BWCA Couple of planning questions Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wabakimi
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      Couple of planning questions     

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ArrowheadPaddler
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05/10/2022 10:06PM  
I am planning my first Wabakimi trip this summer and I have a couple questions. I am planning on entering at Tamarack Lake (or nearby). As mentioned in another post, I probably will take a vehicle shuttle, as I will have a 20' canoe and was told VIA rail does not carry canoes of this length. Is this true? Also, I noticed you cannot reserve permits until 2 weeks before your arrival. Do people ever run into problems with permit availability?
Thanks in advance.
 
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user0317
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05/11/2022 08:04AM  
Eighteen feet is the maximum length that will fit in the rail car.
 
05/11/2022 09:05AM  
I've never encountered that 2-week advance permit reservation but perhaps the regulations have changed. I can say that Wabakimi sees so little canoe pressure that I can't imagine that you will have any problem securing a permit. You can check with the park office if you like ((807) 473-3031) just to be sure. Enjoy your trip!
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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05/11/2022 12:43PM  
Thanks for the replies both of you. Good to confirm canoe length and general permit availability.
 
05/14/2022 02:52PM  
Actually, you can get permits pretty much right up to day of entry. For that you have to go to T-Bay MNR office.
But call the office and they will set you up even a few months in advance.
The staff are great!
They will email everything you need.
Absolutely no issue getting a permit.
Very few folks use the park.
Only 600-800 paddlers per year.
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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05/15/2022 07:08PM  
Thanks for the additional info. I’ll definitely look into that.
 
05/25/2022 09:56AM  
Looks like there is a change in the ONT permit system since I last did it in 2016.
Per ONT MNR:
Backcountry permits can be purchased up to 2 weeks in advance of your arrival date, online. Just go to reservations.ontarioparks.com and select "Backcountry Registration".


Back in 2016 I obtained my permit several weeks in advance by emailing with the park administrator's office in T-Bay.
 
06/20/2022 08:47AM  
jcavenagh: "Backcountry permits can be purchased up to 2 weeks in advance of your arrival date, online. Just go to reservations.ontarioparks.com and select "Backcountry Registration"."

I got my permit online last year a few days before I entered. I remember it being very quick and easy, but with one odd question something like “what zone will you be in mostly” or something like that. I had seen somewhere online that that question was more for places like Algonquin, so I just entered something and did not worry about it. Given how few people I saw paddling, I doubt anyone else would worry about it either.
 
06/22/2022 08:15AM  
Jaywalker...Did you actually see other paddlers while you were in Wabakimi?
How many?
I've done 3 trips there and only saw other paddlers once. And those folks were at the take out point where we got the train to town.
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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07/12/2022 08:39PM  
Hi all,
My Wabakimi route will run as follows:

Tamarack Lake-Boiling Sand River-Smoothrock Lake-Lookout River-Onamakawash Lake-Shawanabis Lake-Boulder Lake-Kenakskanis Lake-Kopka River-Bukemiga Lake

It looks like water levels are high in the region. Are there any high water concerns on this route, particularly Lookout River and especially the Seven Sisters area of the Kopka River?

Thanks for any info
 
07/13/2022 08:19AM  
Well, it looks like you will be going UP Sunrise Falls, so that won't be an issue.
The culvert/tunnel under the tracks might be passable with the higher water.
Look for the guide rope on the wall of the tunnel.
Also, I think you will pass through the Walleye Kitchen.
That's worth a few hours of casting!
 
07/13/2022 10:43AM  
user0317: "
ArrowheadPaddler: "I am planning my first Wabakimi trip this summer and I have a couple questions. I am planning on entering at Tamarack Lake (or nearby). As mentioned in another post, I probably will take a vehicle shuttle, as I will have a 20' canoe and was told VIA rail does not carry canoes of this length. Is this true? Also, I noticed you cannot reserve permits until 2 weeks before your arrival. Do people ever run into problems with permit availability?
Thanks in advance."



Eighteen feet is the maximum length that will fit in the rail car."


I don't understand this limit. Inside dimension (length) of a boxcar is typically 50 to 60 feet. Door openings are usually 10-12 feet.
 
marsonite
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07/13/2022 12:16PM  
ArrowheadPaddler: "Hi all,
My Wabakimi route will run as follows:


Tamarack Lake-Boiling Sand River-Smoothrock Lake-Lookout River-Onamakawash Lake-Shawanabis Lake-Boulder Lake-Kenakskanis Lake-Kopka River-Bukemiga Lake


It looks like water levels are high in the region. Are there any high water concerns on this route, particularly Lookout River and especially the Seven Sisters area of the Kopka River?


Thanks for any info"


I did that in a high water year and it was fine. The Lookout River is pool and drop and I don’t remember any issues; really pretty easy travel. The culvert under the tracks was interesting and I wound up belly button deep in moving water pulling the canoe but we made it. You could always portage over the tracks. The Kopka was fine.

Are you using. Clem Quenville? He told me he could shuttle to Tamarack Lake as a First Nation band member. I’d take that over the hassle of the train, but I don’t know the status of the road now as that as 7 years ago.
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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07/13/2022 03:26PM  
Thanks for the reply marsonite, good to know the route is still ok in high water. We are using Clem for the Tamarack Lake shuttle.
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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07/23/2022 07:13PM  
Hello again,
Our route plans have changed as our group make-up has been altered and we have a smaller adult to kid ratio than originally planned. Instead of Tamarack-Smoothwater-Shawanabis-Kopka, we are now planning on Tamarack-Smoothwater-(possibly explore a bit of Lookout River)-Caribou-Little Caribou to reduce portaging and leave more time for swimming and fishing. Does anyone have any good campsite recommendations for Smoothwater and Caribou Lakes? I have heard the one near the mouth of Boiling Sand River is nice. Also, any preference for the western arm vs. eastern arm of the lake?
Thanks in advance.
 
07/24/2022 08:53AM  
We took the western arm of Smoothrock to avoid fishing outposts.
It is narrow and canyon-like. Depending on wind direction it can be a wind tunnel.
There is a nice big campsite at the top of the Fantasia portage between Spring and Smoothrock.
At the top of Smoothrock, near 50.576, -89.445 there is a big wide open campsite.
 
07/24/2022 12:45PM  
bobbernumber3: "
user0317: "
ArrowheadPaddler: "I am planning my first Wabakimi trip this summer and I have a couple questions. I am planning on entering at Tamarack Lake (or nearby). As mentioned in another post, I probably will take a vehicle shuttle, as I will have a 20' canoe and was told VIA rail does not carry canoes of this length. Is this true? Also, I noticed you cannot reserve permits until 2 weeks before your arrival. Do people ever run into problems with permit availability?
Thanks in advance."



Eighteen feet is the maximum length that will fit in the rail car."



I don't understand this limit. Inside dimension (length) of a boxcar is typically 50 to 60 feet. Door openings are usually 10-12 feet."


Thinking about the 18' length limit it may have to do the width of the baggage car itself and width of the doorway. Having used the train several times I know the loading/unloading process is quite rushed. On a first trip of the year with the Wabakimi Project maybe 10 yrs ago one of Uncle Phil's SR canoes was dropped off the baggage car before the crew could exit the passenger car resulting in a crack that had to be repeatedly covered with Gorilla Tape that entire season to keep the boat from leaking too bad.
 
goatroti
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07/24/2022 01:52PM  
There's also a great campsite on the west arm at 50.4886 -89.5371 right near the north route to Elf Lake. There's a big island 200m off the campsite with cliffs that light up at sunset, a great canoe slip/landing and moss that is 15" deep. We explored it in 2010 and at the top of a long climb found a recently abandoned caribou nesting site. Best to stay away till at least the second week in August when the mother and young have made their way to the mainland.
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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07/25/2022 09:55AM  
Thanks for the replies and advice everyone. We are leaving mid August, so we likely won't disturb the caribou fawn site, though we will keep an eye out for it. We are looking forward to the trip, even though our route has changed.
 
07/25/2022 04:04PM  
jcavenagh: "Jaywalker...Did you actually see other paddlers while you were in Wabakimi?
How many?
I've done 3 trips there and only saw other paddlers once. And those folks were at the take out point where we got the train to town."

Sorry for the slow response. I did see 4 other canoes; one paddled past my camp on their way out on Caribou, 2 near the Beckworth cabins when I was approaching, and one tandem canoe on the other side of a small lake south of Whitewater. I did not come across any on any portage or see any campsites that were taken. I did see a couple fishing boats/moose hunters on Caribou, and several fishing boats on Whitewater.
 
07/25/2022 04:58PM  
My buddy and I plan to enter via Smye on 8-6. We will do a slow circle thru Flindt, Gault, Stump and back out. Maybe a side trip north or south a lake or two.
 
07/25/2022 05:02PM  
Jaywalker: "
jcavenagh: "Jaywalker...Did you actually see other paddlers while you were in Wabakimi?
How many?
I've done 3 trips there and only saw other paddlers once. And those folks were at the take out point where we got the train to town."

Sorry for the slow response. I did see 4 other canoes; one paddled past my camp on their way out on Caribou, 2 near the Beckworth cabins when I was approaching, and one tandem canoe on the other side of a small lake south of Whitewater. I did not come across any on any portage or see any campsites that were taken. I did see a couple fishing boats/moose hunters on Caribou, and several fishing boats on Whitewater. "

That sounds like a Wabakimi rush hour! :)
 
07/25/2022 05:04PM  
also...fire looks like very limited issue this year. As of today just about 100% of the park is Moderate level.
 
08/01/2022 10:02PM  
On the road 5 am Thurs.
Made my lists, checking them thrice.....details, details....
 
08/01/2022 11:08PM  
That's a good route. Lots of walleye on the way in. Look for moose and wolf prints on the portage into Gault. Looking forward to a trip report if you get the chance when you're back. Enjoy!
 
08/03/2022 12:40PM  
Thanks, T. I will finish this route this time. :-o
 
08/03/2022 07:31PM  
jcavenagh: "Thanks, T. I will finish this route this time. :-o"


Can't wait to hear about it!
 
ArrowheadPaddler
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08/06/2022 07:07PM  
Leaving on Wednesday, getting excited. We are getting a shuttle to Tamarack from Clem. Anyone have advice for tipping expectations for the shuttle?
 
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