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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 2:56 pm 
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I have spent some time going over maps and trip reports and came up with a tentative plan. I am looking for some input.

A shuttle to Pikititushi Lake. Paddle (and portage) From Pikititushi Lake to White Clay Lake - 5 days?

From White Clay Lake to the northwest corner of Whitewater Lake (at least) — 1 day?

Whitewater Lake to the the very bottom of Smoothrock Lake - 5 days?

The very bottom of Smoothrock Lake to Kenakskaniss Lake via the Boiling Sand River to Shawanabis and Boulder. (Or via Spring Lake to Shawanabis and Boulder. I haven’t seen any information about this latter option and I do see it involves a 1086 meter portage. But the total portaging in terms of numbers of portages and distance are quite close between the routes. So a lot depends on the condition of the 1086 meter portage. There is a lodge nearby so it could be maintained. I would have to get more information about all those portages. The route, if maintained, seems to offer a little less time between campsites.) - 5 days?

Kenakskaniss lake to the takeout (the vehicle having been shuttled) at Bukemiga. 3 days?

Any information, concerns or suggestions?


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 5:36 pm 
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Quote:
From White Clay Lake to the northwest corner of Whitewater Lake (at least) — 1 day


no more like two or three if the winds are up.. Why are you going to the NW corner? The NE is closer to the chain of lakes that go to Smoothrock. We did Best Island to Whiteclay in one very long day.. and that was going downriver on the Ogoki.

You will be going upriver.


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 5:48 pm 
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Your right. I should have said NE corner. That's what I meant.

I was just now noticing the third volume of the Wabakimi project's maps apparently covers not only the Boiling Sand River to Shawanabis route but even I think the Spring Lake route discussed in my post.


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 6:04 pm 
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I think that NW is a typo on ipaddle's part! It certainly would add some extra and unnecessary kilometers on to an already long paddle into the prevailing NW or SW winds! Whitewater Lake and Whiteclay Lake are long open spaces.

Something you might consider is doing the route in reverse - i.e. starting from Bukemiga and paddling to the top of Kenakskaniss via that very scenic stretch of the Kopka - the Seven Sisters - that you have already paddled.

That way you'd get to do the Boiling Sand downriver, as well as the Ogoki River system from Whitewater Lake all the way down to the mouth of the Raymond. Then after may 20 km of Raymond upriver, you'd head through the Annette Lakes and Butland Lake to get the Pikitigushi downriver all the way to your take-out point at the Boucher Camp south of Pikitigushi Lake. You'd also be less likely to run into wind problems this way.

No matter what you choose, this sounds like one epic trip with some of the best of Wabakimi has to offer - the gorge section of the Kopka, a visit to the rapidly decaying Beckwith cabins and abandoned Ogoki Lodge complex, the pictographs at Cliff Lake. You'll find that the Wabakimi Project has covered most of this route with the portage clearing crews and have produced detailed maps. You can check out my posts on the route from the mouth of the Raymond River on Whiteclay all the way to the Pikitigushi take-out spot.

BTW - are you doing this solo?

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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 6:31 pm 
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Yes I am contemplating doing this trip solo. Though it is very possible I will end up taking on a partner or partners. I built in extra time for solo paddling - perhaps not enough. If I put my mind to it I can make pretty good time solo though.

Well I never thought of the Kopka section in reverse. I guess that could be done. I would have to get past the last falls - maybe take the alternate portage - instead of the one with the steep drop.

Is there a fair amount of current between Whitewater Lake heading to White Clay Lake? I was of the impression that everyplace else on this route could be paddled both ways. But I didn't have any information on that section.


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 7:05 pm 
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True North, I read your trip report when it first came out and I went over it the last few days. It made for enjoyable Christmas afternoon reading. In fact I have already printed out some of your annotated maps and put them with my other maps. I have pasted most of your comments in order into a word document with other bits and pieces of information - that I will print and take. So thank you for the report! I have wanted to visit Cliff Lake since I first read it.

The more I think about it - I like the idea of doing this in the reverse order I was contemplating. Thank you for that input. In that case if my time isn't doing well I could inform my shuttle driver that I want to end my trip at Little Caribou. That would not be my plan but even then I would at least paddle up and spend a couple days on Cliff Lake. Might even drive myself there.

I didn't plan any time at Best Island. I already camped there several days. If I happen to camp there all the better. It is not far out of the way.


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 7:45 pm 
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ipaddle, a friend of mine drove up to the Boucher Camp on the Pikitigushi River last summer and left his vehicle with the Bouchers. It took him a day to canoe up to Cliff Lake. He spent a couple of days on the lake paddling by what may have been every pictograph panel!

Smoothrock Lake - no matter which way you come at it! - will be where you decide to stick to the original plan or head for an early take- out at the south end of Little Caribou Lake. It should take you perhaps two and half weeks to three weeks to do the proposed route.

You might send Clement Quenville an email about the shuttles. He could drop you off at Bukemiga and then have your vehicle waiting for you at the Boucher Camp - or at Little Caribou. Mattice Lake Outfitters can also do the shuttles - they did ours. You have a Spot Connect or InReach to send emails while on the move?

Re: my report. We did exactly that with a report of yours in 2012! It was your report on the Kopka River that finally convinced my bro and I to check out a river we had never even heard of - so thanks for that! That trip was amazing - especially the time we spent in the dramatic falls section. As usual we pushed on and did not spend enough time there. We talk of going back and spending more time to savour it all.

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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 8:03 pm 
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Yes, I have an inReach.

Did you friend call the Boucher folks ahead of time? I think I found their Thunder Bay phone number today.


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2016, 10:19 pm 
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Whitewater to Whiteclay has some rapids. IIRC two portages
Not a two way street. You'd portage anyway so this feature is unimportant


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2016, 12:51 am 
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Thank you for the invitation to offer "any information, concerns or suggestions" regarding your proposed Wabakimi trip.

My first concern is your initial choice of the direction of travel. I endorse the recommendations of both true_north and littleredcanoe that the route should be done in a clockwise direction in order to avoid prevailing winds and challenging upstream travel, especially if undertaken as a solo trip.

Regardless of which direction you ultimately choose to travel, your "tentative route" involves crossing the continental Height of Land at least once if not twice. Most of your chosen route lies in the Ogoki River basin of the Arctic watershed and is fully documented in Volume Three (Ogoki River & Southern Tributaries) of the series of Wabakimi Canoe Route Maps booklets prepared by The Wabakimi Project and now published by Friends of Wabakimi.

Volunteers of The Wabakimi Project continue to explore and map the routes that lie in the Atlantic watershed of the Wabakimi Area all of which will ultimately be published in Volume Five (Lake Nipigon & Northern Tributaries). Exploration of all the routes you mentioned in your post have already been completed and mapped.

Friends of Wabakimi (FOW) offers complementary route advice to its members. If you require further route information, I encourage you to join our not-for-profit conservancy organization in order to enjoy this membership benefit.

Meanwhile, I have a question . . . where is the 1086m portage and "the lodge nearby" you mentioned in your original post.

Good luck with your trip planning! Send me a PM if you need further assistance.


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2016, 11:55 am 
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Phil,

Thank you for your comments.

The 1086 meter portage I was referring to is at the very bottom of the west leg of Smoothrock Lake. There is an outpost camp 2 or so kilometers above it. Maybe "lodge" was the wrong terminology. The portage and its route leads to Onamakawash Lake - not Spring Lake as I said in my original post. If the portages were good one could make their way from Boulder through Shawanabis to Smoothrock.

Why would I want to join an organization that has done nothing but save me hours and hours and hours of time and work! Probably should be counted in days not hours. Look for my application with the order for volume 3 of the map set.


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2016, 1:30 pm 
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Ah the portage that used to be dubbed "Fantasia Portage". Its a level walk and it used to be beautiful.. Open black spruce forest with blueberries and caribou moss everywhere.
Alas it had a fire and blowdown.. and now its kind of regenerating.

It took us four hours to double carry it back in 1991. We had to gather blueberries. Its hard to stop gathering blueberries. Eventually we thought to check on other animals that might also be gathering blueberries.


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2016, 5:37 pm 
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lpaddle: On behalf of the volunteers of The Wabakimi Project and the directors and officers of Friends of Wabakimi (FOW), thank you for your kind words about our canoe route conservancy initiative in The Wabakimi Area. The FOW Application for Membership form and the Wabakimi Canoe Route Maps Retail Mail Order Form can be downloaded from our website at: http://www.wabakimi.org.
Quote:
The 1086 meter portage I was referring to is at the very bottom of the west leg of Smoothrock Lake. There is an outpost camp 2 or so kilometers above it. Maybe "lodge" was the wrong terminology. The portage and its route leads to Onamakawash Lake - not Spring Lake as I said in my original post. If the portages were good one could make their way from Boulder through Shawanabis to Smoothrock.
The upstream route from Smoothrock Lake to Onamakawash Lake is via the Lookout River and "Fantasia Portage" does actually lead to Spring Lake. Its tape measured length is 1147m with campsites at or near each landing and no less than 5 others on Spring Lake. There are 6 more portages to Onamakawash Lake none of which exceeds 200m. The "drop and pool" nature of the hydrology above "Fantasia Portage" makes upstream travel doable in a single day.

The outpost on the W shore of Smoothrock Lake just N of the mouth of the Lookout River is a satellite of the lodge located on the W shore of the large island that occupies most of the lake. Paddlers prefer to use the narrower and more protected "west arm" of the lake to avoid encounters with motor boat traffic from the lodge.


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PostPosted: December 28th, 2016, 7:53 pm 
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lpaddle: Regardless of the ultimate choice of your direction of travel, here are the insertion/extraction points available in the Armstrong area that I've categorized by the roads that provide access/egress.

Airport/Pikitigushi Road
1. Pikitigushi River - closest road access point to Cliff Lake

Caribou Lake Road
2. Little Caribou Lake - provides access to Caribou Lake & Smoothrock Lake
3. Caribou Lake - alternate, more exposed route to Smoothrock Lake

Trail Lake Road
4. Prairie Portage - leads to Tamarack & Smoothrock Lakes via Boiling Sand River
5. Tamarack Lake - provides direct access via a short portage

Highway 527
6. Bukemiga Lake - provides access to the “Seven Sisters” & Kenakskanis Lake

Obonga (Lake) Road
7. Magotte Lake - leads N via a short portage to Kenakskanis Lake


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PostPosted: January 1st, 2017, 2:50 pm 
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Concerning the section from Smoothrock to Bukemiga via the Lookout river, my wife and I paddled this section the summer before last. The portages were all in good condition at that time. The "Fantasia" portage was quite easy. We made it to the take out at Bukemiga in 5 1/2 days, although they were all fairly long days and we didn't have wind or rain to contend with.


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