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  CHINIGUCHI LAKE - LAURA CREEK LOOP

A rather eventful trip, and also the first trip for Hil, Sandra and Julie!

Route:

Saturday, July 17, 2004:
Leave Kitchener at 3am
Drive to put in on Matagamasi Lake UTM 529,350E, 5,176,630N (Based on UTM Zone 17N, NAD83)
On the water at 1:30pm
Paddle North on Matagamasi Lake
Camp on site UTM 527,510E, 5,185,500N

Today's Portage Distance: 0.0 m
Total Portage Distance: 0.0 m
Today's Paddle Distance: 9.7 km
Total Paddle Distance: 9.7 km


Sunday, July 18, 2004:
N on Matagamasi Lake
P 350m River Right
N on unnamed pond
P 360m River Left
Stopped to swim at Paradise Lagoon - very nice!
N on Silvester Lake
N on Wolf Lake
P 190m River Left to Dewdney Lake
Stopped to check out old Ranger Cabin
P 540m to Southeast Bay of Chiniguichi Lake
NW then N then E through Chiniguichi Lake to McConnell Bay
Camp on nice sandy beach, UTM 526,320E 5,199,930N

Today's Portage Distance: 1440 m
Total Portage Distance: 1440 m
Today's Paddle Distance: 21.1 km
Total Paddle Distance: 30.8 km


Monday, July 19, 2004:
E on McConnell Bay
P 750m to Laura Lake (Nasty swamp!)
S through Laura Lake into small unnamed lake
S through unnamed lake
P 200m into another unnamed lake (river left, not as marked on map!)
Put in at bridge
P 150m into Evelyn Lake
S through Evelyn Lake
LO a beaver damn and wade through the stream channel (gets muddy!)
P 800m River Left into Irish Lake (stay right at branch in trail)
P 40m into Bonesteel Lake
P 50m around dam on River Left
S through Wessel Lake to campsite on point at UTM 532,110E 5,188,550N

Today's Portage Distance: 1990 m
Total Portage Distance: 3430 m
Today's Paddle Distance: 16.8 km
Total Paddle Distance: 47.6 km


Tuesday, July 20, 2004:
S through Wessel Lake
P 170m on east shore, south of dam/rapids
S through narrow channel
P 700m into McCarthy Bay on River left
SW through McCarthy Bay to put-in

Today's Portage Distance: 870 m
Total Portage Distance: 4300 m
Today's Paddle Distance: 13.7 km
Total Paddle Distance: 61.3 km


Maps & Info:
Photos:

Participants:
Darren CopeMatt Fallowfield
Sandra McSweenJulie Proper
Mike ProperHilisha Schooley

Journal:

Friday, July 16, 2004:

I headed home from Waterloo at around 8:30am, and arrived in Sweaburg at 9:30ish. I planned on watching the day's stage of le Tour de France, since I don't have a TV in Waterloo, and hadn't seen a stage this year. I got home and watched Lance put some serious time on Jan Ullrich and Tyler Hamilton on the first mountainous stage of the tour. Good stuff! :) After watching the race, I started packing up all my gear which was scattered around the house. Mike and Julie stopped by to drop off their gear (and Sandra's), which we took to the basement to pack. They forgot Sandra's new yellow paddle, so they brought that by later on their way to work.

Matt was working until 3:30, so after he was done, he headed straight to his grandparent's place to pick up the trailer. He called me as he was leaving to tell me he was on his way. He arrived with the trailer, and we put the rack on it and loaded up my canoe. We organized all of the gear which I had spread out in the basement "staging area" and packed up as much as we could at this point. We had all of the gear except of Matt and Hil's stuff, so the basement was pretty much full of assorted packs and gear. We were impressed with how well everything packed up, as it was the first trip with the new green Serratus Portage Pack to complement Matt's Ostrom Wabakimi pack. This was a much better system, and resulted in a very well packed load with Matt's green pack serving as the food/kitchen pack.

At 5:00, we had some excellent lasagna and salad compliments of my mom, and were off shortly after that. We headed back to Woodstock to pick up the other two canoes, and pack up the gear that Matt had at his apartment. We dropped by Don's house to pick up the canoe we were borrowing, but he was not home. We headed to Matt's mom's house to grab his canoe from the garage there, and loaded it on the trailer as well. Then we headed to Matt's apartment to pack the gear he had there. We called Don again, and got no answer. We headed to pick up Hil's car (she was at work) and drove it back to her place. Matt drove her car and I drove his car with the trailer over to Hil's place. We chatted with her parents and sister for a bit before heading out to Don's again to get the third canoe. He was there this time, and we picked up the 16' fiberglass Scott Prospector that would be our third boat on this trip, and a bailer and throwbag. After loading that on the trailer, and chatting with Don for a bit, we were back to Matt's apartment to make up some marinade for the chicken we were having the first night. We then went to bed to try to get some sleep for the long drive ahead.

Saturday, July 17, 2004:

Matt got about two hours of sleep, and I got maybe one, before the phone rang at 1:30. It was Hil calling from work to wake us up. We were off! We headed to get Hil from work, and were there right at 2. We then headed to Kitchener, and arrived at Sandra's apartment at 2:35. Mike, Sandra and Juile were there, after working until 1:30. We went in for a bit so that Hil could have a shower, and then we were on our way. We stopped at the Tim Hortons on Fairway Rd. at around 3am, and had a nice drive to McDonalds in Barrie, where we stopped at about 5am.

Our next stop was Tim Hortons in Nobel, where I took over the driving duties from Mike. Hil was with Matt in his car, and Sandra, Mike, Julie and I were in Mike's car. I was driving behind Matt, who was pulling the trailer. Not too far after our stop, the fun began. I saw a smallish black bear running onto the road (seemingly in slow motion). I saw him put his head down at the same time Matt swerved to avoid him. Matt's car missed the bear, but he kamikazed the trailer, going head first into the wheel on the passenger side. I swerved to avoid the bear as he spun across the road on his side with one leg sticking straight up in the air (a move which later earned him the nickname "Bruno the Break Dancing Baby Bear"). I immediately pulled over to the shoulder of the road, as did Matt. We all got out of the cars with our hearts beating a mile a minute. After a quick check that everyone was ok, we took a look at the trailer. The fender was totaled, and just hanging there, so Matt just ripped it off. The passenger side wheel was pushed up against the frame of the trailer, and had stuck there (not turning) so was pretty burnt and basically destroyed. We pulled out the mini-spare from Matt's car, and put it on. Of course, it was a bit low on air, so we had to pump it up. The cord on the pump was not long enough to reach from the car to the trailer, so we unhitched the trailer and pulled it up closer to the car. Of course after all of this, the pump wouldn't work! So we tried the pump in Mike's car, and it did work (seems Matts cigarette lighter doesn't work), so he pulled up closer to the trailer to fill up the tire. After hitching up the trailer again we were back on the road.

In Sudbury, we stopped at the Canadian Tire. Matt had noticed that the axle was bent enough to actually cause the driver's side wheel to be rubbing slightly on the trailer as well. So, we bought a length of chain and Matt set about trying to bend the axle back with the chain and the jack from his car. Of course, this resulted in bending the jack. Mike went back in to Canadian Tire get a bottle jack, and Julie bought a rainsuit also. With the bottle jack, Matt was able to bend the axle back to shape enough to continue. We crossed the road to Harvey's for some breakfast, as we were pretty hungry at this point. After breakfast we filled up with gas, and then headed back to Hwy 17 east to North Bay. We noticed a lot of cars stopped on the side of the road, and finally figured out that they were all picking blueberries! The roadside was covered in berry bushes! We also passed a group of cyclists who looked like they were out on a long tour (possibly crossing Canada?) We turned North on Kukagami Lake Rd. After driving north for a while, Mike turned around and asked me if I smelled burning rubber. I didn't, but opened my window and stuck my head out. As soon as I did, I smelled it stongly. Mike signaled for Matt to pull over, so he did. We all piled out again, to inspect the situation. The driver side tire was rubbing again, and was burning slightly. Matt took it off to put on the mini-spare from the trailer. As he had the wheel off, he noticed that the weld holding the hub to the axle was half busted. At this point we were basically FUBARED. Several cars went by without even slowing down, so we were pleased when one actually stopped. The driver mentioned that there was a lodge up ahead where we could maybe get some assistance, and told us he would stop and send someone back if they could be of any help. We decided that what we would do is put on the mini spare, despite the weld being half-broken, and try to limp the trailer to the lodge to get help. So, we set off at a blistering pace of 15km/hr along Kukagami Lake Rd. for the next 30 kms. At one point my legs were getting severely cramped so I got out and ran along beside the car, as Hil laughed her ass off at me. It didn't really help, and as soon as I got back in the car the cramps were even worse. When we reached a fork in the road, we had to decide what to do. We determined that the lodge was actually further away than the put-in point, so decided to just continue on to the put-in. We did so, and arrived at the cottage mentioned on CCR as a possible parking spot. We went and talked to the people in the cottage, and explained the situation to them. After telling our crazy story, they agreed to let us leave the trailer and cars there, and launch from their dock. We backed the trailer and cars into their parking space, and started unloading all our gear. We gave the gentleman $20 for his trouble, and for helping us out in our situation. We had decided that we were just going to complete the trip as originally planned, and that Matt would build a new axle on Wednesday morning when we got home. Then Matt and Mike would drive up again to put the new axle on the trailer and pull it home. After loading the canoes and getting everything else ready, we were finally on the water! It was a bit later than originally planned, but it sure felt nice to be paddling instead of driving at 15km/hr! I paddled my canoe with Julie in the bow, Mike was in the stern of the borrowed canoe, with Sandra in the bow, and Matt was in the stern of his canoe with Hil in the bow.

We headed North on Matagamasi Lake, setting off at about 1:30pm. We paddled for 9.7 km to the site on the North Arm of Matagamasi Lake, located at UTM 527,510E, 5,185,500N (Based on UTM Zone 17N, NAD83). We set up camp quite quickly, and started supper (we had missed lunch) of grilled marinated chicken breast and rice. It was excellent, and we enjoyed the meal before cleaning up and hanging the food bag. Matt, Mike, Julie and I went for a quick swim and played around doing some canoe over canoe rescues, practiced getting into canoes, and tried some gunnel bobbing. After we got out of the water, we were totally exhausted. Sandra wrote in the journal as we all sat in Mike's tent. Matt, Hil and I then headed to my tent, and we all went to bed. Mike started snoring shortly, and we joked that it sounded like a moose call. Later in the night, we heard a moose walking in the water in the swampy area beside the campsite, but we didn't see it because we were all in the tent--Mike's moose call was successful! :)

Sunday, July 18, 2004:

Compliments to the whole team for being up just after 6:30 and on the water by 7:30 am! I got up and packed up my drybag before leaving the tent. I then went to retrieve the bear bag, and got the water boiling for oatmeal. We got cleaned and packed up from breakfast and then loaded the canoes. After launching, we pumped some water (having three filters is great, and Mike's new Miniworks works very well). We then headed North to the first portage of the trip, the P350 on the West. We accomplished the portage with few problems, but it was here that we realized just how much of a bitch the borrowed canoe is to portage. It has a square aluminum thwart instead of a nice yoke, and it is very uncomfortable. The fact that it is extra wide doesn't help, as it makes it difficult to reach the gunnels while carrying it. The canoe was thus dubbed "The Pig" from this point on. After a very short paddle north on an unnamed pond, we started the 360m portage on river left. This is the trail with Paradise Lagoon off to the side, and we saw the trail heading down to the lagoon. After completing the portage (walking through one completely wet muddy section), we changed into our swimsuits and headed down the side trail to the lagoon. At the bottom of the trail is a swift stream that you have to swim across and then on the other side it opens up to the lagoon. After we all swam across to the other side, we were pleased to find an incredible, secluded lagoon with two big cascades coming down into it. We spent about an hour and a half swimming, jumping and diving off the rocks, and sitting under the waterfall (very powerful, deep muscle massage which felt great!). I thought I would climb the cascade on the North side, and then cross to the end of the portage to get the camera, which we had left at the end of the portage. After climbing all the way up (it wasn't easy as the rocks were slick and the water was very powerful) I found that I still had a long way to swim/wade/walk to the end of the portage, so decided to forget about getting the camera. I turned to climb back down the way I had come up, but didn't think I could do it safely. I then walked along the east side, along what looked like a trail, trying to find a way down. However the trail soon disappeared, and I still had not found a way down. I decided that the only way down was the way I had come up, and once again set about climbing down. It was a lot more difficult than coming up! At one point, I was standing in the middle of the narrow cascade, and the others were looking up laughing at me. The water pulled my bathing suit right down almost to my knees, but the water coming down meant that the others didn't know what was going on. Hil later mentioned that I had a funny look on my face as I was grabbing my shorts! I finally got back to the bottom and joined the others to swim back to the portage trail. We could easily have spent the entire day there swimming, climbing and lounging in the sun, but we had to move on to make time!

We loaded up the canoes and paddled out a bit to the first little point after the portage, where we stopped for lunch in the canoes. We had an excellent lunch of bagels, ham, summer sausage, tomato, onion, and cheese. Of course this was complimented by GORP, beef jerky and lots of water. As we were eating, a group from a summer camp arrived at the end of the portage. They had three Grumman's, and a wannigan. There were 6 kids, and three teenaged counselors. After lunch, Matt realized that he had left his bandanna back at the lagoon. We were going to paddle back, but decided just to swim it since we had to swim again anyway to get the bandanna. Matt and I jumped in and swam back to the portage, leaving the others in the canoes. We walked across and down the trail to the lagoon again. I waited on the side while Matt swam across the swift once again to get the bandanna. It was a tough swim with hiking boots on! We then walked back and swam back out to the group again. We set off North towards Wolf Lake. There were no swifts or liftovers, although they were shown on the map. We did have high water levels, so this was not surprising. We passed the old trappers cabin on the West shore, which was basically just part of one wall. At the site of the old gold mine on the West shore of Wolf Lake, I hopped out of the canoe to go take a look. There was a little wooden structure down by the shore, with hoses running up the hill. We assumed this used to be a pump house, but there was no pump in it. At the top of the hill was a clearing covered in blueberries. There was no visible mine shaft, although I didn't spend a lot of time looking. There were several metal pipes sticking up out of the ground though, where I assume some sort of structure once was. Again we headed North to the P190 into Dewdney Lake. This fairly short and easy portage crossed a road part way across. We found a green brimmed hat at the start of the portage, which I claimed and wore for a large portion of the trip, since it was less floppy than mine.

On Dewdney Lake, we stopped to check out the old Ranger Cabin on the East shore. The fire tower appeared to be quite a hike from the cabin, back up on the hill. There is an old dock at the cabin which we tied to, and went in to take a look. The cabin is covered in graffiti, mostly names and dates of people who visited. We took a couple of pictures before heading on. We headed to the P540 into Southeast Bay of Chiniguchi Lake. This was a fairly nice trail, and there are lots of large trees along the way. Near the start, there is a pine at least 300 years old that has been stuck by lightning. If you look, you can see the spiral all the way down the trunk! We headed North up Chiniguchi, aiming for the sand beach on McConnell Bay. We arrived to find an incredible beach with 3 nice campsites on it. We set up on the center site (UTM 526,440E 5,199,910N).

We set up camp and started dinner, which was spaghetti made with dehydrate meat sauce, again compliments of my mom. We went out for a nice swim/wash in the lake. The sand sloped very gently into the water, and you would have to walk a long way out before it got very deep. The group of camp kids arrived at the site directly beside us and unloaded all of their gear. However, before they got fully set up, they moved to the site on the other side, which was further away from us. A red squirrel (of which there were lots) got part of an apple we had left sitting out. Mike ate the rest anyway after cutting off the chewed part. Julie and I were down on the beach by the water when she noticed something go under the canoe. We flipped it up to reveal a small snake. We called everyone to come look, and Mike said he thought it was a water snake. He picked it up and we got some nice pictures. It was grey with a bright yellow underside. As Mike was handling it, it "skunked" him. Shortly after we headed to the tent to play cards, but only managed to play a game of three handed pairs Euchre. Julie and I won after trailing for the whole game. We headed to bed after cards, and I'm pretty sure we all fell asleep right away.

Monday, July 19, 2004:

We awoke to a very foggy lake-so much so that I couldn't see the water from the tents, which were about 30m from the lake. I got up and retrieved the food pack, and started water boiling for breakfast again. We had apples, oranges, bagels, and oatmeal for breakfast. I duct taped a lifejacket to the yoke of "The Pig" to try to ease the upcoming portages. Once again, we were on the water at an impressive time of 7:11am. We filled up our bottles before paddling off towards the first portage of the day. We found the start of the P750 into Laura Lake, and set off. At this point we had established the routine of single carrying everything across the portage except for "The Pig," which Matt, Mike and I went back for later and carried across in one shot by taking turns. This portage, however, provided a challenge. About half way across, we ran into the swamp from hell! The trail went straight through a swamp, and it was bad enough that it was impossible to walk through. We set everything down at the edge of the swamp, and Matt and I bushwhacked our way along the N side of the trail, trying to stay to the driest part of the swamp. We finally made it back out to the trail, where it was relatively dry. I took a wrong step at this point, and ended up to my waist in mud. Matt had to pull me out! We then turned around and went back to the gear and the rest of the group. We carried everything across, although it took a few trips through the swamp to get it all through. I managed to get stuck again, enough that I couldn't free my foot without some assistance from Matt. I also managed to lose a button on my new paddling shirt while picking up Matt's canoe-I snagged it on the gunnel and it ripped off. :( When all the gear was at the end of the swampy section, we continued on to the end of the trail, which wasn't too bad from that point on. Of course, we still had "The Pig" to deal with, which was at the very start of the portage. Matt, Mike and I went back for it, and took turns carrying it. We made it across without too many more problems, but of course "The Pig" was just that the whole way. The lifejacket I had taped to the yoke helped a bit, but it was still brutal! I think that's the longest I have ever spent on a 750m portage! We wasted a lot of time negotiating that swamp!

At this point we were in Laura Lake, and had a 5km paddle before us. It was a nice paddle, and everyone was thankful that portage was over! At the south end of Laura Lake, there is a spot where a road used to cross, but the bridge has been removed, and you can paddle through without a portage. It may require a liftover in very low water, but I doubt even that. This took us to a small un-named lake, which we traveled South on. In this section, we saw a Great Blue Heron, as well as a beaver. The next portage is shown on our map as an 800m on River Right. We found what appeared to be the put-in for the portage, so unloaded all the gear. I put on the green pack, and started walking the trail. However, after about 20 m, I determined that there was no trail there after all! Matt paddled solo down to the end of the lake to look for anything else that might be the trail. He found nothing, so came back. I hopped in the canoe, and we both went down again to look. Seeing nothing, we decided to bushwhack, starting at the very end of the lake, and following the stream. We came out to the bridge for the road that the portage was supposed to cross, so headed west on the road to look for the trail crossing. We walked at least one kilometer of the road, and found absolutely no sign of any trail. We turned around and headed back towards the bridge. On the way, we saw a "Stupid Chicken" (aka Ruffed Grouse) cross the road. I commented to Matt that I thought I saw a baby crossing in front of the mother. He began to say "..then next thing you know it's going to chase us" and all of a sudden the damn thing exploded out of the bush onto the road chasing us. Good call Matt! It scared the crap out of us, as it looked a lot bigger all puffed up like that! We both thought it looked like a raccoon! After laughing about our "encounter, " we headed back to the bridge, and decided to bushwhack the gear there to put in. We walked to the east side of the bridge and stood facing south to see how far we could paddle. It looked clear as far as we could see, so we headed back to get the others. We paddled back and got everyone. They all followed us to the start of our "bushwhacking" trail. As we were getting ready to go, Hil noticed a trail marker on the left side! Matt took off down the trail and determined that it came out at the bridge directly where we had been standing looking South. We felt pretty stupid for missing it, but had been stuck on the fact that the trail was on river right! So, it turned out to be a fairly easy 200 m portage to the bridge, where we stopped for lunch of stoners, summer sausage, tomato, and cheese. I almost lost my knife as I tossed it to Mike, and it fell off the bridge into the stream. Luckily it was visible, and I went and retrieved it from the water. After that Julie lost her granola bar through the bridge as well.

After packing up our stuff from lunch, we were back on the water, launching from the east side of the bridge. At this point, what the girls called "Beaver Feaver" began. It was a swampy section, and as Julie said, "THE WATER SMELLED!" The next portage was supposed to be a 400 m, but in fact turned out to be a short 150 m instead. We at first thought we would be able to lift over the rock/beaver dam and just put back in, but we weren't sure if we could paddle the whole way, since we couldn't see around the corner. So instead, Matt had to clear some floating logs out of the way from the start of the trail and we portaged. The portage put us in Evelyn Lake, where the wind was in our face and beginning to pick up. Paddling down Evelyn Lake, Sandra spotted an ice fishing hut pulled up on the shore. It was really well hidden, and I'm sure I would have paddled right by without even seeing it! The next portage was marked on our map as a 200m on river right. However we opted to just lift over the beaver dam (it was maybe 4 feet high) and slide the canoes down the other side. Julie and I were first over the dam, and I just continued to wade along, pulling the canoe since the water was shallow. For the first couple hundred metres the bottom was gravel, and only deepened on the corners. It was at most thigh deep. However, as we got further down, it was beginning to get softer and deeper. Pretty soon I was in up to my waist again, and from about mid thigh down was in mud! Julie laughed at me, because I couldn't get back into the canoe! Matt came down and rafted the canoes up so I could hop back in to a steady platform. After paddling through the small pond, the next portage was an 800 m on river left. We saw no sign of the P950m that was supposedly on river right. The portage was not too bad, except for one thing. On the first trip over, I was carrying my canoe, and the big green pack. I managed to roll my ankle and twist it quite badly, on one of the flatter sections none-the-less. I put down the canoe, dropped the pack and sat down on it to survey the situation. Mike was right behind me when it happened, and he had seen it roll over. I sat and swore for a bit, trying to hold back the tears. After a bit of a break, I didn't feel too bad, so we continued on with me carrying the canoe, and Mike carrying a pack. We came to a fork in the trail, and weren't sure which way to go. The others were in front of us, but we didn't know which way they went. We decided to go right, and shortly after we ended up at the end of the portage. However, no-one else was there! We did find a Nalgene bottle at the end, but it wasn't from any of our group. I stuffed it in a pack-you can never have too many Nalgenes! The others must have kept left on the trail. We decided that I would put the canoe in the water and paddle to find the others, and Mike would go back for the other pack. I paddled around to the east, and saw the girls sitting there. It turns out they had carried a lot further than necessary! Matt had already turned back for more gear, and we now had two canoes and all of the packs at this point. "The Pig" was the only thing left. I sat down with the girls, and took off my boot to inspect my ankle. It was a bit worse than I had thought, and began to hurt more at this point. As we were sitting there, two canoes began paddling towards us, assuming we were at the end of the portage. I yelled at them to keep going around the corner to the real end of the portage, and save themselves some carrying. They did so. Soon we got tired of sitting and waiting, so decided to pack up the canoes and head out to meet Matt and Mike when they finished the trail. Hil and Julie managed to cross over some floating logs that were blocking the way, and they moved/sunk enough that Sandra and I were able to paddle over without much trouble. Soon Matt and Mike appeared, and we were on our way again, South on Irish Lake. The portage from Irish to Bonesteel Lake was supposed to be 600 m, but it turned out that we could paddle all but 30 or 40 m of it. We carried around and put the canoes in one at a time in a swift flowing chute and ran down. Julie and I went first, and scraped only one rock. Matt and Hil also did well, but Mike and Sandra got stuck on a rock and Mike had to get out and push off. We pumped some fine Bonesteel Lake water for a drink before continuing on. The next obstacle was an old man-made dam, which we carried around on the left for about 50 m.

We paddled south a bit on Wessel before making camp on a point at UTM 532,110E 5,188,550N. It was a nice site, although it wasn't very heavily used, and blueberry bushes completely covered all of the tent pads. The only thing we could do was set up the tents on top and hope the bears weren't hungry! Supper consisted of freeze dried chicken, potatoes, corn, green beans, carrots and mushrooms, with mixed fruit for dessert. It definitely hit the spot! Matt and Mike paddled across to the other shore to hang the bear bag, and we were in bed pretty early after a long hard day. We wrote a bit in the journal, and spent a good half hour killing mosquitoes that managed to get into the tent. Apparently, there was a thunderstorm at night, but I slept right through it soundly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004:

Another early morning! Up at 5:30. Matt and Julie went to retrieve the food pack from across the bay, and soon breakfast was ready. Oatmeal and the end of the bagels were served up. Julie put her schooling to good use taping up my ankle, using a bandanna to prevent my hair getting ripped out, and a large quantity of duct tape to lock my ankle in place. It was certainly a lot easier to move around on after the taping and tying my boot extra tight. Thanks Jules for fixing me up! We were on the water by 7:20, and the route continued almost directly east of the campsite. We paddled over to the stream/dam, and checked it out. Matt and I actually put a canoe across and paddled a bit to see how far would could make it. However, there is a 15' waterfall there, which we clearly could not negotiate. So, Matt and Mike set off looking for the trail. It was just a bit further south, so we headed over to do it. It was 170m long, but nasty! Due to the rain, the trail was very slick, and had a lot of exposed sloping rocks that were deadly. I, feeling very useless, carried a day pack across while using a war club paddle as a crutch. Matt and Mike did most of the grunt work, carrying the gear across, although Julie pulled more than her weight by taking the big green pack that had previously been my responsibility. Matt fell on one of the slick rocks, and cut up his knee a bit. By the end of the portage we were a pretty rough group, with my twisted ankly, Matt's sore hips and cut knee, and everyone else being exhausted and bug bitten. However, we were all in pretty good spirits despite this! We paddled south down the narrow section towards the final portage into Matagamasi Lake. The portage was about 700m and was easy to locate due to the large clearing at the put-in. We carried over with out too much trouble, and I again carried only daypacks. The girls and I sat at the end while Matt and Mike went back to portage "The Pig" for the final time. As they were gone, a gentleman from the island site across from the portage paddled over. He asked us a bit about the route, so we explained our trip to him. After a while Matt and Mike were back with "The Pig" and we were one the water for the last long paddle of the trip south down McConnell Bay of Matagamasi Lake. After paddling for a short while, I commented that we should try sailing, so broke out my new tarp for it's first use. We rafted up the three canoes, and sailed for about 8 kms. We made good time for most of the way, although the wind was kind of spotty at times. Once we were close to the take out, and the wind had died down a bit, we took down the sail and paddled the rest of the way. We took all the gear up to the cars and then had to borrow some tools from the cottagers in order to get the axle off the trailer. After accomplishing this, we went for a swim off the dock to get cleaned up and smelling better for the ride home. Matt stuck the axle in the back of his car, and we then loaded everything else into the trunk of his car and Mike's car. We set off, leaving the trailer and canoes there. The plan was that Matt was going to make a new axle on Wednesday morning, and then he and Mike were heading back to put it on. They were to camp on Matagamasi Lake that night and then head home on Thursday.

The drive home was very uneventful compared to the ride up. We stopped again at the Harvey's in Sudbury, and then again at the Hungry Bear (French River Trading Post). I purchased a topo map of the trip to add to my collection, and some fudge and gum. Julie bought a ring and everyone else bought some stuff too. We had some food at the Hungry Bear. I had blueberry pie, and milk (one thing I always crave after a trip). Julie and Sandra had ice cream, and Hil and Matt hat BLT's and icecream. After leaving, Julie finished writing the journal in the car on the way home. We stopped again at the Cookestown McDonalds for some grease. Here I bought a newspaper (Toronto Sun) to catch up on le Tour de France. I was very upset to see a story that was 5 days old, and nothing more. What a joke! However, the paper did prove useful, as we spent a large portion of the trip home doing the daily crossword (which we suck at by the way). We stopped again at a Tim Hortons for a coffee break, and then to Waterloo to drop me off. After unloading all of my junk from the cars, I said goodbye to the others. Matt and Hil were heading back to Woodstock, and Mike and Julie were heading back to Sweaburg for the night after dropping Sandra off in Kitchener.

Overall, I'd say that this was one of the more eventful trips I have ever done, and it was sure an interesting first trip for Hil, Sandra and Julie! Hopefully everyone had as a good time as I did, and will still want to come with us on future trips!


 
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