Temagami – Alone on a 4 Day Canoe Trip – Part 1- Sandy Inlet to Bob Lake

For many many years now, I have wanted to visit Temagami.  With help from some friends, including the Friends of Temagami, I finally was able to make that wish a reality.

The original plan was to start at Sandy Inlet.  I would leave work a few hours early so I would arrive at the put in around 5:30pm. This would give me about 2 hours to paddle as far in as I could get and then stay my first night, hopefully somewhere past the Napolean portage heading towards Sharp Rock Inlet.  The plans changed the day of the trip, making the trip more of a challenge than I had originally wanted it to be, but hey, these things happen.

On the morning of Thursday, September 13th, the day I was to head out, I got a message from my friend Tierney who is a prominent member of the Friend of Temagami, and a friend, who knows the area very well, and has been helping me with my trip plans.  She had been alerted to a road closure, taking place, of course, today, causing me to reroute my drive through Quebec. YUP! Quebec!   I wasn’t too impressed but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I contacted the phone number listed on the road closure post and was told the detour would take an extra hour and the work would take at least 8 hours.  I was planning to head out at 1:30 bringing me to the area of the closure about a half hour before that 8 hours.  It would be close, so at noon, I called again and was told there was no way they would be done before 8 hours and would most likely take longer.  Super duper!  I also found out on mapquest that the reroute would not add an extra hour but an extra 2 hours.

This would land me at the put in around 7:30pm, the time the sun was forecast to set today.  I wouldn’t be paddling far, if at all and would just have to adjust my plans the next day. There wasn’t much I could do. The day before the trip, Tierney also told me that since I was so close to Spirit Rock, I should make the attempt to get there as it was some where that should not be missed.   I didnt like to change plans last minute but after doing a bit of research and hearing how important she thought the visit would be, I decided I would attempt to make it to Spirit Rock, also known as Cheeskon, for Nite #2, adding an additional 1200m in portages and some paddling to the days numbers.  With the 2 hour start Thursday night, I thought this was feasible, but without it, I was really unsure if I could pull it off. But, I would try.

My jaunt through Quebec was an experience all in itself. I have only ever been to Quebec once for poutine with my friends Melba and Adam, the Woods Explorers, and it was a very short visit where alcohol was involved.  I was pretty amazed at how things quickly changed once I arrived in Quebec. The radio stations all started speaking french and playing french music and every sign was in french. I was amazed at how fast that had all came about, but when I left Quebec again, it changed back just as quickly.  It was very neat, but also very eerie.

After many many many hours of driving, I finally turned down Red Squirrel Road. I was informed I would have to drive down this road about 30 minutes to get to the put in at Sandy Inlet. There would be a parking lot there and a 300m portage to the beach where several beach sites were located.  I had now settled on camping on one of those sites a I didn’t think I could get anywhere that would make a big impact arriving at sunset.  The road was rough and reminded me of the road into Cedar Lake in Algonquin and I had to take my time as driving fast wasn’t an option.

I had quite a few issues finding my way to Sandy Inlet.  First, I pulled into Red Squirrel parking lot, not realizing for a moment that I was going to Sandy Inlet. After a few minutes, I realized my error and continued down the road.  I then saw the sign for Camp Wanapitei and according to my GPS it was where Sandy Inlet was, but there was no sign, so I kept driving.  I soon realized that mistake and turned around to go into that driveway. Then I saw 2 ways to go, one sign said ‘To Beach’ and someone wrote “deep holes” on the sign. The road looked atrocious and I didn’t think that was the right way.  To the right there was a single lane dirt road that looked lovely to drive on, other than it was only one lane so I thought that must be the way and off I went.  I drove for about 5 minutes and again realized I wasn’t going the right way (thank god for GPS’s).  I had no where to turn around though so I had to back myself up the entire way and as the road was barely the width of a car, I had to go extremely slow and almost ran into a few trees on the way.

I sat in my car looking at the crazy roller coaster muddy road and thought, there’s no way I’m driving that. I got out to walk it to see first where I was going and thought, you know what? I have an SUV, I can do this. I ran back to the truck and off I went, going very slow and saying many many HOLY F@%@ and S@%%% and Oh my gods, along the way.  I watched the GPS and saw the portage entrance was getting closer and closer.   Okay good! The light was beginning to fade fast. The sun had already set an it was getting darker by the minute.  I saw a place to pull the car over and park and figured I should take it. I was about 200m or more from the start of the 300m portage and was already worried about getting back out on Sunday so thought it would do. I grabbed my pack and began to walk as quickly as I could towards the portage.

Up ahead I found a bunch of cars parked in the parking lot about 200m up.  I also noticed the road from where I’d parked to the where everyone else was, wasn’t quite as bad as what I’d already driven through.  And, there was a Sunfire in the lot!  HMMPFHH! If that car could make it, so could I.  I would move when I got the canoe to be closer, but for now, I was headed to the beach to find a site.  It wasn’t quite dark on the portage but the light was fading fast.  I came out to the beach to find a beautiful sunset, well, the remnants of one and turned left to find a site.

I walked for a few minutes and saw what looked to be a site. There was a big log to sit on and the remains of a firepit. I dropped my pack and made the decision to get the canoe. I was contemplating doing it at first light but as I wanted to get moving as soon as possible the next day with so much travelling to do, I figured I should do it now.  I walked back and used my light on my cell phone and another flashlight to assist me in getting the canoe off the car once I’d relocated it closer to the portage. Then with my light in one hand and the other on the canoe, I portaged the canoe down the dark portage to the beach.  I hated it, but I just kept repeating, you’re okay, you’re almost there, you can do it, and eventually I came out to the beach and shortly after, to the site I’d chosen.  I saw some wolf tracks on the way but just told myself they were probably dog tracks. They may have been, but I think they are wolf.  If anyone would like to advise their thoughts, I would love to know for sure.

After putting the canoe down, I investigated the site and realized there wasn’t any trail or entry into the forest at all and no place for me to use the washroom. This would not do as I need that often, especially lately so I walked down the beach a bit further and found a better site with trails into the forest. I moved my stuff and began setting up in the dark, something I didn’t like, but something I’ve done a few times before.

The moon was up and shining brightly but didn’t give off much light.  I got my tent set up, blew up my Thermarest and my pillow, set up my sleeping bag and put all my gear in my tent.  Now to eat dinner. I was starving. It was about 9pm now and I was so glad I’d brought some precooked food.  I had made salmon and rice for dinner the night before and prepared 2 servings, bringing one with me for dinner tonight. All I had to do was heat it up.

While the food heated up, I quickly went and found a good branch to hang the Ursack for later, something I hated doing in the dark. Once the rope was hung I felt better and could relax a bit.  I sat on the beach eating my food and watching the stars come out until they filled the entire sky. It was absolutely gorgeous here, even though I couldn’t see much, I knew and with the call of the loons every few minutes, I knew it was going to be an epic trip!

After I finished eating, I cleaned up my pan, wiping it out with a damp j-cloth that would reside in the Ursack, then rinsing it with water. I then hung it in my food bag. I walked a few of the trails into the forest and discovered I had a privy. It was broken and  turned upside down but I righted it up onto it’s hole and it looked useable.  The only problem was there was a giant dock spider sitting in it.  Errr, nope, not today.  The thing was the size of a tooney and they jump. I’m not really afraid of spiders but I’m not an idiot either and I wasn’t ready to have a dock spider jump up into my errr….. welll.  just no, not today!  LOL.  I headed to my tent to check out the route for tomorrow and get some sleep.  Tomorrow would be a very long day!

Day 1 Stats:

Paddle: 0 kms

Portage:  (1)  300m, Walked: 900m

I woke up early as usual and it was still dark. I headed to find a place to use the washroom, trusty shovel in hand in case the privy was still occupied. After a thorough investigation, I deemed it clear of dock spiders and used it accordingly and quickly. LOL Just in case.

I was told many sites in Temagami didn’t have privys so I felt lucky to have this even though it wasn’t the best privy I’d ever seen. Regardless, it did the job.

As the sun still slept, I got to work, boiling water for my oatmeal and mixing it up so it could cool and be edible as soon as possible. I then began to pack up all my gear and get ready for the day, packing some food in an accessible part of my pack so I would ensure I’d eat and not just push on and loose my energy.

The sky was beautiful and the brighter it got out, the more gorgeousness was revealed in the area I was in.

At 7:30 am I was all packed up and on the water heading towards Napolean where my first portage of the day was waiting for me.  Just an 800m from Ferguson Bay into Whitefish Bay.

The sky was amazing this morning and I took as little pictures as possible considering.  Even though the water was calm, the slightest wind turned the canoe as I had forgotten to put the dry bag full of water in the back.  At least I remembered to bring it and it was fastened to the seat to use whenever needed.  So far, it wasn’t really urgent to use it though and I was grateful. My plan was to get through as much of the big water as early as possible to avoid wind issues.

By 8:15 I had arrived at the portage by Napolean Mountain. The mountain was pretty cool looking and I took my time to admire it before paddling up to the portage and pulling the canoe up onto shore. The start of the portage, straight up hill.  LOL.  And so it begins.

Besides the tough climb up the start of the portage, the rest of it wasn’t too bad.

About 3/4 of the way through there were some really rocky areas where I needed to carefully walk through to avoid rolling my ankle but otherwise, the portage wasn’t too bad at all.  Just a bit overgrown but nothing too bad at all and before I knew it, I was on the  other side.

I went back and got the canoe and repeated the process. With my first portage of the day done, I was now on Whitefish Bay and on my way to Sharp Rock Inlet.

The water was still very calm and I was very grateful for that. I paddled as quickly as I could towards the next portage.

I snapped a few photos and took some videos on the way, but did my best to keep them at a minimal so I could make good time.

There were gorgeous views every where I looked and I stared at them as I paddled by, seeing beautiful area after beautiful area pass by. What an incredible place this was!!!

The wind was still very low which made me happy as I was almost on Diamond Lake. I had been worried about the winds there as it’s a good sized lake, so hopefully they would continue to be insignificant.

After I paddled up to Sharp Rock Inlet, I came across a beaver damn I had to lift over.  Soon after I was at the portage from Sharp Rock Inlet into Diamond.  This portage was small but mighty!

It was only 115m long but the majority of it was rocks, lots and lots of them. I took my time walking over them to ensure not to slip or hurt myself and made it to the other side without issue.

Once I got my boat and the pack over, I rumaged through my bag to get my snacks out.  It was almost 11 and I was getting hungry.

I also pulled out my bottle of Purinize so I could prepare my nalgene bottle for the portage into Bob Lake as my bottle was just about empty. I had been drinking mostly through the Xstream straw for my water through the day but on a long portage, I would need something in my nalgene and since the paddle through Diamond would take over an hour, it was perfect timing.

I began the paddle through Diamond just as the wind picked up, but it wasn’t very strong at all.  In a few places I got a little gust here and there but mostly the water was very calm and I even got a bit of mirror here and there.   Amazing!!!

As soon as I landed at the portage from Diamond into Bob, I got out and ran into the bush.  I had done a bad thing while paddling, I ate a granola bar.  I knew I shouldn’t have but I needed some energy and Fudgeo’s can only take you so far.

Unfortunately, my colitis did not like anything fiberous and this was now the 3rd time this morning I had to make an emergency pit stop.  My tummy was not happy and I was now once again drained of all my energy and feeling very low.  I drank a bit of water and continued on with the portage, hoping the feeling would pass.

When I got the canoe and my pack to the Bob Lake side of the portage, I sat on the rocks and ate my lunch.  I didn’t want to eat because so far every time I had, it didn’t stay in for long, but I had to keep putting food in so I could get some energy out of it.  I had a salami wrap but didn’t add the ha ha ha moo (laughing cow) cheese to it.  Just salami and a wrap shouldn’t hurt me.  Fingers crossed.  I stared out into the lake and didn’t move for about 20 minutes, then I slowly got up and began back on my way.

The paddle through Bob Lake was windier than Diamond and therefore I didn’t take any photos.  I did, however, do a lot of thinking.  The day was growing old quickly and I didn’t feel good at all.  I wasn’t really sure if I should attempt the 1200m of portages plus paddling to get to Spirit Rock, even though I wanted to go there very badly.  I could also, do all that and end up finding someone already on the site, as there was only one. That would lead me to either do the 1200m of portages and paddling back to Bob, or do another 600m portage into Obabika Lake, then have to do it all back tomorrow to return to my loop.

Suddenly, I got a brilliant idea!  If the site on Bob was nice, why not stay there and tomorrow morning, before heading back out to continue on my loop, why not do a quick day trip, errr…  morning trip, into Spirit Rock with just the canoe and then go back and get my stuff after.  This way I would only have to single carry, it wouldn’t matter if someone was camped there and for the rest of today, I would be able to enjoy Temagami and not race through it.

It was around 3 and it had been hot and sunny all day. I would like to swim, rest, hang out in my hammock and enjoy the area, not spend another 2.5 hours travelling to arrive at Spirit Rock around 5 or 6 and then have little time to enjoy it and have to do the same thing back in the morning.  I wasn’t feeling well and this was a great solution.  I located the site on Bob Lake that was closest to the portage into Mud Lake, which would then take me to Spirit Rock and the site was beautiful!!!!  Done deal!

I was happy with my decision, although part of me felt a bit disappointed that I didn’t make it all the way to Spirit Rock today.  Considering the situation, I did very well and I had to remind myself of that and let go of the bad feelings.  The area I covered today was quite a lot and I had nothing to feel bad about.  I knew I made the right choice when I discovered a beautiful brand new privy on the site.  Now I was a truly happy girl.  When you have colitis, it is always nice to find a privy, especially when you’ve been having crazy symptoms all day.  I know, it may be too much information, but you guys know me, I just tell it like it is, and sadly right now, this is how it is.

This site was prime and I was totally elated about it.  The firepit was extremely cool and had a huge couch rock around it where I could sit.  I set up my hammock overlooking the lake which had 3 loons on it.  They were having a territory war and were constantly calling back and forth.  I set up my tent on the nicest flattest spot ever and then easily collected a bunch of firewood that would last me through the night and provide for the next visitor as well.

After all my chores were done, I went for a refreshing swim.  Put on my comfy campsite clothing and had a nice lie down in my hammock.  I knew I’d made the right decision and eventually felt good about it.  Why come here if I don’t take the time to enjoy it.

It had been a long tough day and I was hungry so I decided it was time to get started on dinner.  Today I was having something a bit different.  Bannock with cheese and garlic and spaghetti with vodka sauce, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes in it.  My stomach rumbled just thinking about it.  I first made the bannock using the suggestions I had received after my 4 day Algonquin trip. I was told to mix it very very slowly in the bag, which is how I remember doing it years ago but it hadn’t worked last time. I think I’d just been too impatient.  I tried it again and it totally worked.  I ended up with a nice patty inside the ziplock after spending about 15 minutes mixing it.  I stuck the spatula into the bag and pulled out the patty and plopped it into the hot oil! SUCCESS!!!!

I cooked it until it was nice and brown.   While it cooked I added a bit of water to both the vodka sauce and the tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers, already all together in the bag, so they could rehydrate.

Once the bannock was done, I poured a very small amount of water into the small cup/pot I brought. I then added the sauce, the vegetables and the spaghetti.  I brought it all to a boil and then let it simmer to cook the spaghetti and to reduce the sauce/water. It worked like a charm!

It didn’t take very long and soon the sauce was just perfect, the vegetables and spaghetti were cooked/rehydrated and it was ready to eat. No straining or draining and all was done in one pot. Super easy.

I brought my food down to a rock by the lake and sat watching the sun begin to drop on my second day in Temagami. I saw these neat little teeny tiny green trumpet mushrooms in the grass. They were so cut and barely the size of my pinky fingernail.

I saved a bit of bannock for after I finished the pasta. Once I had eaten everything in the pot, I took the bits of bannock and wiped out the pot with them.  This would help me clean out the pot, and made a yummy treat of bannock with sauce on it. Win win!  Once I was done, I only needed to wipe the cup out with a small piece of paper towel and rinse it.  Again, super easy.

After dinner, I checked out the sunset, which wasn’t super spectacular tonight and got a fire going. I spent some more time resting in the hammock and listening to the crazy loons fighting over the lake.

The day didn’t get very long today.  I sat by the fire for a bit listening to some music and by 8:30 I was in the tent and ready for bed.  I think I stayed up until maybe 9:30 editing some photos and videos and then fell asleep with my phone in my hand.  I was happy to be comfy cozy and finally resting.

Day 2 Stats:

Paddle: 15km’s

Portages:  (3) 2100m, walked 6300m

 

PART 2….

I got up to my alarm at 5:45 Saturday morning and began packing up once I used the privy.  The plan was to pack up as much as I could and leave it all packed in the tent. I would leave the tent up so my belongings would be sheltered, the food bag would stay hanging from the tree and I would head to Spirit Rock with only the canoe and an emergency bag.

Then I would return afterwards, I anticipated it would take about 3 hours or so, and then pack up the tent and my gear and continue on with my loop.  I wanted to make it to Thunderhead, but I had no obligation to and if I only made it to James or Virginia, that would be fine also.  No pressure.  I would just do what I could.

I hope you enjoyed Part 1/2 on my trip in Temagami and will check back for Part 2,  and also check out the videos on my youtube channel that go with this trip.  If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message.  Thank you for checking out my post!

Happy Camping!

Camper Christina

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11 Comments

  1. PineMartyn October 2, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Loving all the little details of this particular blog entry. Looking forward to the next installment.

    • Christina October 3, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Martin!

  2. Rosemary Cooper October 2, 2018 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Christina. Love reading about your adventures. Keep exploring and telling us all about it. I live vicariously through you.😉

    • Christina October 3, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Rosemary! I”m so glad you are enjoying them.

  3. Oleksandra Budna October 4, 2018 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Gorgeous place. We were planning to go to Temagami this summer but then changed it to Killarney. Good thing too because with all the wildfires wouldn’t be able to go anyway. Look forward to the next installment.

    • Christina October 7, 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Thank you ! Sorry didn’t get to go but I would definitely put it on my list for next year. It’s a beautiful place. 😊

  4. christine October 4, 2018 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Christina – I love your blog and FB posts! I’m a kayak camper, but am considering a lighter pack boat to allow for more freedom to portage into more remote spots. Do you have a gear list with weights to use as a reference? That would be super helpful! Thanks in advance!

    • Christina October 7, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Christine. Thanks for the message. I do not have a gear list with weights. And I’ve never weighed my pack, so I don’t know how much it weighs. I figure I need to bring what I need to bring. it doesn’t matter how much it weighs. I do have a few YouTube videos on when I packed for two of my bigger solo trips last year. One is for kayaking one is for canoeing. https://youtu.be/Mc2FskEEs2E
      https://youtu.be/s3UDDmaBd6s

      Hope this helps. Have a great weekend!

  5. […] since my trip to Temagami in September, I had been wanting to go back.  I had a 5 day trip planned for Thanksgiving to Killarney as I […]

  6. Boris Steinberg October 25, 2018 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Enjoying your adventure. Please tell me about your lightweight canoe. Designer, model…it looks perfect!
    Thanks,
    Boris

    • Christina October 25, 2018 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Boris. Thank you for checking out my blog. The canoe is a 15 foot skin on frame canoe built by Jon at Backcountry Custom Canoes. You get find more information on them at http://www.backcountrycustomcanoes.ca. Cheers!

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