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Canadian Canoe Routes

Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?
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Author:  true_north [ July 20th, 2011, 8:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

Our first choice is Wabakimi- it has been since last September!

We've got the VIA rail tickets from Toronto to Flindt Landing this Saturday, the food and gear are packed and the canoe is ready for one more adventure- a fourteen-day return visit to Wabakimi that will take us up to Burntrock and back south to our take out point at Collins. Well, that is/was the plan! And then the fires came- and the smoke...the folks I just spoke to up at the lodge at Flindt Landing said they'd had a bit of rain and the smoke depended on which direction the wind was blowing. The weather forecasts for Armstrong and Sioux Lookout both include more than a little rain between now and next Thursday. This should hopefully help the fire crews battling the 90+ fires across the northwest.

What do you think? Do we go ahead with this trip or quickly come up with a Plan B?

About 15 years ago I did the Lake Superior stretch from Hattie's Cove to Michipicoten and it was a memorable trip, one I have always wanted to do again. One difference- we did it with kayaks. This time we'd do it with our canoe. Should we even be considering this option? If anyone in this forum has paddled this stretch in a canoe before, we'd love to hear from you.

If you're interested, visit ... -universe/

for some pix of our first trip into Wabakimi.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ July 20th, 2011, 8:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

Keep your plan.

When things get really bad the affected areas of the Park will be declared a no travel zone. I have travelled in smoke in Wabakimi from the largest fire they have ever had.. I believe it was 2005. The funny thing I was flown out of Kenoji and back to Armstrong and picked up another crew for a trip and we learned that our planned route was in a no travel zone.

It is wise to plan alternate evacuation routes in case a fire does an unexpected turn on you.

This is where a sat phone comes in handy with contacts for the OPP and an air service. Personally I would not travel without one. And please do leave your float plan with the folks at the Flindt River Landing..they are nice people willing to help.

Yes I have done Hatties Cove to Michipicoten in a canoe. Tandem..we did it in six days because we were always afraid of being stuck by wind.. Turns out we had one half a wind day but you never know. We had a very deep canoe and drysuits though. Our craft was a Wenonah Odyssey which was specifically designed for handling large waves. Of course kayaks are better suited for large surfing waves and clapotis. Other people have done it in open canoes if they have sufficient time to wait out bad periods. I am doing a Superior trip and plan on being very conservative. You have enough time to do a conservative trip too. (I vowed never to rush Superior again..there is too much to see!)

In general the Flindt is beautiful.. Heathcote is very nice..Sassenach not so much..and icky camping on it.

PS. Fire is pretty normal in Wabakimi.

Author:  Al Robinson [ July 21st, 2011, 8:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

I've paddled the Pukaskwa coast from Hattie Cove to Michipicoten Harbour about 7 times. In 94 I paddled it alone; 2 other times I paddled it solo in the company of a tandem canoe. All of these trips were paddled in the same canoe I use for river trips: either my old Nova Craft Prospector or my newer Bluewater Prospector. No better place to reconnect with yourself and nature.

Can't advise you on which trip to take. Fire situation in the northwest doesn't sound good. I expect in either location there will be a fire ban in place; therefore, no cooking or camp fires.

Good luck with whichever trip you decide to take.

Author:  JCooper [ July 22nd, 2011, 6:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

If you decide to do the Pukaskwa route, surface water temperatures are around 20C. You don't need dry suits or wet suits - but that is your choice.

Update on July 25: I did a 130km trip on Lake Superior this past weekend (I cheated and used a motor boat). Average open lake temp on July 22 was 17.7C. After 24 hours of strong offshore winds, the open lake temperature on July 24 ranged between 8.8 and 15.5C. Sunny skies and onshore winds this week should warm the surface of the lake up again.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ July 22nd, 2011, 7:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

JCooper wrote:
If you decide to do the Pukaskwa route, surface water temperatures are around 20C. You don't need dry suits or wet suits - but that is your choice.

Thats pretty warm..but how far down is the thermocline? I will be in the area next week..last time the cold water layer was but 1 meter down.

Author:  JCooper [ July 22nd, 2011, 8:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

My temperature sensor only reads the surface temp - and I only take shallow dives!

Author:  littleredcanoe [ July 22nd, 2011, 8:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

Thx...we hijacked the thread but True_ North ought to be enroute.

I might change my paddling wear to Hydroskins..

Author:  true_north [ July 23rd, 2011, 6:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

We're going to save Pukashwa for another summer. Using Naturally Superior out of Michipicoten for shuttle service, maps, and kayak rental should solve all of our organizational problems. And yes, wetsuits will be on order too!

This year in spite of the fires and the smoke Wabakimi it is. Multiple scans of the weather forecast for the next week, phone calls with the people at Flindt Landing and Mattice Lake, a chat with the Wabakimi Park warden...and then the coin toss! Just kidding. But after three days of arguing back and forth, we are going to save Pukashwa for another year and head off for the second year in a row to Wabakimi.

This time instead of 1700 km. of driving from southern Ontario, we’re taking the VIA train for the 25-hour ride from Toronto’s Union Station. After an admittedly plush overnight in a rented cabin at Flindt Landing we'll spend a week paddling down the Flindt River to Wabakimi Lake and on to Kenoji Lake. The original plan involved a side trip up the Palisade to visit Burntrock Lake. I think it was CIIcanoe’s description of the Palisade River that convinced me to include it in this year’s trip. Unfortunately, this is where the one fire within park boundaries is burning - it is labelled as Thunder Bay 50. The ministry fire map can be found here- ... nglish.htm

We may just do what we did last summer, which is paddle down the Ogoki through Oliver Lake and into Whitewater. There is a chance that by the time we get there on July 30 the situation will be much better. There is definitely a bit of rain in the forecast for the next six days.

Bad weather last year prevented us from visiting the Beckwith cabins on Best Island. Knowing the exact location of the cabins should also help! (Thanks, Kevin, for the map help!) From Best Island we’ll paddle out to Lonebreast Bay via the McKinley Bay route. Then it is a day’s paddle to the south end of Smoothwater Lake. We finish off by going up the Boiling Sands River which will take us to the railway tracks just east of Collins. In Collins we catch the train and arrive in Toronto 25 hours later .

We’ve got fourteen days and a Plan B and C if things are moving more slowly than we figured or because of the various challenges that Mother Nature may choose to throw our way. If you want to follow our trip progress, here is a link to our SPOT Connect GPS beacon. It posts waypoints every 10 minutes and we will leave it on each day while we are moving from one campsite to the next. ... RzGML07Isu

We'll post a trip report when we get back from the trip. If you're interested in seeing some pix of our 2010 Wabakimi trip - a ten day paddle down the Allan Water to Best island and back to the take-out point at Little Caribou Lake, click on this url: ... -universe/

Author:  KerryG [ July 23rd, 2011, 6:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling Wabakimi or Pukaskwa- which one to choose?

Best of luck to you. I do hope the weather cooperates and helps to quench the fires. My wife and I are planning to head out on August 9 for a 3 week adventure. Our plan is to fly into Burntrock and follow the Palisade down to Kenoji, up through Scrag and Gayson to Whitewater and then follow the Berg to Smoothrock and out at Little Caribou. The weather forcast calls for rain early this week so I hope that will help calm the fire situation. At any rate travel well, I'll be very interested in your trip report, perhaps we'll swap stories.

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