Previous Post: A Two-Day Paddle Across the Ogoki’s Whitewater Lake
This post – Day 8 summary: We left our okay exposed beach campsite not too far below the first set of rapids out of Whitewater Lake. After a bit more narrow river paddling and some time spent at Ogoki Falls, we would move down Whiteclay Lake to a campsite on the northeast arm of the lake.
Whiteclay Lake is the third in a sequence of large lakes in the Ogoki River system. My curiosity about the name was piqued even more when I found this map of Northwest Ontario from 1900. For one, it shows how sketchy the understanding of the terrain was 120 years ago. It also names Wabakimi Lake White Earth Lake. So…from White Earth to White Water to White Clay!
- distance: 30 km
- time: 8.5 h
- portages/rapids: 1/0 Ogoki Falls; ~280 m
- weather: cool! 10˚ to 23 ˚C; clear all day
- sightings: no one around – no boat traffic on Whiteclay
- campsite: slim pickings, flattish rock slab; yay! sleeping pads
- Natural Resources Canada archived 1:50000 topo maps: Whiteclay Lake 052 I 15 (b & w 1970). See Toporama (here) for NCR’s current interactive coloured mapping and print what you need.
- Our Garmin inReach-generated GPS track (here)- (Click on View All Tracks at the top right-hand corner)
The eighth day since our start at Endogoki Lake, the river’s headwaters, and our biggest one so far – at 31 kilometers quite the change from the three days that we had we spent boreal bushwhacking while moving less than 15 km. downriver.
In the image above, the packs have been retrieved from their overnight storage spot at the bottom left (about 50 meters from our tent), the tent itself is packed away, and our coffee mugs are sitting on the overturned canoe. As he walked back to his cup of coffee, Max noticed this faded bear footprint in the sand. It is the closest we came to a bear sighting on the trip; we also did not see any moose in our 14 days in the Park.
We did find the water to be fairly low and occasionally had to backtrack in our search for enough water to float the canoe down the narrow section of the river to Whiteclay. About a half-hour into the day on the water, we came to a tin shack with an outhouse to the side. It sits on river right about 1 kilometer above our one portage of the day, the carry around Ogoki Falls.
An Ogoki Frontier boat and fuel can sit at the top of the portage. Ogoki Frontier owns a couple of outposts (each with two cabins) at the west end of Whiteclay Lake so this boat may be intended for those clients who come up to the bottom of Ogoki Falls, leave their boat there, and then continue up to the other set of rapids on this one.
The 280-meter trail is in good shape and within fifteen minutes we were at the put-in at the bottom of the falls.
After a Clif Bar/Gatorade break, we grabbed our cameras and headed over to the bottom of the falls. It took little effort to walk up the falls to the top and we worked on a few different perspectives of an impressive gush of water. Along with Granite Falls and Brennan Falls on the Allanwater River, it is one of the most impressive waterfalls we’ve seen in Wabakimi Park. Here are a few of the shots we came away with –
We spent a half-hour taking in the view and inhaling the negative ions that the cascading water produces. To us, it is like the canoe tripper’s version of a meditation center. No need to assume the Buddha pose but do inhale those negative ions deeply and feel the positive energy that just being here gives you!
With our session with the Falls done, we continued on. The rest of the day would be flatwater paddling as we made our way east on Whiteclay. Looking back at the Falls, we could see the put-in at the lefthand side of the image below.
We did not face any headwinds this day, not a big surprise since it usually comes from the NW or SW. It was 6 km. (an hour’s paddle) down to where the lake opens up and then another 6 km. to our lunch spot. We chose it because on the Wabakimi Project map it is indicated as a campsite. When we got there we found the picnic tables, which we figure were put there by the various lodges for their clients to use for lunch fish fries.
From our lunch spot on the south shore, we looked northeast to where our map told us there was an outpost. Max’s Sony HX80 with its 720mm reach came in handy. He got the following image which – given that it was handheld and we were 6.2 km. away – is pretty impressive.
During our afternoon on Whiteclay Lake, we did not see or hear any boat traffic. Like Whitewater Lake the previous two days, it was very quiet.
We crossed over to the north shore before we came to the mouth of the Raymond River. A few years ago, we had come down the NE arm of Whiteclay Lake from the north. We had been up on the Albany River and were headed up the Raymond River to get to the height of land and then down the Pikitigushi River towards Lake Nipigon.
Just beyond the mouth of the Raymond River is another outpost. Once a Mattice Lake Outfitters property, this one now belongs to Boreal Forest Outfitters.
We made the turn into the northeast arm of the lake and started looking for a campsite. After checking out a couple of lacklustre spots, we paddled by the spot you see in the image below. At first glance, it looks pretty lacklustre too! However, we cleared away the dead tree and moved the rocks aside and – voilá…our home for the night.
As noted about our Whitewater campsite, which was also on a flat rock, an inflated Thermarest pad makes almost anywhere an acceptable place to bed down for the night!