Down The Ogoki – From Above Ogoki Falls To Whiteclay Lake’s NE Arm

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. It shows how incomplete the understanding of the terrain was 120 years ago. Interestingly,  Wabakimi Lake is named White Earth Lake. Since waaba is Ojibwe for white and aki means earth, it makes sense! According to this Ojibwe-English dictionary, Whiteclay is translated as Waabigan.

So…from White Earth to White Water to White Clay!

The Ogoki River from Wabakimi Lake to Ogoki Lake …from a 1900 Ontario Govt Map

  • 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)

From above Ogoki Falls to the NE arm of Whiteclay Lake

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 we had 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 is packed away, and our coffee mugs sit on the overturned canoe. As he returned 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.

bear paw print on the Ogoki beach

We did find the water to be pretty 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. A half-hour into the day, we came to a tin shack with a smaller side building. It sits on river right about 1 kilometer above our one portage of the day, the carry around Ogoki Falls.

Post-trip googling revealed that it is a federal government-run hydrometric station, the only one in the Wabakimi area. See here for more info.

tin shack on the Ogoki above the Falls

An Ogoki Frontier boat and fuel can sit at the top of the portage. Ogoki Frontier owns a couple of outposts at the west end of Whiteclay Lake. 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 rapids on this one.

Ogoki Frontier boat at the top of the Ogoki Falls portage

The 280-meter trail is in good shape, and within fifteen minutes, we were at the put-in at the bottom of the falls.

a section of the decent Ogoki Falls portage trail

After a Clif Bar/Gatorade break, we grabbed our cameras and headed over to the bottom of the falls. Walking up the falls to the top took little effort, 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 –

, one of Wabakimi’s most impressive waterfalls

Ogoki Falls panorama – late August in a low water year

looking over at river left of Ogoki Falls

a sizeable drop on river right at Ogoki Falls

We spent a half-hour taking in the view and inhaling the negative ions that the cascading water produces. It is like the canoe tripper’s version of a meditation center. No need to assume the Buddha pose, but inhale those negative ions and feel the positive energy that 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.

Ogoki Falls from the bottom – portage trail on river right

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 figured were put there by the various lodges for their clients to use for lunch fish fries.

our beached canoe at our south shore lunch stop on Whiteclay Lake

three generations of picnic tables at our south shore lunch stop

From our lunch spot on the south shore, we looked northeast 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.

Ogoki Frontier Whiteclay west outposts

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.

Up Wabakimi’s Raymond River to Cliff Lake

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 turned into the lake’s northeast arm and started looking for a campsite. After checking out a couple of lackluster spots, we paddled by the spot in the image below. At first glance, it looks pretty mediocre too! However, we cleared away the dead tree, moved the rocks aside, and – voilá…our home for the night.

Our Whiteclay tent spot – the before pic!

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!

tent up on Whiteclay Lake NE Arm

adult moose and calf footprints on our Whiteclay NE arm beach campsite

panorama of our camp on the NE Arm of Whiteclay Lake

Next Post: Day 9 – From Whiteclay Lake’s NE Arm To the Ogoki Reservoir (Two Mile Bay)

Down The Ogoki – From Whiteclay Lake (NE Arm) To The Ogoki Reservoir (Two Mile Bay)

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