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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through October 17, 2015 * Portage conditions - Ishpatina area < Previous Next >

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canoedog
Member

Post Number: 60
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 10:47 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

A heads up for anyone contemplating a Temagami trip, just back from the Ishpatina area- used the Nastawgan from Stull Ck to Hamlow and then up to Woods Lk. Lots of winter blowdown in the area on ports and the trail up to the ridge also had numerous blowdowns on it. Heard thru the grapevine the ports north of Scarecrow from Smoothwater down are probably in the same shape and I say a good chance throughout the canoe area in general especially in the balsam fir understory areas!
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1688
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 5:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Add portages around the North Lady Evelyn River. You can see tops of trees knocked off along shorelines and some portages are in rough shape.
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 7:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

It took my partner and I a full day to get from Smoothwater Lake to Sunnywater, a total of about 3 km. While their were some blowdowns, most of the trail was covered by conifers which had been cut down and left on the trail making the portage extremely difficult and slow going. The next day we encountered a man on the portage into Gamble Lake who was 'brushing' the portage and advised that he had been through the area in the winter on his ski doo and cut down a lot of trees with his chainsaw that were hanging over the trail following an ice storm. He admitted that he had not returned to clean up the huge mess he made. I told him it looked like an act of mischief they way all of the trees were left literally right on the portage for hundred and hundreds of meters. He thought it was fairly entertaining and suggested anyone could maintain the portage trails since the MNR didn't. Most of the trails between Scarecrow and Smoothwater were in spring conditions. Those between Smoothwater and Gamble still have not been cleared of this guy's mess.
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1689
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 8:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Was he using a chainsaw? Neither the chainsaw or snowmobile are legal in the park.
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 2
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 8:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

He had what looked like a complete trail clearing kit including a chainsaw and several other gas powered tools. He had a hard hat and a face shield on and I passed a hand made wooden box that contained slots with all of the necessary maintenance fluids in it. He told us he was a cottager, his double hull motor boat was beached and tied at the end of the portage. He told us that anyone could maintain the portage trails. He was a tall slender man, about 60 years of age. Nice enough but we were pretty upset to find him after cursing the SOB who had very obviously cut and felled hundreds of conifers onto the trail particularly since he asked us about the condition of the trails we had covered.. that's how his winter chainsaw story came up.
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1690
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 9:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

I suspect he will clean up his mess. Around Temagami there are special individuals keeping their local trails clear and seeking no credit. All the ones I know are extremely diligent and hardworking, and not always canoeists. So we unknowingly give credit to MNR for work done by others.

But don't let me take the subject away from portage conditions. We know there is a wide east-west swath affected across the northern park. The question that would help many is: how far south does the ice storm damage go?
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 381
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 5:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

But what if he doesn't clean it up?
BTW right after an ice storm (same winter) is NOT the time to clear a road or trail after an ice storm, as many of the trees will rebound and straighten up considerably in the spring. For example I have a cedar next to my house whose top was stuck to the ground for 4 months after the S. Ontario ice storm in 2013, and it is now back where it belongs, 30 feet in the air...
Sounds to me like the trail was being cleared inappropriately, Brian. Besides, my memory of those portages is that they are useless to anyone but canoeists, so why would a non-canoeist bush them out if not for ATV or snowmobile access??
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 3
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 10:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I have no expectation that he will clean them up as he told us he very rarely gets back there, because he doesn't canoe. Unfortunately, for my taste, he was a little too entertained by our account of dealing with the very difficult portages. I believe he cut the trees so he could get through with his snowmobile and never gave a second thought to coming back to clean up the mess he made. I do not want to belabour the point but his 'work' and the resulting delay caused us to have to change our trip... it was literally bushwhacking for 3km. I will add nothing more.
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doublebend
Member

Post Number: 46
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Monday, June 1, 2015 - 3:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I'm just back last night from a 16-day solo trip up that way that was among the hardest I've ever done. Trail conditions are deplorable! Add in a couple of snowstorms and several sub-zero nights and you can imagine it was a real hoot! Barometer never moved in the same direction for more than 12 hours the whole time!

The route I took was only 90-some kms, but included just shy of 20kms of portages. Because I don't travel particularly light and the route included some brutally steep trails I had to triple carry sections of, I ended up walking almost 65kms on those trails. I can honestly say that by the time I reached the bushwhacking section of my trip I was already tired of bushwhacking...

The entire area between Ishpatina and North Lady Evelyn/Florence/Bluesucker etc. is a mess. Not just cut by snowmobilers on portage trails. The forest floor is littered EVERYWHERE with Christmas trees. Mostly spruce & balsam about baseball bat size or larger at the butt end broken off from the tops of stumps that are usually 20 or 30-odd feet in the air. All those I moved were broken, not cut, and I dragged hundreds, maybe even thousands throughout the trip. I only had one trail out of more than 30 I didn't have to clear, and that was only 45m long.... I sawed through complex tangles like pick-up stix to clear every portage I crossed except the lower end of the long Sunnywater to Gamble trail where there are still some tangles I couldn't be bothered tackling. Had to actually crawl on hands and knees carrying packs/dragging canoe through two tunnels there.

I had to leave a lot of larger-diameter blow-downs 'coz only had a small folding hand saw.

I wouldn't come down too hard on anyone clearing trails in there power tools or not. Ontario Parks sure doesn't appear to be on the ball.

I spoke to a local about the winter conditions and it was hard to believe it was Ontario he was talking about while describing the snow depths in some places.

Grncnu, you'd have to see the extent and severity of this phenomenon to understand why some serious chainsaw action is really required there. How many times would you like to/could you portage through your cedar while you're waiting for it to straighten back up? :-)

Fredforest, your canoe was green? I hope you were single-carrying? :-/
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 4
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Monday, June 1, 2015 - 4:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Our canoe was, in fact, green. I expect you saw some it along the trails where we dragged it under, over, along. We were definitely on our hands and knees, as well. We planned to single but the uncertain condition of the portages and dangerous footing resulted in a change of plan. I certainly don't want to come down hard on people who believe they are trying to help. I don't believe the fellow I came across had actively set out to make life difficult.
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 383
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 1:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Doublebend, I don't want to belabour the point either, and I definitely feel for you (I've done Smoothwater to Gamble several times, double portaging and clearing all the way on the return trip, so I can well imagine what that must have been like in the horrendous conditions you describe).
Just sayin'... it sounds like the section described by fredforest was "cleared", not for canoeists but for snowmobiles (illegal in the park), and the bent trees that are going to rebound would be well on their way to straightening up by the time you can float a canoe.
Anyhow I've always felt that a huge part of the allure of wilderness canoe routes is that they are, and have been for thousands of years, cleared and maintained by the users alone. I suppose the government could send in an army of chainsaws and clear every last trail to a standard width of 10 feet, but it just wouldn't be the same.}
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doublebend
Member

Post Number: 48
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 7:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

You gotta understand, we're not talking about bent trees. They're the minority. There is a widespread area of BROKEN trees -- snapped off and launched like a missile strike towards the forest floor, portages, campsites and everything else. Portages snowmobilers couldn't possibly run on are choked just the same.

And although I'd normally be last in line to stick up for motorheads, if you look at how Temagami has been carved up into a patchwork of parks, conservation reserves and full-on industrial forest, it's impossible for them to get around without crossing parks. Just like it's hard for canoeists to avoid motors. The zoning and regulations make it a headache for everyone, no matter what your perspective.

In my experience, I've generally welcomed any trail maintenance they've provided.

As for user maintenance, I'm 100% in favour. The majority of the park fees go to permit enforcement rather than maintenance. Which brings me back to Fredforest. I was cursing you on that trail until it occurred to me that you might be single carrying and that's why you left the trail in such deplorable condition, but now that I know you walked back for second loads and left all that s#£t on the ground........
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 5
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 9:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Dblbnd,
You can't be serious? You are cursing me because we didn't clear the trail to meet your expectations? Really? You have no idea how much trail we cleared. We were clearly the first party through there this season. You have no clue what we encountered. Imagine what you encountered but worse. We pulled out our machete and bucksaw and stopped our holiday. We spent literally hours. We covered three kilometres in a day where we would normally cover twenty just so we could open the trail for you, which you appear not to appreciate. We changed our trip plan so that we could leave the trail in better condition than we found it but we had a flight to catch back to Temagami so we had to manage our time carefully. Not really sure why you would be cursing me since we are all here to help each other, which was the point of the thread.
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doublebend
Member

Post Number: 49
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 10:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

K. I take that back. I didn't notice much evidence of trail clearing through that leg, and the area from McCullough up through Sunnywater to Gamble was the only place I saw evidence of previous travel. I cleared all the leg grabbers I could.

We're actually fortunate that the odd Motörhead goes through with power tools keeping the trails wide so it's possible to work around a lot of the mess. The trails on the upper South Lady Evelyn which are quite narrow were completely choked. It took two hours of cutting to clear the 500-odd meter portage just up from the Florence River before it could be carried. It still needs someone with a chainsaw or lotsa muscle to finish the job. All in, I dragged trees clear from 33 of the 34 portages I carried.

The other thing to worry about this year are the number of widow makers hanging there waiting to torpedo unsuspecting travelers/campers.
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 6
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 6:54 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

We went south from Gamble to trout streams and the falls, then on to Sucker Gut.
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doublebend
Member

Post Number: 50
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 7:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

How were the ports along the Lady Evelyn?
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doublebend
Member

Post Number: 51
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 7:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Here's a few pix to show the extent of the tree-topping.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18860396/Temag ami%20Christmas%20Tree%20Blowout/index.html

This is typical of anywhere in the NW of Temagami right now. You can't go more than 30 feet without encountering a Christmas tree.

There's a shot in there showing broken trunks along a shoreline, and another of one of my camps with hangers to left and right of the tent.

In retrospect, I can't beleive I came back without any pictures of the choked portages. They would have made for interesting GoPro video.
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1692
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 9:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Redforest, did you find the same horrific trail conditions all the way to Sucker Gut?
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1693
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 10:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Just spoke to Andrea Wilson. They have the same situation at Cabin Falls.
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fredforest
Member

Post Number: 7
Registered: 11-2014
Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 1:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

For context, my party has likely done in the range of thirty backcountry trips. The portages between Scarecrow and Sunnywater were our first taste of what to expect and they were honestly like nothing we had ever seen. We left the site at the mouth of the portage into Marina L. at 0830 and decided to stop at the first site on Sunnywater at 4pm because there was no way we could reasonably go further. Between Sunnywater and Gamble the portages were especially difficult but the second half of the 2085 was like a carpet of 8 foot conifers lying on their side for a thousand meters... straight bushwhacking, stumbling, tripping. We all fell at least once and were lucky to have had no serious injuries.
South from Gamble to Sucker gut, most of the trails are along the river and across rocks and boulders so they were much more in line with what we expected. We were running out of time so could not take in Cabin Falls area.
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canotmaitre
Member

Post Number: 15
Registered: 06-2007


Posted on Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 8:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Winter blowdown in the Smoothwater area also affects some of the smaller access roads as well. Here is a look at Liskeard Lumber Road, between Kaa and Gamble lakes taken May 16th.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/23052207/_MG_4 393%20Webcopy.jpg
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1695
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Friday, June 12, 2015 - 2:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I posted a Canoeist Advisory on this to News Briefs. So far the damage seems limited to Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park.

http://www.ottertooth.com/Temagami/newsbriefs.htm
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redpaddler
Member

Post Number: 1
Registered: 06-2015
Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 3:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Just got back from a canoe trip from the bridge at Gervais Landing Sturgeon River to Selkirk, to Solace, to Tooth, to Regan, and back. Wish I'd seen this site before as we had originally planned a much longer trip however due to the conditions of the portages our route was shortened. In particular, the portage east from Ghoul Lake was extremely difficult, several large downed trees across the trail. Having only canoed the west side of Algonquin Park the conditions of the portages and minimal signage of the Ishpatina area took some getting used to. Now that I know what to expect I'll be back soon!! :-)
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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 1313
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 12:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I was speaking to an Ontario Parks backcountry maintenance person the other day and he advised they had gone down the road past the Gamble Lake area to the Lady Evelyn River clearing away winter tree fall.They also cleared the route from Gamble going west to Sunnywater and the route from Kaa south through Barr and Wabun to Sunnywater.
From Smoothwater Lake they went south to Scarecrow clearing as they travelled.
So the portages in that section of the LESWPP are getting back to more normal conditions, following a bad winter of ice storms.
For more detailed information, I suggest you call Finlayson PP in Temagami.
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1709
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 1:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I just heard from Keewaydin. There is lots of storm damage between Anvil and Mendelssohn lakes.
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undecidable
Member

Post Number: 1
Registered: 07-2015
Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 11:26 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Just came back from a weekend trip (was supposed to be my first week solo trip) from Chance Lake to Katherine. Liskeard Lumber Rd was in great shape and portages all the way to Cabin Falls were fine. Just a note though; the Liskeard Lumber Rd ends at Chalice Lake and not the Lady Evelyn River like it did 10 years ago when I was up there. Made the mistake of thinking it was the river and lost a couple hours paddling around till I figured it out
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brian
Moderator

Post Number: 1712
Registered: 02-2004


Posted on Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 8:37 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Here's an update I posted to News Briefs with info on Parks plan for more clearing:

http://www.ottertooth.com/Temagami/News/newsbriefs -163.htm

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