Wabakimi Provincial Park / Kopka River
Trip – Starting Point – Beagle Lake heading south to Leparde Lake – Aldrige Lake and Then East along the Kopka River back to Hwy 527
Day 1: Drove straight from Toronto to Wabakimi. Didn’t make it! After almost hitting a moose and a bear on a logging road in the middle of the night, after we (stupidly) followed our GPS instead of the main highway. Slept the rest of the night in the car in a town called Chapleau.
Day 2: Arrived at Wabakimi outfitters to get our gear, maps etc. The outfitters were fantastic. They setup everything from our trips notes to our train tickets and pickup. Got dropped off at the train station at 6:30, train is supposed to come at 9:30. Met some awesome Americans that we shared a full bottle of straight spiced whiskey with. No one cared about the late train anymore. Train picked us up at 1:50 AM. – I think…
Bugs: Horrible – One Native waiting for the train, just kept spraying raid in the air and screaming obscenities!
Train dropped us off at the side of the tracks at about 3 am at mile marker 33 aka middle of freaking nowhere! After we realized that there was not even enough room to set up a tent, we built a fire and slept against the canoe. It is a really eerie feeling watching the train drive away and leave you in the darkness. This trip is going to be amazing!! A few shots from the morning after.
Bugs: From what we remember… not that bad. Considering all the whiskey.. Who the hell knows?
Day 3: After waking up and realizing we are now in the middle of nowhere and we do not have a compass (forgot it in the car), and we are hung-over, we head out. We manage to find the first portage after about 100 ft. of paddling no problem. We get into Beagle Lake and with help of our trusty nonexistent compass, we are lost within five minutes.
We find our way and get going into Laparde Lake. This is when we realize that our outfitters were right (and of course we didnt listen!) -Noone has been through here in decades so the trip notes won’t be accurate! We end up bush whacking and hauling our gear up several sets of rapids (not mention the few hours we spent looking for the portages and correct routes, as well as arguing). This is the second time today we have been lost!
Something seems very weird about still being able to see sunlight at 11:30pm.
Bugs: Noticed the bugs getting worse in between cursing and swearing.
Mental note: should have brought your damn compass.
Water levels: The first look at our upcoming portages.
Campsite on Larpade Lake
John attempting to dry out his socks.
Day 4: After a relaxing swim, a few drinks and a good night sleep, we are refreshed and ready to take on another day in Wabakimi. After all, it couldn’t get any worse than what have gone through.
This is what the trip notes call a river. A KM LONG RIVER! After trying to paddle the land barge through this we just got out and waded through the waist deep muck to get to the portage. After this we find ourselves a nice little KM long portage that has not been used in about 400 years and isn’t marked very well. Got lost 3 times on the portage. Did I mention the weather yet? It hasn’t dipped under 35C and nothing but sun… Hot as hell! This is about the toughest thing we have ever done. Pushing ourselves all day, and then celebrating every night!
Bugs: We have stumbled upon the nesting ground for all bugs in North America, possibly the world. I considered this to be the apocalyptic end of the two us.
Finally hit the Kopka River! Water level is higher than the locals have seen in years (So we are told). This campsite was supposed to have a natural Jacuzzi, but the water level made it impossible oh well…. Made Camp… Had drinks… Went to bed.
The next few days were a great experience, wading down class I – III rapids, making great time, seeing wild Bald Eagles. Re energizing both of us. A few minor mishaps, combinations of reading maps wrong and maps being wrong. (Still an ongoing argument between us ) and almost going over a waterfall (thank god we grabbed onto dead fall before the 15 meter drop!)
Day 5: We start to head into a water fall rich area of the river. The one marked EXTREME CAUTION!! MULTIPLE FALLS in big red letters on the trip notes. Waterfall after waterfall we portage our way down them. There is one portage marked STEEP. After doing the first few portages, this is beginning to worry us…. But this trip has been amazing and we have overcome everything so far!
Bugs: What in god’s name do all of these bugs eat out here! No living thing can endure this many bugs. The end is near for sure!
Not the steep portage…
Still not the steep portage….
Finally we reach the STEEP portage. One side of the map says less steep, let’s find that shall we? An hour and a half later – It once again does not exist, it is actually a look out (very scenic might I add, very beautiful,). We decide on doing the STEEP side… STEEP in trip note language means a freaking cliff! this is actually one of the main reasons for doing the whole trip. So here we go….
A view from the top of the portage.
From the bottom looking back up… “We just came down that with two packs and a canoe!?!?!?!?!!”
A picture of what we just repelled down, with all of our gear!
A huge celebration is now occurring at the bottom of this cliff! The mist from the waterfalls feels amazing! We are alive! We didn’t kill ourselves! This is truly a trip we will never forget.
A very welcomed heavy tail wind picked us up at this point and took us right into a nice little beach campsite. Of course a nice swim, and a few drinks to celebrate another great day.. No injuries (minus the fact that we are more bug bite than man at this point).
Bugs: I don’t want to talk about the pterodactyl of the bug world anymore.
Weather: Still no sign of rain… the heat is making this trip even harder, but still definitely an amazing trip. Whoever though I would complain about sunny weather?
Day 6: It didn’t take us nearly as long as we thought to do the last leg of the trip. We actually got to the pickup spot a full 24 hours early. The last few portages were not very difficult, from what i remember. After what we had just come through it wouldn’t have mattered, we could survive and do anything now! Almost sad that the trip is over, but we are out of booze and smokes.
After a nap, some food and a nice hot chocolate, we decided to walk up the dirt road to the highway laughing about hitchhiking our way back to the outfitters that day. Low and behold, the most wonderful of OPP officers was nice enough to stop, grab all our gear, give us a ride to the outfitters, and even hand cuff our canoe to a trailer so it didn’t get stolen! Amazing! Only the two of us could end a trip that way.
Weather: Finally looks like rain for our last day! Figures!
Bugs: Nonexistent again.