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.
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.
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.
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
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