Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 21: Sunday, 09-06-09

Lakes / Rivers Traveled:

Derraugh Lake

Pikitigushi River

Pikitigushi Lake

Pikitigushi River

Travel Time: 4:13

Distance: 6.75 miles / 10.9 km

Our last day and our 21st straight day of paddling.

It stayed warm out last night. The wind was blowing last night when we went to bed. There was a beaver swimming around the front of the campsite last night flapping it’s tail. This has happened a few times on this trip. They must be upset with us invading their territory.

I first woke up at 05:30 am, then the next thing I knew I jumped up at 06:02 am.

When I got out of the tent there was only a slight breeze. I started a fire, put on the coffee. The same routine that has taken place the last 20 days.

This morning the moon was still out. There were blue skies directly above us with clouds surrounding the blue sky. The breeze ceased, now the lake is calm.

I’ve been hearing the sound of some rapids coming from the SW. I don’t think the sound is coming from the Gooseneck Rapids where we are headed this morning.

I’m thinking we will need to walk the long portage with this high water. There is probably a good reason why this portage is so long. The mosquitos are back!

We pushed away from our last campsite of this trip at 08:21 am. It didn’t take long before we came to some fast water. We paddled to the top over on river left where I scouted the river. I made the decision that we could safely run it which we did without any problems.

It was 08:43 am when we got to the long portage. (UTM # 95). The first carry took me 33 minutes. It took Dave slightly longer, 40 minutes, but he was carrying the canoe. My second carry was 27 minutes. I walked the portage and got 1060 meters. The last 260 meters was very muddy and we also needed to cross a flowing stream.

I’m done with the portage at 11:24 am just waiting for Dave. (UTM # 96) We’re back on the water at 11:33 am.

We paddled past a camp that I marked on my topo on river right. Right around the bend were some boats that were cached. Dave and I had a discussion on what side of the river Boucher’s Bear Camp was located. I remember reading it somewhere it was on river right. Dave had info that it was on river left. I also remember reading if we missed this landing there was no way to stop, turn around and we would be in trouble. I persuaded Dave that my information was probably correct. We approached the area when I saw some open area on river right. Yep, this was it, we pulled over where we saw some bear hunters near a large framed structure.

We were finished with our trip at 12:34 pm.

These guys were from Texas. They just got in last night. Some of them were fishing and others were cleaning the fish they had caught. They said they would start hunting at 4 pm.

We went up and talked to Barry Boucher who had Dave’s keys to his truck. Mattice Lake Outfitter’s had shuttled his truck the day before we got there. I also spoke to the third person who is the 3rd partner. I forgot his name. Sorry...

They have been in operation for 10 years and are out of Thunder Bay. They told us they lease the land. They begin setting up the camp on July 1st and go until October 10th.

The take-out (UTM # 97) is a grassy area on river right just before the rapids. If the Bear Camp is set up then it’s really obvious.

After talking with most everyone in camp we loaded Dave’s truck then drove back up to the tents and spoke to Barry again. Finally at 03:50 pm we were driving the road back to Armstrong.

When we got back to Mattice Lake Outfitter’s we saw Henry. The business that was a hub of activity three weeks ago now appeared very quiet.After speaking with Henry we went in and spoke to Annette Elliott to get our keys and other property before we told her good-bye.

Dave drove back up to where my Suburban was parked where I unloaded my gear from his truck and put it mine.

Now, it’s 03:09 pm , Dave and I said our good-byes. Before driving off I got a bag of dried cranberries from Dave. I was so hungry it didn’t take long to finish the bag while driving back to Thunder Bay.

Once in Thunder Bay I stopped at Tim Horton’s for coffee. May as well get a couple blueberry muffins. While I was waiting in line to order a nice looking girl kept looking over at me. I thought she must have been intrigued with me. Then I realized I probably stunk so bad and she couldn’t believe what she was smelling. I also hadn’t shaved in over three weeks so she also was probably trying to figure out what sort of creature I was.

Next, I drove next door to the Dairy Queen to give then the same experience. This time I ordered two double hamburgers with mustard and some fries. These were the same two places where we stopped after last years Wabakimi trip.

I arrived back home at 12:15 (eastern) or 11:15 pm (Central).

Last year we documented our 15 day trip in Wabakimi. The information from our route was documented on maps and given to The Wabakimi Project.

Again, this year we documented our route for The Wabakimi Project and maps with the information we gathered was given to the project.

The following was taken from the 2009 Trip Summary from The Wabakimi Project website. Phil Cotton and his crew were on the Albany River and abandon the the river because of extremely high water. This was around the same time Dave and I were on the Albany. We ran across similar conditions, both on the water and the portages, throughout our trip.

From The Wabakimi Project website:


Over 104 days, 13 trips involving 35 different participants covered 397km from the CN railway line north to the Albany River. Unusually wet and bitterly cold weather coupled with extremely high water levels and the deplorable condition of many of the portages encountered conspired to limit the work completed and the total distance travelled. Reconnaissance of the Albany River was abandoned at Achapi Lake as it was too dangerous to proceed any further downstream.

Despite these setbacks, reconnaissance of most of the canoe routes south of Savant Lake was completed, 96 campsites were identified and cleaned, and 74 portages whose lengths totalled 17,123m were located, rehabilitated and measured. The number of routes visited and the overall area covered was substantially augmented by contributors who mounted their own self-directed trips and afterwards submitted detailed trip reports.

Chuck Ryan

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