Monday, July 30, 2012

Canoeing on Anima Nipissing Lake and Lake Temagami, Camping in Finlayson Point Provincial Park, Ontario—July, 2012

Blog in Polish/po polsku: http://ontario-nature-polish.blogspot.ca/2012/07/pywanie-na-kanu-na-jeziorach-anima.html
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jack_1962/sets/72157631523724473/



Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Driving from Toronto to Temagami, over 450 km
 If you ask any nature-loving Ontarians what does the word „Temagami” remind them of, you will most likely hear such replies as ‘Grey Owl’, ‘old growth forest,’ ‘huge pines’, ‘abundant lakes’, ‘dense forests’, ‘canoeing’, ‘portaging’, ‘boating’, ‘fishing’, ‘camping’, ‘wilderness’ and ‘nature’.  Indeed, it is one of the most renowned regions in Ontario—not only because of Grey Owl, who arrived in that area in 1907 and made it famous all over the world, but also because 100 years later it still remains relatively unspoiled and offers countless activities to anyone who loves nature and wilderness.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Canoeing on Anima Nipissing Lake to our first campsite on a small island
 In August, 1995, I arrived in Temagami for the first time, spending 3 days on a small island on Lake Temagami (in a resort called “Deep Water Lodge”) and I have visited this area at least 3 times since then, sometimes stopping there for a few hours while driving up north, sometimes camping in Finlayson Point Provincial Park.  Since Catherine had never before visited Temagami, we decided to spend there over one week and enjoy camping and paddling on some of its many lakes.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
In front of the store and coffee shop in Temagami
We left Toronto early morning on July 04, 2012 and headed north on Highway 11.  Since Temagami is about 450 km from Toronto, it took us almost 7 hours to get there—after all, we always like to stop on our way, especially if we see something attention-grabbing.  We were planning to spend our first night in Finlayson Point Provincial Park, located just south of the town of Temagami.  There were plenty of available campsites in the park and we picked number 33, which was very close to the water (i.e., to one of the many long bays of Lake Temagami, leading to the town).  After setting up the tent, we drove to Temagami, visited the local supermarket (formerly a Cooperative, now a private store), had coffee, bought cold beer and in the evening had a nice campfire before turning in.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Our campsite on Anima Nipissing Lake, on a small island
The next day we packed up and drove up north on highway 11.  After less than 40 km. turned left into a road which took us to Anima Nipissing Lake—our destination.  By the way, even after asking several locals, including natives, we never did learn what ‘Anima’ actually meant and what language it was.  Although not as popular as some other lakes, we picked it since it did not require any portaging, offered a lot of paddling opportunities and we did not have to pay for camping or parking (it was still crown land).  In addition, there were several native pictographs on the rocky shores of this lake and I was looking forward to finding them.  While we were unloading our car, a truck arrived and brought some appliances—soon, a boat showed up and picked up the stove.  Wow, what a great delivery service!  The gentleman picking up the stove was an owner of a lodge located in the north part of the lake.  He told us which campsites on this lake were the best—and we said that perhaps we would visit his lodge.  Shortly, we were on the water.  Unfortunately, it was windy, sunny and hot and we were paddling against the wind (as it happens 90% of the time—our luck!).  We headed south, passed Twin Islands, then The Narrows and paddled into one of the bays (called Windy Arm) in order to see if there were any campsites.  Even though the map does show campsites, it is not obligatory to stay on them (although it a good idea to do so—apart from environmental considerations, usually such sites have a fire pit, ample space for tents and sometimes primitive furnishings patched together by other campers).  The map showed a campsite on the north shore of the bay, yet we were unable to locate it.  Eventually we spotted a small island which could easily make a nice campsite.  We paddled around it and eventually got out of the canoe.  It was a nice spot, yet it faced a number of cottages on the other shore and one on a nearby island.  Since it was very hot and humid, we decided to just rest for a while.  Because of the hot weather and the intense wind, Catherine did not feel like paddling on and looking for another campsite.  A motorboat materialized from nowhere and the driver told us that there was a nice site just around the bend, but in the end we chose to stay there.  Later we did see the site he was referring to and realized that ‘just around the bend’ in motorboat context!  Soon, I pitched the tent and Catherine set up the kitchen.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Our campsite on Anima Nipissing Lake, on a small island
In the evening we canoed west and explored the bay—there were a few cottages here and there, from time to time a motor boat passed by.  The area was very scenic, yet we did not spot anything they would make a better campsite than what we already had.  Catherine liked the way the hills rose directly up out of the lake; it reminded her of photos of Vietnam or China.

I build a small fire pit on the shore of the island, collected wood and started a campfire.  Since it was still windy, I had to keep it very small—besides, it had not rained for a while and everything around was very dry, so I had to make sure we would not start a forest fire.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
View from our island campsite on Anima Nipissing Lake
On July 06, 2012, we paddled south to a campsite near Whitewater Lake (it was on a steep rock) and then through a narrow passage entered McLean Lake.  We met a local fisherman in the channel (he had grown up in the area) who carefully was maneuvering his motorboat.  We talked with him about fishing, camping, canoeing and shifting water levels.  As it was getting dark, we started to paddle back—again, against the wind!  Although we were paddling very hard, we were only moving 4 km/h, very slow, considering that the canoe was empty.  I remembered that one of the pictographs was supposed to be somewhere on the rock along this shore, yet I was unable to see it—moreover, we wanted to get to the campsite as soon as possible.  This time we had a very small fire, just to grill our steaks, and once they were done, I put it out by pouring plenty of water, as it had not rained for weeks!

TTemagami, Ontario:
Anima Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July
03-14, 2012
Canoeing to McLean Lake.  It was windy again...
 On July 07, 2012, it was so windy that we could not go paddling anywhere and spent the whole day on our island, reading a bunch of magazines—“MacLean’s”, “Bloomberg Business Week” and my favorite, “The Economist”.  The wind was so strong that I did not want risking having a campfire that evening.  According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to be windy over the next few days, so we came to a decision to cut short this leg of our trip and go back to Finlayson Point Park the next day.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Small channel leading  to McLean Lake
So, on Sunday, July 08, we got up early morning, packed up and before 07:00 am were on the water.  I hoped to paddle close to the shore rocks where the native pictographs were located, but soon we realized it was very windy and all we wanted was to get back to the parking lot as soon as possible.  Once we paddled through The Narrows, the wind picked up and we had to struggle not only with the (needless to say) headwind, but also with relatively high waves.  Exhausted, we reached the parking at 09:30 am and in one hour were on the road.  Since the town of Latchford was just north of us, we drove there.  I parked the car near a water filtration plant, close to an impressive road bridge.  There were old railway tracks still visible in the road, but I could not figure out what was their original destination.  After a while we drove south to Finlayson Point Provincial Park.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Campsite # 33 in Finlayson Point Provincial Park.  It was just meters from Lake Temagami
Since campsite #33 was available, we took it.  There were nicer campsites in the park, but since it was just meters from Lake Temagami, we could launch our canoe directly from the campsite.  We were also informed that there was a small black bear in the park—the park set up a trap, a huge metal cage with food bait close to the ranger station, but despite further sightings, the bear was never caught while we were staying in the park.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Beautiful Train Station in Temagami.  Although  no longer used by passengers, the train  still stops here!
Almost every business in the Temagami area featured a picture of Daniel Trask who was missing.  Apparently he drove to Temagami on November 3, 2011, bought some provisions and parked his car on Red Squirrel Road near Camp Wanapitei at Ferguson Bay—and that was the last time anyone has seen or heard from him.  In May, 2012, his jacket and pants were located at Diamond Lake.   Local people told us that it was quite cold at the time he went hiking and cold might be the worst enemy at that time.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Temagami Fire Tower
During the next few days we visited the town of Temagami a few times.  It had a very picturesque original train station (originally built in 1907), now turned into a gift show.  In fact, passenger train still runs between Toronto and Cochrane on a daily basis, although the rumors about its imminent demise have been circulating for many years.  Thanks to this train, Temagami is one of few tourist places easily accessible by train—once you get off the train, you just cross the street, rent a canoe (or even a float plane) and start your wilderness adventure!  Catherine often went to the local library, located in a modern building (which also housed a Tourist Information Centre and some administration offices) to check her emails.  Nearby were outfitters and “Lakeland Airways”, its float plane able to take several people along with their equipment and a canoe to any lake in the area.  Further down the road was an OPP station (Ontario Provincial Police, responsible for patrolling major freeways and many smaller towns and communities), with both police cruisers and boats, as well as two places renting House Boats.  One rented large houseboats that could accommodate up to 12 people; the other one, Leisure Island Houseboats (http://www.leisureislandhouseboats.com/) offered smaller boats (up to 6 people), for about half the price of the other company.  We visited that place and were given a tour of such a boat: it had a table, seats, beds, washroom, shower, stove, microwave, heater, BBQ unit, marine radio... wow, what a wonderful way to spend vacation—especially at the end of September or in October, when it is too cold for camping!

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
View from Caribou Mountain
The Temagami Fire Tower is another attraction: located on Caribou Mountain, it is 30 m tall and can be climbed for a small fee.  It offers a breathtaking view of the entire Temagami area.  We did not climb it, nevertheless the view from Caribou Hill was very nice too!  By the way, this Fire Tower was built not long ago—the original fire tower was only 14 m high, made of square timber and it was used for the last time in the 1970s to spot fires.  Nowadays such towers are no longer used for spotting fires—planes and helicopters have replaced them.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Catherine near the local airlines, "Lakeland Airways" in Temagami
Just in front of the supermarket was a carpenter’s shop—he made various furniture, perfect for cottages and gardens.  Since we could hardly put our stuff into the car, we were unable to buy any piece of furniture, but we did buy two bags of cedar firewood.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Our second campsite in Finlayson Point Park.  We loved sitting on the rock in front of our camping,
where we read, drank cold beer, wine and observed boat traffic
We paddled on Lake Temagami several times (launching the canoe directly from our campsite), on a few occasions arriving in the coffee shop.  Once we paddled towards the open waters of Lake Temagami, circling O’Connor Island.  After a few days on campsite #33, Catherine ‘discovered’ that another great campsite was available—and we quickly moved there and spent the last couple of nights on it.  It was also meters from the water, yet the shore was made of a big rock, unsuitable for launching a canoe—but perfect for sitting on, watching boat traffic and enjoying cold beer!  We paid a small ‘mooring fee’ and got a separate boat slip for our canoe.  There were certain carvings in the rock, made not that long ago—I was wondering if they were made by campers or perhaps this part of the park used to be a private property.

Not far from our campsite was a historical plaque about Grey Owl:

Grey Owl, 1989-1938.

As a youth in England, Archibald Belaney was fascinated with wildlife and tales of North American Indians. At seventeen he came to Canada and soon began living among the Ojibwa on Bear Island. He adopted native dress and customs and worked as a woodsman, fire ranger and trapper in north eastern Ontario. In the 1920s Belaney became concerned that the lumber industry and sportsmen were plundering the northern wilderness and threating the survival of native culture. He took the name Grey Owl (Wa-Sha Quon-Asin) and turned his efforts to conservation, pleading for recognition of "the natural brotherhood between man and animals". Grey owl gained international fame as a writer and public speaker.


Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Canoeing on Lake Temagami to Bear Island and back


Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
On Bear Island, near the Roman Catholic Church.  I just bought
this card from the art studio, it was painted by Hugh McKenzie
On July 10, 2012, we drove on Temagami Access Road to a huge parking lot, where cottage owners and tourists park their cars.  Since many people haul their boat trailers as well, the road was extremely rutted and grooved.  While driving on it in 1997, I thought my car would lose all its wheels—and this time it was not much better either.  Once we put the canoe on the water and parked the car, we paddled around Temagami Island—there were some campsites here and there—and eventually reached Bear Island, the second-largest island in the Temagami area (after Temagami Island).  Bear Island is home to the Temagami First Nation (Anishnaabe-Ojibwe), Grey Owl used to live there as well as a very prominent native painter, Benjamin Chee Chee was born there (his unique paintings of birds and animals always appeal to me, their simplicity is exquisite); unfortunately, he had a very troubled life and eventually committed suicide.  First, we stopped at a dock and went to Hugh McKenzie’s art studio—he is also well-known native artist in the area.  We chatted for a while with Marty, yet another local artist, who told me that this studio had also been used by Benjamin Chee Chee.  Then we walked to a nearby church (St. Ursula Roman Catholic Church)—unfortunately, it was closed and I was unable to determine if holy masses were still celebrated there.  We got back into the canoe and paddled to the main dock, in front of a store/post office.  There was a historical plaque with the following inscription:

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Historical plaque on Bear Island.  Behind is the general store/post office
Temagami Post, 1834

The first Hudson's Bay post on Lake Timagami was established on the south shore of Timagami Island in 1834 under Chief Trader Richard Hardisty, the father-in-law of Lord Strathcona. It was essentially an outpost of the Company's larger establishment on Lake Timiskaming in the Ottawa Valley. Temagami (originally Timagami) was not a large center of trade and, in its early days, was abandoned several times. However, in these instances the consequent establishment of rival traders induced the Company to reopen the post. In the 1870's it was moved to this site on Bear Island.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Loon Lodge on Lake Temagami
Several meters up the hill stood a memorial dedicated to the veterans of World War I and II.  We got ice cream at the store and later had an interesting conversation with the store keeper, who was also a postmasters (or postmistress) and a paramedic.

On our way back we stopped at Loon Lodge where we bought French fries—as well as I spotted the “Deep Water Lodge” across the lake, where I stayed for a few days in 1997.  While driving back on Temagami Access Road, we stopped at the local garbage dump, just meters off the road.  It was closed, yet we entered it—and of course, immediately spotted several black bears rummaging through garbage!  It was getting dark and it was impossible to take good photos.  As Catherine and I were looking at the bears, another bear materialized and was standing between us and the car, yet it quickly moved on.  Once we went to the car, we saw yet another bear which must have been hiding in the forest, mere meters from us.

TTemagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Canoeing on the Marten River near Marten River Provincial Park
The next day, July 11, 2012, we drove south to Marten River Provincial Park.  One of the park’s attractions is a replica of a 19th century Logging Camp (where a short movie, “Winter Camp” was made).  Logging camps were no question incredible places and I hope to write more about them in a separate blog entry.  There were a few tall and old pine trees here and there, which had somehow been saved from the loggers’ axe.  After quickly walking around the camp, we drove to Marten Lake, launched the canoe... and soon were paddling against a strong wind!  The wind was so annoying that at one point we had to rest and even contemplated turning around—but somehow managed to paddle ahead, made a sharp 180 turn around a peninsula and finally were in a relatively sheltered area.  We passed under the highway 11 bridge—there were a few cottages hither and thither and we saw some wildlife.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Our canoe routes on Lake Temagami near Finlayson Point Park
On July 14, 2012, before departing the park, I was up at 05:00 am, dragged very sleepy Catherine from the tent and we spent almost two hours paddling in the morning mist on Lake Temagami, exploring shallow and swampy bays.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Catherine on Lake Temagami, near a cottage with a moose
The park was quite nice with lots of varied types of sites so we would certainly return again!  I will always associate three things with Finlayson Point Provincial Park:  First of all, the lake adjacent to our campsite also constituted a runway for the float plane—the noise it produced at the take-off was deafening!  Secondly, each time a train passed through Temagami, it blew its ear-piercing whistles, no matter what time of the day or night it was.  Thirdly, highway 11, a major south-north transportation route, was continuously used by huge trucks—and we could hear them at all times as well.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Our second campsite in Finlayson Point Provincial Park, with a massive rocky shore
Furthermore, not a drop of rain fell during our trip and it was very hot and humid.  The day we moved to our new campsite, we bought a bunch of steaks, looking forward to grilling them over the campfire.  Later in the afternoon, as we were sitting on the rocky shore near our campsite, a park warden materialized, informing us that a fire ban had just come into effect in the area, including the park.  As a result, for the remaining two nights we did not have a campfire and had to fry the steaks on the frying pan.  By the way, the fire ban lasted for the following few weeks.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima Nipissing and
Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
A General Store and LCBO Agency off highway 11, north of Marten River Park
The drive home was quite uneventful—we stopped in North Bay and even drove to a beach on Lake Nipissing, but it was so darn hot and sunny that we quickly got into the air-conditioned car and continue our return trip, stopping at Burks Falls for a few minutes.

Temagami, Ontario: Anima
Nipissing and Temagami Lakes, Finlayson Point Provincial Park, July 03-14,
2012
Catherine is showing the voracious and hapless raccoon
 to her Father.
Regrettably, two months later, he passed away...
We arrived in Toronto at about 7:00 pm; as always, Catherine moved her van from her driveway as I was going to park there.  As I was very slowly backing up into her driveway, I suddenly felt that one of my tire ran into something in the driveway and I was unable to continue.  I got out of the car and saw a big, dead raccoon lying next to the rear car’s wheel.  Initially, I thought that perhaps the raccoon was simply hiding under Catherine’s van, seeking shade, and as Catherine was moving the van, she inadvertently ran over it.  But once we closely examined the hapless, we immediately discovered the cause of its untimely demise: apparently, it had found a big empty peanut butter jar, which had some traces of peanut butter inside, so the raccoon obviously attempted to get whatever was left inside the jar by inserting its mouth inside the jar, which got stuck…  unable to remove it, the raccoon simply suffocated!  Catherine’s father was not aware of this incident, but said that indeed, Gabby the dog was somehow attracted to something on the other side of the parked van!  Catherine called the City of Toronto and the raccoon was removed overnight. 

6 comments:

  1. Hi, what a wonderful trip journal! I was doing an online search of "Daniel Trask", who is our son, still missing. Thankyou for mentioning him here. If you plan on coming back to the Temagami backcountry, please be on the lookout for signs of Daniel, thanks.

    Don and Maureen Trask, Waterloo ON
    find.dan@rogers.com

    FYI, we continue to update Ottertooth with information about our search for Daniel. http://www.ottertooth.com/Temagami/News/newsbriefs-133.htm#no3

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  2. It was such a sad story about your Son... While in Temagami, it was impossible NOT to see his photos and other relevant information.

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  3. Great blog ! Quick question - the second campsite you found (on the rocks), what is the site number ??

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  4. Hi,

    I just returned from Finlayson Point Provincial Park. The site on the rock in no. 10 and it was vacant for several days.

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  5. Fantastic blog :) We were looking for information about staying on Amina-Nipissing Lake for a few days and you provided exactly what we needed...thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you've found it useful. I'm sure you will enjoy your trip very much, it's a beautiful area.

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