Flack Lake - Ten Mile Lake Route

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Additional Route Information
35 km
4 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
5500 m
Longest Portage: 
1125 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Start at Flack Lake
West on Flack Lake
P 485 m to Bruce Lake
West on Bruce Lake
P 845 m to Olympus Lake
To southwest corner of Olympus Lake
P 1085 m to Astonish Lake
South on Astonish Lake
P 605 m to Ezma Lake
East on Ezma Lake
P 445 m to Ten Mile Lake
To north side of lake
P 200 m to Hyphen Lake
East into Callinana Lake
P 105 m into Dollyberry Lake
To most northerly bay of Dollyberry Lake
P 220 m to Bobowash Lake
To east end of Bobowash Lake
P 25 m to small unnamed lake
To east end of lake
P 110 m to Samreid Lake
To north end of Samreid Lake
P 110 m to small unnamed lake
P 140 m to small unnamed lake
P 1125 m to Flack Lake
East on Flack Lake to finish at boat launch on Highway

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Flack Lake-Ten Mile Lake Loop (1996)
By James Livingston

Because of poor logistics, a soaking overnight rain, and too much celebrating the beginning of our annual escapade the night before, we (my 32-year-old son and myself) didn`t get on the water of Flack Lake until 2:00 pm, Sunday, July 6.

The personnel at Mississagi Provincial Park had been friendly and cooperative in helping us complete our plans, earning top grades for assisting paddlers in their ventures. The ranger even volunteered to begin looking out for us by the following Thursday, especially when we confessed to little practical experience in this kind of adventure. He also gave instructions for leaving our car at the boat launch site on the lake, where we were allowed to travel for park day-use fees, because the site is within park boundaries.

Although Flack Lake is big enough to kick up a bit in a wind, we had only pleasant paddling on our first leg. At the first landing we found a registry, which notified us that we were the first visitors to take this passage since something like May 20, six weeks earlier, which made us feel more like we were daring the unknown. The first portage wasn`t too bad, about a half-kilometer long, but stiffly uphill, and the 70-lb. 17-foot Atkinson bit deeply into Jeff`s unprepared shoulders. The second, however, started questions about why we were doing this. It is a bit of a struggle for novices, involving what seemed to us a significant climb, some wet spots, and a substantial length of almost a kilometer. Jeff had to reload the canoe twice. To keep myself going I began reciting what would become my mantra for the trip: "One step at a time, one step at a time, . . ."

Otherwise we arrived on Olympus Lake in good shape, but hungry, and by now it was after six. To this point we had not yet spotted a possible campsite, and Olympus Lake wasn`t much better, with steep shelves and dense growth right up to the banks. Finally we picked what seemed the only workable site, on a shallow beach. As we began unloading, however, we noticed a set of large depressions leading to the water. Even novices could tell it was a moose crossing, but we didn`t have any other choices. Fortunately, none ventured to cross that night, though we didn`t get much sleep for worrying about it.

The portage to Astonish Lake nearly killed us, or at least me. By now we had learned to scout the trail on the first trip, though it didn`t help much. Midway over the ridge two things happened. First, we were inundated by mosquitoes, which up to that point had not been particularly troublesome. Now they made up for it. I hadn`t really known what "descending in droves" meant until that moment. To make it worse, we had left not only our bugshirts but also the bugspray back with the canoe. Ten minutes later, however, we were relieved from that plague--a nuisance at any time, but impossible when your bare arms are too preoccupied to swat--by the clouds closing to release buckets of rain. Our raingear, of course, was keeping company with the bug shirts. We could do nothing but plunge on, or in, as it turned out.

Our route description warned us that this portage might have some wet spots from beaver dams. The description was a couple of years out of date. One 50-m. section was under at least three inches of water, which conveniently hid sections reverting to bog. One leg sank in to the knee; a few steps further the other went in to the thigh, and I fell under my pack, venting some cursing so creative that I nearly stopped to admire myself in mid-passage. While lying there I had visions of never being able to get out of there, and I nearly wept. I looked around, but could see no alternate passages. Scouting turned up none, and only got me wetter. Somehow I managed to get up and plod the remaining 130 meters. And then I had to get the canoe. I made it through only by dropping it in the boggy sections and dragging it through the muck. I almost prayed for the rain to get harder, figuring I didn`t need that much more to float the canoe.

Astonish Lake nearly made up for the portage from hell. It was gorgeous and abandoned, with high-sited camping spots, a few obligatory loons, and photographic vistas. Although it wasn`t much after three, we were wet and exhausted, so we decided to make camp and get some fishing in after we got dry. That cheered us up some, though we didn`t have any luck.

The reverse, in fact: as we were lazing around the fire after dinner, we both heard the last thing we expected there: human voices. Sure enough, another canoe emerged out of the shoreside gloom and pulled toward us. They hailed us, inquiring whether we had seen any other sites up on our promontory; the last portage had nearly killed them, too. Unwillingly, but sympathetic, we directed them to a site a hundred meters away, but as they left one of them muttered, "I`ve done all kinds of camping, and I love the outdoors, but this is just too much . . . . work." We felt like veterans.

Tuesday I carried again, but we were beginning to get our portage legs, and anyway we ran into nothing like that again. The portage to Ezma Lake was memorable only because on the scouting trip I managed to have my foot slide out from underneath me on what I thought was a dry exposed rock face. I came down hard, before I knew what was happening, momentarily stunned. Fortunately I wasn`t hurt, but the incident reminded me how close we all are on these voyages to accident, and how far away help can be.

The lake itself was beautiful. Getting to Ten Mile was also uneventful, though it was more heavily populated and trafficked than we expected, and some of the portages were unmarked and hidden by beaver dams that had altered the contours of lakes. But on the lake we ran into sudden storms again (we had the raingear with us), this time with high, gusty winds, and we were forced to stop on a bare, rock face not exactly of our choosing, though we didn`t realize how sheltered it was until we went out in the canoe to release a snag and nearly capsized, to say nothing of getting blown down the lake. Some other power saved us there. We were stupid.

To make it worse a pontoon boat stopped by at dusk to tell us that the employees of a local resort had dumped some fish offal nearby, to draw bears away from the resort. Anyway, it was too late and windy to try to relocate. We would just have to stay awake all night again, hoping that free fish would keep them from ranging out in search of novices who weren`t sure exactly how to hang a foodpack and whose sausage was beginning to turn.

Wednesday was our longest day of traveling, through Hyphen, Dollyberry, Gibbery, Bobowash, and a few other lakes to Samreid. This area was less remote than the first lakes we had visited, though we didn`t encounter more than a single powerboat on any of the lakes, and that was a small outboard.

The portages were relatively easy, though one of them--into Dollyberry, I think--seemed almost straight up, with a one-meter step at the top. I can still see Jeff planting one foot at the top of this and raising himself and canoe on up. It was all I could do to keep from cheering. Canoe trips are good for re-teaching lapsed believers the value of prayer.

Our major disappointment was finding litter and stored boats in some otherwise lovely places. We sighed, but picked up what litter we could and packed it out. We couldn`t do anything about the boats, and fortunately we really met many only on Flack and Ten Mile. Samreid is a glorious place to camp and fish, though established campsites make it seem more domestic than many of the others.

Thursday brought us back to Flack, via the longest though not the most difficult portage of the trip. There was some difficult footing, but it was mostly dry and downhill. Coming back down Flack was also a great adventure for me, for we had a stiff following wind which made me in the bow feel that I was racing before and with the surf. Jeff in the stern had a closer view of the waves curling dangerously close to the gunwale. He kept saying, "Dad, I know you`re having fun, but . . ." Until we landed and I looked back, I couldn`t figure what he was talking about. I wondered why when we got out he knelt down and kissed the dock. It might sound like hell. Every one of my friends I told about it when I got back said it did. Their reaction puzzled me. I thought I had had the time of my life.

James Livingston

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 J/10 Rawhide Lake
Other Maps: 
Chrismar Adventure Series "Mississagi Prov Park & Area


Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


This trip was as interesting as the Dunlop Lake Loop.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Did the Flack Lake Loop June 6-10 2002. Our route varied slightly. At
Ezma we went on to Swamp, Upper Mace, Lake Five, Lillypad, Lower Mace,
Claim, Dunlop and onward. Its a beautiful area well worth the travel.

Just wanted to warn those planning to do this route that the longer
portages have several trails leading off them and some can get you
into a real mess. The 1100 meter portage from Olympus to Astonish
splits in two directions at about the 300 meter mark. Although the
left trail appears to be the best, it leads into the middle of the
swamp. The trail to the right goes downhill at first but then climbs
up along the ridge to skirt the swamp. At one point you can see the
mess you would be in if you had taken the other route. All that said,
both routes meet up again about 200 meters from the end and you still
need to go through a swampy portion to get to the end.

Similarly the 1400 meter from Claim Lake to Dunlop has several trails
branching off and there is no real way of telling which is the right
route. It appears that some of these trails are snowmobile routes used
during the winter which cut across swamps. The route from Claim to
Dunlop has three trails that come off the portage. Keep left at the
first one, right at the second and left at the third. You`ll reach
Dunlop just after crossing a small creek.

Outfitters in the area have placed aluminum boats on most of the
larger lakes for their customers. One of the campsites on Ezma Lake
even has a picnic table on it. In spite of all this the only people we
met on the entire loop were fishermen on Dunlop Lake and that was to
be expected since it has road access.