GROUP: Chris Johnston, Ben Wheeler, and Ben's black lab Bau-Xi (say "Bo-Zee")

DATES: May 15-19 1998. (5 days, 4 nights; first and last days were 4-5 hours on water only)

SUPPLIES: Shopped for food in Huntsville, rented kevlar canoe from Canoe Algonquin (formerly Rickward's) in Kearney. Stopped for hearty meal at Edgewater Park Lodge on way in and way out of park.

WEATHER: Mostly sunny throughout, warm (up to 28C), with steady light winds. Heavy winds and rough waters on Burnt Island Lake only. One short rain in the entire five days. In spite of warnings, the black flies were minimal, and mosquitoes were bad only in thick bush (long portages). It helped to have steady winds and to choose campsites on islands or points.

ROUTE: Entry and exit at Access Pt. #3. Magnetawan L, Hambone L, Butt L, Little Trout L, Tim R, Shippagew L, Blue L, Big Trout L, Otterslide Creek, Otterslide L, Little Otterslide L, Burnt Island L, Littledoe L, Tom Thomson L, Ink L, McIntosh L, Timberwolf L, Misty L, Little Misty L, Queer L, Little Trout L, Butt L, Hambone L, Magnetewan L. Total distance of approx. 90-100+KM, including 25 portages: sixteen of less than 500m, six in the range 500-1500m and three over 1500m.

It was a nice combination of winding rivers (Tim R, Otterslide Creek, the river north from Ink L) with many small lakes and a few larger lakes (Big Trout L, Burnt Island L, Butt L).

The route is easy paddling, all flatwater, but to do the entire loop in 4-5 days is pretty aggressive. We paddled fairly hard, and wasted little time on portages.

We covered the 2435m carry into Queer L in under 40 minutes; Ben carried the food pack and canoe this entire portage without stopping once! We were told that water levels were about "average." We were able to walk and line the canoe through two easy rapids along the Tim R (skipping P460 and P125).

The dog, alone on board, loved it! A few low water spots along with fallen trees and a few beaver dams on Otterslide Creek. To avoid the P765 into Misty L we took the river heading NE from Timberwolf L. A mistake! It had very low water.

(1) "Lone Pine" site along Tim River near Little Trout Creek. Nice view of approaching river, but a bit buggy.
(2) Big Trout Lake .. a site on south side of second island out from the NW portage (P840). Gorgeous view of lake and not a single bug.
(3) Burnt Island Lake .. a popular lake so get there early for best choice. Islands were occupied, so we settled for a point near an inlet in the SE corner of the lake.
(4) Misty Lake .. the island site at the western end of the lake faces east; so instead we swam and watched the sunset from a gorgeous site along the shore immediately south of this one.

HIGHLIGHTS: A moose trudged through our campsite and into the river during the first night. Quite a scare until we realized it wasn't a bear. The next day we came across a calf struggling on the shore of Tim R with its mother nervously glaring and at us from the bank above. We watched breathless from a distance, then backed up to eat lunch and give them some space. The moose were gone an hour later. Further moose sitings on Tim R, Blue L, Misty L. The fish were jumping. Birds from hummingbirds to hawks. Lots of loons, of course! Plenty of wildflowers blooming this time of year. The river heading north from Ink L was ablaze with purple, pink and white flowers. The gods conspired in our favour this trip; returning to the parking lot we found that our car was one of the few to escape the break-ins that weekend.

I'd recommend this route to anyone!

Text by: Chris Johnston (Ottawa)
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