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PostPosted: September 2nd, 2014, 6:09 pm 
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My wife and I just came back from a 10 d trip to Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. We arranged the trip with Harlan via RedLake Outfitters, flying into Mexican Hat Lake and later flying out from Haven Lake. This was my first trip in WCPP and a big step up for my wife in tripping duration and ruggedness. Lots of lessons learned on the way for improvements in future trips, but all in all a fabulous time.

Trip details:
Day 1 - Mexican Hat to Jake Lake (7.2 km distance with 6 Ports <150 m)
Day 2 - Jake Lake to Paull Lake (12 km distance with 3 Ports, 1 at 400 m)
Day 3 - Paull Lake to S. Aegean Lake (13 km distance with 6 Ports, <150 m)
Day 4 - S. Aegean Lake - Aegean (8.6 km, 1 Port = 100 m)
Day 5 - Aegean to Wrist Lake (9.6 km, 2 liftovers, 1 port = 100 m)
Day 6 - Wrist to Gulch Lake (6.2 km, 2 Ports, 825 and 575 m)
Day 7 - Gulch to Adventure Lake (6.6 km, 3 Ports between 275 - 375m)
Day 8 - Rest day on Adventure
Day 9 - Adventure to North part of Haven (6.7 km, 2 Ports).

Total distance logged on GPS (including multi-trip Ports and fishing) = 110 km.

The route taken and described was modified from our original trip plan. As much as the experienced trippers on this board would find this a piece of cake, it wasn't going all that well for my less experienced wife on the more rugged portage trails. She has a hard time on rocks, slopes and rocky put-ins which are not in any shortage in WCPP. As a result, I ended up doing most of the gear hauling and this was taking me 3 trips (in a couple of cases 4 trips) for each port when I was anticipating 2. On Night 2, I decided to re-route the trip to try and make each day fa little less distance with fewer portages. This turned out to be a good decision since her attitude and optimism improved dramatically and we both enjoyed the rest of the trip much more as a result. Now my wife is making suggestions about gear upgrades and throwing out possibilities for future trips together of the same duration - so by that token alone the trip was a BIG success!

The video series posted below documents most aspects of the trip which I won't reiterate too much in text here. We were socked in due to fog on our planned take-off day and had to spend an extra night in RedLake but were able to leave the next morning. Fortunately our vacation schedule was flexible enough to extend the take-out date by an extra day and Harlan made it easy for us to do so by doing the legwork of arranging the schedule changes on the flight and our accommodation for the extra night.

The good things about WCPP: Beautiful country, soft mossy ground, more topography than I was expecting, quiet/solitude, sense of remoteness, campsites well maintained but also having that rugged/less used feel to them. Lots of wood for easy campfires, great fishing, diversity of lake sizes, streams and landscapes to explore. No bugs (wow that was nice but time of year specific), weather running the gambit from sweaty hot to chill cold (this kept things interesting).

We did meet 3 other trippers and over head some base campers talking at Haven. Normally people try to avoid others like the plague on these kinds of trips but interesting enough, the remoteness of the place encourages you to paddle over to others and chat. Everybody we met were really nice and excited to share their experiences and trip plans. We even shared a drink with a couple of ER-physicians at their campsite when we realized that we camped on the same lake.

Things learned or noted. Many small portages were more work than a few larger ports. This was largely because I had the bigger share of hauling between the two of us. The landings at WCPP are rarely soft/sandy shores (with a few pleasant exceptions) and the physical toll of moving barrels in and out of the canoe at these landings was more taxing than expected, especially since I usually have to lift the barrel onto my wife's shoulders. Longer/fewer ports seemed to be easier for us to do as we found a good rhythm while carrying.

Too much food. A common mistake. My meal planning for breakfast and dinners was perfect but my lunch plan was a disaster. I brought way too much Gorp - with a 500g ziplock for each day of the trip plus a cliff bar each person/day. We didn't eat that much gorp (only about 200 g/day for both of us) and could have gotten away with 2 cliff bars/person per day in its place. I also had brought desserts for each night (portioned out bannock mixes and 4 commercial dehydrated desserts). We only ate about half of them over the trip. Reducing the gorp and dessert items would have helped shaved a considerable amount of weight. I also brought a lot of booze (4L consisiting of 2L Appletons, 1L Havan Club rum and 1L Bookmaker's burbon), but we drank it all and it lasted to the last night- so I think that was good planning :) Mio-drops (cranberry/rasberry, strawberry bannana and lemonaid; make for awesome drink mixes - burbon/hot chocolate also very good). Keeping in mind that this trip was a 'luxury trip' [this was our celebration of 15 years of marriage] and not a distance one, I wanted the experience to be comfortable and not wanting in the nutrition department. However, I could have gotten away with less food particularly on lunches and still met all our needs. I tend to do better with my tripping buddies for planning in this respect and move more towards the lean side when planning meals for only myself.

Equipment-wise we were pretty well set up. I ended up taking an 26" wetterlings axe that I bought from Harlan (I planned to not take an axe). Given the very wet conditions and on some days need to go to bigger than wrist sized wood due to general sogginess I was glad for bringing it. I also purchased a 10' x 10' tarp from Harlan and switched this out for a lighter silnylon 7' x 9' MEC (Scout tarp) that I had brought for the trip. This turned out to be a great decision. We used that tarp on 4 nights and were grateful of every extra inch of cover it provided. Square tarps are more flexible in set up arrangements than rectangular ones.

Luxury items - Helinox Chair and REI chair. Not necessary, but we sure did enjoy them. I would never take them with my tripping pals, but with my wife it was a good item to have and made things more relaxing and enjoyable for both of us.

Photography/electronic gear - for my DSLR I exclusively used my 18-250 mm Sigma lens and never bothered to use the 50 mm f1.8 or 85 mm macro I brought along. I also had both a monopod and tripod to support the gopro and DSLR along with gopro canoe mount and headband mount. The monopod wasn't necessary and could have been left behind as well as extra lenses. I also brought a larger Goal Zero Nomad 20-Solar Panel and Sherpa100 battery system. This was heavy (2.5 kg) but it was so wonderful not having to worry about blowing through camera batteries. This system was awesome for the duration and the Sherpa 100 packs enough juice to last 3 or 4 days of cloud while meeting all my (very liberal) charging needs. For a shorter trip I'd go with a different power option, but for this trip it worked out great.

Canoe Barrels - This was my first trip using canoe barrels as opposed to dry bags and regular packs with liners. We had 2x 60L and 1x30L plus a dry duffle and a little day photobag that fit within the duffle. I really liked the barrel system particularly the one large barrel with the Ostrom harness. The extra security (immersion protection and small critter proof) was a big boost to our confidence under the remote conditions. I think the better harnesses on barrels also provide better (more comfortable) suspension systems than most dry bags I've tried. I'm going to stick with barrels for future canoe tripping adventures.

Fishing gear - we brought 2 x ugly stick lites that served their purpose well. As usual, I brought too many lures. Mepps spinners, Mepps cyclops and William's wobblers were all that we used and with great success catching pike, walleye and lake trout. Bottom bouncers - pain in the butt and not necessary. Lures brought along and never used - assorted plastics, jigs and crankbaits. When I go back to WCPP again I will just bring in-line spinners and spoons. They work on all the game fish there and are more compact and manageable. We also brought a take apart fishing net that was important for landing the lake trout.

That is about all I can think of for now. Hope you enjoy the videos.

Line to photoalbum (selected photos): https://www.flickr.com/photos/99840472@N03/sets/72157647036355231/

Youtube Video Trip log:

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:


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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2014, 7:34 am 
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Joined: August 6th, 2014, 1:09 pm
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Thats a fantastic trip report kgd - I have been looking forward to a trip to WCPP for some time, and even more now than ever!

Always appreciate lessons learned and sharing experiences. Thanks for taking the time to post this.


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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2014, 2:47 pm 
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Joined: June 5th, 2003, 2:50 pm
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Location: Halfmoon Bay BC
Great report! Lots of booze! 4 litres weighs a LOT but better to have something on your last day vs running out halfway through a trip..I havent seen that many barrels except on white water runs and you might be wise to switch out a barrel for a large volume canoe pack that could store all non-food/cooking equipment and you might save an extra return portage trip.

Thanks for doing videos, while pics are fine you really get a sense of what the land is like in ports. My sense is that port landings in western Ontario generally suck, they may be relatively short but are rarely easy landings and take offs, so if we all followed HOOPs advice to leave a corduroy branches at put-ins we would all benefit!


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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2014, 6:17 pm 
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Joined: May 31st, 2006, 10:35 am
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Location: Peterborough
Thanks for the awesome report and videos

Mike


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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2014, 6:40 pm 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
KGD I am amazed at how fast you can whip up a series of finely edited videos! (Takes me a year! Ha ha! ). I am working my way though your vids and look forward to viewing them all.

Observations Re list of things learned/noted:
Landings: I have heavy duty Kevlar skid plates installed on my composite boat. I run the bow up on the rocks (gently), and scuttle out like a crab on all 4's over the packs, shimmying along the gunwales, then step out keeping my feet dry. There is no damage to the boat at all since the skid plates are there to be scraped. Then I grab a stick or log to skid the boat up on higher. Or just lift and haul on a smooth rock without scraping and set the boat down higher. Then keeping dry feet or wading if necessary, I lift out the first pack, then lift the boat higher, then lift out the next pack, etc. It does put some scratches on the boat, but its over 25 years old and still going strong. All lifting is safe method for the back. I will take extra time to search around for skid log, its that much of an advantage to me. Not sure if Harlan's boats are skid plated? I know the Wenonahs have an interior skid plate, but that does not save the fine stems from being busted up. I do not understand the internal skid plate idea.

Food: I used to overpack way too much gorp as well. Over the years I reduced the ration until I eliminated it totally a few years ago. Huge weight and bulk savings too. I found I do not need any snacks between the 3 meals per day. My lunch used to be more elaborate, but over the past 3 years I have devolved to simply 2 Clif bars per lunch. Sometimes I eat both bars in one go. Or sometimes I have the 2nd bar an hour or two later. They are roughly 250 calories each, so 500 calories for lunch for me is enough.

I don't have deserts. I am totally full to painfully full (I eat too fast) with my one pot dinners, and could not possibly fit in desert (burp!).

Booze: My ration is roughly 60ml of Bushmills per evening. So a 1L nalgene will last me 16 days. I used to ration only 50 ml per day which got me 20 days from 1L, but it was a tad Spartan. I found if I drank 70ml’s I sometimes got a splitting headache in late evening, so I have landed on 60ml as optimum evening ration, and the graduations in 50ml increments on the 1L narrow mouth Nalgene help to keep me honest on the ration per day.

Drink flavouring. This year I discovered the Crystal Light liquid (same thing as the Mio). This is amazing stuff! I am sold on this for all my summer trips. So convenient, just a couple squeezes into a mug, pour in water, no stirring, no sugar.

Axe: I always take my 25 inch GB Scandi Forest axe (same approx size and weight as your new Wetterlings). I would never canoe trip in the trees without it! I find it pays for itself every trip in firewood prep, portage and campsite blowdown clearing. And its a bear weapon (at least I like to think it is :D ). I bring 21 inch bow saw as well.

Tarp: I own the same 10x10 CCS tarp that Red Lake Outfitters provides. I find it the best tarp on the market for my needs. The bright yellow I find pleasing to live under in the gloom of rainy days.

Chair: I use a Coghalns 3 legged stool (only 515 g on my scales), which I depend on for dry butt, and for saving my back. I do not get the relaxation effect and back support of reclining like the nice Helionix, but I can stand up and sit down without effort (I have good knees for this constant deep knee bend motion with straight back), and this seems to prevent my back from muscle spasms, which I am susceptible too. So its really core gear I would never leave behind, and can justify its weight for canoe trips.

Power: So far I get away with 4-5 lithium battery packs for just under one month trips for my P&S “fake” video camera. I am not happy at all with its quality, so one of these days I will have to upgrade to a real video DSLR or dedicated cam corder. I am guessing these real video cameras eat far more juice than a P&S video because I read many accounts like yours needing recharge with panels and big batt’s every few days. With my first and only older DSLR (no video), I found I could go a month shooting stills and use only 2-3 small battery packs, which is almost nothing for weight or bulk. Introduce video and the power needs increase exponentially I am hearing? Have you ever tried going with only the camera's small lithium battery packs, and if so, what were you averaging for battery packs needed per week?

Barrel packs: Some folks use barrels for all gear, some use barrels just for food (me), and some are in-between. Whatever works and is comfortable is good. I find I can T up a 30L barrel on top of a soft canoe pack or on top of a 60L barrel. I use the shoulder straps of the 30L as a tump line which is not taking any weight, it just balances the sideways barrel from sliding off. The pack below is taking all the weight.

Fishing gear: I am not qualified to comment, because I am a brutal fisherman! :D

Thanks for doing all that editing work! I still have to finish my last year’s editing before I even touch this summer’s footage!

Hi GB, thanks for the reference! Hey speaking of landing corduroy, you should see the photos and video footage I have of the best ever full corduroy landing I have ever seen in WCPP’s new portage cut through the Poodle Lake side route. The crew (I think Martin K may have been involved in making it– "The Northwoodsman1" on YT). You step out from swamp water onto a high and dry platform – its amazing. I wish all swampy landings had these traditional log structures built. I will do a photo post of it when I get all my editing done.

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PostPosted: September 8th, 2014, 10:57 am 
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Fantastic vid report! Nice long trip.
I have to say Kudos to Becky for still smiling after 10 days in the woods.
My wife starts to sour after far less toil in the bush :-)
Your star pictures on the last night turned out very nice.
That little twig stove looks like a winner.
You'll be happy to know I just finished deydrating some stew and chili for the upcoming fall trip... between that, fruit leather and beef jerky, the Nesco has been humming for a week non stop!
Thanks for taking the time to takes us with you!

PS - Loved the POV swimming shots

J

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PostPosted: September 8th, 2014, 9:12 pm 
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Location: Kingston, ON
Great videos KGD! Nice fish too. Thanks for bringing us along on your trip. Much more topography than I expected to see. Some desolate looking spots too.


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PostPosted: September 9th, 2014, 2:56 pm 
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Thanks folks.

Hoop - some really extensive comments there and I'll likely get back to you by pm as I'm interested in your route and other things.

Canoodle - appreciate the comments. Hope that dehydrated food works out for you. We really liked having the ability to rotate through a set of 4 meal types over the days. Spice packs or booster bags of non-cooking stuff that can be thrown in for extra flavor (parmesian cheese, pine nuts, seseme seeds etc can really give a nice finishing touch).

MartinG - thanks for your comment. I was happy to see and experience the burned out sections coupled with the plethora and concentration of saplings growing as a result of the canopy opening. But yeah, its a bit weird and eerie as well.


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PostPosted: September 9th, 2014, 7:27 pm 
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I really enjoyed your videos! Thanks for posting and thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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PostPosted: September 18th, 2014, 10:09 am 
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Thanks for some great videos. I thought I would start working through them but could not stop until I had watched them all!! Especially happy to see you cutting the fallen trees out of the portage trail. If everyone took a few minutes like that it would really mean better portages as the season progressed.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2014, 8:28 pm 
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Great trip report. Thanks! I was in WCPP (Gammon River system) and it was equally wonderful with similar observations. I appreciated your description of the portaging strategies and the barrels as I had similar experiences...with both! Harlan is a gem too :) Thanks!

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PostPosted: March 19th, 2017, 12:10 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB
Ken, I read this when you first posted but just re-viewed your flickr photos.

There's a few gems but the third photo - shore lunch on Mexican Hat - what a great shot! I hope you have a print somewhere on your walls.


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PostPosted: March 21st, 2017, 10:03 pm 
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Location: Omemee
Enjoyed watching the trip, good job filming, I subscribed.
Happy paddling.


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