Many years ago, when my husband Mark was a camper at Camp Kandalore he went on a 3 week canoe trip starting in Rocky Island Lake, down the Mississagi River to Lake Huron. We noticed that in order to get to 47N83W you would have to start by paddling through that lake, so we figured it would be fun to return there so he could relive his youth.
We checked the topographic maps and found a 25km road that would take us to within a 5 km paddle through Rocky Island Lake and Elf Lake plus 1 km hike to the CP. However, one can't always be sure about a little orange lines on the topographic maps, so we thought it might be prudent to see if we could find someone in the area who could give us better information. There is a small Provincial Park, Aubrey Falls, situated at the beginning of the road, so we put in a call to the local park ranger.
The information that he gave us was rather disturbing. He said that the road hadn't been maintained in something like 15 years. However, even if we could make it down the road, we might have a problem getting across the lake because it had been drained the previous summer to make power at the Aubrey Falls generating station, and all that remained was a “muddy gumbo”.
Based on that, we choose to tackle 48W84N instead, but on our way back we decided to check out the conditions of the road and lake for ourselves.
Along the way, we came across a young moose along the highway. We stopped the car and we and the moose stared at each other for quite a while.
We started down the access road, and at first it was a nice wide gravel road. As we went further along it, it did get narrower and the surface started to deteriorate. Mark was concerned that we would rupture the oil pan of our Toyota Sienna van on one of the exposed rocks, so he took it nice and slow. Our patience paid off, and we were successful in making it to the shores of Rocky Island Lake.
The lake did look like it was a few feet down from the high water mark, but nothing like the way it was described to us. I suppose all the rain we have been having this summer has filled it back up sooner than expected.
We started to kick ourselves that we had returned the rental canoe the day before, but then we started to do the math. Even with a canoe, the final approach required over 1 km of bushwhacking each way. By extrapolating from our bushwacking experience two days earlier at 48N84W, we came to the unfortunate conclusion that there wasn’t really enough time left to do it safely in what remained of the day. We also did not know if there was a proper portage between Rocky Island Lake, and Elf Lake, which was on our route. It’s one thing to bushwhack to a confluence with just a day pack. It would be another thing if we had to drag the canoe through the forest without a trail.
We resigned ourselves to the fact that we would get no closer to 47N83W than 5.4 km. We chose instead to take a few pictures and pick wild raspberries that grew along the shore of the lake.
Rocky Island Lake flows into Aubrey Lake, which ends at a waterfall, a dam and a generating station. The ranger had told us that the short hike to the falls was worth the trip, and in this one point he was absolutely correct. We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking and swimming around the falls, and picking wild blueberries.
We may not have made it to the confluence, but at least we didn’t go away hungry. We’ll try it again another time when we are ready for another 1,500 km drive.