This is the gripping tale of how five intrepid canoeists climbed the highest point in Ontario. We overcame storms, isolation, hypoxia and a lot of mud in our quest to summit the famed and feared Ishpatina Ridge, in the northwest part of the Temagami wilderness area. I made up that bit about the hypoxia. Sorry. The previous sentences may also contain some hyperbole as well.
The five day trip was organized as a YCCC flatwater trip, with three club members and two guests. We travelled just over 60km, including about 8km of fairly easy portages. The trail up to Ishpatina itself is gentle and not at all technical.
Here's a brief summary:
- Day 1: wherein we get up insanely early, drive very far, then paddle down the Montréal River to Smoothwater Lake.
- Day 2: wherein we head south through Apex, Mihell (say My Hell), and McCulloch Lakes, to Scarecrow Lake and decide to hike the ridge.
- Day 3: wherein we paddle toward the Sturgeon River and discover the headwaters of the mighty Stull Creek before it starts to rain and we haul ass back to our campsite.
- Day 4: wherein we head back up the way we came, camping where the north end of Smoothwater Lake, where it drains into the Montréal River.
- Day 5: wherein after a good 12 hours of rain, wind, thunder and lightning we bundle up, throw everything in the canoes and scrape, claw and drag our way against a gale back to the access point, then drive all the way home to our warm beds.
Don't believe me
This is an exceptionally well-documented trip. See also:
To my trip mates Markus, Lisa, Michael and Ken. This was the first YCCC trip I've organized and you made it easy. Thanks to Irene for indulging me and for being the trip's guardian angel. Thanks to the YCCC for having all kinds of nifty gear including the Swift Osprey.
This is not an advice site, I am not an expert, and these canoe trips I write about can be dangerous. Mistakes can have big consequences and reading this site won't prepare you for any of it. So if you've never gone canoe tripping and it seems like fun, join a club, hire an outfitter or tag along with experienced folk. Please.