The Spanish Forest

Winnie Lake

Biscotasing Loop

Off to the Spanish Forest region, northwest of Sudbury, Ontario! The weather forecast at home was once again calling for hot humid weather – what better time to get outdoors and on the water!

The trip would take us ten days and cover approximately one hundred kilometres. The route was taken from Kevin Callan’s book ‘Top 60 Canoe Routes of Ontario’. The author did a slight variation of this route due to low water levels he experienced that season; lack of water made it difficult for him to navigate and travel on many of the creeks that lay ahead and caused him to deviate from the original plan. For us the water levels were way up and things looked promising. We planned to complete the entire loop including a day of leisure as time allowed.

Starting at Biscotasing General Store looping south down Biscotasing Lake with its many islands into Indian Lake and Mozhabong Lake where the waters are emerald green and clear. We crossed over to Sinaminda Lake and headed north through the narrow openings of Sinaminda Creek. The region encompases one of the worlds largest old-growth forests consisting of large Red and White Pine trees that cover the spectacular steep rocky shores along the lake. Making our way into Alton Lake, Winnie Lake and Mishap Creek then into Houghton Lake following the lake as it runs parallel to railway tracks before flowing under the rail line.

Houghton Lake Railway Tunnel

Throw in the unmaintained portage or sometimes a missing or non-existent portage; an old snowmobile trail claiming to be a portage then add some marshy and mucky footing on the trails and all in all it was a great trip. One portage worth mentioning was a 700-metre trek through a swamp. In the pouring rain and burdened down with heavy packs we slogged up to our ankles in water following a moose track along a trickle of water through a peat-like bog.

Mozhabong to Dusty Lake Portage – nothing glamorous about this!
Attempting to locate a non-existent portage on Sinaminda Creek

Hot and hazy weather, frequent rain showers followed us for the first several days complete with a violent thunderstorm that caught us completely off guard just as we were trying to enjoy dinner one evening. We had arrived at Alton Lake mid-afternoon and spent the next hour searching for a spot to establish camp. With recent wind damage, some sites were non-existent with tree blowdown or overgrown from lack of use. We located the only site we could find, along the narrow arm opening of the west branch of Alton Lake and set up camp erecting tarps in preparation for another evening of rain.

A few days ago we met a great bunch of guys – a group of six paddlers including Dennis Rogers, the YouTube producer and celebrity of ‘Canoehound Adventures’. They had entered the Spanish Forest region from the south and were doing a variation of the route in reverse. We expected to cross paths later in the trip as they headed back south and we headed north. With our dinner prepared and almost ready to consume, a hot blowing wind from the south suddenly switched and started blowing from the north. With this sudden change, we heard an incredibly loud noise which caused us to look up at the narrow opening of the lake to witness a wall of rain bearing down on us. Seconds later the rain hit us like a wave, our canoe which we secured to a tree, was forced tight by the wind against two trees behind it. The rain continued to come in sheets, causing white caps to appear on the lake, and in fifteen minutes it reduced itself to steady rainfall. We quickly cleaned the meal dishes and retired into the shelter of our tent. About an hour later, with darkness approaching, we heard voices, and the group of six were making their way down the lake. They looked exhausted and soaking wet. It turned out they had been paddling and portaging for eleven hours and were on the water at the time the storm hit. It took little convincing on our part to offer and share our small site. They quickly assembled their tents and changed into drier clothes. We assisted by boiling a large pot of water and the group had a quick meal of hot soup. Sleep came easy for them that night. The next morning, while enjoying freshly brewed coffee, we shared stories, route logistics and spoke of our common love of this wild land.

Comradery in the wilderness is a great connection and we hope for a lasting friendship. Yes, the best trips are not without challenges and the easy uneventful trips sometimes one does not remember.

Dennis, Jay, Owen Glenn, Rick, Seth, Nash and 2 pooches behind the scenes, Wiley and Mollie

Check out Canoehound Adventures!

Canoehound Adventures is a website for people interested in canoeing, camping, bushcrafting and the great outdoors. Dennis Rogers has some really great videos you can check out on his popular YouTube Channel!

Chili – A Favourite Backcountry Camp Recipe!

Get the chill out of your bones on a rainy day with an easy to make Chili con carne recipe! With all dehydrated ingredients prepared at home, the meal is ideal to whip up for one of those challenging days in the wilderness when you are too tired to do a lot of meal preparation.

  • water – approximately 4 cups (909 mL)
  • 1/4 cup (57 mL) red quinoa
  • 1/3 cup (76 mL) of the folllowing dehydrated ingredients: red kidney beans, chickpeas, brown beans, black beans, corn, mushrooms, sweet peppers
  • 1/3 cup (76 mL) dehydrated tomato leather
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) of chili pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) each of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) of garlic
  • TVP, ground beef, or dried sausage  (optional)

At camp boil the quinoa for 7 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients bring to a boil and let rest for 20 minutes or longer.  Serves 4.

Tip: To save precious fuel, food is cooked in a pot until it reaches boiling point and then the heat source is removed. The pot is placed in a Hot Pot Cookware Insulator (much like a tea cosy) leaving the food to cook/steam itself to perfection!

Check out more of our backcountry camp recipes here!

Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada

If you have not already purchased a copy of our recently published book or you would like to buy a copy for your family and/or friends, follow this link to our website Canoe for

Buy Book

Welcome to our blog! You have received our blog because you are a subscriber, friend or supporter of Canoe for Change! Email us if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you!

Contact Us

Adventures of a Canoe Cart

Our canoe cart has a long history with us, and with this history many adventures. It is a piece of equipment we could not do without. We acquired this cart from a young man who thanked us for assisting him with his financial situation. We had previously rented a canoe cart for an excursion and mentioned to the young man how easy it was to reach our portage by pushing the cart down an old abandoned logging road to reach our designated water system. As gratitude, we were presented with a collapsible canoe cart with removable wheels. So begins our attachment to our canoe cart.

Wolfe Island Ferry, Kingston, Ontario

The cart made the logistics simple for us to do certain trips. On an outing with one of our granddaughters, we placed our canoe on the cart and walked to the Wolfe Island Ferry. Avoiding the long vehicle line, we stood and waited our turn with other pedestrians and cyclists to board the ferry, eager to start our adventure. The deckhand informed us he had never loaded a canoe onto the ferry on a cart before. After conversing with his supervisor, he said it was similar to a bicycle so parking it with the other cyclists was easy. Once at Wolfe Island, we made our way to the shoreline, disassembled and stowed the cart. We set out to paddle back to Kingston, but not before spending the night in our tent at Cedar Island, one of the many islands of the Saint Lawrence Islands National Park system.

Some time ago someone thought they needed our cart more than we did and attempted to hide it in order to steal it from us while we were on a backcountry outing. We did find it after many hours of persistent searching. Now, whenever we are on an outing we always lock it to a tree, off the trail, with a bicycle chain.

The cart served us well on our cross-Canada canoe trip as we navigated in and out of waterways that were obstructed by large hydroelectric dams contained within massive fenced-in areas. We relentlessly carted down roadways on days that were too windy to be safe on the water on the east coast and in western Canada to push and pull our canoe over the Rocky Mountain range. 

Crows Nest Highway, British Columbia
Mactaquac Dam on Saint John River, New Brunswick

From years of usage, the canoe cart tires and tubes have been changed. The paint has faded, it is worn and battered-looking (much like us) but it still works well, ready to take us on more adventures!

Biscotasing Lake Canoe Trip

Biscotasing Lake in northern Ontario, approximately a four-hour drive north of Sudbury, is where our next adventure will start. From Kevin Callan’s book ‘Top 60 Canoe Routes of Ontario’ we singled out a route that will take us to an area of crown land that we have not traversed before. The portages are not marked or maintained and we expect to do a little bushwhacking to get from one lake to another – but that is all part of the adventure of discovering new places. We may wander off the route to a scenic neighbouring lake or water system to take in the beauty of a special spot for a couple of days – who knows we may find another favourite place to paddle!

Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada

If you have not already purchased a copy of our recently published book or you would like to buy a copy for your family and/or friends, follow this link to our website Canoe for

Last month we wrote a blog called ‘The Missing Canoe’. Since that time, Zack at Frontenac Outfitters has produced a fun video explaining some practical safety recommendations. For those interested, check out the YouTube video! “Zack shows you the 5 things you need to be ‘legal’ on the water, along with some items that actually help keep you safe on the water”. You can purchase your safety equipment at Frontenac Outfitters, and while you are there, pick up a copy of our book from their shelf as well!

Buy Book

Welcome to our blog! You have received our blog because you are a friend or supporter of Canoe for Change! Email us if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you!

Contact Us