Wabakimi-Southwest Loop 2022
18 Days- August 15th to September 1st, 2022
Paddling miles- About 160
Portages- 65 total- 80-90% needed general maintenance but were easily passable by stepping over or walking around obstacles-10% needed major work (multiple down trees above knee level, some large trees at waist to chest level, blown in areas, some bushwhacking required.) In our opinion, the portage landings were the most challenging part of the travel with the need to load/unload in a combination of mud, slippery rocks, boulders and/or near moving water. In fact, there were so few "good landings" that we started to note those instead of the challenging ones.
Weather-Mixed, lots of head wind once we hit Wabakimi Lake and turned W/SW. Spent one day rained in and one day winded in with cloudless skies.
Wildlife- 3 moose, 3 woodland caribou, 1 bear, 1 lynx, 2 swans, several otters, lots of eagles, loons, ducks, grouse
Saw motorized boats on Heathcote (6), Heafer (1), Wilkie (1), Wabakimi(4), Lower Wabakimi(2), Granite(2), Brennan(3), Flindt (1) -All the lakes with outposts
Saw canoeists on Granite (party of 10 paddling from Allenwater Bridge to Whitewater), Brennan (soloist), Windfall (party of two near the outpost), Flet Lake Portage (party of 2).
Overall a great, challenging trip. We loved the solitude, wildlife, and of course the walleye fishing- Planning next year's adventure.
Maps- Ontario Parks Planning Map-Wabakimi Canoe Route Maps Volume 3- Gaiagps App, and Wabakimi Maps Custom Set (Most accurate)
GPS Chip: Trak Maps Ontario
Day 1 Monday, August 15th
•Miles 8.8 miles
•Portages-225M and the Railroad Tracks at Flindt Landing (125m?)
Ready for an adventure, we got up early at the Northwoods Motor Inn in Ignace, Ontario, grabbed a coffee and a bagel then headed northeast 130km toward Savant Lake. Turning on Vista Lake Road toward Rusty Myers seaplane base the entry point is near the second bridge after the airfield and before Corre Lake. Parking is limited with room for only a handful of vehicles but we found it deserted so it was easy to pull well off the road. There is a portage a few yards back from the parking area on the north side of the road which allows you to avoid the first rapids.
It’s a pleasant path, slightly downhill, through the blueberries, step over a bear poop, avoid the grouse, and drop your gear near a stashed Lund aluminum fishing boat-about 225m. We enjoyed a lovely sunny morning in the 70’s as we got organized, portaged, lunched and then shoved off north at 1130am.
The fatigue of driving 1300 miles and the accumulated months of office work started to catch up with us around 300pm so we chose to camp on a marginal point in the pines. After a little clearing of down and dead trees we set our tent up on a small, sloped hole in the forest and lined the rods. Two pike and a few small walleye entertained us for a bit as evening approached.
Day 2 Tuesday, August 16th
•Portages 1)50m 2) 160m 3)36m
Trains passed in the night a couple of times and again at 530am. The morning dawned warm, sunny, with a slight breeze. We broke camp over hotdrinks and pan-fried bagels as the fisherfolk puttered about (4 boats). Soon we launched and headed down lake with the intent of crossing some portages and leaving motorboats behind. We paddled for about an hour before we were waylaid by a nice Ohio gent fishing a point. He was very interested in our journey, and we chatted for a few minutes before paddling on. Later we stopped at an unmarked island camp to have a stretch and a snack (blueberries) and then paddled into Heafer Lake just in time to see a cow Woodland Caribou on the north shore. (Hurray!)
Day 3 Wednesday, August 17th
•Mileage-3.51 miles •Portages-Maintenance only
It rained a little in the night and then HARD all morning. It’s a little early for a rest day but we decided over breakfast that it made more sense to wait it out or at least for awhile. Sunday’s weather report showed rain Wednesday through Friday with Thursday being the worst, but who knows really? Tony did catch two walleye from shore during a brief lull-very brief. Today was also the “return of the slugs”. I started my day by picking ten out of my Crocs-slugs on the tent, slugs on the PFDs, slugs, slugs, slugs. Where do slugs go when it is not raining?
At 100pm it was still pouring down rain so we whipped up some tomato soup and quesadillas that really hit the spot. Next, we were forced to break out the cards and start our traditional Gin Rummy tournament. The rain finally stopped around 230pm and the clouds started to break up.