Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Ishpatina Ridge, Solo - May 2015

Back from the Ishpatina Ridge area of Ontario. The trip was to be a loop up to the ridge and then down the South Lady Evelyn River through Florence Lake and back through the Solace Wildlands PP. Ambitious, yes, but also a bit of a farewell trip for me through the wilder area of Temagami as we are moving to the lower mainland area of British Columbia at the end of July to be closer to our daughter and more importantly our 16 month old grandson Isaac.

I had factored in the spring water levels (I'd be traveling upstream on day 1, lining, when necessary, on the Sturgeon R., Stull and Scarecrow Creeks till I reached Woods Lk) from there on it would be mostly downstream and lake travel. What I hadn't counted on was the numerous balsam fir and other winter damaged conifer blowdown on the portages from an ice storm and heavy snowfall this past January! 

one of many blowdown areas on the portage I cleared
The first portage from Stull Creek to Hamlow Lk is 1650 metres and it was heavy with blowdown from start to finish :-( What is normally about a 2 hr double carry for me turned into an all day affair of cutting and clearing upwards of 20 blowdown areas in those spots where a simple bypass wasn't readily available. So 5 hrs later and somewhat spent, I found a spot for my hammock at the Hamlow Lake end of the port and settled in for the night, having only travelled about a third of my planned distance for the day. 

a quick set up for the night
Temagami, just when you think you have it figured out it lets you know that it's still a place where nature holds sway and we have to adapt to it's moods and rhythms. I awoke to near freezing temps and some spotty snow flurries and a stiff north wind - of course I was headed north! I also recalled that a friend had been on a trip in January to the Ishpatina area with Lure of the North and remembered that they had encountered much blowdown on all the portages while traveling from the northern approches to Scarecrow Lake, and that they had also camped short of their intended destination. I quickly realized that the all the portages on my intended route were probably all in the same condition and that time wasn't in my favour. I decided to just move up to Woods Lake and camp for a few days, relax, read, climb the ridge and enjoy myself and soak in the Temagami ambiance one last time. Spent some time in the water again wading/lining against the current on Scarecrow Creek.

Scarecrow Creek
Day 3 dawned with a cold wind blowing, my nalgene froze overnight so I just spent the day around camp puttering and reading with the idea of paddling up to Scarecrow and climbing the ridge the next day. The next day was a beautiful spring day, no wind to speak of, warm and oh yea, somebody woke up the blackflies!! Anyway, climbed the ridge (trail also had many areas of blowdown) and enjoyed the day.

tower trail blowdown
Came across a wolf kill on the lower portion of the tower trail, last years moose calf by the look and size of the few bones left.

winter wolf kill site
Anyway, long story short, I had an enjoyable and satisfying farewell to an area that has sunk deep into my being and while one chapter closes another adventure awaits.

Oh yeah, it rained on my return trip out - soaked to the bone, wouldn't have had it any other way!


Friday, 6 February 2015

Spirit of the Red Pine Art Show - Sudbury, Feb 1-28, 2015

This fundraising exhibition of artwork is presently showing in Sudbury at Artists on Elgin. Well worth a visit to help support the Wolf Lake Coalition in their efforts to protect the largest remaining old growth Red Pine forest in North America part of which is actually inside the City of Greater Sudbury's city limits! You can find further information on this amazing area at Save Wolf Lake .

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Deep Freeze - 2015

Well the holidays are now in the rear view mirror and it's time to begin looking ahead to another winter camping adventure. It's been a funny winter to this point in Sudbury - we've had snow several times only to see it rain and disappear! The past few weeks have seen a more traditional weather pattern arrive with some cold weather - great for making lake ice along with a few more snow falls to make toboggan and sled hauling much easier!!

If you have the hankering to try your hand at winter camping the Deep freeze gatherings are a good way to get a sound introduction to the activity with some very experienced folks with all manner of hot and cold tenting techniques and equipment. So, give it some thought and maybe come on out and join us for a different and enjoyable time. Cheers, gotta start making a list!!!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Deep Freeze, February 14 - 22, 2015.

Every winter since 2002 a group of enthusiasts has been getting together in February somewhere north of Sudbury and having a good time indulging in one of our favourite pastimes – sleeping in the cold!

This coming February is the 13th year of this get together and this is an open invitation to anyone who thinks they might like to join in on the fun. The first “gathering” was held on the Vermillion River in 2002 north of Sudbury with 8 participants. Beginning in 2003 we began using the “Budd Car” rail service from Sudbury to access the backcountry north of Cartier, Ontario in the Spanish River area. The 2nd year saw 20 participants in total and in subsequent years the average has been about 30 - 35 attendees yearly with a high of 45 one year. It’s a diverse group with folks coming and going depending on the year but we’ve had attendees from as far a field as Colorado, Tony (our honorary Canuck) and his family from New York state and a couple of Brits who were doing a work placement in Ontario one year!

WHEN: February 14 - 22/ 2015 (Sat – Sun, 9 days)
WHERE: Sideburn Lake
HOW: vehicle access from Hwy 144 north of Sudbury, Ont.
WHO: Interested? Join us!!

Sideburn Lake is northwest of Sudbury, west of Highway 144 just south of the Halfway Provincial Park southern boundary. The following link is to a map of the area at 1:50000 scale. The 1:50000 topographic sheet is - Pogamasing, 41-I/13.

topo of area

Parking and access - The parking area shown on the Google photo is located 17.9 km north of the Cartier turnoff on Hwy 144 or 1 km north of the Onaping Lake Road on the west side of the highway. Its approx. an hours drive from Sudbury. The plan would be for folks to meet there at approx. 10:00 am on the 14th and head into Sideburn Lk. The parking area will be checked the previous weekend and arrangements made to plow it if necessary. The trail we use into Sideburn Lk is actually about another km north of the gravel pit parking area.

Anyone interested in this trip doesn’t necessarily have to commit to the full 9 days and in fact many folks have attended for a portion of the time only. You can alter or shorten your dates of both arrival and departure according to whatever works for you!
This is a relaxed base camp style winter camping trip. There is lots of opportunity for hiking, ice fishing, socializing, camp chores etc. This area also lends itself to some nice cross-country skiing on connected lakes and trails in the area. All participants are responsible for their own arrangements; this is your trip if you choose to take it. Many will be there and folks are more than welcome to come. Bring your gear, be prepared and plan for it accordingly.

I spent a couple days at the site in mid Sept. and did a bit of relaxing along with stacking up the left over wood from last winter and storing it off the ground and visible for this coming year’s camp.

waiting for February

 The lake in front of the tenting area without the ice and snow cover.

The following link will take you to trip reports from past Deep Freeze trips in the area - missing the 2012 trip, we did go!


Cheers, hope to see you there!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Maple Mountain Loop, September 2014

I'd say that canoe tripping is my passion and September is probably my favourite month to indulge myself! The past summer season hadn't been particularly summer like in it's weather and it was looking like the trend was going to continue. My friend Daniel and I try to get out for a trip twice yearly, mid May and mid September, and we had planned a loop from Sandy Inlet on Lake Temagami up to Maple Mountain and then return via the north and south channels of the Lady Evelyn River with an extension through Bob Lake and the Canton Lakes route back to Sandy Inlet. Time was a bit compressed for this trip and we planned on 5 nights and 6 days.

Day 1

I left Sudbury around 7:00 am and headed for North bay to pick up Daniel. Of course it was cold, wet and raining - par for the course this year. After a quick coffee we headed north for Temagami with a quick stop in town at the Temagami Outfitting Company, for permits. Next stop would be at the parking area off the Red Squirrel road at the Sandy Inlet put in. The road is good however, the last 500 metres or so to the last parking area is rough with some large and deep potholes. Of course they were all full to the brim with all the rain we'd been experiencing over the last while! It's about a 300 metre portage from the parking area down to the beach and we donned our rain gear, parked the RAV and headed off for another adventure.

Rainy beginning - Sandy Inlet, Lake Temagami

The plan for the day was to head across the bay to the Napolean portage and then head north through Sharp Rock Inlet, Diamond Lake and camp somewhere on Lady Evelyn Lake close to the portages across to Willow Island Lake. We headed across the Napolean portage where we found several large pond like areas and a stream flowing in various spots along the port! After a quick lunch under the cedars at the end we pushed off headed for the Sharp Rock Inlet port into Diamond Lake. The rain eased up somewhat and became intermittent for the rest of the day but steady enough to leave your rain gear on. A quick lift over at Lady Evelyn falls into Lady Evelyn Lake and we were on the final leg of the day. There is an interesting rock formation about 20 minutes north of the lift over on the end of a small rocky island called Indian Head.

Indian Head

We were probably an hour or so up the lake when I discovered that my nalgene was missing - must have left it at the lift over, I will miss the insulated sleeve more than the actual bottle - have lots of those! We continued north and as we approached the area where Lady Evelyn Lake opens up we could see whitecaps rolling in from the north. Fortunately we were turning west before the opening and stayed in behind the islands in much calmer waters. We pulled up to a small site situated on the north end of a small island and called it a day.

Lady Evelyn Lake

We set up a tarp first before as it continued to rain on and off all evening long. Once done, Daniel set up his tent and I hung my hammock and gathered some wood. A nice steak dinner finished off the day and we turned in with the sound of rain on the tarps and tent fly.

Distance traveled - approx. 20 km
Distance portaged - 1230 m.

Day 2

We awoke to a complete silence except for drops of water falling onto the tarp and fly from the trees and the lake completely hidden in fog. As we slowly packed our gear and ate some breakfast the fog slowly dissipated revealing another overcast day with the continued threat of more rain in our future. We finished packing and hit the water for a quick  2 km paddle to our first port of the day of 400 m. into a small lake. Another quick paddle and out the boat and across a 500 m port brought us to Willow Island Lake. Here we turned north again and headed off for the narrows between Willow Island and Sucker Gut lakes. There is a dam on the Lady Evelyn River north of Lady Evelyn Lake and the lakes upstream of the dam are all reservoir type lakes with many old standing drowned trees dotting the shoreline areas.

Sucker Gut Lake - an isthmus, now submerged, between the visible shorelines
We continued north and finally turning rounding a point to the west and we caught our first glimpse of Maple Mountain and the fire tower on it's peak.

1st view of Maple Mountain

With all the rain this past summer, water level marks on the rocks were consistently only 4-8" below the high water marks. We turned north again up the creek for Hobart Lake we had to push a little harder to make headway against the fairly substantial current. The sun decided to show its face a bit more today and we enjoyed every minute when it showed! Lunch was taken at the large eastern campsite on Hobart Lake. During busy periods most folks stay on Hobart Lake as there is only 1 recognized campsite on Tupper Lake, but we hadn't seen anyone since the Napolean portage and we planned on staying on Tupper Lake. We headed off after lunch and were soon setting up camp across the lake from the trail to the summit of Maple Mountain which we planned to hike in the morning. The rain held off till we were set up but we did get showers off and on for the rest of the day.

Tupper Lake campsite view of Maple Mountain
Distanced traveled - approx 18 km
Distance portaged - 695 m.

Day 3

Day 3 dawned with a bit of drizzle and an overcast sky with the summit of Maple Mountain obscured by clouds - go figure! We ate some breakfast and broke down and packed most of our gear except for the tarp and headed off to hike up the mountain hoping that the ceiling would lift and we could actually see something. A quick paddle over to the trailhead and we were off with our rain gear and water bottles. Its about a 3 km hike from lake to summit and there is a 300 metre elevation gain, not a casual stroll. Due to the steady summer rainfalls there were several wet areas to cross that are normally not much of a problem however we did get a wee bit wet along the way.

steady as she goes
We did catch a nice break on the way as the sky cleared off and the sun came out when we were approaching final 1/3rd of the hike. The last piece involves climbing up a steep area just to the side of a pretty massive cliff. A section of an old ladder from one of the towers enables you to climb a particularly steep section easily and from there its a cautious scramble up to more level ground and the path to the tower. Once past the steep sections we found numerous blueberry bushes still laden with fruit and enjoyed a nice snack.

Dan on the ladder
We wandered up to the tower, enjoyed the various views and soaked up the welcome sunshine. In all we spent about 45 minutes before heading back down. It was well worth the time and effort to get there and it was like the weather decided that it would give us a break because as we descended back to the canoe it clouded over again and began to spit on and off.

one of many spectacular summit views - Tupper Lk. in the foreground
Its a 3 km hike up the mountain and with our 45 minutes on the summit it was about a 3.5 hour round trip from the campsite. Once at camp we ate lunch under the tarp, finished packing and headed back through Hobart Lake and on into Sucker Gut where we stopped and pulled out the rain gear again as numerous showers were passing through the entire area. We headed straight south into and through a small creek that connects to Chris Willis Lake. In normal summers and low water periods this creek often needs to be lined and the canoe lifted over shallow spots etc. This year - no problem we paddled the entire distance.

creek to Chris Willis Lake
There is an outfitters cabin on Chris Willis and we ran into a couple of surprised fisherman wondering where we came from and where we were going! We reached the southeast corner of the lake and the 400 m. portage into the north channel of the Lady Evelyn River just upstream from Frank Falls.

headed upstream on the north channel - Lady Evelyn River
We launched and headed upstream as our plan was to paddle to the fork of the river and take the south channel of the Lady Evelyn back to Willow Island Lake. We portaged past Center Falls (in a rain shower) and one small rapid before setting up camp just below Helen Falls for the night.

Center Falls
 Distance traveled - approx 13 km
Distance portaged - 1035 m.
Distance hiked - 6 km

Day 4

Sometimes you win - it was raining when we hit the sack the night before but when we arose it was to clear skies and sunshine, although tarps were slick with mist from Helen Falls.

Helen Falls
 Today we would be heading down the south channel and across some of the toughest portages in the Temagami area. We headed off in high spirits and quickly passed over the 3 ports between Helen Falls and Katherine Lake where the river divides. From here we turn and head down the south channel with its falls, rapids and portages to come. The first rapid is quickly lined and the second is portaged and we arrive at Cabin Falls. The port is river left and very rocky and steep in sections but only a taste of what's to come. We stop  at the bottom for a break and take some photos of the falls and cabin built overhanging the brink of the falls before pushing off again.

Cabin Falls
Next up about 1 km downstream is Bridal Veil Falls and with it comes an even steeper portage! This is one of the most beautiful and rugged canoe routes in all of the Temagami canoe area and the work to perk ratio is high but more than worth the effort.

Portage around Bridal Veil Falls

why its worth the work - Bridal Veil Falls
After a leisurely lunch we again push off headed for a set of rapids called Temptation Alley in Hap Wilson's Temagami canoe guide. Its described as a classic boulder bash and at these water levels its very tempting but a 40 lb kevlar canoe is a prime candidate for a serious munching with any mistakes and we elect to line the top part of the rapids down to the first pool (takes longer than to just do the portage!) where we pull out and carry the last half. Next up is Fat Man's Falls, another short but tight and steep portage with a tricky put in at the bottom, take care here!

Fat Man's Falls
There is one last 300 m. portage below Fat Man's that we do before setting up on a small campsite for the night. It is mid afternoon and we take the opportunity to dry some things out before supper. It is not to last though as it begins to cloud over around 6:00 pm and it begins to rain again around 8:00 pm. We were fortunate to have such a nice sunny day to travel this portion of the river, to enjoy the spectacular rugged beauty and to travel the ports on dry rock!

Distanced traveled -approx 8 km
Distance portaged - 2525 m.

Day 5

You guessed it, rained overnight and a misty morning with a heavy, leaden sky promising some serious precipitation later in the day. We eat and pack and paddle off downriver with the "2 Miler" portage from Willow Island Lake to Diamond Lake to look forward to. We continue south and come across an otter feeding in the shallows above a small rapid. He knows we're there but is totally unconcerned and continues to dive and surface and eating while we paddle within 15' of him. He is so quick and busy that we cannot get anything more than a blurry photo of his back or the disturb water surface! Soon enough we are at the beginning of the 2 miler portage. The last section is along the marsh of the creek emptying into Diamond Lake but we're sure there is enough water to actually paddle the last 800-900 m. The port begins with about an 800 m. section of gently rolling terrain which then morphs into a 1000 m. slog though a boggy area which in turn morphs into a 1100 m. walk through rock terraces and easy climbs in pines till you hit the marsh. We paddle the last section! We load the canoe and the skies finally open and it begins to rain hard, driven by a cold northeast wind.

creek section of the "2 miler" into Diamond Lake
As we turn the corner from the creek into Diamond the full force of the wind and rain drive into our faces and we quickly button up our rain gear as tight as possible. This is an all day rain and we had planned for another night/day on this trip - from Diamond Lake to Bob Lake and out through the Canton lake route back to Sandy Inlet. We stop for a cold lunch under some pines and discuss our options finally deciding to continue and as we reach a change point i.e. - the portage to Bob Lake, we'll see if we want to continue that portion of the trip. We reach the port and its still pouring so we decide to head for Lake Temagami and see what the weather is doing and maybe camp at a site along the way. We back track down Diamond and cross the Sharp Rock portage into Lake Temagami and as we pass different campsites nothing is changing -still raining, still a cold north wind, gear still wet - you get the idea. We pass the last campsite and head over the Napolean portage and we're back to our start by 4:00 pm.

We load the vehicle and head off for North Bay to drop off Daniel and it rains most of the way there, in fact it's still raining at 9:00 pm when I get home to Sudbury! In spite of some of the weather it was another excellent trip through some of the most rugged and beautiful country around - do it again in a heartbeat.

Distance traveled -  approx. 22 km - Total - approx. 80 km
Distance portaged - 3565 m.           - Total  - 9050 m.               

Photos by Sid Bredin excepting those marked DP - Daniel Pike



Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sideburn Lake - Overnight Trip Sept 2014

Was feeling a little antsy and figured a quick overnight trip to the bush would cure what ever was ailing me! Grabbed the canoe and some basic gear and my trusty companion Lily and headed off to check out the winter camping area we used last year. It's about an hours drive north of Sudbury on Hwy 144 just south of the Halfway Provincial Park on Sideburn Lake.

I drove in the trail about 3/4 quarters of the way to the lake and then portaged the gear the rest of the way.

wet part of the trail to the lake
A quick paddle and we were there. It was typical early September day, warm and bug free) and Lily was quick to have a swim while I unloaded the canoe. I set up the tent and we wandered around the campsite area from last year's Deep Freeze trip in mid February.

Lily taking a break

The area was in good shape but one of the reasons for the visit was to check out the firewood situation for the upcoming Deep freeze in February 2015. I visited all the various tent locations and stacked any split wood from last year off the ground where it would be dryer and easy to find instead of being on the ground under the snow. In all I piled about 8 piles in between trees and we should be good to go for the first night at least come February!

waiting for February

We enjoyed supper and small fire into the late evening and finally turned in for the night after an extended bout of stargazing. With most of our work done we slept in till almost 7 am!! A leisurely breakfast followed with a paddle around the lake before we packed up and headed home, relaxed, with one of the chores for the upcoming winter camping trip completed. Now, we just need to be patient and wait for February :-) Anyone interested in attending the Deep Freeze camp can find information in forums at Canadian Canoe routes. Deep Freeze February 14-22, 2015.

Looks different without the ice and snow!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Chiniguichi Lake - July 2014

It was 2002 and I had been contacted by a person looking for information on canoe routes and campsites etc in the west Temagami Canoe area and the Wolf Lake - Chiniguichi area in particular that he and his wife wanted to see. As fortune would have it we were going to be in the area at the same time. We managed to meet up and spend some time together around the campfire and a fast friendship and canoe tripping partnership was formed.  So, 13 years later we decided to spend a week canoeing and camping where it all started - Chiniguichi Lake. This trip would serve a dual purpose as we would haul a couple of "thunder boxes" along with us and install them on 2 campsites on the lake. I'm a board member of the Friends of Temagami organization and this past winter a total of 10 thunder boxes were constructed funded in part by the Buttrum family in memory of their father an avid canoeist and outdoorsman and the Friends of Temagami (FOT)  The FOT committed to placing the boxes on campsites throughout the Temagami Canoe area over the course of the summer and fall.

Bob and Allie along with their grandson Sean (always nice to have a young sherpa along!) plus Jan and I headed out for the area carting along 2 collapsed thunder boxes. On the drive up, in honour of the job at hand I decided to form the triple "C" company and inducted the rest of the crew at the put in into the organization with myself as the president and head installer. The Chiniguichi Crapper Company was born! We packed our canoes and headed off down the lake feeling rather "full" of ourselves, the new company and life in general - always a good thing to get away and out into the bush!

Sean in the solo boat with Bob and Jan

We headed south to a site on Caribou Island and as usual we were paddling into a fairly stiff headwind. We pulled over about 2/3 rd's of the way there for lunch and arrived about 2 hrs after launching the boats. We quickly scanned the campsite and began setting up camp. We planned on using the site as a basecamp for the week. One of the first jobs was to choose a location for the thunder box and to prepare the site for installation. a suitable location was found and the hole was dug, the box assembled and placed and the trail flagged. In addition, a plaque that the family had supplied was fixed to the lid and a set of instructions for use and some information on "light on the land" camping techniques was fastened to the underside of the lid. Not sure who tested it out first but the box will be welcome addition to the campsite.

Ready to go
Plaque supplied by Buttrum family

Day 2 was an extremely windy day which kept us off the water and camp bound. However, books were read, socks were knitted, fish were caught, cards played and camp was tidied and organized and a beverage or 2 just may have been imbibed, because hey, it was 5:00 o'clock somewhere! Later in the afternoon, a hazy smoke blanketed the lake from several forest fires burning in the Spanish River area to the west of us. After supper and a campfire we headed for our tents and a plan to head across the lake to another campsite with the 2nd thunder box on the morning of Day 3.

We loaded the box and tools and headed out after breakfast for the 2nd campsite. The wind was already up again and it promised to another windy day. The 2nd site had a pretty healthy crop of blueberries growing on and around it and the after the box was installed enough berries for a good blueberry pancake breakfast for tomorrow was gathered up. It was a bumpy ride as we had to paddle across wind and whitecaps back to camp.

2nd thunder box set amongst the maples, trilliums, ferns, wintergreen, indian pipe and bunch berry

Our campsite faced west and the dominate land form is a high ridge known as the "Elephant" which is 400' above lake level, Day 4's plan was to hike to the top! It was a beautiful sunny day again and yes, the wind started to come up again mid morning. The climb is pretty straightforward and does require some scrambling skill to get up a few small vertical rock areas but the views from the top are well worth the effort.

the tallest section of the "Elephant"
lookout point
"True summit" or high point
As the afternoon wore on the wind kept up out of the southwest and some high cirrus started to move across the sky promising a change in the weather and some rain to follow. However, the timing was for early morning and we were treated to a colourful sunset over the elephant.

evening glow

 The rain stared around 2:00 oclock in the morning and fell off and on till about 7:00 oclock. we had a quick breakfast and packed up and managed to paddle back to our vehicles under a threatning and overcast sky but no rain. Oh yeah, we finally got to paddle with the wind for the first time all week!