Maple Mountain Loop

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Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
114 km
6 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
6830 m
Longest Portage: 
2450 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Mowat Landing via Hwy 558
South East on Montreal River
South on Lady Evelyn River
P 270 around Hydro dam
West on Lady Evelyn Lake
South West through Obisaga Narrows
West on Lady Evelyn Lake (West Arm)
P 225* (actually 100)
South on Sucker Gut Lake
West through second opening on right to marsh/pond (behind island)
North west then Southwest through narrows (look for campsite) to marsh/pond.
North on Willow Island Creek
Hobart Lake (watch for rocks at exit which is just after Tupper Creek on your L. Tupper Creek is the entrance to Tupper Lake for the Climb up Maple Mountain*)
Old Bill Lake
P415m to Bessie Lake
P345 Inez lake
P140 Anvil Lake
Willow Creek (P75 around boulder garden) *495m around boulder garden and log jams
L/O numerous beaver dams, track and drag boat over sand and gravel shoals
P825 Bergeron *hard to find, see notes
P 85 Lily Pond
*P 95 to main body of Niccolite (not necessary if large beaver dams by portage into “Lily Pond” are still there
North on Niccolite Lake
P235 Lockie (very difficult if wet)
P790 Little Skull (can be difficult if wet)
P80 North East on Skull Lake
P2450 Mendelssohn (must cross two streams)
Spray Creek (L/O`s + P185m around rapid and log jam+ many L/O beaver dams)
Big Spring L.
South on Montreal River
South on Indian Lake
SW on Montreal River
Mowat Landing (river bisected by logging bridge 1 km before take-out)

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Maple Mountain Loop (Temagami) Trip Log
by Cheryl Stoltz

Friday June 29– Sat June 30, 2001
(Newmarket to North Bay, North Bay – Temagami – Mowat Landing. Mowat Landing to Lady Evelyn River (P270 m) – L. Evelyn Lake Paddle distance -14 km)

Left Newmarket at 5:30 p.m. in hot and muggy 32 C weather. Only slightly emotional seeing the kids off first (Iain 10, and Sandy 10 months). Hoped Sandy wouldn`t learn to walk before we got back. Took an hour to get to Barrie, but after that we drove straight through to North Bay in light traffic. Arrived at Lakeshore Travel Lodge at 9:30 pm exactly (Government Rate of $69 + taxes included a large room and good filling continental breakfast). Had dinner at the East Side Mario`s, and was pleased with the Spicy Shrimp Bow-ties and Hummus with Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese until we saw the condition of the kitchen on the way to the filthy washroom. Then we left feeling ill.

Left N. Bay at 8 a.m. in overcast skies and got to Temagami at 9:30 a.m. Excited as always to really be setting out on our long awaited for adventure. All info places are closed on the weekend, go figure. Talked to Ted at Lady Evelyn Outfitters. He really wanted to be helpful – business was slow on this rainy day, and tried to talk us in to changing our route to a different loop, or flying in to Sucker Gut Lake (cost $250 + shuttle). He checked the weather for us at and said that there was a big “occlusion” coming but that the storm would miss Lady Evelyn Lake and hit the town of Temagami. We declined his offer and headed up to Mowat Landing in a drizzle

The road in was the first time David had seen a 500 series provincial highway done in gravel (that gradually decreased to a backwoods road) in all his years in Civil Eng. There was nothing much at Mowat Landing but a good large (free) parking lot, a government dock (no put in fees), and a small lodge with docking and restaurant.

Rain stopped just as we unloaded, and got on the water at 11 a.m. It was a 15 min. paddle to the first portage around the dam. For $6.50 you could have your motor boat (or canoe) trailered across the easy 270m portage. A fisher dude was having his boat taken across, and he let us throw all the gear on with his boat at no charge. Head winds all the way up the Lady Evelyn River. No current to speak of, although the rapids/falls must have been spectacular before the dam was put in. Very pretty paddle in rocky shield country, and we could smell the pines. Two nice sites very close together on the way up to the lake (probably 1 site on Temagami map), but like all of the sites we encountered for the rest of the day, they were taken with motorboat fishing parties. Did not find second site on E. side.

South wind on L. Evelyn and threatening weather made our stop for lunch quick at the only vacant site (second small site on the S.) Only room for 1 tent, on a very exposed site. We continued travelling around the south end of the East arm, and made a mad, calculated dash in the waves and head wind to the big island. Tried to find the sites in the S. Eskers recommend by Ted with the binoculars, but had to paddle right to S. end of the Eskers to find them. Looked good, but of course they were taken. The site on the point was vacant, but terrible –sloped and fully exposed – and Ted had told us the on quiet nights the generator noise from the Lodge across the way was bad. Waves got bigger, so we took the last site on the North most esker. Very nice at 5m – 15 m wide, 5 m high, with sand, pine and nice swimming area. A lot of bush cleared, and trees cut on campsite (don`t those darn fishermen know you can`t burn green wood?) and there was little protection from the wind. Very little garbage, despite the fact that there really was 3 separate camp sites along this esker, and the thunderbox was full. We set the tent up quickly, trying to pushing it back into the bush at the most protected level spot, but not wanting to enlarge the site. Thunderstorm was swinging in from S to W. to N. around us with wind still from the SSW. Just about all set up, David on last rope of tarp, and me starting supper behind a wind-break of an old table top. Got a surprise when the windbreak blew over and damaged the pot, and that is all the warning we got. Suddenly there was 15 seconds of silence. It was not enough time to take cover.

The storm hit from the North with full force. David ran and tried to drop the tarp, but the hail and rain (which was coming in parallel to the water) was too strong, and he dove to join me behind the canoe. It was rather funny - I had leaned it against two trees as a wind-break for the wind from the SSW so that I could cook, yet I had to leap across it to take shelter on the S side! The wind had raised it and turned it up on its side so that it was being flattened against the trees. Glad we had the bottom of the boat taking the brunt of the storm but prayed that it could take the stress of the incredible wind! The tent was flattened in seconds, and two poles broke and the ridge pole bent. It would not have mattered what type of tent we had, or how we positioned it, the result probably would have been the same.

The violence ended after about 10 min. Several trees (huge!) came down 30m E. of campsite. Sad to think they had survived so many years and then in seconds their life was over. Very high winds and waves splashing up the 5m banks on the N side for the next 24 hours. We got lucky in that I had put a huge plastic drop sheet in the tent (David has promised never to make fun of it again), and were able to crawl into the downed wreckage and fold it in half over the gear (sleeping bags etc.) before the rain totally soaked it through it. We were very lucky to be safe and have dry gear as the temperature really dropped (and continued to drop for the next few days). Took 2 hours to priotize and clean up the damage. Thanked God many times that we intuitively react to do the right thing to help each other in an emergency and that neither one of us wasted time panicking. Steak, peppers, and potatoes a welcome warm up as we tried to dry everything out. We were afraid to have a fire with winds so high it was hard to stand. Scary and scared. Listened and felt the wicked howling N winds all night. My weather predicting skills were certainly going to be tested on this trip!

Sunday July 1, 2001
(Wind-bound on Lady Evelyn L.)

Could hear the big storm gusts coming again at 4 a.m. Woke up and could see our breath at 6 a.m. Wind-bound; off and on rain. Set about drying everything out by holding it in the wind. We were afraid to peg it on a line as the winds were too strong. Sand blew off of the esker and stung us, as did the rain that came frequently in gusts. Packed up quickly and set about moving everything to the down-slope of the lee side – there was not a lot room to move about on this isle. Gulped bacon and omlet. Could hear the wind and rain blasts coming across the lake, and we dive for cover under the canoe (which we had tilted up and wedged between 3 trees). Spent the whole day like this, and it was very scary. David slept sitting up by the canoe. I sat and waited. We couldn`t read or write because of the storm. We were very cold and had to layer up exactly as if we were out in winter (later found out it snowed in Timmins that day).

A couple from Cincinnati who had ventured out from the Lodge at Island 10 became wind-bound on our island for 5 hours before they crazily risked heading out into the 1m waves. More trees coming down scared them. They offered to take us with them, but we had built a snug shelter from the tarp, canoe, plastic and gear (used the sail as a door). There was no need to risk drowning!

Winds died a bit around 9 p.m., and we saw a couple coming down the lake in a canoe. Were they every moving, despite the big waves! If they had a sail they could have done the whole N. side of the lake in 45 min.

We spent the night in the shelter, and there was no bugs – thank heavens! No exactly romantic, but it definitely filled the adventure-seeking part of the trip. Condensation got the sleeping bags damp because we had put the plastic under the over us, but otherwise okay very snug.

Monday July 2, 2001
(Lady Evelyn L. (P100m*)–Sucker Gut – Willow Island Creek – Hobart – Old Bill (P415m)-Bessie (P345)–Inez(P140)–Anvil Paddled 34 km)

Alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., but David wouldn`t wake up until I really shook him at 4:55 a.m. We leaped up and pulled tarp back and frantically packed up. Managed to paddle away by 5:30 a.m. with the wind rising again. Dashed by Island 10, and boy is their generator noisy. Site on the point across from them looks nice, but we wouldn`t want the noise.

Obisaga Narrows very pretty, and we noted that it would have been nice to have been “stuck” here. Even with the head winds and white caps we could see lovely reflections in the water of the weird twisted trees when the sun occasionally came out. Sites along here looked fine. The N arm of L. Evelyn really had the wind blasting down it, so we crept along the N. side. Looked like 2 sites on the S. side were taken. We could see 3 canoes in the distance (looked like they were from a camp) and they were scattered all over the place. One more canoe pulled off an unofficial site on a point to the N. about ¾ of the way along. (It must have been a large one as it turned they were the group of 14 girls from Keewaydin that we met on Maple Mountain). Could now see the tower on Maple Mountain clearly. We got quite excited that we could be climbing it tomorrow

Found the portage okay in the S end of the little bay behind the island. It paced out at 100m, not 270m as the map said. Had to push a mass of floating logs away at both ends of the portage. Sucker Gut Lake has an ugly name but is gorgeous and Killarney like – almost wish we had paddled the extra 3 km rather than taking the portage. Passed one island site that was taken, then breakfasted on an island unofficial site at 8:30 a.m. across from a number of loons and 2 brown herons who did not care about us. Headed out again at 9:15 a.m. with headwinds now from the S. Found cut off to Hobart L. with the help of the topo. The scale on the Temagami map is too big, and really can`t see any detail. Had a bit of trouble finding the narrows to get to Willow Island Creek. The big island it is behind is now connected by bog to the “mainland”. Fought the winds to get to the narrows – from a distance the white-caps coming through there looked like dancing white water (rapids)! David was hoping that this would satisfy my craving for wild water, but it didn`t quite do it.

Every way we turned we had headwinds, and decided that it must be the topography of the region (later found out that it was just the oddball weather coming through all of this area of Ontario). Hobart was pretty. First site was quite sloped and only 1 good tent pad. The “beach site” that Hap described was taken, but had a look at the second site on the E, which did look good. We had planned on going to Anvil as we had been advised that all the sites in this area would be taken, and to avoid the thundering herds of tourists we were better to camp N of Tupper Creek. David really wanted to stick to the trip plan, so on we went. Almost missed the creek in to Tupper, but made a note of it for our return trip to Maple Mountain. Took a loopy route through Old Bill L. to the creek and saw a loon on her nest with her neck stretched out and very still. Ended up by creek okay with the help of the topo. Portage was easy to find. Looked well used, but didn`t look like anyone had been on it yet this year. Three trees down, so we had to climb over 2, and managed to drag under the big one.

Bessie and Inez Lakes were both quite swampy, and portages in the same condition as the one from Old Bill. Anvil was pretty-ish. Did not take time to investigate the very old sites right at the portage, although could see 3 fire rings from water. We took the site on the point at 2:45 p.m. No flat spot to put tent unless we went back into the bush and then there was 3 good spots. I wanted to sleep on the sloped sites, out from under the tress. There was enough protection from the wind, but I was spooked by our Esker experience. David humoured me.

No thunderbox, but absolutely no garbage. Either people must pack it out or burn it. Lots of trees down, and tonnes of loose, dried wood and brush (area is ripe for a burn through). No animals on the site except for 1 red squirrel. Spent rest of day drying out gear and reading, with B(no L)T`s for lunch. Bug situation lousy. Lasagne for supper. Realized we totally missed Canada Day! What a disappointment to not have celebrated it for the first time in many years! Asleep and slip sliding at 10: 30 p.m. – up for 18 hours, and covered 34 kms. Too bad we had to make up the lost day, it would have been nice to dawdle.

Tues. July 3, 2001
(Anvil – Inez – Bessie – Old Bill – Tupper Creek/ Tupper L. – Maple Mountain. Returned by same route (12 km) + 10 km of hiking)

Drizzle started again at 3:15 a.m. Awake at 7 a.m. but not quickly up. At 10 a.m. the rain finally stopped. Funny how tired we were considering that we were not at home getting up with the baby or spending the morning wrestling with Iain! On the water at 11:30 a.m. to Maple Mountain. Checked out W campsite. It was a huge meadow that has a road coming into it. Found garbage in the bush and a dock ready to be put in. Looks like it is well used in the fall. Lousy view, and no breeze. Beach is too shallow for swimming.

Back over the last 3 portages – wish now we had stayed on Hobart or Tupper. Much easier doing them in one trip. Stopped to look at the rock garden creeks, full of trees and ledges. I gave a brief sigh, wishing we could have made the Dumoine trip for this year work out. Saw fresh signs of moose and wolf, and old signs of bear. Saw our first of many loons eating a fish. The loon was quite unconcerned with us, and gave us a show. A beaver splashed and dove as we went back through Old Bill. Into the head winds, it took 2.5 hours to get back to the creek to Tupper Lake. Tupper L. is swampy and has a beaver dam to lift over at its entrance. Mistook the campsite for the entrance to the trail to Maple Mountain. Site had 4 canoes parked in it, but the Keewaydin wanigans gave us the tip off. Nice flat and clean 4 tent site (no thunderbox), but no decent swimming, and all cedars. Used the binoculars to find take-out directly SW of the site. Don`t think we would have found it if we had not seen the 3 tips of the Keewaydin canoes pulled up. Have to remember that it is exactly opposite the entrance to the lake. The trail sign was back in the bush. Take-out was very mucky.

The first half-hour of the trail was in very bad shape. It is swampy, buggy and mucky with the boardwalk so rotted that it is almost not usable. Lots of blow-downs. Became very narrow and rugged, and was glad I had broken down and bought my first pair of hiking boots, and that the boots were waterproof. Took 30 min to get to first trail sign, another 30 min to the lake, and then 30 more min to the top. Glad we had brought lots of water, as there really was no where to get any. Trail overgrown with pines and ferns and very narrow. Once we left the swampy section, the climb was almost always up! Met the Keewaydin gals on the way down. Was disappointed to find them cutting a square of birchbark off of a big healthy tree. Was worried when we passed half of a ladder. Rounded the corner, and could see that the other half was still on the cliff. Scary climb up for people who do not like heights! But not as scary as crawling up the next section! Worth the fantastic view that suddenly appeared though. Put Silver Peak to shame. (Silver Peak`s trails paved and well groomed in comparison to this trail, and doesn`t give the same surprise when you get to the top). Oh how we enjoyed every minute up on this beautiful ridge.

Had lunch in a wicked wind. Drenched in sweat, but forced to layer up as the temp. dropped. The bugs up in this neck of the woods don`t seem to mind the wind, and have never heard that they aren`t supposed to like DEET. Many alpine meadow trails well worn, with lots of teeny maple trees to be seen. Using the topos we could see our whole route, right up to Anvil campsite. David declined to try the tower. I started up, but the wind was making it sway crazily, so I hastily came back down. Could see rain coming, sunny patches in the distance, and Ishpatina Ridge 40 km away (Ontario`s highest point). Didn`t take time to find the spring at the top Was surprised to find a the spring as the head of the little inlet back at the canoes. Upset that camera battery died without on the way down, right at a dramatic moment in our decent, and could not even retract the zoom or close the lens.

Took 1 hr 25 min to come back down – and it sure was easier coming down but still a challenge to this out of shape post-partum body. No trail not markings to be seen on the way down, and at one point the trail split and it was not clear which way to go. Beat the rain, but not the bugs. Loaded up quickly and headed home to Anvil. Took 2 hours with scattered showers and a slight tail wind to cover the 6 kms. Fresh moose tracks on our prints coming out of Inez. Exhausted and smelly we took a swim (water very cold) and made a “one match fire”, had Tuna Helper for supper (note: 2 cans of dried tuna just perfect). Discussed our great day and decided that if we came back we would stay on Sucker Gut, or Hobart, then the next day do the climb and move on to Anvil.

Wed. July 4, 2001
Anvil– Willow Creek (P75 +495m+P825) – Bergeron (P 85)-“Lily Pond”- Niccolite (P235)-Lockie (P425)-Holden (P100)-Greenwater. Paddled 14km.

Awake at 7, drizzling, so up at 9:45. Hard to get going when stiff even though we were getting more sleep than we had had in 10 months. Rain cleared to sun, then overcast. Still quite cold. Porridge and dried strawberries go down great. Have convinced David we don`t need to cook them – just add hot water to the rolled oats and cover them. New titanium grill excellent for toasting bagels and English muffins over fire or stove.

As we left the site an otter crossed our bow with a fish in his mouth. No sites on beach to NE of us as we had thought, although one could easily be bushwhacked if ever needed as it had clearings and was level. Nice moose marsh to E that we could have paddled in to. Last site on lake (2nd on W. side) is a gem. Large (6 tents), flat, on a point with a nice swim area, and great views. Very clean, and like everywhere else, lots of deadwood for the fire, and trees down. More sheltered than the site we had.

Headed NW around island and found that you can get around it either way. Beaver had made a pond with dams (6!) all around it, so we lifted in and then out. Willow Island Creek was right there at the NNE corner. A short paddle up found us at a section with trees across it. No way around on the shore to the left. David fought his way around on the E until he saw a yellow “P” sign about 100m away. No way we could get through on shore, so forced and cut our way around and under the trees. Hard to manoeuvre a 17.5` boat in this area. Portage nice and flat and in great shape – no rocks! From here on in we paddle and wade/track/drag through sand and gravel beds (our poor boat “bled” red all the way up the river) and L/O numerous beaver dams. Hap says L/O rocks and do a 75m portage, followed by numerous others, but there was no point when there was a great trail (on Temagami map) of 495m that ran through a small one tent camp site.

Rain became very heavy. Canoe filled up while we were making the second trip, and needed dumping. Even layered in our good quality Gore-Tex rain coats we were cold and soaked through top to bottom. A short paddle up the creek to a 45m portage on E. Good take out and terrible put in. As we paddled away, I looked back and saw that if we had of kept going on the rocky off shoot trail rather than cutting to the rocks at the official put in, we may have avoided balancing on the wet boulders, then having to immediately L/O another beaver dam. A short paddle to the 825m. Saw HUGE fresh bear prints on a sandbar in the middle of the river – not even filled with rain yet. Had to L/O a big dam just before “P” sign.

Even though there was a sign, it was very hard to find trail. Turned out that the creek Hap mentioned was backed up because of the dam. Once we went up the creek a bit, we could see a rocky bit that looked like a possibility, and a teeny piece of flagging tape. The official trail would now cross this creek. Trail was horrible. After the first 50m of slippery rolling rock, we were on to a trail that didn`t look used at all. How could all the previous trails look so well used, and then this one have ferns and small pines growing right in the middle of the path for the first 675m so that you even couldn`t see your feet? Very muddy in spots as we were passing through a buggy cedar swamp. Lots of fresh moose droppings. Had to clear a lot of old dead stuff out of the way. After this one we made it a habit to carry the gear first, and then come back for the canoe and last pack. Funny though, the last 100m was in great shape, and the put-in at the other end well defined! Too buggy to go looking for the old mine shaft that Hap mentioned.

Bergeron L. was just lovely with white quartz cliffs. Did not find site by portage. Had lunch at the next site down. Climbed up the 4m cliff to get to it. Only place to put a tent was in the 3 m long space in front of the fire pit! Nice view though. Tortillas de-laminating, but the salsa and black bean dip rehydrated beautifully, and were very tasty with the jerky. Clockit Soya Snacks (BBQ) were a hit – just like peanuts. Headed out past the last site, which was super small too.

Steep rock and a bit of muck at the 85m portage to the Lily Pond and another rain-burst. What an incredible site awaited us! The sun peaked through, and we found that the pond was now a lake thanks to an industrious beaver that had built two huge tiered dams, raising the lake by maybe 15` and then another 5`. What a feat!

Lake was a treat. Lots of flowers and quartz. All kinds of pitcher plants on the E bog by the prospector caves. Caves were up on the rock above the scree and very interesting. Miners must have been tough cookies to do this work – and we could find no blast holes! Both caves filled with water. The top one had an interesting purple/pink strip running down the rock. It was all just fascinating, and we did not want to leave. The lake was so high we paddle right up the W arm of Niccolite L. There was certainly no beaver dam as in Hap`s description, and didn`t see the portage to the main body of Niccolite.

The largest island (with the recommended campsite) is now partially flooded, and didn`t look usable. The smallest island was almost all submerged and looked strange with the green trees sticking out. The small campsites had a great view, but did not stop to check them out closer. Nice tail winds.

The portage at the end of the lake had us both questioning our sanity. David was sure it must be the next 425 it took us so long to do it, and said it was the worst flat portage (versus dragging and over boulders and a cliff like the one on the Chapleau) he had done in 25 years. Unfortunately it was 235m - of misery. It was basically a spring run off creek full of small boulders with a bit of muck in between each boulder. The driving rain had made the rocks slippery and we could not step on them even to get over the blow downs. Too high to climb over and too close together to step between! Fortunately with Niccolite being higher, we cut 10m off by paddling up it a bit further by going to the right of the flagging tape.

Headed to the east. then north up the creek and could then see clearly why creek we had just crawled around was not negotiable from either end. Lockie Lake smaller than the Lily Pod but very pretty – despite the head winds and white caps. Saw lots more pitcher plants and flowers on the floating bogs. All paths through the bog lead to the portage (425m) which was easy. Nice sand beach put in.

Holden L. had small white rocks all the way around it, sort of like people do to decorate their gardens. Next 100m portage starts off interesting and has an awkward put in, but it was fine in the middle.

Greenwater L. was pretty, and both sites good. The S. site had room for 2 tents and a nice swimming area, but was more exposed to the howling wind, and had some fresh downs. Also it was near the bear scat on the last portage. Not that that made a difference, the bear could have swam down to the next site where we stayed! The west site had 3 nice tent pads – 1 out front and 2 behind. Not a great spot to get in and out of the water, but a nice view of the cliffs. Too cold and very high winds, so did not attempt a swim. Pulled in at 5:30 p.m. All the gear was dry by 6:30, so there were benefits to having a wind. Site did not appear to have been used in a while. The ferns were growing on all the tent pads, and the split wood that someone had kindly left behind was quite old. Lots more deadfall and tinder around (and just the right size) for the picking, but winds too high to have fire. Stew for supper, and enough left over for breakfast. It really rehydrated well! Must remember that adding extra meat and veggies to this Knorr soup mix will give enough for a meal for 6 people.

Both of us continued to be amazed at how clean all the sites have been, although some of the fire pits are full, and we were disappointed to see many huge half burned logs. It was very cold again, and had to layer up for bed. I think we will have terminal toque heads.

Thursday July 5, 2001
Greenwater (P790)- Little Skull (P80)-Skull (P2450)-Mendelssohn

Alarm at 7 a.m., and up immediately work to try and beat the wind. Stew for breakfast and then on the water at 9 after trying to work around the smatterings of rain that kept coming in and the strong wind coming from the gap in the hills across the lake. 790m portage was a grunt over the blow downs and took 1.5 hours because of the weather. The 3 wet spots Hap had mentioned were now creeks filled with black muck into which my paddle blade sunk up to the shaft. The third one was the biggest, and to make it just a “wee” bit more challenge, there was yet another tree down in the middle of it that had to be climbed way up and over. David got both boots filled with muck after a fine balancing act and just about making it out of the mire. Well, we could either laugh or cry. We did not quite collapse into each other`s arms in laughter (hysteria?) but it was close. A pair of pheasants joined us, showing no fear. Saw a huge pine (2m around) that was freshly down. It had a rock that had to be 5` wide that it had pulled up with the roots that surrounded it.

Little Skull a garbage lake, with an easy portage of 80m out of it into Skull. We didn`t find the first site, but from a distance the island looked good through the driving liquid “sunshine”. The long 2450m (4hrs) portage would have you have you tap dancing easily around the rocks in the first 400m if it was dry. Not as much of a climb at the beginning as we expected, but then into an area with lots of trees down. The first section looked like one tree came down (snapping right off at the top of the roots) and then took 4 others with it. Another trail with ferns and pines growing over it so we couldn`t see our feet. The creek and boggy section not bad, but the bugs were awful – I think a cross Canada convention had been called in our honour. Last half of the trail sloped mostly down. One spot on the trail was so overgrown, we had trouble finding a trail at all.

Crossing the last creek was a little tricky. We followed Yogi Bear across (there were 3 fresh LARGE piles of scat – one of them still steaming), and still sight-unseen friend Morris the Moose. After 4 days, we would have appreciated a glimpse! David is not a whistler, but he sure let Yogi know we were coming by tweet tweeting all the way. There were lovely fresh prints at the put in, showing that he had moved on. Two pheasants flew out under my nose on the second trip, and one hit the paddle I was carrying. My heart eventually started beating about an hour later.

It rained the whole portage with a driving rain, until my waterproof boots were just constantly overflowing. Almost like having a ritzy jet spa for my feet except that they had turned to blocks of ice under my wool socks. The extra weight made it like walking through deep water in slow motion. I must have let the purple dry pack slip. Hurt my shoulder blade, and ended up with bad bruises all around my shoulders and upper arms. We were wet and cold again right through the raingear -–not a dry spot to be found anywhere. Portage would not have been that bad if not for the weather. Between the sprinkles and the bugs, we did not stop for a snack until the very end, and had lunch on the site. Put to Mendelssohn in was okay – we only had to wade out a little bit and get our feet wet – Ha ha.

The first site had a tent pad that was exposed, and lots of old garbage behind it. The second site had a nice low rock front, three good flat spots for tents and was very clean. It was around the point and very nice. David did the tarp lickety split and it looked welcoming to set up under. I was so cold – we finally got our sleeping bags out, put on every dry piece of clothing we had and climbed in. David had supper ready before I dared to join him- having hypothermia was a tad unpleasant. From now on I will break down and bring an extra set of long johns, then I won`t be afraid to wear them under my paddle clothes, fleece and rain suit! Again it was too cold to swim and get rid of the Deet, and too windy for a fire. Thought it was weird that there were no fishermen from the lodge in sight.

Very low black clouds brought more sudden violet rain-squalls. Occasionally we could see how tall the clouds were, but above them it was beautiful sunny blue skies. Had Knorr Parma Rosa Sauce on tiny pasta tubes with left over foacia, and was terrific. Gulped it down to help speed the warming up, but also to eat it before the rain hit again and the bugs had time to contact all their relatives. Leaped back into the tent for the night. Once the winds died down it seemed to warm up. It is the first night we have not had to sleep layered up.

Fri. July 6, 2001
Mendelssohn –Spray Creek (L/O`s + P185m + L/O)-Big Spring L. – Montreal River – Indian L. – Montreal River – Mowat Landing (Paddled 35 km)

At 3:09 a.m. we were both suddenly awakened by a huge splash. Sounded like someone throwing boulders in the water. No splashing like moose, no snuffing like bear, just a big splash. It happened a couple of more times. The lake was very quiet, and wind had died. There were no shore noises at all. Maybe it was someone playing tricks? Dumping toxic waste? It started again at 3:59, still right in front of the site, about 20m away. We heard 9 more large “5lb rock” type splashes heading down the lake. Eerie. Probably just fish dancing after their bug appetizers

Alarm went off at 7 a.m. The rain starts at 7:02 a.m., and it was NO longer FUNNY. It had been a terrific trip, but there are limits to how wet and cold you want to be. Thank heavens it stopped by 7:20. Tried to do a quick pack up in between watching the skies. Found a metal plate high in a pine – the pine had mostly grown over it. We would see 1962 and part of a name. Bush too dense to fight our way back to see the old prospectors cave that probably went with the claim plate. It was partly cloudy when we left at 9 a.m. Had our first real tail wind, and tried to use the sail. Of course it alternated head and then tail winds all the way down the lake, with a confused swirl of water and air where it changed. Like every other day when we fought headwinds, I just kept singing “thank Heavens we are not on Lady Evelyn!”

Mendolssohn was not really that pretty until you reach the end and look south – you see rolling hills and also the tower at Maple Mountain! Passed 1 cabin, then a group of cabins, and then another single cabin, but they were all closed up tightly. We must have imagined the boat noises last night. Maybe it was a plane? There were 4 old aluminum boats turned over at the entrance to Spay Creek. Did not see any sign of Hap`s “poor campsite” on the E. shore.

Three beaver dams with one big L/O before the portage, and the sun finally came out! The creek got very shallow, with LOTS (let me emphasize the LOTS) of logs and branches on the bottom to scrap over. It was very narrow at times (6 - 7`) at times, but the weeds always showed us which way the current was going, so it was easy to stay on the right branch. Saw 3 beaver lodges in use before the portage but the only wildlife was the deer and horse flies. Paddled the rest of the river in full bug gear, even shock cording our hands in. David noted at one point that he was having trouble seeing me because of the haze. The haze turned out to be the bugs!

The portage was fantastic (even a wheelbarrow at either end). Lousy, shallow clay put in. Eight more beaver dams (5 L/O), with 4 of the dams currently being maintained. The lily pond was hard to see from the creek as marsh is filling it in. There were 3 more BD`s after the pond, with 2 of them L/0. There was one major blow-down/strainer that was obviously new, and will be a real pain down the road when more logs jam against it. Only 3 very large floating logs in front of it right now that we could move, then had to pull over a limb and force under the tree. Might be possible to do a portage on the marsh on river left (maybe 10m). Need a good saw, gas axe or our friend Matty-with-his-axe to clean this up in the future. David was glad we were going downstream, which made the L/0`s easier. (Throughout the trip I had kept wondering if it would have been more enjoyable to do the trip in reverse – then could really take the time to enjoy Maple Mountain, and sail down Lady Evelyn.)

Lots of signs of moose, but still no Bullwinkle. One turtle, lots of ducks and loons, and something BIG that rushed out of the brush and into the river just after we passed. Slowed for a quick gorp/water break – our first in 3 hours. Nice and sunny with clear paddling the rest of the day, with light tail winds as we reached Big Spring Lake. Entered the brown waters of the Montreal River and checked out some surveyors tape on river left to see if it was a site, but nothing there. At Indian Lake we saw two motor boats going up with the first people we had seen in 4 days. Campsite on the east-side of the island was not on the map. Flat and room for 1 tent, two if you moved the fire-pit (used once, 12 little stones around it) and only a little old TP. Didn`t not find the small poor site on map– found a spot that it might have been, covered in huge downed cedars. Big black clouds building in west, so decided to keep moving, even though we had 1-2 more days. This part of the Montreal River did not entice us to want to camp and swim.

Had an excellent cold Black Bean Salsa Soup in boat for lunch (funny what you discover when you are a little generous with the water for rehydrating). We agreed that some nice toasted tortillas would go great with it, but it still made a good filling and spicy meal. After lunch I actually put the sunglasses on that I had been toting for the last week!

South end of Indian Lake on the East side had road access – lots of boats, cars and cabins. Would never be stuck if arriving here and couldn`t find the campsite on the island. Once back on the river, we saw only 1 cabin not in great shape, and it was just missing a porch screen. There was a possible campsite just down past this cabin on river right. It was marked with a “12” sign. We saw an old metal wash bucket with a sapling growing through a teeny hole in the bottom. Tree would not let go so that I could right the bucket and set the tree free. Also saw huge cedars at same spot – more than 1.5 m around.

Quite a boring river from this point on. Only 2 rocks, lots of loons, one nice red roofed cabin, and some birdhouses all over the marsh just before the logging bridge to divert your attention. Dawdled and enjoyed the sun from 1:45 p.m. to the take-out and tried to sail. Hit a head wind just after the bridge, as we turned to do the last 500m to Mowat Landing! How fitting… We took out at 4:30 after paddling 35 kms.

Talked to people who were putting in their motor boats to go camping for the weekend at the take-out. Found out the L. Evelyn in getting very busy with people like them on the weekends and that competition for sites is great. They reassured us that the abnormal weather that we had had was nothing personal. High winds, cold, hail and rain everywhere all week, and yes, snow in Cochrane and Timmins. They all recommended the 20 min drive to New Liskeard to stay at the Waterfront Inn, which we did. Big, clean room, with full stove, sink, counter, dishes and pots ($89 no discounts on weekends). Tried out the restaurant in the motel (fantastic view down L. Timiskaming); great Caesar salad, but disappointed in the ribs. Called home to check on Sandy and found out that he had figured out that if he dived onto the cats, they could not escape, and then he could get his hands on their fur! Was glad to find out the he was not yet walking.

Sat. July 7, 2001

Had a great breakfast at a place on the Main Street called Norm`s Forum. Place was old but spotless, and the waitress actually came up and thanked me for leaving a tip! Drove down to N. Cobalt along 11B to the unsigned Hwy 567. We followed Lakeview Ave. and the signs for Bucke Park and Camp Ground and found that the Devil`s Rock trail left from Bucke Park. Brisk 45 min. walk up on the easy trail to an amazing view of L. Timiskaming from 100m up. Came back on the hiking trail in 35 min, and was glad that we did as we were treated to more great views.

Would like to return to the area. Cobalt has some fantastic museums on mining, fire-fighting, the great fire of 1912, a mining driving tour, and a café built over and beside a mine shaft. The fire tower in Temagami charges $2, but it had several levels with interpretative displays. Iain would love it. Nice way to return to civilization slowly… a little sight seeing before having to interact with people, and a little longer to enjoy each other`s company without little voices of interruption. It was only on the drive home that we realized that for the whole week we had not talked about the kids (other than mooning a little over their pictures in the morning when we packed our wallets), mortgage, work or anything more stressful than events, history of the area, our books, and all the great things we were seeing and how lucky we were to be doing a trip like this. The topic of weather might have come up once or twice…..

Final Note:
This was a great trip, and we look forward to doing it again. We have completed a detailed survey and mailed it off to the MNR, and hope our comments will help preserve this beautiful area. It is not as rugged as many parts of Temagami, but weather and time can change the conditions of an area drastically. Hap Wilson said in his book (written 14 years ago) that this route was novice to intermediate, with some difficult portages. Experienced people in good weather conditions would enjoy this route, but until trail markings are in place and some of the portages cleared, we would consider this to me an advanced level trip.

If we did this trip again, we would put in on a Sunday night and take the first available site on Lady Evelyn or start first thing Monday morning and try to get off Lady Evelyn. This way we would avoid competing with the weekenders for sites. We would also either:
a) stay either on Sucker Gut (1-1.5 hour paddle to Maple Mountain). The next day we would climb Maple Mountain early in the day, and then head on to Anvil. Or
b) If the area appeared to be relatively un-busy, then we would try for Hobart Lake (.5hr paddle to Maple Mt) and count this as a layover day before moving on.

This trip can be done in 5 days not including the climb, if you are not wind-bound and you are willing to push yourself. It can also be done in the opposite direction. The nicest lakes for layover days would be Anvil, Greenwater, Skull and Mendolssohn, in that order.

Cheryl Stoltz
Maple Mountain
Copyright (c) 2002 John K. Wroe
We took the easy way to Maple Mountain. Hell, we realized at the put-in that we`d forgotten the paddles, and it was only a half-hour delay. We are fortunate in that the east portal to the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park is only about 15 minutes from our back door in Haileybury. Well, less if the river is calling and you don`t have your paddles.

I must warn the serious canoe trippers that this is not a tale you are interested in. Darlene and I are built for comfort rather than speed, and comfort was the pre-requisite here. We had our old 15-foot Amik which is broad and deep and has the stability and load carrying capacity of barge. But it paddles better. Not a canoe you want to portage though, unless you`ve got a lot of (highly paid) Voyageurs on staff. And on a big lake, it is just fine.

The eastern portal of the Wilderness Park is reached through the Mowatt`s Landing road (Hwy 558) turning off Highway 11, about 100 miles north of North Bay. This puts you onto the Montreal River, which you have to cross to get to the Lady Evelyn River, which ends about 30 feet above the Montreal. One can portage, but since the owner of the lodge at the Mattawapika Dam has a tractor and a wagon, the old and decrepit paddlers will spend the $10 (round trip) to save unloading and loading the canoe.

Above the dam we entered the Lady Evelyn River, really Lady Evelyn Lake, because the current is almost non-existent. We stopped for a snack after about an hour, just about where the river comes out of the main part of the lake. Heading west onto the main body of the lake, into the sunset, we suddenly realized we could see our target in the evening light, a broad purple band dominating the western horizon. Big. And we were still miles away.

We camped that night on some very strange esker remnants. Lady Evelyn used to be two lakes, but the Mattawapika Dam turned it into one, split somewhat into two by the Obisaga Narrows. The rough campsite we found was in the esker remnants on the south shore of the eastern lobe. These islands form something like an English country garden maze; you have to look at the topo maps to appreciate it.

Day Two
Next morning we threaded our way through the maze of channels, in crisp pure morning light and emerged onto the main lake, sticking close to the south shore in a growing westerly wind until we crossed to the north shore at Obisaga Narrows. The narrows funnels the wind, and the waves were building and a storm threatening so in the early afternoon we pulled into small island just to the west of the narrows and set up camp as the rain started. There is something vaguely pleasant about being storm-stayed. The island gave us lots of shelter from the wind, and we had a large tent and no shortage of supplies so sat out the next day as well, reading and poking about and sleeping a lot.

Day Four
We set out to a sunny morning and stopped for tea and cookies at Lady Evelyn Lodge, operated by some friends. We were also on a quest for air mattress repair; leaky valves are really frustrating. We headed west again, just in time to run into another thunderstorm that rolled over the top of Maple Mountain. We took shelter on a small island, thinking we might be stuck for the night again, but after an hour or so of sheltering under our tarp the rain went away and we were able to head westward again, rounding the corner to turn south into Sucker Gut Lake.

We settled on a small island where Willow Island Creek flows into the lake. In the evening we spent some time trying to figure out what we were looking at on the water, finally realizing it was a pair of loons with two young ones, sometimes in the water, sometimes on their backs.

Day Five
With just a day pack we headed out in the morning and saw an extraordinary sight on Willow Island Creek. A great blue heron was perched about 20 feet up a fir tree, and was being attacked by a pair of sparrowhawks, diving bombing while the heron sort of snapped at them. The best we could figure was that the heron had raided their nest. We continued up the creek, which we re-named Canoe Paint Creek in honour of all the canoes which had left their mark on the rocks in the stream bed.

We crossed Hobart Lake, then turned left into the creek to Tupper Lake, with a couple easy liftovers. We found the ruined ranger cabin where the trail starts, and started climbing. Well, actually, there wasn`t a lot of climbing at first, just casual ups and downs through a marshy hillside. After about half a mile climbing began in earnest, and then we met the girls. There was a group of about a dozen teenage girls in the middle of a 29-day trip that included James Bay and the Dumoine River, and one of them was in rough shape, suffering from dehydration because they`d spent the night on top of the mountain without adequate fluids. We donated a couple of oranges to the cause.

What brain-dead person was in charge of the victualling for this trip? The hike up Maple Mountain is relatively simple, except for the last couple hundred yards. Apparently there is an easier trail around the south end, but we opted for the direct approach, which involves a bit of a nervous-making traverse across the east face of the ridge. The top is unbelievable. We were standing about 1,200 feet above the surrounding land, and the wind which was just a breeze down below was a constant, withering force. We could look around, and realized we could see up to 30 miles in any direction. It brought the vastness of Northern Ontario home to us. You will have heard the stories of clear-cutting of northern forests; from our vantage point we could only identify a couple areas of clear-cut. Amazing.

We hung out on the crest for a couple hours, laying in the shelter of the shrubbery and watching Lakeland Airways` Beaver circle the ridge, thinking that what took us four days to achieve by water could be achieved in half an hour with a float plane. I suppose we should have been making love when the plane went over, just to make the point that although they could get there quickly, there was no way we they could actually be on top of the mountain. Other than the couple hundred yards of billy-goat scramble, the trip down was significantly easier than the trip up. We had, of course, forgotten the cork-screw, so the bottle of wine destined for the crest came back down with us. And although we could have been creative in the field of bottle opening, the thought of the billy-goat scramble while under the influence gave us reason to pause.

We got back to the campsite, where the wine and its destiny had their intersection. Day Six We packed in a liesurely manner in the morning, and headed north on Sucker Gut with a following wind. In a little cluster of islands we detected something in the water and realized it was a river otter, diving for clams. We stopped and watched for 15 minutes, but the wind was urging us onwards. We rounded the corner from Sucker Gut into Lady Evelyn and now our following wind was a cross-wind so we tried to stick to the south shore to avoid the waves, and we poked into a little corner that had been marked on our map, a cove about three-quarters of a mile west of where the lake opens out, and found a tiny tinkling waterfall. We were out of the wind and the waves, just tucked into this tiny corner with steep rock walls, and somewhere, underneath the brush, was a trickle of water from somewhere above. A priceless Temagami moment.

And then it was back onto the big lake and the turn to the northeast, and this friendly supporting wind was now kicking up significant swells, especially where the lake funnels into the Obisaga Narrows and we had no enthusiasm for that type of paddling, so we sought refuge on the little island where we`d been storm-stayed a few days before. Day Seven Morning found the wind reduced, but still significant. We paddled through Obisaga, then set a small sail for the eastward journey across the rest of Lady Evelyn, with a chop of maybe 18 inches.

We paddled with two Americans for a brief period; we had met them at Mowatt`s Landing, where Lakeland Airways had picked them up to fly to Florence Lake, where they headed east down the South Lady Evelyn River. They were much better organized than us, and a little more efficient with their sailing techniques, so left us behind. It probably took us no more than three hours to get to the river outlet where we stopped for lunch and a swim, but we caught up to our American friends at Mitchell`s Camp at the Mattawapika Dam. They were busily packing their canoe for the portage; Mr. Mitchell saw us and his wagon and tractor at the ramp and we were launched in the Montreal River first. I mean, for five bucks, at the end of a long trip? Oh well. Nobody had stolen our car. We found the keys, and were home in 20 minutes.
John Wroe

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 P/8 Lady Evelyn Lake 41 P/9 Elk Lake 31 M/5 Cobalt
Other Maps: 
Canoeing in Temagami Area Waters by the MNR
Special Comments: 

See trip log for specific details an portages, trail entrances and campsites. Many campsites on official map have overgrownThanks to Seth Wotten for the following commentsI have some information that would be very useful for all paddlers planning to trek up Maple.
Many years ago, I heard a rumor that there was a spring on top of Maple Mountain off of one of the multitude of paths going off on the north side of the mountain. The whole way over from Mowat`s Landing, I tried to get some confirmation from other paddlers. All of the responses were variations on these two. They answered either "No, I`ve never heard of this spring" or "Yeah, that`s an old legend, but there`s no spring there....I`ve checked myself". We climbed the mountain early in the morning on our third day, and entirely confident that I would find this spring, I insisted that we bring all of our gear to the top so that we could camp up there.
Once we were up there, after I had climbed the tower (at my own risk) and admired the view, I ventured off to the north side to find the spring. I spent hours taking the time to follow each trail a fair distance, with no success. Finally, I somehow lost one of the trails on my way back, and after a short bushwack, I was following a new trail that brought me back to the fire tower area, except, there was a tree completely obstructing the path right before the clearing. Realizing that I had returned on a different path than I had set out on, I decided to check out this secret pathway that I had discovered. About less than a five minute walk down the path, I found the spring. It was not quite what I had expected, and appeared to be more of a hole in the ground than anything else, contained by some tree roots and rocks. However, I noticed a trickle of water coming from the roots, and dipped my finger in the water to find that it was frigidly cold. I ran back to the fire tower area to get my drybag, and ran back to fill my drybag with the help of my water bottle. When I returned the next morning, the water level had replenished itself to the level it was at the previous day. I have returned on several occasions since to find that the spring was still there. These are the best directions I can come up with:
Walk north of the fire tower towards the wooded area.
There is one main path that gives you the option of following the treeline of the wooded area to the right or the left....go left.
The path that will take you directly to the spring is your first or most likely second right, however, it is a hidden pathway. It is covered by some type of evergreen (probably a pine of some sort) sitting right where the pathway begins. Pull back some branches and look for the path.If you do not manage to find it, try entering the wooded area from one of the other paths and bushwacking accross. Just a final note. I have noticed bear scat close to the area on a couple occasions, so I`m guessing that the bears go there to drink too. Watch out for bears and make sure that you treat your water. I hope this information is useful.

Photo Gallery


Post date: Mon, 02/20/2012 - 14:15


This was an excellent trip. We saw people on the first day and the last day. The rest of the trip we were on our own. Be careful of the wind on Lady Evelyn Lake.

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


Except that the Montreal River section is pretty much straight forward a comment from the above description might be misleading.

"South on Montreal River
South on Indian Lake
SW on Montreal River
Mowat Landing (river bisected by logging bridge 1 km before take-out)"

The Montreal River generally flows to the Southeast from the West -North West so the use of SW is actually wrong.

Mowat Landing is generally SE from the junction of Spray Creek and the River just below Big Spring Lake.

The only area where one needs to pay attention is about 2.3 K past the island campsite near Indian Lake narrows. This is where the river branches south out of Indian Lake while the lake dead ends in another 1.8 Km.

After paddling south for 3.75 Km the river turns east for a short distance and then returns to a gentle meander SE to Mowat Landing.

Distances measured using Softmap software.