BWCA Zone Flexibility Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wabakimi
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senior member (85)senior membersenior member
08/10/2021 12:56PM  
I am in the process of making reservations for my first trip to Wabakimi and notice they ask for dates when entering and leaving the various park zones. Would it cause a major international incident (??) if I were to be a day off schedule? I tried calling the park office, but no one answered
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distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/10/2021 05:30PM  
I looked on the Ontario parks website and did not find the same restrictions for Wabakimi anywhere. All sites in Wabakimi are first come first serve, but you will have no trouble finding free and open campsites on any of the lakes. There are so few visitors in any normal year and even fewer this year. Mention your entry point of you wish, but do not worry about zones, they only apply to wilderness parks in the south of Ontario. Entire parks in the south would only be part a zone in a park as large as Wabakimi, if it had zones.

Plan for a couple of layover days for rain and wind, don't worry about anyone coming along with a reservation for a campsite. There is no such thing, and probably no such person.

If you need any info visit the Friends of Wabakimi website., and visit their Face*ook page too if you have any questions.

senior member (85)senior membersenior member
08/10/2021 06:05PM  
I ran into the zone issue while making my reservation. Each zone is treated as a separate entity - I was not able to simply get a 12 day permit for Wabakimi, but had to indicate how many nights I would spend in each zone, with specific entry and exit dates. Makes planning for layover or weather days a bit more difficult.
distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/11/2021 04:26AM  
I see... crazy, but it's the work of a committee gone mad. Book the zones, please the bureaucracy but don't worry at all. Every lake and "supposed" zone has way more available campsites than they'll ever need there. If you're really concerned, and after 15 years of canoeing up there I see no need for concern, call Wabakimi Wilderness Adventures and talk to Bruce. He might know more about this recently developed bureaucratic layer.

P.S. I went through the reservation system with the zones. It is a typical computer generated reservation system with no knowledge of canoeing in general, or even canoeing in Wabakimi. I booked two nights each in vastly separate zones and the system accepted them not knowing that travel times between these far fetched zones is 3-7 days at times. I think this wacky system was created so that Ontario Parks could gather daily usage data via a computer directly via reservations.

There is no one in the park tracking where you are vs. where you should be according to the data collected. Get out of the map view, use the calendar view, book a route according to zones from the totally inadequate map, and rest easy.
08/11/2021 11:58AM  
I think Goatroti is probably spot-on about this. I do remember that, on our Greenmantle trip (remote north area of the Park up to the Albany) in 2019, Annette at Mattice Lake Outfitters did take our itinerary as she wrote out our permit (maybe to track us in case of emergency, maybe also the Park wanted use-info for different areas). Vern Fish gave a rough itinerary as best he could; as it happens, we were able to mainly stick to it, which is not always the case. At any rate, we saw no one else in the Park (did see some fishing skiffs on Miminiska Lake of the Albany flowage, at a distance, at end of trip). I would agree with Goatroti: give your best estimate of an itinerary and don't sweat the rest. You are unlikely to see many other groups, much less be checked by Park personnel in the bush.
2019 was the last time I was in Wabakimi or even in Canada, with this Covid %%##*** .
08/11/2021 12:14PM  
I think the bigger set of issues is dotting all the i's and crossing the t's at border crossing, and the slowdown possible with the labor dispute, there, if you are going yet this year. I do hope you have a great trip, and let us know how it went!
distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/11/2021 01:50PM  
The labor/management dispute is over. ;)
08/11/2021 06:46PM  
Yes, hard to believe but I was last in Canada during June 2019 after 15 years of annual and sometimes multiple visits per year.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
08/15/2021 10:10AM  
Thanks for all the comments. I had planned a Smye Lake access, paddling to the Allan Water Bridge, down the Allan Water River, and back to Smye via Gault, Flindt, and Wilkie.

Best laid plans.

The access to Smye was in decent shape, although a bit hard to find. Fortunately I had the GPS coordinates. After a short paddle, hit a campsite on Smye and enjoyed a quite evening.

Started out the next morning headed south and hit the first portage, marked 405 meters. It was obvious no one had been this way for years. It took me about 2 hours to clear enough trees to get through the portage. Started heading west and then the winds hit. Spent the next 6 hours on a small island waiting for the gusts to die down enough to look for the campsite marked on the FOW map. When I finally got there, it was a boat cache with no tent pads or cooking area. I set up my tent the best I could, and spent the night listening to the wind and rain.

The next morning after a cold breakfast, paddled to the next portage and started the clearing process. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get through with just my pack. Once again, the winds picked up and the whitecaps were pounding in. I waited for about 3 hours and finally gave in and turned around. If the two portages I had seen were representative of what I would face until I hit the Allan Water River, I was in for a difficult time.

I headed back to my first camp on Smye which took me about 2 hours. Spent the afternoon watching the waves and drying my gear. Came out the next morning.

No problem with crossing the border in either direction. As I had waited until Wednesday to head to Fort Frances, there was no line to speak of. There were only 2 vehicles ahead of me. I had all my documentation in order and my receipt on ArriveCAN. Coming back through International Falls was easy. Answered the standard questions and was waved through.

In retrospect, I should have realized this route was little travelled and too ambitious as I was not able to find much current information on the southwest side of the park. I had planned to travel only 10 km per day, but had not counted on the time and effort it would take clearing portages.

On the plus side, when I could put a line in the water, the fishing was great.
08/15/2021 11:17AM  
Your brief report definitely sounds like Wabakimi. Maybe next time check with outfitters or better yet the park superintendent, Shannon Lawr, at their HQ in Thunder Bay. The park does maintain some routes which are popular with outfitter clients and annually has portage crews go out each season so you could learn routes which were most recently cleared. Now you know why Wabakimi Project crews carried a chain saw.
08/16/2021 12:14AM  
Enjoyed your trip report as I am looking at making an entry into Smye or Sassenach next year. Sounds like a brutal trip from the start. In you original post it sounded like were planning on 12 days. Did you just have enough at that point or did you think about just trying to head up to Wilkie or Gault and exploring that area?
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
08/16/2021 10:13AM  
I had considered heading up to Wilkie, Flindt, and Gault, but made the decision to come out when the winds came up that last morning. It looked like I would be spending most of the day wind bound again.

Despite the difficulties, I would like to attempt this route again. I am thinking it would be more feasible with two instead of solo, simply because of the work involved with clearing portages.

distinguished member (316)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/16/2021 11:20AM  
Having read your trip report I was having the same thoughts. So many solo trips would be better in Wabakimi with a partner or several partners. It's tough sledding in there.
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