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PostPosted: July 11th, 2020, 9:03 pm 
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During the first week of June right after camping opened, I headed to the public launch on Matamagasi Lake to begin an epic 8 day solo adventure. After a 7 hour drive through the night, the mosquitoes welcomed me with open arms at 8am.

Day 1 - Matamagasi to Wolf.
I know this is well traveled route that has been documented here many times. Understandably, since it's a beautiful route with only a couple easy portages. Matamagasi was glass, and I ventured north with mixed emotions of glee and nervous excitement.
When approaching the first portage, I saw an opening to a wide trail river right. I hike down it a fair distance, only to discover the trail completely closed by deadfall that went on for a long ways. I headed further down river and noticed the take out on river left a mere 50 yards from where I had first explored.
A short 100m paddle after this first portage leads to the Toenail portage, a beautiful 330m walk. You need to pay attention to your footing here while being distracted by the lovely scenery. After my carry over, I walked back to film and explore the area more.
Paddling across Silvester Lake was pleasant, as I drifted mostly with a slight tailwind which helped to keep the bugs away. Upon entering Wolf Lake, I was amazed by the beauty of what I saw. I was the only soul there, and this early in the camping season, the lake felt untouched. I camped along the east shore, on the southernmost site of the two that are there. Mosquitoes and black flies forced me out onto a flat rock island where I was able to cook and enjoy taking photos and videos while being bug free.

Day 2 - Wolf to Southeast Bay.
The northern winds began early in the morning, and greeted me with full force. My first portage of 185m lead me into the south end of picturesque Dewdney Lake. The winds here were gusting beyond 30kph, making my progress slow and draining, both physically and mentally. I stopped for a gander at the old towerman's cabin, and marvelled at just how many others had stopped to do the same thing before me. Many marks have been carved into this small piece of history, and I added my own.
After a 450m port into Southeast Bay, the winds became all the more relentless, and I opted to stay on an island site with full exposure. I had only covered half the distance I had originally planned, but I happy to rest and stay on an exposed site that would have little to no flies or mosquitoes. I fished off shore and caught 2 lake trout and some smallmouth bass. I filleted one laker for supper. What a memorable experience to enjoy that meal while watching the sunset.

Day 3 - Southeast Bay to McConnell.
The winds had not let up much through the night, and again welcomed me with their full force. I opted to avoid paddling the large waters of Chiniguchi Lake, and chose to paddle the channel on the eastern side of Caribou Island. It was a lovely paddle despite the winds, there were enough turns in the land that I could creep into while progressing forward. After passing Caribou Island, I looked back on the vast expanse of Chiniguchi lake, and vowed to return one day to witness it' beauty more fully. I entered McConnell Bay, and discovered the absolutely beautiful beach along its northern shore. I had planned on travelling further, but couldn't resist setting up camp on this beautiful shore that I had all to myself. A swim and some fishing was in order. Naturally the site was very buggy, the worst I had experienced on the trip yet. However, the perfect sunset made for the most beautiful evening I've ever spent in the backcountry.

Day 4 - McConnell Bay to Evelyn Lake.
I began the day with the "very muddy" 895m port into Laura Lake. Indeed, it was a swamp through the middle section. Several alternative paths have been made, none being ideal. I stuck to the far right trail with my first load of the pack and food, and opted for the left trail with the canoe. Both options avoided the main trail down the center, which looks like knee deep sludge. Expect to get wet and very muddy on this one. Oh, and the bugs had a feast on me while I was navigating through that mess. That portage took me 1.5 hours, double carrying and then leapfrogging a bit.
I paddled into beautiful Laura Lake, and a pleasant south breeze began to ramp up in speed, creating yet more headwinds to be dealt with. The 5m port on Jeffs Map is open now, I paddled on through. After another couple of ports and a liftover, I was into the creek leading into Evelyn Lake. The winding creek was a bit challenging with a strong current, but manageable solo. A stiff southerly headwind battled me down Evelyn Lake. I camped on a site in the southern end. Evelyn Lake is beautiful, and I believe it's a sleeper, possibly living in the shadow of more well known lakes in the area. The strong winds kept me from fishing, but didn't stop me from swimming, filming, and taking photos. I will return to Evelyn again one day to fish and explore.

Day 5 - Evelyn to Donald.
A rare tailwind guided me down the remainder of Evelyn Lake after a leisurely morning of coffee and oatmeal inside my bug shelter. I began the 5 portages thru small lakes all the way down to the northeastern arm of Matamagasi. These portages were all simple and fairly short, and the smaller lakes in between were lovely. Irish Lake stands out in memory as one that was very enjoyable to paddle through. I paddled through McCarthy Bay and began the first of 3 ports through smaller lakes, ending up in Donald Lake. The paddle thru Gold and Colin Scott Lakes were highly enjoyable, feeling like pristine and untouched wilderness. The clear blue waters of Colin Scott were very welcoming, and foreshadowed what was to come on Donald Lake. Coming down the last stretch of my 8th portage that day, I was awestruck at the beautiful cliffs and clear blue waters of Donald Lake. It is truly paradise!
I set up camp on the northern peninsula (same site that BAO stayed on in his video series). Highly recommend this site! The winds were getting stronger, so I chose to just fish from shore that evening, catching some smallmouth bass.

Day 6 - Donald Lake, windbound.
I awoke to my tent bending downwards into my face, being forced downwards by the 40kph south winds. I quickly got out and rearranged my tent direction to better buck the high winds. I would be windbound all day, fishing some on the leeward side using the canoe. I managed some nice lake trout and smallmouth.

Day 7 - Donald Lake, windbound.
Same story as day 6 unfortunately.

Day 8 - Donald Lake back to the access point.
Finally, the winds began to shift from southerly to northerly over the course of the morning. Recognizing this, I packed up and backtracked north out of Donald, and eventually to McCarthy Bay. Once I reached the northweat arm of Matamagasi, the winds were almost totally out of the north, and I had a nice tailwind to ride back to the launch.
What a memorable, amazing, and shaping experience. The winds caused me to question why I was even out there, but as soon as I was in the truck and driving home, I just wanted to repeat the whole experience over again.
Here is a link to preview of the series I'm making about this trip. Part 1 is complete and can be viewed on my Youtube channel as well, Ontario Fishing Quest.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HgtC4dideE


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 7:09 am 
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Thanks for the post! I visited all of these lakes on my first long solo trip a number of years ago and even stayed at some of the same sites as you. Being wind bound and alone for two days is never great though!


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 4:15 pm 
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Nice. Covered some of those areas in 2019 and 2017. Bummer about the wind but always something to enjoy. You mention 'BAO' who's that? thanks


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 4:19 pm 
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"BAO" = "Backcountry Angling Ontario" (Jonathan Kelly & Erin Walker)


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 7:01 pm 
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Thanks. Yes the portage into Laura lake has memories that I'm not sure time will soften. Rule one stay on the sorta 'boardwalk' stuff.


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 7:10 pm 
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When I was through a number of years ago in July the portage to Laura Lake, at its worst, was as in the photo below. I've read horrible tales of it though, and have seen horrible photos.


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2020, 10:27 am 
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Looks arid then :) It was wet and squishy enough I couldn't see the wood much of the time and my one leg went in up to my middle thigh. Took ten minutes plus to get out. Bright side was I kept my shoe. No injury so a win in the end. Wouldn't be a trip without a few stories now and then.


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2020, 12:02 pm 
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When I was through a number of years ago in July the portage to Laura Lake, at its worst, was as in the photo below. I've read horrible tales of it though, and have seen horrible photos.


....I think that was a great many years ago...I haven't seen it that good in recent memory. We were there last week and the section shown in your photo was 100% mucky. Most people are bearing to the north, still stepping in knee deep sometimes.
It would be nice if everyone who travelled the Laura portage would do a little work on it each time they return empty-handed to pick up the second pack. Trees have been cleared along the trail...these could be ported to the muck and by the end of summer we could have a trail again!


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PostPosted: July 14th, 2020, 7:26 am 
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Nice trip! I love Donald Lake, hope I can get back there this year, I want to snorkel that rocky area and hike around. Nice canoe!

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PostPosted: July 15th, 2020, 5:34 pm 
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Thanks for the responses all! Yes, the McConnell to Laura portage was by far the worst of trip. I'm working on editing the Part 2 video of my trip for youtube, and going through the footage I captured of this portage brought back the painful memories haha...the picture shown above looks different from when I was there. The middle trail (the main one) was under water for the most part, as opposed to just mud. The northern trail that has been created was a swampy muskeg, as was the southern option. But, I'd say each of those options are better than down the middle. There are options to skip across logs here and there thankfully. I cleared away some deadfall along the southern section to hopefully make the trek a bit easier. Between the two options, I'd say the southern path was the best option.
I'm planning a Temagami trip with my brother in law late August, we'll do some of this route while adding on a new section. We'll be staying on Donald Lake for a night or two, so I hope the winds will be better and we'll explore and fish much more of the lake.
jbrave - thanks for the canoe comment! I worked many extra hours and sold a pile of gear to get that canoe, I wanted something that would last me for years and years to come. Have not regretted it at all, I absolutely love that canoe! Snorkeling Donald would be awesome!!

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