08-Aug-2004 -- This is a continuation of a two-confluence trip that involved a total of 1550 km of driving, three days of canoeing, a number of portages, and a significant amount of bushwhacking.
Confident with success from N47 W83, we decided to tackle N47 W82, the more difficult of the two CPs. We breakfasted early at Don’s "B. & B" in Webbwood. Don was helpful in describing in detail the bush roads to lead us to the beginning of our odyssey. The road into Lake Sinaminda was our biggest challenge to that point. We learned from Don that the better road to the lake had been washed out, so we ended up on the ‘4WD’ only road as our only option. Could our minivan navigate 200km of this road? Could we paddle 40km and bushwhack 2km? Could we accomplish this in the allotted time of 2 days? Due to the impeccable planning of Mira, Mark’s kamikaze driving of the van, the fabulous weather, the knowledge of the locals, and the determined teamwork, indeed we did accomplish our goal. A smattering of good old-fashioned dumb luck also helped.
As we headed out, the road which had started as a divided highway, quickly degraded to paved road, to gravel road, to single lane pot-holed, rock-strewn, steeply inclined mess. We finally had to stop and check out several sections of our route. One hill in particular had us out of the car ‘scouting’ as we would for a class 3 white water rapids. Sharp rocks, deep holes, a cliff on either side of what looked to us a 33% grade was successfully navigated down, but we had great doubts about getting up it the following day. We took our chances.
Arrival at the lake was uneventful except for the chance meeting of retired miner ‘Big Dan’, who told us of the existence of an ideally located campsite at the end of the lake, about as close as you could get to the CP. ‘Dan’ had retired at age 49, as he had proudly said he had taken the ’30 and out’ pension plan, after working 30 years, to the day, underground for the nickel mine in Sudbury. From his ruddy complexion, and his well-equipped fishing boat, he looked like he was making up for lost time in the sun.
We paddled 20 km into a headwind, did the one short portage and arrived at our campsite late in the day. The campsite had been used by moose hunters in the fall a couple of years ago. Here we found the remains of the frame of their structure for hanging the quartered moose, a picnic table, and just enough flat ground for our 3 tents. Steve’s tent fit neatly inside the frame structure itself.
After a hearty dinner, we did the all-consuming task of hanging the food in a tree to protect it from being eaten by chipmunks, raccoons and bears. This trip, the task was made significantly easier by Jeff’s new double pulley system. We were all extremely impressed. With the appearance of the mosquitoes at dusk, and the prospect of a 5:30a.m. beginning to our day, we all retired into our tents at an early hour.
We rose to a heavy mist over the water, and after quick and hearty breakfast, headed out to begin our trek as the sun was just burning off the last of the fog. A short paddle took us to the point on the lake closest to the CP. Based on our previous bushwhacking experience, from N47W83, we found the most effective way to navigate was to take a bearing reading from the GPS, but use the regular compasses to stay on track. The forest was dense, with many deadfalls, spruce bogs, covered in thick sphagnum moss, and alder thickets to maneuver through. There was evidence that this area was a popular moose grazing area.
After just over an hour of bush whacking we arrived at the confluence point. We treated ourselves to a well-deserved chocolate break, which was cut short when the mosquitoes found us. On the way back we chanced upon a 350+ year old White Pine. A rare relic missed by the loggers over 150 years ago.
We got back to camp and packed up for our return paddle. We made good time on the way back, thanks to a steady tail wind. This gave us time for a couple of swim breaks along the way. We were greeted at the end by “Big Dan” and told him of our adventures, as we loaded up the van.
We were “home free” but for one final obstacle – the steep hill on the road ahead. Our first attempt up it, fully loaded was a dismal failure, as we got stuck about half way up. Obviously this was going to take some planning to find the ideal route between the rocks, ruts and potholes. Jeff had a plan all worked out. Linda, Steve and Mira watched from top, with fingers crossed, while Mark and Jeff backed down the road for a good long run off. With Mark driving, and Jeff riding shotgun and yelling directions, they hit the hill at a good clip. Amidst a cloud of dust and spinning tires, the van weaved and lurched to the crest of the hill. Hurray, they made it!
It now just a matter of about 80 more km on the dirt roads back to the B&B, and then the 450 km drive back to Toronto the next day.
We are already thinking of our plans for next year. Since all the "easy" ones like this one are taken, we will need to drive to north west Ontario to capture the 7 other canoe-friendly sites. A possible 5000 km round trip.