View topic - Upper Bonnechere River, Algonquin

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PostPosted: February 14th, 2005, 5:58 pm 
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Joined: December 9th, 2004, 9:17 pm
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Right time frame... wrong first initial! I know who you mean however!


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PostPosted: May 23rd, 2005, 11:13 pm 
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Joined: October 20th, 2003, 9:20 pm
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The Navigator wrote:
I am planning a trip down the upper part of the Bonnechere River from McKaskill Lake to Basin Depot for early May.

Does anyone have any recent experience (say last five years) of this stretch? Thanks


(At the risk of over-doing the exposure of this trip :-))
So we did this route as planned. It turned out to be every bit as tough as I had imagined. We had an uneventful time getting to McKaskill Lake, but that was the only part that could be described that way!

The start of the Bonnechere where it exits McKaskill is choked with dead wood, as was most of the next 250 m as the infant river drops fairly steeply to a marsh. We made a 250 m bushwhack portage on river left (RL) to the edge of the marsh where we continued for some way in a fast-flowing deep but narrow channel.

There were a few more bushwhack portages to make around shallows or deadfall between 40 m and 150 m in length. We then encountered about a kilometre of swifts that we ran (bumping and grinding), but in lower water conditions they would have to be portaged.

Below the first falls marked on the topo map (which were quite spectacular), the river drops steeply, entering quite a deep canyon for the next kilometre or so. We bushwhacked through some tough terrain (camping there the night), and in the morning found a very overgrown forestry road. This we followed for about another 3 km until we were again close to the river below the third falls on the map.

Here the river was wider and deeper that where we had left it, and easy paddling. There were patches of alders growing in from both sides that we had to battle through, but these soon ceased and the valley widened into a pleasant lake in front of the old homestead site just north of the hydro line. From here on, it was easy paddling, except for the unrunnable 200 m rapid a kilometre upstream of where the P90 is marked on the map. A 300 m bushwhack portage on RL was called for. We didn't in fact find the P90, nor the two campsites marked on the map just below it. We therefore camped just upstream of the P275 in a pleasant spot.

The P275 is actually 500 m long, and ends near another old homestead site. Here we took stock of the situation. We had the option on continuing down the river for another 3 km or so, and then tackling about 11 km of portages, none of which (except for the last 2 km) had been cleared in at least 10 years. On a forestry management plan map I had found evidence of a logging road that paralleled these portages, but where the map showed it crossing the river we found no evidence of it, so we decided not to put our trust in that map. It was now raining (as it had done on all except the second day), and bushwhack portaging in the rain was not too appealing. If we took the "easy" option, we would get to Basin Depot early enough to continue down the lower section of the river that day. We decided on the "easy" option, which was a 12.4 km portage out to and down the gravel road leading from the hydro line to Basin Depot.

Arriving there just after lunch, we continued into Couchain Lake, where we just had time to set up camp before the rain started again. The next day dawned bright and sunny, and we continued to Turner's Camp where we took out.

The trip gave us a rare experience: wilderness canoeing in over-tamed Algonquin. It brought home to us just how easy portaging in the rest of Algonquin usually is. It made us appreciate much more the obstacles the first explorers had faced when driving through this land.

As a route others may wish to follow - I would say it's not too difficult if you're fit, but you might want to end it before the 12.4 km portage to Basin Depot! I'd be happy to supply further details to anyone interested.

As already posted, one of my fellow trippers has written an excellent report on the trip here: http://www.jungle.ca/bonnechere/

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PostPosted: May 24th, 2005, 8:22 am 
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Joined: November 4th, 2003, 6:15 pm
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Wow, guys, what a GREAT trip! Congratulations!!


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PostPosted: May 24th, 2005, 3:52 pm 
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Joined: June 5th, 2003, 2:50 pm
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Location: Halfmoon Bay BC
Judging by the number of clogged logs and blowdowns in the first two hundred metres of the Bonnecehere, I dont think anyone has been there since 1977!

I was there two days before you started your trip and took one look at the mouth and never got out of the canoe . It honestly should be taken off the canoe routes map..a small fish would have enormous difficulty swimming it.


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