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Six Mile Lake: Gibson McDonald River PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 July 2001 19:00
For our annual Canada Day canoe trek in 2001, my sister and I tried a route closer to home: the Gibson River McDonald route near Parry Sound. We chose that more novice route because for the first time there were three of us coming: Judy was three months pregnant. (Which really meant that she ate for two, paddled as one and I did all the portaging.)

Three Chute Gorge
The 56KM route loops through Six Mile Lake, the Gibson and McDonald rivers, Georgian Bay and McCrae Lakes. From our starting point in Six Mile Lake Provincial Park, Judy and I had a bitch of a time navigating our way out among the islands and fingers of Six Mile Lake and into the passageway to Gibson Lake. It wasn't until we stopped at a local marina and bought ourselves a laminated map of the lake, (as well as some pasta and bug spray that Judy was supposed to bring - she blamed it on the baby.) that we successfully found our way.

We made up the lost hours zipping through Hungry Creek and Gibson Lake before settling into a campsite on Gibson River where we tried out my new MEC Tarn3 tent for the first time on a warm night.

Our second day found us portaging a couple of rapids including the Three Chute Gorge where we stopped for a swim. Unfortunately for me, my favorite sunglasses found their way to the bottom of the Gibson River after we aborted running a swift and tried madly to ground the canoe ashore. Judy made it. The canoe made it too. Sort of. But as I jumped out the back end to help push the canoe higher, the canoe and I both got caught in the stream and ended up splashing through the swift. No harm done.

Our trip highlight came on our third and final day when after a morning shower cleared up, we decided to paddle the final 15KM back to our original boat launch on Six Mile Lake. We made it to within 2KM before the winds that had been helping us along for most of that morning finally turned against us and forced us to take shelter in a little island cove. Thankfully we were only marooned for about half-an-hour before a local cottager took pity on us and towed us in to safety.
Temagami: Lady Evelyn Lake PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 July 2000 19:00
Recalling what a great time we'd had the previous year, my sister Judy and I had no hesitation in returning to Temagami for a second year in a row and trying out another of its endless routes.

Inukshuk in Obisaga Narrows
This time we tried out a 93 KM route beginning at Mowat Landing and headed south through both arms of Lady Evelyn Lake toward Maple Mountain; hopping through the ponds and creeks toward Skull and Mendolsohn Lakes; before winding our way through Spray Creek and rejoining the Montreal River back to Mowat Landing.

According to Hap Wilson's book 'Temagami Routes', this particular route normally takes five nights because, well, it's pretty long for one thing and there's a lot of wind that can slow you down on Lady Evelyn. And then later when you're trying to head north to rejoin the Montreal River there's a lot of snaking rivers and pond hopping to slow one down. Fortunately, Judy and I had the wind at our back through Lady Evelyn and we powered our way through the route in three nights.

ImageOur trip highlights included finding this loon egg. It seemed kind of odd to us to be able to get to within a canoe's length of what turned out to be a mother loon as we passed by a small bit of brush in Waswaning Narrows. But when it finally dove underwater and left behind this egg we understood why it had resisted diving until the last possible moment.

I admit the thought of an omelette crossed my mind but I resisted the temptation.

ImageWe camped on Hobart Lake that second night with a setting sun highlighting Maple Mountain. The next morning the sun was gone and a misty gray mist greeted us as we began pond hopping north from one small lake to another. Distance-wise it was a bit of shock to suddenly seem to cover so little distance now that we were hitting portage after portage after portage. But the three moose we saw helped make the day a pleasant one. Especially the first one we sighted here on Old Bill Lake which barred our way up a creek as we silently approached and argued about what the heck we would do if it charged.

ImageLuckily I was in the stern so I'm pretty sure Judy would have got the worst of it.

Later that day I had the fortune to slip into this muddy quagmire en route and Judy took the obligatory photo. We camped that third night on a mosquito-infested point on Mendolsohn Lake that's not worth remembering and reached the Montreal River early the next day. Since we were ahead of schedule we paddled lazily untilw e realized the current was strong enough to take us all the way to the takeout that day.
Temagami: Maple Mountain PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 June 1999 19:00
Seeing as how our Algonquin trip the previous year had been such a great outing, Judy and I decided to make it an annual getaway. This time we decided to try a more rugged destination: Temagami.

The view from Maple Mountain.
Pronounced "Te-MAWG-a-mee" (the word is Ojibway for "deep water by the shore"), this place is the reality that fuels the popular perception of Canada's great northland: Old growth pine forests. Smooth blue waters. Brilliantly white, powdery snow. Bountiful fish and wildlife. You get the picture.

Judy and I decided to make this a destination trip with Maple Mountain, the second highest point in Ontario, the focal point. Our plan was a four night route beginning at Ferguson Bay on the north end of Temagami Lake through Diamond, Willow Island and Sucker Gut Lakes and back with a hike up Maple Mountain in the middle.

Because of the distance, we didn't get onto the water until 2PM and not knowing the route all that well, we made the mistake of pushing southward toward the middle of Temagami Lake instead of cutting through the portage at Mount Napolean toward Sharp Rock Inlet. We paid for it too as all the nearby campsites were taken and we spent a miserable first night on Beaver Island.

Day two found us once again spending a lot of times searching for the portage route into Willow Island Lake but we were rewarded with an excellent site at the northern tip of the lake. Using that site as home base, Judy and I packed just a few items for our day trip out to Maple Mountain the next day.

Mmmmmm. Pancake breakfast.
What fun. Who knew it would be so difficult to find the little creek leading to Hobart Lake? It was only after wasting two hours following a non-existant trickle and lifting over five beaver dams that we decided we couldn't possibly be on the right path and headed back to the dead-wooded bay of Sucker Gut Lake and found the right path. Because of the lost time, we climbed hard to the top and were well rewarded with the view. It's a helluva climb - with an iron staircase embedded into the rock at the top to boot - but from the abandoned forest fire watchtower, you can almost see the whole of the Lady Evelyn- Smoothwater Provincial Park. Day three had us paddling back leisurely toward Ferguson Bay along a route we now knew a little better.

We found a nice campsite on Beaver Island and settled in for the night of our lives. Around 9PM, it began to storm. Thunder. Lightning. The whole bit. That was neat to watch. What wasn't so great was the increasing wind. At its worst, we found it lifting up our tent with us in it. Scary. But it finally died down and we had only a short portage left back to our starting point to end the trip the following morning.

Would I come back?

Algonquin Park Southern Corridor PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 July 1998 19:00
What better thing to do with a new canoe than use it.

Looking for a halfway point between my residence in Ottawa and my sister Judy's home near Barrie, we decided on celebrating the Canada Day weekend in a very logically Canadian way - canoeing in Algonquin Park.

Getting dirty at the access creek.
Our chosen route was a three-night loop in the highway 60 southern corridor of the park circling Cache and Smoke Lakes and portaging through the ponds connecting the two.

Finding the access point was no problem. But starting our journey without getting dirty wasn't quite as easy since the snaking creek leading to Cache Lake was a muddy quagmire that's probably stolen its fair share shoes.

Nevertheless I jumped into the muddy water with gusto and soon enough we were bunkering down for our first night on Cache Lake.

The next morning Judy and I faced two tough portages totalling 2675 meters on our first real day. The length of the portages wasn't so bad, but midway through the first of them we reached a boggy swamp in the middle of the trail - with a fallen log as the only route through to the path on the other side. Thankfully I didn't fall, but boy did my shoulders ever ache that second night. Judy, all 110lbs of her, helped me out with the portages the third day and we were rewarded at the end of our final portage with our first-ever moose sighting on Smoke Lake.

We camped on Smoke Lake that final night before heading home the next day.

How I got my canoe PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 July 1997 19:00
I developed my love for canoe camping at a summer camp north of Peterborough called Kemonoya. In each of the four summers I spent there, I made sure to go on a canoe trek in the lakes and rivers of the Peterborough area. I loved it.

But after graduating from high school I didn't get much of a chance to indulge myself while at university. In fact, it took a call from an old university roommate of mine visiting from France wanting to disappear in the bush to remind me of that old joy.

Check out that dent.
Our plan was a simple one-night stay in Frontenac Provincial Park north of Kingston. I rented a beautiful 44lb Kevlar canoe, got directions for a spot where we could scare ourselves silly cliffdiving and we headed off. We found the diving spot without too much difficulty and that's where our fun began.

After tying the canoe to a tree down below, I began climbing up the rock wall. Halfway up I grabbed hold of a nice rock and as I began pulling myself higher, it started to move. Then it started sliding out of the rock face. And then to my horror, it began falling down to the water below - right where the canoe was resting. Thankfully it bounced off the back of the canoe and into the water but it put a nice dent into the canoe on its way.

End result was that it made more financial sense for me to buy the canoe and have it for my own use than have it repaired for the outfitter alone - and that's how I got my canoe.

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