Touring Temagami

Day 2

July 29, 4:36pm, Lady Evelyn Lake, near the route to Willow Island Lake

This is a beautiful place. Windy and beautiful. Today's trip title: Temagami: the windy, the whiny and the wonderful. We're here and everything is going according to plan. Although our plan has changed. That's the beauty of Temagami. You can change gears mid trip and it doesn't matter.

But I digress.

We woke at 7am and after a Red River cereal breakfast (mix it with granola: it won't taste so much like wallpaper paste), were on the water just after 9am.

We spent most of the day being impatient with each other, sniping then apologizing. I'm not sure what's up with that. At lunch time we tried to come up with theories why and we couldn't. Ah well, we're still speaking and we learn things about each other. It may well just be early trip jitters.

We found the portage from Ferguson Bay to Whitefish Bay fairly easily, though it's not marked. It's at the base of a huge exposed rock cliff. The Chrismar map we used shows a trail up to the lookout, but we didn't hike the trail.

It has a steep hill at the Ferguson Bay end, and a boggy bit in the middle, and Chrismar puts it at 760m. The Temagami planning map says it's a bit longer, though at a certain point I stopped caring what the Temagami planning map said.

From there we headed west across Whitefish Bay into Sharp Rock Inlet to the 75m portage into Diamond Lake. This portage is easily found and easily done. It seems to be something of a gateway into the nifty parts of Temagami. We reached Diamond Lake around 11:30.

We encountered our second group of campers, these seemed slightly greener than the others. I heard their leader exclaim, as they rafted together after finishing the Sharp Rock Portage, "Congratulations, you've just done your first portage."

We had lunch at 12:30, just south of the little chute that separates Diamond and Lady Evelyn. Cherry tomatoes, tofu McNuggets (that's what we call them at home where they were about to pass their best-before date) and salsa on pita (the puffy kind). It was good but I wasn't very hungry.

On we forged. Be careful to keep your eye on the east shore for the passage through to Lady Evelyn. I don't think either map makes it particularly clear what you're looking for. For us it was a 30m carry over. The water through the chute was low enough that the drop would have hung us up on the ledge. And that risk calculation thing Paul taught me said "carry".

The south end of Lady Evelyn is a comparatively narrow stetch with lots of islands and unofficial campsites.

As we are now in Obabika River Provincial Park, the sites now have orange diamond markers on them. But there are far fewer markers than campsites on the Temagami planning map. Don't know if this is good or bad. There doesn't seem to be much difference between the marked campsites and the unmarked ones.

Last night's site was a mess. Food everywhere, bad furniture, half-burnt cans everywhere. Tonight's site is neater, but there are broken beer bottles, a plethora of campfire pits etc etc. Though I guess now that it's a park, we'll have someone to complain to. And maybe they'll send one of the park's two rangers to look into it.

Remarkably we had the wind at our backs today. We were cruising along at 7.6km/h, according to the GPS.

Tomorrow we have to paddle another 9km north on this lake. Do we dare hope for two days in a row of favourable wind? I think not.

The wind seems quite powerful. Large scale like the lakes we've been paddling. It's too windy to put the tarp up. So we've put up its main rope, but have left the tarp furled. At one point, Irene's thermarest chair took flight and headed lakeward. Irene caught it before it got truly airborne though. It doesn't help, I suppose, that we are on a quite exposed point.

Last night's dinner was tabouleh, bean dip and other stuff we brought with us to eat in the car. We either overestimated the length of the journey or our appetites.

Tonight is couscous with more tofu McNuggets, sweet potato, red pepper and other nummy, non-dehydrated things. Truly inspired. We started with dried chick peas and lentils, cooked them at home then re-dehydrated them. Works charm-like.

It was sunny and hot all day today. It made for cranky moods and depleted water bottles. We went through two litres during the paddle and could have used a lot more. Tomorrow we're to paddle about 22km (to Tupper, now, not Sucker Gut) without portages (you can do that in Temagami) so we can fill the 4L dromedary too. That will help. With any luck it will help our moods too.

Yup. Temagami is a park now. This site even has a shit box - though it's the first one I've ever seen with a memorial plaque. Okay, it's not a plaque, more like a mactacked pice of construction paper. Thank you Canada Trust, and Friends of the Environment and LEOUA, whatever that is, for sponsoring tomorrow morning's dump. Perhaps next year you'll consider sponsoring a shitbox emptying effort.

This lake is beautiful. And as far as campers/paddlers go, we seem to be alone. As far as motorboats go, not so. It is still a rumble lake. A couple of fishing boats have been buzzing back and forth this evening. Not sure what they were doing. My dad always told me that if you want to catch fish you have to turn the motor off.

In sharp contrast, about 4:30pm this strange contraption came bombing down the lake. As it approached we realized it was three canoes lashed together raising a tarp or a tent fly as a sail. They were moving unbelievably quickly along the east shore of the lake.

"I hope they want to go that way," Irene said.

Today's joyful discovery is that a GPS is really neat. I used it last year to mark where we went, but this is the first time I've ever had our route on it in advance. It makes me feel much better about navigating. We have the two maps too, but there was something reassuring about knowing we were right and that we needed to go "that way."

It's especially useful on big lakes like Lady Ev' where the difference between "head toward that bump of land" and "head toward this bump of land" could be an extra kilometre or more of paddling.

Note to self: next time, don't skimp on creating route waypoints. Nothing says "this is fucked" like being told that the way forward is through a solid land mass when you're supposed to be on a huge lake.

I'm not sure how I feel about the parkification of Temagami. If it protects the area's natural beauty from environmental predation, protects my ears from the buzz of motorboats and offers ways for people who live here to make a living here, I suppose it's fine. There are probably purists who prefer markerless anarchy, but I see so much evidence of the need to regulate use of this place that putting on the training wheels of Parks Ontario seems the best course. On the other hand, it's not the challenge I was expecting.

stripslashes(These didn\'t use to be here, did they? Parkification, Lady Evelyn Lake. And for this, they want $7.50 per person per night?)

These didn't use to be here, did they? Parkification, Lady Evelyn Lake. And for this, they want $7.50 per person per night?

stripslashes(Our campsite on Lady Evelyn Lake)

Our campsite on Lady Evelyn Lake

stripslashes(If Bubbles wore sunglasses, they would look like these. Lady Evelyn Lake)

If Bubbles wore sunglasses, they would look like these. Lady Evelyn Lake