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PostPosted: January 7th, 2012, 7:45 pm 
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Hello Folks:

I'm contemplating a one-week canoe trip in Chiniguchi for late July, 2012. I have done one trip in the area a couple years ago in late September (Laura Lake loop), and enjoyed the area immensely. While it was surprisingly quiet in late September, I'm concerned it could be a zoo in prime canoeing season, given it's crown land.

Has anybody tripped in the area in prime canoeing season, and have any input on this?

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PostPosted: January 19th, 2012, 5:00 pm 
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Dan
For what it's worth: last year I've gone from Matagamasi to Chiniguchi to Stouffer on July 10-12 and returned from the Sturgeon through Kelly and Carafel creek to Kukagami on July 16-18. During these 5 days I saw 2 canoe parties: one camping on Matagamasi and another on McConnell bay. I saw 2 more canoes starting their trips at Sportsman lodge on the 18th.

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PostPosted: January 19th, 2012, 6:36 pm 
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Thanks Eddy... that's good information, and a pretty good sign that the northern parts of Chiniguchi may not be too crowded during high season.

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PostPosted: January 20th, 2012, 1:54 pm 
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Outside of Matagamasi and Wolf Lake, you will see very few other paddlers. In fact, in all my travels North of Chiniguchi Lake, I have never seen another paddler.

Wolf Lake is a definite hotspot, and has been suffering from severe overuse. This summer, a group built a new illegal road access that now provides motorized vehicle and "trailer-trash" access to the large central campsite on Wolf Lake's Western shore. If solitude is what you're after, I'd recommend passing through Wolf Lake, and camping on Dewdney or Chiniguchi.

This past summer, I did a 4 week trip that started on Matagamasi, and brought me into the Sturgeon R, over to Lake Temagami, then North into the Lady Evelyn River system, into Florence Lake. In this month long trip, once past the Matagamasi-Wolf Lk section, I only encountered 3 other canoe parties.

The Temagami backcountry, once off the few super-popular routes, really does not see any heavy use.


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PostPosted: January 20th, 2012, 3:17 pm 
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Thanks Mike... much appreciated!

We have a sunday-to-sunday trip in July, so the traditional Laura Lake loop (or the new Marjorie interior route) is a tad short. I'm looking to expand the route a bit, but keep it as a loop...

And, I'm now thinking of the Laura Lake loop, but starting from the Sportman's Lodge on Kukagami, working north and west to Matagamasi, then do the usual loop.

But... I'm wondering if there's a shortcut route from the north-west end of Kukagami, through Doon Lake possibly, to Matagamasi. That would save a fair bit of travel up through Donald, and make more of a loop trip.

Anyone know of any portages that way?

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2012, 10:03 am 
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deepnet wrote:
But... I'm wondering if there's a shortcut route from the north-west end of Kukagami, through Doon Lake possibly, to Matagamasi. That would save a fair bit of travel up through Donald, and make more of a loop trip.

Anyone know of any portages that way?


Yes - there is (was) a route from Doon Lake into Matagamasi.
I did this route in 2005? (maybe 2006). At that time, there was a trail, but it was in very poor condition. We blazed trees, and hung flagging tape to mark the overgrown trail. It was a tough slog. This portage started in the extreme Western bay of Doon Lake, and came out near the pictograph site on Matagamasi Lake.

Unfortunately, this portage has since been lost to logging. In 2007, a logging company pushed a new road through that section of forest and completely destroyed this ancient Nastawgan route. I would no longer recommend following this portage, after seeing what the loggers did to the area. The trail has been completely obliterated. :evil:

There are several route options that would suit your needs:
What about travelling North from Chiniguchi Lake, through Dougherty - Frederick - Stouffer - into the Sturgeon River. Then head South on the river, returning into the Laura Lake loop via Rawson Lake, or continue further South on the River, portaging into Maskinonge Lake, returning to Sportsman's Lodge on Kukagami via Carafel Lake.

That is my recommendation for a six day trip, however, the possibilities are endless in this area.

Check out Brian Back's "Chiniguchi Canoe Area maps" on http://www.ottertooth.com or feel free to ask any questions here.

... I'm always happy to chat about canoe routes on a wet, dreary, January day... :thumbup:


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2012, 11:54 am 
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Mike:

I am planning a loop trip in/out from the Sportman's Lodge on Kukagami covering the following lakes: Donald thru to McCarthy Bay then around Karl, Edna and Rice into Maskinonge Lake. We would return via Donald Creek Crossover to Donald and back, or thru Carafel creek.

Which would be prefered: Donald Creek or Carafel Creek in terms of easier/harder and more/less scenic ?
What would the expected canoe tripping density level and campsite competion on these lakes be like in August or September?
Is there any difference doing this loop CW or CCW ?


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2012, 12:16 pm 
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Thanks again Mike! Indeed, doesn't get nastier winter-blues weather than today for southern Ontario, at least.

Our small group is not so keen on white-water on the Sturgeon, although I'm mighty tempted to do the loop in that area, to get into some less-traveled lakes. My boat is a super ultra-light Swift Temegami (integrated gunnels), and I really fear taking it down white water! Amazingly light for long trips, but certainly not a white-water canoe.

I talked to the owner of Sportsman Lodge, and it's on his todo list for this year to clear the Doon Lake to Matagamasi portage. So, it may well get done in time for our July trip. All the same, we may well stick with our current route plan, which takes the Kukagami route to Matagamasi Lake via the northern lake route (Karl, Edna), and on return the Laura Lake loop we'd do the southern lakes to Donald and back (Gold, Colin). This way, we'd see both areas. I'm keen to traverse Potvin and Triangle, as the contours make it look quite interesting. And I'm told Donald is very scenic, so we'll end up in there a couple of times with this route plan.

George at the lodge said that another option many people do is park at his lodge, then he drives people to the put in along the road at McClaren Creek, start the trip from there, then he parks your vehicle at the lodge, and you end the trip at his lodge to pick up your vehicle. I've not paddled McClaren Creek... looks nice.

Paddle4fun... I've had the same concerns in regards to crowds in this area for peak season. But, based on Mike's input and a few others (including the Lodge owner), I think once you get off the beaten path, it won't be too bad. I can add that in late September, the Chiniguchi area is extremely quiet. We saw a youth group on Wolf (who were well organized and very pleasant), and then nobody at all in the north section of the Laura Lake loop a couple years ago (and only a few paddlers in the Matagamasi Lake parts.)

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PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 12:27 pm 
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This is a great trip but I wouldn't plan on staying on wolf lake. I've done the loop trip as well as a return trip into Mcconnel bay, all three times we paddled wolf lake it was full... and its a long way to the next site if your heading north! We tried camping on an unmarked site (island on the south end of the lake) and it was full of strange beetle creatures that came out after dark.

Here is a link to an overview map of the area

http://www.ottertooth.com/Temagami/Sites/chini6.htm

Make sure you take time to swim over to paridise lagoon (there are cool waterfalls on the north side of the lagoon), hike to the top of the elephant, take a look at the logging alligator, and check out the beach sites on mcconnel bay. We only saw three other groups after wolf lake and they were all camped on chiniguchi. We spent three nights on the beach sites in mcconnel bay and didnt see one person!

The towermans cabin is also a god place to stop and explore, the water was low and we couldn't paddle into franks lake to check out the old fire tower but I'm sure there is a way to hike over from the cabin if you have time.

We did both trips at the end of august 2008 and 2010. A great trip with well marked portages... just make sure to scout and follow the correct portage between wolf and dewdney. We were in a hurry because it was getting late and we had a long paddle to the next marked site (wolf was full) and we missed the correct trail. We ended up putting the canoe into a small pond between the two lakes...lol.

Have fun!!!


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PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 8:51 pm 
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I would not hesitate to take an ultra-light canoe down the Sturgeon. I have done it a couple of times. There are a couple of swifts without portages, but they are real easy class 1, no manouvering required, no bumping and grinding on shallow sections at all. All the actual rapids have portages, all are use-able (if a bit overgrown) and most are well marked and easy to find. Some have steep hills at start and finish and are rugged trails, but they are short. The put-ins and takeouts are safe in the mid season because the water is deep above the rapids and so the current is not strong.

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PostPosted: January 30th, 2012, 8:44 pm 
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Hi,

Our group did a trip 2 summers ago at the end of July starting/ending at Sportsmans. We paddled to Carafel, Maskinonge, Edna, Karl, Gold, Donald and back to Kukagami. We took 6 days (incl extra day off on Donald) on a leisuely pace. We saw one other canoe. We did this CCW and avoided portaging the packs & canoes up the big steep hill from Donald to Colin Scott.

With a few little side trips you can make this into a week long for sure.

Mike

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PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 3:27 pm 
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paddle4fun wrote:
Mike:

I am planning a loop trip in/out from the Sportman's Lodge on Kukagami covering the following lakes: Donald thru to McCarthy Bay then around Karl, Edna and Rice into Maskinonge Lake. We would return via Donald Creek Crossover to Donald and back, or thru Carafel creek.

Which would be prefered: Donald Creek or Carafel Creek in terms of easier/harder and more/less scenic ?
What would the expected canoe tripping density level and campsite competion on these lakes be like in August or September?
Is there any difference doing this loop CW or CCW ?


Sorry paddle4fun...I must have missed this post.

To answer your questions, both options have their pros and not too many cons: it would be hard for me to select the "better" option.

Donald Creek via Potvin Lake into Maskinonge is a wild and little known route. This section is extremely rugged, with little pothole lakes bordered by high rocky cliffs. Portages require scouting and careful navigation, as the trails see such little use. To me, this is part of the allure. In addition, Donald Lake has some of the most scenic campsites you'll ever find. Donald Lake was voted one of the "Top 5 Scenic Lakes in Temagami" according to Ottertooth.com. Potvin is equally scenic, but does not have any real campsites. (but there are several locations where one could be developped)

Carafel Creek is equally as scenic, however Carafel Lake is a popular fishing destination, and has a loggin road/ATV trail that crosses the river between Carafel and Maskinonge Lakes, bringing in fishermen and the associated beer cans and garbage, generally detracting from the wilderness feel of the area. The upside, is that West of Carafel Lake, you have to paddle through a large marshy area, that is always a hotspot for moose spotting. The other upside of this option is the fact that the portages between Kukagami Lake and Carafel Lake are clear and in good condition - members of Friends of Temagami (including myself and George from Sportsman's Lodge) cleared this route about 4 years ago.

This entire area is gorgeos canoe country, and does not receive nearly the canoe traffic that the nearby Matagamasi - Wolf - Chiniguchi ares gets.

Come to think of it, on all my travels through Donald, Potvin, or Carafel lakes, I have never seen another canoe. I've bumped into fishermen on Carafel Lake, but never paddlers. You'll have no trouble finding campsites on any of the lakes you'll be paddling through.


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PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 3:32 pm 
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lost canoe wrote:
We did this CCW and avoided portaging the packs & canoes up the big steep hill from Donald to Colin Scott.



As lost_canoe points out, that nasty, uphill portage going North out of Donald Lake into Colin Scott can be a bit of a deterrant: Going downhill from Colin Scott into Donald would be preferable.

A point of interest here:
At this portage take out on the Donald Lake side, there is a huge, flat stone, that people have carved their names into dating back almost 100 years. If you look closely, you'll find names of old prospectors, Keewaydin guides, and early explorers who paddled and charted these waters.


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PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 3:33 pm 
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Thanks Mike for your reply. This area is on my "short list" of places to canoe this year.


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PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 5:17 pm 
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Mike McIntosh wrote:
lost canoe wrote:
We did this CCW and avoided portaging the packs & canoes up the big steep hill from Donald to Colin Scott.



As lost_canoe points out, that nasty, uphill portage going North out of Donald Lake into Colin Scott can be a bit of a deterrant: Going downhill from Colin Scott into Donald would be preferable.

A point of interest here:
At this portage take out on the Donald Lake side, there is a huge, flat stone, that people have carved their names into dating back almost 100 years. If you look closely, you'll find names of old prospectors, Keewaydin guides, and early explorers who paddled and charted these waters.



I am not sure I would have liked it downhill if it were wet the day I did it(downhill). Seems uphill might be safer in unfavorable conditions. The bench stone is great!


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