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PostPosted: March 16th, 2012, 8:11 pm 
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Last summer my brother and I timed our second visit to Wabakimi Provincial Park with the worst of a forest fire situation that affected NW Ontario in a big way. In fact, I remember posting a question here a few days before we left asking for some advice- the thread is here:

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 07&t=38559

Well, here we are in mid-March and it really is time to plan this year's trip but I did spend a bit of time putting some pictures and words together- partly to describe what happened to us and partly to encourage others to consider a canoe destination that they maybe hadn't put on their list of gotta-git-to's yet. If you're interested check out this link

http://albinger.me/2011/09/

There is stuff on the fires we paddled past, decaying buildings- Ogoki Lodge and the Beckwith Cabins, and material on our itinerary. Any comments and corrections appreciated! The following map indicates our basic route from Flindt Landing back to Collins 14 days later.

http://albinger.files.wordpress.com/201 ... ghpng2.png


This summer we plan to do the Brightsands/Kopka River trip from Allan Water Bridge to the take-out point on Bukemiga Lake. Sure hope the bush is not tinder dry again this summer!

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Last edited by true_north on May 16th, 2012, 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 1:06 pm 
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Wow!...thanks for this ...easily one of the best trip reports I have ever seen.Great use of maps itinerary, photos ...stunning. Your wildfire experience was also pretty dramatic.

I have poked my head into Union station a few times about seeing how easy/difficult it would be to load a canoe.

Did your brother load the canoe in London or did you do it in T.O.?
I especially like the idea of getting on a train and doing a whole trip without the stress of driving.

Again , thanks for this .. I have seen many pics of Wabikimi but your shots really paints a great portrait of the area, especially the campsites which are rugged to say the least..


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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 2:50 pm 
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Gunnelbob:
The logistics of getting your canoe into Union Station are difficult, but doable if you don't mind a bunch of "twerps" in suits laughing at you as you portage through the Station.

You can also drive a bit north to Washago or Sudbury Junction or Capreol and get on there, leaving your vehicle at those parking lots, until you arrive back.

No "twerps" at those stations and a lot less stress to deal with.
I notice that Truenorth loaded at London. Again no "twerps" watching the processs.

Nice trip report Truenorth. Some good pics that showed the beauty of Wabakimi.


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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 4:53 pm 
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Winisk to The Bay Gallery Menu:
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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 5:15 pm 
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Wow! again ( Im saying that a lot lately)..yup Washago is an option since they are re-modeling Union and its down to one lane and will be that way for a long while. Plus Washago parking would be FREE.
2 weeks parking at Front and Bay hmmn.

Barbara < I so love this pic, especially the guy carrying the Pelican case which at first looks like his briefcase..just another commuter. Love it!


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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 5:35 pm 
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Guys, thanks for the positive feedback on the report, as disjointed as it is! I was originally just going to do something on us and the fires but then I had all these other pix that I wanted to upload too. I figured it was the least I could to contribute here, given the time other forum members have taken to answer my questions or other posts that I have been able to learn from.

Re: taking VIA. Go for it! It is a piece of cake. While my brother did load the canoe on at London, it would be very easy to do from Union Station in Toronto. It would also be half as expensive. The way the fee works is $50. for each train it is loaded onto. Therefore, $50. from London to Toronto (one train) and $50. from Toronto to wherever in Wabakimi (a second train). No hanging around and killing eight hours in Armstrong waiting for the train to come- you'll be on it!

Gunnelbob- You can drop off the canoe and the heavy packs at the station earlier in the day- the train only leaves at around 10 p.m. From Toronto it is $500. return for an adult and $350 return for a senior plus $100. return for the canoe. No driving, no motels in Waba or Marathon...just accept the 70 km/hour speed and realize that you'll get there when you get there and all will be good.

And think of the photo ops- walking along Front Street, walking past those massive pillars into Union Station, maybe a nice shot with you carrying the canoe and the Royal York Hotel in the background! I'm sure you could work the CN Tower into it somehow! Talk about Canadiana!

Mac, we had originally thought of driving up to Sudbury Junction and getting on there.
It would still be $50. and you'd be sitting there at 2:00 a.m. waiting for the VIA train.
One thing that dissuaded us in the end was the idea of leaving the car sitting there for two weeks. We weren't sure how safe those parking lots were. We figured if we were going to take the train, we may as well just take it from the start point.

Mac, I'm not sure who the "twerps' are. If they are the guys in suits, then you and I are having the last laugh because we're going to Wabakimi for two weeks and they get to stay in humid "Trawna" in the summer! And if you had a bad experience with the baggage guys and gals at Union Station, I can't say I found them to be anything but helpful and curious and on top of things. We brought our two 50 lb. Hooligan packs to the checked baggage counter and asked how the white canoe was doing and they knew all about it. After we were on board and got our seats we went into the baggage car and they let us put all the packs and duffels into the canoe to make it one tidy package. The life jackets and the paddles were already tied into the canoe. We wanted to make sure nothing got misplaced and that the off-loading would be hassle-free. We had no problems.

We are taking the train again this summer- this time up to Allan Water Bridge. We'll be taking that new yellow Swift Dumoine kevlar that I am finally going to order tomorrow! We leave Union Station at 10 p.m. on Saturday and get to Allan Water Bridge 25 hours later. I still have to make arrangements with Nancy at Wildwaters to either pitch a tent on their property or rent two beds for 10 hours! We're planning a trip down the Brightsand River and then up the Kashishibog River to Redsand Lake and finally down the Kopka River to Bukemiga Lake. We'll shuttle back to Armstrong and catch the train back to T.O. I'll be scouring myccr for useful info for our trip! Thanks in advance for all the useful tips.

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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 7:08 pm 
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Quote:
We're planning a trip down the Brightsand River and then up the Kashishibog River to Redsand Lake and finally down the Kopka River to Bukemiga Lake.


Not intending to highjack this thread, and forgive my ignorance, but doesn't the Brightsand River flow north into the Allanwater and is part of the Ogoki Watershed?

If so, will you not be paddling "up" rather than "down" the Brightsand to Kashishibog?

As an aside, I do have a map of the Kopka route from Sparkling Lake to Bukemiga, that may be of use to you in your planning.

http://kokanie.ca/files/canoeTripMaps/K ... kemiga.pdf

NOTE: The mark-ups from Sparkling Lake to Uneven Lake are unconfirmed

Best of luck in your travels,

turtl


Last edited by turtl on March 20th, 2012, 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 7:23 pm 
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The last time I took the train it was on the previous schedule, leaving Union Station at ~ 9AM. I was supposed to get on at Sudbury Junction , but because Via was having problems, it left from Capreol instead and the Toronto passengers were put on another train to Capreol. Their luggage came up on a truck and was then transferred to the train getting prepped to go west.
Once it got underway everything was pretty smooth. I got off at Red Lake Road and was shuttled north.Six weeks later, I got on at Red Lake Road to Capreol and picked up my van from the parking lot. No problems. Except the baggage handlers at Capreol were somewhat surly with the departing passengers.

Most other northern trips I have done with Via have been pretty good. But I haven't left from TO.
Right now, I think it would be a hassle to go from Union Station, with the street all dug up and barricades in front of the station.( I was there a few weeks ago.)


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PostPosted: March 20th, 2012, 7:51 pm 
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turtl- my bad! Of course we'll be paddling up the Brightsand River! I'll get in touch re: the Kopka info offer. Thanks.

Mac- it must be spring. They're tearing up all the streets! Haven't been down to Front Street in a while- M.E.C. on King Street is as close as I've been lately. I notice that you live in Guelph and not Toronto. Perhaps a Guelph- Toronto train and then the VIA from Union Station to the put-in point? Maybe that ride up to Sudbury Junction is not so bad after all- if you are okay with leaving your car there. The logistics of getting to and getting back from our paddling trips makes being there that much sweeter.

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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 4:58 pm 
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Great report, TN, takes me back. Interestingly we boarded the train from Toronto headed for Armstrong the day you returned. We had planned a fly in from Mattice Lake to Burntrock and work our way east to Whitewater and then south to Smoothrock and out via Little Caribou. But the fires by that time were so bad that Burntrock was out of the question. At the last minute I planned a completely different route starting at the Allan Water Bridge, north to Brennan, north via McWade to Lower Wabakimi, east into Smoothrock and out through Caribou River and Little Caribou Lake (a somewhat leisurely 22 days.) We had intended to cross Smoothrock through the north channel but damn if after a day of trying we couldn’t find it (water levels must have been so low that we just didn’t see it) so we did a long but beautiful paddle south on Smoothrock’s western arm and then north on the eastern. The blueberries were outrageous, weren't they – my favourite fruit and we gorged ourselves on them and baked them into everything. On a layover on Smoothrock we boiled and reduced 5 or 6 liters of berries and poured the reduced juice into three 500 ml Nalgene storage containers and brought it all home that way. It worked really well and my wife has baked a number of outrageous blueberry cheesecakes to remind us of blueberry heaven.
We also took the train from Toronto (with a berth, luxury of luxuries) and our canoe in the baggage car (getting our canoe down to the baggage loading area was no problem at all.) For anyone considering it, the train is fabulous. We were treated like VIP’s and all the stress of driving was gone. It is a bit expensive but when you consider gas, food and lodging there and back plus wear and tear on the vehicle (not to mention one’s self) it’s not that much more plus it adds to the adventure. This year we’re headed for WCPP and we’ll be taking the train again although this time, I’m told, we’ll be let off at 3 in the morning at little more than a railway siding (I’ll have to pocket some muffins from the train to pass the time.)
Thanks again, TN, for the great report.


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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 5:33 pm 
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Kerry:
Sounds like you will be getting off the train where it crosses Red Lake Road. Do you have a shuttle coming to pick you up at 3:00AM or are you going to hang around for a few hours until daylight?


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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2012, 8:34 pm 
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Mac wrote:
Kerry:
Sounds like you will be getting off the train where it crosses Red Lake Road. Do you have a shuttle coming to pick you up at 3:00AM or are you going to hang around for a few hours until daylight?


Harlan is going to come and pick us up and shuttle us in to Leano Lake. But he won't be there until after dawn. He says driving those roads at night can be moose hazardous.


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 7:15 am 
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When we got picked up at Red Lake Road on our way home several years ago, in late August, the train was due to pass by there about 7:00PM. The outfitter wanted to go early so that she could get back to Red Lake before dark. She cited the same reason. Too many moose are on the highway after dark. I could empathize with her concerns for herself and her family.

Because the Via train is most often late, but sometimes early, the outfitters up that way will always call to see where it is, before committing to starting a shuttle.


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 11:31 am 
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Kerry, you and your wife paddled some of the same water as we did. We also spent a day paddling down the west arm of Smoothrock Lake, mostly to avoid what counts as boat traffic coming from the fishing Lodge on the east arm. I also noticed that you passed through Brennan Lake. Aren’t the Falls there one of the highlights of the park? They are right up there on my list of Wabakimi Top 5 with Granite Falls, the rocky shoreline of the Palisade River just south of the Slim Lake exit, the Beckwith Cabins, and any portage trail in late July that is just covered with blueberry bushes (as the portages taking us to Bath Lake from Smoothrock Lake were). My #6 would be the simple pleasure of standing on the side of the railway tracks as the VIA train pulls away, leaving you and your partner and all your gear sitting there “in the middle of nowhere” (no, not Oshawa!).

You’re right- the blueberries were in their prime! We picked bags full of blueberries in no time. Instead of dumping the rotting fruits of our labour into Bath Lake on that last evening, we should have done what you guys did- i.e. boil and reduce! We certainly had enough time to kill while waiting for that train to pass through Collins. Next time we’ll know.

We like the train option too. It does make sense for paddlers coming from southern Ontario, with Union Station, or Washego, or Sudbury Junction being convenient starting points depending on where you live. We’re going to use the train again this summer, although I must admit I can’t justify shelling out for a berth. I’m happy to be getting the seniors’ discount on the ticket.

Your combination of train and shuttle to WCPP definitely opens up another possible canoeing area for us- thanks for the thought! Did you get any good pix of smoke over Wabakimi?

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PostPosted: March 24th, 2012, 4:55 pm 
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Truth is, TN, one of the reasons that we decided to head to WCPP this summer is that we were rather put out by the abundance of motor boat traffic on so many of the lakes in Wabakimi. Granted they are small craft but after paddling down the Allan Water for 5 days and god knows how many portages only to find motor boats cruising back and forth, well, it’s disconcerting and disappointing to say the least. While motor boats were by no means a constant, given the choice between a lot of lodge traffic and little or none, I’m definitely going to choose the latter. I’m told that most of the lodges in WCPP are north of the Bloodvein River so we’ve planned our route accordingly.
I agree with you absolutely, Brennan is a beautiful lake and the Falls are a highlight. We did a layover there and had glorious weather. I don’t know if you fish but when we got to the Falls I thought the action at the outflow would be hot and heavy. Not for me, anyway, and I still can’t quite figure out why. Off shore of our campsite, however, we did very well. In fact, I would have to say that Wabakimi is a fisherman’s (fisherperson’s?) paradise, especially if you love Walleye – mmmmm.
We didn’t see any smoke but then we didn’t go as far north as you (Lower Wabakimi was where we began heading east and south.) I’m surprised that you ventured up as far as Whitewater given the fire situation. Did you do the Pallisades last summer or the summer before that? We were really looking forward to paddling the Pallisades, I’ve heard so much about its raw beauty but the fire conditions when we got there forced us to reconsider. When we arrived, Burntrock and the Pallisades were part of a no-fly zone so we figured why push it.
And, boy oh boy, I don’t know if last summer was a particularly bumper crop but there were portages where my wife had to beat me with a stick to get me to stop stuffing my face otherwise we might never have made it to the other side. When we had pancakes for breakfast the only reason for the batter was to hold the berries together. Some people tell big fish stories but me, it’s berry patch stories. Reducing the berries was a stroke of genius (my wife’s idea, naturally.) We’re taking extra Nalgene containers this summer expressly for that purpose. We’re hoping to catch the latter part of the raspberry season as well.
Yea, a berth is pricey but boy do you feel pampered. It’s like riding to and from the trip in a 4 star hotel – very romantic, and the meals are part of the fare!


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