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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through April 9, 2008 * Trip Report < Previous Next >

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scouterfred
Member

Post Number: 2
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 5:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Trip Report on behalf of the 1st Kincardine Venturers. Six people in three boats spending ten days paddling a counterclockwise circle from Marten River Provincial Park east to Wicksteed, north through Boyce, Chokecherry, Redwater and Rabbit/Cassells/Snake Island west to Lake Temagami, south to the South Tetapaga river, Iceland Lake, Driftwood, Wasaksina, Cross, the Temagami River, east to Red Cedar Lake and back to Marten River Provincial Park.

Day 0, 06AUG2007

Left Kincardine about 6:20am. Planned to stop for breakfast in Stayner, but all the restaurants were closed for the long weekend. Stopped at a truck stop on Horseshoe Valley Road, near Hwy 400. Stopped in North Bay at 11:30 for fuel. Saw a weasel type animal (maybe a marten?) at Hwy 11 and 17. Arrived Marten River PP at about 12:15. Set up camp and arranged to leave a vehicle at the park for the duration of the trip. Went into Temagami for lunch and groceries, and to drop off our float plan at the OPP. While the adults were doing that, the kids saw a bear between the grocery store and the LCBO. Left a truck at the Mini-Putt (this may have been a mistake). Returned to Marten River PP for the night. Swam at the beach (nice beach).

Day 1, 07AUG2007

Late start after shuttling the truck to the parking area. Left at 10am. Paddled up the river to Marten Lake and entered the river again. Arrived at the Wicksteed dam at noon. Portage is in very good condition (gravel road). Put-in is a rock shelf. Paddled up Wicksteed to a campsite on the south shore where we had a cold lunch. Continued up the lake to the second last campsite (point due east of an island.). Arrived about 3pm. Nice site with a table between trees, a nice Kybo (latrine), a good deep swimming area and a decent takeout. Lots of room for four or five tents. Found a truly rare site this summer in Northern Ontario: a single, lonely blueberry at the takeout (I left it for the next bear to eat).

I hung the bear bag rope early in the afternoon and couldn’t find it later. Hung a second rope and recovered the other in the morning. Lots of firewood (mostly pine and cedar).

Day 2 08AUG2007

Windbound! A strong North-northeast wind kept us on shore until 11:30. The wind let up a bit and we crossed the lake directly into it, and made our way along the north shore to the east end of the lake. We followed the river through the marsh to the Boyce Lake portage. The portage is in pretty good condition, except watch for the loose gravel leading up to the RR line. Put-in on Boyce is pretty good (squared timbers at water level).

Paddled through Boyce. Saw a plane land near the lodge (NE bay). Spoke briefly to fishermen on an island east of the whale. The two portages out of Boyce were easily waded (a nice break too!)

Arrived at Chokecherry Lake about 5:45pm. This was planned to be a short day, so being Windbound for the morning still allowed us to reach our intended campsite. The campsite (on the island) is pretty good. Lots of room, and a nice supply of firewood (which we later discovered came from the abandoned (?) hunting camp on the east shore), and a latrine a little too near the water for my liking.

It was a clear night, and after dark we watched the stars for a couple of hours. We observed an early Persied meteor, and a satellite in addition to a spectacular view of the Milky Way. Took the opportunity to tell the story of Orion, Scorpius and Sagittarius.

Day 3 09AUG2007

Late on the water again. Left the site at 10:30. Found the portage at the north end easily. Note that there is a trail (and takeout) on both sides of the river. The trail on the north side is much better (and drier). Be sure to turn left at the intersection.

Put in at a muddy beach on the river. We were preceded up the river all the way to the last portage by a small flock of cinnamon teal (ducks). We were unable to find the take out for the first portage (dubbed “the Rock Garden“on a previous trip), so we walked up it. A little precarious, but we made it with no problems. (Although I did push one of my companions into the water accidentally at the put-in).

The next portage, the 145m warm-up was in fair shape. We cut out a couple of recently downed trees near the put-in, and cleared an ankle-twister about half-way down.

The next portage is the dreaded 340m “Goat Path”. It has not improved with age. We had to double and triple handle the boats at three separate locations. Be very careful on the hill. This one needs some attention.

The next portage is barely 80m into Lower Redwater Lake. It actually seems too short; you just get into a nice rhythm, and its over. Ate lunch on L. Redwater L. We sadly did not see the large snapping turtle we’d seen five years ago at L. Redwater. I hope he’s still kicking!

Paddled through L. Redwater to the narrows. The channel to Upper Redwater is near the tracks; we waded it. We had hoped to use the campsite at the narrows on U. Redwater, but we fund it to be small and obviously not much used. We pressed on to the portage. We passed a cottager washing her hair in the lake on the way.

Arrived at the portage at 5pm. The portage now has a small dock on the beach. There are a large number of fishing boats stashed there. There is no obvious campfire ring and lots of bugs in the bush nearby. The beach is sandy, but the lake bottom is thick mud from the end of the dock. My advice is to avoid this site if possible. The L. Redwater site is better. Or, better yet, get an early start and plan on camping on Rabbit.

Day 4, 10AUG2007

Up earlier. Kids took two boats half-way down the portage to the gravel pit, while the rest of us packed up the remaining gear. Second load left about 10:10. Completed the whole portage by 1150. Put-ins on both sides of Rabbit Creek.

Rabbit creek has two beaver dams which we crashed, Saw a moose calf (no mother) swimming in the river in front of us. The Rabbit Creek portage is in poor condition, with a rocky take-out and down fallen trees. The put-in is also rocky but easier to use. Arrived at the Rabbit lake campsite opposite the Reuben Lake portage about 1pm. High winds on the lake. As we ate lunch we discussed our options. Our plan had been to paddle to Cassells Lake and camp at a site at the Narrows. After some discussion we decided to stay at the site we were on, swim, dry our clothes (you may find one of our hand-carved clothes pegs) and relax, and get an early start the next day (a wise choice as it turned out). The site is large, with room for several tents. It has a latrine along a trail to the south and (inexplicably) a Kangaroo Crossing sign. I think the campfire is in a bad place, but it was obviously placed there to make room for more tents. It has two beaches (and a staircase from one of them), lots of firewood and a nice view of the bluff to the east. (You can hear the waterfall). The kids found the remains of an old wooden boat in the little bay behind the site. If you use this site and find a Gerber River Knife, let me know (one of our group lost his knife there).

Day 5, 11AUG2007

Up at 5:30, on the water by 7:10. Calm water (the paddling Gods have smiled on us this day). Made 6km/h for the first hour and 20.67km in 4hours and 20 minutes to Temagami. There is a nice campsite on the west (left) shore opposite Rabbit Point. I recommend it. The campsites on Cassells have a road access on the west side (lots of people there, chairs, boats, etc); and the site on the east side had a houseboat (why does a houseboat need a campsite anyway?). We saw a family of loons in the marsh at the north end of Rabbit, who let us get some great photographs. The wind kicked up just as we made the west turn on Cassells. We saw a Bald Eagle there. We were greeted by Ravens on Snake Island Lake. We arrived at the Temagami Boat Livery at 11:30.

We portaged the boats to the Government dock, and the food barrels to the truck at the Mini Putt. We had intended to spend two hours having lunch and re-supplying. We took four hours. We put in again just before 4pm, and paddled to a site on the east end of Ferguson Point. This is a nice site, at the top of a large bare granite rock. The takeout isn’t great, but the rest of the site is fantastic! There are three or more tent sites, lots of firewood and a real thunder box. The site appears to be used by local camps a fair bit. (The down side is heavy boat traffic and cottages. If you stay here, I hope you like Classic Rock).

Day 6, 12AUG2007

Thunderstorms overnight and in the morning kept us ashore until 10 am, despite an early start. Paddled in a headwind across the lake, south of O’Connor Island and Ferguson Island, then on to the mouth of the South Tetapaga River. The last stretch was very rough. Stay between the south shore and the island for a bit of protection. The S. Tetapaga campsite looks pretty good if you’re interested. We paddled up the river to the first portage, where we had lunch.

This is an evil portage.

The first 200m is easy, and scenic. It brings you to a fork in the trail and an arrow pointing skyward. Sadly you must cross the river to the left here. The “trail” becomes a dry riverbed, with a dance over loose smooth rocks, (or, as one of the kids did with my boat, simply slide it over the rocks until it stops), followed by an ascent up a muddy hill, a squeeze between two cedars, and a picky route through a narrow trail leading to a steep drop to the rocky beach. The only way to improve this portage would be several well-placed dynamite blasts. The next portage is not necessary, as the MNR (or some frustrated paddler) has cleared the logjam. We opted (inadvertently) for the 435m long portage to the Hub Road. (The take out is on the right). Just stay on the road, you’ll get there. The put-in on the south side of the road is very good. A short paddle through a marshy section leads to Iceland Lake. We skipped the portage (lots of water!) and paddled through to the lake. There were a couple of pickerel fishermen on the lake.

The portage from Iceland to Driftwood is pretty good. Stay to the right at the first fork; at the second fork go LEFT, even though you can see the lake to the right. The right path is a knee-deep muddy mess (unless that’s your thing). Put-in on Driftwood is a sandy beach. (There is also a dock with motor boats, evidently owned by a fly-in outfitter). We crossed Driftwood and entered a wide, still river that leads to Wasaksina. We saw an osprey and a couple of herons on the river. We had hoped to get the island campsite in the middle of the lake, but it had a tent and some gear on it. We later decided that this was likely a “semi-permanent” setup by the outfitter who owns the motor boats on Driftwood. We took one of the sites on the island on the southeast side of the lake. The more southerly site is nicer, but it was occupied by a kayaker. (That site has a nice latrine). The more northerly site is not very level, but it’s got lots of firewood and a nice campfire ring, as well as a decent takeout. By this time it was 7:45, and we were beat. We quickly occupied the site.

Among our new neighbors was a red squirrel. One of the adults (who knows better) fed him some GORP. Big mistake. He returned this kindness by chewing up my hatband, a dish bag and later, our bear bag.

That night was the peak the Persied meteor shower. We watched from the shore against the darkest sky I have ever been under. How dark? Well, I live in a rural area on Lake Huron. I have vacationed and / or lived and worked in Haliburton, Nipigon, Mallorytown (near Brockville), and the North Shore of Lake Erie. I have paddled on the Mag, the Spanish and in Temagami, as well as all over southern Ontario. I even spent the blackout on Lake Cecebe (east end of the Mag). I have never seen it darker. It was so dark that Jupiter (in Scorpius now) and the bright orange star Arcturus in Böötes which were low on the horizon, were reflected in the calm surface of the water. The shower itself was amazing, with more oohs and aahs than Victoria Day and Canada Day combined.

Day 7, 13AUG2007

Static day! We slept late and ate brunch on the rock facing a stiff west wind. The wind blew all day at 30-40km/h with gusts higher. It was enough to keep us ashore for the day. At least our clothes and boots were dry. That night we were treated to a second round of meteors.

Day 8. 14AUG2007

On the water at 9:45. Found the last campsite on Wasaksina (south shore, near the portage) it looks quite good. Found the portage at the west end of the lake. The description of this portage in the guidebook is a bit generous. It is better than many, but it has its moments, including a steep take out, a number of muddy spots and a couple of stretches of ankle chewing rocks. The put-in at Cross Lake is a sandy beach. We loaded up and ate lunch at a quiet spot on the water. As we started out the winds once again came up, this time right into our faces (from the SSW). We paddled on as the wind rose and fell and rose again for a couple of hours, taking breaks as they were needed. Then it started to rain. In the rain and wind I took us on a wrong turn 3km north of the dam. When I was informed of this mistake we decided to pull in. There was a nice campsite river right on the bay we’d turned into. It is spacious, flat, has a fair firewood supply and a stone Kybo. It’s worth the trip! The rain eventually let up and we settled in for the night.

Day 9, 15AUG2007

Up at 6am breakfast of oatmeal just like the Voyageurs. Calm winds and sunshine. We reached the dam by 8:30am. Over the portage, and took the put-in just below the dam. It is steep and requires some teamwork. The water level in the river is also very high. Through the first swift OK. We passed the river campsite at 10:30. The second set of rapids, “Keel Hauler” has a log or stump stuck in it near the top, requiring you to go further left than you otherwise might want. There is (was) a green canoe stuck on a rock on the left about half-way down. I dumped (broad-sided a rock) river right just below the stuck canoe. Thank the paddling Gods for Royalite! We recovered and paddled through the last half. We had lunch at the portage for the next rapid, on a high rock overlooking the river. The next rapid, “Short and Sweet” is easy. That made it kind of amusing when the two most experienced kids dumped at the END of the rapid. We paddled the upper section of Heron’s Leg, and scouted the lower section carefully. (I was a little hesitant after dumping earlier, and needed a good look). There are good spots to observe “the Notch” and the rock garden. Just follow the portage trail and watch for the side trails leading to the right. The scouting spot for the Notch is also a great place to take action pictures from. After running the notch, we eddied out river right and took the rock garden individually. I went last. As we neared the half-way point we were about to go broadside again and I remembered someone once saying “backwards is better than sideways”. So my partner and I took the last section stern first. Luckily, this was caught on tape (and it looks real impressive when run backwards).

Also impressive is the clarity of the water on the river. You can see depths that are unimaginable anywhere else.

The next rapid is a swift, but the last rapid is lots of fun thanks largely to the high water. (Cottagers in motorboats were tubing there). There is a long stretch of standing waves. Be prepared to ship lots of water!

Red Cedar is a let-down after the Temagami River. It is a large flooded lake with few interesting features and fewer campsites (and lots of motorboats). After what seemed like a never-ending paddle, we took a campsite on a point about 2km from the entrance to the Marten River. The weather began to deteriorate. It clouded over and a steady drizzle started around 9:45 changing to heavy rain by 10:30.

Day10, 16AUG2007

Up at 6am, pancakes with PB and Jam for breakfast. Drizzle and rain. On the water by 8:20. Paddled up the Marten River, wading the swifts, rapids and falls. That was a lot more enjoyable once the sky cleared. Played in the second rapid for about half an hour (nice waterfall which forms a natural spa). Clouds returned, high winds pushed us upstream and the rains soaked us. Cottages appeared more regularly. Civilization began to encroach. The river begins to meander a bit. Stick to the north shore. There is an obstacle just a couple of km below the dam (trees across the river). Stay river left through it (and duck!). We sadly reached the last portage. It seems that most people take out near the cottage resort. (The “official” take out is just to the left of the bridge.) Walk up the bank, and then right on the road (NOT over the bridge; the OTHER road). Follow it until you see a path/rough road to the right. The put-in is about another 100m. It’s a short paddle from the dam to Marten River Provincial Park. We arrived about 1pm.

Sadly when we picked up the other truck in Temagami we found that it had been vandalized. Sometime between our arrival in town on Saturday 11AUG and our return on Thursday 16AUG someone had removed every “FORD” sign from my friend’s F150. The OPP said that it wasn’t the first such instance.

I hope you found this useful.

FRED
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 755
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2007 - 11:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for the great trip report.

Curious, as to why you left the truck in town.
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scouterfred
Member

Post Number: 3
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Monday, September 3, 2007 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

The intent of leaving a vehicle in Temagami was to give us a back-out option if things went poorly (weather, physical condition, equipment problems, etc). SCouts Canada is very high on Risk Management, and we have to keep all our options open.

FRED
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bush_pilot
Member

Post Number: 120
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 2:01 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Fred
Thanks for the trip report on an area that is not too often paddled. Too bad about the truck, I have parked my vehicle at the station parking lot for about 15 years without incident.
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alscool
Moderator

Post Number: 149
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 9:19 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Well I don't like hearing about the truck incident. Hopefully things will be more secure parking at Lakeland.
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tsm
Member

Post Number: 115
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 4:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Alscool
We've had vehicles parked at Lakeland for about a total 100 nights and never had a problem. The only place we've experienced any vandalism was at Sandy Inlet, and hopefully it was an isolated case.
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scouterfred
Member

Post Number: 4
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 7:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

We did not have trouble with a truck parked at the Hub a few years ago either. Presumably this is something new that the OPP should watch for (which is why we reported it). We'll be back (and we aren't going to wait as long this time!)

(Is it still OK to park at the Station? A sign says otherwise. Parking on the main highway might be a better choice.)

FRED
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tsm
Member

Post Number: 116
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 9:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

The problem parking at the hub is finding your car after a week of parking along the road.....they all become the same colour!
I park at the hub for a week each summer, the only problem I've had is someone backed up their boat trailer into my front bumper 2 years ago.
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ca_shannon
Member

Post Number: 23
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 10:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Scouter Fred,

Thanks for the trip report. My canoe buddy and I are doing the exact same trip in about a week and a half (driving to Temagami on the 15th. I am sure that your report will help us immensely.

We have been all over in Temagami, but have never been to this area... what is the topography like; is it rocky shield, low land scrub, or a combination of the two? So are all of the rapids on the Temagami and Martin Rivers portageable? As much as a little bit of white water might be fun, I will be using my brother's Kevlar canoe and I really, really, really don't want to wreck it.

Chris

PS. If we find the missing knife we will let you know.
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bush_pilot
Member

Post Number: 121
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

You can't park right at the station but you can in the parking lot across the tracks near the recycling bins.
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scouterfred
Member

Post Number: 5
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2007 - 11:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

CHRIS:

The area is typical "blue lake and rocky shore", just like the song. There are a few low, marshy areas (noted) and sand beaches at some spots on Rabbit, Temagami Driftwood Cross and Red Cedar lakes.

The portages on the Temagami river all seem in good condition. We used the short portage around the Cross Lake Dam, and walked part of the portage around Heron's Leg to scout the rapid. It's in very good condition from the pool down. The portage around "Short and Sweet" is very steep, but the rapid is easily run, even in Kevlar. Rapid number 5 is flooded out and number 6 has a good portage, but it is merely a long set of standing waves (no obvious rocks). Marten river I simply can't vouch for the condition of all but the last portage. We waded the boats through the whole river. We didn't leave much paint on the rocks, and I'm sure you could easily wade it with a Kevlar boat.

FRED

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