View topic - West Aubinadong/Nushatogaini Rivers - trip report

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PostPosted: May 30th, 2005, 6:31 pm 

Joined: August 9th, 2004, 2:59 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Fenelon Falls, Ontario
My wife Julie and I did the 84km loop trip last week (May 23 - 28, 2005). Having done about 50 canoe trips in my lifetime, I'd rank this one in the top 5 for scenery and total tranquility. What a beautiful patch of Ontario ! (kind of reminded me of Algonquin trips 25 yrs ago before the park "experience" was ruined by the crowds). Blackflies were getting real nasty by the last day. Thank God we had a Eureka bug tent along. The cold 5 degree mornings kept the flies at bay until you were on the water after breakfast. Prepare to donate a few pints of blood if you go in June. A few tips/general notes regarding trhe loop:

We basically did the loop in four days, at a moderate pace (did quite a bit of fishing). We paddled 9am till 5pm each day. Camped the first night on Gong, then spent an extra day on Gong lake after the trip to catch some trout.

The Gong lake access point was a safe place to leave our truck. The road is in excellent shape, all the way from the highway. No problems with a car. I wouldn't camp at the access, unless you want to put up with the trailer crowd (generators, boozing, noise, etc). A landfill beside the landing might draw bears also.

Lots of garbage on the Gong sites (from the boat access crowds). These people need a good frontal soccer kick in the genitals. We tried packing it out , but there was just too much. I can't figure these people out!

Most of the portages are poorly maintained. Not bad for blow-down, but some of them are quite heavily grown in. We were there just prior to bud flush. I imagine the trails would be hard to seen when the beaked hazel is in full leaf.

The last 150m portage on the Nush. river, as noted in Callan's book, no longer exists! Total portages around logjams on the Nush. R. was four. Nothing major - maybe 40m maximum each, but a bit of bushwacking

There are several 200 to 500m long swift/class 1-2 rapid sections on the Nush. River. A real blast to run - would be time-consuming if you had to wade/line these when the water levels dropped. Any green Royalite that you see belongs to me!

Only about 4 beaver dams on the loop required lift-overs, as the spring flood had taken most of them out. I imagine that many of these will be rebuilt over the course of the summer. Probably 30 single or double log lift overs (eg. you have to step one foot out of the canoe). A good reason not to bring a canoe with a keel. We brought light Crappy Tire hip boots. They were great for keeping your feet warm and dry during the lining and log lift overs. The water couldn't have been more than 12 degrees.

INCREDIBLE old growth pine (jack and white) and white cedar , We saw 3 white pine that were within 3cm dbh of the Ontario record tree. I have never seen pine consistantly this big anywhere else. The higlight of the trip for us.

More than 40 species of birds seen/heard. An active Bald Eagle nest on the small lake to the immediate west of Prairie Grass Lake. Tons of waterfowl, esp. Common Goldeneye. Was surprised to see a hatched brood on the first day. No bear problems, although we hung our pack each night. Low moose numbers. We only saw 3 in total, two of which were dead in the river! We found a 45lb day old cow calf (umbilicus still attached) that must have fallen into the river and died of hypothermia when the cow couldn't get it out. A neat opportunity to see a newborn moose up close.

Be prepared for some high bank take-outs and put-ins at the logjams on the Nushatogaini river.

I couldn't imagine doing this loop in the summer, as we were often running in less than 6 inches of water. I know we've had a dry spring, but you'd still be doing a lot of wading and lining if you ran this loop after the first week in June.

Leave the Kevlar at home and take the plastic boat, or there will be not much left of the canoe after the Nush. river. Thank God our Dumoine lacks a keel, or you would have been grounded out in probably 80% of the swifts. You'll be walking all of these sections this summer, unless we get some major rain. We spoke to some Yanks who have a local camp, and they said they have never seen the watershed so low in May.

We found a very old weathered wooden cross on the west bank of the Nush. river. No inscriptions or hints as to its origin or purpose. Does anyone know more about this cross?

Gong Lake to Gong Creek - 483m portage. Well maintained. You'll curse the 50m climb on the way back after the loop. A trapper's marten box is on the portage.
Four foot beaver dam lift over
805m - no problems. Gong Creek is very low until you hit the West Aub. river. some sections were only 8" deep. One other small beaver damn to lift over.
Upstream on the West Aubinadong river - a series of six small poratges around rapids. All poorly maintained and grown in.
The 60m to Torrance Lake was only a 5m pullover across cedar logs that had been laid down by camp owners to skid boats.
114m from Torrance to Megisan Lake. The lake is covered in campsites, but has an active lodge on it.
604m into Clove lake. Well maintained.
945m from Clove to unnamed lake - a filthy rotten %%$##$%%. You climb 75m in the first 400m. Words that rhyme with "truck". "buck", and "luck" are sure to be uttered. You keep spitting on the ground to see if there's any blood coming out! Heavily grown - in. Not much fun at all, esp. if you're carrying a 72 lb plastic pig boat. Will be a real $$#%%^^^ to see the trail in the summer when things leaf-out.
846m into Prairie Grass Lake - feels like a 100m. Nice and flat.
Prairie Grass lake is a real beauty - lots of great sites, but 2 active camps on the lake.
The Nushatogaini River was our fav. part of the trip. Very scenic. Lots of fun swifts to run. Portages were as per Kevin's book, minus the 150m at the end.
75m,50m, 30m, 150m, 20. Four other log jams involved small carries, but the bank height made things a little fun.

A beautiful trip. Enjoy if you go.

Dave and Julie
Fenelon Falls.

PS We took lots of pics. I'll try posting if I can figure out how to do so.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: May 30th, 2005, 8:25 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2004, 7:49 am
Posts: 50
Location: Bradford
Thanks for bringing it up. I love that area and know it pretty well after a few trips. Some great speck fishing and fabulous pike and pickerel (if you know where heehee). Glad you had a good time.


Let's see what's over the next hill.

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