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 Post subject: 4M Circle Route (West)
PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 4:41 pm 
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Joined: April 1st, 2003, 9:40 am
Posts: 240
Location: Toronto,ON
Dividing Lake – Mesomikenda Lake Loop
(part of the 4M Circle Loop near Gogama)

Participants: Darryl and Rosa
Trip Report: Rosa

Here is a link to a good map ( the area and we found the route description ( ... rapids.htm) very helpful, we also used Kevin Callan's book “Lost Canoe Routes” for the location of other campsites.

Day 1
Sun – Sep 13

We left Toronto under a threatening sky and light drizzle which eventually turned to torrential rain as we drove north. Things really started clearing up as we approached Sudbury and continued improving to a complete blue sky by the time we got to Dividing Lake. The drive took us longer than expected (6.5 hours) due to lots of construction on Hwy 144. Between complete rebuilding, resurfacing and patch fixes it added at least an extra 45 min to our drive, great drive when it's all finished.
I love a trip that heads onto the Arctic watershed

We scouted the island campsite on Dividing Lake as we expect to spend our last night here and want to make sure it exists.
Beautiful meandering paddle up Mollie River (really a creek) to the first portage. It's marked and well maintained, same with the second portage. We had to pull up over a couple of beaver dams, what I call nuisance beaver dams, they were low but could not be paddled up yet were too flimsy to support our weight.
Really gorgeous scenery and incredibly quiet, Darryl described it as so quiet “you can hear a squirrel
fart in the woods”.
“Nuisance” beaver dam on Mollie River

We speculate on the many bright pink flagging tape streamers we see along the way, all with numbers and letters on them, my favourite theory being that they are somehow connected with the youth ranger camp on Dividing Lake, maybe each goes on a quest to find their assigned number and stay there overnight with minimal gear (Darryl insists they’re related to mining claims). We'll never know. We have a new game -“Spot the next pink tape”.
Annotated Flagging Tape

We stayed at the campsite on the south section of Three Duck Lake, what I call South Duck, located on a rocky west facing point, small but perfect for us. We were visited by a really tiny weasel, a Least weasel maybe (Sorry, no pics, the little guy was darn quick).

Day 2
Mon – Sep 14

Blue sky and a cool early morning with mist rising off the lake.
After a lazy breakfast and late departure we stopped to investigate a campsite on a small island on the way out of South Duck. It's as if something nasty happened there, a kitchen chair with chewed up upholstery, a collapsed tent with rusting poles and styrofoam plates wedged against every rock and bush. I collected the plates and left the huge pile in the fire pit weight down with a rock, shook our heads and moved on. Darryl caught and released a smallmouth bass while I was cleaning the site.
We enjoyed a tail wind through the narrow section between South Duck and Middle Duck, very pretty area.
Between Middle Duck and North Duck we paddled under a major logging road, laid down a couple of logs and pulled the canoe over the rocks.

Had lunch on the narrow dirt road on the hump of land between North Duck and Wee Duck and than carried over to Wee Duck, plenty of flagging tape marks the take-out spot. We did the very well maintained portage into Bagsverd Lake, this portage has campsites at both ends and a collapsed trappers compound on the Wee Duck side.

Gotta love this grunt portage sign – start of portage to Bagsverd Lake

Collapsed trappers compound, rusting appliances and bath tub tucked into the bush

The temperature has risen to full on summer heat.
Once in Bagsverd we really had to dig in to make headway against the now gusting south west wind, ducking behind islands, a shady campsite our main goal.
We stayed at the last campsite before Bagsverd Creek, great view, this campsite has seen a lot of use.
The pink tape on the small island closest to our site proved to be the last we saw on the trip.

Shady campsite on Bagsverd with Mantis set up to provide respite from gusting wind

Day 3
Tue – Sep 15

A beautiful summer day.
We paddled Bagsverd creek under the “low maintenance” bridge which is now a full on logging road. Pulled over rocks and lined the canoe past the first portage and carried the second portage into Schist Lake.

Bypassing first portage on Bagsverd creek – the Mistral is a tough little canoe

Schist is a beautiful lake with an irregular shoreline and studded with many island. It also has a couple of small fishing boats zipping around, one approaches us and there's lots of chatting, “where are you from”, “how did you get here”, “where are you going” and also “would you like some fish”. Pete (the guy at the engine) along with his buddies have caught their share of fish, eaten heaps of fish and would love to share the bounty. He heads off to camp to get some fish for us while we paddle on after him, nice that the island camp/cabin is in the direction we want to go. Pete comes back with a bag full of cleaned filleted pickerel with real chunks of ice in it. Under the sun on such a hot day I couldn't take my eyes off the ice, sure wished they had put the ice in a separate bag, it would have been lovely to have it in a drink once at camp… By this time all three boats were hanging around us in the middle of the lake, the owner of the cabin making sure that Pete had offered us fish, these guys are amazing, they have been doing a September “guys week” at Schist Lake for about thirty years.
They point out various nice spots to camp but it's still early, we stick with the plan to move on to Schou and hopefully have a lake to ourselves.
Water is low at this time of the year, we dragged the boat to the start of the portage (height of land portage) and at the other side could barely float it with occasionally having to pull ourselves along by the vegetation through the narrow winding creek into the south west section Schou Lake. We lily dipped keeping as much of the paddle out of the water as possible (sounds funny, eh), this section of the lake is so shallow, mucky and brown, any disturbance of the bottom released noxious fumes, the shore line is also very indifferent looking. Once past the narrows it's a different lake, deep water and beautiful views, a very short paddle brought us to a campsite high on a south west facing rock outcrop. We set up camp deep into the jack-pines and black spruce to take advantage of the shade.

I love hammock time

View from hammock

Beautiful fish – thanks guys – the first batch already in our tummies

Day 4
Wed – Sep 16

We left under a brilliant blue sky with a steady south wind.
Very pretty well maintained portage into Little Somme river

“Little” being the appropriate way to describe the amount of water at the put-in, the steady tail wind and beautiful scenery made the push/pole sections go by quickly. Very shallow lily pad clogged entry into Wolf Lake, duck central.
On the south section of the lake we explored a campsite on a high north east facing point, tent pads of luxuriant moss, no thermarest required and a great view, unfortunately it's too soon for us to stop.

Fire pit on mossy campsite - Wolf Lake

Wolf lake looking east from the mossy campsite

We really liked Wolf Lake, lots of rock outcrops, plenty of wild life and a really close look at a bald eagle.
The rapids section between Wolf lake and Somme lake were a boulder garden at this time of the year. The great weather and scenery still made it a lot of fun.

Start of boulder garden


Walk your partner and do-zee-do – the boulder dance

Final rapids section before Somme lake – beaver dam build by “stone-mason” beavers

Once on Somme lake we felt the full force of the strong and gusting west wind at our backs and hugged the north shore to make sure we didn't miss the campsite, our destination.
Huge shady campsite, high enough for a view. The low topography, jack-pine and BBS (beautiful black spruce), though not dramatic has it's own beauty.

Hammock time on Somme Lake

Day 5
Thur - Sep 17

The full on morning sunshine got us moving and on the water earlier than usual.
Somme lake sunrise (I didn't see this, I was still sleeping)

We paddled along with a nice tail wind, eventually through the left side culvert under another logging road.

Past culvert - portage to Neville Lake to the left

The narrow section into Neville Lake was another boulder garden, I walked through the rock ledge campsite on the right while Darryl wiggled the canoe along the narrow channel. Neville is a beautiful lake with many islands (some with campsites) and lots of ducks.
We let the wind push us along once we turned the corner towards Mesomikenda. Another well maintained portage took us into a narrow arm of Mesomikenda lake.

Drifting towards the main section of Mesomikenda – many camping opportunities on this arm

The excellent tail wind pushed us in the direction of the island campsite where the arm joins the main lake area. Much used huge campsite, we set up camp towards the east side well into the trees for shade and wind shelter.

East view from island campsite

South view from island campsite – heaps of lake through the narrows

Day 6
Fri – Sep 18

Last night's gusting wind brought some overnight showers. We woke up to gray skies and it started to rain once we left camp, at least the wind died down.
Rain and misty rain on and off for the next couple of hours. Mesomikenda is a big beautiful lake but the emergency campsites we visited along the way weren't.

Looking north about half way down the lake

The sky started to break up after the narrows where the Hydro line and the bridge cross the lake. The south section of the lake is devoid of cabins and cottages.

Clearing sky looking north from the south end of the lake

Big surprise, the last marked site on our map turns out to be a very nice, standard issue, Algonquinesque campsite complete with a big white pine at the point. No discussion required, we're staying for the night. As we set up camp the wind turns to north west, the barometer stays stubbornly low.

Day 7
Sat – Sep 19

Rain, Rain, Rain, we woke up to cold rain, all rain all the time, thick low level fog shrouds the lake.
With the driving rain at our back we lifted over the two dams at the end of the lake into two small “lakes” which we think are still park of Mesomikenda. Our hands are wet and cold but our eyes are happy, it's all beautiful.
We did the longish portage into Dividing lake, very confusing having to navigate our way through and past portions of an old logging road, across a current road and down to Dividing lake. We lifted down a steep beaver dam into Diving lake proper than paddled past the island we had initially intended as our last campsite. There's a small tent on it and a yellow canoe pulled up on the shore, just as well we stayed at Mesomikenda last night, somebody would have been disappointed.
We made a bee line to our car with the driving rain urging us on.

We loved the area and will come back another time in a different season when there's more water through the boulder narrows.

GPX data file URL:

PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 6:44 pm 
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Joined: September 13th, 2014, 11:52 am
Posts: 386
Location: Toronto
Lovely report and photos, as always. After reading about the route in the lost canoe routes book, it's nice to see it brought to life in a trip report.
And oh! Gotta love poking a bog with a paddle until it farts in your face. Joys of low-water paddling.



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PostPosted: September 11th, 2018, 6:58 am 
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Joined: June 28th, 2008, 2:06 pm
Posts: 361
Location: GTA
If you are considering this route, read the comments in this thread regarding some additional things to look out for: ... 7&p=426009

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