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PostPosted: June 3rd, 2008, 1:00 pm 
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Joined: February 10th, 2005, 2:36 pm
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Location: Southwest Michigan
On Monday, May 19th I picked my friend Steven up at the airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He had flown in from Tennessee. I was 2 hours late. We headed for Sault Ste. Marie, MI where we were to meet Nathan, the 3rd party in out group (I had my solo). We were 3 hours late getting there but in the end it didn’t matter because Nathan had come down with the flu. We decided to leave him at the Sault. Steven and I would run the Tatachikapika and then meet him in Webbwood for the Spanish river part of our plans. Nathan got a motel room. Steven and I actually slept on the floor in the foyer of a church which Nathan had originally arranged for all three of us.

We left the church about 4:00 a.m. arriving at the Tatachikapika lodge (705-894-2037) about 12:30 p.m. We paid the $80.00 to have my van waiting at the end of the trip. The folks at the lodge are good and trustworthy but they have never been down the river and can’t tell you anything about it. It was May and it had rained a lot during the week before our trip and so we expected very good water levels.

It must have been about 2:00 when we finally pushed off. It was lightly snowing. We were thrilled to finally be on the water and didn’t care about the weather remarking that “there were no mosquitoes” and that “there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes.” Soon it was snowing harder with some wind. It continued to snow all day and into the night. The operative word for this part of the trip was definitely “fleece.” We found what appeared to be an old moose hunting camp (there were numerous bones) up on a hill. This turned out to be about ½ an hours paddle to the bridge where the first rapid is. A lot of the paddling on this 1st day is back and forth as the river winds.

We awoke to rain. As it turned out it rained the entire day and into the night. We chose not to run the 1st rapid though we shoulda coulda woulda. We were happy to portage the 2nd. The third was non-existent. Between these rapids, especially between 2 and 4 we paddled back and forth, back and forth as the river flowed. Sometimes it went in more than one direction and we weren’t always sure which way to go. A few times we threw a stick into the river to try to discern which way the current was going. It was rainy and chilly. However, within half an hour of the 4th rapid we saw two moose on river right. This made it a good day! At the 4th rapid we chose to portage about 1/3 of the way down and ran the 1000 or so meters from there. It is a challenging rapid.

We paddled to the 5th rapid which is not runnable in open canoes at the top at least. We set up our tents in light rain at the beautiful camp site at the end of the 5th rapid. We went to bed and did not use the good stack of firewood left there by Bisco.

The sixth rapid was challenging. We ended up lining the canoe on river left to a place right next to the large stacks at the entrance on the right. This was probably not necessary and may have been more dangerous than running the stacks but I was concerned about taking on water at the beginning of what at our water levels looked like a class 3. It was during this operation that I dropped my Foxworx Excel paddle. I am sure the cedar, basswood and butternut will be a great addition to a beaver house. Or who knows maybe a proud and discerning beaver family will save it and hang it on the wall. We ran the rapid without incident.

We ran no. 7 after scouting from the boat at the top. We ran 8 and 9 as we did numbers 11-13. We portaged 10 noting the good campsite and the wood left by Bisco. Speasking of Bisco, I had some notes that he e-mailed me with a description of the rapids. Unfortunately, they weren’t doing us that much good in the van where I left them. We did remember one comment that Bisco had made regarding one of the last rapids – it was something to the effect that you can run it “if your nuts.” Considering its length we speculated that it must have been no. 14. With this in mind we pulled out at the portage at the top of no. 14. We began carrying our packs without scouting. The somewhat long portage trail led to a small river, unfortunately it was going the wrong way to be our river. We speculated that it must run back into the Tat but with no way to know for sure we backtracked to an earlier trail going off the main portage trail. This indeed led us back to the Tat but it came back in prior to the long 2nd half of the rapid indicated by the map. I re-walked the original portage trail beyond the place where it came to the small river but it led nowhere. Then we bushwhacked along the part of the river we had carried the packs around and found that it was nothing but what at our water level was a class 1 rapid so we ran the canoe to where the packs were. What to do? It would have been quite a bushwhack down to the 2nd half in order to scout it. We didn’t want to go down around the corner in the canoe into a place of no return situation. After much discussion and getting within 1 ½ hours of darkness we decided to set up the tents and call it a night. Just before retiring we saw a streak of blue sky amidst the clouds – the first blue we had seen since the start of the trip.

In the morning there was no blue. Rested, we pushed off to paddle around the corner to confront the rapid that defined nuthood straight on. For the first time I stuffed my waterproof camera bag into my pack. Coming around the corner we found nothing but a few ripples.

This had to mean that it was no. 15 that would define nuthood. As we headed toward the portage on river left Steven exclaimed, “What’s that?” “That” to our delight turned out to be a Canadian Lynx. We were within 7 canoe lengths. This beautiful creature had been scratching her back on a log. When she finally noticed us she just stood and looked at us. She seemed more inquisitive than afraid. This being a “lost river” I wondered if she had ever seen human beings before. I also thought of the camera bag securely resting in my pack. What a shame. Nevertheless, from my point of view, this was the high point of the trip. Finally, she decided to exit, stopping for one more look as she went.

We looked at number 15 and decided to run it empty. It required an entry on the right into extremely fast water and substantial stacks and then an eddy turn behind a ledge and a ferry to river left before being swept into a row of rocks that essentially formed a ledge. I worried about possibly taking on water at the top. That didn’t worry Steven but I noticed he kept studying the eddy and ferry on the 2nd half. Knowing that Nathan would be waiting for us for our Spanish river run and that we were just an hours paddle from a safe conclusion to our trip I finally announced that I thought it would be better if we did the short easy carry.

We found the van waiting for us. I was interested to see the notes I had gotten from Bisco. Regarding No. 14 it read “a big long swift.” As I looked at the note for No. 15 I had mixed feelings – At least nobody can say we were nuts!


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PostPosted: June 6th, 2008, 7:54 pm 
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Joined: April 9th, 2005, 9:26 am
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Location: Timmins
lpadlle
Just read your very interesting trip report, Also just got back from the Spanish.Put in on the Duke and took out at Agnew lake.

The #4 rapid we ran from top to bottom after scouting, we also considered portaging to the corner but had always run before with out scouting without much trouble. As you know we swamped but stayed upright just past the log.

I find it funny you also thought about running the #15. Many nights "Roddy" and I have planned our route through this set (over a camp fire and a little Southern comfort) only to chicken out in the morning. The water was very high this year, it is much better looking in lower water.

I thought of you guys all week, as the weather was terrible but similar water levels to us I'm sure.
I'd like to Pm you and compare Spanish stories and Rapids run.

Glad to hear you had a fun, safe trip.

John


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PostPosted: June 8th, 2008, 7:24 am 
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Joined: February 10th, 2005, 2:36 pm
Posts: 215
Location: Southwest Michigan
Yea John, the log was not not an issue for us. It had apparently moved.

I consider the TAT to be a fine river - would love to do it again.

Happy to compare notes with you on the Spanish. We also did Duke to Agnew.


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PostPosted: June 8th, 2008, 7:55 am 
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Joined: April 9th, 2005, 9:26 am
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Just PM"D you


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