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 Post subject: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 4:07 am 
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We're seriously looking at a Wabakimi trip in 2020, starting from Allanwater Bridge and ending at either Collins, or Forrest Lodge, and I'm hoping to get the opinion of the hive mind here... can it be done (well, yes it can, but what's the best way)?

I'd be going with intermediate trippers (at best) and two or three novices in a parrty of 4 or 6, with limited or no whitewater experience. I myself am of middling experience - not afraid, but not experienced. We have a couple of route options prepared, please have a look:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mi ... 99996&z=10

Our plan is 8 days paddling, 2 days of rest, and 2 days for f**kups or storms. We fully intend to do some whitewater training in the spring, but while that can teach you the mechanics, it can't teach you how to read the water. I'm calling true_north here, he did the exact same route I am proposing.

I am leading the trip. I do have experience in the boreal, but not all that much. I do have whitewater experience, but not all that much, nothing past a CII non-tech. I can portage like a mofo, but I can't speak for everyone who would join us. While the short route from Wabakimi to Smoothrock Lake seems a bit short, the sojourn into Whitewater Lake seems a bit long. By my estimate the short route is 7 days, and the long route is 9 (plus rest days). We have 10 days, plus a 2 day safety margin. That gives us 8 days of paddling if you include 2 days of rest.

I did the upper Missinaibi, 20 years ago - we starved, but we survived (long story, that).

Calling anyone who's been there in the last two decades or so, what are your thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 11:41 am 
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A couple years ago my wife did the second half of your trip into Whitewater from smoothwater as a loop starting in little caribou lake.

We did 9 nights. I dont recall a rest day. For whitewater we ran Class 1s and portaged anything else and had no problems.

For only paddling 8 days I think the long route could be challenging. I think your two options leave great opportunity to make the call when you get there. If you think the long way adds 2 days and you have got to the junction early then go for it.

We had been warned of being wind blown and swells on whitewater lake. During our trip whitewater lake was glass and we did not have any wind issues during our entire time.

This map is a great resource: https://www.worldofmaps.com/product/WABAKIMI.html

I added it with print at home topo of my route and was good to go.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 1:13 pm 
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Have you looked at true norths info in the Trip Reports form? Lots of good info there. You can also access his travel blog here:

https://albinger.me


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 4:20 pm 
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Ken, I got your email but I thought I'd post my response here on the off chance that someone else might be interested in a great introductory paddle route in Wabakimi Canoe Country.

To access Allan Water Bridge and the put-in, the cheapest way to the put-in is by train. The VIA train comes by

    Armstrong at 9:17 a.m (EST) arrives Allan Water at 9:26 (CT) if you're coming from the east
    Savant Lake at 8:14 gets to Allan Water Bridge at 8:46 if you're coming from the west

Our trip report - Wabakimi: Paddling To the Center of the Universe [Click on the title to access!]

The trip report has more info on current VIA Rail dates and times; they are different than the old ones in our report.

It also has links to all the downloadable Fed. Govt topo maps you would need. The maps are free courtesy the Government of Canada! The map that gnatwest mentions is an overview map of the entire park and is great for planning but you need more specific detail for your trip.

The report also has a link to Ken Kokanie's annotated map set of the exact trip you are thinking of.

We did the longer version of the trip you describe in late Aug-early Sept 2010. We did it in ten days with one storm day off the water. Given that we tend to be a bit driven on our trips, I would suggest more time - maybe 12 to 14 days - to do what we did. Also, if you guys are going to do some fishing, then you'll appreciate a slower pace.

Your shorter route, the one that heads back via Lower Wabakimi Lake, is the better choice for what I would guess will just be your first trip to a canoe tripping paradise you'll be returning to. Next August we're going back for our fifth time since that first one ten years ago!

Other than the length of the trip, your other worry was the rapids. If you choose the shorter option, only the Allan Water has rapids you need to worry about. Otherwise, you'll be paddling across lakes and paddling up the Caribou River.

Some rapids are quite benign and I am sure your crew will get a bit of an adrenaline rush as they canoe down. Those that can't be run can be easily portaged around. The portages are all fairly short and the route is used enough to ensure that the trails are in pretty good shape. Some prep for the portages - like having no more than three or four bags per canoe so that everything fits into those bags and you don't have a lot of stray pieces of gear all over the place - will make sure they go by even faster.

The route will take you past Brennan Falls; you may want to make this one of your rest days/fishing days. It is a scenic little slice of Wabakimi.

One note about the end of your trip - instead of paddling down Caribou Lake (big water and not fun when windy), come down through Little Caribou Lake. Kokanie's map makes use of this quieter route.

Image

Wabakimi Clem, a myccr forum member, can arrange a shuttle for you. He had our car parked at the end of Caribou Lake for the day of our arrival. It is a six-kilometer ride back to Armstrong and some restaurant food!

Nothing like planting the seeds for your next trip in December! You have picked a nice introduction to Wabakimi Canoe Country.

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 9:45 pm 
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Thanks, much appreciated.

Technically we have 12 days (Monday to Friday of the following week), but we're building in a 2 day safety margin. A bit worried that the short route is *too* short.

As for the trains, I got the schedule, but from what I've been able to find out, those trains are reliably late - I'm also concerned with how true that is and whether or not a late train could cost us a day before we even head out. Right now, for example, there's 2 westbound trains both 6 hours behind, and an eastbound train 3 hours behind schedule.

I figure ending at Forrest Lodge provides the option of a multi-day window to end the trip, whereas arranging for a shuttle at Little Caribou boxes us in to a very specific arrival time there, but yes, that does look like some relatively big water to cross on Caribou Lake otherwise. I suppose it's only a 4km walk or so to Armstrong anyway.

And thanks for saving Ken Kokanie's map set, his website no longer exists and it would have otherwise been lost.

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Last edited by PacketFiend on December 18th, 2019, 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 10:20 pm 
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Ken, nothing you can do about the trains! VIA just rents the track from CN and CN is in the business of moving freight, and not people. Guess what comes first? You may lose a half-day at each end. As it is, your first day going in will be more like half a day. You could always have a relaxing first day by getting off at the Allanwater Lodge and renting a cabin for a night - it should hold six paddlers easy. We paid $50. back in 2012. You'll be paying more in 2020! The train stops right in front of the Jelinski-owned Lodge.

https://www.allanwater.com

When I saw that Ken's website was gone, I emailed him and got his permission to host his excellent map sets. It was his Allan Water map set that made it very easy for us to consider Wabakimi. He also has one on the Kopka River that we used a couple of years later. We even used a bit of one he did on the upper Albany River!

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 10:38 pm 
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Re; too short. You could be right!

You could extend it a couple of days by going down the Ogoki River towards Whitewater Lake but turning south at the mouth of the Berg. Going up the Berg River to Smoothrock Lake- it is about 10 km. - and then across to the Caribou River. You could make the call when you get to Wabakimi Lake.

Image

It will definitely involve a bit more portaging from River Bay into Kenoji Lake and then three or four upriver portages on the Berg. By then your team will be in great shape!

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 12:02 am 
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true_north wrote:
Ken, nothing you can do about the trains! VIA just rents the track from CN and CN is in the business of moving freight, and not people. Guess what comes first? You may lose a half-day at each end.


Oh I get that, and I'm not blaming VIA. Plenty of blame to go around, but I don't put it at VIA's feet. But then, there are realities. Right now the westbound #1 train is a whopping 40 hours behind schedule, and is still half an hour short of Armstrong. I can plan around a late train, but I can't plan around a train that, at this rate, would have been nearly 2 days late. Hell, at this rate, the Sunday train is going to overtake the Wednesday train!

Is this a common occurence? I understand VIA service has been *ahem* sub-par of late, but I didn't think it was this bad. Is it perhaps safer to take the eastbound train from Savant Lake and shuttle back from Armstrong at the end? Hopefully, this is just a (hopefully rare) mechanical issue and the thing is just limping to where it can be repaired or have the locomotive swapped, or it's stuck behind a smilarly gimpy freight train too long for the sidings. I did once take the Canadian to Thunder Bay for Christmas, back in the early nineties. It's a vague memory, but I do seem to recall a lot of cold weather issues, plumbing lines freezing and stuff.

I'll be monitoring the on-time performance here and there while we flesh out all the details over winter/spring, but anyone else have any experience with the Canadian lately?

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 8:25 am 
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Time is Money. Consider taking a float plane in. The cost isn't that bad
since the flights are quite short.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 8:35 am 
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How about taking Smoothrock Lake south to the Lookout River and Onamakawash (Ona-ma-kay'-wash) Lake to the tracks and then the train back to Armstrong Station?


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 9:53 am 
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VIA has a disclaimer on their website. They say that if a connection is being made, plan an extra day. That to suggests that they know their service is undependable for the present.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 5:19 pm 
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Here a headline from yesterday's Globe & Mail -

One Month After CN Strike Major Grain Backlogs Remain ..... Click on the title to access the article.

You're seeing CN at its worst right now thanks to that one-week strike which ended on Nov. 27. While I have stood on the side of the track in Wabakimi Park waiting for our train to come, it has never been for more than three or four hours.

We'll be going up from Union Station in Toronto next August, getting off at Savant Lake and hopping back on at Mud River. We're hoping for the best!

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 9:38 pm 
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Oh yeah, the strike. I forgot about that. I would have read that article yesterday, but I'm a lowly Toronto Star subscriber :rofl:

3 or 4 hours, even 8, is plannable. Past that point I'll start to consider alternatives.
true_north wrote:
While I have stood on the side of the track in Wabakimi Park waiting for our train to come, it has never been for more than three or four hours.

Very useful, thanks!
ski_it wrote:
Time is Money. Consider taking a float plane in. The cost isn't that bad since the flights are quite short.

Done and done, I've asked a few operators in the area. Still lots of time to consider options.

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 10:44 pm 
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Re: Globe and Mail article. I googled it!

Re: T.O. Star. I have a digital subscription. I don't mind supporting their journalists. I like Walkom, Royston James, Rosie Dimanno, Chris Hume, Heather Mallik, etc.etc!

All you can do with the train is hope for the best. It is actually a stress-free ride once you give up the notion of getting there on time. And if you do - bonus!

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi 2020
PostPosted: December 22nd, 2019, 3:48 am 
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Wabakimi Guy wrote:
How about taking Smoothrock Lake south to the Lookout River and Onamakawash (Ona-ma-kay'-wash) Lake to the tracks and then the train back to Armstrong Station?

That does look enticing - but needing a train at the end of the trip I think would add a major logistical challenge (we have a hard stop - be in Armstrong on a Friday Evening), and it's not a flagstop train. Would this route take us through Spring and Surprise lakes? It might be something I could finaggle for a future trip, assuming I don't set my sights on something else. You wouldn't happen to have any maps of the area you speak of, would you?
true_north wrote:
We'll be going up from Union Station in Toronto next August, getting off at Savant Lake and hopping back on at Mud River. We're hoping for the best!

Sounds to me like all of August up there. I am officially jealous. I look forward to shaking hands should we happen to cross paths. And, good luck, with the Union Station Portage. That place is a clusterf**k these days.
true_north wrote:
Re: T.O. Star. I have a digital subscription. I don't mind supporting their journalists. I like Walkom, Royston James, Rosie Dimanno, Chris Hume, Heather Mallik, etc.etc!

You forgot Emma Teitel. Just don't get me started on Heather Mallick.

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