Temagami Canoe Country: Paddling From Ishpatina To Maple Mtn. To Bear Island

Related PostPaddling To Temagami’s Maple Mountain

from the Montreal R. to Scarecrow I to the-Sturgeon R. to Obabika Lake to Maple Mountain and down To Bear Island on Lake Temagami

Note:  This was my first post ever and written in 2009! While I have tried to keep the links up to date over the years, I have so far resisted the temptation to redo the entire thing! I’d organize it better and provide proper topo maps instead of the Google ones I used here. Ten years ago I thought using the Gov’t of Canada (Natural Resources Canada) maps in my posts was illegal!  Well, they are free to use and download and do what you want with, courtesy of the taxpayers of Canada!

See my Canoe Tripping folder for more recent posts!

morning mist on Lake Obabika

the simple pleasure of gazing into the morning mist on Lake Obabika

All images enlarge with a click; all blue text leads to another web page with a click.

My brother and I  were introduced to canoe tripping in Algonquin Park in 1976. I still remember our camping under the stars on our first night out.  The tent was kinda full with Max and Ken and Lawrence in it so I gamely said, “No problem. I’ll just sleep under the canoe.”  I’m sure I had picked up the idea from one of the books in my just-starting “roughing it in the bush” collection.  Or maybe it was from this famous painting of my voyageur role models!

Voyageurs At Dawn. 1871 by Frances Anne Hopkins

Voyageurs At Dawn. 1871 by Frances Anne Hopkins

Well, all was good until I woke up to see two eyes staring at me from about a foot away. It was Mr. Racoon, curious about his new neighbour in the ‘hood.  It didn’t take too long before I squeezed into the tent for the rest of the night – it would take a canoe trip or two for this city boy to feel more at home with his wilderness surroundings.

looking out the vestibule on our island campsite on Scarecrow Lake

looking out into an overcast morning from the vestibule of our tent on Scarecrow Lake

This first canoe trip led to more ambitious trips down the Mattagami River from Timmins to James Bay,  the Spanish River, the full length of the Missinaibi River,  a six-week trip down the Otoskwin/Attawapiskat Rivers from Pickle Lake to James Bay, the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City…

under the tarp at our “high camp” on Scarecrow island before our summit attempt of Ishpatina!

And now?  Here we are over thirty years later under a tarp on Scarecrow Island, our “high camp” for the next morning’s summit attempt on Ontario’s highest point. This trip would be a combination of water and mountain – as well as 200 kilometres or so of paddling we planned to hike up to the top of Ishpatina Ridge the next morning, as well as  “climbing” Maple Mountain near the end of the trip.  We were psyched! All we needed was some sunshine.

We had motored up the day before from southern Ontario, spent the night at the Econo Lodge in North Bay,  and then moved on to Temagami for an 8:30 a.m. rendezvous with our shuttle driver at Temagami Outfitters.

Then we drove on to Elk Lake and west along Highway 560 to the Beauty Lake Road ( in fine shape for a gravel road!). Some thirteen kilometers along the road we took the right fork and were soon on the east bank of the Montreal River.

the gravel road from Highway 560 to the put-in on the Montreal River

the gravel road from Highway 560 to the put-in on the Montreal River

put-in point on the east side of the Montreal River where the gravel road crosses the river

For the next eleven days, we’d paddle and carry our 60 lb. canoe and about 140 lbs. of gear and food over 200 kilometers of Grey Owl Country –

  • incredible clearwater lakes like Smoothwater,
  • breathtaking paddles along narrow creeks and rivers like the Wakimika and Wawiagama,
  • a few punishing portages like the 3.5 km from Hamlow to the Sturgeon,
  • lots of swifts and Class 1 and easy Class 2 water going down the Sturgeon River, and
  • the thrill of standing in clouds of black flies by the fire towers on the tops of Ishpatina Ridge and Maple Mountain.

one of the trip highlights- the view of Maple Mountain from our Hobart Lake campsite

The weather?  It would turn out to be a mixed bag (it was, after all, the pretty wet summer of 2009 in Ontario) – but a bug-proof four-person tent and a huge tarp helped us stay dry and positive. Read on to see the ground (and water!) we covered.

A Brief Discussion of the #1 Canoe Tripping “Problem”: Logistics

Unless you are planning on ending up where you started, you always have a logistical problem with your canoe trip. The issue is this – How do you get back to the car at the end of your trip?  A trip down the lower Missinaibi, for example, leaves your car at the starting point in Mattice and you and your gear in Moosonee. It takes a six-hour train ride (200 km) to get back to Cochrane and a 185 km bus ride from Cochrane to Mattice to get back to your vehicle! Meanwhile,  your partner and the canoe and gear are still in Moosonee.

Our initial solution to the problem this summer was to park the car in Temagami and use a fly-in service to drop us off at the starting point on Scarecrow Lake. After eleven days we’d have paddled back to Temagami. Problem solved.  Unfortunately, floatplane service will run you about $1000.-  a bit expensive (but priceless,  I’m sure- for the views alone!).

So we looked for a Plan B.  It involved hiring a shuttle driver from Temagami Outfitters who would ride to the start of the trip with us and then drive our vehicle back to Temagami.  At the end of the trip, we gave them a ring and in an hour our vehicle was at the take-out point with the shuttle driver.  The cost was considerably less. Had there been two more paddlers it would have reduced the cost by another 50%!

Where Temagami Canoe Country is:

Our destination was  Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, the area to the west and north of the town of Temagami, itself about 60 miles from North Bay, Ontario.  The following Google map (click here) should help put things into perspective. Wikipedia has a brief description of the park here and the Ontario government Parks department has a small write-up here.  If you’d like to paddle Temagami waters,  a good place to start your planning is the Temagami Canoe Routes Planning Map (1 to 140,000).

You will also want the Natural Resources Canada 1:50,000 topos once you figure out exactly what you want to do; there are countless trip variations.  These maps do lack two crucial bits of information: 1. portage and rapids; 2. campsites.

We bought four: 41P1; 41P2; 41P7; and 41P8.  Note: we stopped buying map sheets in 2010!

Update: These days the maps go for about $20. a sheet. Save yourself $80. and download the maps from the Govt of Canada server, where they are available for “free”.  Then print off what you need. We keep each day’s map sheet inside a large Ziploc bag.  Click on the map titles below to access the download – temagami topo map index

41 P 1 Obabika Lake

41 P 2 Pilgrim Creek

41 P 7 Smoothwater Lake

41 P 8 Lady Evelyn Lake

The entire Natural Resources Canada map collection can be accessed here. You will need to know the map’s i.d.# to get to the correct folder and sub-folder and sub-sub-folder!

Other than the topos, the other essential resource is Hap Wilson’s Temagami: A Wilderness Paradise  (2011). (Note that the second edition title is a bit different from the original Canoeing, Kayaking, and Paddling Temagami.)  It will provide you with the rapids/portage and campsite info that the NRC topos do not.

The book gives you history, informed route descriptions, incredibly detailed maps, and lots of excellent advice.  Your library may have a copy; Amazon definitely does (click here). We photocopied relevant sections of Wilson’s book for the trip, along with the maps and a Garmin GPS unit for that occasional second opinion and reassurance that we were indeed on the right track!

Wilson’s just-published Trails and Tribulations (2009) also came along for the ride and made for provocative and relevant reading over a number of evenings.

Our Route Through Temagami Canoe Country:

The green, red, and blue lines indicate our route in the Lady Evelyn area.  After driving from Temagami to the put-in point on the Montreal River (access by Beauty Lake Road),

  • we paddled up the Montreal River starting at A,
  • “summitted” Ishpatina (B) a couple of  mornings later  from our camp on Scarecrow Lake,
  • paddled and portaged down the Sturgeon River (C) over a three-day period,
  • paddled up the Obabika River to Wawiagama Creek and Lake
  • and then portaged to Lake Obabika (not on the map but E).
  • A paddle up the Wakimaki River and  Wakimaki Lake brought us to Diamond Lake (F).
  • From there it was north to Tupper Lake and Maple Mountain (G)
  • and then a return trip down to Sharp Rock portage, over to Ferguson Bay and the helpful folks at Camp Wanapitei H).
  • We ended the trip at the boat launch at the public dock at the end of the Central Lake Temagami Access Road (I).  The shuttle driver from Temagami Outfitters was there an hour later!


Day 1–  drive up to North  Bay from London and Toronto

Day 2– drive to Temagami, pick up the driver and then drive to the put-in spot on Montreal    River (right fork off of Beauty Lake Road);  paddle to  Smoothwater Lake

Day 3– paddle and portage to Scarecrow Lake island campsite

Day 4– hike to the top of  Ishpatina Ridge (highest point in Ontario!);  paddle and portage to Sturgeon River down to Paul Lake- a big day- perhaps too big!

Day 5– paddle Sturgeon River down to Perkins Lake

Day 6– paddle down the Sturgeon to Upper Goose Falls campsite

Day 7– paddle up the  Obabika River to  Wawiagama River to  Wawiagama Lake

Day 8– portage to Obabika Lake and paddle up to the north end of the lake

Day 9– paddle up Wakimaki  Creek to Diamond Lake; camp near Suckergut Lake

Day 10– set up camp on Hobart Lake, climb Maple Mountain off Tupper Lake

Day 11– paddle back to Diamond Lake and into Sharp Rock Inlet

Day 12– paddle to Ferguson Bay and then to the south end of Lake Temagami to Central Access Road for pick up.

from the Montreal R. to Scarecrow L to the Sturgeon R. to Obabika Lake to Maple Mountain and down to Bear Island

from the Montreal R. to Scarecrow L to the Sturgeon R. to Obabika Lake to Maple Mountain and back down to Bear Island – see here for the “live” Google view and zoom in and out

What We Do For Food:  

My brother and I like to keep things simple on our canoe trips- so, no pancakes with maple syrup and no bread baking!  Neither of us actually likes fishing and I’m a vegetarian (who tries to keep vegan).  My brother is good enough to go along with the veggie thing.

The food comes out to 2 lbs (about 1 kg.) per person per day. So, for our 12-day trip, we had 14 days worth of food or about 50 lbs.  The bottle of Crown Royal was an extra 2 lbs.!

water on the boil- we occasionally made a fire but mostly used our old Svea 123 stove or the new Primus butane

Here is what was in our food containers:

  • Breakfast: oatmeal with dried fruits, nuts, chia seeds + a couple of cups of coffee
  • Lunch was based on Wasa bread with various spreads- hummus, veggie pate, peanut butter, refried beans; also a variety of Thai-style noodle soups which we rehydrated in our mugs; 
  • Snacks: Clif Bars and gorp and Gatorade-flavoured filtered and treated water for easy energy and hydration.
  • Suppers were Indian-style curry meals in pouches (one per person per meal) that are ready after 3 minutes of boil- poured on top of brown whole grain Minute rice or pasta. Dessert was an already-prepared pudding in various flavours. They come in individual servings. (This will probably be the last time for these puddings- way too bulky for what you get. They’ll be replaced by bars of dark chocolate next time or something else more compact.)

We used our Katadyn Pro Hiker for our water needs and also boiled water on occasion. My Svea 123 cookstove (its first trip was down the Yukon River in 1978) still thundered on this trip, powered by Coleman’s white gas.  The Primus Classic Trail butane stove was the second stove we used- it is so quiet and efficient. We lit a few small fires to burn garbage with food scent on it- and yes, once or twice just because we could!

Before the next trip, I will seriously look into dehydrating foods. My wife’s Excalibur Food Dehydrator is already sitting there.  There is definitely potential to up the quality of our meals while keeping weight down or even reducing it.

We hung our food pack some distance away from the tent each night from the best branch we could find.  Some nights we were more successful than others but animals trying to get into the food was never an issue.

Note: We stopped hanging our food bag in trees in 2013, opting to walk it down-shore  70 meters or so and setting it down instead.  We have yet to have an issue with critters large or small. The Temagami area is the busiest place we’ve paddled; most of our recent trips have been on rivers north of Superior.

Max is 6’4″ so that pack is up at least nine feet- it is covered with a garbage bag in case it rains overnight

Talking about Paddles: Straight Versus Bent Shaft?

Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks?!  This trip really highlighted the effectiveness of the paddles we used.  Along for the ride came two new bent shafts  (a Red-tail and a Grey Owl)  as well as the two trusty straight Lolk paddles (made by Augie Lolk out of Coldwater about 30 years ago of Wisconsin ash).

Our last trip to Temagami had been a short one- week fall trip exclusively on lakes except for a short stretch down the Wakimika River.  That trip saw us using the bent-shafts for the first time and I must admit I was a bit skeptical,  switching back and forth several times.  After a few days, I was more comfortable with it and we both agreed that we ‘seemed’ to travel faster (or should I say “more efficiently”?).

This trip combined lots of lake paddle with down-the-Sturgeon River travel.  It did not take either of us long to decide that bent shafts were definitely deeper water paddles. I don’t think we had done more than one or two sets of swifts or C1s when you would hear a simultaneous “I need to switch paddles!” followed quickly by “Switch sides” so that we could both be on our power sides. This worked out great because one of us is naturally right-handed and the other left-handed.

After the rapids, it was “I’m switching back!”.  I don’t think I’d do any long trip without one of each anymore.  There’s lots of online discussion about the advantages and disadvantages. I’m convinced that each has its place in our canoe. Check out this link if you want to hear two paddling legends (Kevin Callan and Cliff Jacobson) duke it out on the issue! Callan’s bluster and flag waving do not make for much of an argument!

Our Camera Gear:   

Before we set off for Temagami, we went through the gear one last time to see if we could reduce weight and bulk a bit more.  Reluctantly I took out my Lowepro camera bag, complete with Sony A700 and three super-duper lenses, cleaning kit, extra batteries, filters, et al. The Gitzo tripod also came out.  total weight reduction: ten pounds (i.e.4.5 kg)!  Given that our eventual total load on Day 1 including canoe was 200 pounds, it was a significant reduction.

camera at the ready on the Maple Mountain fire tower- I had gone up thirty feet to get away from the black flies!

Instead, I took along my Sony H2 and wide-angle adapter lens and a Sony W120 p&s.  I also took along my Velbon tripod that weighed 2 lbs.  total weight was a bit over 3.5 lbs. Net loss was 6.5 lbs.  Martin also brought along his Sony H2.

Maybe when we get that 40 lb. Swift kevlar model at Temagami Outfitters I won’t obsess so much about the weight of my camera gear! We found that the Sony 4.5 oz p&s was perfect for on-the-move shots and shots on those days when the weather would tell you to keep your gear tucked away and dry.  I kept the p&s in a plastic sandwich bag in my chest pocket.


Day 2 – Montreal R. Put-In to Smoothwater Lake 

Beauty lake Road to Montreal River put-in

Beauty lake Road to Montreal River put-in and nice paddle to Smoothwater Lake

I’ve used the Google map feature to create my maps but if you want something much more professional and useful, take a look at the series of maps created by Brian Back at ottertooth.com, beginning with this one below.

Brian Back/Ottertooth.com. posted with permission.

the famous beach and campsite on the shore of Smoothwater Lake

Smoothwater Lake campsite complete with tent icon on the tree

Smoothwater beach looking south from our campsite – loads of campsites available

sunset comes to Smoothwater- the end of a beautiful and easy first day out

taking in that golden sunset


Day 3 – From Smoothwater to Scarecrow Lake

This day involves a bit of paddling and a lot of portaging as you cross the height of land to get into Scarecrow Lake.  However, the trails were in pretty good shape so slow and easy, and it gets done.  It took us about six hours to get from our camp on Smoothwater Lake to our Scarecrow Lake island campsite.

the breakfast table on the beach on a beautiful morning

looking down the first portage of the day- 815 meters from Smoothwater Lake to Apex lake

…and there sits the canoe waiting to be carried over

the view from our island campsite on Scarecrow Lake- it had a Group of Seven feel to it!

island living room with a few raindrops fallin’

on the ridge top are the Ishpatina fire tower and the highest point in Ontario at 693 meters (2274 feet)

another Group of Seven moment

our tent site at the end of Day Three on Scarecrow Lake

great shot from a bush plane of Scarecrow Lake, the small island we camped on, and Ishpatina Ridge with the fire tower just vsible- a web search find and not mine!

great shot from a bush plane of Scarecrow Lake, the small island we camped on, and Ishpatina Ridge with the fire tower just visible- a web search find and not mine!


Day 4- Ishpatina Ridge hike +  paddle/portage to Sturgeon River down to Paul Lake

In retrospect, we were crazy to do all this in one day!  We spent the morning paddling to the north end of Scarecrow Lake, hiking up for 1.5 hours or so to the top of Ishpatina Ridge along a trail that was a bit soggy at times, then back down to the canoe and over to the island to pick up our gear.

Then it was down to the south end of Scarecrow for an afternoon of portaging from lake to lake until we got to the killer 3.5-kilometer portage which took us right to the shores of the Sturgeon River. The plus point about the mega-portage is that it is on a gravel road so we got it done in under an hour and a half. We put up the tent around 7 p.m.

Our route from Scarecrow Lake to Paul Lake- see  this map at the Ottertooth site for a much more graphic and dramatic look

morning mist over Scarecrow Lake

the view from the top of Ishpatina Ridge on a cloudy morning- a little less than we were hoping for

the GPS data on the top of Ishpatina- 693 meters!

looking up the fire tower which we did not climb

back to the canoe and the beginning of the trail to the ridge- always faster coming down!

back to the canoe after our one-hour descent from the ridge

heading south for the Sturgeon River

the master of the J stroke at ease

contemplating shadows and reflections

our Paul Lake Campsite

looking north from our Paul Lake campsite

our tent site on the east side of Paul Lake

both stoves a-blazin’ for supper

looking as good as can be expected after that earlier in the aft 3.5 km portage

dusk view of Paul Lake from inside the tent


Day 5- Down The Sturgeon River to Perkins Lake

a day of rain and drizzle on the Sturgeon

heading for the south end of Paul Lake

reflections- a recurring theme of the trip

Max at work

dramatic Twin Falls on the Sturgeon River

looking for the best route to run it (just kidding, of course)

Kettle Falls

Kettle falls- another view

the foam at the bottom of Kettle Falls

a late lunch (2:30) at the end of the Kettle Falls portage

boots and rain pants are soaked as we stop for lunch at the bottom of Kettle Falls portage

on to the next set of rapids- and maybe portage!

still waters after Twin Falls

camp on the east side of Perkins Lake

suppertime at our campsite on Perkins Lake

same, same but different- Lake Perkins from the campsite

Lake Perkins reflections

somehow the light and colours were magical and we kept on shooting!

variations on a theme


Day  6- Down The Sturgeon River  to Upper Goose Falls

canoe and gear at the start of a portage

canoe over slippery rocks at portage as it rains another day

Camp Wabun trippers below rapids

looking back at some bumpy water on another overcast and rainy day

looking for Upper Goose Falls on the map

a shot of Upper Goose Falls from near our tent site

Upper Goose Falls from the west side

we meet a party of six paddlers at Upper Goose who invite us to supper! Thanks, guys, for that almost-full container of Muskol!


Day 7- Up the Obabika R. to  Wawiagama R. and Lake

We leave the Sturgeon River and starting paddling up the Obabika River

a sunny morning going up the Obabika River to Wawiagama Creek

campsite on the south shore of Wawiagama Lake

supper right in front of the tent-something we rarely did

a small fire to burn garbage

dusk on Wawiagama Lake

Wow- and to think I used to balk at taking sunset shots cuz they’re so cliche!

fire on the south shore of Wawiagama Lake


Day 8 – Portage to Obabika L & paddle to the N end 

Wawiagama Lake at 7:00 a.m.- looks like a great day a-comin’!

start of the portage trail at the east end of Wawiagama Lake

the portage marker

a rock formation on the east bank of Obabika Lake which figures in local native myth

the front yard of our campsite at the north end of Obabika Lake

Obabika camp looking north

clouds over Obabika Lake

the end of another great day in Temagami


Day 9- Up Wakimaki Creek to Diamond Lake; camp on Suckergut L.

our tent site at 7:45 a.m. – time to move on!

fog lifting on the early morning waters of Obabika

GSP consult before heading towards Wakimaki River

Wakimaki River paddling- 100% enjoyable vista

Wakimaki deadfall

portage on the way to Diamond Lake

sunken logs in a quiet bay on the way to Diamond Lake

south end of Diamond Lake at 1:00 p.m.- time for lunch!

dream paddling – a completely calm Diamond Lake

Suckergut Lake on our way to our second climbing objective, Maple Mountain- the water was as calm as it looks

our campsite on a point overlooking Suckergut Lake at the end of a long day’s paddle

another view of our camp spot for the night on Suckergut Lake

Suckergut Lake reflections at 9:00 p.m.


Day 10- CS on Hobart Lake + Maple Mtn. Climb

stumps on the way to Hobart Lake at 9:00 a.m.

iconic totem reminders of the cost of man’s intervention in nature

two of the trip highlights- the campsite on Hobart Lake and the hike to the summit of Maple Mountain

the remains of the ranger’s cabin at the start of the trail to Map Mountain top (and fire tower)

The plush board path went on for a bit!

more trail- more board

a water stop along the trail

moose scat on the trail up to the summit of Maple Mountain

the last stretch on the way up to the top

Maple Mountain Fire tower with photographer escaping blackflies down below

view of Lake Tupper (in the foreground) and Lake Hobart (in the middle of the pic)…our campsite is the clearing along the shoreline

our Hobart Lake campsite was in the cleared area- a fantastic spot to put up a tent or five- and then look up to Maple Mountain with the setting sun

our canoe at the start of the trail to Maple Mountain summit

water lily in the creek taking us back to Lake Hobart

a shot of the fire tower from our Hobart lake campsite

supper done, we lean back on our camp chairs and enjoy the view- and what it view it was!

Hobart Lake at dusk

another day done and another sunset shot! Inhale deeply and say “Thank you”.

the sky over Maple Mountain at the end of a beautiful day

more sunset- more tower- more “Wow”


Day 11- back to Diamond Lake and into Sharp Rock Inlet

breakfast table overlooking Hobart Lake

my bowl of oatmeal with the spoon I’d found the day before- a spoon which looked exactly like one I’d received as part of a camping cutlery set from a German cousin 45 years ago!

we’re back down near Diamond Lake and have found the pictographs

pictographs just north of Diamond Lake

more of the Diamond Lake Pictographs

more of the Diamond Lake Pictographs –

Diamond Lake pictographs - sketch from Dewdney's book Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes

Diamond Lake pictographs – an early 1960’s sketch from Selwyn Dewdney’s book Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes

You will notice that my photos did not record the left-hand of the panel.  I regret not being more methodical in my approach that afternoon!

Update: In the fall of 2014 my brother and I returned to the pictograph site and spent some time doing a better job photographing what we saw.  The results can be seen in this post –

A Return Visit to Temagami’s  Diamond Lake Pictograph Site

The map below pinpoints the location of the pictographs if you’re ever paddling by –

Location of Diamond Lake Pictographs

If you’re interested in the topic of native pictographs, click here for a post in which I mention some print material and websites which definitely helped me to deepen my understanding and appreciation.

And if you click here you can check out Thor Conway’s website and his page on the newly published (2016)  Discovering Rock Art In Ontario’s Provincial Parks.  One chapter deals with the Diamond Lake pictographs in detail. There are 11 other chapters dealing with other pictograph sites, enough to give you a few years’ worth of canoe trips!

Day 12 – Paddle to Ferguson Bay and then down Lake Temagami to Central Access Road for pick up.

This would turn out to be our last day on the water although it hadn’t been planned that way.  We started off by paddling over to the beginning of the so-called Napoleon Portage which took us into Ferguson Bay.  Then we paddled over to Camp Wanapitei to see if we could use their telephone. (They were very welcoming.) Then we paddled down Lake Temagami, looking for a campsite.  Unfortunately, it was a sunny Friday and every time we paddled up to one of the sites indicated on our map, there was already someone there. Often they had a houseboat parked in the bay by the site.

By four o’clock we were considering a campsite just south of  Bear Island when we heard the thunder.  We knew we had to get off the water pronto and upped the stroke rate!

And so we ended up at the take-out point a half-day earlier than planned.  A phone call from the marina to Temagami Outfitters and our vehicle and shuttle driver were there in less than an hour!

the last shot before the camera battery died- on the way to Ferguson Bay and Camp Wanapitei. The other cameras were packed away in the dry bag. We should have taken them out!

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10 Responses to Temagami Canoe Country: Paddling From Ishpatina To Maple Mtn. To Bear Island

  1. paulhoy says:

    Great trip report. What was your overall impression of the trip? A good one?

    • albinger says:

      Temagami is a lake paddler’s dream…beautiful shoreline, nice Canadian Shield rock faces, easy-to-find campsites. We’ve been there twice and now that I just bought the new edition of Hap Wilson’s book I won’t have to look too far for new trip ideas.

      A fall trip to Lake Obabika, the Obabika River, and Lake Wawiagama after driving up Highway 805 from Happy Valley is on the back burner! This time we’ll take a day to hike the old growth trails on the north end of Lake Obabika. BTW- congrats on your 5.6 km portage! That makes the 3.5 km carry we did to get into the Sturgeon River a short haul!

  2. paulhoy says:

    I agree, Temagami is a paddler’s dream. We’ve been there five times, but I haven’t done the Sturgeon or the Hobart route up to Mowat’s landing. I found your blog as your route matches the one we plan to do this year, late June … though I have to say I’m impressed how quickly you did
    the Sturgeon.

    I don’t see your other Temagami trip on your blog – what route did you take?
    Also, did the number of lodges in Wabakimi spoil the trip in any way? Each year, I’m tempted to try Wabakimi (last year I went to Woodland Caribou, which is now my favourite). Among your trips, what is your favourite?

    How do you know about the 5.6 portage? Guess it’s mentioned somewhere on my blog. That must have been the one from Grand to Greenleaf, though we did a very tough one in Algonquin last weekend totalling nearly 7K (we double-carried) between Teepee Lake and Potter Creek. It was a Temagami-like portage in Algonquin.


  3. albinger says:

    Paul, my bro and I love paddling and are often on the water from 8:30 to 4 or 5. Also, we aren’t into fishing so that eliminates a major time factor. We do love playing with our cameras and stop for photo ops!

    The Sturgeon was a highlight of the trip- a scenic paddle, sprinkled with falls, rapids, and portages. It do remember that it rained a lot while we were doing it and the rocks were pretty slippery on the portages. You could spend another day on the Sturgeon but I didn’t have the feeling we were killing ourselves. I will also always remember hiking to the tops of both Ishpatina Ridge and Maple Mountain- something special about being up there. Maybe we were subconsciously on a vision quest! In any case, what a view.

    Our first Temagami trip was just a six-dayer in October of 2006. We had hoped to reach Maple Mountain from the public landing at the end of the Central Lake Temagami Access Road but decided to turn back when we got to the portage before entering Suckergut Lake because we didn’t think we had enough time. It was also raining. We ended up paddling across Diamond Lake and then south into Obabika Lake before heading back to the landing. Fall colour was everywhere- it is why I’d like to go back up there in late September or October this year.

    Right now we are in a Wabakimi groove. The train to get there makes things so much less stressful Yes, the fishing boats can be an annoyance. But if you paddle down the Flindt or the Allanwater Rivers you won’t be seeing any boats there because of the portages. The most traffic we experienced was at the top of Smoothrock Lake- it was like rush hour at 8:00 a.m. as all the boats (well, maybe five or six) were coming up from the lodge to favourite fishing holes at the top of the lake. For sure if you went after Labour Day there would be nobody there.

    If you want a trip with no boats, go down the Missinaibi River- either upper or lower or both if you have the time. No boats and one of the greatest canoe trips anywhere. We’ll see how bad our trip this summer- from Allan Water Bridge to the Kopka River and down to the highway- will be for fishing boats. The first half from Allan Water Bridge to Redsand Lake should be the place where we hear motor boats.

    I checked out your blog and noticed the portage info! I know what you mean about a Temagami-type portage…Wabakimi portages are definitely tamer. Bravo for being out there already in mid-April. We may go for a little paddle in early May when I pick up our new Swift Dumoine kevlar/carbon and put the initial scratches on it.

    Good luck with your planning. The route we did was a great one because of the lack of boat traffic except for the to-be-expected on Lake Temagami on the last day of our trip. Email me at true_north@me.com if there is anything about the route or logistics that I can give you help with.

  4. paulhoy says:

    Hi ramblin’ boy –

    My boys and me are on the water by 9:00-9:30 usually and plug along until about 5:00 PM. My youngest boy enjoys fishing so we often stop to humour him. Nice to hear that you encountered few people on your trip, though I expect to see a some past Diamond and up to Maple Mountain. After Maple Mountain and through to Mendelsohn, I suspect things will quiet down considerably. The only other difference between our route and yours is that I’ll likely portage from Diamond up to the south channel of Lady Evelyn and into Willow Island Lake rather than take the Lady Evelyn Lake route.

    I’m planning on Wabakimi next year.

    Anyway, great blog and great writing, including your most recent post. I’ll email you soon about route or logistic info. Thanks!


    • albinger says:

      Paul, you have a nose for killer portages. I just reread the description of the “Two Miler” from Diamond lake to the Lady Evelyn River to remind myself why we paddled up the north arm of Diamond Lake. One reason was for the pictographs on the rock face just north of Diamond Lake proper- the other was obviously length of portage.

      Thanks for your positive review of my blog entries. I just discovered WordPress in late December and it has motivated me to do something with all these jpgs that are sitting on my hard drive. I figured I might as well share my passion and organize all my pictures at the same time.

      BTW how old are your boys? You’re quite the dad if you take your kids with you. Some of my fondest memories are of our father taking my brother and I fishing at 4:00 a.m. or just walking with him to a lake in the bush outside of the town we grew up in. Quality time doesn’t have to be expensive!

      Check this link for some info I posted on the pictographs and their location if you’re interested http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=39632

      BTW I read through your blogs and found a potential canoe trip and a few nice lines from Seamus Heaney. I especially liked- Me waiting until I was nearly fifty / To credit marvels. Like the tree-clock of tin cans / The tinkers made. So long for air to brighten, / Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten.

      Looking forward to your blog entry on your canoe trip with your boys.

  5. Chantal says:

    Hi There,

    I found your blog about your Temagami trip and thought I would contact you. A man named Danny Trask has been missing since November 3rd 2011 in the wilderness of Temagami. There is information here: http://www.wrps.on.ca/missing-persons/daniel-dan-trask-28-years-waterloo and here: http://smilebox.co/LtlXR0 (his parents made this photo and information book)

    You seem to know the back country quite well and may be able to give some insight to his family.

    Take Care,

    • albinger says:

      Chantel, I have been following the thread about Daniel at ottertooth.com-


      and hope for the best in a very difficult situation. If my trip report motivates anyone to paddle the waters of Temagami, I’m hoping that knowing of Daniel’s disappearance, they will be that much more observant- especially as they paddle around the Diamond Lake pictograph area. This map of the northeast arm of Diamond Lake detailing where items belonging to Daniel were found on May 20th may help-

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful write-up of your Temagami Wilderness canoe trips. Living there 51 years, we canoed most of those areas, or flew in and canoed . My husband was District Manager with MNR.
    We started out 1951 in Quetico Park, canoed quite a lot. What a wonderful life.
    Thanks for bringing back the memories.

    • true_north says:

      Glad to hear the pix brought back some fond memories! The post on our Temagami canoe trip was the very first one I ever put together! We like the relative closeness of the region to southern Ontario and feel at home up there given that we grew up in the Abitibi region in northwest Quebec just a bit further north. Thanks for looking!

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