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PostPosted: April 20th, 2016, 9:57 pm 
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Joined: August 19th, 2007, 5:40 pm
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Location: Timmins
This was truly an expedition as the four of us embarked on the first known descent of the Upper Hollow River. None of us had ever paddled together and by the time we completed the trip, this ragtag group of paddlers endured lengthy portages, clouds of blackflies, whitewater, mud, swamp slogs, bushwhacks and low water conditions. We were rewarded with good laughs, wildlife encounters, scenic canyons, cascades and a new group of paddling companions!

Background: The upper portion of the Hollow River runs from Algonquin Park, through to Cross Corner Lake and down to Kawagama lake. To our knowledge, no one has paddled (documented) this section. Untill now...

Follow our adventures in the video.
Hope you enjoy!


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PostPosted: April 21st, 2016, 10:57 am 
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Joined: March 30th, 2010, 4:10 pm
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Location: Ringwood, NJ
The other Algonquin - very nice to watch. I see you friends use Hidden River yoke pads - great stuff.


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PostPosted: April 21st, 2016, 12:23 pm 
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Joined: February 25th, 2011, 7:15 am
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Hi Stajanleafs,

Great video! I've long been an admirer of your work and passion for paddling.

I will respectfully question the "1st descent" designation. My wife and I paddled that very same route in 1993. Paddled from White Trout Bay on Kawagama to Rockaway where we camped the first night. The second day we camped on Cross-Corner lake. The third day we paddled back out to Kawagama. It was a rough and strenuous trip.

I highly doubt that our trip was a first descent either because we were using an old map that, if my memory serves me correctly, indicated portages and a campsite on Cross-Corner lake.

Anyway, this is not to diminish your great contribution to documenting this beautiful part of Algonquin Park.


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PostPosted: April 21st, 2016, 1:11 pm 
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Really interesting trip. Great video (as usual). You made it look not particularly strenuous.


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PostPosted: April 21st, 2016, 9:03 pm 
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Joined: December 30th, 2003, 11:36 pm
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Location: Kitchener Ontario
Great video!

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"The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten." Sigurd Olson, 1956


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PostPosted: April 25th, 2016, 10:10 am 
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Location: Timmins
swampwalker wrote:
Hi Stajanleafs,

Great video! I've long been an admirer of your work and passion for paddling.

I will respectfully question the "1st descent" designation. My wife and I paddled that very same route in 1993. Paddled from White Trout Bay on Kawagama to Rockaway where we camped the first night. The second day we camped on Cross-Corner lake. The third day we paddled back out to Kawagama. It was a rough and strenuous trip.

I highly doubt that our trip was a first descent either because we were using an old map that, if my memory serves me correctly, indicated portages and a campsite on Cross-Corner lake.

Anyway, this is not to diminish your great contribution to documenting this beautiful part of Algonquin Park.


Hence the "as far as we knew" tagline!, in this day and age, what remains to be unpaddled. Adds to the excitement/storyline though :D

In terms of the route, there is a singed and currently maintained route to Cross Corner Lake (see map, route is in Yellow). There is 1 APP campsite and 1 crown land campsite on the lake. Currently the route is a dead ender at Cross Corner, but it was meant to serve as a loop for an old MNR route.

From Cross Corner, there used to be a maintained MNR route back to Kawagama via the Wildcat System (see map, route is in black). That route fell into disuse in the past 10-15 years. Trying to retrace the old MNR route to the Hollow, we paddled it last year. Many of the old trails are still evident, but they are now completely overgrown and littered with blow downs etc. Blue Jay Marsh does not currently exist as a body of water due to an old logging dam letting go.... We walked the old marsh bed until we reached the old portage. The remaining portages from Havelock to Cross Corner are in good shape (some re-cut 2 years ago) and we made great time (can be done in a day).

This used to be a fairly popular route and was signed, mapped and maintained by the ministry.

The Upper Hollow was/is another story. It existed as a curiosity in my mind ever since Hap Wilson mentioned it in his book. I spoke with Hap and he never paddled that section, but included it for the possibility of explorers attempting to paddle the entire Hollow System. He had no idea it was an unrunnable canyon! Even in early May it was a trickle for much of the river. We ended up walking so much on both years that we had to split the river into 2 days. By June/July the river can be bone dry.

Now you've piqued my interest! How did you get around the slot canyon and the waterfalls? We searched in vain for any sign of old portages on either side of the river, none could be found. This river was never documented in MNR records as a maintained route, so if a portage did exist it was user maintained. We ended up running the first 2 rapids (C2) in the Canyon before hurriedly exiting the river before the brink of the first falls. We then bushwhack portaged RL through the upper canyon rim before descending back down in the vicinity of Pint Falls. The remaining river was dry and bumpy, a few C2 but mainly swifts and C1. It took us about 8hrs to go 6km, due to the water. We went 2 weeks earlier the next year (2015, First weekend after ice out) and encountered the same low water issues. No further portages after the canyon bushcrash, just bump and grind down river.

What was the remaining 13km of the river like for you? Were water levels decent?

The best loop from Kawagama currently would be the old Wildcat Route, which after some user maintenance by our crew is in decent/great condition. The Upper Hollow is doable only in the early spring

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PostPosted: April 25th, 2016, 6:04 pm 
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We paddled much later in the season during the August long weekend. Not one of my better ideas. Ended up dragging almost the entire distance. Like you, we simply bushwhacked around the canyon. I don't recall much relief below the canyon either. It was no good, terrible, and awful. Perhaps at the red hash-marks on the maps above we found water deep enough for a paddle again. Pretty scenery though. It was early evening on the 3rd day that we popped out on Kawagama.

I was not aware of the Wildcat route! I will have to try this and take advantage of your portage maintenance.


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PostPosted: September 8th, 2016, 1:30 pm 
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It's a shame the Wildcat Route has fallen into disrepair my brother talks lovingly about the route down to Crosscorner lake and out to the Wildcat Lakes back in the '70s.


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PostPosted: September 9th, 2016, 1:02 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Newmarket, Ontario Canada
Great video! We tried to do the section at the bottom end in 2000, as describe by Hap in one of his books, and it looked surprisingly like what you did. We put in on the river, ran into a chute that could be lined right away, a small pond, and then into a canyon that was only it was one long chute that seemed to go on forever, only with each side of the river solid angled rock. wish I could remember where we put in, because it sure was pretty, but I won't going back to portage it again.

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