Touring Temagami

Day 1

Wednesday July 28th, Ferguson Bay, Lake Temagami 8:30pm

The Maple Mountain Hop. Well, that's what I'm calling this trip tonight. Though this afternoon I would have called it Temagami: the Honda Hobble.

Disasters. If they mark the beginning of a trip, all will go well. This I know from past experience. But more later.

We packed like a steam train, starting slowly on Monday, pushing forward faster with each turn of the wheels. Dehydrating, zip-locking, measuring, spread-sheeting and charting. Garmin's Mapsource Canada Topo is a wonderful thing. Thanks Markus for putting me on to it and thanks Nigel for the other input.

We woke at 6:30, were out the door by 8:30 and on the road after a frustrating search for bread at 9:10am. How many bakeries do you know that close for the summer? Bread and Roses does. Surprise. But that wasn't the disaster.

It all went well until we got to Red Squirrel Road. (Getting to the Temagami area from Ottawa is a no-brainer: Highway 17 to North Bay, then Highway 11 north as far as you care to: the town of Temagami, Red Squirrel, Anima-Nippissing, Mowat Landing, Latchford, all have their turnoffs from Highway 11.

I had started my only other trip to Temagami from Red Squirrel Road in 2000. You'd think I would remember how we got there. Note to future travellers: while you're still on the rock/gravel road, follow the signs to Camp Wanapitei. Not like us. We kept on going down the controversial, road until we got to what seemed like the eco-nasty extended bit that caused so much anger and destruction in the 80s.

It still looks like hell. At the point where we saw that they seemed to have dynamited a rock hillside into boulders and smaller rocks to make into the road bed, we realized we, like they, had gone too far.

We turned back, and chose the road that says "Wanapitei 2km".

Red Squirrel Road is pretty rough. It changes a lot depending on what the rain has been up to, but it's hard on a city car, even at 40 to 50 km/h. At some point, just as we were arriving at the mud pack track that leads to the parking lot for the Red Squirrel access, we realized Irene's front wheel was squealing. Oh shit.

We tried to "drive off" the injury - you know, like soccer coaches tell players to "run off" their injuries. No avail. The dirt road to the parking lot is generally in really rough shape. You can get to within 400m or so of Ferguson bay, but many have stopped earlier, creating impromptu parking bays along the track. We parked in one such impromptu parkette.

We ran into a couple of guys from MNR coming back from a trip. They told us they'd got their van stuck in and we'd best not risk heading down any further.

We got to the beach arond 4:30pm. It was swarming: a large group of teens from Wanapitei preparing to head back to camp in formation, some day trippers pulled up at one of the beach sites, and a paddler, playing his guitar while dipping his feet in the lake at his campsite.

There were a couple of houseboats moored off the beach.

We decided, despite being tired and uncertain of the sites across the bay, to get paddling.

I'm glad we did. We're across the bay and around a peninsula, out of sight of Wanapitei and pretty much everyone.

We got to our site around 5pm. Dinner was an array of food that would go bad in our fridge if we left it there while we went tripping. Note to self: before the next trip there should be a 72 hour embargo on the acquisition of non-trip food.

The sun has just set. The waves sound like muffled voices as they wash against the overhanging rocks on shore. And despite being worried about the car, I'm happy.

We have a cloudless sky, and it's almost bugless out here on this rather exposed point. Maybe I will stay up and watch the stars.

Misc notes:

stripslashes(Sunset, Ferguson Bay)

Sunset, Ferguson Bay

stripslashes(Ferguson Bay, Day 1.)

Ferguson Bay, Day 1.

stripslashes(Moonrise, Ferguson Bay)

Moonrise, Ferguson Bay