Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Matagamasi - Sturgeon River - Laura Creek Loop - 2005

Left home in Sudbury around 11:00 am with Rick and his partner “Casey” an energetic Brittany spaniel for the put in. Travel east on Hwy 17, north on the Kukagami Lk road to the public access point on Matagamasi Lake. It took about ½ hour to unload and pack the 2 canoes, park the van and we hit the water at 13:30. As usual, we had to paddle into a strong north wind making for a long afternoon. Along the east shore of the North Arm of Matagamasi Lake we passed a cow and calf moose. After 2 portages from Matagamasi into Silvester Lake and a short lift over into Wolf lake, we reached our intended campsite on the east side at 18:30. 

Distance paddled – 16 km   Distance portaged – 710 m

Day 1 Photos 

Awoke to a beautiful morning and were on the water at 08:00. Short paddle across Wolf and portaged into Dewdney Lk where we met a couple canoeing the Chiniguchi – Laura Creek loop heading south. After portaging into Chiniguchi Lk we again encountered a fairly stiff headwind. North end of Chiniguchi and there is a short 10m portage across a road into Sawhorse Lk. The portage to Adelaide Lk can be confusing as there are roads and trails throughout the area. Access the portage on the north shore of Sawhorse – ATV trail – left along trail to road – follow road to intersection of another road – turn right then left down an old grass covered road to Adelaide Lk. North on Adelaide, we did lift over into the small creek and a second lift over at old bridge into Button Lk. There is a portage (R) from Adelaide to Button if water levels in small creek are too low to float through. North then northwest on Button to the portage into Dougherty Lk. This is strenuous portage in spots – rocky takeout with a steep climb and a steep and rocky descent to Dougherty, exercise caution if wet. We paddled a further 1.5 km and camped for the night on an island site facing the west at 18:00.

Distance paddled – 24 km   Distance portaged – 1,945 m

Day 2 Photos 

Another gorgeous day and we’re on the water at 08:00 again. Northwest across Dougherty, portage 160m into Frederick the bugs (black flies and mosquitoes) are fierce in the absence of any wind this morning. Hap’s book shows a bridge and portage on Frederick Lk but the centre section of the bridge is gone and you float right through. It is an easy 190m portage into Stouffer Lk. The portage from Stouffer to the river rises fairly steeply from the lake and then is a generally long easy downhill trail to the Sturgeon River. We stopped for a quick lunch before heading down river. We followed Hap Wilson’s descriptions of the river closely from this point onward. The water levels were adequate but not as high as one would expect due to an extremely early and dry spring. Hap's descriptions were bang on for the portion travelled.. The only change was for the CII rapid that he identifies as “The Gorge” it had a tree across the river right at the top of the rapid so we had to portage instead of running it. Some of the portages are steep and rocky and all have exposed tree roots so caution must be exercised when carrying equipment etc. We camped on a point at UTM E531840N5208610 at 17:30. 

Distance paddled – 25 km  Distance portaged- 2,240m

Day 3 Photos 

Awoke to an overcast morning with many bugs! We were on the water at 08:00 with an immediate 255m portage around a falls. The river from here down to where we left the river is a pleasant run consisting of C1-2 rapids and swifts. The river widens out into lake like area then narrows again with 3 sets of rapids between another wide area. The river slows and levels out from here to the next portage off the river. About 1 km downstream from the 2nd wide area you will see the remnants of an old sawmill on river right. Just past an old “jack ladder” that carried logs up the bank into the mill is the mouth of Halleck Creek and a road ending at the river, this is the beginning of the portage leading west to a series of lakes. This is the longest portage on the route, 1,475m but is mostly on old roads. Head west for about 200 m them you take the older road branching to the right. Eventually you come to a clearing with an old truck body and an old VW, turn right down the hill, stay left and the portage carries on along a swampy creek area to the put in. Paddle west to the creek into Hammend Lake and paddle/wade/line into Hammend Lk. 

We got caught in a thundershower at this point and it continued to rain on and off till roughly midnight. Southwest on Hammend to the creek from Halleck Lake, the portage is up the creek 250m on the right and has a tunnel like opening in the bush line. Portaged 305m R into Halleck Lake, paddled southwest to the beginning of the portage into Sunfish where we set up camp for the night, at 16:30.

Distance paddled – 22 km  Distance portaged- 2035m

Day 4 Photos 

Awoke to a damp and foggy morning; however we packed up and began the portage to Sunfish Lk. at about 08:00 again. Portage is 560 m to the creek put in, paddled a short distance and lifted over a beaver dam and continued on into Sunfish Lk. Southwest on Sunfish to the 695m portage R into Rawson Lk. The portage rises steeply out of Sunfish but levels off halfway to Rawson. By the time we are again paddling west on Rawson the fog has completely burned off. You turn north into the northwest arm of Rawson to the portage into Laura Creek. The portage climbs steadily up for about half the portage and then steadily downhill to the put in on Laura Creek.

 Paddle northwest for a short distance and then turn south down the creek system. Portage 160m L, portage ends at a small metal bridge. South along the creek to lift over, 5m. South to beaver dam, lift over and paddle/wade through Laura Creek to Evelyn Lk. South across Evelyn through narrows and portage 800m L into Irish Lake. Paddle south on Irish Lake and then portage 500m L to Bonesteel Lake. Paddle south on Bonesteel to portage 100m R around an old logging dam into Wessel Lake. Paddle south on Wessel to portage 190m R into Laura Creek again. We camped on the ridge to the right at this portage for the night at 16:30.

Distance traveled – 18 km  Distance portaged- 3,355m

Day 5 Photos 

Up early and portaged 190 R into Laura Creek (8:00am), paddled south on Laura Creek to portage 700m L into Matagamasi Lake, then southwest on McCarthy Bay and south on Matagamasi to the public access. Off the water at 12:30.

Distance traveled – 15 km  Distance portaged – 890m

Day 6 Photos

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