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!

Slideshow