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tripping beginner paddlers 7 days
Obabika Lake Loop (Temagami area)
Sunday, July 7, 2002 to Saturday, July 13, 2002
length: 106.0km, 7 days
difficulty: beginner

leader: Keith Nunn
organizer: Beth and Keith
participants: Beth Baskin, Keith Nunn, Liam Nunn, Morgan Baskin, Naomi Miller, Tim Miller,

offsite report:

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(Link above to photo album.)

We put in at the Red Squirrel Lake access. The Red Squirrel road is getting kinda rough, but is still passable.

We paddled and portaged to Ferguson Bay and camped at a nice site in the north end of the bay, not far from Camp Wanipitae.

The next day dawned rainy, but I'm opposed to wasting rest days on rain unless there's real risk involved. Looking at the route, the group decision was for a longer paddle that skipped a portage to Sharp Rock Inlet. This made for a long paddling day and meant we didn't make it over the Sharp Rock portage that day. That was ok, as the excellent site we used last year was available and we camped there.

Day three was the longest day of the trip. We left camp at 10:30am. Not great, but not bad considering how kids slow the process and the fact we had a pancake breakfast. The Sharp Rock portage was ok. A bit rough, but short. The logging chute is almost completely rotted. There isn't much to look at.

After the portage we switched the boats up a bit with Beth and I sterning through most of Diamond Lake. There was a fair bit of wind on Diamond, but once we switched to paddle on the same side, it was not too bad.

At the far end (from our perspective) of Diamond Lake we came a cross an odd rock formation something like and esker. It cut across the bay at a diagonal and was composed entirely of large boulders. It had a gap in the middle that at first looked like the only passable section, but proved very shallow and we grounded. We were able to escape and get through, but left a bit of paint behind.

At the end of the bay we opted to follow Hap's tip about using a beaver pond and a better portage at the other end. We were very sorry we did so.

It began with way too much work to get to the pond. The entire area is filled with large sharp rocks. We had to lift over these (unloading pretty much all the gear first). This took close to an hour, involved a fair bit of swimming, and generated a cut on my leg.

The supposedly 'easy' portage to Lain Lake was an alternating disaster of muck, sinkholes, and large, sharp rocks. The regular 'hard' trail from Diamond to Lain looked pretty good at the Lain end and I recommend that folks who do this trip stick to that route. It's a bit hard to spot at the Diamond end, but I think it's worth the work.

The portage from Lain Lake (a tiny thing) to the Wakimika River was dead easy. It starts on flat rock, runs most of its length on an unused (ever) logging road, and then on a pretty good trail downhill to the lake.

After we got out on the Wakimika River, it became clear that some members of the group badly needed some antihistamines. Naomi was having a very bad time with reactions to the bugs and would soon be unable to see. After doses all around we made for camp at the mouth of this river (not really the Wakimika, that's at the south end, but I don't know what else to call it).

It was a beautiful and large site with a great beach. The thunderbox was very impressive. We were wiped so we set up, ate and collapsed into bed.

Day four we took as a rest day and hung out at this great site and enjoyed the fabulous weather. We swam, ate, napped and generally had a relaxing day recovering from the day before. By the end of the day the bug bites were under control too and there were no real swellings on anyone.

Day five we were on the water at 9 a.m. We made good time across Wakimiki Lake. It was a beautiful morning to be on the water. Finding the Wakimika River at the other end of the lake proved fairly difficult. Beth was the one who spotted the narrow, shrouded opening and we entered into what was a real challenge of strokes and intellect.

The Wakimika River is a narrow, winding, sweeper-littered river about 5km long at the top section. It was a lot of fun, but very tiring to have to think that hard all the time. The lower section was much wider and proved much easier.

Obabika Lake wasn't too windy and was blowing basically our way. A few island stops for rest and for lunch and we were at the portage to return to Lake Temagami. Just past the take-out was a rocky outcrop that looked kind of like a turtle head, with the hill behind being the shell. Pretty cool.

The portage itself was fine. Clear and well maintained (probably by Obabika Lake Lodge).

The paddle down Obabika Inlet (of Lake Temagami) proved extremely hot and windless. We went swimming almost immediately after arriving at the site. Our camp site, while not unattractive had no shade. We were baked all through dinner and the earlier evening and greatly appreciated the evening cool.

On the food front, after eating a variety of commercial products (in addition to some tried and true homemade food), we've decided that Soft Path is WAY better that Harvest Foodworks when it comes to dinners.

We had eucharist that night which was quite good. Led some singing, but I was having some serious word failures.

The night was clear and much cooler. I actually needed my sleeping bag. When I got up to pee, I was stunned and captivated by the night sky. I know it's there, and whenever I get out of the city I notice it more, but even then I'm still surrounded by trees and don't get the full sweep of the galaxy. That site was almost totally unobstructed. It was tough in the sunshine, but was absolutely stunning in a starry night. The constellations were so obvious -- the archer, draco, both dippers -- as was the sweep of the Milky Way overhead. What can I say but WOW!

Day six was sunny with enough cloud to break the heat a bit and the wind had turned and was at our backs again for the whole trip up Temagami into Ferguson Bay. We camped at the first site again and settled in for our last night. I'm good for another two weeks, but I never seem to be able to get myself organized enough to get out for really long trips.

The paddle out was fine. We met a number of incoming groups and solo folks from Wanipitae and had some good chats. Some shenanigans with Scott canoe and a terrible meal at B&M in Dymond and we were on our way south to Bracebridge to spend some time at Paddlefest.

It's been an excellent trip. Good weather, friendly winds (mostly), and good company. No whitewater, but I don't need that all the time (just most of it).

Paddlefest was pretty good. I took a clinic with Becky Mason and really enjoyed that. Flat water paddling is soooo different. It was very difficult to make the switch, but fun nonetheless. The one-handed pivot and pry was definitely cool.

Ran into Kalin as well and had a good chat with him. It seems he's actually wanting to do a flat water wilderness trip (shh. don't tell anyone). I also tried the new open boat from Pirahna, the Prelude. Interesting hull. Very carvy, but terrible outfitting, very loose.


posted by: Keith Nunn

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