BWCA August trip-Tracking Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wabakimi
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jdrocks
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07/19/2009 11:25AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
there will be a SPOT tracking link for our August trip in Chuck's blog if anyone is interested in some real time info on where we are. we get on Elliott's beaver 8/16 for a flight in to the start of our route.

caribou forest, wabakimi pp, albany river pp, ogoki forest.
 
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CIIcanoe
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08/01/2009 09:43AM  
I posted on my blog some information on our upcoming 21 day canoe trip to parts of the “Little North” that Dave Phillips (jdrocks)and I are doing beginning August 16.


Dave will be bringing his SPOT and we will have it in tracking mode, so it’s possible to see where we are during the trip. The SPOT link is on my blog in the post for Saturday, August 1, 2009.


Chuck



CIIcanoe.com
 
jdrocks
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08/02/2009 07:54AM  
from Mac over on the myccr forum-

"The route you are proposing to take is about as wild as it it gets.

Rick Pargeter did the trip from the Albany through Petawa Creek to Auger in August 2007. You might want to ask him how he made out through there.

From Hurst through Felsia, and on up the Witchwood River and Lake to Whiteclay Lake is about as hard assed as it gets. The few portages that go around the non runnable chutes on this section of the Witchwood River are all clear and useable, but there are no portages around the runnable chutes/rapids for upstream travellers.

Out of Felsia going south there are about 14 disturbances on the River that need to be lined or dragged up in addition to the 6 rapids on this section of the river that have portages around them.
Campsites are few and far betweeen.

Good Luck."

i like the "Good Luck" part. Oh-oh!

chuck said he wanted adventure. here it comes.

mac forgot to add that Pargeter was so exhausted after getting through Petawa creek that he had to call don elliott on the sat phone and get flown out. lucky for me i have chuck along. he's a fit young man and can portage all the packs. just a stroll in the park for me.
 
Trygve
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08/02/2009 05:25PM  
When I was on Petawa creek it was a creek with 52 thousand small log jams and fallen trees that you had to go over and under. And over and under and over and under.

Loads of fun.
 
jdrocks
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08/02/2009 07:03PM  
yup, that's the one. probably still fun, but that's why we go. a canoe camp is supposed to go through ahead of us, so the count might be down to 51K. i figure if those kids can do it, so can i. plus we have better saws.

why aren't you back in there? seems like the boreal would be a place that might interest you.
 
Trygve
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08/02/2009 07:25PM  
Gotta earn a living. That's why I'm not back in there.

It's easier to crash through things in there than to try and cut. It's nice to have an ABS canoe.

I think that maybe Menogyn and Widgiwagen, or however you spell it, may do trips in that area from time to time. I think they plan pretty ambitious trips.
 
jdrocks
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08/02/2009 07:38PM  
we're not going to cut unless we have to. using my souris, so we'll have to make do.

someday then, you'll get back. you already know it's worthwhile.
 
04/27/2011 08:09AM  
menogyn and widgiwagan sends several trips through here every summer. typically juniors in high school. i went with widgiwagan on a trip here in 1976, for canoes we had three cedar canvas peterborough prospectors, great big heavy suckers that you would feel safe in crossing lake superior. our trip was ambitious, though widji had been tripping in this area for decades, we were taking a route that they had never explored. here is a condensed route that we enjoyed.(?) savant lake north to savant river, pashakogen river,albany river to petawanga lake, then on the petawanga river (hell on earth) to atwood,witchwood,whiteclay lake. south to picket and cliff to pikitigushi lake and south on that river to lake nipigon, crossing lake nipigon to wabinosh bay and up the kopka river where we landed at the road and hitchhiked with our canoes back to armstrong and the train to savant lake. this was a rugged trip, due to the usual circumstances we were behind schedule, we paddled many days from dawn till dusk. in those days (i sound like an old man) there were many trapper cabins scattered throughout this area. i think that this region was much more heavily used by the natives in that era. now that wearing furs is considered unPC the natives have no reason to use this difficult to access area. therefore many of the well used trails are going back to the bush. my last trip here was in 2006, not nearly as ambitious. we did find several native fish camps in several areas though.
 
04/27/2011 11:40AM  
How cool is that, that you have been on these kinds of trips for that long? Obviously it has impacted your entire life since... Fantastic.
 
paddlefamily
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04/27/2011 12:31PM  
bump.
 
paddlefamily
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04/27/2011 12:31PM  
jw- Did you see any trappers? Have any picts from '76? 'Course if you were paddling from dawn until dusk, maybe you wouldn't have the energy to. Amazing.
 
jdrocks
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04/27/2011 05:50PM  
quote jwartman59: "menogyn and widgiwagan sends several trips through here every summer. typically juniors in high school. i went with widgiwagan on a trip here in 1976, for canoes we had three cedar canvas peterborough prospectors, great big heavy suckers that you would feel safe in crossing lake superior. our trip was ambitious, though widji had been tripping in this area for decades, we were taking a route that they had never explored. here is a condensed route that we enjoyed.(?) savant lake north to savant river, pashakogen river,albany river to petawanga lake, then on the petawanga river (hell on earth) to atwood,witchwood,whiteclay lake. south to picket and cliff to pikitigushi lake and south on that river to lake nipigon, crossing lake nipigon to wabinosh bay and up the kopka river where we landed at the road and hitchhiked with our canoes back to armstrong and the train to savant lake. this was a rugged trip, due to the usual circumstances we were behind schedule, we paddled many days from dawn till dusk. in those days (i sound like an old man) there were many trapper cabins scattered throughout this area. i think that this region was much more heavily used by the natives in that era. now that wearing furs is considered unPC the natives have no reason to use this difficult to access area. therefore many of the well used trails are going back to the bush. my last trip here was in 2006, not nearly as ambitious. we did find several native fish camps in several areas though. "


i've paddled savant lake/savant river, then coincidentally was in burntrock 10km from our camp on davies, and then in another coincidence paddled within 2km of the same camp as i made the turn north on rockcliff and on to the misehkow river. i still think the misehkow is the preferred route to the albany, although very few use it. we were the only paddlers to go through that season, and did so with great difficulty in very high water. lost the boat to a big standing wave on the approach to iron falls, a very near thing. the C3 set was before the actual portage landing around the falls.

coming down from the albany through petawanga, we tracked up petawa creek to auger, advancing through blowdowns and sweepers at the rate of 1km per hour. phil had assured me that one of the canoe camps had a trip coming through there ahead of us, but no luck, so we were only the second boat to come through in at least the previous two seasons, probably much longer.

we saw no evidence anyone had come down the east side until we came across some portage work on the witchwood done by phil's one man trail crew. likewise, between whiteclay and cliff, no activity. we came out at the bear camp at the pikitigushi river bridge, not there in 1973.

there was all kinds of first nation activity across the entire area years ago, fish camps, rice camps, moose camps, trappers cabins, but very little now. the first nations in the area have largely lost the last few generations to drugs and alcohol, and they are not in the bush like they used to be. between native, outfitter, and recreational use, the portages were in better shape then. sweepers and deadfalls were cleared off the creeks and rivers where necessary, you can still see the very old sawcuts. when people had to come all the way down to armstrong or savant lake by canoe or freight canoe just to pick up bulk staples, you better believe the routes were kept open.

despite the availability of wabakimi project maps, some people say they have not seen increased usage, i sure haven't. i've seen exactly two canoes in over 500 miles of paddling the area in the last few years, and if we hadn't paddled way off our route to check some campsites and portages, we wouldn't have seen those either.
 
04/27/2011 09:59PM  
jdrocks - thanks for your efforts at wabakimi, it is a unique area and it would be a shame if it became unusable due to lack of use and maintenance. your comment regarding the the fate of the first nations people is something that i feel very strongly about. i feel that with the loss of the fur market the first nation people lost a way of life. i have read that throughout canada many portages of the historic canoe routes are already being overgrown due to lack of use. what we need is a glamorous actress urging us to buy wild canadian furs, for the sake of the native americans, oops canadians.. it is also fun to hear from someone else who has traveled petawanga creek. maybe that is why i snicker a bit when i read about the bwca PMA areas.

i may add that a portion of the route i took in 1976 is in an area that is seeing heavy clear cutting. i should state that i consider myself a die hard tree hugger. but i am not stupid. people need to make a living. fur trapping gone? log the crap jack pines.

one last note. lake nipigon is easily the coolest place i have ever canoed, period. in our gigantic prospector canoes the huge waves meant nothing. at times we were ten feet from our adjacent canoe, yet they were not visible due to the waves. it was as much fun as i have ever had in a canoe.

paddlefamily, trappers work in the winter when the animals pelts are the thickest. on petawanga lake a family of native canadians pulled their freighter canoe into our campsite. they spoke little or no english, it was a real national geographic moment. we tried to ask them how passable petawanga creek would be, one of the younger natives then spoke english, poorly, and said no problem. i think he meant in the winter, with a snowmobile or dog team. it was really kind of a nervous encounter, we had spent enough time in native villages to realize what a problem they had with drugs, etc. abuse. i think they were disappointed when we offered them hot chocolate.

bwpaddler, i am on kind of a ramble here. my first widjiwagan trip, at age thirteen, included the beartrap river, the nibbon-bibbon route to stuart river, then down to big lake and the hell portage to slim lake. i don't recall how long the portages were, 500+ rods, a lot of it through recently logged hills, no real trail. this and carrying an old town cedar / canvas guide canoe. the marines couldn't design anything this tough for boot camp. it is no wonder that i drive up to ely and happily pick up whatever entry point isn't taken.

as far as it has impacted my life? i have never complained about anything. i know tough, i have pushed my body to the limits. my son, who this year finished 30th in the classic bierkiebiener, not a small accomplishment, said canoing with me is worse than the bierkie. so when a neurologist told me in 2001 that i had a rare, fatal neurological disorder and i could expect to live between 8 and 13 more years i was kind of ready. kind of anyways. but here i am, two years left? and i freak the doctor out every time he sees me. and if he is on the cummings lake portage off burntside, he will see me carrying my cedar / canvas canoe, a canoe that was once used by trappers north thunder bay, ontario.

 
jdrocks
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04/28/2011 06:46AM  
i don't think that fur usage and the decline in trapping is what decimated recent generations in those first nation communities. the cause is more closely related to the unavoidable incursion of outside societal forces. want to see some drunks and meth heads? how about some bloods and crips? just travel to those remote communities, you'll see it all. it used to be that these small bush settlements were a welcome sight while paddling, a place to resupply, cold coca-cola, talk to the locals, maybe even pick up a piece of mail. now in many cases, you approach with caution if at all, and you sure don't leave the gear and boat unattended. you might not even camp nearby. several recent murders at ft. hope for instance. then there's the suicide rate. not a pretty picture.

Ciicanoe and i stopped to talk with one of the two brothers still winter trapping from their camp at whitewater first nation. when i asked if they used snow machines to get back and forth to armstrong, his answer was an abrupt "no". when i asked why, he said that if they opened a winter trail, the guys in armstrong and collins would backtrack it and rob their camp while they were gone.

you have to get up in a float plane to see the extent of the clear cutting, it staggering, and in the case of the Wabakimi, runs right up to the park boundary. the problem is that the trade routes and portages don't stop at the boundary lines and that's a reason phil cotton is trying to get the portages down on paper so they can be protected as part of the forest management plan. once logging roads and skidders cross those portages, they're gone forever. there are 100 y/o blazes on those trees. if the timber cut in that area was not free on the stump for that crown land, it would have no commercial value.

saw the same thing in northern quebec last year, pitiful wood that we would call thinnings here, except that we can grow that same size tree in 7 years while it takes 100 years at that latitude. fortunately, logging is prohibited above the 52 line there. i did camp on one of the very old 1200M Rupert River portages just east of James Bay.

i have been on many portages cleared by Phil and crews predating my travels on routes in that area. i have found phil's old faded flagging. in my long cover letter that was submitted with our custom map set, i remarked that some of those portages would be completely closed within another year or two due to lack of use. strange that this effort makes it easier to go in there, yet you don't see a single footprint on those portages. moose use them.

unless something has changed recently, the Wabakimi Project portage clearing activity is not welcome inside the park. that's why Phil has been west in the Caribou Forest and up in the Albany River PP. also some work in the Ogoki Forest to the east. portage clearing in the park is under contract with the White Sands First Nation, and there are plenty of stories to tell about that activity. can tell a few myself.

i grew up paddling a White Bros. 17 stripper, and still have the bow plate for that 100 y/o boat. my family had paddled what is now the BW/Quetico since about 1912. i gave up on that area when i judged it too crowded.

regarding your health issues, i'm a firm believer in mind over matter, let your persevering frame of mind sustain you.





 
04/28/2011 08:44AM  
jdrocks. blaming the plight of the first nations on the lack of economic opportunities, trapping, was a stretch of wishful thinking on my part. even relatively accessible towns such as savant lake and armstrong can become nightmares at night. we once finished a canoe trip in fort chimo or kuujjuaq, quebec. the anglican missionary posted at this town saw us and insisted that we spend the night in his church, with the doors securely locked up. alcohol was allowed in this town one night per month, we happened to be there for that lovely occasion.

prior to getting married i lived in an apartment upstairs from the salvation army on franklin ave, about as nasty a spot as mpls had in those days, rent was cheap, i needed money for canoe trips. it was an adventure. i have seen my share of the problems that drugs and alcohol have caused the native americans. it is very distressing.

we were in winnipeg on a family vacation. the kids insisted that we take a family vacation to a city rather than the usual national parks and canoing. winnipeg seemed like a good cpmpromise. we were parked on a side street and were trying to figure out where we were. two constables pulled up and warned us about how dangerous this area was. (i love canadians), they pulled away and within seconds several natives appeared from behind a dumpster. they were very helpful and had all sorts of ideas of the best places to go for dinner.

mind over matter has been working very well, thank you.
 
09/01/2011 03:07PM  
Sad that I don't think I ever came back here to read after my post.

Love hearing the stories and discussions, too ignorant to comment, but helps to have insight from those who have gone before.

jw, didn't know of your dx, but firmly believe that someone has to beat the odds and I see no reason it cannot be you. Doctors have been wrong countless times and it's obvious you are not letting the "condition" get in your way of living life - in fact maybe you're living it fuller than ever. I hope that continues indefinitely my friend!
 
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