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Chiniguchi loop trip report
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Author:  Fenelon [ May 20th, 2006, 11:52 am ]
Post subject:  Chiniguchi loop trip report

Just did the 60km+/- Chiniguchi loop from may 15-19th. A nasty 26 hrs of solid rain on the last two days. Bugs are getting really nasty now. Our trip would have been ruined without our bug tent. Mosquitoes are 8/10 and blackflies are 7/10. The pollen/flowering dates are almost two weeks ahead this year. Bring the Claritan! The bugs will be really nasty next week when the temps go back up. The road into Matagamasi Lake is in great shape. Water levels are high (will be even higher after this 3 day downpour).
Can't say we enjoyed this trip. Kind of had that "artificial Algonquin'Temagami feeling" - heavily used area where all you see are other people (saw 22 people and it was only May 15!) , ATV access to every lake (usually at multiple points), criss-crossed in roads, etc. I commend whoever has been doing garbage clean-up, because the area is surprisingly clean considering the pounding that it's taking. A definate need for shitters before this place turns into a Frost Center. Definately not a destination for those who like to angle, as every lake in the chain is aquatically "dead" due to acidification. Really weird to see lakes without schools of minnows. Invertebrate life is almost absent . No tadpoles and minimal frog song. Really sad to cross through these sterile lakes (bummed us out!) - only saw one white sucker and one Iowa darter in the entire loop! No mink or otter seen, prob because there's not much for them to eat. Trolled every lake for trout and didn't even have a bite! Spoke to an 80 year old local and he said the whole loop is acidified from Inco fallout (summer pH around 5.2). Most lakes have no fishery. Some marginal LT fisheries in Laura and Chiniguchi lakes. Unusual to not see the throngs of spring trout fishermen.
The Wolf lake mine site is active again. Fresh bulldozer trail and new drill casing on the site (oldtimer said they were in there this past winter). A point on Dewdney has been cleared too - looks like it will be next. Stay clear of the ranger cabin on Dewdney - a bloody eyesore of grafitti from past slobs passing through. The MNR should remove this mess. Beautiful 200m sand beach site in McConnell Bay under oldgrowth red pine is a real treat. The remains of the alligator are also worth checking out, as the boiler, bull reel winch, gearing, are all still intact. Anyone know the history on this machine? When was it abandoned?
A few errors if you're using Kevin's book "Lost Canoe Routes" (on the east side of the loop that he states he didn't get a chance to travel through). The 750m from McConnell Bay to Laura Lake is one bay southeast of where it appears on the book map. It's a good 22 min carry at fast pace (prob a 1000m - 1100m instead of a 750). We only did 100m of the 800m from Laura Creek into Evelyn Lake (beavers have it well dammed). The start of the portage is on the left shore going downriver (book says right). We didn't have to do the 200m from Evelyn to Irish lake - the channel is a good 3ft deep right now due to beavers. We only had to do 500m of the 950 into Irish Lake - you can easily line/run the swifts as far as the upper end of the log flume (almost cuts the portage in half). The liftover in Wessel Lake is actually a 200m, and it starts about 150m southeast along the shore from the indicated start point at the log flume. Watch out for the lichen-covered rocks! - they're like walking on greased tin. This eastern part of the loop was quite hard on the kevlar canoe, as most of the take-outs and put-ins are terrible. Would have been better to take the plastic boat.
The pictographs on Matagamasi are worth checking out - moose, beaver, people in canoes, etc. In surprisingly good shape for such a well-used area.
A few neat things - saw R.T. Hummingbirds feeding on lowbush blueberry flowers - looks like they are important for pollinating these plants. The pine pollen matts washed up on shore really stink! (just like human excrement). Never noticed this before on any spring trip. Almost gagged you at the top of the portages! We kept looking for a dead bloated moose carcass, until we realized that the stench was coming from the decomposing pollen. No need to bring kibble for your dog - the 5 metric tons of human shite and paper at every site and portage kept our black Lab "Pig-Dog" round and content!............nasty! Glad to have seen it, but wouldn't return. This place must be a real zoo in the summer!

Dave

Author:  frozentripper [ May 20th, 2006, 5:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

Fenelon, that was a real swinehundt of a trip. Truly disgusting details, and that makes for most enjoyable reading... hopefully the next will be even worse, so I'm anticipating an even more spectacular report on how bad things can get.

Good luck!

:wink:

Author:  Kevin2 [ May 22nd, 2006, 8:02 am ]
Post subject: 

thanks for the update I had considered this route in the summer now I think I'll steer clear...

Author:  Mike McIntosh [ May 22nd, 2006, 4:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sorry it sounds like you had such a tough trip, Fenelon.
Many people, myself included, like to call this area one of our favorite paddling destinations.

Quote:
heavily used area where all you see are other people (saw 22 people and it was only May 15!)

Odd... Our group was there last weekend and didn't see another person...


Quote:
I commend whoever has been doing garbage clean-up, because the area is surprisingly clean considering the pounding that it's taking. A definate need for shitters before this place turns into a Frost Center

Check out our website: www.friendsofchiniguchi.org -we're always trying to keep up with the pressures that this scenic area receives, but we're always looking for volunteers to help with route clean ups and thunderbox distribution.


Quote:
The Wolf lake mine site is active again. Fresh bulldozer trail and new drill casing on the site (oldtimer said they were in there this past winter). A point on Dewdney has been cleared too - looks like it will be next.

I share your concern on this matter; the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has been pressuring Ontario Parks to EXCLUDE the Wolf Lake and Dewdney Lake areas from the proposed Chiniguchi Waterway Park because it claims that the mining and exploration companies have difficulty attracting investors to a property that is in a protected area.
Please read more about this at www.friendsofchiniguchi.org


Quote:
Glad to have seen it, but wouldn't return.

Again, I'm sorry the beauty of this area was lost on you, but please don't paint such a bleak picture of this environmentally unique area - it deserves better than that.

Author:  optimus [ May 22nd, 2006, 5:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

Awesome site, great work. Had a great time doing this trip in 04, its nice to see that its getting some well deserved attention to keep it purdy.

Author:  Fenelon [ May 22nd, 2006, 7:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

MicMac:
I checked out your site - nice to see a group of canoeists banding together to try to protect a paddling area from any further degradation. Sure would be nice to get MNR to restrict motorized vehicle access (especially ATV's )and close some of the roads in the area. Perhaps this may be possible if the waterway designation gets approved.
I still can't rank the area high on my list of areas I've paddled. Too many people for my liking (sadly enough, this is becoming the norm, unless you're prepared to bush-whack it on an undesignated/unmaintained route). No solitude (at least what I personally define as solitude). The dead lakes was a real "corker" for both my wife and I.

Dave

Author:  ghommes [ May 22nd, 2006, 9:01 pm ]
Post subject:  chiniguchi area

Fenelon's description of the Chiniguchi area makes me sad. Back in the early to mid-1980s I guided canoe trips for a summer camp that had an outpost camp at the north end of Maskinonge Lake, and we considered the Matagamasi-Chiniguchi-Souffer chain of lakes the western end of the Temagami canoe country, all of which we paddled.

We rarely saw anyone on those lakes, and we casually referred to them collectively as the "Windex Lakes" due to the crystal blue clarity of their waters. The lack of fishing was a bummer for me, due to acidification, but the swimming was fantastic, especially in the pool below a small falls below Sylvester Lake, which we called "Paradise Lagoon". Campsited were only lightly used, certainly no shit or TP lying around. The only motorized access at the time was via a rough road to the north end of Chiniguchi where there were a couple of cabins; and at Frederick Lake where there was a washed out bridge over a narrows in the south end of the lake. I don't recall any ATV trails anywhere.

Wolf Lake had an old mine shaft along the west shore, along with numerous core samples, but the lake seemed otherwise remote and lovely, as were Dewdney and Chiniguchi. From the top of the white-quartzite hills 500 feet above the west shore of Chiniguchi Lake you could see the Inco stack in Sudbury, far away. On McConnel Bay old-growth pines towered over the white-sand beach, tapering into the crystal water. It almost had a Carribean feel to it on a hot summer day if you let your mind drift and imagined the pines as palm trees...

Gordon

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