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Bvhse/Quetico

Atikokan
1997

Atikokan
1991

Tom and I decided that because six years had elapsed since our last trip to the Quetico we should go back for another look around. In 1991 we had taken a nice nine day trip from Stanton Bay at the north edge of the park down to Kawnipi and back again. On that trip we had "encountered" the Hurlburt chain of lakes that cuts across the "grain" from Kawnipi/Agnes to Khashapiwi/Cutty. To overstate the rigor of the portages, not to mention actually finding them, is difficult. It seemed that more trees were down across the portages than were left standing alongside. Anyway, we liked Hurlburt and the challenges it posed, so we decided to go back. In order to see some new territory, though, we decided to start our trip at Beaverhouse Lake, on the far western side of the park.

The drive up was long (11.5 hours) but uneventful and we stayed overnight in a municipal campground in Atikokan, Ontario. The mosquitoes were quite active, but I found that a certain amount of shelter could be had inside the liner of the food pack. The next morning we checked in at the Beaverhouse ranger station to pick up our permit and then started paddling across Quetico Lake. Winds were calm and we made good time, finishing up about two thirds of the way along Quetico.



Although it rained most of the night, the second day turned clear early and the winds remained light out of the east which was unusual and slightly frustrating. A group of four otters swam by as we broke camp -- that's them at the upper left. We paddled further down Quetico Lake, across Jean Lake and stopped for the night on Burntside where Tom caught our dinner.



Our third day in dawned clear with light winds out of the east (again). The water was high enough on Jean Creek that we were able to skip a couple portages with only minor hull scraping incidents. Then it was back to the big, or should I say huge, water of Sturgeon. We spent the rest of the day paddling east across this monstrosity, trying to use the islands as shelter from the winds from the east (again) that increased throughout the day. Some islands were not of significant benefit as the center photo above clearly shows. We camped for the night in a nicely wooded spot at the east end of Sturgeon.



Split Rock Falls
1997

Split Rock
1991

Kawnipi Site
1997

Kawnipi Site
1991

On the fourth day we would revisit territory we had first seen back in 1991. To get there we decided to cut off the Sturgeon Narrows and pass directly into Russell Lake by way of a conveniently placed portage. After completing the exquisitely rigorous portage (top left) and paddling against very strong east (yes, again) winds all the way across the open expanse of Russell, we thought maybe it would have been better to stay sheltered in the narrows. Oh well. Split Rock Falls was as spectacular as we had remembered and we stopped for lunch there. Later we crossed Have a Smoke Portage and others to get into Kawnipi. We waited a bit too long before deciding to stop and settled for a picturesque but cramped site on a peninsula.



Kawnipi

Hurlburt Creek

1991

1997

Hurlburt Lake
1997

1991

Luna Moth

Nice Flowers

The next day dawned calm and clear and we were off to seek the somewhat fabled Hurlburt Lake. After stopping at the pictographs on Keewatin we began our search for the portage into Hurlburt Creek. True to form, we had a hard time finding the thing. We knew that it was tucked into a small bay back behind an island on Keewatin, but since it is not heavily traveled it proved difficult to find from the water. We also had to deal with the silly maps that claimed the portage hugged the creek as it cascaded down a boulder field into the lake. Yeah, right. Eventually we found it and it had seen some work since we were last there -- not a single downed tree was to be found along the entire portage.

We remembered to stop for the pictographs on Ahsin Bay this time and found a really nice site on the west shore of the lake. There was even a small beach there. Paradise it was not, however -- the black flies were outrageously bad. We had to seek premature shelter in the tent, and there were so many of them banging around trying to get at us inside that it sounded like rain...



More Nice Flowers

Marj Lake

Fair weather continued into our sixth and seventh days as we left Hurlburt behind and headed back west. Yes, the winds had shifted back to their normal west-to-east flow, but they were not too bad. Despite a map error, we managed to find the pictographs on Trant Lake before tackling our mile-long portage out of Trant. As was the case coming into the Hurlburt chain, the Park Service had removed the windfalls, and the portage was not very remarkable other than its length and its substantial mosquito population. We pressed on all the way to Marj Lake on the sixth day, making lots of challenging portages. Quite a lot of topographical relief to deal with around Khashapiwi. On the seventh day we made an uneventful but windy trip to Darky Lake where we encountered our first groups of people in three days.



Andrews Creek

Portage Aftermath

Dinner
1997

Dinner(?)
1991

The next morning we broke camp and paddled down to the south end of Darky Lake to view the spectacular pictographs there. More map errors forced us to interrogate every little bay and rockface at that end of the lake, but the search was well worth it. Afterward, we headed back to the north and traveled down the Darky River for a few miles. We decided to eliminate the western Darky River-to-Maligne River loop and take the long portage out of Andrews Creek. There was a strategically placed bog (*this* was marked correctly on the map) in the middle of this portage. It was also well-disguised and I ended up to my hips in mud -- the aftermath is pictured in the middle photo above. Needless to say, this slowed us down a bit and sapped our energy. We paddled a short way up the Maligne and camped upstream from its confluence with Pooh Bah Creek. We heard a fishing party get flown into Pooh Bah on two float planes. Tom caught dinner.




On our ninth day (weather still holding -- very dry, though) we finished paddling up the Maligne River and struck off to the northwest for Snow Lake. Besides lots of people fishing the river, we also encountered two young men on a day trip. They were notable because the spokesman kept asking us if we were on a "one-way" trip while making a circular motion with his finger. We were unable to ascertain whether or not he meant we were not headed back to our original point of entry. Tom got frustrated.

We both got frustrated at Snow Lake because somebody had taken "our" camp site. By itself, this would not have been so irritating, but these people took it upon themselves to "cry wolf" when we had paddled by against a substantial headwind. Hearing their yells and seeing them crouched around something/someone we headed back to see if we could help. Turns out they were filleting fish and were only "being silly," as they put it. Neither of us had ever encountered this behavior before, and we were quite mad. So we pushed on to Your Lake to get some distance between us and found a camp site on a little island at the northwest end of the lake. Turns out it is *the* site for turtles to lay eggs -- we were overrun by a dozen or so turtles at dusk.



The End 1997

The End 1991

The End 1991

We paddled back to Beaverhouse on the tenth day. It was another breezy but rainless day. The long portage from Badwater to West Bay had been "engineered" recently with the addition of a couple very long boardwalks. People we met on the portage told us that it had been a nightmare to cross before they were put in. We were fortunate enough to land the beach site at the far east side of Beaverhouse. Tom fished but had no luck. We had been gone so long that a fire ban had been instituted while we were out. We started a fire on the beach and the ranger who lives across the lake came across in his powerboat to reprimand us. After quickly dousing the fire and explaining ourselves he remembered us and said "Oh, you are those guys?" Hmmm. The next day we paddled back to the truck and left for home. This was the longest trip either of us had taken -- 135 total miles with 3280 rods (10 miles) worth of portages thrown in for good meaure.



Last Update on March 16, 2005

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