A Failed Trip in Temagami

CanadaOntarioTemagami
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Burt James
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
0 km
Duration: 
9 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
0
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
1600 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Intermediate
Lake Travel: 
Novice
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

A Failed Trip In Temagami (also known as Hindsight is 20/20)

9 Days in Temagami (which should have been 10) involving a split between lake and river travel. Some difficult portaging. All-in-all a great trip except for one lack of judgement at the end of a very long day. Ended up getting flown back out of the park because of our incident.

As an experienced backcountry canoeist that had never spent any time in Temagami I had no idea what to expect. I was blown away by the majesty of this area compared to other more popular areas (Quetico, Killarney, Algonquin). My opinion of these other places has certainly been diminished after this experience, even though we were beaten by the Sturgeon River.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1: In We Go.
Jumped on a plane and flew in to Florence Lake. Paddled out the south end of Florence and ripped through the portages to get to Bluesucker Lake. Just as we hit Bluesucker a storm front came in that absolutely soaked us in about 10 minutes. We trudged our way to Regan and found the campsite. Just as we got to Regan the lightning started, and one struck the shoreline right across the lake! Couldn't have been more than 200 m from us. No use in trying to get a fire started so we cooked dinner and called it a day.
4 portages weren't so bad, except for the bog.

Day 2: To Solace
A 6 portage day. Some were very difficult, including a very steep climb and some treacherous rocks.
We motored through these portages and arrived at Solace Lake around 4. Wanted to grab the island campsite towards the south end but it was infested with red ants. I have never seen anything like this, they were everywhere and bit like mad. Ended up taking another site which was perfect for the two of us. Did a little fishing (with no luck) before calling it a day.

Day 3: Rest
Slept in, big breakfast, big lunch, lots of fishing. Nice sunny day for the most part. No luck again fishing, although my girlfriend did lose a massive bite (and most of the worm!) right at sunset. Retired early.

Day 4: Solace to Regan
This route has not been well travelled, and some portages are hard to find. Put-ins and pull-outs are not well maintained and are very tight in places. Lunch on Tooth Lake. Had a little difficulty in navigating our way but eventually arrived at Regan without incident. Again it rained (almost every day) and we were soaked upon arrival @ Regan. Cooked dinner and called it a day.
6 portages total, but none too strenuous.

Day 5: Day Trip
Took a day off and made the trip to Ishpatina. What a view. Fairly long day to get there, but alot of fun (esp. in the little chutes of the Scarecrow river). Some fishing on Hamlow on our way back, with no luck (there is a theme here). Had a nice dinner and called it a night after returning late to Regan.

Day 6: The Day of Reckoning
Woke early and planned out our next day. We decided to take Stull Creek out of Hamlow down to the Sturgeon. A very fun route, but extremely challenging and not for the light-hearted. It rained almost the whole day, and the temperature was way down so we trekked in almost full gear.
Stull Creek should not be attempted in high water under any conditions. This route is fast and very tight in places, and in high water your boat will get destroyed. Portages were makeshift as not all were marked or well-trodden. I spent much of the day getting in-and-out of the boat to navigate swifts and pools.
Arrived without serious incident at the Sturgeon River just north of Paul Lake. Paddled quickly down to the lake for a break to get food and water. Likely some great fishing in this stretch, but we had no time.
Paddled out of Paul into Ghoul, took the portage around Twin Falls (gorgeous!) and continued down the river. This is where the real story starts ....

After getting through some swifts and C1 rapids, we came across a campsite on Eaglenest. Decided to motor on and save some time the next day as we were still feeling alright. Right after Eaglenest we came across a marked portage (C2 rapids) which we decided to line as we had already managed so much difficult trekking on this day. Silly us, the water was much stronger than we believed and ended up causing us to get our boat stuck across a rapid. The weight of the water bent our boat and punctured the side, and I had to swim downstream to get our bags and food barrel. My girlfriend was holding the now-filled-with-water boat which had my pack floating inside. I managed to get our gear to shore and get the boat up on land. We camped on the portage, miserable, cold and tired.

Day 7: What luck
Woke early, still miserable, after a nearly-sleepless night. For the first time we had frost. Our tent was poorly set up and was wet, as was everything else we owned.
Made breakfast and set about patching the boat together. God bless duck tape. We used almost an entire roll to cover the fractures and cracks in the coating (inside and outside). Put the boat in the water, first empty, then with gear, and it floated (but only turns left). Just as we got in the boat and started heading upstream (as we knew we couldn't finish the trip now) we came across a camp from Keewaydin. Bless their hearts, they had a sat phone, which we used to organize a flight out in 2 days time. I cannot say thank you enough to those girls, they were lifesavers and saved us a world of trouble.
I should also mention that the boat must have been blessed as well because it did not break, splinter or crack seriously enough (despite being crushed) to prevent us from paddling. Our flight was organized to Paul Lake, and so we headed back upstream to the Twin Falls campsite.
Made camp and set up 200 feet of clothesline to dry ourselves out. Today was the first day it did not rain. We inverted the food barrel and proceeded to gorge ourselves on all the food we had left over. Got a nice pile of wood together and had a cookin' fire which helped to console us. Called it a night, still sad but so grateful for our luck.

Day 8: Rest and rejuventation
Spent the day eating and hiking around the campsite/portage. Absolutely stellar. We really didn't want to take our boat out so we were on foot. Had my first luck fishing, catching 2 pike (1 small, 1 big). Did I mention eating? I think we were undernourished up to this point, and we were certainly making up for it. All-in-all about as good a day as we could have asked for given what happened on Day 6. Went to sleep still sad, but feeling better.

Day 9: The way out
We had organized to be picked up from Paul Lake around noon. Packed up early and paddled back through some swifts from Ghoul back up to Paul. Got picked up and were back in Temagami by 1:30. A rather pricey exit.

Our original trip had us zooming down the Sturgeon to come back up the Obabika and through Lake Temagami. Next year.

Other
Special Comments: 

A fun trip ... to be repeated next year.

Just my girlfriend and I, our gear, and a boat.