View topic - Headwaters: Abitau, Dubawnt, Marten, Thoa. Part 2

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PostPosted: September 22nd, 2013, 11:17 pm 
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Part 2 - Headwaters: Abitau, Dubawnt, Thoa, Marten


The inflow from a major tributary draining Alcantara Lake adds to the Thoa’s volume below Sorenson. Navigable rapids are scarce. With portaging conditions difficult through the old burn, slow but steady wading and lining is usually the best choice.

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Nice sandy campsites still turned up when needed.

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Followed by more rapids.

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The weather for the trip was uncharacteristically hot, with daytime highs often in the 30s. The heat generated some impressive cloud formations, but only an occasional sprinkle of rain.


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Leaving the Thoa and heading up the Marten brought different challenges: the volume of water was much reduced, but it was going in the wrong direction. Progress was slow but steady, portaging was often a challenge in the old burn.


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At my first campsite on the Marten, I found this old trap buried in the moss. It was reassuring to know that someone had been here before.


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The next day I passed my old trapper’s cabin, set on a high sand bank above the river.

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The Marten was a lot of work, but it redeemed itself by continuing to provide good campsites for rest and recovery.


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The next day I passed a more modern cabin on the Marten. It was built by the Water Survey of Canada, likely in the 1980s, when there was a flow monitoring station located here. Flows on the Marten have not been monitored since 1990.

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Rapids, now increasingly bedrock defined, continued all the way up the Marten.

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I was glad to surmount the last rapid, with one final bush crash portage, and reach the good-sized but unnamed lake where my trip would end. It was an attractive place, with beaches and lots of sand in evidence. It provided me with one last good camp on a sandy ridge, with a private reflecting pool and a perfect airplane beach adjacent.

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A final smoky sunset provided some photographic opportunities.


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And then the plane arrived on time the next day. Another trip was over, and it was time to start thinking about next year’s route.


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Trip totals were 18 days, 286 km, with 27 portages and LOTS of wading, lining, and dragging.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip summary. I’d be glad to provide more information to anyone interested in this area.

-jmc


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2013, 6:57 am 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
Awesome, thanks so much, that was a great way to start my day. Did you do any fishing?


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2013, 9:08 am 
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Location: Scarbados, Ontario Canada
Thank you! Makes me sorry for not ever having tripped that far north...

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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2013, 10:19 am 
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Great pictures and report.
Thanks,
Ralph


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2013, 10:55 am 
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Location: on the edge of the big blue
John,

Great trip report as usual.
How is the body holding up with all that lining and dragging?
Do you think that "modern cabin" arrived by winter road or by helicopter?

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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2013, 4:00 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Wowee, excellent report and images.
Obscure for sure.
Tiny channels to say the least.
Lots of work dragging -- your too thick to paddle and too thin to walk on reminds me of some lake ice conditions I experienced this summer.
Rocknest, better than the ones I have seen.
The Thoa grows into big water. The Marten looks like a nice canoe size river.

Is that a Swift canoe?

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2013, 11:48 am 
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Thanks to all for your kind words.

RHaslam, just call us even, I always enjoy your school trip reports. I’m not sure being in the woods with a large group of adolescents would suit me, but it’s always fun to read about. I didn’t do any fishing this trip. I’m not sure I missed much: a friend who used to travel the river before the burns said it was never much for fishing, with the exception of a couple of spots.

Kingfisher, thanks for the solicitous inquiries about my health! Except for a shortage of cartilage in some joints, things are holding together pretty well. I think ibuprofen and obstinacy will keep me going for a few years yet. That cabin certainly didn’t arrive by winter road: I would have guessed float plane, I didn’t see anywhere near it that resembled a helicopter landing pad.

PaddlePower, the canoe is a Swift Raven. I think this must have been a high water year on the Thoa: its flow, like that of the Marten, is no longer monitored. I had paddled the Thoa below the Marten junction a few years ago, and found the going there easier, and more runnable rapids.

Erhard, the North is still there, you’re not dead yet, start planning!

-jmc


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PostPosted: September 28th, 2013, 10:55 am 
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Thanks JMC for that beautiful photo TR! That is an area I have been close to on my trips (Taltson, Elk and Dubawnt headwaters), but not in. But it has that familiar glow to it! I will have to get the maps out and start researching.

Great to see NWAL flying that external load certified 185! I hope they keep it!

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PostPosted: September 29th, 2013, 4:02 pm 
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Wish I had gotten up there when I was young. Excellent account, makes it easy to visualize your trip without imposing too much pain.


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