View topic - TR: The Witnessing of the Arrival of Spring in Temagami

It is currently November 20th, 2019, 12:56 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 31 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: May 9th, 2007, 11:42 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 1st, 2005, 7:15 pm
Posts: 4182
Location: The Gateway to Woodland Caribou
The Arrival of Spring in Temagami 2007
by A Fat Out-of-Shape Guy

Day 1 - Getting There

Decide to head up early the previous night and stay at the Smoothwater Ecolodge. Last minute and late arrival seem to make for an awkward stay on their behalf. Sorry about that Caryn and Francis. I arrived at 915pm and the bed was warm and comfortable. Little did I know this was that latest night I would have for the next week.

Day 2 - On the way

Have a good breakfast, head into Temagami for fuel, fishing liscence and a hat. I can't believe I forgot my fav hat.
I start up the Red Squirrel Road shortly after 9am and for Sandly Inlet. Now don't I spend close to 3 hours trying to find the put in. I am taking my truck up some crazy trails scrathing the hell out of it. No big deal it is only a 2 month old 2007 Tacoma.
I get frustrated and end up putting in at Red Squirrel Lake and push off just about noon. The weather is perfect and I have a few extra km's to put behind me.
The first portage is okay. I see a snake warming himself by the rocks. After the postage I am wiped. Yikes, I should have done a little training for this. I paddle my by Camp Wanapitei and into Sandy Inlet. The winds were from the North and the temps were still warm. I decide to change my route and head south with the winds and get the big lakes out of the way first while the winds are on my side.

I completely miss my "turrn off " into Pickerel Bay and end up camping way down by Devil Mountain. I am quite bushed after putting 16km and 1 portage under my belt. Campsite was huge and well used but mostly clean. Very pretty area.

Did a little fishing from shore. No luck.

Sleep that night was wonderful, except for the symphony of loons and ducks that were thunderous on the lake. Sounded like there must have been 50+ out there.

Day 3 - Take it to the limit

Beautiful morning. Take some shots of Devil Mountin before I head out. Just had to because of the name. I paddle by Keewaydin, the oldest Camp in North America and the holder of the largest fleet of Cedar Canvas Canoes. For more info you should check out www.ottertooth.com.

I was still quite spent from the previous day so I tell my self I am going to go as far as Obabika Inlet and camp there. Good day of paddling. Winds were kind and the nothing but pure blue skies.
When I enter Obaika Inlet it is obvious this area has been a recent victim of a fire. I very big one. I would guess by the size of the Birch trees about 10 years ago. I looked and felt different here. The winds begin to pick up and I paddle into them for the last part of my paddle.

I start looking for a campsite and the ones that are there are really poor, like not been used in a long time and oovergrown, no level tent pads and so on. I decide to make the portage into Obabika. By this time I am truly wiped. I carry the canoe only a few hundered metres and drop it. I carry on with the small kitchen pack. When I get to the end of the portage is find that I will be able to set up my tent there so I head back for the main pack. i leave my canoe. i am starving and realize I should have eaten long before now. I have no energy and struggle to set up camp and prepare supper. Once that is done I go back for the canoe.
When all is said and done I have travelled another 15km today. I lie in my tent in the later afternoon trying to recover and a Bald Eagle flies into the site. I hear it fisrt and as I am looking up through the door of the tent I see it. You can't mistake the white tail of a Bald Eagle.

I am actually officially "in bed" before sundown. Totally exhausted. I realize I am pushing myself too hard and promise myself that tommorrow I will paddle Obabika and then a short portage into Shish Kong and that it is it. I too alsoo realize the route I had originally planned may have been too ambitious. But we will see what tomorrow brings.

Day 4 - Face meet wind, wind meet face.

Winds are quite a bit stronger today and still from the north. It is quite cold again this morning. New MEC Cygnet sleeping bag works freaking amazing. Sleep with tent doors open and still manage to work up a sweat while sleeping. I make breakfast and pack up still feeling quite tired from the day before. I head out wondering if I should even be on the water in this wind.

The waves are getting big and the temps are not rising at all. I am wearing my touque and mitts, a sweater and jacket and still I am freezing cold. The wind is gusting and the waves are getting bigger. My Langford Prospector performs wonderfully in this weather. I don't know anything about measuring wind speeds or wave height but the winds were such that if ou stopped paddling for a moment you would be instantly stopped and if you waited too long would be going along at a good pace in the wrong direction. he waves were such that the front of the canoe, which was nose heavy to adjust for the head wind, would come out of the water and crash down with a big splash.

I pass Grandmother and Grandfather rocks and I am unalbe to take pictures becaseu of the wind and waves. Camera is safely stowed away in case of upset. In hind site it wouldn't have really mattered because if I tipped I would have almost certainly died and then who really cares about the camera.

I make it as far as Ranger Point and lad there for a rest and to warm up. I make a fire oon the south beach away from the wind. Temps are still only about 4C and I figure with the wind the WCF is well below 0C. Ranger point is a nice site ans the the thunderbox is comical. There is a sign announcing it as the 2004 Winner of the the Best Thunder Box of Obabika award. Another intersting thing is the clock on the beach. a stick in the ground and 3 other sticks around it. According to the clock it was around 930am.

I decide to head back out and finish the trip up Obabika. I also decide to skip the visit to Alex Mathias. I just didn't see crossing to the west side of Obabika and then back in that wind. When I finally do reach the north end I am absolutely done physically and mentally. The wind has taken a toll on an already tired body. I rest up a tad and begin the tortuous task fo posrtaging into Shish Kong. There was no way I was going to come this far and not spend the night at this site. I was kinda the main focus of the trip.

For those of you who don't know this portage it is very steep and and seems to up and up and up and up some more. Probably not a tough as the picture I have seen of Diablo but those who have done both may be able to let me know how they compare. I actually triple carry this portage. Canoe, Main pack and kitchen pack.

I am really hoping that when I het Shish Kong the small lake will be sheltered from the wind. Wrong! Shish Kong is striaght cliff on one side and the winds seem to hit the rock face and drive it down onto the lake. I only had a few hundered metres to paddle to the only site on the lake but I struggled with it.

I have reached a new level of exhausted. The wind has beaten me. I was ready to go home. Right then. Right now. I was so tired I was unalbe to eat my supper. I ate about half. i even manged Bannock on stick and I love bannock but was simply not able to eat much of it at all.

Plus side was the site was beautiful. There was a stack of cut and chopped firewood including kindling and and stash of birch bark safely stowed in the middle. Despite being so tired I felt the spirit of Temagami in this spot. For those that have not been here, to camp amongst old growth forests looking across and an impressive rock face with a highly spirittual Anishinabe spiritual monolith looking down upon ou is an incredible feeling. I consider paddling back out to Alex Mathias's place the next moring and requesting a flight out despite all this becasue I am so tired. I am in bed well before sundown.

Day 5 - Rebirth
I wake and there is a good coating of frost on the tent. I am feeling still lightheaded and weak. I eat a good breakast and break camp and decide to head on. I drink directly from the lake. i have done it before in this lake and feel there is something about the water that sits below such an symbol. There is about a 250m paddle to the portage into Mud Lake. It is an absolutely beautiful trail. It is difficult with some new challenges such as deep water holes to cross and rugged terrain. Somebody has cut a new trail about 2/3's of the way through it. The old trail would have resulted in knee deep water and waist deep much at the end. Insted there is a great littel bridge going out past the mud to shere the lake become a lake again. After doing the portage I feel rejuvenated. I am ready for the next short one less than 1km away.

The second portage is equally stunning. The take out is over a mat of floating moss. It was like walking on a sponge but one that was floating on the water. When you took a step your foot would siink about 4 inches and the ground would go up and down 5 feet away from you. Creepy feeling worring about breaking through and into whatever below.

I push off into Bob Lake and the weather is amazing. Bob Lake is stunning. I take my time and make sure I eat my lunch before taking on the 1200m portage into Diamond Lake. I eat my pemmican bar with 1 litre of water. This seems to do the trick becasue I take on the portage with a new kind of enthusiasm. I come across a big blow down and cut is away with my new Gerber saw. So not only am I portaging I am cutting up trees and doing it happily. What is with this energy and new spirit. Is it the night under Shish Kong? Is it the Pemmican Bar? Is is the drink out of the lake? Is it I am finally getting into shape? Whatever it is it seems to be working.

I reach Diamond Lake and and so tempted to go for a swim. I decide against it. I notice alot of fresh Wolf scat around. Old stuff too. This area seems to be a popular spot for wolves. Diamond is another beautiful lake. I paddle to the last camp site before the portage into Sharp Rock Inlet.

I make camp, build a new fire pit, strip naked and wash my underwear(I know gross but it is a reailty I have never expereienced before on a trip.) I sat naked on the rock overlooking Diamond Lake eating some GORP and that is when I notice it. The pale green haze in the Birch Trees. What was dull and gray before now has a new colour giving it a life. Spring had officially arrived in Temagami and I was ther to witness it. I was ready to give up the day before and now I feel like I am in the best place on the planet doing the only thinbg I ever wanted to do. Shangri-La!!

I have a good supper of Hamburger Soup and then do a little fishing. I actually caught a big fat Bass. The lunker has swallowed my whole freaking lure and now I have to get the thing out of it's mouth. I am sad to say the fish did not survive. I put it is the water and it swam away, then 2 minutes later there it was floating. Damn! I quickly pinched the barbs off my lures. I am so lousy at fishing I wonder why I even bother.

I retire early again but feeling good. I read that dreaded book I brought along and go to sleep once the light is too dim to read. The book I brought is called Highland Clearances. I am going to Scotland next week and Erhard Kraus was kind enought to lend some of his books he read before he went. Sorry Erhard that is an interesting topic but the book reads like a text book. if you read tat whole thing good for you but I am not sure I am going to make it through. Zzzzzzz!

Day 6 - Windbound!

I wake and still feel good. I am optimistic about the day ahead. Maybe even get back to the truck today. I reach the portage into Sharp Rock Inlet and find several cached boats. Some appear to be decrpid and no longer in use, like for 10 years.

After the short carry there is a smaller river to paddle to get to the actual inlet. As I round the corner and see the open water I am devastated. The wind is just a howling and there is white caps on the waves. I make an attempt to apddle in this but I am just not able to keep enought forward progress to make it worth while. I blow back to shore where there is an obvious winter camp. Looks like it has been used for everal years and each year when spring comes it is abandon and then the next winter they just build over it. I wonder if those winter campers know what this site looks like in the summer(or spring). There are wood stoves and stove pipe sections, spring mattresses, carpets, beer bottels and so on. The area is also grassy. Tall grass which is dead and dry right now. This is important to know because I won't have a fire in fear of the grass catching fire. The bright side...there is a lawn chair!

I sit around waiting for the wind to die down and it actualy gets stronger. I resolve to set up my tent if for nothing else to just get myslef out of the wind. I spend the day in and out of the tent, napping, reading that damnned text book and wandering around close to camp. There was wolf scat there and I wa fearful if I left my stuff alone too long a wolf may come and drag away my pack. I have heard of this happening before.

The wind got stronger as they day went on and I was going bonkers. I was supposed to be out by tomorrow and if winds don't die wife is going to calling in the OPP to go looking for me. Couldn't go fishing becasue I couldn't get a cast out in that wind, couldn't hike, couldn't have a fire. What a horrible day. I begin to worry about all kinds of stuff. Supper is dreary and early. I wander around the site and gather the smaller garbage into one spot. I eventulayy officially retire for the night around 7pm.


Day - Al, Jeff, Hans and the Bear

I couldn't sleep all that well becasue a) I had been napping all day and b) the wind would start form nothing and you could hear it build until it came rushing down the bay and rattle the hell out of the tent. This happened every 30 seconds it seemed at varing intesitities all night.

As I lay there half a asleep in the middle of the night all of a sudden I get a bop on the head. It was if something pushed it's way into the tent and when it reached my head it backed away. I quickly grab my knife. Scared like crazy and listening intently. There is lots of noise outside but the wind is blowing quite a bit. I tell myself it was most likely a branch that fell from the tree and nervously go back to sleep.

I wake at 430 and it seems at first as if the wind has died. I can still hear it blowing but not even close to the instensity as it was before. I first think of going back to sleep but quickly change my mind and decide to make hay while the sun shines. It is still dark out as it is overcast as well. I check around the tent and see no brach or anything that may have hit the tent. Yikes!

I make no breakfast. I just quickly pack up and head out. i take 2 pemmican bars and a granola bar and decide to head straight for the truck. Non-stop as long as the wind is quite enough to paddle. I make good time up Sharp Rock Inlet and cross the Northwest Arm to the Napolean portage. I don't know why it is called that but I found it nonetheless. I soon realize that the new found exuberance from the previous day was still there and get a charge out doing the portage. The last 20m of the portage are straight down. Amazing view of Sandy Inlet from the top. It is about 830am

As I shove off the wind is calm and the water flat. But as I round the corner the skies are getting dark and the winds are picking up. The waves are getting big but I am perpindicular to them. First time I have tried to paddle any distance like this and it was more dificult than any other angle. It is about a 3km crossing and the water is getting rougher and rougher.

I spot somebody on shore just down the beach from Wanapatei. I head over there and talk to Hans and his female companion. Words are coming out all weird and I find simple conversation difficult to have. Of course Hans is the first person I have spoken to or even seen in 6 days. Turns out he had the same trouble finding the Sandy Inlet put in as I did. We talk about that and then I move on. Just the portage and about 6km of paddling to go!

As I head up the beach I hear activity at Wanapitei so I beach the canoe. I havve decided my trip is over and I am going to ask somebody at the camp to give me a lift up to the Red Squirrel parking lot to retrieve my truck and I would take out Sandy Inlet. The prospect of 3km into a head wind didn't make me real enthusiastic.

I talk to Al the Site Director and he say no probblem he just has to wait for the ATV to come back. I start back towards the ever devious Sandy Inlet take out and begin bringing my stuff to the parking lot. I talk to Al and Jeff the site superintendant for a short time and off we go. The 2 beers I had in the cooler with a block of ice were still cold. I drank 1 and gave the other to Jeff. Seems they both had the goverment flu and a little hair of the dog was much welcomed. Learned a bit about Camp Wanapitei from them and really can't thank them enough.

Packed up and headed for home. Not without stopping in Temagami and spending some $$$$. Had a big greasy banquet burger with fries and gravy at the China Garden and bought some souveniers for the kids at the gift shop next door.

This was my longest trip I have undertaken and I learned so much. I called my wife from just outside of Temagami(i can't believe my cell worked up there) and for some reason cried. I am not sure why. It just felt like a whole lot of emotion I had with me came to the surface all at once. Could have been the isolation or the fact that I thought too often about that one subtle mistake that could have cost me my life, my wife a husband and the kids a father. A simple broken ankle aand I surley would have been in a critical situation and most likely died.

Hope you enjoyed the report and the pictures are soon to follow.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 7:15 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: August 8th, 2003, 9:18 am
Posts: 1030
Location: KW
Hey Rob

Good trip report
I was tired from just reading it.

Gotta love Temagami

I hope that you wrote in the journal that is at the thunderbox at Ranger Point?
Fine piece of craftmanship isnt it?
Was the solar light still working ?

I am camping at Shish Kong next week.

Will you ever solo again?
It can be grueling and terrifying....but still fun?

_________________
Save Temagami
http://www.friendsoftemagami.org/

http://misabiadventurecompany.ca/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 7:27 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: August 10th, 2006, 11:50 am
Posts: 213
Location: Toronto
Rob,

Sounds like you and I act similarly on trips. I am always wanting to go further, without taking enough time to relax and recover. I think my trip partners provide a "voice of reason", telling me to make camp, stop and have some food, or whatever.

Reading your report, I kept thinking to myself that I would behave in the same way if I was solo on an extended trip.

I hope you still had a good time. I've never been to Temagami but might head up that way in August.

Cheers


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 7:56 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: September 8th, 2003, 4:23 pm
Posts: 422
Location: Toronto,Ont .
Rob,

I'd say your trip was a good example of solo canoeing. Bit off more than you can chew - but that's common to .
The crying thing is normal. Comes from exhaustion . Had tears running down my face a few times on long portages.
If you think you were risking your life for nothing - then you had the trip planned about right. If you were in better shape you might have just followed a tougher route and become just as exhausted.
Try to get in better shape , do a few more trips alone , and you'll be looking down your nose at these tandem teams.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 8:33 am 
Offline

Joined: August 25th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2129
Hi Rob,

Thanks for a good read, It was like I was there and done that, though not solo.
I think your narritive makes it clear to me why I don't pursue solo canoeing.

You should get an Obabika Sled Dog to keep you company. They do pull their weight you know 8)

P.S that fire in the Obabika Inlet is from 1977. Amazing how long the effect lasts.

_________________
www.friendsoftemagami.org


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 9:27 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6141
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Hey Rob, great writeup, great report... the message gets through, sounds like this will be something that you'll remember the rest of your life for sure.

Somehow the hardship makes it more valuable and memorable. This stands on it's own, the spirit of the time spent being there is in the words.

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 11:36 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 17th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1598
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Hey, Rob,
Welcome to the Temagami experience! This just a tip of the iceberg!!
There are many more lakes and rivers for you to explore.
Just wait till you see Florence Lake and the two channels of LER, then, we have Smoothwater, Solace, Pinetorch etc.
Glad you enjoyed it.
Too bad you didn't get to cross to Alex's place.

_________________
When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.
H. L. Mencken


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 7:00 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 1st, 2005, 7:15 pm
Posts: 4182
Location: The Gateway to Woodland Caribou
Thanks for the kind words. I was up way past my bed time writing it and paid dearly for it today at work.

I do want to go again. I learned alot like I said and the lessons I learned took a few days. I know what gear not to bring and what gear I should have brought. I learned about food choices and timing of meals. I learned that a pre trip conditioning program would have been helpful.

I also learned that when camping there is alot of nylon around. Nylon on nylon is quite slippery. I really need to build a custom made yoke. Mine fits good for about 5 minutes but once my shoulder muscles begin to engorge with blood the canoe slips off my shoulder and digs into the muscles. Nylon Yoke pad and nylon jacket or shirt and it becomes a chore to keep the canoe up in a comfortable position.

I learned to bring better reading material

I learned that a campfire at night is a social thing and not having one is not a big deal at all.

I learned to trust my insticts. I knew having a fire at that site would have been dangerous and of course I come out to find out they put a fire ban on.

This trip was only possible after all the great advice I have received here over the past few years. And for that I thank all of you have have helped even if you did not know you were doing it.

I still would like to know how one would rate the portage into Shishkong, lets say on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the hardest.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 7:24 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: March 5th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1067
Thanks for sharing your experience

Hate to say, but I recognized myself in some parts ... but the prospector in the wind was probably too much. Looking forward for the pictures.

_________________
"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." Edgar Allen Poe


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 7:43 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: September 24th, 2006, 4:01 pm
Posts: 215
Location: North Bay
I'd rate that portage (Shish Kong to Moose Pond aka Mud Lake) at a 4 out of 5 on the difficulty scale. Keewaydin calls it the 'Deathmatage'. I haven't done it since that new trail went in skirting the swamp.

_________________
Friends of Temagami
Save Wolf Lake


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 10th, 2007, 8:41 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 28th, 2006, 3:11 pm
Posts: 1340
Wow..I really enjoyed your trip report Rob...I think I felt the pain!

I am psyched to do my first 9 day solo this year at Marshall lake in Ogoki Forest..don't think it's anywhere as ambitious in terms of difficulty..(I have planned a couple 2 day layovers to recover) but the isolation..the fact I have never been in the wilderness (outside PP)...this is very exhilirating and scary all at the same time - just me and the woofies to keep me safe.

I CAN"T WAIT!

Thanks for a great trip report...youre writing style was very entertaining and kept me glued to the page (no, I wasn't laughing at you...more worried I think you weren't going to make it - did laugh at the camera joke ...good to keep a dry sense of humour when facing death )

Anyway, I look forward to the pictures.
D

_________________
http://savetheogokiforest.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 11th, 2007, 7:18 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6141
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Quote:
Anyway, I look forward to the pictures.


I have this solo photo I took with a tripod when I was stranded on an island after several daze of rain and high winds... the expression on my mug says it all.

We should start a thread, "Photos from Hell". I'm not saying Rob's trip was that, although there have been some times when it was the Gumpian boxa chock-lits... I sure didn't know what I was gonna get.

:o

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: May 11th, 2007, 7:19 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: October 16th, 2004, 11:11 am
Posts: 692
Location: Wakefield, Quebec
Whoa- Good readin' Rob.
Glad you are in one piece to tell the tale!

So you've been 'Baptized' have ya- happy now :-?
Well OK if that's what you want . . . :wink:
a Big Naked Guy with what sounds like hypoglycemia meets a Windigo,
I can hardly wait for the next installment.

r.

_________________
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Goethe


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 11th, 2007, 7:56 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 28th, 2006, 3:11 pm
Posts: 1340
frozentripper wrote:
[

We should start a thread, "Photos from Hell". I'm not saying Rob's trip was that, although there have been some times when it was the Gumpian boxa chock-lits... I sure didn't know what I was gonna get.

:o


:D Oh sure - and ruin it for the rest of us who still hold out hope that these solo trips are fun.

I expect my trip this summer will qualify for some pretty gruesome shots...9 days out in the bush without a blowdryer ...aaaahhh!

Maybe I should visit the MNR before I start my trip so that they don't think it's a Blair Witch revival. Then again...sometimes to get results you gotta go that extra mile :wink:

_________________
http://savetheogokiforest.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 11th, 2007, 8:16 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6141
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Di,

Quote:
I expect my trip this summer will qualify for some pretty gruesome shots...9 days out in the bush without a blowdryer ...aaaahhh!


That's OK... 9 days out in the bush will mean you'll have to bathe, and those photos will more than make up for any taken with baseball caps, Tilley hats, etc...

:wink:

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 31 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group