View topic - Agawa Oct 4th errr 6th to 10th 2014 Photo heavy

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PostPosted: October 19th, 2014, 6:04 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2006, 4:25 pm
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Location: Milton
Agawa October 4th errr 6th to 10th, 2014

The canoe trip that wasn’t but ended up being one of the best ever.
(At least from a photographers view point)

There was supposed to be a group of us paddling down the Agawa but the forecast for heavy rains and very cool temperatures put a major damper on the plans.
I stated it would not be safe for the group to go down the river and it was best to call off the trip. I was still going to head up as a friend of mine had been planning for this trip for 2 years. With any luck at least I could give him a few days in the bush on a train in, train out trip.
Well the rains made it and the river levels went up to flood levels, so good call on that one.
My friend Mike and I would still take the train in on Saturday and come out on the Tuesday with the Southbound train…..
Well that was not to be as we got a call on the drive up just out of the Sault that there was engine problems with the passenger train and it may not run on Saturday.
Since we where already one hour out from the Sault and booked for the KOA we figured we would work on plan C, D, E…….
If your interested the Kamping Kabins are clean, heated and depending on the size are a great inexpensive way to stay the night before you have to load your gear on the train.
We woke up early and confirmed the train would not run on Saturday so we ended up and had a great breakfast at Muios, 685 Queen St E. (inexpensive, and good, plus large helpings)
We where looking for a place and choose this one because people where going in.
It was as a major Find! (the place was packed!)
We bought our round trip tickets for Frater for Monday with the plan that if the weather went further south we could bail and come out with the southbound on Tuesday, or northbound on the Thursday to Hawk Junction or South bound on the Friday. They gave us permission to load our gear in Frater due to the inconvenience.
On the drive up to Lake Superior Park we stopped at Chipewa Falls…. Which convinced me more than ever we made all the right calls by cancelling the canoe part of the trip.

Chipaewa falls in flood.

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We then drove up to the Park and set up in my Wife’s favorite campsite in the Agawa Bay Campground. ( Can’t tell you the site, she would hurt me….) Lets just say the storms of November came early this year, so it took us a while to tarp in her spot.
Take this warning seriously, if you come up here in the fall make sure you have enough tarps because if you don’t it will not be fun for those waiting for you to do your run at this time of year.
After setting up camp we took a drive up to Frater to show Mike some of the highlights of Frater. You may laugh but the Frater Outhouse is a must see, not to use but to enjoy the artwork and the history that is present.

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The logging road to the east is incredible shape and it gives you an opportunity to go the historic original rail siding of the area, the one the Group of Seven would have stayed at when they where here on their Boxcar trips.

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A little further past the forks to the old side yards up the hill you will get to the high point of ground above Frater and you will be rewarded with a great view if it is clear… We got snow squalls…

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And saw more coming, very dramatic and beautiful at the same time.
I didn’t darken this pick just toned down the bright spots a bit.

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We drove up the next day to Wawa to check out High Falls and Silver falls but because they where holding back water for hydro they where actually quite low. It was actually a bonus we hadn’t gone in this day before because it was just above freezing with some very heavy rain, snow and sleet squalls. We did a quick tourist stop at Old Women’s Bay where the surf was great. It had much nicer longer rollers coming in than Agawa Bay. The cool temps and yellow birch gave for much better definition and depth than the pics from our summer trip.

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On Monday morning we called and confirmed the train was still a go and got our gear ready. We where lucky today, even though it was still cool, it was sunny with some cloudy periods and best of all dry!

Train on time.

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Some of us here on the forum have mentioned before that feeling you get when you get off the train or transported to a wilderness site the first time, and you get that “what am I doing here” feeling, well Mike being a rookie tripper out for the first time since a teenager showed what we all probably felt when we first did it. I am sure we have all felt that feeling, just never able to show it.

Just off the train.

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Train is gone! I quick candid shot shows the “what the” am I doing in the woods moment.

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So now it was time to work, we got the gear down to the campsite and Mike started to bring up high and dry driftwood from river and I set up my canvas winter tent that also doubles as a campfire tent. It is not pretty but very practical in a base camp situation, and with the front flap open still gives you that feeling of not sitting in a closed tent in bad weather.

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Because of all the rain, the ground was saturated, when you stepped water squished in your footsteps. We then went up along the tracks and cut balsam boughs from the trees the ACR had cut off the tops of to keep the track area clear. This solved the sleeping on the wet ground and gave us a great very comfortable mattress; this image was after we broke camp. We covered the boughs and the inside part of the tent with a plastic tarp which gave us a nice dry place for our gear and us.

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Oops! Almost forgot this very sweet part of the story, and a new tradition for the Canyon. Since we where going to take the train out I figured I would collect garbage and take it out. Under the edge of the cooking rock was this old coffeemate jar and this note in it. Needless to say we also signed and put the note back for the next person. I think I scared Mike a bit when I started to laugh very loud when I opened it.

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Once camp was set we walked up to look at the Goudge, holy crap! This made the year I first ran the Agawa look like low water.
This boulder was completely under water, I normally stand on top of it to take pictures. It was getting dark and starting to rain so I didn’t take my camera.

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This pic from Wednesday, 2 days later the water had dropped more than 1 ft. (30cm)

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The iconic triangle rock from AY Jackson’s painting was also completely under water. This was again taken on the Friday we left.

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Link to rock at lower water.
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/8 ... directlink

After checking out the levels it was time to install the thunder box, which went quite well, I found a spot deep enough with only a few roots and small rocks, and that was a surprise. It was great to get everything set up and be dry because until Friday we where in for cool wet weather some intermittent rain/sleet/snow squalls and one night of heavy rain.
First nights dinner: Chicken souvlaki, baked potato, and a ready to eat curried vegetable (comes in a bag like magic pantry use to) and a nice glass of red wine.

http://www.kohinoorfoods.in/ProductGrou ... MD/iew6g==

As evening approached the skies started to clear and the shadows in the canyon and the sun still hitting the higher clouds it made for some interesting contrast.

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I wasn’t really expecting it to clear as much as it did so I had to scramble to get my stuff together for some night shots. It was almost a full moon and I never tire of seeing the canyon fill with moonlight.

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Make no mistake, I was concerned, with the weather turning the wrong way and having a first timer with me things could have gotten miserable pretty quickly. I can be very happy just sitting by a fire enjoying being out in the woods others might not find this so enjoyable.
For sleep systems I used half my down winter bag plus a canvas bivy sack. For Mike he found the first night a little cold at Agawa Bay so I added another lightweight bag to the top with the canvas bivy and we where more than warm enough on all nights with the temp hovering close to zero each night. The canvas bivies did a great job of keeping the dampness off the bags.
The campfire tent made having breakfast in rain really enjoyable, to be able to just be dry and warm and enjoy our coffee in comfort was great! We didn’t do much but wanted to try and catch the southbound train and frame it in the spot that matched the surveyor’s painting from before they put the tracks in. Well the train was late and after standing for an hour holding on to a tree on a very steep loose slope it was time to move elsewhere.

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


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PostPosted: October 19th, 2014, 6:14 pm 
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Part II.

I moved to a spot I have shot many times before, but I knew I could sit and use the tripod. The clouds where getting lower and it was getting darker as the next squall moved in. It made for a neat effect, with the train cars blurred together.

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Wednesday morning looked promising, a heavy squall broke just after breakfast and he sun came out so we put together some lunch and our rain gear and headed off to Canyon Station at Mile 114. No sooner had we started and the next monsoon hit, but we kept going. When we got to the Lawren Harris location the sun came out and made for very enjoyable views. No way to get anywhere close to the river, the rocks that L.H. and I would have stood on where well underwater.

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I have never walked through Canyon station before so this was new to me. When we got there the latest squall just finished, we figured we better get up to the observation platform while the weather was so-so. By the time we got to the top the photo conditions where actually pretty good.

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I know they don’t like trekkers and paddlers mingling with the Tour train people so we hung out at the picnic shelter at the north end of the park, and had our lunch. You could really feel the temperature dropping and as the Tour Train pulled out and the next squall hit, only this time there was a lot of sleet in it. So we waited some more. When it stopped we headed down to Bridal Veil Falls. The only other time I have been up close to the Black Beaver Falls was winter, so now I have some fall shots to go along with those ones.

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We where just walk north past the picnic shelter when the weather went south.
Rain, sleet, snow and wind, Mike asked if we should sit it out, but since we where already very damp and this one didn’t look like it was going to break anytime soon.

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It did ease off a bit but this one was going to get worse. Back at camp we got the fire going and into some dryer stuff, and again the campfire tent made a huge difference. After supper it really started to rain, it rained so hard we brought all our precut firewood into the tent, Mike made that call and it was a good one because it did not let up to the wee hours of the next morning. Mike also learned quickly that I would get up and get the fire going to warm the tent. :D
Thursday morning I asked Mike if he was warm and comfortable enough and if he was okay staying another night. He was fine with staying so I got a good fire going and hung up some lines in the tent to dry out our sleeping bags. The bags felt good but the canvas bivies where wet to the touch from dampness.
I wanted to hike up to the falls on Eleven Mile Creek and catch the northbound passenger train and Mike hung around the camp. Which is pretty cool for a rookie to do to spend some alone time while letting me wonder around in the woods.
Eleven Mile Creek Falls.

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1985 Levels

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Heading back to get ready for the passenger train I got some bonus pics of a freight train exiting the Goudge Gateway, and then I proceeded to get set up for the passenger train. Because of the rain the rocks where really slick so I had to really take my time, But once there I got a beautiful sequence of the ACR passenger train entering an A.Y. Jackson painting location. (the train was pretty well on time)

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So I sat there a little longer breathing in the Canyon and then as an added bonus, a gift from the Spirits of the Canyon so to speak. The shadows, the colours the sunbeams… Wow!

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Zoomed in.

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The squalls returned so back to camp and the fire, put our sleeping bags back together and finish the wine so we would not half to carry it out.
So another night of hard water falling but with the campfire tent :D .
We had a thermometer at sitting head height and most of the time temps where around 10c, we did manage to get it up to between 15-20c when the winds would ease off. During the day the only radio you could get in the Canyon here was several shortwave stations which if you really don’t want to listen to. The Weather bands did not make into hear either so you depend on AM skip at night so it was a little entertaining while the stations fade in and out.
The next morning the rains had stopped and the skies lifted a bit so it looked good for packing up. I packed up the gear so Mike could enjoy the canyon a bit with out the rain. We had a nice hot soup for lunch and then carried our gear up to the tracks to wait for the train.
We walked up the tracks so I could introduce him to the Canyon Bear.

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Then Mike got to meet one of the locals… what would a rookie’s trip be without a black fly or 2.

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Ready to head back.

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The train was just over an hour late, but it was pleasant enough weather to watch as sunbeams lit up various parts of the canyon. It made the yellows of the birch than much brighter.

Pick up time.

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The first thing the conductor said was “ You had quite the week of weather up here” The ride back to Frater is pretty quick and the view always inspiring.
My wife picked us up and we had a celebrative beer for Mike surviving 5 days with me in the bush…
Back at Agawa bay having just finished a nice hot shower, we where just getting set for dinner and a beer around the fire when the best sunset I have ever seen up there started to happen. It started as a thin slit of sunlight shining on the Montreal Harbour Point and then it started to move north along the coast.

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The colour of the light, the angle of the setting sun, the hills and the leaves off some the trees really showed off the elevations different types of trees grow at.

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I was so busy taking pics of the south hills I almost missed a great natural phenomena. My wife tapped my on the shoulder and pointed towards the Agawa islands saying that’s different. I knew it was a mirage, way cool!

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Agawa bay really lit up when the sunbeam moved north.

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It was such a beautiful gold hue, even the White Pines looked golden.

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What a way to end a trip where plans where in constant transition because of the weather. Mike handled the trying conditions extremely well and will go back if it is drier and warmer.
For me it was a great learning experience, it had been a while since I taught paddling and Mike was out 3 times in Kelso to learn W.W. strokes and once in the Credit in medium high water to prepare for the Agawa. He did great and kept his cool as we practiced moves in Class II and III.
As the trip for me, had all these changes to plans not happened I would have missed some of my best photographic opportunities in the Canyon.
We where warm, dry, well fed, we got to see great fall colours with amazing lighting and natural phenomena in the area of the pictographs and we still came out friends!
Yeah it was a good one. :thumbup:
Jeff

Link to album
https://picasaweb.google.com/1142241160 ... directlink

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2014, 12:23 pm 
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Awesome trip report and amazing pics...thanks for sharing!

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PostPosted: October 20th, 2014, 12:45 pm 
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As always, a great post.

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PostPosted: October 20th, 2014, 2:30 pm 
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Jeff - wow! Some great shots! The fall colours make what is already a beautiful spot even more captivating. The waterfalls shots and the couple from what you call the AY Jackson painting location would make great Agawa promo posters! I've never been there but seeing your pix sure is an incentive! Thanks for posting.

BTW - my bro and I were also paddling that week and the weather in Temagami was a carbon copy of yours. We still really enjoyed it!

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PostPosted: October 21st, 2014, 1:39 pm 
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Thanks Jeff. I always enjoy your trip reports.


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PostPosted: October 21st, 2014, 8:24 pm 
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Thanks for the report and love all the pics.


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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2014, 8:11 pm 
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Jeff that picture you posted of Chippewa Falls is unbelievable. That is by far the most water I have ever seen coming over the falls. I saw that the Soo received 6.5 inches of rain so far this month and most of it fell in the first week.
I enjoyed your report. The pictures are awesome. They keep getting better and better.


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PostPosted: October 22nd, 2014, 9:18 pm 
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It was 3.6 on the Batchawana Guage that day.
Last week it got up to 4.1 :o
And the tracks got washed out, and a few roads. and they had to stop the southbound passenger train and evacuate those on board to Searchmount.
Ton of water for sure.
Jeff

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


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