BWCA Wabakimi 2023 Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wabakimi
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04/11/2023 09:59AM  
Who else is tripping in Wabakimi this season? Trying to get some Wabakimi forum talk going since it’s so quiet in here!

I’m planning on doing the Allenwater up into Whitewater lake and back out little Caribou. Beginning of August for 14 days.

Still mulling over route a little bit. Debating on routing through Whiteclay lake down into Cliff lake instead. Come out Pikitigushi instead. In order to do that though in the time we have we’d have to miss part of the Allenwater and get dropped off further north. Basically not start at the Allenwater bridge but start up at Termite or Brennan lakes instead.

Thinking Kopka in 2024 depending on how this trip goes.

Ryan
 
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04/11/2023 03:31PM  
I am not going to make it up this year.But Termite to Little Caribou looks like a great route. Varied scenery and fishing galore! Also, going west to east gives a better chance of more tailwind, so there's that.
 
04/11/2023 04:40PM  
The wind always seems to be opposite the direction I’m traveling! At least 95% of the time.

If we went into Cliff lake we’d in general have the water flow in our favor most of the trip. We’d gain some really gnarly portages though!

Ryan
 
04/11/2023 08:20PM  
I want one more crack at either a Smye or Sassenach entry to do a loop through Brennan down through Granite and out Windfall and back to EP. Might be August. Might not. I'll plan as the summer progresses, once the snow melts :).....
 
Sparkeh
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04/12/2023 05:30AM  
We have a group planning a 10 nighter out from the Armstrong side. This will be our first trip to Wabakimi so we will try to find a basic route. We usually paddle flat water so a route without a ton of river running would be better for us. There is a Fow trip planning webinar sunday at 8 pm est I will be listening in on. Im pumped to try out Wabakimi.
 
04/12/2023 06:57AM  
You won't be disappointed! It's a great park.
 
04/12/2023 09:50AM  
Sparkeh - Are you planning an out and back route? If so, take a look at going north from Smoothrock, going up to Whitewater and then back down and out. You will be able to stop at "the center of the universe.".
 
04/12/2023 11:57AM  
Not sure where you live. The Midwest Expo is coming up April 28 through 30th. Friends of Wabakimi is going to have a booth. Vern is also speaking at 4 on Sunday. I’m sure they could help with some planning.

Bruce Hyer has been at this the last few years representing his business Wabakimi Outfitters. He is a wealth of information and if you book with him he provides you with detailed maps once you pick a route. Which he helps you with as well. At this time I don’t see him as coming this year though. I’ll update that though since I’m going to be giving him a call to confirm some details on my trip.

Ryan
 
jillpine
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04/12/2023 04:39PM  
Sparkeh: "We have a group planning a 10 nighter out from the Armstrong side. This will be our first trip to Wabakimi so we will try to find a basic route. We usually paddle flat water so a route without a ton of river running would be better for us. There is a Fow trip planning webinar sunday at 8 pm est I will be listening in on. Im pumped to try out Wabakimi. "


Hi Sparkeh,
If you're in the metro area, the MWM Expo FOW table will be well-worth a visit, as Ryan said.

As far as rapids, the park is a system of rivers and lakes, so it is a bit different than the BWCA in that regard. Yes, of course there is lake-to-lake travel, but most are connected by river systems that pool and drop. There are portages around the larger rapids. Many will line or wade if water conditions allow. In higher water, it can be a bit snappy. In lower water, it can be a boulder garden. And if the route is not one of the more frequently used routes in the park, the portages can be challenging to locate from the water, and may (will) be impacted by blowdown.

Friends of Wabakimi has a list of members who are willing to help other members via email with trip planning questions as part of the FOW expedition committee.
Navigate to the FOW website, become a member, go to the Interactive Member Forum and submit your questions.

Wabakimi Outfitters won't be at Expo this spring. The FOW website has a list of outfitting resources on both the east and west sides of the park.

 
Sparkeh
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04/13/2023 05:24AM  
jcavenagh: "Sparkeh - Are you planning an out and back route? If so, take a look at going north from Smoothrock, going up to Whitewater and then back down and out. You will be able to stop at "the center of the universe."."

That is the exact route we are looking at. The little Caribou loop via Berg River, Ogoki River and whitewater lake. We are most likely going to go with an out and back for our first trip. If we get good intel this summer we may plan on flying in or using the train in the future.

We come from Pa and Vt so we will not be able to go to the expo shows out west there.

 
04/13/2023 02:20PM  
If you don’t get through Cliff Lk on this trip try to make it on another. Cliff Lk is one of the top, if not, the top pictograph sites in Ontario. The First Nations consider it to be sacred. It is Uncle Phil’s final resting place also. Plus, coming to it from the north you use the articulated, elevated corduroy we built in 2007 through a wet area, unless it’s rotted by now.
 
BeavertailPaddle
member (11)member
  
04/14/2023 03:13PM  
Sparkeh: That is the exact route we are looking at. The little Caribou loop via Berg River, Ogoki River and whitewater lake. "


We did that loop last summer for our first trip to Wabakimi. We hired Clem Quenville to watch our cars, but otherwise our trip was entirely DIY.

For what's worth, here's our short TR: https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.thread&threadId=1302337&forumID=112&confID=1&vt=1662722347

One caveat about our daily mileage, we like to think we make time to stop and smell the flowers, but we don't fish, and only needed to leap-frog portage for the first two or three days on this trip.

With the exception of a short swift on the Caribou River, because we ran the Berg and the Ogoki on the same day, we really only had one day of river running on this loop. The Berg is pool-drop and last August all the rapids had easy-to-find portages. Last summer was a high-water year so we felt confident enough to run a couple of the drops with our kevlar lake canoes (we allowed our teenage daughters to run one drop that we walked in the royalex canoe they were paddling). With the high water, the Ogoki was pushy in the swifts/class I rapids above the more formidable rapids we clearly wanted to portage just west of Whitewater Lake. We were happy to have decent eddy-hopping skills there.

Otherwise, on our trip, for our group, wind on Smoothrock and, especially, Whitewater probably challenged our risk-assessment and paddling skills more than the river running we did on the loop.

By persistent and dogged digging around online last spring, we were able to find a great deal of good information about the route in other paddler's TRs on other cites, youtube, etc.
 
04/14/2023 04:43PM  
I'm a definite maybe.
 
Sparkeh
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04/17/2023 06:08AM  
Does anyone have a route they would reccomend that would take around 10 nights accounting for a couple layover days where we will not run across a lot of outposts and motorized vehicles?
 
jillpine
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04/19/2023 03:55PM  
Sparkeh: "Does anyone have a route they would reccomend that would take around 10 nights accounting for a couple layover days where we will not run across a lot of outposts and motorized vehicles? "


There are 44 outposts in Wabakimi PP. If you don't want to see motorboats, avoid those lakes. Or simply paddle quickly through them and recognize that outposts were grandfathered in as part of the decision-making process that went into the early stages of the provincial park planning process.

Locations of the outposts are marked on the newly updated Friends of Wabakimi planning map, which is for sale ($27 amer) at the FOW website. Also available are pdf maps for rapid download. The trip planning webinar is recorded and available at the same website. And, to directly answer your specific question, if you want one-one guidance, email here: info@wabakimi.org and put "trip planning help sought" in the subject line. The expedition committee of FOW will help connect you to an experienced member for help with your route plan.

Best wishes for your paddling adventures!
 
04/21/2023 04:32PM  
Sparkeh: "Does anyone have a route they would reccomend that would take around 10 nights accounting for a couple layover days where we will not run across a lot of outposts and motorized vehicles? "

When planning you can look at staying on the smaller lakes as much as possible.
The fishing camps use the bigger lakes so they can land their planes.
I have done trips from the east and west side of the park.
It is very difficult to paddle for any length of time and see no fishing outposts.
That said, if you go in August or very early Sept. you will see far fewer motor boats than in early summer.
Also, we have never had a real issue with the small motor boats that the fishing guides use. They don't create big wakes or a lot of noise.
There are a few entry points on the west side that are drive-up for self outfitted paddlers. We have really enjoyed the west side of the park these last few trips.
There are a few outfitters who service the west side and I believe they might be a tad less expensive for fly-in service.
 
04/21/2023 06:57PM  
Is it just Pickle Lake Outfitters on the west side, or is there another?
 
rpettit
  
04/30/2023 09:55PM  
Hi, everybody. This is my first post in this forum.

I'd like to think I'm a reasonably experienced paddler. I've paddled in Quetico and Boundary Waters a few times. I've paddled Wabakimi before - Allanwater Bridge to Boiling Sands via Wabakimi Lake in June 2019.

This June (2023) we're paddling part of the Kopka. Put in at Uneven, take out at Bukamiga. Not ambitious in distance terms, but it's the trip we're looking to do this year.

If anybody has paddled that section of the Kopka and has tips or recommendations, I'd be most grateful if you'd share them.

Best regards,


R.
 
05/01/2023 08:45PM  
I buddy and I did your proposed route in July 2017 as part of our trip for the Wabakimi Project where we paddled from Allanwater Bridge to Lake Nipigon. You will be traveling a popular route (many outfitter trips) but in June it may not be as busy as July/August. There are some nice campsites in the Seven Sisters area. Throughout your route the fishing will be excellent. The bush road into the Bukamiga at the southern end of the lake leads to a permanent First Nations campground with a number of trailers which appeared to be permanently sited there. We camped there on a Thursday night and were informed it becomes a big party site on the weekends. The outfitter trips all seem to end at Bukamiga since the river beyond there has many blind turns with no way to scout what lies around the bends. We never located any portages. On our trip there was very little rain so the water levels steadily dropped which made us glad to be using a Royalex boat. Surprisingly, most of the outfitter groups were using kevlar boats which were taking a beating.

If you plan to descend the Billy Goat portage (Seven Sisters area) be sure to bring at least a 50’ length of line to lower your boat. There is an alternative portage around the falls but it will require you to boulder hop on mossy covered boulders. The Billy Goat is shorter and way more adventurous as long as you are not afraid of heights.

You should look for Kevin Callan’s online video of his Kopka trip (probably in 2009 which was a very rainy year) with his buddy Tim and the Ostroms.
 
05/01/2023 11:00PM  
Pursuit of Passion channel has a video series on the Kopka on YouTube They do the goat portage. They go up the Brightsand river and then over to Kopka.

Explore the Backcountry does as well. I think they do the opposite side on the last falls so you can see the honbitesque boulder moss field.

Just search Kopka and wabakimi and you’ll see the videos.

Ryan
 
rpettit
  
05/02/2023 10:16PM  
@deerfoot @Gaiden53 thanks!

Had a similar experience on the Yum Yum portage five years ago - had to lower the canoes with painters down a cliff face. The Billy Goat sounds like a more extreme version.

Snowpack was (or is, I suppose, as it can't yet be ice out) high this season in that part of Ontario, so I'm expecting high water levels in early June. That will make some of the fast water a little faster. Still have to look after the kevlars.

Pleasantly surprised to learn that Kevin Callan paddled the Kopka - I've learned a lot from his books and presentations.

Thanks to you both for the advice and I will look for the links.
 
tomo
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05/03/2023 02:00PM  
I did the section you're planning as part of a longer solo last summer. One thing to note. Last year was a very high water year. I was on the Kopka in mid-August, but water levels were high. I found the first set of marked rapids to be the most difficult on the river. Normally it would probably be easy to line/wade, but last summer's high water made it challenging. In fact, there was a wrapped Kevlar canoe mid-stream at the bottom of the first set, which gave me pause.

The other rapids on the Kopka were manageable or portagable, depending.

Beautiful stretch of river. Being solo, I opted for the mossy boulder portage and not the ropes portage near the end.

 
05/04/2023 09:31AM  
Tomo,

So how busy was it getting through the Kopka? I had heard that 1 individual had issues with a lot of campsites being filled. I would have thought this area with the gnarly portages would be less busy.

We had some debate on if people aren’t coming in from downstream on Bukemiga. I’m just thinking for next year.

Ryan
 
tomo
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05/04/2023 11:20AM  
I only saw three other groups on the river, so crowding wasn't an issue at all.
 
05/04/2023 11:55AM  
Awesome to hear!

Ryan
 
05/04/2023 07:32PM  
I just checked our long time outfitter's FB page - Mattice Lake Outfitters in Armstrong. They reported ice fishing on Caribou Lk last Fr, 4/29 on 30-36" of ice. But keep in mind the large lakes hold on to their ice longer than smaller lakes and rivers. When I was active with the Wabakimi Project there was several seasons where we had to delay the start of trips because of no ice out yet where we were planning to go. We typically planned to start mid to late May, but a few years it was about June 1st.
 
rpettit
  
05/04/2023 10:30PM  
@Tomo thank you, that's valuable to know. High water on lake-to-lake travel can (sometimes? usually?) make things easier, like paddling right up to the portage trail, but in moving water it's a different story. I've been studying the maps; I always annotate the maps before put-in, and I'll add notes with your experience as I'm expecting high water this year.

@Gaidin53 crowding can be a Thing, can't it. June 2020 in the BWCAW (early pandemic), we had to compete for campsites (Lake One --> Snowbank). June 2022 in Quetico we did not have to compete for campsites (Beaverhouse --> French). June paddles are a tradeoff: no blueberries and more insects but (most years, anyway) fewer people. But no guarantees.

I just hope - no snow!

Thanks to everybody who has responded. Hugely helpful.

Best regards,


R.
 
Wabawho
member (49)member
  
05/11/2023 01:52PM  
Kopka (the short route) for me and my son this August.

Reading this thread on this route has me wondering what "crowded" in Wabakimi means :)
 
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