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!


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