Woodland Caribou Provincial Park 2012 Solo (Part 1)
Dedicated to my MOM Betty JEAN Kolterman
Nopiming Provincial Park – Manitoba, Canada to Woodland Caribou Provincial Park - Ontario Canada
Solo Canoe Trip 2012
Six days and Five nights in the “Bush”
Woodland Caribou Provincial Park - (WCPP) 1.2 million acres of Boreal Forest and Water 700-750 folks visit this place a year
Bell RockStar Solo Canoe Kevlar 32 pounds 1 Sawyer Beavertail paddle, spare paddle, 1 crazy creek canoe chair, portage yoke, life jacket, fishing pole, 2- Nalgene’s full of water = 6 pounds 1-55 lb equipment pack & 1-30 lb food pack & 1 Thwart Bag (6 lb) July 22, 2012 – July 27, 2012
52 miles of Paddling
Portages: Portages on Map - 30 Portages (actual distance of portages is 2.89 miles) Total distance I portaged because I did the portages 2x – 3x was 6.72 miles total.
Lakes: Started at Beresford Lake Campground in Nopiming Provincial Park Manitoba This lake has cabins around it and a campground and allows boats. You paddle South and then East up a five mile “creek” to Garner Lake. Boats can get up the creek also and are allowed on Garner Lake also. This is a 10 mile paddle into Ontario, which the border between Manitoba and Ontario is on the East end of Garner Lake. This is the entry into Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. You need a Manitoba Provincial Park sticker to park your car in the parking lot At any Manitoba Provincial Park ($30) for an annual.
Route: Beresford Lake, Garner Lake, numerous wonderful winding creeks and beautiful waterfalls, Jester Lake, numerous “No-Name Lakes”, Haggart Lake, and back down through Jester Lake, across Garner Lake and back down to Beresford Lake Manitoba.
Outfitter: Myself on this trip Other Gear: Garmin Montana GPS, Park Maps, Compass, Satellite Phone Introduction:
I started planning this trip about the day I got home last year from my 2011 trip ! I was thinking of doing a trip from the Manitoba side as to save several hours of driving. It was a grand idea, and is what I ended up doing. It is important to note you do need the park pass for Manitoba Provincial Parks that you can pick up anywhere that sells fishing license, but make sure and do this in advance. You also need a Passport to get into Canada, and a camping permit from the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park (WCPP) for $15 per night to camp in WCPP. I started out by driving to Sioux Falls, SD Friday night and staying at my son Nick’s house. He was gone, and I stayed with my favorite daughter in-law Amanda and our grandkids. Then took off for Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba and stayed at the Lakeview Hotel in Lac du Bonnet. I had a few beers and a Steak with a local gentleman named Tom MacDonald age 68. He was an ole canoe fanatic, and told me stories of the rivers and paddles he had accomplished. It was a Great evening. I was up at 4 am, and left the Hotel at 5 am and it is about a two hour drive to the “put in” at Beresford Lake Campground from Lac du Bonnet. The last 47 miles is a winding gravel road through the forest and was a wonderful sight. I saw a mother black bear and two cubs the size of a propane tank for your grill on the side of the road that morning. I was at the “put in” at 7 am and departed on my journey at 8 am on Sunday, July 22, 2012
(Also as a side note, I rented a satellite phone for $12 a day and $2 per minute, the company was MOBAL. I did all this via the internet. I call Charlene my wife every day at 6 pm no matter where I am or what I am doing. She gives me a weather update, and I give her a synopsis of the day and where I am at for the night. We don’t chit chat at $2 per minute ?.)
The Journey begins…………
This is my third solo canoe trip, I have only solo canoed in one Park, Woodland Caribou. The first year I dedicated the trip to my Father, Don Kolterman. The second year to my wife, Charlene Kolterman. So this year, I dedicated the trip to my MOM, Betty JEAN Kolterman. Worlds Greatest Mom! Thanks Mom for all you have done for us kids!
Love You, Paul
Day 1 Sunday July 22th, 2012
Up at 4 am, I had bought a couple of gas station mcmuffins to eat and a pint of milk. Had the pickup loaded and headed to Nopiming Provincial Park at 5 am. Got out of the truck to the largest swarm of skeeters on the face of the planet. My clothes were soaked in Permetherin (insecticide) and I dosed my self down with 100% deet, and it was still bad with bugs!!!! I unloaded the gear, and canoe, and was ready for the start at 8 am.
Beresford lake was like glass, and it was a muggy morning about 62 degrees outside. The lake is dotted with cabins and a campground. No one was up, and I was paddling off South on Beresford lake all by my lonesome. Just me and the Lord. As soon as I hit the water, I knew I was in the right place for me ?.
On the south end of Beresford lake there is a stream running in the lake from the East and it runs for about 5 miles, a home to many beaver dams and beaver houses, and it runs anywhere from 2 feet to 8 ft deep and meander’s through a valley for about 5 miles winding it’s way to Garner Lake. You are paddling against the current, although it is not undo-able at all, you are paddling against the current, so if you stop, you go backwards and it does make for more expended energy. Also, it is difficult to stop on the creek and get out of the canoe to rest or stretch you legs, as it is marshy and boggy and wet. I didn’t get out of the canoe till I hit Garner lake. This was a much needed stretch. I had a bag of peanuts, and a yogurt bar and some water and took a 30 minute break on a campsite on the West end of Garner lake. Garner lake allows boats and canoes, and so you must watch for boats coming up and down the creek you are on, as you are paddling. I met two boats on the way up the stream, and they were headed down. This would be the last folks, I saw in six days! That is a first for me, not seeing anyone, no one, nada, in six days, was quite a feeling of what it is like to be alone in the wilderness. Now I know how Tom Hanks felt in Castaway, only I did not have Wilson with me!
I arrived on Garner around 11 am and after my break, I paddled all the way across the lake. About 4 miles straight East into Ontario. Little bit of wind at the start across, and by the time I got about 2/3 of the way across the lake, the wind picked up from the south, just a really getting after it, (white caps and all). I was glad I was loaded and this was not my first “rodeo”. I wasn’t scared at all, but trust me, you need to pay attention and have your life jacket (pfd – personal floatation device) on at all times!!! Footnote to my Mom, I wear it almost always, except on the shallow winding creeks, just so you know.
Arriving on the East end of Garner lake, about 1 p.m. there is a beautiful campground with sandy beach, But I opted to push on. There is a nice entry sign showing you that you are now at Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. There are three portages in a row. (What’s a portage? That is where you CARRY your packs, canoe, gear, etc between two lakes around an obstacle like a creek, or hill or whatever) The portages on the way from Garner Lake to Jester Lake are all up hill and the water is all flowing at you, so you are paddling against the current. I remember this vividly as I approached a beaver dam, with a small opening wide enough for the canoe to pass, and tried to paddle against the rushing water jutting through the opening like a mini waterfall. I almost tipped, (not that it would have mattered in a danger sense of the word) but I didn’t really need to fetch all my stuff up. It was a little hairy to say the least, but after attempt two, and a lot of energy, I managed to paddle up and through this passage. The first portage is 300 meter’s ( a meter is 3.28 ft) up hill. The second one was 225 M. After that you are paddling a little winding creek, and part way up you have to make a choice at a Y in the creek straight or left….I chose straight. (WRONG WAY) go left at the Y if you ever go, as straight is a dead end about a half mile up stream later. ? So after figuring out my mistake, I paddle down to the Y and go the right way over to the 825 meter portage (1/2 mile) UP HILL. Now this in the late afternoon, Hot, Sweaty, Humid, and tired from the day. I was worn out after this one, and sat on a rock at 6 pm and called my wife at the entry to Jester lake. I told her I would be shacking up on an island on Jester lake and she gave me a weather report. Sunny and warm Highs 85 tomorrow she said. Winds 10 – 12 mph (she was spot on by the way). Off I paddled North on Jester lake to find a camping spot (there are NO designated campsites. All primitive, but shacked up on an Island on Jester on the South Side of the lake. The first one I came to. It was an ok spot, and a place to rest my weary bones. I put up the tent, and unpacked the gear and started a fire for my STEAK and hashbrowns. It was a tough, long day, but the Beauty was well worth the effort, and I was where I love it the most “The Bush”. It was an awesome night, and I got a few nice photo’s. Skeeters came out right about dark (about 10:30 pm it get’s to where you need a light) time to hit the tent, the “BUZZ” from the skeeter was like a symphony around my tent. It was loud. Anyone who says nature is quite is nuts!!! There are a lot of sounds in the forest, and none more articulated then when you are alone, I assure you of that. I had a long day and was awoken by something around 3:10 am, so I got up. Running on little zzzzzz’s. But I got up anyway.
Day 2 Monday July 23, 2012 The day I made a WRONG turn! Got up and started the stove. Boiled me up some pond water (as Charlene calls it) Made some cocoa, and admired the stars. I had some instant oatmeal with strawberries. I love those freeze dried strawberries. I re-hydrate them and add them to my oatmeal, that and some honey, and sometimes a granola bar, and I am nourished for the morning. (footnote: you burn a lot of calories portaging and paddling, 2x – 3x what is normal) It takes food and water to keep you nourished and hydrated. I drink a LOT of water on these trips. I did bring dry Gatorade packets and such, but prefer good ole pond water. Breaking down camp takes time in the am. You must pack up all your gear, the tent, the sleeping bag, the air mattress, etc. So starts in the morning is a bit of a workout. Takes at least an hour to do this and eat and pack up. I was on the water 7ish as I recall. I waved goodbye to my island home and headed North on Jester Lake to the first of 10 portages for the day. (The plan was to come into Haggart Lake on the West side of Haggart) The plan changed when I made a wrong turn and didn’t realize it till I was a mile or two from where I was supposed to be! Took me about 10 minutes of glaring at the GPS and maps to figure out my mistake, and exactly where I was. I was tired and wasn’t paying enough attention and was enjoying just paddling and made a fatal turn. (in the wild I say to this sort of thing….OH WELL) I was now going to have to paddle against the wind back, or go into Haggart from the South. There were 4 portages to Haggart, and a little different entry way to the same lake I wanted to be on, but now I am running behind schedule of where I “planned” on being that night. Then I got on this NO name lake and after 1.5 hours of looking for the next portage, it was 6 pm and time to call my “honey”. I told her I made a wrong turn, and where I was, and I couldn’t find the portage. I would continue to look and if I didn’t find it would shack up on an Island on this no-name lake. An hour more of searching, I gave up and set up camp about 7:30 pm on Monday. It was not the greatest spot to camp, but the Lord provides. After some great Teryaki Chicken, and setting up camp, I had a family of Loons out front, and the most beautiful sunset the Lord could give you. All to myself. I was liking this a LOT. The skeeters did there normal singing around 10 pm, I headed to bed, with the rain fly off the tent. It was hot, and humid. They danced all night and tried to get in, but the netting on the tent held the little critters out! Sounded like the Buzz from a chainsaw, but I slept much better tonight (wonder why?)
Day 3 Tuesday July 24, 2012 (a day behind and off to find that portage)
I awoke to the most awesome fog over the south side of the lake, the kind dreams are made of. The loons were awake early also and did their performance out in front of me. A mother, father and baby loon family…it was something to behold. I had the usual breakfast, and witnessed an awesome sunrise. Lots of photos of the sunrise. (footnote: One of my favorite parts of the wilderness is being able to witness the sunrise and sunset’s. They are magical in woods and around water, and something I have many of burned into my memory, that I will never forget!) So, after a GREAT morning on a lake I wasn’t supposed to be on, I had a great sunset and an awesome sunrise, and loons, and water you could drop a pin on and see it ripple, so calm, and a fog lifting off the water and I knew I was a very Blessed Person! I built a little rock Karne (stack of rocks) in honor of my dog Molly who died April 17, and wasn’t making this trip with me, and I named this Island Molly. (I thought of Molly often) (For that matter…by yourself ….you think of a lot of people and family often) I did a short paddle into the bay where the portage should be, and after getting out of the canoe about 5x the day before and 4x that morning, I paddled to where I thought it had to be, and guess what? It was right where it was supposed to be. Not marked at all, and I was 10 feet from it the day before (ugh). I did the two 100 meter portages and across a couple little lakes and entered onto Haggart lake about 9 am. I was on the West end of Haggart at the start of two long islands that run East to West and sit parallel to each other. About 100 yards seperates the islands and it is sort of a passage way between the two islands that runs about ½ mile or so. I wonderful paddle with high granite cliffs on one of the islands and water so still and calm and NO wind. WOW, pinch me…NO WIND at all. I came out to the middle of the Lake (about 6 miles across to the EAST side) which is where I was headed, and snapped a photo of a loon that was spectacular. I headed straight to the EAST where I wanted to end up the 2nd day, but that’s ok. My knee was bothering me, swollen up, and overworked and under slept, but I was in the place I wanted to be. I noticed that there were 3 possible camp sites on the East end of Haggart. I arrived there about Noon and started to paddle around and just scout out a site. I decided I needed to quit early and get some rest. It was HOT, and I was tired. I paddled to the far one first and it was do-able, but not my first choice, so I paddled to this point on the East end of the lake. It is an intersection in the lake, where the lake goes North and South and you can also go West (which is where I came from) A wonderful spot I decided and this would be “home” for the night. Turns out it was the right choice…I will explain later. I got all the gear out and had some lunch. Made mac and cheese with Wimmer’s beef sticks added like “hot dogs” to the dish. It was awesome. I set up the Hammock in the shade in the woods behind the site, and tried to rest, never slept, but did rest in the shade. I lounged around and tried to relax. It was very hot, and the sun on the water, even at 85 degrees can be brutal. The point was in the sun, but there were trees behind me and West on the point so I knew in late afternoon this would be a 5 Star site, and it was. The rest of the day, after resting was setting up camp, putting the reflector oven together, gathering wood, and taking in nature. It was windy. I found a Boundary Marker put with cement in the rock on this point. It was Aluminum and stamped with BM 79. I have never seen one before and got a kick out of that. Set up the tent, called Charlene at 6 pm and told her my knee was bothering me. My plan was to go SOUTH to Beamish lake and make a loop back towards where I started. It was 40 mile out that way. Wanted to be out in 4 days, and wasn’t sure I was up to that pace. Told her more than likely I would turn back and backtrack out the way I came in and do the portages and lakes I had missed the first time, but would let her know my decision at 6 pm tomorrow. Mean time, I was hungry again, so I made a Pizza in the wild. It was packed with black olives, red and green peppers, cheese, and pepperoni, smothered with parmesan cheese. A pizza to kill for!! (footnote: I dehydrated all the ingredients but the cheese and pepperoni, it is awesome to have pizza in the wild) Cleaned up the dishes and rested and took in the sights and sounds, Awesome sunset and the sky was awe so beautiful, star filled night (and skeeters), Had a small fire tonight and stayed up till 10:30, couldn’t stand the bugs. Slept like a baby, best nights sleep. Oh, and forgot, I had a visitor ground squirrel, he was trying to steal my vittles!!! In the afternoon I read the bible and portals of prayer’s and enjoyed that a lot. I tried to read in the tent, but the Lord understood. I started on Genesis 1 and didn’t get very far, just couldn’t do It, as much as my intentions were good, my frailty wouldn’t allow it. I asked the Lord to understand….and He does.
Continue to Part 2