Lady-Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
James Morgan
Trip Date : 
June 03, 2017 - June 09, 2017
Additional Route Information
105 km
7 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
16650 m
Longest Portage: 
3300 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

We decided to charter a float plane from Lakeland Airways to take us, and our canoe, from Red Squirrel Lake to Sacrecrow Lake. Red Squirrel Rd is a gravel road in good condition, with a good parking lot at the access point. We drove our car to the parking lot and the plane picked us up from on the water so that we could paddel out to the access point.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1

We left a friend's house in North Bay early in the morning to get breakfast, fill up on gas, and make our way to Lakeland Airways in the town of Temagami. We paid for our flight and confirmed the specifics, as the pilot of the float plane would be picking us up from Red Squirrel Lake at Noon. The plane ride was an amazing experience, with not a cloud in the sky. We charted the plane from Red Squirrel Lake to Scarecrow Lake, having a relaxing first day on Scarecrow Lake with time to do the Ishpatina Ridge Trail and some fishing. The trail took a little under 2 hours to climb up, while only taking 40min to descend; the view at the top was spectacular. The fire tower, while still mostly intact, was quite the experience to climb as the wind at the top was fierce and the view breathtaking. After our descent we made our way to our island campsite while collecting wood along the way. After arriving back at our campsite for the night we had some luck and caught a pike on a hula popper, a perfect end to the day.

Day 2 – 8.8km

We decided to sleep in this morning, as we had both been woken up numerous times during our short sleep at a friend’s the night before. It was an overcast day, with a drizzle that accompanied us from morning until mid-afternoon. Given the decently high water levels, we decided to try paddling up Scarecrow Creek – a decision we would soon regret. The upriver travel was very slow, with many dams having to be waded. After hours of paddling we were not even halfway up the creek, and the decision was made to turn around to do the 1260m and 60m portage to get to Mihell Lake. The descent of the creek took a fraction of the time, but our spirits were already down and it was only day 2, but we were happy we turned around. After exiting the creek, the two of us stumbled across an old fishing cabin on the north shore of Scarecrow L which had an interesting diary of old fishing logs. The bugs along the portages were nightmarish, with both black flies and mosquitoes tormenting our every move through the bush - this never stopped over the trip. We then made camp that night on Mihell Lake, with a swim, some hot tea and dinner, and gorgeous sunset from our hammocks as a reward for the woes encountered that day.

Day 3 – 12.0km

The start to the day was the same as the day before, an overcast day with some rain. At the north end of Mihell Lake we were met with a lone cow moose feeding in the water, a great way to start the day. We finished the quick portage into McCulloch Lake, stopping to try an hour of fishing with no luck. We continued on, making the numerous portages to Apex Lake and up into Smoothwater Lake. The many lakes through this route all had different colours, ranging from a deep blue to bright green to a dark red, a truly fascinating stretch of paddling. Arriving here in the afternoon with now blue skies, we were ambitious we could cover more ground to make up for the lost time the day before (even if it took us into the night). After we were a little more than half way across Smoothwater Lake, black skies started to overtake the inviting blue sky rapidly. Within minutes we were in the middle of a massive thunderstorm, paddling for our lives with some waves breaching the side of the boat. The wind, rain, and waves made it impossible to make any ground, as we could only steer and hold on. We managed to get to shore and clear-cut a small area for our tent and tarp, soaked to the bone. Glad to be alive, we changed into dry clothing and make dinner. Both of us slept little that night.

Day 4 -  18.8km

This was by far the longest day of the trip, fueled by adrenaline from the previous night and our worrying that we had not made nearly sufficient ground yet. We encountered our first people of the trip; some fisherman staying at the portage between Marine Lake and Smoothwater L. These kind people helped us with our gear across the 95m portage. The wind picked up just as we arrived at Sunnywater L, but the lake was still magnificently clear, you can see almost 25m down! After stopping for lunch at the east end of the lake, we continued the long day of portaging. The 2km portage at Junction L ended up being well over 3km, as we decided to not put the canoe in the marsh and continue straight through to Gamble Lake. Given the already made trail, I assume this is the preferred way of travelling this section. This portage drained us, but was still gorgeous as there was a stream that ran through it. After exiting the bug filled forest on Gamble Lake, we were met with some of the best paddling of the trip along the Lady-Evelyn River - a long stretch of downriver travel, with 2 separate moose sightings. We stopped for the day at the campsite along the river before Shortcut Lake.

Day 5 – 17.3km

Although this day had a great deal of portages they were all very short trekking along beside beautiful falls and rapids, making them much easier and rewarding. It was a hot and sunny day, so wearing full bug protection was hard. We stopped for an hour lunch at Macpherson Lake, with a breeze that kept the bugs off us we truly enjoyed the peace. Continuing downriver, the rapids near Stonehenge Lake were particularly nice. We reached Katherine (Divide) Lake, passing by our second group of people on the trip. We made our way through Cabin Falls, wishing we could camp in the lodge, and made camp at one of the most amazing campsites I have seen, Bridal Veil Falls. What a sleep! Completely worth the challenging portage down a sheer rock face.

Day 6 – 17.0km

Waking up to the sound of a waterfall never truly gets old. We continued downriver, taking on some whitewater and portaging around other parts. Exiting the river was bittersweet, as we would now encounter much less portages and bugs but knew we would miss the serenity and sights of the Lady-Evelyn River. Another bluebird day without a cloud in the sky gave us a new sense of relief out on the open water. After the grueling 3+km portage a few days earlier, we decided to opt out of the 2km portage and take the trek through Klutz and Crowley Lake. When we arrived at the bog near the start of the Klutz Lake portage we were met with the nicest Moose sighting of the trip as it swam and dashed through the water. Despite this, the bog that followed was hellish as we lifted our canoe, barrel, and packs through knee deep bog. When we finally brought all our belonging to the trail head, the trail disappeared into nothing about 50m in. After  looking for half an hour, all the whilst covered by bugs, we came to the realization we would have to turn around and brave the bog once more to retrace outr steps out – the true low point of the trip. After cursing our way back out of the bog, we retraced our path back to the head of the 2km portage into Diamond Lake (“Two Miller”) to make camp. Note: don’t try the portages through Klutz Lake!

Day 7 – 30.6km

The final day began bright and early, with us completing the 2km portage by 9:00am. We then proceeded to paddle through Diamond Lake, Sharp Rock Inlet, Ferguson Bay, and Red Squirrel to our truck, making it there by the afternoon. It was a nice stretch of paddling with little portaging, and the sight of a soaring bald eagle that followed us on Ferguson Bay made it even more rewarding. Ground was much easier to cover due to the long stretches of paddling.

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