids very easy. We stopped at Kettle Falls for an early lunch, took some pictures and recovered from the portage. People were not kidding, that last section is like a goat trail, but we managed without incident. Unfortunately today was a bad day for the carrying yoke, as it came separated from the canoe on 2 or 3 different occasions. I managed to hold it together, but just barely. Some poor stump on a portage took a real beating as a result of my frustration.
Ran some CI-II rapids without much difficulty and took in all the wonderful scenery along the way. The Sturgeon is a gem through this section as it winds its way through Renfrew, Perkins and other lakes along the way. We had our sights set on a campsite along the way, but when we arrived we found a veritable mound of beer bottles, toilet paper and garbage everywhere. This really did not appeal to us, and since we were making pretty good time, we ended up pushing a little more this day and it man was it worth it. . We finished our day at a spectacular campsite on a elbow lake of the Sturgeon River, so nice that we decided to spend the next day there as well. There were a couple of decent tent pads there, and we decided to set up on high ground just to be sure, even though the superior tent pad was lower down. Foresight I tell you! Surprisingly the bugs were not terrible this day until around dinnertime when the mosquitoes showed up.
It was super hot again this day, and a long swim, followed by a nice dinner of tuna, mac and cheese was in order. I caught a small pickerel for dessert, and we enjoyed our fish while watching the sun set on what had been a great day.
8 hours of travel, 9 portages totally approximately 1.3 km. About 15 km of the river conquered.
Day 7 – A rest day on the Sturgeon. I got up early to fish and succeeded, catching a nice breakfast fish to accompany our already huge meal. Another hot and sunny morning, we figured we had the day to dry out, hang out and stay cool by swimming. Man were we wrong. At around noon clouds started to roll in, and the skies progressively darkened and lowered until a nasty, boiling thunderstorm was bearing down on us hard. We packed up as much of our site as possible and jumped into the tent just as the first onslaught of rain came at around 2. It rained sideways off-and-on for the next 3 hours, and we made our escapes (when possible between showers) for food and the washroom. When we got back to Temagami some people there told us that the town got hit by a really nasty hailstorm. Thank goodness we were not in that as I’m not sure our tent could have handled much more than it did. At some points there was so much water coming down that a river was flowing underneath our tent.
The foresight I was speaking of became evident after the first real downpour, as the tent pad we had passed up was now a lagoon of water and pine needles nearly 3 inches deep. However, this spot is obviously just a crevasse on the point that has been filled in with pine needles and other junk over the years, as it drained down to a nice, level spot again within about an hour of the rain stopping.
At around 5:30 the rain finally stopped, and we were left with a misty, hazy and muggy evening. We ate dinner on a rock by the shore and watched another storm start to roll in around 9 o’clock, which ultimately chased us back to the tent. We waited out some heavy rain, and when the storm subsided for a couple of minutes we got ourselves ready for sleep.
Day 8 – Another fun day on the Sturgeon. There is considerably more in the way of C2 whitewater from this point on, and with all the rain that had come down the day before the river was up almost an inch on the small lake we were on. This came in handy as it made some rocky runs much more manageable and probably saved us a portage or two. The last section of the Sturgeon before the Gate is now my favourite, as it rolls and falls through several canyons and lakes. The scenery (if you slow down to see it) is simply spectacular. With the high water we were able to zip straight through the Gate without bottoming out, and we continued our paddle down to Upper Goose Falls. I should mention that we hadn’t seen anyone since that Keewaydin Camp at Twin Falls …. until today. This was pretty much 3 full days without seeing another soul. We met up with another camp at Upper Goose Falls, and bless their hearts they gave us a tent pad on the Upper Goose site. The prospect of having to continue downstream was not a pleasant one at this point, as we had already put in several hours of travel. That being said, we saw enough washouts and sandy/gravel beaches to make a thousand campsites the next day.
We had a nice dinner, punctuated with some popcorn (courtesy of our friends), candy and chocolate (our treat). And I watched a guy put a crawfish on the embers of a fire and eat it! Always a first for everything!
7 hours of travel, 7 portages totaling 2 km + scouting, running and lining of several rapids. 24.3 km travel.
Day 9 – Downstream on the Sturgeon to the Obabika River. Had a little trouble finding the right path off the Sturgeon due to washouts, but once we did it was an easy walk upstream. The Obabika winds and curls for what seems like hours (oh wait, it was hours), although we didn’t have many obstructions to deal with. We stopped for lunch along the banks, took a good look at the map and decided that we had no idea how far up the river we were. Gotta love that feeling. We were passed by the boys camp fairly early in the day (we were out first), and luckily we saw another couple coming down the river who advised us we were getting close to our exit. After about 2.5 hours paddling time, we reached the entrance to the glorified ditch that is the Wawiagama River. I cannot imagine what this would have been like in lower water, I’ll leave that nightmare to another canoeist. After twisting, turning and lugging the canoe through beaver dams, shallows and numerous obstructions, we arrived at Wawiagama in the early afternoon. Even though we both felt good, we decided to cut the day here as we both quite liked the look of the lake, and I was eager to get some pike fishing done. We could have used the extra hour of travel the following days. Lessons learned.
We took a nice campsite at the north end of Wawiagama, filled ourselves with some reconstituted curry and lounged in the boat through sunset. A crisp and cool night here, probably my best night of sleep all trip.
6 hours of travel, 1 portage of 900 m + numerous liftovers. 17 km of travel, but who really knows when you paddle for that long upstream.
Day 10 – Up early, on the water at a decent time and off through the east end to Obabika. Takes a while to find that portage marker in the reeds, but we did it and ripped off the easy portage. Obabika was fairly quiet when we got there, although as we got into the middle part of the lake the wind did start to pick up considerably, albeit from behind us so no big worries. The paddle through Obabika was pleasant and quite fast with the wind and waves aiding us, and we hit the 1 km portage to Lake Temagami on good time. After the portage we had our lunch and then steeled ourselves for the long paddle ahead. As a first timer on this lake, I have to say, TEMAGAMI IS HUGE. I mapped our paddle when I got back and we covered over 40 km just from Obabika Inlet to the town of Temagami. It was yet another hot, hot sunny day. Thankfully there wasn’t any significant wind to speak of because we would have been in big trouble coming out of the NW arm. We saw a few cottages, some boaters, some fishermen, but very few canoeists on the lake. This was the Sunday of the long weekend so I suppose that only fools like Steph and I would care to be on Lake Temagami. Another lesson learned, stay away from the big lakes on long weekends! Not that I didn’t already know, but I underestimated just how busy it would get.
We decided to stop for dinner at around 5 as we were tired and needed to stretch. We found a beautiful campsite just north of Bear Island, had our dinner and then paddled around Bear Island to an island campsite. Great campsite, but it was on a major thoroughfare and I must say that after not seeing anyone for several days, it was a potpourri of ignorant boaters, yellers, screamers and everything else that annoys a backcountry camper.
8 hours travel time, 2 portages totaling 1.9 km. 35 km.
Day 11 – On the water by 8:30, which was our earliest day yet. We lucked out again with the wind and water helping us out of the NE arm to Temagami. It took nearly 3.5 hours from our campsite to the town, and when you factor in breaks almost 3 hours of paddling time (Note – I mapped this again and we were making good time, almost 24 km in 3 hours ain’t bad). Arrived in Temagami, returned our boat to Lakeland, made sure there was no confusion at Temagami Outfitters and then we went for the customary post-trip gorge, which consisted mostly of things cold and dairy. The drive back to Ottawa was busy (long weekend Monday, of course) but fairly swift.
All in all this was the best trip I have taken in a very long time. The only thing I would change would perhaps be to add a day (a rest day!) to the trip, or shorten the route somewhat. Having now been back in Temagami 2 years in a row it is doubtful that I will schedule my summer trip there again next year, but I will be back. That is a guarantee.
Post Number: 114
|Posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 - 3:25 pm: ||
Great trip report Burt! Any photos?
As someone on CCR already stated, the flies were were asking about are stable flies, AKA biting house flies or ankle biters. They seem to enjoy hot weather, and .....ankles!
Weird feeling flying when the ceiling drops all of a sudden huh? Happened to us this spring on a return flight from a fishing trip. It was the first time in a float plane I can honestly say I was a little CONCERNED, although our pilot, who was actually "on holidays with Air Canada" was very calm and professional.
I was hoping to do a fly in Temagami canoe trip this late summer/early fall, but my canoe partner is getting married in September!
Congratulations to both you and Steph! What a great place to "pop" the question. Beats the parking lot of Sir Robert Borden High School.......
Post Number: 48
|Posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 - 6:28 pm: ||
I do have photos but I haven't had the time to go through and catalogue them .... stay tuned.
Post Number: 49
|Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 8:25 am: ||
Alright I have grabbed a few photos and compressed them for posting here. We took about 400 shots over the course of the 11 days, so picking wasn't easy.
Rainbow after a brief shower on Day 1.
Sunset on Pilgrim Lake
Steph and her new pet
Prelude to a big thunderstorm
The calm after the storm
Steph and I, Upper Goose Falls
Post Number: 145
|Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 3:04 pm: ||
Good flow at the Upper Goose. That's encouraging.
Post Number: 50
|Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 7:33 pm: ||
Yeah that was the day after the wicked thunderstorm that rolled through. Like I said in my trip report the water levels were up significantly along the Sturgeon, and if you go back through the records you can actually see the bump in water levels on those days. I was amazed at how much water is moving through Upper Goose, the current was so strong that even a dip at the top end was treacherous.