Little Missinaibi Lake from Barclay Bay

CanadaOntarioJames Bay south
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Scott and Kathy Warner
Additional Route Information
94 km
8 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
6280 m
Longest Portage: 
1025 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

This is a simple out and back route that will allow the viewing of the five most prominent pictograph sites in the area.

The travel is primarily flatwater oriented with portages from lake to lake or around any rapids encountered on Little Missinaibi River.

(see trip log for details)

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Little Missinaibi Lake From Barclay Bay
August 11 to August 19, 2000

The land of breezes, bugs and bears
Friday, August 11 - Day 1
We were up at 4:00am, had a coffee, did our final packing and left Hamilton at 5:00am. We figured that this was going to be a 12 hour drive and we wanted to miss some of the Toronto traffic. The going was better than we anticipated as we arrived in Parry Sound for a Tim’s stop at 8am. A coffee and muffin later we were on the road. Our next stop was at Espanola for lunch at about 11:30am.

We got to Chapleau around 3:30, had to ask where the road to Missinaibi Park was, and were on our way again.

For those of you who follow this route – just as you come into Chapleau you’ll be going over a bridge that curves around to the right. When you get across the bridge you need to turn right. Look for the beer store and head for it. The sign for Missinaibi Park is on the beer store and will lead you to the 75km gravel road access to the park.

It hadn’t rained in a while we guessed as we kicked up a giant plume of gravel dust. The road was not too badly washboarded and I figured that at this time of the day we wouldn’t be meeting anyone on the way out so we were making pretty good time.

So much for not meeting anyone. Suddenly, a lumber truck appeared just as we were entering a left hand turn. As you must know, these guys just know that they own the road and drive like it. At his speed he was throwing up more gravel than a bull moose in heat and all of it was headed in our direction. There was a sharp rap on the windshield, a nice star shaped crack appeared and he was gone in a cloud of dust. I muttered a few unkind words, hoped that this was the last of the bush cowboys and we continued on.

We arrived at Barclay Bay at about 4:30, found the gatehouse closed but the requirement for camping permits clearly displayed. Let’s see, $6.50 per adult per night times 8 nights. Holy moose dung batman that’s $104! Of course we have our choice of cash or cheque and if we choose cash and don’t have the correct amount there are no refunds.

We round up the correct amount of cash by combining our holdings, I mutter some of those words again about how I gotta pay to break my back and we drive to the put in.

The canoe is in the water, loaded and ready to go by 5:15. I park the truck, hit the washroom and we’re on our way.

It’s a hot, still afternoon and we figure that we’ll get as far as Mary Island today. We get as far as the first island campsite (about 3km) and decide that we need a swim to cool off. The campsite is occupied by motor boaters so we pull up on the west side of the island and go for a quick swim.

We resume paddling and get to Mary Island at about 6:30 (another 3.5km). The campsite is adequate, has a picnic table, room for two or three tents and is soon looking like home. Kathy erects the tent while I modify the fire pit, gather some firewood, start a fire and brew up some of my world famous camp coffee.

Dinner is Ramen noodles and dehydrated veggies as the sun is setting and the moon is rising. It’s almost a full moon and the moon reflects off the still water of Barclay Bay. We comment about how it must be a great time to be at Fairy Point but if the weather holds we’ll be there tomorrow evening.

We should not have talked in front of the weather gods.

Today we covered 7km with no portages.

Saturday, August 12 - Day 2

We’re up at 7:30 and are greeted by a nice riffle on the water as the prevailing breeze starts from the southwest. Today’s goal is to get close enough to Fairy Point so that we can have an early dinner and paddle out to see the pictographs after the breeze dies and as the sun is setting.

There are warnings posted at the entrance gate and again at the boat launch area about the wind and how it causes dangerous conditions very quickly in the area of Fairy Point.

We’re on the water at 10:00 with a decent and growing headwind so we angle for the south shore and try to stay out of the wind. The going is slow as the wind seems to funnel through each narrowing and each little point exposes us to the full force.
We reach Whitefish falls at 12:30 and call a lunch break. We’ve only covered about 8km but my shoulders are beginning to tire. We find the pictograph site here but it’s too exposed to the wind to allow picture taking. There are three fishing boats present and we exchange greetings with one as we make our way to the sand beach on the western shore.
It’s nice and protected here. I can see why it was a native camp during their fishing forays. The sun is out and it’s quite pleasant. There are several sets of moose tracks in the sand.
We find a nice spot out nearer the point where we’re out of sight of the fishermen, drag the canoe up on the sand and have our lunch. It’s nice here in the sun but we can see the waves passing by and we know that we’ve got about another 6km to cover to get to our intended campsite. That will put us within 1.5km of Fairy Point.
It takes us two and a half hours to work our way down the southern coastline and into a protected bay, which should be across from our campsite. I scan the far shore with my binoculars but cannot pick out any campsite marker. It just has to be in that small bay across from us so we start out and set a path just west of where we think the campsite is. All the way across I keep looking for something that will mark the site. We reach the north shore at the point that looked the most promising but there’s no campsite here. We decide to land in a small bay and check out the next point on foot. We ride in on the surf and hastily drag the canoe up on the gravel beach. Thank god for ABS. A walk out to the point proves fruitless but we’re sure that it must be East of here so we retrace our path back to the canoe, wade into the surf to start and paddle around the point. Another 100m and voila here’s a fireplace on an exposed piece of rock.
Another tricky landing ensues as we eddy in out of the wind a bit and Kathy goes up the sloping rock to check. The only marker here is a bit of white tape tied around a small tree at the top of the slope but – it’s home!!
The trip from Whitefish Falls has taken 2.5 hours. A distance that we would have covered in an hour in calm conditions.
There’s room for two tents in a nicely protected pocket. Someone has even set up a small fire pit up here which doesn’t require much work to house our grill. The site is about 10m above the lake with a sloping rock leading to the water. All in all a pretty good site.
The wind is blowing hard enough so that I bring the canoe up to the campsite rather than worrying about a gust of wind leaving us canoeless.
Always the optimists we make an early dinner so that we’ll be ready for the evening calm.
After dinner we’re sitting out on the rock in front of the site having a coffee when Kathy says, "There’s a bear"! A medium sized bear was coming down the shore from the west so that it was traveling with the wind. It was about 30m from us and hadn’t seen or heard us. A quick blast on my emergency whistle got its attention but it couldn’t locate the source of the sound. I stood up, waved my arms and shouted at it. Now it saw me and retreated into the bush behind our site never to reappear.
My heart stopped pounding but the waves didn’t. No Fairy Point tonight.
Today we covered 14.5km with no portages
Sunday, August 13 - Day 3
Wind blew all night - it’s now cloudy. We’re up at 7, have some granola and coffee and a short discussion. Since it doesn’t look like we’ll get to Fairy Point today why don’t we head for Little Missinaibi Lake?
We’re on the water by 8:30 and back at Whitefish Falls at 9:15. What took us 2.5 hours yesterday took us 45 minutes this morning.
Now the fun begins. We’re planning on staying on Trump Lake tonight and there are portages of 1000, 165, 400, 60, 270 and 1025m. According to Hap’s book the last is up a killer rock slope to start. There won’t be much time on the water between portages. The longest paddle looks like about 1.5km. Well, lets get to it.
The first portage from Whitefish Bay back to the Little Missinaibi River starts out with some uphill stuff with steps built into the slope – not too bad – then there’s some more uphill before we get to level ground. It’s a damp humid morning and now we’re getting a light shower. I’m sweating pretty good now and the bugs are beginning to gather. Don’t they know that it’s August 13 and that they’re supposed to be gone by now? The portage passes through a burned over area and there appears to be lots of blueberries available. A downhill section marks the end of the portage.
The shower has stopped. The sweating hasn’t. I’m doing the mosquito mambo and now we gotta go back for the rest of our gear.
The next portage, a 165m on the right is easy enough but the trail is overgrown and the bushes are wet. It makes little difference to me, as I haven’t begun to dry out yet.
On the next portage, a 400m on the right we carry our first load and decide to have lunch before the second load. As we begin the second trip we encounter a party from Pennsylvania that is on their way out. There are six of them and we stop to chat at our put in point. They report that the portage into Trump is blocked in one place and that the dreaded rock face is quite slippery. They also report that the passage from Elbow to Little Miss is open save for three beaver dams.
We part company and the next obstacle is in sight. The reported 60m portage on the right. We look at the CI and decide to try to paddle up it. No such luck. Our paddling speed matches the speed of the current but no more. We drift back and resort to lining up. At least we saved unloading and loading.
Another kilometer brings us to a 270m portage on the left. No big deal here. As we drop down to the river Kathy stops, turns around and says "There’s a moose in the river". Sure enough, there’s a cow moose about 100m upstream of us. Of course the camera is on the other end of the portage.
I walk down to the river and gently deposit the canoe, help Kathy off with her load and we decide to head back rather than staying to watch Ms. Moose who is feeding and seems not to care that we’re there.
By the time we get back the sun is out and she’s even closer to the landing. We deposit our loads and get out the camera gear. We spend the next 15 minutes taking pictures. I get in seven pictures before the rewind starts. That or my fumbling around for more film and reloading the camera doesn’t seem to bother her. This time each time she puts her head underwater I try to move a little closer. I succeed in getting about 20m closer before she decides she’s had enough and walks out of the river into an alder thicket.
Moose picture
We load up and paddle by. She’s standing just back from the water watching us go by. The river is now quite shallow and we scrape bottom a few times as we work our way to the dreaded Trump Lake portage. The landing is on the right and there’s a decent campsite here. As we unload we look for the reported rock face but cannot see it. However, 50m up the trail it begins. Fortunately for us it has dried out and is not slippery. But it is a steep climb for about 50m. As you reach the top there’s a nice big boulder to rest your pack on while you get your breath. Only another 975m to go. There is a blow down which blocks the trail but a fairly easy bypass is available through the brush on the right.
By the time we get our gear to Trump Lake I’m bushed. We’ve done 2860m of portaging, which each required two carries. And I’m paying $6.50 a night for this?
From the portage we can see that the campsite on the larger island is occupied. We paddle over to ask if the other island is also occupied. "No", they reply in an Ohio twang. "Where you folks headed"? When we report that we’re going to Lil Miss they suggest that the water is too low and volunteer that they’re leaving sometime tomorrow if we want their campsite.
We continue down the lake with a good stiff tailwind to the campsite Hap records as the preferred site. It is a fairly level site and has been manicured with a chainsaw. It’s too open for our liking. There are two upturned boats present and the huge fire pit is right out in the wind.
We find a semi-protected place to put the tent. I find an old fire ring and carry some rocks to rebuild it and we move in for the night.
After a dinner of bulgar and curried lentils which was preceded by gallons of water and followed by coffee and a couple of whiskeys we began to feel a little less stiff.
There was a spectacular sunset that afforded some good pictures.
Sunset picture
Today we covered 13km with 2950m of portages.

Monday, August 14 - Day 4
We’re up at 7:30 but the wind isn’t. Could it be that we’ll have a calm day?
After a breakfast of twelve-grain cereal with cranberries, brown sugar and milk; along with coffee of course, we’re ready to tackle today’s adventure.
On the water at 9:15. It’s a short paddle to the portage to Elbow Lake and we arrive to find a soggy and muddy takeout that can’t be avoided. Rather than following our usual portaging plan we leave some gear in the canoe and carry the packs first. The portage is an easy 220 meters.
We enter Elbow Lake and soon spot two motorboats. This means that the path to lil Miss must be open because there are no camps on Elbow Lake. The 4.5km paddle around the elbow passes quite quickly and we approach the marsh at the end of the lake. We just paddle for what looks like the furthest the lake extends into the marsh and the outlet appears. The stream has no flow and is about 3m wide. It twists and turns through a huge beaver meadow and finally we encounter the first beaver dam. We slide the canoe over and continue on. This is repeated twice and now the water level is very low but just ahead we can see Little Missinaibi. The upper portion of Lil Miss is very marshy. We we’re told that there were two good campsites at the narrows as you enter the main lake. We think that these are too far from the center of the lake so we pass them and continue on. We take the arm of the lake which is to our left since that is where all the pictographs are and also where Hap has indicated several campsites.
It’s now lunch time so we pick a nice shady point and pull up for our salami and cheese on a pita accompanied by some juice. There is almost no breeze, the sky is clear and the sun is blazing.
We pass the fly-in camp and begin to hug the right shore to look for the Pothole pictographs. You couldn’t miss them if you tried. The canoe easily fits into the pothole and we get lots of pictures.
Pothole pictographs
Crossing the lake here we proceed to the next pictograph site which we find without a problem. However, by now we’re both hot and tired so we decide to search out a campsite. Hap has indicated that there are three in this vicinity. We want to be further down the lake so we decide to forgo the picture taking until tomorrow, get camped for today and wash off some of the accumulated dirt and sweat.
The campsite in the narrows just south of the island in front of us will put us within easy paddling distance of everywhere we want to go so we set out for there.
After two trips down that channel and a couple of exploratory trips on foot we decide that the site must have disappeared in last years windstorm. Oh well, there’s another shown just south of pictograph site C.
We retrace our path and begin our search in the bottom of the bay and work our way north along the shoreline. We find two places that may have been campsites. One suffers from multiple blowdowns and will require a couple of hours to clear. The second is very small and will require some brush clearing. It’s also buggy here so we decide to move on.
By now we’re running out of time so we head for the island west of pictograph site A once again retracing our path. Fortunately there is a campsite here and although there have been several blowdowns someone has been busy with a chainsaw. There is a big tree down over the site at one point but it is just less than head high and has been trimmed. This is a nice site as it will get the sunset and the prevailing breeze. There is a gently sloping rock entrance to the site, which seems to drop off nicely for swimming. We hustle to get set up so that we can get in that swim and bath. The water is refreshing but I must warn you not to dive off this site. The water is quite brown and you will not see the rocks that lurk about a meter below the surface.
After our swim and bath we consult the menu list and decide to have noodles and pesto sauce. I didn’t even spill any noodles in the straining process. After dinner and tea and cookies the breeze begins to freshen slightly. As I’ve left the canoe in an exposed place I bring it up to the site just in case. We retire and plan to visit the rest of the pictograph sites tomorrow. We’ll pack a lunch and make a day of it.
We should know enough not to plan in front of the wind gods.
Today we covered 23km with 220m of portage.

Tuesday, August 15 - Day 5
During the night we can hear the wind rising and I take the opportunity to check the canoe while I’m up at one point.
Morning finds the wind howling out of the west and just pounding into our little island. Since the pictographs we want to see face the west and since there are waves breaking on our gently sloping entrance we decide to wait and see what the day will bring. We’ve had two fairly long days so maybe a little rest is in order.
We take our little stove and head for the lee side of the island for breakfast. Coffee and twelve grain cereal with nuts and cranberries really hits the spot.
We decide that some reading and laundry is in order so we retrieve our books, get caught up on the journal, and wash out those grimy shorts and shirts of the last two days. The sun is out so the stuff will dry fairly quickly if we can keep it from blowing away.
I try a couple of different spots for reading and after a couple of hours I drift into the tent not knowing whether I want to read or nap.
Kathy comes running up to the tent just as I’m about to drift off and announces that "There’s a moose out in the water down by that little island down in the bay – come see." She begins to run back to the water`s edge.
Remember that blowdown that I said was just less than head high? Kathy will always remember it. In her haste to show me the moose she didn’t duck quite far enough. It’s a good thing that the moose was up wind of us or she’d have heard the thump of noggin on tree. The result was a one-inch cut in Kathy’s scalp. It didn’t bleed very much so we dried it a bit and dosed it with Polysporin.
Now we could turn our attention to the moose. She was a nice sized cow about 600 meters from our camp. She stayed out in the water for over an hour wandering from here to there and doing what moose do best in the summer – eat. I commented that it was a little unusual to see a cow at this time of the year without a calf but that this was our second such sighting. Maybe the calves were both hidden while mom replenished her milk supply. She finally left the bay, returning to the shore she entered from which reinforced my belief that there was a calf there.
All the excitement almost caused us to miss lunch – not. Our usual pita with salami, cheese and cucumber really hit the spot. Kathy washed down a couple of aspirin with her helping of juice and since the wind had not abated we went back to reading. I found a spot out of the wind and in the sun where I could lean back and be comfortable – but it didn’t last long.
Kathy has spotted a cow and calf in the shallows about 400 meters south of us. The cow wades out chest deep and begins to browse. The calf attempts to follow but it’s too deep to stand so it retreats to shallower water.
Once again we’re treated to about half an hours worth of moose watching. The cow continues to browse while the calf moves very little and seems not at all interested in the water plants. The cow decides that she’s had her fill and wanders back to the shallows and heads south along the shore with calf in tow. They reach a sand spit and the cow walks over it and out of sight. The calf first pauses on the spit and then turns to move along the spit instead of following mom. At this point the calf begins something I’ve never seen – it starts to frolic along the spit. It’s trotting, jumping and kicking up it’s heels – in general just having some moose fun I guess. Mom returns just enough so that we can see her head and shoulders. To bad we couldn’t hear the conversation. The frolic continues for about 2 minutes and then the calf rejoins the cow and they disappear around the shore. We’re wishing we had a video camera with a 1000mm lens.
We decide to have an early dinner so that if the wind dies we’ll be able to get out to photograph pictograph sites C and E from Hap’s book. The wind shows no sign of abating so once again we take the stove and ingredients to the east side of the island to prepare our meal. Today’s delicacy is vegetarian chili. We started soaking the beans this morning so they’re beginning to get tender. Note: We dehydrated our own beans by buying a can of mixed beans and using our dehydrator. This saves a lot of soaking and cooking time.
With dinner, tea and cookies out of the way and the dishes cleaned up we begin to wait for the evening calm. It never comes. Dusk and the mosquitoes do – they’re not bad though so we sit out for a bit and consider our plans for tomorrow. Since it’ll take us a day and a half to get back to Missinaibi Lake and since we really want to see Fairy point we figure that we need to leave here by noon tomorrow. That’ll get us to Missinaibi Lake on Thursday afternoon and give us Thursday evening, all day Friday and Saturday morning to get out to see Fairy Point. We decide to get up early and attempt to do our photographic best and then return to the campsite to pack-up and hit the trail to Missinaibi Lake.
Today we covered 0km

Wednesday, August 16 - Day 6
There are some overnight showers but the wind is still blowing. It seems to shifting to the North. We decide to have our breakfast and see if we can’t get to site E. There is a chance that it’s out of the wind. From our site we can see pictograph site C and it’s too rough to attempt pictures there.
We leave the site with no problem since the wind has died a little. Crossing the open water to the south of our camp and making our way to pictograph site E is no problem. We find the site and I spend 20 minutes taking pictures. The wind is rising again so we decide to paddle along the lee of the island the pictographs are on and up through a narrow channel to get to site C.
We round the island to the sight of whitecaps and they’re all marching straight towards us. Fifty meters more and we’re out in the full force of the wind. Kathy turns and says, "There’s no way we’re paddling in this. I’m not risking my life for some pictures". It is a foolhardy venture so we retrace our path around the island and now have to work our way over to the north shore so that we can get some protection from the wind which is now blowing in gusts from the north. We get to the north shore and work our way along to a point where we have to expose ourselves to the brunt of the wind again but the wind is continuing to shift and now it’s coming from the northeast. This means that site C which is just across the lake from us now and only about a half kilometer away will be in the lee for a little while.
We struggle across the distance and as we approach the pictographs we find ourselves in the lee of the wind. The pictographs are such that I can get some pictures from the rocks so we pull up and Kathy holds the canoe while I clamber out to get the required pictures.
The wind god has given us some respite but we know that it’s only temporary so we head back to the campsite to pack up and begin our journey back to Missinaibi Lake. We haven’t accomplished a quarter of the things we wanted to do here but if we want to see Fairy Point we gotta go.
We promise we’ll be back after I retire so that we can spend about three weeks in the area. That way we’ll be able to see and do all the things we would like to.
As we pack up the wind settles into a steady force from the northeast with accompanying gusts. My cheery "pack up all your cares and woes" gets swept away in the wind. This is going to make it a long day.
We decide to make today’s destination the campsite at the end of the portage from Trump Lake to the Little Missinaibi River.
By hugging the north shore we can get about 2 km of relatively easy paddling before turning into the brunt of the wind. We stop at the pothole pictograph site once again to admire the ancient art. If only we could understand the message in these paintings.
Rounding the curve that heads to the northern reaches of the lake presents us with the problem of which shore to hug in attempt to lessen the force of the wind. We choose to try the east shore but this is pretty flat terrain and doesn’t offer much of a buffer. Besides, the lake is narrow here and the wind just seems to funnel down any opening. We work our way back past the fly-in camp and the campsites at the entrance to the lake. There are two tents on the western site but we see no inhabitants. The next 1.5 km to the Elbow lake creek seems to take forever. The gusts of wind literally bring us to a standstill.
We finally reach the creek and revel in the fact that now we get to paddle through a couple of hundred meters of muck to reach that first beaver dam. The water seems lower than it was when we were through here just two days ago but we’re out of the wind for now and the winding course is a pleasure.
Elbow Lake offers some protection along its northern shore for the first 3.5 km and we decide to stop for lunch as we round the bend and head into the wind for the 1.5 km pull to the portage. We pick a nice sloping rock face that is out of the wind and in the sun and spend about an hour dawdling over lunch and lots of juice. We know that from here to the Trump Lake portage to the river will be into the wind – and sure enough it is.
The 220m portage from Elbow Lake to Trump Lake is a relative pleasure, even the muddy put-in. We just carry the canoe over first so that we can load it directly. The 3.5km paddle across Trump Lake is not as bad as we thought it would be. We tried to seek the shelter of the islands where we could and actually looked forward to the 1025m portage that followed.
The portage went quickly enough, although I struggled harder this time to get around the blowdown. We completed our two trips by about 5:00pm.
This is a nice campsite nestled in the woods at the end of a rapid, which does not have enough water in it to run. There is the required sloping rock to the water and a fairly nice fire pit with a donated grate.
Since we’re only going to be here overnight we’ll just use the stove for dinner. I fire up the stove to make some coffee and help Kathy with the tent since I’m not gathering any firewood.
With the tent up and the coffee ready we sit down to discuss dinner and our plans for tomorrow. Dinner will be Snow Pea Soup with some Babaganoush and Pitas on the side followed by our usual tea and cookies. Over our afternoon whiskey Kathy has only one request – "Since I’m putting up with all this paddling and portaging so that you can get pictures of the pictographs in the area I’d like to stop on the portage to Missinaibi Lake and pick some blueberries." I see no problem with that. It’ll allow us to have some blueberry pancakes.
Today we covered 26km with 1245m of portaging.

Thursday, August 17 - Day 7
The day dawns with a coating of fog hanging in the river valley. We take our time about getting out of bed and I decide to use a fire after all so I quickly gather enough wood from up the portage trail to make our morning coffee. While the water’s coming to a boil I just sit down by the river and watch the patterns in the fog as it begins to lift.
With coffee made I call Kathy to come-an-git-it. We have granola with juice for breakfast and start the pack up routine. As in the set up routine Kathy handles the in tent stuff and I handle the outside gathering and cleaning up.
We’re soon ready; the sun is coming out and by the way, there is no wind. We’re on the water for our 1km paddle to the first portage at 9:30.
The 270 meter portage behind us we run the next 60 meter CI, portage 400 meters on the left and approach the next obstacle, a 165 meter rapid that I think might be runnable. We approach the rapid and scout from the water. The flow of water at the top end will carry us to the left through a very narrow chute and into a boulder garden at the bottom. There’s not enough room at the top to ferry to the right and avoid the rocks so we decide that perhaps wading will be a good alternative to the carry. Sure enough, we wade the canoe through the top portion and think we see enough of a path so that we can float through the bottom. However, the river and the rocks have another thought and soon we’re hung up. Oh well, our legs are already wet so a little more water walking won’t hurt. Besides, it’s easier than the portage would have been. Now all we have left is the 1000 meter carry to Missinaibi Lake.
We organize our carry so that the food box will go last. Remember, I promised we’d stop for blueberries somewhere along the trail. I tell Kathy to be on the lookout for a good picking place as we saddle up for our first trip.
The first trip will see me carry the canoe and Kathy will tote one of our barrels. The portage is going nicely, the sun is out but it’s not too warm. I’m noticing quite a few blueberry bushes along the trail (it seems easy to spot them from underneath a canoe for some reason) I look up to see where Kathy is but she’s ahead somewhere. A moment later I hear her call out but I can’t make out what she said. I figure that she’s commenting about the blueberries and I continue to trudge on thinking that she’ll be standing in the trail pointing out a good blueberry patch. I don’t see her until we’re on our way down the hill into Missinaibi Lake and I don’t catch up until we’re on the shore. "What’s up with the yelling"? I ask between pants for air (I’m not as young as I once was and carrying an 80 pound canoe for 1000 meters gets me panting). "Oh, just a bear in the blueberry patch" she replies. "I was walking along thinking that we hadn’t seen any bear tracks or scat when we came through here before and I thought that was kinda unusual until I looked off to my right and there about 30 meters away was a bear". "It had already seen me so I just yelled at it to scram just like you did with the one the other day". "Anyway, it beat it back into the bush so let’s get back to our gear before it does".
We retrace our steps, retrieve the rest of our gear and bring it back across the portage to a spot Kathy has picked out for berry picking. We unload, get out a couple of empty jars and start picking. The goal is to gather one jar full between us and not run into Mr. Bruin while we’re at it. We stay pretty close together and I remind Kathy that she should stand up once in a while and look around. Walking around a little and breaking some brush won’t hurt either.
It takes us about 45 minutes to get all the berries we want so we finish the portage and put in to make our paddle back out toward Fairy Point. A short visit to the pictographs here in Whitefish Bay is in order so I get out the camera and we spend another 30 minutes trying to get some good shots. The water is almost calm but it’s getting late if we’re going to get out to the point so we begin the 5.5 km paddle to the campsite we stayed at earlier in the week. It should put us within good striking distance of the point. (about 1.5 km) We talk about going straight to Fairy Point since the weather is so good but as we approach our intended campsite we can see canoes coming from the west and we realize that if we don’t claim the campsite then our only option will be to camp on Red Granite Point and I don’t particularly want to be there if the weather turns bad. At least from here we can get out even if the wind howls from the west. With that decided we pull up and claim our campsite. As we finish unloading a group of two canoes approaches and we exchange greetings. They inquire about campsites and we relate that the two we saw further back in the bay were not occupied when we passed them. We begin to set up and a group of three canoes passes. "Good thing we got here when we did" I say. I should learn never to say those things in front of the weather gods. The words were hardly out of my mouth when a black cloud rolled in from the west. We could see that it was raining down in South Bay so we quickly erected our tarp and awaited our fate.
The shower passed without dampening our spirits. We used the time to make some coffee and plan our dinner. Tonight will be Brown Rice with veggies and hosein sauce. I gather some driftwood and beaver cuttings along the shore for firewood as we wait for the next clear spot to make a dash for the point.
There is a clear spot to the west so we quickly grab our stuff, not forgetting the camera or our rainsuits, and head out. We get about half way to the point and there is a shower bearing down on us with no clear spot in sight. We race the shower back to our campsite. We’re losers again, but not by much. The clouds seem thicker now and its beginning to look as though we’ll have an early dusk so we decide to have dinner and wait to see what develops.
What develops is a cloudy overcast evening with scattered showers. Even between the showers the light isn’t what I’d want for photographs at Fairy Point. Oh well, its only Thursday and we don’t want to be at the take out point until Saturday at 4 pm.
I manage to get a fire started and we start dinner only to finish it on the stove after the next shower drowns the fire. I gotta learn the technique of putting the tarp over the fire pit so that this doesn’t happen. It seems that the fire is always just far enough out so that the rain gets it. Oh well, at least I don’t have any burn marks in the fly yet.
Dinner is delicious, we gotta keep this recipe. By the way, Kathy prepared the menu for this trip and so far I’ve been very happy. In the past I’ve done most of the planning but since we’ve gone to the vegetarian life style she’s gotten much more interested in the meal planning aspect of our tripping. She sat up several evenings and weekends trying to figure out how to use the veggies and stuff we dehydrated in our meals. The only hydrated food we brought was the salami, cheese and cucumber for lunch as well as pitas, some rye bread and peanut butter. Oh, we also threw in two tomatoes and we’re still carrying one of those. The other we ate last night with our babaganoush.
The breeze begins to kick up a little from the west but as we sit and have our tea and cookies we hope that it will just move the showers on so that tomorrow will be a clear and sunny day. I move the canoe up to the campsite just as a precautionary measure. I don’t want to be out there in my gotchies in the middle of the night if a thunderstorm comes up.
Today we covered 11km with 1895m of portages.

Friday, August 18 - Day 8
The wind has picked up overnight but we get up early to survey the situation. The wind seems to be out of the northwest and we can see the waves rolling across the end of Barclay Bay through our binoculars. With any luck the wind will switch around and maybe we’ll have a calm stretch so that we can get out to the point. It hasn’t blown from the east yet so we almost hope for an east wind, which will put the point in the lee.
As the day wears on we get out to try some fishing and twice approach the point only to turn back because of the rough conditions. Our fishing yields the same sad returns. The spare time is used to bathe and shave. Not that we haven’t bathed almost daily but tomorrow is getaway day and I want to look presentable when we hit that first Tim’s. There is still hope for an evening calm, which never comes. But the bear does. It must be the same bear that was here last Saturday. It appears across the small bay from our campsite traveling west. At least this time it’s traveling away from us. I wonder if it came down the shore toward our camp and detoured around us? There’s a good chance of that but I shout to get its attention so that it knows we’re there. It looks in our direction; I wave my arms and tell it that I’m much bigger than it is. It looks and then leisurely walks back into the bush. I gotta remember to tell the park people about this bear.
There is one last attempt to paddle out to the point as the sun descends but the wind does not abate. Oh well, maybe it was not meant to be. Let’s have some of those blueberries.
Kathy sorts and cleans the berries and makes a sauce out of them, which we use over pancakes for dinner. We stuff ourselves and go to bed vowing to try once more in the morning.
Today we covered 9km with no portages

Saturday, August 19 - Day 9
I was up and starting the fire while the sky was just beginning to turn pink. If we can’t get to Fairy Point by noon then we’re going to have to save it for another time. A check with the binoculars reveals waves marching across the point from the north. The breeze has subsided but it seems to be out of the north now and we’re in the lee here at our campsite.
With coffee made I rouse Kathy and we share the morning’s first sips as she looks out over the water and predicts that we will not make it to the point today. I have my doubts but we decide to try again and agree to paddle out to the edge of the point where we had to turn back yesterday. If the waves are bad we’ll just come back. If it’s rough but manageable we’ll attempt to see the pictographs but not take any pictures.
As we paddle out the waves still seem to represent a challenge that we might not want to face. I recall the dire warnings posted at the boat launch about very dangerous conditions existing at Fairy Point.
We get right to the end of the point and decide that the waves are not so bad that we can’t get around to at least see the pictographs.
The breeze seems to be shifting around again and now is coming from the northeast as we round the point. Maybe that’s just a deflection off the cliffs here but we’re now around the point and headed along the cliffs. We’re out away from the cliffs so that we can determine if there will be any problem caused by waves reflecting off the cliff face. There are no problems and as we traverse the point the wind seem to be dying. We move in so that we’re within a few meters of the cliff and begin to look for pictographs. We soon spot those that are highlighted in Hap’s book. The closer we get to the cliff face the less the breeze effects us and soon I’ve got the camera gear out and I’m snapping away. The light is not great and sometimes I have to use the flash even though I’m using Fuji 1600 film. I even get a chance to try my 70 – 300 lens on the macro setting so that I can focus down to 19 inches at 300 mm.
Fairy Point pictographs
In this light and with no one around the setting takes on an eerie feeling. The cliff rises out of the water and I can see where Hap got the feeling and inspiration for the cover of his book.
We traverse the rock face slowly in both directions, find a few more pictographs and I succeed in running out of film. Completely out! I started with six rolls of 24. Oh well, guess the trip home will not get recorded.
The paddle back to our campsite is a silent one as we both wish that our trip was not coming to an end. A week is just not enough to do justice to all there is to see and do. Once we get back and start our real breakfast we begin to consider what we’ve seen.
We’re at once elated that we’ve gotten to see the works of the people who inhabited this area thousands of years ago and awed by what their lives must have been like. We realize that as hunter – gatherers we’d soon starve to death. We recall the presentation we saw at the 2000 Canoe Expo by the couple who tried to live for a year in the wilderness and comment about the amount of work that needs to be done and how it takes family groups or tribes to make the wilderness survivable.
After breakfast we slowly pack up our gear and prepare for the paddle back to the Barclay Bay campground. The paddle will take us about four hours so we plan to leave by about noon.
The wind is back up now and is gusting from the north-northeast. If we hug the north shore on our way back we should be OK but we can see the waves hitting the south shore.
We’re soon on our way and within the first two kilometers we experience the force of the wind as we cross an open bay. We have to angle into the wind to prevent ourselves from being swamped or blown out into the center of the channel where we definitely don’t want to be. We hug the shore even closer and marvel at how the wind seems to seek us out. You’d think that with the wind blowing this hard that once in a while we’d hit an eddy where the wind was actually at our backs but it doesn’t seem to occur. Progress is slow but reasonable as we approach Mary Island. We discuss possible routes and decide to pass behind the island. When we come out the other side the wind should be at our backs. "It should spit us out like a watermelon seed at a summer picnic". I say as we begin the turn back to the bay.
Sure enough, we’re in the grip of the wind and we’re really moving now however, I make the error of letting us get too far out into the bay. Now rather than being in the eddy of the wind which was pushing us to the southeast we’re in the full force of the wind which is coming from the northeast. We’ve got five kilometers to go so do we struggle back to the protection of the north shore or do we just stick it out and ferry across the wind. We opt for sticking it out and have a bumpy, tiring but otherwise uneventful ride back to the boat launch.
The wind is so hard that I’m leery of trying to load the canoe on our roof racks for fear that it’ll blow off so we set the truck behind some trees to load up our gear. It means one more 50 meter lift over but we’re up to the task by now. While I get things loaded up Kathy slices the last of our salami, cheese and cucumber so that we can have a quick bite before we leave. We down that along with the last of our pre-made juice and we’re almost ready to hit the road. The last remaining task is to change into our going home clothes, wash our hands and we’re off.
We stop at the entrance shack but of course they’re closed. Guess someone else will have to relate their bear story. On the way to Chapleau we discuss possible routes home. We settle on traversing Highway 101 toward Timmins and then down 144 to Sudbury. As long as we’re going that way I volunteer to show Kathy where my son and I ended our Chapleau - Nemogosenda trip on Mate Lake. I find the road to Mate Lake and we begin the 2.5 km drive but the road is much more overgrown that it was in 1993 when we walked out and picked up the bike we stashed so Mark could ride back and pick up the truck. There is evidence that someone else has used the road recently though.
We break into the clearing that marks the end of the road and there are two surprised looking guys with a tent setup and their gear strewn about. Turns out that it’s Fritz and Fritz from Michigan who had just been dropped off a few hours ago and were going to descend the Nemogosenda to Elsas and take the train back to Foleyet. We have a nice chat and I’m sure that when we part that they think that Ontario must have a small population because everyone they mention we seem to know or have run into at some canoeing function. I give them my business card and tell them to stop and see Ron Quigley in Elsas and to tell him that I sent them. I’ll be moose hunting in Elsas this fall so if the Fritz’s are reading this – I’m going to check up on you. ( I did check up on them and Ron reported that they were wonderful guests)
By the time we leave it’s dusk and we set our sights on the Watershed Restaurant on 144 for dinner. We arrive there at 9:30 pm and are informed that they are closing so we grab a coffee to go and continue south.
We manage to find a Golden Arches open in Chelmsford so we settle for burgers and fries (we kinda had our mouths set for a pickerel dinner).
The rest of the trip to Hamilton goes without a hitch and we arrive home at 6 am. We’ve been up for 24 hours now so we decide to catch a little shuteye before unpacking.
Today we covered 24km with no portages.

Although it’s a long drive from the populated areas of Ontario the trip is well worthwhile. If you’ve got kids they’ll love the history lessons that can be interwoven in the trip with all the historic sites that are available.
As I alluded to earlier you should plan to spend at least two weeks in order to get to see everything. Plan to spend a week on Missinaibi Lake and try to see the historic sites in Barclay bay and work your way around to the logging camp in Baltic Bay. The campsites here don’t seem overused but we did see motorboaters camped at the same site for at least five days near Whitefish Bay. The second week could easily be spent in going to and from Little Missinaibi with time left to see the pictographs and explore Little Miss.
We intend to return when we can spend two to three weeks so that we can explore all the nooks and crannies of Little Missinaibi and possibly get that pickerel dinner we’re still craving.

Scott and Kathy Warner

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
42 B/5 Missinaibi Lake 42 B/4 Bolkow
Special Comments: 

If we were to do the route again I`d plan on expanding the allotted time to two weeks so that adequate time could be spent exploring Little Missinaibi Lake and visiting the old logging camp on Baltic Bay.


Post date: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 20:37


The authors of the above report are Kathy and Scott Warner.

CCR Routes Coordinator

Post date: Thu, 05/14/2009 - 23:27


Great trip...nice that you had as much time as you did in there. When I did it, I had 4 days, so we headed from the gatehouse straight to Whitefish Falls, and made camp on the river where the portage to Trump Lake begins. It was just after Labour Day, and the ranger at the park told me his crew of summer students made it up to Little Miss by sticking to the river entirely...I figured if they could do it so could we. Ended up not being too bad...I waded up most of the river while my buddy hopped from boulder to boulder along the shore, only getting a couple soakers. We took the Elbow-Trump route back, which was preferable to shooting the rapids section we had trudged up the day before.
Incredible scenery, and definitely a trip that could last a few weeks...lots of fish in the river to eat, if you're so inclined.