BWCA Ok... so I want to go to Wabakimi. Now what? Boundary Waters Group Forum: Wabakimi
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      Ok... so I want to go to Wabakimi. Now what?     
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04/30/2012 12:17PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
I want to go to Wabakimi in 2014. (I have my vacation plans set for 2012 and 2013 already.) Where do I start?

I know where Wabakimi is and I'm pretty sure I know the roads that will get me there, but that's it. I'll be completely self-outfitted with canoe and gear and if I'm going, I'm going for at least a week. Most likely will be a 2-person trip, but could be four. Time will tell.

I've been paddling Quetico since 1986 so, in that regard, I'm experienced in wilderness travel. What's different about Wabakimi?

What are my options for put-in spot? What about routes? Campsites? Maps? Lay it on me, folks...
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distinguished member(1635)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/30/2012 12:59PM  
Here are a few resources that may help you.

We purchased some of our maps from:
Wabakimi Project
"Uncle Phil' the founder of this non-profit is extremely knowledgeable about the park and in my experience, willing to offer insight and route planning recommendations via email. His info is very current as he is regularly in Wabakimi. His maps also indicate camp sites, rapids, etc.

Our primary maps were purchased through an outfitter (who also happened to fly us in). I know there are online sources for printing your own topos and I'll let others refer you to those.

You can enter by rail, road or air.

Train info: Rail Canada

For fly-in options, check with local outfitters.

No road leads directly into Wabakimi, however roads access Crown Lands and so you can expect a 1-3 day paddle within the Crown Land before reaching Wabakimi. It is not recommended that you park you car on any remote road during your trip. I'd check with leaving it with an outfitter (likely for a reasonable fee). With our trip, they shuttled our car to the take out. We had permits for camping in both Wabakimi and the Crown Land.

How's it different than the BW/Q?
-Portages are variable (occasionally non-existent). Have a good axe and pruning saw along.
-Be prepared to encounter wind on all sizes of water. Some lakes have rock gardens in unexpected places.
-You may encounter more air traffic/fishing boats as there are fish camps located throughout.
-You may encounter wildfires/smoldering. 2011 was an active season.
05/03/2012 08:28PM  
JF - Call Wildwaters Outfitters to park your car if you are going in thru the east. You can shuttle in with their van. The reports are that you don't want to leave vehicles unattended at any put-ins.

To come out you can do the train or talk to Mattice Lake Outfitters for fly-in fly out options.

You will love it there. As I said at wing night, you are likely to be the only canoe party that you will see in the park. We went in the middle of August and there was only one other canoe party in our section of the park. There are fishing outposts, so you may see motor boats, but WWO or MLO can steer you around those areas if you want.
05/03/2012 08:57PM  
Oh yeah, the Wabakimi Project maps are very helpful and detailed. They are not topos, so you may want to get a set of topos, too.
distinguished member(4984)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/06/2012 10:56AM  
Be aware that VIA westbound from Armstrong drops you off at your stop in the dead of night. And you cannot camp on railway property. Its dangerous anyhow as that line is very active with freight.

Don Elliott of Mattice Lake Outfitters also does car shuttles. A good introductory trip is leaving via Little Caribou and up through Smoothrock and Wabakimi and back through Whitewater and McKinley and back to Smoothwater and down the Caribou River.

The section maps that the Wabakimi Project has are good for finding portages. Often the landings are NOT obvious and often just one canoe length above a bad thing.

The fishermen are usually gone by the end of June.

Another good place to put in from the west is Flindt Landing via VIA Rail. The Flindt River is pretty.

There is also a shuttle service from 599. Uncle Phil at can advise. You best get him quick. He will be going in the end of the month.

Oh the difference between Q and that while you may see lodges, there is no campsite competition and your chances of seeing no one for two weeks are high. I spent four weeks there a few years ago and saw two people.

05/08/2012 11:44AM  
Thanks for the responses so far. Figured there was no better place to start than right here. There will be more questions.
distinguished member(4984)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/08/2012 11:51AM  
One thing I have learned is that you can learn only so much about Wabakimi on line..then you have to plow in.

Its a very dynamic park. A windstorm or a fire can disrupt portage trails. We cleared a trail of nasty blowdowns. It took all day to do 175 meters. Then six weeks later we went back thinking we would trot through. Wrong..Another six big cedar down from a big storm. 30 percent of the wood in Wabakimi at any time is on its side.

What I am trying to say that anything we post one day can be totally inaccurate the next.

05/10/2012 11:55AM  
YC is right. And for me the fact that the park is wilder than others is a big part of the draw. We had some problem finding at least one portage on our trip last summer even though we were on one of the most popular routes in the park.
Park management in Wabakimi has a different philosophy than WCPP and parks near the US border. In Wabakimi they are more hands off and do less grooming of portages. I am not sure if any campsite maintenance is carried out officially by MNR, but if so, it is very minimal.
I definitely want to go back there next year or '14.

A photo of our guys looking for a portage.
distinguished member(4984)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/10/2012 07:38PM  
It is really sad to say but Wabakimi is not a paddlers park. I suspect that part of the problem is the MNR office is remote to the park in Thunder Bay.

I would be tempted to say that fishing lodge operators get more of the super's attention but a friend of mine operating a string of fishing lodges reports that the super never even introduced himself when the super took office.

OTOH. Claire Q and her boss ( I never met him and forget his name..I did meet its my faulty memory) are all about WCPP being for paddlers and are on site in Red Lake and oh so eager to share updates on paddling routes.

Wabakimi has subcontracted the portage grooming to the chief of the Whitesand Nation. To be on the portage crew is an appointed job from the chief. To say that this system has not worked well in the past is an understatement. That said a new tribal administration of course can improve the management of interior crews.

distinguished member(1470)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/11/2012 05:05AM  
In defense of the supr, he has a tough job to balance the interests of everyone, the philosophy in Canada is much different than here in the US, the commercial interests and First Nations have much more influence. For the example, the words: "the rehabilitation of abandoned canoe routes" by the Wabakimi Project did not go over well with the First Nations, talk about a firestorm!

Paddlers in Wabakimi are seen as a threat by the commercial interests, whereas in Woodland they are seen as potential customers, it is more a difference in philosophy of the outfitters.

Of course in Woodland, there are green zones nearby protecting the commercial interests.

As far as parking goes, I am still waiting to hear from someone who has experienced vandalism of their car. This reminds me of Quetico 20-30 years ago where that was the rumor surrounding the Beaverhouse parking lot, never actually heard of anyone who experienced vandalism there either. I parked there many times, just do not leave anything of value in your car since the OP is not going for a couple of years. If you are interested in going sans train/plane/or pay to park, check out some of the older threads, there are a few possibilities.

I'd be more concerned about the logging trucks, they are the people to watch out for
05/12/2012 08:52AM  
I think Wabakimi, with its slightly rougher cut, provides a great medium-difficulty level for a guy like me.
I am not ready to canoe to the Hudson Bay from Lake Winnipeg, but I am seeking a bit more challenge than I find in the BW or Q.
That is why I want to go back and visit the northeastern area of the park.

As I have said before, I really like the fact that Wabakimi has so few visitors. I like to go for days without seeing other folks.
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