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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2010, 10:32 am 

Joined: August 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm
Posts: 18
I was finally able to find some time to share my Temagami trip from 2005.

This was a great trip. It started at Thistle Lake, went down the Temagami River to River Valley then up the Sturgeon River (yes I did say up the Sturgeon), then across to Grassy Lake, Manitou, Turtleshell, Gull to Skunk then Lake Temagami to the Temagami River, Red Cedar and back to Thistle Lake. There was one tumble late in the day on Day 1 (we survived).

An amazing if very difficult trip that I did with my best friend/cousin.

Would love to know if anyone has ever done this loop as I could find no records of it anywhere? Has anyone ever gone up the Sturgeon vs. the easy downwards route. LOL?

Does anyone know of the two portages on the Sturgeon that Hap mentions in his book but that my cousin and I could not find at all? Assume they overgrown and no longer in use as everyone goes down the river vs. up.

Hope you enjoy this easygoing report that says it like it was. Feedback welcome. Below is a map of our trip and a couple of pictures. Wish I could post more.

The Departure
August 19th, 2005

We departed Stittsville at 12:00 noon in high spirits, looking forward to a week of white-water canoeing on the Temagami watershed. Both of us had planned and discussed this trip for over 3 months, reading and re-reading Hap Wilson’s Temagami Planning Book in detail. The car ride was uneventful except for some hydroplaning on highway 17 due to heavy rain (Francois needs four new tires). We arrived at Thistle Lake in a heavy downpour so we switched to our rain gear and headed out for the quick 20-minute paddle across the lake. On arrival we had a nice dinner of hot dogs and chips with Aunt Betty and Michel. We then retreated to the cottage for final packing and preparations for the next morning. We hoped to wake up around 5:30 and be on the water by 6:30. Lights out at 10:30pm.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins
Saturday August 20th, 2005

4:30am and I cannot sleep anymore, it’s dark but I am excited by the days ahead. I shake off the cobwebs and slip out of my sleeping bag and embrace the coolness of the morning. As I start moving thru the cottage making coffee, Francois crawls out of bed asking what time it is (he never carries a watch…strange). When he hears it’s 4:30 he hoots but does not return to his comfy bed but starts packing with me as we start packing the canoe. As the canoe slips onto the quiet and misty lake, we can almost feel ourselves becoming part of the waterway as our paddles noiselessly churn thru the water. Our canoe glides across the water quickly and we soon roll over the small swifts that denunciate Thistle Lake from the beginning of the Temagami River. We arrive at our first portage, a short 350-meter hike near a trapper’s cottage and we realize that although our 75-pound packs might be easily portaged our 18-foot fibreglass canoe will be extremely difficult. It has no central yoke and must be double portaged, becoming unwieldy and shifty as we manoeuvre across rocks and gullies.

Lesson 1: A light canoe is a must for next time.

We arrive at Five Finger Island (Triple Play) and notice 4 canoes and several tents on the first island. They are shrouded and mist and it’s occupants are all asleep as our canoe moves in their midst. We see no one. After scouting the rapid and seeing many nasty rocks due to extremely low water levels we portage up the last island and put in. Our second portage at Island Falls becomes a reminder for the rest of the day… In dripping rain, we slip and slide across rounded rocks, slippery lichen and near fatal drops to reach the next water entry point. Damn is this canoe heavy…

The countryside is incredible, gnarly and wild; we pass slowly thru Ragged Chutes marvelling at its might. The portage at Ragged is very short but we must pass thru a dank smelling swamp pool before getting back into our canoes and slip by the Class 1 rapids below. It’s only later (a few hours) that I realize that I picked up a few nasty hitchhikers (bloodsuckers). I probably had to pull off 20-30 off my left foot. Some very small ones but also 2-3 inch ones.

Although bloodsuckers have never truly bothered me, these one seem different as my feet are very bloody and a nasty little wound is left behind. Twice more during the day, I have to again remove bloodsuckers from this left foot (where are they coming from?). Over the next few days my foot at the wound sites seems infected and the constant pressure of my water sandals makes them very painful. As we continue past Ragged Chute we see a destroyed canoe that obviously tried to run the rapids (Crazy Nuts). Due to significant portages and the boniness of the river, it took approximately 12 hours to arrive at Bridge Rapids. The portage was supposed to be an easy 350 meters but both of us agreed that this portage is much longer and difficult than stated in Hap’s book. This trail needs to be re-cut. Bridge Rapids becomes the turning point where either portages became more difficult due to low usage (overgrown trails, no markers, no entry points, etc.) or did not exist at all (at least we could not find them, after much effort).

The next rapid was supposed to be a fairly easy C2, but since the river was so bony we decided we should find the portage trail. Well we never found one and since this rapid is quite long and extremely rocky on it’s sides, especially in the downpour we decided to run it. FIRST MISTAKE!!!

We were three quarters of the way through after scrapping many rocks when Francois (La Forge) yelled rock. Maybe because we were already so tired, we were quite late in detecting it. Anyway we slammed into it bow first and the canoe did a quick left turn and started filling with water. We quickly jumped onto the rock and tried to hold on to the canoe and our gear for dear life.

Francois was able to carefully move all the gear to shore, although he smashed his ankles and shins a few times navigating the rough and hip deep flows. I asked him to take a picture of the canoe in the middle of the river. We promised not to show our wives (otherwise we may not get a canoe trip again). We tried moving the canoe off the rock but to little or no avail until it slowly dislodged enough for us to turn it back and forth and it cleared the water by a centimetre or so. We then used large engineering rock sample bags to empty the canoe. We then dragged the canoe to shore, emptied and repacked the canoe and were on our way. We lost a limited amount of dry food (bars, pancake mix) one set of maps and our film from our camera was damaged (although we only found this out later).

Somewhat dazed and confused we continued on for a few more hours turning up the Sturgeon River and made camp on a grassy level knoll just below a farmer’s field at 7:45pm. Dinner was had at around 8:45. A belly filling chilli with a warming cup of tea. We boiled 3 litres of water to make our next days’ Gatorade and then hit the hay (our sleeping bags were thankfully dry) around 10:00pm. In the middle of the night we were awakened by the loud sound of something very heavy hitting the water near our tent. As we discussed what it might be, furry feet hurried by our tent, Francois who saw them said it was something fairly big. I was so tired I just fell asleep. Francois mentioned in the morning the sight and the sounds had kept him awake a little.

Tally Day 1:
Rapids: 14 significant ones, many smaller ones, had to line many shallow rapids
Portages: 9 for a total distance of approximately 2.5 kilometers.
Injuries: My feet are bleeding at about 20-30 sites from bloodsucker bites
Francois scratched his leg fairly deeply while portaging
Both of us have heavily contused feet sporting early badges of honour

Day 2 - Up River Misery
Sunday August 21st, 2005

My watch went off at 5:00am, Francois mumbles and falls back asleep. I slip outside into the darkness and see that it might be a nice day after all. The sky is fairly clear with little to no cloud cover. I start up some coffee and start cleaning up the site. Francois groggily wakes up and starts putting away the tent, sleeping bags, etc.

We have a laugh over our close call the day before as we put away our wet clothes under our dry tent. By 6:30 we are on the river paddling up the Sturgeon. We are about to find out how difficult up river travelling can be. Every 100 meters or so the river kicks left or right and then kicks right or left again. Going a straight mile takes hours. Although we were able to go up small swifts, for the most part many have to be lined requiring us to pull the canoe thru knee deep water as we stub our toes and bruise our knees, the going is tough. As we pass the Chiniguchi River we notice the beautiful little campsite that was listed on our map. It would have taken us an additional 2-3 hours to reach it the night before. Paddling to 11:00pm – no thank you.

A little further down the river we reach Cowboy La Belle’s Rapids. No markers or portage trail can be found and the right side of the river where the portage is supposed to be is very steep, this is going to be a bitch. We walk along the trail identifying potential entry points, most are raspberry plant covered. We finally choose a spot and start the long 700-meter or so portage along the road. We have to do 2 trips due to our heavy canoe. It rains fairly heavily, so we have to put on our wet gear. After our portage Francois goes in to Cowboys head office to see if he has any grub. He comes back happily with two cold sprite cans he bought at a dollar apiece. Cowboys closed for business now but sold us two of his personal stash. Thanks Cowboy. The pop tastes great after our labours, we eat some gorp (a delicious mixture of nuts, cranberry, sesame sticks and other dried fruit in the canoe as we continue to make our way upriver. As we near our next portage entry point we spy some campers along the river. The individuals are fairly run down, rough looking and they tell us to go up further to find the trail. We search for over 45 minutes with no luck before we decide to go up to their campsite and investigate if this is the 1K-portage trail. When we arrive, we notice they have tons of fish in buckets (probably illegally) and they have knifes and look kind of desperate. We tell them in no uncertain terms that this is the portage and that we will portage our bags first and come back for the canoe afterwards. We buzz around their run down campers (we now realize they are illegal squatters) and start up the long trail. At one point thinking I may have found a way down to the river past the rapids, I make my way down to a steep bank where I get stung by a wasp. Shit, wrong place!! 200 to 300 more meters down the ATV trail and we find an appropriate clay-infested spot. We then come back and get the canoe and arrive back almost dead on our feet. This was one tough portage.

We continue on against a strong northeasterly headwind and arrive near Double Bend around 4:45. Our feet are like overripe cheese, blistered, cut and bleeding due to being in the water so long, lining our canoe. We decide to pack it in at a fairly level spot at the Bend. We put the tent up just before the sky opens and rain pelts down hard. After it stops, we venture out trying to find the portage trail. No luck, the woods are beautiful but no trail and we will once again have to steel ourselves to line our canoe up this long double bend (.5K or so). Francois who had headed out further again gets caught in a torrential downpour; we have a bit of a laugh afterwards, even though exhaustion is setting in.
We swallow some dinner have a bit of a fire on the beach (an Indian curry – not bad) and hit the hay after a bit of card playing. We are beat, especially our feet.

Tally Day 2:
Rapids: 8 significant ones, but since we were travelling up river approximately 20 had to be lined. We were able to canoe up a large number of smaller swifts with difficulty.
Portages: 8 for 2kilometers of portage.
Injuries: Our feet are a bloody mess; so soft I can carve the skin off the bottom of my feet. We are exhausted from two long days 15 hours and 12 hours respectively.

Day 3 – The Never-Ending Sturgeon
Monday August 22nd, 2005

My head is about to explode, why am I so tired. I wake up in a bit of a stupor with a mild headache or sinus infection wondering what time it is. It’s past 6:15. I slept like a rock. Did my alarm not work? Francois is already out of the tent, and he says he thought I was dead; I slept so soundly not making a sound he says.

Our day starts with us lining the canoe around Double Bend, a quarter to half mile slow crawl across slippery round rocks. Our feet continue to take a beating. The day is a slow progression of left and right turns, lining the canoe and difficult upriver paddling up swifts. We pass the Chiniguchi campsite, which looks beautiful and the Chiniguchi River, which looks, dry and rocky.

Every turn in the river seems identical, shallow sandy/mucky bottom and banks with many logs and trees in the water, a shoreline plastered with beaver runs and short grassy knolls. Boredom sets in and we seem to be stopping every 45 minutes or so to grab some gorp or a quick drink. When we finally reach the Wawiashagi turn off (just a little creek on the left) we are both bad mouthing the Sturgeon River, never wanting to see it again, at least upriver. The portage up to Wawiashagi lake is fairly long and strenuous, going over quite a few high logs that cross the trail and numerous slippery rock patches, with quite a few up hills. The end of the portage links up to an ATV trail and to the ugliest campsite we have seen along the way (who wants to camp at the end of a mosquito infested swamp). This is pretty much the only time on the trip when we slapped on some mosquito oil.

The swamp leads into a large creek that is probably 2 or 3 miles long before it opens up into the lake. Numerous large boulders are dispersed across the creek and many are marked with canoe paint. At one point we had to clamber over a 3-foot high beaver dam that stood in our path. It was surprisingly easier than we thought. Twenty or so minutes in we enter Wawiashagi Lake; it’s a very broad weedy lake with numerous bays throughout, with only a few small cottages on the south shore. It was very windy, so it was a difficult crossing since it was also end of day and we were tired. I spied a mother moose and her yearling about halfway across the lake. They looked to be munching on some cattails and paid us little attention, as we were approximately 200 meters to the east of them.

We located our campsite on the north shore of the lake. It was the best campsite we had seen yet, even though previous campers had left quite a bit of garbage (mostly cans and the like). The sun was coming out and we had our first opportunity to try and dry our wet soggy clothes. We even had time to have a swim and clean ourselves in the cold lake water. It felt fantastic as we used Camp Suds on our body and hair.

We made ourselves a delicious meal of Pad Thai and baked potatoes in foil in the fire. (probably the best meal of the trip) and enjoyed a nice campfire in finally dry surroundings. We decided we should have a fitting desert, so suggested we have a cup of hot chocolate. As I searched thru our packs I found package I thought was hot chocolate. It looked like hot chocolate! Once I added hot water I noticed right away how dark it was. We cautiously sipped it and realized that it was delicious. For quite a while we could not place what we were drinking, huh eating. Then it dawned on me that I had added a container of chocolate pudding to the pack before leaving home. When our canoe got ditched the cardboard box must have disappeared and left the plain wrapper only with no identification. We both agreed that it was a delicious and nutritious addition. As we hung up our food in a nearby tree and got ready for bed, we noticed many small shadows at our feet. On closer inspection we noticed that many mice swarmed around us, looking for any food piece to grab and chew on. It would have been easy to step on them, since they seemed to have no fear. We carefully closed our tent and had a review of the day and our daily ritual of discussing the next day’s challenges and routes. At approximately 10:30pm, lights out.

Tally Day 3:
Rapids: 2 including Floodwood Chutes (beautiful)
Portages: 2 for approximately 1.2kilometers.

Day 4 – Of Lakes Portages and Weak Ankles
Tuesday August 23rd, 2005

We woke up around 6:00am and putting away the tent and our gear was a fairly easy affair. The food bag we had put up in the tree, came down in the middle of the night. No damage or bear carnage, the rope just slipped. The food is bagged entirely in plastic and no smell comes out of it, therefore reducing the odds of attracting bears or other rodents.

We head out onto the northern part of Wawiashaga Lake and come across many cottages. About forty-five minutes as we try to find the portage trail we come across a trailer/camper park that we assume must be our entry point to our 1.2 kilometre portage. We pick up our packs and head down the road, scouting it out ahead of our canoe portage. It’s a long trip along a fairly flat trail that is not too well marked. At a large fork in the road we come across the portage trail and then it happens. Francois falls under the weight of the canoe, severely twisting his ankle. His cries of pain and curses rifle across the quiet landscape. He moans in pain for quite a few minutes before he stubbornly rises, hoists his pack and we finish carrying the bags over to the end of trail. We now have to walk all the way back and get the canoe and make the treacherous trip back. I am a little worried. Francois proves to be very tough and we carry back the canoe without major problems although the trip is punctuated with numerous stops. As we put the canoe in the water and cross Brightwater lake, we comment on how much time has already expired and that these long double portages are playing havoc with our schedule. After only about 5 minutes traversing Brightwater we arrive at shallow Manitou creek. The creek is very shallow and clear so we have to line the 300 yards or so. The creek is literally filled with crayfish, hundreds upon hundreds and we comment that bass must be aplenty. After 15 minutes or so we arrive on Manitou Lake, whose water is bluish/green and from what we can tell is very deep. We had heard the lake has a large population of lake trout and an even larger population of cottage owners. This fact is revealed as we make our way up the eastern ridge of the lake. It’s a fairly busy lake with hundreds of cottages and numerous boats and pleasure crafts. We stop briefly to take pictures of Devil Face, which has some resemblance of the Devil. The lake is very windy and the paddling is extremely difficult. We strain to cross this long two-mile lake and finally arrive at our portage trail. The trail is not well marked and we only realize after crossing a small lake that the trail brings us back to Manitou. We now realize we took an old portage trail vs. the one we were supposed to, so we portage back up and find the right trail, losing approximately 40 or so minutes. As we cross over, Francois realizes he has misplaced his Gatorade bottle; he goes back but cannot find it anywhere. We are now down to two litres a day of drinking water. We struggle up a long and tree fallen trail and arrive at Turtle shell Lake. Turtle shell is not a very pretty lake, as most of its shore is log strewn and overgrown, so we don’t stick around and paddle across the lake again in windy conditions. When we arrive at the portage trail, it’s around 4:00 and we are bone weary and want to set up camp. The campsite does not look good, as it is located at the end of a swamp in a very tight bumpy/rocky setting. I convince Francois to muscle on and we take on a straight up hill 700-meter portage to Gull Lake. We survive it but I realize that I have left my bowie knife at Turtle shell’s portage. I run back in quick order and arrive back panting at Gull Lake. Francois thinks I am crazy for having sprinted up the trail, since I could have gotten hurt.

At first glance, Gull Lake is not impressive. Log strewn and wind blown we wonder why we decided to leave Turtle shell since we are now worried it may be hours before we can find an appropriate site. Luckily about an hour of canoeing brings us to a beautiful island site with a nice fire pit, flat campsite, stocked firewood and a great view of the lake. As we set up we congratulate ourselves on having made the difficult decision of continuing past the ugly Turtle shell campsite. Francois sets up the tent while I pull dinner together and make a large campfire. Just before dinner I capture a nice 2lb bass that I fillet and cook up over our oven. Wonderful…we then eat a nice meal of beef stroganoff with a large side or rice. Heavenly!!! We both agree that the added side dishes add a phenomenal finishing touch both from a taste perspective but also from a nutrition angle. There is now more than enough to fill our bellies.

Every night since our departure, I began the nightly ritual of trying to connect via my cell phones to our families back home. Until Gull Lake we had had no success, but as I start my phone I see 3 full bars on my connection pad. I ring up the number to Sandi’s parent’s cottage near Perth and bingo, clear as a bell conversation takes place as Sandie and I catch up on happenings. Francois then contacts Michelle and they exchange mushy little messages (since I am writing up this trip, I get to add that).

As the sun goes down and the sky lights up with a blanket of stars we settle down in comfortable rock crannies and sip on mugs of hot chocolate and sweet whiskey (delicious…) The sky is so clear and because there are no competing lights for miles and miles we get to see thousands and thousands of stars and constellations. We also see plenty of shooting stars and intersecting satellites streaming across the sky. Absolutely breathtaking. After a few hours we head up to our tent in the woods and settle in. We discuss our itinerary for the next day and settle on arriving at a campsite nearly three quarters of the way to Cross Lake. We agree that it’s been a tiring day but a great one. Gull Lake will long be in our memories.

Tally Day 4:
Rapids: 0 all lake travel
Portages: 5 for 3.3kilometers

Day 5 – Summer Sizzle on Temagami
Wednesday August 24th, 2005

Dawn beckons us thru the semi-transparent material of our tent. The birds are singing and a cacophony of other insect noises can be heard as the alarm sounds around 6:30am. We had decided the night before that since we were back on track and could now logistically achieve our daily mileage we should rest up and enjoy the next few days. Francois packs up the tent and other belongings while I unpack our food, start a fire and make oatmeal and coffee. The day is beautiful and for the first time we realize it will be a very hot one. We have a nice breakfast and decide after completing most of our mundane tasks that we could give fishing a try. I am lucky again and I catch a nice bass that we quickly cook up and have with some nice spicy mustard. Yum. Finally around 8:00am we leave and head up the lake to find our next portage trail.

It takes us about 45 minutes to cross Gull Lake and arrive at our portage. It’s two fairly short portages that take a lot out of us since we have to keep shouldering the canoe. Skunk Lake seems pretty but we pass thru it fairly quickly (we see no one). We arrive at the well-marked portage trail (finally they are well marked again) and begin the long up hill and then down hill portage. It’s a good trail but with many rocks and holes so we have to be careful. When we arrive at the base of the lake we are surprised and awed by the size of the lake (We knew it would be big but it’s still very powerful when you finally see it). The lake has significant boat traffic and for the first time on our trip the wind is going our way. Yahoo….
We head back for the canoe and on when we arrive back at the lake we sit down and chow down on a can of sardines and a fruit bar (nicknamed shit stick) Sorry.

The sun is now very hot as we clamber back into the canoe and start heading out onto the lake. Because the lake is so huge we keep a close eye on the map and every 15 minutes or so we slow down and make geographical observations on our landscape and redirect as necessary according to our topographic maps. We are very tired and are getting drained from the heat of the sun, which we figure is in the high 80’s. We run out of Gatorade (Francois’s lost bottle weighs on our mind). We are thirsty and feeling dehydrated, maybe a bit of heat exhaustion. Temagami is a lake of islands and it seems of prosperity, as the cottages are extremely beautiful and clearly expensive. Many cottages have full hydro (cables are routed under the lake) and others have private bridges spanning islands. Boats are huge, and decks facing the water are numerous. About two hours and a half in we arrive at our large campsite that could handle probably up to 8-10 tents. It has a beautiful swimming spot with a deep pool and clear water and also has an outhouse (more on that later).

We set up camp, put our clothes up to dry and boil some water for Gatorade/ice tea, which we desperately need. Our next to last gas canister dies out, we realize we have to manage it over the last few days, since the convenience is key. We have a quick shot of whiskey and grab our drinks and lay down under the pines in a clearing. We both fall asleep for 30 minutes or so. We are very tired, so we decide to wake up by having a swim. We dive off the cliffs and wash our hair and bodies in the deep cold water. The nice thing about this spot is that it’s got rock steps (natural) leading out of the water (cool). After drying off we decide to try our hands at fishing.

We are using deep diving lures of the cliffs looking to catch large mouth bass. The sun is relentlessly pelting down on us and it’s starting to take its toll. Wow, this is not fun. Francois disappears and I figure he has gone back to camp for some shelter. I decide to pack it in and as I pass the first campsite, there is a nice sized bass on the table. Well, Francois did continue fishing and caught us a nice lunch. He spots me and we talk about where he caught the fist etc. We both agree it’s too hot to continue.

I clean the fish and we fry it up in flour and olive oil till it’s crispy and golden. We eat it quickly by dipping it into the now famous Mrs McGarry spicy mustard sauce. The meal is a great lead up to our main supper of? After cleaning up our site, we prepare for a night of stargazing. When Francois decides to try out our beautiful outhouse I tell him I want to take a picture. The outhouse which is in dire need of a clean up and repair, has a caved in roof, no door and slants at close to a 45 degree angle to the west. Even though it stinks to high heaven and has more spider nests than were ever seen in Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom, it has two key benefits: a seat for comfortably doing your business and the scarce resource of “toilet paper”. It comes fully equipped with a dry roll of toilet paper. Wow…now that’s nice.

As the sun goes down and the stars come out we spread out our lifejackets and pour ourselves a cup of hot chocolate and whisky and admire the lake and the surrounding forest from our rocky but comfortable perch. The night sky as nearly as clear as our night on Gull and we spot many satellites and falling stars. Suddenly to the northwest we spy the northern lights in all their glory. It’s quite impressive and we joke that it’s a spaceship from outer space out to collect specimens. We talk about many things that night, our lives, work, money, family, etc…but the pleasure we take is in each other’s company…cousins yes, nearly brothers yes, but friends first and foremost. We turn off our camp light around 11:00 and we look forward to another beautiful morning on Lake Temagami.

Tally Day 5:
Rapids: 0 all lake travel
Portages: 3 for 1.2 kilometers

Day 6 – Temagami River Wonder
Thursday August 25th, 2005

It’s another incredible day, the sun beckons us as its rays try to pierce the light low fog on the lake. We pack up; have a breakfast of eggs and sausage and gentle glide our canoe across the lake aiming its tip in the direction of Cross Lake. It’s a wonderful paddle and about an hour in we arrive at the shortest portage of our trip, an 85-meter trail that crosses the large island bridging the middle of Lake Temagami. We spot signs of a family looking for two lost dogs. They have left a t-shirt and some hair behind so that hopefully the dogs find it and stick around the portage trail so that they can be found. Francois and I talk about the plight of the dogs, lost on this large island that probably covers 20 or 30 miles of bush. Yes there are many cottages but will they be found or will they become wild dogs that could attack “unwary canoers”. Ahh…run for your lives.

We quickly made our way across, spotting no raging canines and continued on our path to Cross Lake. It’s a long journey, and the paddling although easier than the day before is already taking its toll. As we arrive into Cross Lake it’s surprisingly hot as we near what we believe is the shortcut across Cross Lake. It’s a low water creek plugged with logs, rocks and thick weeds. We meander our canoe down the left side for about fifteen minutes until we arrive at the end. No exit. Shit, did we go down the wrong creek? We go up the east side and see a little narrow creek with barely any water in it. It looks like it might just work. We head up the creek and realize with relief that we have found the shortcut. We exit the creek onto an ever-widening Cross Lake. As we exit we spot a houseboat parked at one of the island campsites. We continue for about two hours until we reach a spot where we can grab some lunch, a can of tuna with some gorp all sloshed down with some Gatorade. The sun is really draining so we head back down Cross Lake for a few more hours until we get to the dam. We spot a nice campsite just a few hundred meters from the dam and decide to pack it in due to the heat. It’s about 3:00pm (our earliest stop) and put up our tent and take a dip. The water in front our campsite is full of large brownish tadpoles. We both joke that hopefully our water supply won’t be tainted by their sliminess. We fish a bit with no luck; we walk around sightseeing without seeing much. We laze around which we enjoy tremendously. The afternoon goes by quickly and we remark that the last few days have been a ton of fun. We both said that the first few days of the trip were probably some of the most physically demanding days that we had both ever done in our lives. Even though rewarding in a different way, much less enjoyable than the last few days.
We again have a great supper of enchiladas and spend most of the night by the fire, stargazing and sharing stories. We hit the sleeping bags around 10:30, encouraged since we are pretty sure, we will be on Thistle Lake and our cottage by end of day tomorrow. Lights out.

Tally Day 6:
Rapids: no major rapids, many small swifts
Portages: 1 for 100 yards
Day 7 – Thistle Lake Discovery
Friday August 26th, 2005-09-08

The morning sun again rises to another beautiful day. The water in front of us is covered in a thin layer of fog and the morning presents itself in a layer of dew covering the trees. It’s much cooler this morning and put on long pants and shirts. We have a quick breakfast, pack up and head off to Cross Lake Dam, where when we arrive a beautiful dewy spider web greets us. The sun is shining thru it, and it’s so beautiful that I take a picture for posterity. The portage is long and tortuous and the two trips take quite a bit out of us. Before heading out, we cross on to Cross Lake Dam and snap a few pictures and investigate the water gauge and marker. Back at the arrival point we glide the canoe back in and glide across the mirror smooth lake. We spot some more squatters who have trailers along the Temagami River. It’s a beautiful spot, and we envy their location although we also silently swear at them for despoiling this idyllic natural spot. We cross the river where an old wooden bridge uses to span the river and see old river gauges no longer in use. We tackle a few modest rapids where we scrap rocks with the bottom of our sturdy canoe (the water level is so low). We make a few additional difficult portages and ride a few exciting rapids before shooting out onto Red Cedar Lake.

Both Francois and I had talked about the Red Cedar over the last few days with one major purpose in mind. Junk Food…ahh we knew that Mountain River Lodge where we had stopped years previously would have cold drinks and snacks. Our diet over the last week did not allow for this type of consumable food, so we nearly salivated over the thought that it was so near.

We round a few corners and finally there it is: Mountain River Lodge. We bank the canoe to the right, beach it and haul up the beach before entering the store where the lodge owner greets us with many questions. Where have you come from? What direction? North? South? East? Where’s your garbage? I can take it you know. Too many campers just dump it all over the place, he says. We assure him we have all the garbage and we will take it back with us for disposal. Somewhat assured he asks us what we need? We buy some pop, chips and two chocolate bars each before heading out. We have trouble leaving the lodge since the lodge owner loves to talk and discuss comings and goings over the years. He is a very interesting fellow who seems to know everyone around. We leave, wishing him the best. We head up to a point on a large island about a mile up the lake where we were told a picnic table might exist. We find none, but we still sit on the beach on large smooth rocks and devour and savour our pops, chips and chocolate bars. It’s crazy that we are so dependant on these sweet nothings, but oh well.

After fifteen minutes we push on and after an hour of leisurely paddling we spy Island Lake Dam (Small Dam/Petite Dam). This site is so common to us that we are feeling a little nostalgic and as we make our way to the beaching area we give the thumbs up sign. We snap a few quick pictures, do the small portage (2nd smallest) and jump into the canoe for the last few strokes. Twenty minutes later we pass the 2nd Point and see the cottages and golden beaches. It’s at this point that we realize something quite incredible. In the 185 kilometres of canoeing, this is the first time we see a large sandy beach. Incredibly, no other beaches were seen along the way. We realize how blessed we are to have this large sandy strip and although we have always considered ourselves lucky to have such a beautiful spot, we now realize how lucky.

In the final few strokes home we see, my dad and uncles come out onto the beach to greet us and snap a few pictures. In seven days we have covered 185 kilometres, done approximately 10 or more kilometres of portaging and tons and tons of pounds carried on our poor shoulders and back.

As we eat an amazing stew that night that my mom cooked we talk about easily we slip back into our life of comfort. In the woods we brought only required gear and food. We only took what we could carry (except that darn beast of a canoe). But the ease of grabbing a cold beer, sitting in a comfortable chair, starting the oven, etc. clearly indicates our level of comfort with the modern. Although we pin for simplicity and quiet, we quickly gravitate to the plush ness of our everyday life. Maybe that’s why we yearn so much for this type of adventurous trip, so that we can test our mettle, push our limits in a way that allows us to question our purpose and our true values.

Tally Day 7:
Rapids: 7
Portages: 5 for a total of 1.6kilometers

Total Entire Trip
Rapids: 29
Portages: 35 for a total distance of 11.9 kilometers

Return to Reality
A few weeks/months later

In the weeks and months that followed our canoe trip both Francois and I have more than once mentioned what fun the trip was. How the opportunity for us to escape “normal” life for ten days and experience life at it’s simplest and most basic was an incredible opportunity that we both must repeat moving forward.

Although we found the trip physically demanding, we both agreed it was worth it and that we would do it again. As children we competed often, many times against each other, but this time we competed together against the challenges of the distance, nature, the raging river and our own human limitations. By working together, we succeeded and overcame but did not beat Temagami’s challenges. Hopefully future years will see us once again challenge the mighty Temagami.

File comment: A gorgeous early morning on the Temagami prior to Cross Lake
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File comment: Me (Survivorman) on Day 1 on the Lower Temagami, a few K's before Ragged Chute.
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File comment: Map of our Loop Trip
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Last edited by ThistleLaker on April 2nd, 2010, 3:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2010, 3:17 pm 
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Joined: February 7th, 2004, 12:37 pm
Posts: 1670
Location: Guelph, ON
Nice, well written trip report.
You and Francois are not the only ones to have problems getting out of Manitou. In 1998, I went through there with 2 of my kids, and I did the same thing, ending up back on Manitou after taking a wrong turn on the portage. It took a few minutes to figure out where I was... unbelievable that could happen.... and a few more minutes to kick myself in the butt a few times, but like you, we eventually got back on track. I also remember that on the first pass through, we had seen a bees nest that had been knocked down in the wind. We got by that without incident. On the second pass by this nest, we were not so lucky. My middle daughter, who was about 16 at the time suffered a few stings as she passed by these angry guys.

As to travelling up the Sturgeon, thanks but no thanks.
I have travelled up rivers, Bloodvein and Gammon to mention just 2 of them , but it is difficult and very physically demanding as you both found out...
But it gives you a great feeling of accomplishment when you are finished.

PostPosted: March 31st, 2010, 5:24 pm 

Joined: August 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm
Posts: 18
Took it off the download site as it was not viewing properly. Added a few pictures. Looking forward to my next trip.

PostPosted: April 2nd, 2010, 6:43 am 

Joined: September 8th, 2009, 8:29 am
Posts: 318
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Hello ThistleLaker: Great trip report! I can't believe how quickly you guys did the trip; killer long days. If ever do the route I'll do it in the recommended 12-14 days. Great detail. Thanks for sharing.

Take care,
Cousin Pete


"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908

PostPosted: April 19th, 2010, 11:14 am 
CCR Assistant Administrator
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Joined: January 20th, 2003, 7:00 pm
Posts: 12090
Location: Simcoe County, Ontario
Did you want these to be in this thread too, ThistleLaker?

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ScreenHunter_03%20Mar_%2031%2017_51.gif [ 57.45 KiB | Viewed 3209 times ]

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I'm out of bed and I made it to the keyboard....what more do you want?

PostPosted: April 19th, 2010, 1:53 pm 

Joined: August 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm
Posts: 18

That would be great. Thank you for adding additional photos.


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