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PostPosted: June 8th, 2020, 9:48 am 
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Just got back from a 6-day loop, packed up and headed North as soon as I saw the press release about backcountry camping being open. Matagamasi Lake - Wolf Lake - Backdoor route to Kettle falls - down Sturgeon River till Kelly's portage - Kukigami - Matagamasi. Couple days of rain, lots of beautiful sun. Bad bugs, tough portages, great wildlife and fishing and some thrilling solo adventure after being cooped up for so long. I thanked God for those before me who left flagging tape marking portages. Counted the dead rotting carcasses of 4 canoes along the way and wondered what secret stories they kept! I missed only 1 portage on the river and nearly paid for it dearly, my canoe was flipped and pinned against a rock, I rushed to take my gear out and rest on rocks nearby, expecting at any second my canoe would become part of the river's graveyard but by the beard of Zeus it held, I could not believe it did not snap! Swift packboat in expedition kevlar already in rough shape after last years Steel River riot! My spirits were high after I salvaged the situation and recovered all my gear, not missing another portage for the rest of the trip. 4 moose, including a calf, lots of beavers, walleye and mink/muskrat. A great trip for an intermediate solo camper. Portages out of River system to Kukigami were very tough. Did not see anyone the whole time. Couple of pics below. Planning on putting up some video I have, didn't take many pictures but here are a couple.


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PostPosted: June 8th, 2020, 12:08 pm 
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Sounds like an incredible trip. I must admit, I am not familiar with the area, but it looks and sounds awesome!. Glad you didn't have to walk out after the canoe pin. Thanks for sharing

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PostPosted: June 9th, 2020, 9:19 pm 
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Location: Ringwood, NJ
Congratulation on great trip and safe recovery! Ten years ago this (more or less) was a route of my first solo to Temagami. How bad were portages out of Kelly's farm? I had no trouble passing there last June (through Gawasi). Portages between Mascinonge and Kukagami are actively used by local fishermen and I'd expect them to be in good shape year round.


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PostPosted: June 10th, 2020, 6:50 am 
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Hi Eddy, that would have been quite the first solo journey! The portages out of Kelly's farm were very tough for me but I admit that many of my frustrations were my own fault. The map I was using (Jeff's Map) was actually quite accurate, I just made some quick judgments that were wrong because I did not look closely enough. Kelly's portage has 2 trails leading out, the one to Kelly's Lake is completely overgrown with some waist high densely packed weed, and I spent about 30 minutes looking for it and even got about 800-1000 metres down the wrong trail (which was an absolute mess, +3000m portage to North Maskinonge). There must be a lot of very strong storms in Temagami as there was a lot of blown down trees, logs and brush covering a lot of the portages. The portage by-passing The Sportsman's Lodge was also confusing for me because the trail I was following went up a road towards Portage Lake that had several 'No Trespassing' signs up and I wondered if there was an alternate path....again, I looked and looked but could not find it and eventually said 'what the heck' and went up that road, it clearly looked to me like where I was supposed to go but hey. I will also say that a lot of my frustration with that portion of the trip was due to exhaustion and a strong desire not to have any hangups on the way out. You are right about fishermen, there were some boats and ATV tracks on some of the better portages. So now on reflection those portages might have been very tough because I was very weak by that point! First trip of the year, body was NOT ready but it sure is now!

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PostPosted: June 10th, 2020, 7:52 am 
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Location: n/e ontario
Not so much anglers clearing the portages…local paddlers! From Maskinonge to Carafel to Kukagami is only used by paddlers. Took all day to clear the path out of Carafel…and it was easier to reroute rather than take out several of the big tree that fell in heavy snows last November. Thus the flagging tape. We will remove that once the new section is well established.
Better way to go from Kukagami to Matagamasi is through Doon. Only problem being that the water level in Doon is sometimes very low, so a rough carry to the lake proper. The portage from Doon to Matagamasi now in good shape. Again, dozens of trees cut from last November heavy snow. A long but beautiful walk through the forest.
Jeff’s map never got revised after the first edition. It has several errors in this area. Better to get your mapping from ottertooth.com.


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PostPosted: June 10th, 2020, 8:35 am 
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Well, I bet you judgements were quick - having to finish this loop in six days! I won't plan it for less than 7, may be 8 in June when one has to clear the jungle! Though in early June extra push from the river during the last leg above Kelly's is something to appreciate. I've been twice to Kelly's portage and it was quite an adventure both times :). I bet bugs there didn't let you off easily! - they are relentless even towards the end of July. A problem with the fork between 2 trails is that it's overgrown, yes (not enough foot traffic to fight high grass), and there's nowhere to flag it except for a single smallish tree that actually stands away from the trail and is easily missed, unless one knows what to look for. The portage out of Kukagami you've taken is not even shown on ottertooth map and this omission speaks for itself.
Ah, Doon lake in low water! - last June I "paddled" a channel there that was actually marked by sticks stuck by someone in the lake bottom.


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PostPosted: June 10th, 2020, 9:29 am 
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Hi Red Pine, you must be one of the people who did such an amazing job, and yes your portage clearing through those areas (Carafel) was unbelievably appreciated. You and Eddy Turn certainly know your Temagami! I have traveled through Doon when I did Donald Lake loop 2 years ago and indeed the water levels were a pain. I thought hard about doing that but felt remiss to track the same route I had done before, even if it was harder, I preferred to see something new and I was rewarded with 3 moose on the way out of Kelly's portage - Kukagami. I noticed a lot of blue flagging tape along several portages throughout my trip and thought that they were indeed much harder to spot in low light but there was also a lot of pink/orange. I really did rely on the flagging tape. I remember the Doon portage being quite tough but it was a nice one. The bugs were horrible but I found a great system that let me keep my sanity. I have a Gore-tex paclite jacket from mountain hardwear that I have on with nothing underneath (very hot and humid trip), it vents well and keeps you cool, next I put my baseball cap on with a Ben's Invisinet and then bring my hood up and over and tighten it. Some blackflies find their way through eventually but a quick shake and put it back on and you are good to go. I even wore gloves. My feet were eaten alive as I use water shoes but I could live with that!

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PostPosted: June 11th, 2020, 9:25 am 
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Was thinking of staying on Matagamasi Lake next week, as an easy trip with the kids. Can you tell me where you put in, and parked your vehicle?


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2020, 9:57 am 
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There's a public parking on Matagamasi. I'm sure map with directions can be found in ottertooth atlas, on Chiniguchi access page. The parking is small and in high summer it can be packed, but I don't think this would be an issue in June. Hope your kids don't mind bugs :). Alternatively it was possible to park for a fee at Sportsman's lodge on Kukagami and take a short shuttle from there, but the lodge is probably closed these days.


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2020, 10:00 am 
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Eddy Turn wrote:
There's a public parking on Matagamasi. I'm sure map with directions can be found in ottertooth atlas, on Chiniguchi access page. The parking is small and in high summer it can be packed, but I don't think this would be an issue in June. Hope your kids don't mind bugs :). Alternatively it was possible to park for a fee at Sportsman's lodge on Kukagami and take a short shuttle from there, but the lodge is probably closed these days.


great , thanks. I live about an hour from there, so may just head out to explore and check out some sites for later in the summer. Mabye just a day trip for now. Live on the Wahnapitae river, in the bush, so were use to bugs!


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PostPosted: July 11th, 2020, 9:34 pm 
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Great report and sounds like a great trip! I was solo on parts of the same route during that week. Insane bugs, but seeing nobody else made it worth it. I'm curious about the Sturgeon River,especially from below Pilgram Triangle down to Kelly's portage. The upper part of that looks to have some rapids, and the part below Lower Goose Falls looks to be a slower, winding paddle. Would you recommend paddling it? I've heard some people consider that lower winding section to be a bit boring, what would you say? I'd like to attempt it one day, possibly in the fall. I'll be on the part from below Pilgram Triangle to 1785m port into Halleck Creek in August. I'm expecting to have to wade and line due to low water.

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PostPosted: July 12th, 2020, 7:15 pm 
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Below Pilgrim it's mostly Class 1 with an odd class 2, depending on water level. Water levels there are usually decent. Everything above class 1 can be portaged around. The only rapid without a portage is immediately under the Upper Goose Falls, and it can be run easily on river left, which requires minimal ferry skills. From there to Kelly it's between 7 to 9 hours of slow meanders. High water will definitely help. Is it boring? Considering that there's no decent campsite (as far as I know) between Upper Goose Falls and tiny spot on Kelly's lake - may be yes, but it makes for very interesting Chiniguchi loops that wont' be possible otherwise..


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PostPosted: July 13th, 2020, 11:01 am 
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Hi Ontario Fishing Quest, indeed the lower half of the Sturgeon was a little bit mundane (seriously a little, not a lot) but the exit from the river system back into Lake Maskinonge is really sick, I saw 2 huge moose there and would have liked to stay there longer and fish and chill. PS: Just subscribed to your channel, please check mine out and look forward to my trip video coming out soon from North Algonquin, this past weekend, great footage. Channel is Solo Wilderness Adventures and it is brand new, so stay tuned! I did a video on my bug protection from that week on the Sturgeon. Just used the same system again and it is just as good against Deer flies and Yellow Jackets as Mosquitos and Blackflies!

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