Lake Temagami - Obaika Lake Loop

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Location Map: 
Additional Route Information
88 km
5 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
1880 m
Longest Portage: 
940 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Rugged portages

Technical Guide: 

Start at Central Access Road parking lot
North then west through Lake Temagami
North up Lake Temagami to North Arm
West through Sharp Rock Inlet
P 75 m to Diamond Lake
West through Diamond Lake
Southwest to portage at end of Diamond Lake
P 430 m from Diamond Lake to small pond (rugged)
Across small pond
P 435 m along old logging road to Wakimika Lake
South through Wakimika Lake
South on Wakimika River (narrow, shallow, winding)
South through small unnamed lake
South on Wakimika River
South through Obabika Lake
P 940 m to Obabika Inlet (long, but easy)
East through Obabika Inlet
East then South through Northwest Arm of Temagami
West then south to finish at access point

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

This diary contains notes from a trip paddled in September 2001 with six paddlers (three canoes). The trip duration was five days including travel time from Sudbury to Temagami and return.

Day One (Wednesday September 5)

We left Sudbury at 7:30 am and arrived at the Central Access Road to Temagami Lake about two hours later. The gravel access road was in pretty good shape, with some extended sections of bone-rattling washboard. The access point has several large parking lots and dock / put-in facilities. We were on the water by 10:20 am.

Weather was clear, cool and reasonably calm when we put in. Temagami is big, and fairly busy. There are a lot of cottages and lodges; and motorboat traffic was steady but not heavy.

We paddled north between the mainland and Temagami Island. We were intending on paddling along the north side of Bear Island, but were obviously spending more time chatting than navigating and ended up paddling around the south side, a detour that resulted in an extra 2 or 3 km on our route that day. We continued to head north up past the west side of Wabun Point.

We stopped for lunch on the north end of Long Island, just north of Witch Bay. The campsite there is nice and large.

By the time we had finished lunch at 1:30 p.m., the winds had picked up and were coming in briskly from the southwest. We took the opportunity to hoist a nylon tarp and sailed for the next hour, covering 4 or 5 km. The winds became sporadic at that time, so we dropped the sail and continued north under paddle power. Pushed along by a moderate tailwind, we paddled another 5 or 6 km to Raccoon Point. There are two sites on Raccoon Point, a medium-sized area on the main point; and a larger site on the tiny point 100m west of that one. We stayed on the second (larger) site. It was large and open, in the midst of a stand of red pine. Very beautiful, but quite overused in appearance.

We were off the water by 4:00 p.m. Total paddling distance for the day was about 24 km.

Day Two (Thursday September 6)

We were on the water Thursday at 9:00 a.m. We continued north on the North Arm of Lake Temagami for about 5 km, then turned west and headed through the narrow channel on the south side of Deer Island and Beaver Island. This was a very scenic part of the route, and a welcome change from the big, open water of the previous 6 hours.

Sharp Rock Inlet was choppy when we arrived, and we had to deal with a short section of broadside waves as we worked our way across it. The wind and waves settled down somewhat as we turned into the northwestern channel of Sharp Rock Inlet, and within an hour we were at the Sharp Rock Portage.

The short 75m portage was not difficult, although footing is a bit rocky – ankle twisters all the way. The portage runs parallel to an old wood `jackladder`, which has now collapsed into a pile of timbers and planks.

We paddled west for 2 km and stopped for lunch on a small island, which contained a nice campsite.

Winds increased as we paddled west through Diamond Lake in the afternoon, and by the time we were approaching the west end of the lake at 2:30 p.m. we were battling a good headwind.

We made camp at 3:00 p.m. at a tiny peninsula on the south shore near the end of the lake. The point contained two medium-sized campsites, neither of which were great. We set up tents at the first one, and cooked supper at the better kitchen area on the second one, 25 m away.

Weather was still perfect, and we spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing on the smooth rock area adjacent to the first campsite.

Day Three (Friday September 7)

We were on the water Friday by 9:30 a.m., but the winds were already pushing the surface of Diamond Lake into whitecaps. We fought our way southwest through a narrow 2.5 km long section of channel -–very pretty area with rugged, rocky shoreline.

By 10:30 a.m. we had arrived at the first of two portages joining Diamond and Wakimika Lakes. We`ve done some tough portages over the years, and we all agreed that this one would rank up there with the best of them. It wasn`t long (430 m) but it climbed up quite steeply, and the footing in many areas was rocky. It was one of those portages where you can`t decide whether to balance on the rocks or to try to stop into the narrow soil area between the rocks.

It took 45 sweaty minutes to complete the portage, and we put in on the tiny pond at the end. It wasn`t worth spending a lot of time packing the gear neatly into canoes, because a 100 m across this pond brought us to the second portage. This carry was almost identical in length (435 m) but very easy. A short carry up a smooth rock face brought us to a flat gravel road bed. We travelled 350 m down this flat gravel road, then cut off to the left down a well-groomed but narrow path that sloped down to Wakimika Lake.

A narrow (200m wide) channel headed off to the southwest toward Wakimika Lake. Again, we battled a stiff headwind and moderate waves as we worked our way down this channel.

We arrived at the narrows at the entrance to Wakimika Lake and were greeted in the sandy shallows by a couple of scruffy, barking dogs. On the western side of the inlet we saw a partially constructed log cabin. The owner of both the dogs and cabin came out to greet us. His name is Stephan, and he indicated that he is a Toronto resident that has apparently decided to `get away from it all` and homestead in Temagami. His justification for building this cabin in a park area is apparently because he is a friend of Alex Mathias, a long-time resident of the area who has built a cabin on his traditional native trapping grounds on Obabika Lake. He claimed that he had permission from Alex Mathias to construct the cabin on native-owned land.

There is currently significant controversy attached to this construction. Alex Mathias is a long-time resident of this area, and very respected as a source of history, culture and the lands throughout Temagami. Although he certainly would have a firmly entrenched right to build on Obabika Lake by virtue of his family history in these lands, the transferring of this right to a non-native seems to many to be somewhat doubtful. Stephan`s desire to homestead in this area might be understandable, but it is not clear that he has the right to be hunting, trapping, building or living at this location.

Whatever the ultimate outcome in this case, Stephan appeared to us to be somewhat unprepared for the upcoming winter. Although we were visiting in mid-September, the cabin appeared far from completion. The walls and ridgepole were erected, but there was no roof, doors or window in place at the time. There did not appear to be any wood stove, and we could see no firewood stockpiled either. He appeared to be living in a temporary shelter adjacent to the cabin. We chatted briefly and continued south onto Wakimika.

By this time, winds were blasting in from the south and it took a grueling 45 minutes of hard paddling into whitecaps to paddle the 2 km to the small islands in the centre of the lake. We gratefully paddled into the lee of one of these islands and stopped for lunch.

Conditions were no better when we left the island 40 minutes later. We hunched over in the canoes and slogged our way for the next 1.5 km to the south end of Wakimika Lake. The outlet of Wakimika is a grassy, reedy area (very shallow) and we had to get out and walk on the sandy bottom to pull our canoes through the shallow water.

Wakimika Lake drains into Wakimika Creek, a narrow, winding body of water that heads out from the south end. The creek was extremely shallow, and was almost jungle-like in appearance. Literally hundreds of sweepers and fallen trees have been removed by someone (God bless `em) with a chainsaw. Without this clearing operation the creek would have been impassable. There were several beaver dams along this 2 km stretch that had to be pulled over.

The creek eventually opens up into a small (800 m long) pond. Even on this tiny body of water, we had to contend with a headwind. Following this pond, another 2 km stretch of creek (wider than the previous section) leads to Obabika Lake.

We were not planning to venture far down Obabika that afternoon, and as we paddled out into the lake, we knew that our decision was a wise one. Obabika was being blasted by a wind from the south and we looked out on a sea of whitecaps. We picked our way for about 1 km along the western shore and pulled out at the first campsite we could find.

The site was on the north side of a point on the west side of the lake and was far from ideal. The only open area was a gravelly beach, but there were three small sites cut into the bush area behind the beach. However, it was close, it was sheltered from the wind, and it looked just fine to us.

We managed to jury-rig a tarp using two trees behind us and a couple of poles tied down to the canoes in the front and settled in for the evening.

Day Four (Saturday September 8)

Having been witness to the waves and headwinds on Obabika the previous afternoon, we had made the decision to get an early start the next morning. We were up at 6:00 a.m. and after a quick coffee and granola bar, were on the water shortly after 7:00 a.m. Obviously this wasn`t early enough, because we were fighting our way into 12” waves and a strong headwind from the south immediately.

Quartering the waves, we paddled southeast down the lake, the canoes bouncing up and slapping down on every third or fourth wave. It took us over an hour to paddle the 4 km down to the lee side of an island on the lake. We paused there to rest our arms and stretch our legs, and entertained our options for the rest of the trip down Obabika. By this time, the wind had changed and was coming from the southwest rather than the south, so we could not continue in the same direction without taking the waves broadside. After just fighting our way down the lake to the east side, we were now forced to zig-zag and head over to the west side to make any headway. Another half our of paddling brought us over to the west side, where we experienced some relief from the winds. We rested for 20 minutes and inexplicably, the winds dropped in speed during this time.

We quickly scooted over to the east side of the lake to find the portage into Obabika Inlet, and pulled the canoes out on a rocky beach. To say that we were happy to be off this huge body of water would be an understatement.

We cleared the gear away from the portage entry and set up the stove to cook a belated breakfast before we attempted the 940 m portage.

No portages are fun, but this one was as good as any we`ve been on. The trail was reasonably wide, mainly level and had perfectly flat footing. The trail was entirely packed-down soil with not a rock in sight to twist an ankle. As an added bonus, there were a number of huge old-growth white pines adjacent to the trail. Some of the cut logs that had been cleared from the trail were easily 24” in diameter.

After breakfast was complete, we took less than an hour to haul our gear from one end of the portage to the other.

People who have never done wilderness tripping sometimes find it hard to believe that the wind can conspire against paddlers by changing directions ten times a day to deliberately impede progress. I know for a fact that it can happen, because it happened that day.

As we headed east along the 7 km length of Obabika Inlet, we were paddling into a headwind all the way. As we turned to the southeast to travel down the Northwest arm of Lake Temagami, we were blasted with a vengeance. We grunted our way down the channel into serious winds and 12” waves for about 4 km to the first marked campsite on the east side of the channel. Unfortunately, the site was tiny, not suitable for our group of six. Reluctantly, we put back onto the water and began a 2 km slog to the south to reach the next site on Sand Point.

Sand Point was a small, grassy field out on a point. It was very exposed to the winds, but with the only alternative being more paddling, we thought it looked just fine. We struggled to set up the tents in windy conditions around the perimeter of the site. A path behind the site led back to a small clearing with no less than five thunderboxes, all of them in quite disgusting condition.

Winds remained brisk throughout the entire evening, and we could see flashes of lightning in the south. We were spattered several times by drops of rain, but we never got dumped on. We had our traditional `sauna` that night, in our customised tent over a bed of red-hot rocks. Held the heat long enough for two good sweats and jumps into the cold lake.

Only an 11 km paddle out the next morning, so we wouldn`t have to get up too early.

Day Five (Sunday September 9)

Up at 7:30 and after a lazy breakfast and several coffees, we hit the water at 9:00 a.m. Paddled under gray, misty skies that dropped a bit of fine rain on us. Thankfully the water was dead flat and we enjoyed one of our first easy paddles of the trip.

Skies began to clear during the morning, and we were back at the Temagami main access area by 10:45 a.m.

Special Comments: 

Big water, big waves, big wind. If it get windy, these lakes are not for the faint-hearted or novice paddler. The five day duration is a bare minimum. If weather is bad, count on being windbound and losing time beyond this five day duration.

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


Alex Mathias of Obabika :

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


Alex Mathias of Obabika lake offers to walk through the history of Obabika and his ancestors and to undertake a cyber travel into his Unceded Land ...

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


An interesting stop on this route is Cliff Lake, just a short hike from the large campsite on then northeast corner of Lake Obabika. The cliffs on the east side of Cliff Lake are considered sacred by the local Ojibway, and are awe-inspiring to look at.