Obabika-Yorston-Solace-Sturgeon Route

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
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Additional Route Information
180 km
10 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
15 m
Longest Portage: 
1380 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Obabika Lake to Obabika River, downstream to the Sturgeon River and upstream to the Yorston River. Ascend the Yorston to Bluesucker Lake and west across Solace Wilderness Provincial Park to the Sturgeon River. Downstream to the Obabika River and upstream to Wawaigama River and up to Wawiagama Lake. Portage to Obabika Lake and return to start.

Obabika Lake
Exit lake via Obabika River, NW end of lake
P35 River Left
P90 River Left
6 +/- Logjams
P975 River Left
Upstream on Sturgeon River
P80 River Right or P 350 River Left
Yorston River enters River Left 500 m upstream
The Yorston from this point to Linger Lake presents and assortment of log jams, shallows and rapids on increasing lengths requiring many liftovers, portages and some lining or wading. Please refer to Hap Wilson’s Temagami Canoe Routes for a detailed write up, but be prepared to wing it.
North end of Linger Lake
West End of Seagram Lake
East side un-named lake
P175 River Right
North end Long Lake
P150 River Left
P180 River Right
P750 River Left into Bluesucker Lake
West Side Bluesucker
P275 to Benner Lake
West end of Benner
355 to Rodd Lake
Northeast end on Rodd
P95 to Pilgrim Lake
West side Pilgrim
P1090 to Maggie Lake
West side of Maggie
P1010 to Bill Lake
West side of Bill
P75 to Samson Lake
West side of Samson
P235 to Solace Lake
Due West to end of bay on Solace
P975 to un-named lake
Southwestern end of lake
P140 to Selkirk Lake
North on Selkirk
West bay of Selkirk
P1380 to Ghoul Lake on Sturgeon River
Numerous rapids on Sturgeon River, predominantly CI and CIIs.
P250 River Right - Twin Falls
Eaglenest Lake
P 130 River Left
P95 River Right
Kettle Falls
P190 River Left
P105 River Right
P130 River Right
P265 River Right
P100 River Right
P160 River Right
P85 River Right
P105 Left
P450 River Right
P280 River Right
P155 River Left
P265 River Left
Pilgrim Creek
P80 River Right – Upper Goose Falls
P975 River Right to Obabika River
Upstream to Wawiagama River
Numerous obstructions and liftovers
Wawiagama Lake
P1000 Northwest side
Obabika Lake

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Saturday May 11
Mostly sunny, morning temperature between 4-6, highs between 14-16, winds light from NW.
C_Mel anxious to go but alscool wakes late after a pleasant evening spent visiting with the Mathias family of Obabika Lake. Nice breakfast of Pegasus Farm sausages and eggs. A little partridge hunt with CL was in the cards for Chris. Headed on down river at about noon and hit first carry at dam shortly thereafter. We kept our eyes peeled for evidence of the old canal that Temagami Ned had made but could not locate it within the flooded bays and channels of the river. The second portage at a chute could probably have been run at this water level, but we opted to carry. Quite a bit of snow still in the bush. The river was flowing high with much evidence that the spring flood had been very high this year. Aside for the two carries we hit at least six log jams that had to be negotiated, some of which were a bit difficult due to a soft, steep muddy shoreline. Although the river starts off very clear at Obabika, it carries an increasing silt load as it continually meanders and undercuts the opposing riverbanks. Long day, anxious for camp, which we made at about 8 pm at the old river farm. Just enough time to set up and prepare dinner before darkness fell. Site rather sparse and open in an area of regrown scrub and birch, good wood a chore to find. A bit of ale and bed by 1 am.

Sunday May 12
Mostly sunny, morning temperature between 4-6, highs between 12-14, winds light from NW.
Set the alarm for 7:30, up at 8:00 on river by 9:00. A fine spring day! Our progress was much swifter than we had thought and we missed the takeout for the 975m portage to the Sturgeon and had an anxious moment fighting the current at the top of the rapids. Nice portage, the Sturgeon on the other end was flowing high and ominous. The trail descends down to the river though a cut worn down though layers of clay and was quite slippery with the river itself surging as the Obabika drops through a waterfall and rapid to meet it. We put in at the base of a rapid and ferried across some haystacks to greet the Sturgeon proper. The paddle upstream, while no more than a two and a half kilometers, took at least an hour. The spring current was very strong and fast and we were paddling on a treadmill. Although this part of the river is a highly erosive watercourse, here too, evidence of a higher than average freshet was seen in huge slumps of tree masses freshly deposited at the waters edge. While these sweepers were potentially dangerous, they did provide eddies that we ferried to and from and used to catch our breath as we paddled like madmen to make headway. As we approached Upper Goose falls, we found ourselves on the opposite side of the river from the portage since the river’s course and current only allowed our approach on that side. Standing opposite the landing we could see that it was possible to execute a perfect ferry and hit that landing. However, the consequences of error in that fast cold water were very grave and our skills and the abilities of our vessel would have been pushed considerably. We opted to make a trail on our side of the river and had a well deserved lunch at the other end near the monitoring station. We reached the Yorston shortly thereafter; a muddy meandering river at that point and we continued our plodding ascent to an old river farm at which we camped. We did not find any recognizable campsite and so made our bed on a level patch at the top of the hill amidst thatch and scrub. While making dinner I began scrapping away the tinder like thatch with thoughts toward a fire, it was then I noticed the ample piles of old bear dung upon which we were camped. Doubtless this spot is great for berries in season, but it shouldn’t be much of a concern this early in the year. With few rocks and so much flammable duff around a fire seemed doubtful until we found a 20L oil can in a pile of old bottles, in this we managed a small bit of fire and enjoyed a nice rum and coke. Hit the sack at about midnight, a somewhat restless sleep.

Monday May 13
Mostly sunny, morning temperature between 4-6, highs between 12-14, winds light from NW.
Set the alarm for 7:30, up at 8:00 on river by 9:30 feeling a bit sore of limb. It was difficult fighting the current upstream as we made our way to the road crossing where we checked out a trappers cabin on river left – nice! Several logjam liftovers and the riverbanks were quite soft and sinky and the rapids began getting longer. I put on the wet suit and lined and wadded a bit but found the going quite difficult. We portaged at a cut line that someone had made for mineral claim staking and we began noticing numerous other lines. Unfortunately, I lost my knife getting in or out of the wet suit, split my favorite paddle at some point and we lost one of our ropes at a portage - bit of a rough patch I guess. We proceeded to cut trails, bush-bash, line and wade some long sections. My booties held up well but eventually my feet got very cold. Chef Al fixed up some nice pita wraps for lunch at an old road crossing at the base of fairly long set of raps. We finally hit a small falls below Linger Lake and the river was looking very pretty here and it was now very clear. It’s a tough little river, especially traveling the wrong way in high water like we were. Still, I would go back and enjoy it more going with the flow. Glad to be on the lake where we found a site on the road at about 8:00 pm, just time to set up and cook before dark. The camp was a bit sparse and scrubby and we stored our packs for the night under a heavy metal boat that was left there. We managed a nice fire and had a strong drink and relaxed. We enjoyed our ascent to this point, yet we were glad to put that section on the Yorston behind us.

Tuesday May 14
Mostly sunny, morning temperature between 4-6, highs between 14-16. Winds light am, moderate to strong from the north pm.
Finally on some lakes and a “normal” portage from Linger to Seagram, a very nice lake that had burned over in the west end. We ran into a fishing boat and fisherman at the portage. He seemed rather surprised to see us and acted as though he didn’t quite believe where we had just come from. It was a bit difficult finding and following the end of the portage in the burned over area with dead fall everywhere. It is a nice trail once on it as it passes along a pretty waterfall. Portage to unmanned lake – nice! Pictographs. Portage to Long Lake, fishing garbage found with regularity at landings. We passed a couple of paddlers decked out in dry suits on Long Lake. Regular portages where needed now. River just gets prettier as we go and opposing current more friendly. Starting to feel a bit trail weary, hands dry and sore. Made tobacco offering at a campsite as we portaged through, very nice, must return! Just gets nicer as we reach Bluesucker Lake, but a nasty wind out of the north was up to greet us. We hugged the shoreline and took the long but safe way to a campsite, which was sheltered and arrived at about 5:00 pm. Camp was nice but some half burned garbage detracted somewhat. Nice fire with good wood. Made lentil stew on fire – tasty! Strong drink – refreshing! Attempted log – too woozy! I awoke in the night with my hands on fire and I had to get up and find some ointment and had difficulty falling back to sleep. The intrepid alscool had a case of dry hands as well, his fingerprints actually seemed to be unraveling.

Wednesday May 15
Sunny, morning temperature between 4-6, highs between 12-14. Winds light.
The trip across Solace Wilderness Provincial Park. Woke feeling tired and a bit beat up – hands mostly, much better once moving around. Al is a bit sore of limb and back but holding up well – tough guy he is! The lakes of Solace are very nice, alscool really liked Rodd and Benner, and he even got in a wash and some sun. The portages are all easy to find and follow. Solace Lake is a real gem! We had lunch at a fishing camp on an island, quite the camp too; they had solar panels, multiple buildings, docks, decks you name it. The trip down through Selkirk was nice but uneventful, not much garbage but the odd stashed or discarded boat and one or two lawn chairs. The 1380m portage over to Ghoul Lake was an easy walk. There was still snow in the bush and a couple of tracks let us know that we weren’t the first through this season. Ghoul Lake itself was quite tannin stained and an overcast sky closed in as we made camp at a site on the upstream end of the downstream portage. I decided that I would try and bathe myself and damn near died of shock in the process! The campsite was nice – at one time, but now evidence of over use was quite apparent. The area was also fairly wet and we had to pitch the tent back in the bush some distance. It began to rain lightly as we prepared dinner, just enough to dampen our gear but not our spirits. A small drink of rum and to bed at a decent time for a good night’s sleep.

Thursday May 16
Overcast, morning temperature 4-6, afternoon 10-12, intermittent light rain, winds light.
Woke feeling hardy! Our hands were still sore but manageable. The portage around Kettle Falls was quite scenic though a bit slippery in places when wet. We noticed an aluminum fishing boat stashed at the bottom. The Sturgeon was flowing high, fast and cold! I had on the wet suit in anticipation of hitting some of the raps, but many easy runs were portaged – the waves were just too high and swamping was assured. Some portages were a bit rough, especially in a wet suit. We met some guys who had driven in to the river to camp and they told us that the Leafs had beat out the Sens yet again, my day was going downhill! Many rapids were completely drowned out and we made good progress to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek where we camped. It was a fair site, on yet another road and the area had obviously been cut over and was now covered with regrown birch and some pine. It was a “clubber” campsite for sure and we had our fire in a truck rim and used a broken lawn chair to fashion a cooking grill. Latter that evening the temperature bottomed out and it snowed a bit. We were in bed by midnight, shortly after finishing off the last of the rum.

Friday May 17
Sunny, morning temperature between 2-4, highs between 12-14. Winds light to moderate from the NE.
After portaging in a wet suit the day before, I opted for my trail clothes today. Shortly after we were underway we ran an easy set with some big waves, all of which we managed to dodge, except for the last on which half filled the canoe. We limped to shore and I cursed myself for my clothing decision. After regaining our composure we got back on the water and headed toward our planned lunch spot at Upper Goose. I was getting anxious for the site and a warm up fire since my wet boots, which had remained dry until that point, were giving me cold feet. As we approached the camp we noticed smoke, and hoped the occupants didn’t mind company as we pulled in. It was the dry suit guys that we had passed on Long Lake a couple of days previous. It turned out that they were from Poland and had started out on the ice at Elk Lake a month ago. They came down the Yorston and I guess had a bit of an upset and got bounced around a bit. Good thing they were wearing the suits and helmets. We made ourselves at home and warmed up at their fire. We found out that our hosts were now out of food and were trying to catch some fish. We improvised some camp bread, which they really seemed to enjoy, and they shared some tea with us in return. After a couple of batches of bread and three or four cups of tea, we departed leaving them with food for the next day to see them out. We continued down to the Obabika confluence and plodded our way to the Wawiagama River, which we passed and had to double back. This little river was practically still in flood and we had to hack our way upstream. We paddled over a beaver dam almost a meter below the canoe and saw its constructor swimming around below us. By the time we hit Wawiagama Lake we had almost a boatload of wood from our paddle though the treetops. The wind on the lake was strong and in our face as we hit its expanse, we turned our course eastward and found a nice but exposed site awaiting where we endured the worst meal ever! Some kind of fake chicken crap that was like eating spongy globs of wood pulp. We ate what would go down and vowed to stay away from that kind of experimentation. We were in bed fairly early that night and it was quite cold as a stiff northern wind refused to let up.

Saturday May 18
Overcast, morning temperature between 2-4, highs between 10-12. Winds fairly strong from the N.
Although we woke somewhat cold and damp, we tried to make the best of things with a big breakfast of coffee, porridge and bannock. In my cold, pre-coffee stupor I managed to melt a hole though two layers of pants while fixing the bannock, good thing I had on three! There was a bit of a chop on the lake when we headed out but we were soon on a good trail over to Obabika Lake. The other end of the tail put us in a nice quiet bay, but the wind and waves ever increased as we hit the lake proper. We snuck up the lake staying quite close shore since the waves were almost high enough to crest the available freeboard of our diminutive vessel. After a lunch and a short rest at a very nice campsite, we continued our way up the lake to the Obabika outlet where we met our friends and warmed up for the night and enjoyed their company and hospitality.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 P/1 Obabika Lake 41 P/2 Pilgrim Creek 41 I/15 Milnet 41 I/16 Lake Temagami
Special Comments: 

This trip covers several watercourses over an area of diverse topography and offers a little of everything one could expect on a canoe trip. The ease of navigation will depend upon water levels and while high water will submerge many obstacles, it can make the upstream portions quite arduous. The Yorston is recommended only as a spring river (Hap Wilson). Different water levels than we encountered would likely change the character of the trip substantially. Those with decent paddling skills who are relatively fit and have a good sense of humor could consider this trip. The sections that require special mention and attention are the upstream potions of the Surgeon and Yorston Rivers. There are generally no defined portages on the Yorston between Linger Lake and the Sturgeon. Upstream travel will likely involve some combination of lining, wading, carrying and good old bush bashing. The Yorston would however, provide a nice ride at these levels if going with the flow.

The water levels at the time our trip were quite high and cold, the river velocities were often very swift. These factors could make for a very dangerous swim. The area is partially road accessible, although this rough bush road would not likely offer much assistance should you require it and the area is relatively remote. While portions of this route are on what are termed Waterway and Wilderness Provincial Parks, there is no fee, permit or maintenance program at present, although some portages we encountered in Solace had seen recent clearing efforts. The remaining areas are defined as crown lands.

There are many variations and loops within this tripping area. If one is willing to fly, the possibilities are endless. Although we did this trip in eight days, they were typically ten-hour travel days. Ten to twelve days would allow for an easier pace and the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful part of Ontario.


Post date: Mon, 05/26/2008 - 21:30


When did you take the canoe trip you described (Obabika River, Solace, etc?)

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


This was a loop trip and was submitted as such, I don't know why that was changed. The total portage distance was 15+ km. Its hard to account for all we did going up the Yorston. Great trip it was!