Mihell to Florence Lake Loop

CanadaOntarioTemagami
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
ravensd
Trip Date : 
May 2016
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
85 km
Duration: 
5 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
32
Total Portage Distance: 
18000 m
Longest Portage: 
4000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Intermediate
Lake Travel: 
Intermediate
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
High
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

47.224928, -80.827757

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1

We drove from Sudbury early morning up to Capreol where we picked up our permits from a convenience store. From there we drove up Portelance road and picked up a logging road that took us towards the Sturgeon river, just south of Hemlow Lake. We parked at the end of the road where it meets the Sturgeon. There was once a bridge here that would allow you to drive closer to Hemlow, but it has since been torn down. We stepped out of the vehicle to clouds of mosquitos and blackflies – paying the price for high water levels. We walked our gear across the river, which was only about knee deep at this spot, but the current was quite strong. We had decided to portage our gear and canoe across the 3.5km of logging road that constituted the start of the Ishpatina overland trail. Long story short, we ended up walking an extra 2km on an unmapped extension of the logging road before we realized we were supposed to turn at an unmarked section of trail. After an exhausting 6km walk fully loaded with gear, we were happy to finally get onto Hamlow Lake. After a short paddle, we crossed a short 95m portage into little scarecrow L, and waded with the canoe up the connecting stream to Woods lake. A couple of bald eagles perched in the trees around us as we entered Scarecrow L through a small channel. With Ishpatina ridge towering above us, we continued to the far end of the lake. After the overly long portage that started our trip, we decided to avoid the 1200m portage into Mihell lake, opting instead to have a nice leasurely paddle up Scarecrow Creek. This beautiful sandy bottomed creek was full of carp swimming below us. We soon began to regret our choice as the beautiful creek soon turned into a never ending labyrinth of switchbacks, spiderwebs and liftovers. Darkness was approaching as we finally emerged out the other side (estimating it added 2 hours on the trip to go up the creek) and we set up camp on the lone site on Mihell.

 

Day 2

We awoke day 2 with a long way to travel. We were planning to reach Florence Lake to camp on that night. Beautiful weather greeted us as we paddled the short length of Mihell, and crossed a quick portage into McCulloch. Another short portage into the next lake continued into an additional 700m portage to the South Lady Evelyn river. This portage had a lot of blowdowns, and overgrowth, looking like it hadn’t seen traffic in a while. After hacking a path and portaging over and around trees, we reached the banks (or boggy ground) of the South Lady Evelyn. After a quick snack, we set ourselves downstream. We travelled the 15km to merging with the Florence river. Despite travelling during relatively high water, the levels were still quite low, requiring a combination of canoeing, wading and occasional portaging around rapids. Numerous switchbacks made the distance travelled on the river likely in excess of the stated 15km. Once we merged with the Florence river we met with a blustery headwind, making travel difficult. We pushed into Florence lake, and settled on taking the first site we could find, as the wind was picking up on the large lake, whipping up whitecaps. We camped amongst some boats seemingly left by a float plane company, which we utilized to create effective windbreaks for our camp. We got the tarps up and a fire started just as the rain settled in.

 

Day 3

The third day we continued down Florence lake. We crossed over a small sandy isthmus, investigating an old cabin that was partially collapsing, but contained an interesting collection of old objects. The end of Florence lake meant the start of a triple set of portages into Bluesucker L. These portages ranged from rocky ascents to waist deep muddy bogs, and were the toughest portages on the route. After getting stuck in the mud, and sweating from exertion we were lucky to come across a beautiful pool of water with a small waterfall, which we used to cool off and clean up. We continued portaging down a rocky dry riverbed that almost looked like a highway cutting through the thick forest. Crossing Bluesucker L and the following portage, we set up camp on Benner L to relax.

 

Day 4

We set off in the morning on our most gruelling day yet. We paddled and portaged our way from Benner L through Rodd L, Pilgrim L, Maggie L, Bill L and Samson L, then portaging into Solace L. Solace is a beautiful lake dotted with small islands. While there is a fly in fishing lodge on the lake, we did not see a soul, nor had we encountered another person during the entirety of our trip. On the next portage into Einar L, the rivets holding our yoke in sheared off on one side, which made the next couple of portages difficult. A hasty repair job would last the remainder of the trip. Continuing on, we pushed through , Biscuit L, Broadbent L, Carrying Bar L, Tooth L, Melanson L and finally crossed the 800m portage into Regan L where we set up camp for the night. In total, we crossed 14 lakes and 13 portages.

 

Day 5.

 After a quick pack up, we had one last portage, the same 3.5km portage on which we started the trip, with another 700m added on. This was somewhat easier on the return journey, as we did not take any detours, and had lighter packs without the food weighing us down. Fording the Sturgeon one last time, we were loaded up and back on the road by 10am.

 

Overall, a great adventure for those who seek a little bit of punishment, and a lot of solitude.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
Jeff's Temagami Map Ottertooth Maps