Dates: August 10, 2008 to August 24, 2008
Paddlers: Chuck Ryan (Minnesota)
Dave Phillips (Virginia)
Pete Sukontaraks (Kansas)
Dick Beamish (Maryland)
Route: Flindt Landing, Heathcote Lake, Heafur Lake, Flet Lake, Flindt Lake, Flindt River, Tew Lake, Wabakimi Lake, River Bay, Kenoji Lake, Palisade River, Burntrock Lake, Palisade River, Slim Lake, Scrag Lake, Grayson River, Arril Lake, Grayson Lake, Grayson River, Whitewater Lake)
Distance: 231.5 km (145 miles)
Swifts paddle: 23
Swifts / Rapids lined or tracked: 9
Method of Travel: Two Souris River Quetico 18.5 foot Canoes
My Paddles: 50” ZRE Medium Weight Bent Shaft (carbon fiber), 50” Whiskey Jack Bent Shaft (wood)
Cameras: Nikon D80 w/ Tamron 28-300 lens
Olympus Stylus 770 SW
Most of my wilderness canoe trips have been solo canoe trips. This year I was planning on doing a solo trip to the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in June 2008.
There was some talk on the bwca.com forum about canoeing some where other than the crowded BWCA area and going somewhere that was more remote and challenging. Pete Sukontaraks started a private thread on the forum called “Wabakimi” in the fall of 2007, but I didn’t e-mail Pete until March 2008 to join this private thread.
Most of my wilderness canoe trips have been to either the BWCA or Quetico, since I live so close to them. I also used to work for the US Forest Service in the Superior National Forest out of Isabella of which the BWCA is a part. I have pretty much stopped going to the BWCA during the busy season, because of all the people and the competition for a campsite. I like to paddle, so I don’t like the idea of having to stop early in my travels just to make sure I get a campsite. The only time I will go to the BWCA now is either early in the season or in the fall. Recently, I’ve been taking more trips to Quetico. It has been a dream of mine, since the mid 1990’s to paddle even farther north. I've had a couple trips that were planned going further north that were cancelled due to a lack of interest by others.
I got into Marathon Canoe racing in 1999. One reason I got into racing was to take my paddling skills to a higher level. That same year I went on a couple trips to the BWCA and Quetico, but those would be my last trips until 2006. I took a break from racing in 2004, but I started back up again this year.
When I began checking the Wabakimi thread earlier this year I saw that three people were committed to doing a trip in August. I recognized one of the members, Suko, and I was aware that he recently got into wilderness canoeing a couple years ago. The other two names I wasn’t familiar with at all. There were some other members inquiring about the last spot, so I watched the “talk”, but it didn’t appear anyone else was seriously considering it. I typed a message that I was interested in possibly going on this trip. I requested they send me some details of the trip so that I could make an informed decision. I gave them my blog address, CIIcanoe.com, where I have some links to some of my previous trip reports and information about my racing. This way the other three members could make an inform decision about me and if they wanted me to come along. I wanted to make sure this wasn’t going to be strictly a fishing trip or a base camping trip, because I love to paddle and I like to move everyday.
The decision was made and I was accepted into the group as the fourth member. Dave Phillips was the one who put together the route and the menu for the planned 14 day trip. Just about all I had to do was buy a train ticket, bring my personal gear and show up with my credit card and some cash.
When this group was formed from the forum on the internet none of us had ever canoed or been on a trip together. Dave and Pete were planning on going to Quetico with two other guys off the same forum in May.
After I made the decision to accept the fourth and final spot I also decided I would get back into canoe racing. One of the bigger races I wanted to do was the AuSable River Canoe Marathon which is a 120 mile canoe race in Michigan in July. There was a considerable amount of training to do to prepare for this race so I elected not to do my solo canoe trip to the Woodland Caribou now that I was going to do the Wabakimi trip. The Woodland Caribou trip would have to wait another day.
Dave Phillips sent me the itinerary for this trip. It showed that we would take the train from Armstrong Station, Ontario to the western part of the park to Flindt Landing, paddle for two weeks, then fly out of the park from Best Island on Whitewater Lake. The preliminary information on this canoe trip was that it was for 14 days, paddling for 224 kilometers (139 miles) with 52 portages.
Wabakimi Provincial Park is the second largest park in Ontario behind the Polar Bear Provincial Park with approximately 892,000 hectares (2,199,190 acres). There are also Woodland Caribou that inhabit the park. The way most people enter the park is by canoe, rail or plane, since the park is surrounded by Crown Land.
Wabakimi Provincial Park was established in 1983 with about 155,000 hectares (383.005 acres). The park was expanded to its current size in 1997. One reason the park was established and increased was to protect the habitat of the Woodland Caribou. There are very few people who enjoy the park compared to other parks and there are no entry point limits. There are only about 200 canoe groups per year. Although, the park is very large there are a limited number of campsites that are suitable to camp. This is a true boreal forest consisting mainly of black Spruce and Jack Pine. The park doesn't have a bear problem like the more populated BWCA, because of the lack of people.
There are 44 outpost camps and 7 main base camps within this very large park.