View topic - Little Missinaibi River via Shumka- June 13-20, 2010

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PostPosted: June 23rd, 2010, 9:11 am 
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Laura and I did a last minute trip up into Little Missinaibi Lake and River via the VIA Rail RDC Budd car putting in at Shumka and taking out at the town of Missinaibie. I will post a full trip report when I transfer it from my journal to the computer, but thought I'd fill in a few logistics.

I'd read several reports prior to leaving and the location for drop off by the Budd Car was of some speculation. Hap says that the drop is 25 km east of Missinaibie. Based on my calculations it's more like 28.5 km, so it should be about 337.5 via VIA Rails Mileage chart. Regardless, the best location for the drop is at the "New Road" just east of the former Shumka siding. It's really not a new road, but that's what the locals call it. You will have to port your gear 1.6 km down the road, to where an ATV trail leads north to a put-in on Bolkow Lake. The port seems longer than 1.6 km, and walking down a gravel road isn't the most scenic, but I'm pretty sure it's the fastest least buggy way to the lake. Cost $21.00 CDN/per person. We used the Pakcanoe so we had no charge for transporting the canoe.

As an alternative, you can get a shuttle from Ernie or Kenny Martel of Ernie's Campground and Restaurant/LCBO in Missinaibie. Both told me that they are willing to shuttle paddlers down the "New Road" right to the put in (eliminating the 1.6 km port). Kenny said the cost is $60. We enjoy the experience of being dropped off the train, but this might be useful as the Budd car only runs east three days a week.

The ports on this route are somewhat less defined than on the main Missinaibi River route, but using Haps maps, most are right where we anticipated, and distances are reasonably accurate. We only had two issues regarding ports. The first was locating the port out of Ribes Lake. The map depicts the port just past the islands in the northern end of the lake near where the creek enters. We scoured this area and found an old trappers cabin (which is not noted in Haps book), but the port is near the northwestern end of the lake, so stay west of the islands near the fly-in cabin. The second issue is on the port into Elbow Lake. This is a pretty long portage that is very well defined until you get to a cleared drainage (it was dry when we were there) . The trail seems to disappear. As with crossing most clearings/bare rock I walked straight across, and couldn't pick the portage up. I then walked up and down the drainage along defined animal trails which appears leads west to an area of clear cutting, and heads higher to the east. The portage trail actually continues just to the right of straight across. It sneaks around a group of bushes and picks up again, but is not clearly visible as you enter off the bare rock into the cleared drainage. So follow your instincts and walk straight across you will pick up the trail very close but to the right of where you would expect. But it may not be immediately apparent. The second half of this portage is slightly over grown. We just pushed the saplings out of the wat to get the canoe through.

As to encountering people, we only saw people on Little Missinaibi Lake and Missinaibi Lake, we encountered no canoeists the entire trip. There are Fly-In Cabins on the western shores of both Ribes, and Abbey Lakes operated by Parks Fly-In Fishing. In north country fashion neither are locked, but show respect by not messing with stuff No radios were noted in either cabin. There is a fly-in cabin on the eastern arm of Little Missinaibie lake operated by Air Dale Flying Service.

We saw numerous moose and a bear along our route. But none of these animals were a problem, as none associate humans with food. We had two awesome encounters with a momma moose and two calves on the Little Missinaibi River. We probably spent 30 minutes total within 100 feet of the trio taking photos as they ate in the sedges along the river. We caught a few fish, mainly northern pike as you almost can't cast in the water without a hungry one being enticed by your bait.

I'll post a full trip report in the next few days.

PK


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PostPosted: June 23rd, 2010, 10:28 am 
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Sounds like you had a great trip, looking forward to the full report and photo's

I am thinking of taking my family up that way for a week in August.

Thanks

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PostPosted: July 12th, 2010, 3:23 pm 
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PK,

I'd love to read your full trip report. I'm leaning heavily toward following in your footsteps (your wake?).

Any chance you can post it soon?

I'm especially interested in your estimation of the time it should take to paddle this route and the difficulty. The Shumka to Missanabie Route description describes the ports as "difficult" and says the trip took 6 days.

I've ordered Hap's book and should have that early next week.

Thanks,

Fritz


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2010, 5:43 pm 
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We did the trip using Missinaibi Headwaters Outfitters in the mid-90s when Dave and Julie Moran were there. I understand they are now running a lodge in Kipawa.

We took the Budd Car, it broke down and added about 45 minutes to the trip to the start. We got off the train and wondered if we were at the right spot but followed the long but flat ATV trail to the put in.

At the far end of Bolkow we camped in a grassy and quite buggy site at the end of a portage trail. In fact, while waiting for supper we carried the canoes over the trail to save some time in the morning.

Some of the initial portages were not signed well and it was clear we were the first people in some time through the area. Campsites were hard to find, even when we were standing on them and on spot we used was at the top of a major hill, making hauling water interesting.

Heading into Missinaibi Provincial Park on Little Missinaibi River we found a few sites that Hap described to be less than useful sites. We ran some of the rapids but pushed on across the burn area and camped in the provincial park near Whitefish Falls after moving a couple picnic tables to make better use of the site.

The park rangers appeared in the morning but we were ready with our forms, provided by the outfitters, and money so we were set for a second night in the park, around Fairy Point near Red Granite Point.

We had a tough time paddling as the winds were up and strong so we were glad to pull in for some camp time prior to heading over the Missinaibi Portage and heading through Crooked Lake and Dog Lake.

It is an interesting trip and apart from the time in the provincial park, we saw no on else on the way north and only a few others along the western leg until we got closer to Missinaibi Station where our shuttle was to pick us up.

Jester

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PostPosted: July 12th, 2010, 6:46 pm 
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Fritz, I've been working on it.... slowly. I've got my fingers in a couple pots right now... visitors, cedar siding the house, a funeral for a canoeing buddy, plus working. So I only get a a bit over lunch at work to type. I'm at 7 pages at this point. I'll redouble my efforts. Haps book along with my prior notes will surely help you, and I will post what I have completed.

As for timing... we did the trip in 7, but that included half a day when Laura was feeing under the weather, and 1.5 days on Little Missinaibi Lake. We could have done it in 5 in a tandem. If you are pushed for time, I would skip the train, and get Kenny to run your shuttle. It will cost you a little more but save you close to 5 km of porting right off the bat, plus you could probably be at the put in by 9PM not wait for the 11AM train and get on the water at 1:30PM. The port into Elbow and the port from the Little Missinaibi River into Missinaibi Lake are the only other big ports at 1km. The port into Elbow is a bit more difficult due to alot of saplings along the second half of the port.

PK


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PostPosted: July 12th, 2010, 9:29 pm 
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PK,

Thanks, I understand about time crunches. I'm planning on early August so there is time yet.

It turns out the train is out given my schedule, so I'll give Ernie a call once I have this nailed down. Taking out 5 k of port is always a good thing, but the train sounded like fun.

Any thoughts on bugs and temperatures the second week in August. I usually have vacation in September, so haven't had to deal with either in a while.

Fritz


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PostPosted: August 30th, 2010, 9:29 am 
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I was just reminded that I needed to post a full trip report for this trip. Sorry I took so long.

PK


Saturday, June 12, 2010
We were awakened just like every other work day at 5:30 AM by the alarm clock. But after turning the alarm off, we didn’t actually get moving until 6:15 AM. We had packed most of the gear in the car last night, but we still had a few details to finish at home. We rolled out of Grand Haven at 7:30 AM. We made a brief stop in Kalkaska, and arrived at the bridge by 10:30, and stopped at the Soo for gas and into Canada at about Noon, where we changed money and Laura bought a fishing license. We stopped for burgers and poutine at the Voyageur Inn in Batchewana Bay, and then at the Agawa Crafts/Canadian Carver for smoked trout. We stopped at the Agawa Bay Visitor Center, and then headed north through LSPP. Twice we stopped and turned around because Laura saw Black Bears along Highway 17. One was pretty close and Laura got some real nice close-up photos. Neither Laura nor I had stopped at Michipicoten Harbor, so we drove back in and stopped for a hike at Mission Falls, and then drove out to Michipicotin Harbor and the native village- “Indian Beach.” We then continued north through Wawa stopping at Young’s General Storeonto the 101 heading east. Laura spotted a moose, so we again turned around for her to get photos. We stopped at Potholes Provincial Park, but there wasn’t a campground so we continued east, and then north up 651 to the town of Missianiabie. The road was pretty nice… gravel and asphalt. We rolled into town, and realized that “Ernie” pretty much owned the place. He has a small store, restaurant, gas station, LP service, and LCBO, along with a campground, cabins, and tackle shop. His son Kenny runs the construction company, and helps run Ernie’s little empire. Kenny met us before we could complete one loop of the tiny campground and told us camping was $18/ night, and we could camp anywhere that was open, and that we could park the car for $4/day while canoeing. So we selected a site, set up the tent, walked around the campground and dug into the smoked fish, and crackers for dinner. Laura read outside until the mosquitoes got to her, while I walked out the kinks a little up into town to see where the train would load.

Sunday, June 13, 2010
I woke up at 6:15, and felt like I needed to move. We didn’t have to meet the train until 11:00, so Laura rolled back into the tent. I again roamed Missinaibie, and I boiled water for coffee. Laura heard me and we had a breakfast of left over trout and hard boiled eggs for breakfast. We then packed up the tent, and organized our gear for the train. We paid Kenny and he asked us where the train was dropping us off. We told him Shumka… and he said he was willing to run shuttles to the put-in on Bolkow Lake on the “New Road” from Dalton to Chapleau for $60.00. That’s a bit more than the $40 it cost on the train, but you wouldn’t have to do the port to the lake, and he could take you every day as opposed to only 3 days a week on the train. Laura visited Kenny’s tackle shop, and we drove to the station to drop our gear. I returned the car to Ernie’s for storage, and returned to wait for the VIA RDC “Budd Car”.

I wasn’t wearing a watch, but the Budd Car wasn’t too late. We loaded our gear in the baggage car, and then we went to the coach. We talked to the conductor, showed them our map, and together decided where to be dropped off. Again, the consensus was the “New Road.” The topo shows an unpaved road crossing the tracks just east of the old Shumka siding. Hopefully, this is the right place. The train ride was excellent! We passed numerous small lakes, lots of woods, the town of Dalton, and a parked freight train that passed us while waiting in Missinaibie. There really is a cool aspect to jumping off a train in nowhere to begin a canoe trip. Soon the train slowed and a gravel road came into view. The train guys planned to get us off on the south side of the tracks, but I told them we were heading north. So we unloaded our gear onto the road. They said, “Are you sure you want to get off here?” How was I supposed to know? I’d never been there before. It looked right based on the map.

The train was moving again to the east, and headed around the corner into the forest. There Laura and I stood, alone on a gravel road adjacent to the main line of the Canadian Pacific transcontinental right of way. Be hauled the canoe, barrel, and other stuff off the road, shouldered our portage packs, Laura grabbed the paddles, and I grabbed the safety gear pack, and we headed north up the road. We walked along, around a few corners over a few hills, and eventually the road made a marked turn to the east. Through the trees we could see water. Rather than boondock through the bush, we followed the road another ¼ km to the east to where an ATV trail headed north to the lake, where two aluminum boats inhabited the shore. We dropped our packs along side, and retraced our steps the 1.6 km back to the rail line to pick up the unbuilt folding canoe and the food barrel. I loaded the canoe into my portage pack, and Laura grabbed the food barrel, and we returned north to the lake. With the portage behind us, I began building the canoe, and Laura went for a swim. We then had lunch, then loaded the canoe, and headed north up Bolkow Lake.

The weather was cloudy, and looked like rain, but atleast the wind wasn’t blowing from the north down the long narrow lake. A number of rock cliffs overhang the lake, making for interesting paddling. Laura rigged her fishing rod, and she let the bait troll behind the canoe while we paddled up the western shore of the lake. A couple campsites exist on the northern end of Bolkow before the portage out of the lake. Any of these would make a good campsite for our first night. As we were approaching where we suspected the campsite was on the western shore of the lake, a cloudburst began to fall on us. Through the light rain we found the campsite, unloaded the gear, and we quickly assembled the parabolic wing tarp to keep things inside the barrel and packs from getting wet. We found an Action Packer box with pots, pans, a tent, blue tarp, candles, etc. It made a good step stool to get the wing tied higher. While Laura began rehydrating the spaghetti sauce, adding the beef, and boiling the Quinoa, I pumped 4 more quarts of water using my nifty new collapsible 2.5 quart bowl and my camp stool. That works pretty nifty! Then during brief break in the rain, I set up the tent. The rain returned, and we enjoyed our dinner dry beneath our wing. As the sun set and it raining, we’d both had a full day and headed for the tent. That’s when we discovered that I hadn’t staked out the tent and some rain was running off the fly and onto the footprint. Yikes! I dried out the floor of the tent, staked out the tent, tightened the fly, and laid my waterproof Ridgerest on the wet spot, before reading for a while before slipping off to sleep.

Monday, June 14, 2010
Well we woke up drier than we went to bed despite rain for most of the night. So I solved the tent leak issue. But after cooking breakfast, I couldn’t get the stove to stay lit for dish washing water. Yikes, not something to find at your first breakfast. I checked my repair kit and realized that the small end wrench I normally carry had been used for something in building our addition, and never got back into the repair kit. Hmmm, there are no tools in the Action Packer at the site. I guess we might be cooking on a fire for a few days. We had leftover spaghetti and I had a granola bar for breakfast, and we started packing. The sky was bright blue, and the wind was blowing pretty good from the north down the lake. So we hung the tent in the wind while packing, and eventually got everything packed. Some times it takes a day to get a rhythm, but I had messed up in setting up the tent, and forgetting the wrench which might mean cooking on a fire for a week.

We paddled into the wind towards the north end of Bolkow Lake, and located the 400 meter port out of Bolkow. The port crosses a gravel road with a washed out bridge over the Aguasada River. Along the port were 5 lady slipper flowers that deserved photographs. We launched into a small un-named lake on the Agausada River. The river doesn’t exit at the other end of the lake, but rather in the middle of the west side of the lake. We followed upstream on a small meandering river as it meandered back and forth getting smaller all the way. Eventually the channel got so narrow we could no longer paddle, so I pulled, and Laura pushed. The river seemed to split into two channels, of which neither were really big enough to float a loaded canoe. So I climbed out of the river, and started scouting. Hmm, what is this? The river seems to flow beneath, around, and through a field of “ankle buster” boulders, up the valley to our right. Looking at the map, this was the 20 meter liftover Hap depicts on his map. We reloaded the canoe and followed the river up to a 160 meter portage. We encountered a couple blow downs along the portage and we stopped at the put-in for lunch of Peanut butter and tortillas. We paddled across a very interesting small unnamed lake with an extensive number of dead trees drifted into the southern end. As we neared the northern end we spotted a lone bear walking the western shore. I don’t think he ever saw us, as he was moving quickly and never looked our way, as he eventually entered the forest. We had one last 70 meter portage and dropped into Ribes Lake. We launched again, and Laura fished while I paddled. We scouted the lone campsite depicted on the lake, and opted to continue north as it was early in the day. We then spotted a cabin, and we headed over hoping to find a wrench to tighten the simmer valve on the stove. We found a 12” long adjustable wrench, and I tried to tighten it. I didn’t really think I tightened it, but the stove fired right up. Hmmm, maybe we got lucky?

So we headed off smartly for the 400 meter portage out of Ribes Lake. We needed to do three more ports to the next known campsite. Haps notes say the port is along a marsh, but his map makes the portage appear to be just behind the islands. So I saw that the northern-most island was essentially attached to the shore, so I paddled between the islands and scoured the shore. We found where a creek enters Ribes Lake in a marsh, but couldn’t find the portage. There was however a small old trappers cabin without a roof along the stream. So I paddled further to the east, not finding a portage. Laura then showed me that we were approaching a rock point that we knew was actually on the south side of the island. So we went to the point, because Laura said that there was something that was drawing her there. We scouted the point as a campsite, but there really weren’t any suitable tent sites. We reassessed our choices, and Laura suggested we check the west corner of the lake to the west of the islands. But we decided that even if we found the portage our best bet would be to back track to the cabin rather than attempt three ports before dark given that we weren’t sure how well the stove would work,. We scoured the shore, and sure enough there was the portage. Nice Job, Laura, you were right! We backtracked to the cabin, and set up the tent in front of the cabin. I set to pumping water on the dock, while Laura cooked white chili with chicken for dinner over the campfire. After dinner, I set to updating my journal, and Laura paddled back to the rocky point and fished. She said she was drawn to the point from the minute she saw it. But when she came back she didn’t have any fish. As dusk settled across Ribes Lake, Laura came back to camp, and despite the campfire we headed off to bed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Our lack of progress yesterday meant for a good push today. We woke up and the stove worked fine, except that the flame adjustment wouldn’t allow us to simmer. But it boiled coffee great for breakfast, and we fried up some scrambled egg whites. We packed up and realized while loading the canoe that I had left my pfd behind somewhere. We briefly considered heading back, but since we didn’t know where it might be, we continued on hoping we wouldn’t regret that decision.

We loaded the canoe and headed north for the portage we had found last night. We ported the 400 meters over a nice portage into another small unnamed lake. Soon we correctly located the portage the 70 meters along a pretty portage and dropped into Acolyte Lake. Acolyte Lake isn’t a lot bigger than the previous unnamed lake, and soon we were at the Height of Land Portage Rives Lake flows south into the Goldie River and Shikwamkwa Rivers which are tributaries to the Michipicoten, while the next small unnamed lake flows north into Abbey Lake, which ultimately flows into the Little Missinaibi and on to the Arctic. This portage had a bit more relief and dry footing than most of the previous portages. We crossed a road about 2/3rds across the portage, and then the portage path walked through a small but nice campsite overlooking the unnamed lake. We exited the north end of the lake via a very tiny creek that lead up to the portage. We couldn’t paddle up the entire creak to the portage trail so we were forced to unload the canoe in the swamp. Laura sunk into the muck to nearly the top of her leg before she regained her footing and extricated herself. The 400 meters had us tuckered out at the end of the portage. We dug into the food barrel for tuna and flatbread and seaweed wraps for Laura. I loaded up the boat while Laura stripped naked. I paddled and Laura tried her hand at fishing, until we arrived at a cabin located on the west side of the Abbey Lake Narrows. Once again we stopped at the cabin looking for a wrench/pliers to insure that the stove would continue working. No luck with the wrench, but we took advantage of the sunny weather to take a bath and wash clothes

We reloaded the gear and Laura draped all her wet clothes on the packs. We looked like a laundry scow as we headed north planning to camp on Elbow Lake. Soon we had located the next 225 meter portage on the right side of the furthest northwest bay of Abbey Lake. Due to the low water levels, the start of the portage was a little mucky around a log until we got up onto the rock. The portage was very scenic and lead along the right side of the end of the lake before finally cutting over firm ground to a small creek which I believe would be Abbey Creek. On the return to Abbey Lake to get the canoe and food barrel, we missed a sharp turn in the trail and followed the ever fainter trail that others must also take that miss the sharp turn back towards the lake. We reloaded in the creek, and followed the flow. We meandered past what we decided was the “Mother of ALL Beaver Lodges in this tiny creek. Eventually the creek appears to divide. Here we followed Haps instructions following upstream on the creek entering from the right heading towards a visible clearing to the north. Abbey Creek exits downstream to the left around the bend, and ultimately discharges to Big Missinaibi Lake near Reva Island. The creek continued meandering, and we eventually entered a small shallow lake. We followed the right shoreline to the north end where marsh grasses grew along much of the lakeshore.

We found a small sand beach with closely cropped grass. We looked at each other wondering if this was the 1 km portage to Elbow Lake. I scouted through a marsh beyond the beach with far more moose prints and human, finding the portage trail proper heading up into the woods. We unloaded the canoe, and shouldered our portage packs. Once beyond the muddy marsh at the beginning of the portage, the trail was easy to follow and an enjoyable walk through the sun dappled forest. But soon the trail crossed a segment of bare rock before entering a clearing. From all my experience, I knew that the trail normally picks back up straight across any clearing. But in this case, I stood looking at an untracked forest. No obvious boot marks were noted!!! Laura arrived and we both started looking for the portage. I hiked up the clearing to the south east following a faint “animal trail” but couldn’t find a solid portage trail. Laura and I searched down the clearing to the northwest which lead to a clearcut. So we backtracked, and I finally did a circle, and I found a faint trail that became more obvious as I followed it. The portage trail picked up within 20 feet of where we originally looked, but it had curved around a clump of vegetation and was not clearly evident. Laura too had looked in that vicinity to no avail. The second half of the portage was going to be a challenge with the canoe, as hundreds of small saplings were hanging over the trail. We eventually descended to the edge of Elbow Lake. We retraced our steps for Laura’s port pack and the canoe, and Laura helped me double carry the canoe beneath the saplings for a couple hundred feet before I could again swing the canoe onto my shoulders. Laura grabbed a quick snack, and we loaded the canoe for the short crossing to the campsite visible just to the north of the portage trail on the west end of Elbow Lake. Getting to Elbow Lake had been a bit difficult as we had negotiated 10 portages and a liftover to get to the Little Missinaibi River.

The campsite was very nice with a flat grass spot for the tent, a nice sloped rock that made unloading the canoe easy, and a fire ring. Laura was feeling tired, so we built the tent and she headed off for a nap. I pumped 6 quarts of water and started preparing for dinner, rehydrating the beef and rutabaga stew. Soon Laura crawled out of the tent, still tired. We warmed up the beef rutabaga stew, and washed dishes. Laura suggested that this might be a good campsite to try taking a picture of the tent illuminated with a flashlight. I took off in the canoe solo, and I took a number of pictures of the campsite and tent, but it wasn’t nearly dark enough that the tent would glow and it was too dark in the canoe to stabilize the camera. Laura opted to read, and I took off for the northern bend of the lake that I wouldn’t see tomorrow as we paddled to the Little Missinaibi River. I returned to camp in the dark, missing our point as I pitched across the end of the lake before finding camp and heading off to sleep.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It rained briefly during the night and early morning. Laura awoke with a monster headache. Not sure if it was related to the effort we undertook the day before, or something else. We could hear a logging truck to the north of Elbow Lake, while we were waking up. Not what you normally expect in the bush. I warmed up the leftover beef stew, but that didn’t agree with Laura’s stomach. So I boiled water for coffee and oatmeal. It started to rain, so I put up the parawing while the water boiled. We cooked up some egg whites but they too didn’t agree. So she opted to head back to the tent. I grabbed her fishing pole and cast a few times from the rocks, before hopping in the canoe and casting back to shore. I tried fishing along the west end of the lake, before trying a marsh area near the portage into the lake we did the night before. BAM, I had a bite and reeled the fish to the boat. It looked to be maybe a 24 inch long northern pike, before Laura’s knot let loose with the bait in its mouth. I hadn’t brought the tackle box, so I returned to the site to retie a bait on my line, and returned to the same spot. I drifted past the marsh working a rock outcrop, and eventually caught an 18 incher which I released, because he was thin. While fishing I heard a floatplane fire up and we watched as it emerged from over the trees off of Little Missinaibi Lake. I tried a couple more places, and headed back to the site.

Laura was up when I returned, and she had eaten the eggs, drank some of my coffee, and wanted some oatmeal. I joined her grabbing a snack of pita and peanut butter. We decided to pack up camp as the sun had come out and started to dry things out. Soon we were heading east down Elbow Lake. We noted that the campsite located in the middle of the lake is smaller and less scenic than the site we stayed on. Laura tried to fish along some marshy areas. The lake ends where a small creek flows out between the sedges. The creek appears to get narrower and shallower. We passed a motorboat from Air Dale fishing outfitter, which was grounded on the creek bank. The creek got tighter and tighter… a real challenge with a fully loaded tandem. The creek slowly got wider and deeper and eventually we reached clear water….. the Little Missinaibi River. The river banks were surrounded by numerous reed beds that got Laura fishing again. I kept paddling against the current and Laura had a bite, just as I watched a good sized northern pike hit her bait. But his sharp teeth cut through the line and he got away. I re-rigged the fishing rod, and we set off to the south past an island with a campsite just before we broke free from the current of the river and headed into Little Missinaibi Lake. Our main purpose for visiting Little Missinaibi Lake is to see the numerous rock faces that have been inscribed with pictographs by the First Nation people who inhabited the area. We headed towards the eastern arm of the lake. We stopped briefly to stretch our legs and for a snack on a rocky point. I tried fishing again off the rock with no results, while Laura lay on the sunny warm rocks. We wanted to keep moving, and continued toward the eastern arm of the lake, passing a cabin run by Air Dale that was occupied by a group of fishermen. We followed the western shore down while looking for the pothole pictographs. Laura was pretty antsy that we would miss them, so I rooted in the pack for Hap’s Book. We slowly continued south and we eventually found the pothole. It’s pretty easy to identify, so it’s not really something easily missed. The pothole is large enough that our 16.5 foot tandem fit inside the pothole, and slowly rotated in the eddy current within the pothole. There are a fair number of pictographs, but most appear to be along the western end of the pothole. We took a few pictures, left a tobacco tie and continued along the western shore of the east arm of the lake. Across the lake we could see the large pine tree located at “B” on Hap’s map, and pitched straight for an island where a nice campsite was located.

We unloaded the canoe, and I set up the tent. We had a snack of salami, and worked on our journals. I caught up, but I noticed a distinct humming sound coming from the forested northern end of the island. It sounded a lot like live electric current. Laura took a nap, so I started fishing. I caught two small northern pike off the north end of the island. Laura had to take a picture of one. Laura decided to fish, and I suggested she try that northern end of the island. But much to her chagrin, she caught none. It was heading toward evening, so I decided to get busy cooking dinner. I warmed up the shredded cauliflower, rive, zucchini and beef. It needed a few shakes of pepper but was pretty tasty. We shouldn’t have rehydrated all of the dehydrated cauliflower!!! We washed up dishes, and we had a small campfire, but we found out what the humming was…. The mosquitoes were pretty fierce, but a little DEET helped for a while. But soon after dark we headed for the tent.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Woke up! The mosquitoes were bad on the tent screen. Laura escaped from the tent for a couple minutes but soon was back in again. We both dozed for a bit before I got up to brew coffee. Laura then used egg whites and some of the leftover cauliflower to make breakfast. We packed up camp, loaded the boat, and pointed it southward down Little Missinaibi Lake. We briefly looked over the red pine forest located at “D” on Hap’s map. Then crossed the lake in search of the pictographs located at “C.” These pictographs aren’t quite as vibrant as those located in the pothole. But there is a a lot more pictographs to look at along several panels to the northwest of the highly visible “Conjuring Rock.” Near conjuring rock there are pictographs that are not at the waters edge. Hap states that these pictographs are rare as most are drawn from a canoe, and these were drawn while on the rocks.

We headed south to locate the pictographs at “E” on Hap’s Map. When paddling from “C” to “E” a good compass is useful, as the lake turns in this area, and there are several islands that are difficult to differentiate from points along the shore. We pitched straight south for a narrow channel. But reviewing both Hap’s and the topographical maps, the narrow channel was actually between a long island and the east shore, not between the islands. So we ended up paddling west along the north shore of the long island in hopes of finding the pictographs at “E”. Rounding the end of the island we could see a rock face located where we expected the pictographs to be located. However, we couldn’t see the pictographs as we passed heading south along the cliff face with a strong southwest wind reflecting off the rock face. We stopped just past the end of the island, and I re-consulted my maps and reviewed the surroundings. I told Laura, I was convinced that the pictographs were on that face and we had just not noticed them. So we turned around and paddled past the point again from the south and slower. Eagle Eyes Laura spotted the pictographs on a small inset rock panel. These pictographs are much less distinct than those located at “C.”

We again turned the canoe around and paddled up the narrow protected channel to the south of the largest island to evaluate possibly paddling further south on Little Missinaibi Lake towards Grave Bay. As we approached the narrow channel back towards the north end of the lake, two fishing boats passed off our bow. We looked south down the lake, into a reasonably stiff head wind, and we decided to forgo paddling further south, but we stopped along the shore just east of the narrow channel with a nice panoramic view of the south end of the lake, for a snack. After letting the motor boats pass through the channel, we followed through the scenic narrow cut, and pitched back across the bay heading north past “C.” We stopped in a small bay at the base of the big White Pine tree. Two eagles were flying around, however, we couldn’t see a nest in the tree. Laura bushwhacked to the tree to hug the trunk.

We retraced our path to the north past the pothole, and the cabin before pitching across the north end of the lake into a strong west wind coming from the western arm of the lake. It was a relief to feel the pull of the current in the more protected Little Missinaibi River. We stopped at the big rock campsite on the western shore for lunch. I fished for a while, but didn’t catch any fish. We had considered camping here, but decided to push on to the campsite located along the first portage on the river. Laura cast for a while, as I paddled. We were passed by three fishing boats traveling downriver from the cabin. We found the three fishing boats tied up at the portage. We unloaded our gear, and two nice guys helped Laura carry her pack and the barrel down the first portion of the portage. The guys were swimming in the bottom of the falls. Laura and I decided to set up camp at the campsite along the portage trail. After the fishermen left, we took baths before cooking up beef stroganoff, reiki coleslaw, and butterscotch pudding. While doing dishes along the river, Laura spotted a moose downriver below the falls. Due to the deepening dusk, I wasn’t sure she was correct until I saw the grey blob move. We quick picked up camp, and I hauled the canoe down to the end of the portage. I slipped on the rock into the river in my dry shoes while launching the canoe. Arrgh! Meanwhile, the moose was no longer visible. Paddling as quietly as we could manage, Laura again spotted the moose along the east shore in a marsh. We stopped paddling and drifted slowly towards the moose. Laura tried to take pictures in the gathering gloom. I was having issues taking photos in the low light. The moose noticed us, but didn’t run. She watched us, and we watched her. Slowly she turned around and as she approached the taller grasses along the shore, two calves stood up from the grasses. Laura recorded video of the experience. Slowly the moose family wandered along the shore and eventually into the forest. The entire event was very magical. We returned to camp in the afterglow of our moose experience, and finished organizing camp for the night, before heading to the tent to journal and read before falling asleep.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We woke to hear a couple rain drops. I zipped the fly closed and went back to sleep. Laura eventually crawled out of the tent, and after looking at the sky suggested we try to get out of camp before it started to rain. So I joined her in emptying the tent and packing our sleeping gear and tent while still dry. We boiled water for oatmeal for me and gluten free cereal for Laura with coffee. After cleaning up, we portaged the gear down the portage trail to the canoe. Laura again spotted a moose, this time along the west shore of the river. We loaded the canoe in a developing drizzle, and quietly coasted from the put-in toward the moose. We realized that this was the same moose and two calves from last night. I shot a couple pictures and the trio slinked off into the forest.

Laura and I paddled a short distance before encountering a small Class II Technical. The river was looking pretty boney due to the low water. We scouted a nice route at the top with plans to run and gun the lower portion. We bumped the river bottom a couple times but made it to the last pitch where no clear channel would float the loaded canoe. So we jumped over the gunwales and floated the canoe through sans paddlers. We paddled a short stretch of flatwater below the rapids before running a Class II and Class I with no problems. We then came to another Class II Technical. Once again we scouted first and we picked another nice route but ran out of water and slid the canoe through the shallows before re-entering the boat. We ported 75 meters around a Class IV drop, followed by a Class II run down past the campsite at the end of the portage from Trump Lake.
From here we guessed that we would have only one more easy class II and four ports to Missinaibi Lake. After a pretty stretch of flatwater we found ourselves at a rocky canyon Class III. We scouted from upstream, and several drops were clear up to the canyon portion. We couldn’t continue to shore scout from upstream due to thick vegetation. So we walked the portage empty, and scouted the canyon from the bottom back upstream. Running the canyon would be a lot of fun in a solo. But the combination of the shallow water, and the technical route required to negotiate passage in a loaded tandem, Laura didn’t want to run the rapid. So we ported the 225 meters.

The canyon rapid was followed by a nice pond and a short Class I before we found the port sign on the left bank well upstream from the brink of the rapids. Hap notes this on his maps as well. Unfortunately due to the distance the portage trail begins above the rapids you can’t see the rapids. The port begins with a steep climb, and has a fair amount of relief. We opted to stop for lunch and a break upon completing the portage and before reloading the boat. After a lunch of tortillas and sausage for me, and seaweed wraps and tuna for Laura, we loaded the canoe and headed downstream. Soon we arrived at a short steep rapid that Hap calls a Class III. At the low levels we scouted and agreed to run it. Nice run and even a little fun. Below the Class III we entered the longest stretch of flatwater on the river. We enjoyed the sunshine after a morning of drizzle, but the sun brought stronger winds from the west. We reasoned that the wind would make for a stiff headwind on the long fetch from Southwest Bay on Lake Missinaibi, and would likely make sense to take a break at the campsite at the foot of Whitefish Falls. Arriving at the head of the portage trail, we dreaded the 1km portage. But in comparison with some of the portages we had come through on the Bolkow Lake route, this portage was well maintained, though had a couple STEEP sections near the north end. We completed the portage, loaded the canoe and paddled the short distance from the portage to the campsite.

I refilled our drinking water bottles, and Laura opted for a bath over on the beach across the bay. I tried my hand at fishing below the falls, but got the bait stuck in the rocks and broke Laura’s fishing pole. So I owe Laura a new fishing pole. We lazed about, and I took a brief walk around the falls. When I returned to the campsite, Laura had begun dinner preparations. We prepared chicken and asparagus soup with rice. We enjoyed dinner around a picnic table (Civilization!!!!), and noticed that two fishing boats appeared off the mouth of the bay.

The wind started to die down, so Laura and I cleaned dinner dishes, and packed up the canoe, with plans to take advantage of the calm conditions, and camp at Red Granite Point near the portage out of Big Missinaibi Lake. So we set off, with the sun just touching the tops of the trees to the north. With the sun low on the horizon we were treated to an ethereal color show of wispy pink clouds reflected in the steel blue water. We clicked off the 7-8 km to Fairy Point pretty quick arriving with some residual light in the sky. We had virtually no wind to contend with, but there was barely enough light to see the pictographs we had seen so vividly in 2008. As we were just about past the pictographs, we could feel the wind increase. Looking down into Southwest Bay we could see waves building, and as it was getting dark, paddling in growing waves off the notorious Fairy Point was not the place to be. So we cut across Lake Missinaibi leaving Fairy Point behind us aiming for the visible point across the lake which we hoped was Red Granite Point. We paddled past the campsite in 2008, and I thought I recalled the site, but in what now was fully dark we must have not reached the western shore before passing Red Granite Point. We tried to shine flashlights and headlamps onto shore to find the campsite, but never located the great site we recalled from the year before. With the waves and wind having strengthened, we pulled up to the nearest rocky point, and Laura scouted out a flat area just big enough to fit the tent. I tied down the canoe to make sure it was still onsite in the morning. The combination of the darkness, wind, waves, not finding our intended campsite, made for some eerie conditions. With the removal of a couple dead branches we were able to get the tent pitched and anchored. Home sweet home!! The mosquitoes were quite bad, so we dove into the tent. I tried to write in the journal, but sleep soon enveloped me instead.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

During the night we heard thunder and saw the flashes of lightening. I quickly zipped the fly door closed and settled back to sleep. Laura said she was creeped out by the night before, and the thunderstorm. But the bed of moss and lichen that we pitched the tent on mad a great bed, so we were soon back to sleep. Laura awoke, and suggested we pack up, and have breakfast in the sun on the next flat rock point. So we packed the tent, and the gear and paddled to the point where we fired up the stove for a full pot of coffee, along with eggs and left over rehydrated chicken from the night before. We were able to dry out the tent fly, and after breakfast we reloaded the boat and headed northwest. Coming from the east, and using the large scale map of Lake Missinaibi it’s not easy to determine which bay the portage is in. We recalled that a small island just out of the bay was our lunch stop when we previously passed this way. A quick review of the topo and the more detail on the Crooked Lake Map, helped us to aim for the correct bay with the Missinaibi Portage. We unloaded next to the old Register Box, and began the 345 meter portage into Crooked Lake. This portage was easy, and looked like a highway compared with the comparably unmaintained ports we had seen early in the trip. We noted the rusting hulk of former snowmobile and the now much more exposed old cabin on the Crooked Lake end of the Portage.

We loaded up and headed southwest on Crooked Lake in hazy conditions. We stopped briefly and grabbed a brief snack and a stretch just east of the narrows, and then paddled past the now collapsed former bridge. We took a few moments to again explore the old metal water tank and associated piping. We then paddled into the wind watching the clouds of a potential storm to the campsite on the island we stayed before. Laura cooked up a hearty lunch of dill fry bread, cup of soup and chocolate pudding, while I replenished our water bottles. Since we were at the site last, someone has outfit the site with new bathroom facilities. We enjoyed the sun for a bit before reloading our gear and continuing west towards the end of the lake and our last portage of this trip over the Height of Land and back into the Michipicoten drainage to the Great Lakes. We found a fishing boat, motor, and a pile of aluminum Coors beer cans. What is with Canadians drinking bad American beer? You couldn’t pay me to drink Coors in the US, let alone drink it in the wilds of Canada. Why carry water over a portage when you can drink it from the lakes? The portage was again easy but the wet logs on the west end make for slippery footing. We had plans to stay at one of the two campsites on the east end of Dog Lake, so we meandered along for a while slowing to look at the campsites. As we approached the last available site, we talked briefly and decided to attempt to paddle out to the Village of Missinaibie tonight. We needed to pick up the pace, and we paddled the zig-zag of 57 Bay, and Hay Bay, and soon rounded between the rocky points and passed beneath the Bailey Bridge that carries Route 651 over the Dog Lake narrows to Missinaibie. We rounded the corner and passed beneath the CP tracks before heading north past the outskirts of civilization into Missinaibie.

We pulled up to the boat ramp at Ernie’s Campground, where we unloaded our gear for the last time before loading everything into the hatch of the Passat. We talked to Ernie Martel and his helper and we grabbed a campsite. I started to pull apart our gear, and set up our tent. Laura headed off to the showers, and I warmed up the rutabaga, beef and gravy that we had rehydrated at lunch. Laura said she wasn’t hungry, but she had some before heading off to bed. I headed fro the showers before opting for bed myself.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We awoke, and planned on heading into Wawa for dinner, as Ernie’s Restaurant is closed on Sundays. That seems like déjà vu from our arrival the week before before beginning our Little Missinaibi trip. I disassembled the canoe and tent, and we packed everything into the car. Then we headed south on 651 and back west on 101 to Wawa. We grabbed breakfast at the North of 17 Restaurant of omelets and coffee. Then we found a pay phone and called home. My mom said that she had heard from our pet sitter Terry that they couldn’t find Lovey. She was worried that Lovey had gotten out of the house. So we headed south on Highway 17. We had planned to mess about in LSPP for a day, and spend Monday at Mackinac Island. However, we only stopped at the Canadian Carver/Agawa Gifts Esso station for gas, and a few souvenirs. We then continued through Customs at the Soo, drove across the end of the UP, and stopped briefly at a nice new grocery in St. Ignace for one can of beer, some smoked trout, and cheese, and crossed the Mackinac Bridge, before stopping at the park beneath the bridge for lunch. We made a brief stop at the gift shop for Colonial Fort Michilimackinac and then headed home. My Passat went over 200,000 miles near the town of Morely, and we arrived in Grand Haven at about 9:40 PM.


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PostPosted: August 31st, 2010, 9:56 pm 
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Joined: August 9th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 249
Location: Missouri, U.S.A
Nice write-up. So what happened to Lovey?


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PostPosted: September 1st, 2010, 6:52 am 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3731
Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
Hahaha, The simple answer is she was in the house and OK.

Lovey is Laura's 16 year old Long-Hair Siamese. She's all piss and vinegar......she regularly puts big dogs in their place in front of the house despite weighing between 4.5 and 5.5 pounds. But, she has renal failure so she requires daily sub-cutaneous shots. Thus the pet sitter. Our petsitter struggled with the shots, but it's pretty hard to find someone to do that, and we really needed a vacation, so we went with her. Lovey's not real fast, and I knew it was unlikely that she would have "snuck past" the pet sitter. But as with all cats, she's pretty good at finding hiding paces, especially if she can avoid her shot. This time she was found by the pet sitter sleeping in the shower stall. Our pet sitter was pretty flaked out after the experience. Laura jokingly says that Lovey fired the pet sitter, as I'm pretty sure we won't be able to employ her again.

PK


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