Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wabakimi Provincial Park- CIIcanoe Canoes Wabakimi

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)

Portages: 44

Swifts paddle: 23

Swifts / Rapids lined or tracked: 9

Pullovers: 3

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 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,, 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.

Travel Day: 08-08-08 Friday


Last night, I went through my gear one last time. I was debating on taking my Cabela brand heavy duty rain bibs and jacket, but I decided to take only my lighter weight rain gear.

My alarm was set for 6 am. I was up as soon as the music for my alarm began playing in the morning. I slept really well. I was now beginning to get a little excited about the next two weeks of the unknown paddling with four unknown people in an unfamiliar area.

The day was looking good. The temperature was 55 degrees outside. It was a little cooler than the past few mornings. There wasn’t a cloud in the clear blue sky.

Today would be my last regular breakfast of oatmeal, ripe banana, dried cranberries, blueberries, cinnamon and a dash of olive oil for over two weeks. Oh, boy…my breakfast tastes so good in the morning. To top it off I have my Starbucks Guatemala coffee. I made two pots of coffee this morning, so I could fill up my large thermos for the road.

While I was waiting for my oatmeal to cool, I got on the computer to check my e-mail and to pay my last bill on-line.

Pete showed up a half hour earlier than expected. This wasn’t a problem since I was ready to go when he showed up. We just needed to tie his canoe on his vehicle and throw our packs inside that he had dropped off at my house a week ago. It didn’t take us long to do it and we were off at 7:42 am.

Pete and I talked a little about our selves, but mostly we talked about paddling while driving north.

Before this trip, Pete had e-mailed me about what type of paddles I was going to bring on this trip. I brought two medium Zaveral carbon bent shaft paddles and some epoxy for repair. I haven’t used a wooden paddle since one of my trips in 1997, so I don’t own any wooden paddles that I would consider paddling with any longer. Most of the wood paddles are way too heavy and I don’t like the grip / handle on most of them. All I use for racing are LeVas carbon fiber that weight 6.5 ounces and for training or trips I use my older ZRE paddles. These paddles weigh about 10 ounces.

Pete brought two of his 23 oz. wooden paddles. Dave Phillips only wanted one spare paddle per canoe. If something happened to my carbon paddle I know I didn’t like the feel of Pete’s paddles and I sure wouldn’t want to paddle with it. We decided to stop at the Duluth Pack Company when we got to Duluth to take a look at the wooden paddles they sold. It was about 10:00 am when we stopped in. I knew I really should have a wooden paddle for this trip, so I decided to buy a Whiskey Jack Chaser paddle. This way Pete could take his wooden paddle and I would take my ZRE carbon fiber and the Whiskey Jack as a spare. Later after our trip I found out that Whiskey Jack makes a higher quality wood paddle, but they didn’t have any in the store.

We didn’t stay long in Duluth. Our next stop was in Two Harbors to buy a Subway sandwich. We each bought a 12 inch sandwich and ate half right away and put the other half on ice. Pete also stopped to pick up some beer for Dave, Dick and himself as well as some ice at the liquor store down the road from Subway. The beer was for Saturday night’s cook-out at Wildwater’s Bed and Breakfast in Armstrong. We are having brats done on the grill prior to our trip. Since I don’t drink I’ll just have some water, but I’ll have a few brats.

Next stop was Grand Marais. I filled up Pete’s mini van with gas before we headed over to the local coffee shop, the Java Moose or something similar to that name. We filled up both our two large thermoses.

As we were approaching the border with Canada it appeared it was raining not too far a head of us. We pulled up behind some other cars waiting in line at the border at 1:57 pm. Pete hadn’t received his passport in the mail prior to leaving on the trip, but he did have a certified copy of his birth certificate. I renewed my passport last year so I was good to go.

While we were in line at the border it began to rain. It was now our turn to speak to the friendly, younger border crossing lady. Pete handed over our documents to her. She immediately began asking us our reason for coming to Canada, where we were going, when was our last time to Canada; if we had any firearms, any tobacco, any liquor, any firewood, any potatoes and some other things I forgot. She must have wanted to see my eyes from a distance, because she wanted me to remove my prescription sunglasses or maybe she didn’t want me to see her. She asked each of us what we did for a living. Afterwards she handed back my passport to Pete and she reminded me to sign my passport.

Just as we pulled away from the Border Agent it stopped raining, but it was still very dark in the sky from the northwest to the east a head of us.

Pete was wondering where the time zone was so I looked at the map. It was right at the border, so we were now in the Eastern Time zone. We lost an hour, so I moved the time on my watch ahead an hour.

With the time moved ahead an hour, we arrived in Thunder Bay at 3:45 pm. There were some high cliffs in the distance on either side of the road while we were driving to Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay sign showed the population at 110,000.

Our reservation in Thunder Bay was at the Econo-lodge Motel. Pete had the general area where it was located, but we still needed to call them to find out exactly.

Once we were checked in we drove to Ostrom’s to browse at their gear. Pete was interested in the Ostrom’s packs. It’s actually a small store, but there were a lot of items. Pete was looking a one of the soft packs and said it was $405. He believes he saw the same pack in the US at a lower cost. Once we got back I checked on this price and it was a better deal at Ostrom’s in Thunder Bay.

We drove back to our Motel room. Pete went to tell the front counter staff that we were expecting Dick Beamish to arrive at the motel and if they would let him know what room we were in. Pete came back and said that Dick didn’t have a reservation. What we weren’t aware at the time was that Dick had arrived earlier in the afternoon.

A short time later, Dick Beamish came across Pete in the hallway at the motel. I could hear Pete talking to someone in the hallway. Dick followed Pete into our room and he introduced himself to me.

Pete had now met everyone who was going on this trip. Earlier this year in May, Pete and Dave had been on a trip in Quetico. I still had to meet Dave and that wouldn’t happen until tomorrow in Armstrong.

Pete got out his topo maps. He had the route we would take marked out in yellow highlighter. Since I didn’t have any highlighter pens with me the three of us drove over to Staples that wasn’t too far away.

I marked our intended route in the yellow highlighter. It would be much easier to follow while I was paddling and navigating. I noticed Pete had gone through his topo’s and marked some of the drops on his maps. I didn’t want to rely on his measurements, so I stopped marking them on my maps after the first couple of them.

Pete and Dick began talking about this trip and about the earlier Quetico trip, although Dick wasn’t on the Quetico trip. I began writing in my journal. I know from past experience how hard it is to write in a journal while everyone is still talking about different things and then trying to write after everyone has gone to sleep or whatever. I’m going to try hard to write something every day.

My plan is to do some sort of trip report, but at this point I don’t have any idea what form it will take. I do know one thing that I have to document things as I go.

We need to get some coffee filters for Dave and Pete’s gravity water filters, since Pete forgot to bring some from home. Most if not all the lakes will be tea stained with tannins. The water would most likely clog the filters fairly quickly. Time: 08:29 pm.

I’m back! We drove around Thunder Bay. Pete wanted to find Hwy 527. This is the road to goes to Armstrong Station. The road goes on for 150 miles with no services until the small town of Armstrong. Before we located the road we ended up in some large park where there were several people walking, jogging or hanging out.

On the way back to the motel room we stopped at Tim Horton’s. We were planning on getting an early start for Armstrong, so I picked up a couple muffins and a couple bagels. Well, I ate one of the bagels and the two muffins. I found out while we were Tim Horton’s that they were open 24 hours. I’ll be able to get my thermos filled with coffee and get some more treats in the morning.

The skies were getting very dark to the NE. Just as we got back to our room it began to rain hard, but it only lasted about an hour.

Pete forgot to get coffee filters.

Lights were out at 10:30 pm.

We were registered in Room 122 at the Thunder Bay Econo-Lodge.

Final Preparations: 08-09-08 Saturday

Pete and I each set our alarms for 05:00 am. Pete set the alarm on his cell phone and I set the alarm on my watch. In the morning our alarms went off about two seconds apart.

Well, I didn’t get much sleep last night. It wasn’t due to the expected excitement of the trip, but from Pete snoring loudly most of the night. I need to have it quiet when I sleep.

Pete, Dick and I paid our bill for the motel rooms before heading over to Tim Horton’s at 05:30 am. I filled up my thermos and bought some more muffins and bagels. It was still dark outside when we left Tim Horton’s 15 minutes later for the drive to Armstrong. I had brought a Detour Protein bar from home so I had that with the muffin and bagel for breakfast.

Armstrong is 150 miles north on Hwy. 527. This is a three hour drive going the speed limit. There are no gas stations or other places to stop until you get to Armstrong. The temperature was 58 degrees when we began going up Hwy 527, but it continued to drop to 49 degrees by the time we arrived.

Dick, Pete and I stopped in a Wildwater’s B & B. We had a room reserved for the night, since all the cabins were full at Mattice Lake Outfitter’s. We met Brenda and her husband, Bert. We were told where are rooms were and I began to walk across the linoleum floor in my gym shoes. Brenda got upset and told me not to walk on the floor with my shoes. I told her I didn’t see any sign saying that fact. She pointed behind me on the wall. Yep, there was the sign alright, but it’s not in a place where some one would look before entering the room. It’s on the wall where someone would notice it only after being in the room and looking to see what was on the wall. Anyways, my shoes were clean, but I did take them off.

Yolanda with Mattice Lake Outfitters

Pete and Phil Cotton

Our next stop was Mattice Lake Outfitter’s. A younger guy was walking around the front when he asked if he could help us. We told him we were looking for Yolanda. He told us to go inside the building where we would find Yolanda. Yolanda is the daughter of Don and Annette Elliot, the owners of Mattice Lake Outfitter’s.

Mattice Lake Outfitter’s would be providing us with the satellite phone, the car shuttles from the train station (parking lot), park fees and the deHavilland Otter float plane ride out of the park. Yolanda was very personable and friendly. She took care of us (our money) while we were waiting on Dave Phillips. Dave would be flying out of the park today in one of the deHavilland Beavers owned by the Elliot’s.

Yolanda told us that Dave Phillips and Phil Cotton (Uncle Phil) had landed on the lake and they would be pulling up to the dock shortly. Dave had spent the last week with Uncle Phil doing some portage clearing with the Wabakimi Project.

Phil was coming out for two weeks for his daughter’s wedding. Dave was coming out today and then he would be going right back into the park with us tomorrow on our two week trip.

We all walked down on the dock to meet Dave. I took some photos of the Beaver and of Dave, Phil, a guy name Ken and I forgot the name of the lady from Thunder Bay. Dave had nothing but nice things to say about how hard the lady from Thunder Bay worked.

Dave wanted to go to the local café in town to get something to eat while going over our route. Pete needed to drive back to Wildwater’s B & B to get his maps. On the way to the local café to meet Dave we saw a local Ontario Provincial Police Officer running radar while standing in the roadway. We were going under the speed limit, but he motioned for us to stop anyways. I guess you don’t need any probable cause or a violation to be stopped. He asked us if we had our seat belts on. We said yes while he peeked in the car and then he said we were free to go.

We met Dave inside E & J’s Café in Armstrong. Dave ordered breakfast while the three of us ordered lunch.

Dave got out his maps of our intended route and we all gathered around him. We began making notes on each of our own maps of where the portages were located, if they were on river right or left, length of any portages, any “swifts”, any known campsite locations and any outpost locations.


We all went back to Wildwater’s where the first thing we did was pay for our rooms. Then we all gathered on the front deck to begin going through our gear for the trip. Besides going through our gear we marked each items with orange flagging with our destination, Flindt Landing, written on the flagging. This would hopefully ensure that the train personnel and we didn’t forget any item on the train. If it doesn’t get off at Flindt Landing we would probably never see the item again. Besides it could severely hamper our trip. It took some time for us to finish this chore, but we got it accomplished.

Later, Dick and I added some more details to our maps from Dave’s maps. Earlier, Dave had provided the information, but I wanted to make sure I had properly marked mine.

More and more people were showing up at Wildwater’s B& B in preparation for their own trips.

Dick had brought Brats to cook on the grill. While the brats were cooking, I was still making notations on my topo maps. Once I got done making notations on my maps the brats were done. I was hungry now and had three of them. While the three of us were eating our brats several more people who were inside were now gathering on the deck. There were two other groups on the deck besides us. Soon everyone was talking with one another about where everyone was going.

One group had four guys and two of them were brothers. It sounded like they had a considerable amount of paddling experience. I don’t think I knew their names, but the brothers were from Prior Lake, Minnesota. We listened while they talked about some of their prior experiences including an adventure with a not too competent outfitter. The outfitter had no connection with Wabakimi. These guys have paddled in Wabakimi in the past. Another river they have paddled before was the Bloodvein River in the Woodland Caribou and they mentioned some of what they experienced near the First Nation reservation at the end of that trip.

The other group had six people of two brothers, their sister, one of the brother’s wives, and two other guys. I recalled the one sister was near Hudson, Wisconsin. The two brothers and one of their wives were near Duluth, Minnesota. We listened to some of their canoeing adventures. They also mentioned to us they come to Wabakimi to get away from the crowds of the BWCA. This group was fascinated in that the four of us got together for this trip from the internet. I also gave one of the brothers my blog address to check out about Marathon Canoe Racing and about some of my other trip reports.

I began writing in my journal while Pete walked down to Mattice Lake where I’m about ready to go for a walk.

Wildwater’s B& B is a large building with all the rooms on the outside perimeter of the building with the main room in the center. Each room has a door to the outside and a door to the main room. There were some other groups that stayed inside while some of us stayed on the deck talking. There were some females in the groups. Pete and I had a corner room to the SW and Dave and Dick had a corner room on the NW of the building.

After I walked back up from Mattice Lake, Dave asked if he had the corner room. Instead of telling him the correct room I told him it was the third one down. I think there were some women staying in that one. I never heard if Dave he took my advice of going to the third room or not.

I finally mentioned to Pete that he snored very loudly last night. He told me that Dave also snores during the night. I mentioned to Pete that Dave probably doesn’t have anything on him.

Some of the paddlers were having a fire tonight so Pete, Dick and I went where they were having the fire for a bit. There was one lady there who helps Brenda around the lodge and she said the bugs were a real menace up until four days ago. When Dave returned from his week with the Wabakimi Project he said the bugs were bad. The mosquitoes would come out for about an hour at dark.

I was in bed at by 10:00pm.

Day 1: 08-10-08 Sunday

Chuck, Pete, Dick and Dave

Lakes / Rivers: Flindt Landing, Heathcote Lake, Heafur Lake and the Flindt River

Distance: 17.0 km (10.6 miles)

Portages: 2

Time: 3:58 (not including 32 minutes for lunch)

Once again Pete snored very loudly. I was wondering if the ladies next door could hear him, since his bed was right next to the common wall. I was pretty tired from yesterday due to not getting much sleep the night before.

I got up once around 0200 am. I walked into the main room and I could hear someone else snoring. Pete got up at 0430 am. He didn’t come back right away so when I looked at my watch it was 0440 am. I could here some activity from the main room. I decided to get up since we were going to get up at 0500 am anyways.

Brenda and Bert were up busily preparing breakfast for everyone. Dick was up and sitting on the couch. More and more people began getting up and coming into the main room. It was about 0455 am when I grabbed for a muffin only to be scolded by Brenda that breakfast wasn’t until 0500 am.

Brenda less than 5 minutes later began going around and knocking on everyone’s door to make sure they were up and out of bed. Breakfast was now ready to be eaten and its self serve. There was cold cereal, muffins, banana bread, bananas, watermelon, juice and coffee.

Since I really didn’t know how the first day would go for eating I sure didn’t want to walk away hungry. It seemed like I ate a lot. At least for me!

I looked around the room and I didn’t see anyone from my group. I didn’t hear anyone say they were leaving. I walked up to Pete’s car parked down the long dirt road in the dark where I found him. We left for Mattice Lake Outfitter’s a short drive down the road at 0540 am. Dick had already left and he was going to park at Mattice Lake Outfitter’s. Pete and I were going to pick him up there. We saw Dave parked along the road when we pulled into the access for Mattice Lake to pick up Dick. We saw Dick’s vehicle down at the Outfitter's, but not Dick. We went back up to Dave who started to pull away. I told Pete to get Dave’s attention to make sure he had Dick. Dave stopped, but Dick wasn’t with him. Pete and I turned around to go look for Dick. We found him, got him in Pete’s vehicle and off we went to Armstrong Station following Dave.

Dave pulled into the train station that was only a dirt parking lot. We were the first people from Wildwater’s B & B to get there. We unloaded our packs and canoes off the vehicles. Mattice Lake Outfitter’s would come later in the morning and drive both of the vehicles back to their parking lot for safe keeping.

There were a total of nine canoes that were going to be put on the train at Armstrong Station. Brenda told us earlier at her place that the train was on schedule. The train came into Armstrong at 0655 am. It took a while to load the train with the canoes and all the packs. The train stops at several places down the line. Several of the groups from Wildwater’s B & B were putting in at the same place. We thought that was very unusual.

We were the only group that was getting off at Flindt Landing which was alright with us.

There were at least three groups getting off before us at Redhead Lake landing. What normally happens is the train will stop the car with the canoes, packs, etc. at a wooden landing, but this time the train went pass the wooden landing. The train stopped and got all the paddlers off with their equipment on a narrow section beside the train. The only way to the lake from this place was now down a steep hill that doesn’t have a trail down to the water or walk their gear back to the wooden landing.

Dave mentioned that the train usually stops at the wooden platform. The conductor also had never seen this happen before and wasn’t sure what was taking place at first.

The train backed up to the wooden platform after all the paddlers had gotten off with all their paddling gear. The train personnel unloaded some large coolers and several fishermen boarded the train. I continued to watch this happening as well as some other people. Next I saw one of the people on the wooden platform hand to someone in the baggage car a gallon size zip lock bag full of fish fillets. I’m not saying I know for sure, but it appears the fishermen were getting a favor and paying in many fish fillets to not have any of the paddlers and gear get off on the wooden platform. I saw some of the paddlers walking back toward the wooden platform where they should have been let off in the first place.

The guy on the train said he had never seen the train unload the paddlers like that before, but when he saw the fish fillets he knew what had happened.

We arrived at Flindt Landing at 0920 am (Eastern Time). The time actually changes at Armstrong Station or just to the west of Armstrong to Central Time, but we decided to stay with Eastern Time.

We unloaded our canoes and gear off the train. I took one last photograph of the train as it continued on its journey to the west.

We carried our gear down the wooden steps across the property of a fishing outpost camp. There was a lady who came out from one of the outbuildings and stood at the end of the stairs with her arms crossed. She asked us which outfitter we used. When we told her we didn’t use an outfitter she turned around and walked away. We began to wonder if this might be the reason that Wildwater’s had sent all their groups through the one access point.

We were on the water and ready to begin our 14 day canoe trip at 0940 am. Dave approached me earlier and wanted me to do a quick review on some of the different paddling strokes. I showed the group the forward stroke with torso rotation. I also gave them a demonstration on how to do a draw stroke, post, cross bow draw, and a sweep or push. These strokes would be needed to avoid any obstructions and used in the faster moving water or swifts.

Many of you know I race canoes and most of my wilderness trips are solo. It has been years since I’ve been in a canoe for any length of time with someone other than myself or another racer.

I forgot that most people who say they know how to paddle really don’t know how to paddle or at least don’t know how to paddle proficiently and efficiently. Pete told me earlier that he was willing to learn how I paddle, so that he could become a better paddler himself. Nothing against Pete, but he has never been taught how to paddle correctly. I paddle two to three hundred hours every year.

Pete was in the bow of his canoe and I was in the stern. In racing, the bow paddler sets the tempo and the stern paddler follows him. This way the catch, power phase and recovery if done in unison makes for a much more efficient stroke so the canoe guides smoothly.

Early on, I told Pete what he needed to do with his stroke so that we could get the canoe to guide and not have it jerking back and forth. There was no way I could handle two weeks of paddling that way. Again, Pete was very receptive and the canoe began to move much better through the water within a very short time.

We started our trip on Heathcote Lake, then on to Heafur Lake. The surroundings are your typical boreal forest of Black Spruce and Jack Pine. The sun shining without any clouds and it was warm. I forgot to put on some sunscreen back at the landing, so I borrowed some of Pete’s that he had in his seat bag underneath his seat when I felt my face getting too red.

For this trip I bought some topo maps that are 1:50,000 scale to cover the area we would be traveling. Dave also printed up some maps on 8.5 x 11 inches paper to the scale of about 1:20,000. There were 35 pages of the 8.5 x 11 size to cover our route. I like the scale of Dave’s maps, and I like to scan the area while paddling with the maps of more area. I found that Dave’s maps were limiting me to do what I like to do, so I decided to use my topo maps for navigating.

There was very little wind from the west today when we started paddling. Dave said last week while he was in the Caribou Forest it rained just about every day. He said about noon he would see the clouds building to the north and to the east.

We stopped for lunch on a small rocky point at the south end of Heafur Lake at 1144 am. We had pita bread, peanut butter, jelly, gorp and water. Dick had vacuumed sealed the pita bread and they sure didn’t want to come apart. I ended up pulling off pieces in sections. We were done with our first lunch at 1216 pm.

We did three portages today. Actually we only did two, because the third portage is where our campsite is located. The first portages are easy to locate if you know which side of the river to look for them. None of them were too tough. There was only room to land or launch one canoe at these portages. We were at the campsite this afternoon at 0150 pm. The campsite really only has one good tent pad area. I found as the more areas I saw that my personal observation on what consisted of a good tent pad was lowered.

Pete and I let Dave and Dick have their pick of where they wanted to sleep. Pete and I might not be so lucky. I’ll have to let you know tomorrow how our site was.

Pete’s new tarp was set up. This is a large campsite. There are lots of blueberries. Dave, Pete and Dick have been fishing. I saw the walleye that Pete kept. Dave caught a small walleye that had a large vertical laceration behind the dorsal fin as if an eagle may have tried pulling it out of the water.

Pete and I went swimming above the rapids near the campsite. I actually jumped in and swam a bit. The water was much warmer than I ever expected it to be. It was nice to clean up, since I didn’t have a shower yesterday.

Here is what the itinerary said for today: 20.25 km (I need to verify that) with no portages. We actually did two portages and traveled 17 km.

Well, I’m going to stop writing for awhile. The sun is still out with some high wispy clouds in the sky, but it’s still warm out.

Dave and Pete caught enough Walleye to go with our steaks and mash potatoes tonight. We decided not to eat the Portobello mushroom since the vacuum seal didn’t stay sealed. Dave tended to the fire and cooked the steaks to everyone’s desire. I’m not sure what spicy mashed potatoes we had, but they sure tasted good. There weren’t any leftovers.

Pete cooked the fish and once again there weren’t any leftovers.

After dinner Dave went and caught a couple more walleyes. He would clean and cook them in the morning and we'll have then for lunch.

It’s sure nice to be back in the bush, again. This is a remote route and we will probably not see too many people.

First portage: River left, 25 meters long, rapids not runnable.

Second portage: River left, 90 meters, portage cleared and easy, rapids not runnable.
Third Portage: River right, 1 meter ledge- rapids not runnable