This spring Kate and I took a canoe trip in the Nakina, Ontario region. The Nakina region is about 300 miles north of Grand Marais, and is known for its world class fishing, and abundant wildlife. The area is not a well-known paddling destination, but should be, offering a huge number of wilderness routes.
For the first three days of our trip, we were plagued with bad weather, it rained constantly (unless it snowed), the highs were around or below 50, and the lows about freezing. We stayed mostly dry, but it was harder to enjoy our surroundings. On the fourth day the sun came out, and the next three days were perfect, if not a bit too sunny. We finished in an on and off light mist on our seventh day.
Starting out on the Gripp River
On the Gripp
Our first camp. It was a bit cold and windy to enjoy the nice open area provided by the sloping rock.
Summit lake on our second day. Summit lake is interesting because the lake itself sits on the height of land, with outlets flowing both south to Superior, and north the the James Bay drainage. This interesting fact does not make it any more enjoyable to paddle in a gale.
Our second day ended at the falls on the Powitick river. We were delayed for much of the day waiting out lighting. Along the way we ran some fun rapids and saw three moose.
Camp at the falls
Day three on the Kap river. We paddled more fun and challenging rapids, all in the same cold, wet weather. Once we started heading east, the wind became very strong against us. We pulled over and made a rough camp on shore. After a quick supper, we crawled into our tent and dry sleeping bags for the night.
Day four was hopeful looking. Kate starts to lose some layers by taking down her hood.
No rain coat!
Rocks on Stewart lake, the first of a series of large lakes. These lakes had fly in fishing camps on them, and because of them we saw more people than our first three days (none).
The site on Stone Lake. This might be the nicest place I’ve camped. Perfect site for the time, the sloping rocks let us dry out some wet gear.
Site on Stone
Stone lake in the morning. On day five we had a mile long portage through a swamp, and then a big open water crossing on Ara lake. I woke up early to see what the wind was doing. We decided to leave at our normal time, and had no issues with the wind.
Ara lake. This lake seemed huge.
Meta Lake. By the time we were on Meta the winds were starting to kick up.
I had been warned about the Portage from Meta to Abamasagi. The person who had helped me plan the trip and did our shuttle had said it was the one portage he swore he would never do again (although he has since reportedly been over it this year). When we went over it, the water was so high I could float the canoe through much of it.
Abamasagi Lake. The wind was really coming up behind us.
- We stopped and camped on a small rock island.
The next day we decided to take it easy and only move a few miles down the lake to a beach site marked on my map. The water was so high that much of the beach was under water, as well as the fire ring.
Our beach site from the lake.
We moved the fire ring to above water.
The morning of our seventh day, packing up.
Final few miles on the Kowkash river. Shortly before this photo we ran a drop that in hindsight might not have been wise. We had a good clear V, but once we were in the rapids it became clear how big the wave train was. Kate spent much of the run too high in the air to paddle. Our cover was the only reason we didn’t swamp.
- We finished at the bridge over the Kowkash river after running a few more big sets of rapids. This is the tail end of the rapids going under the bridge, which were similar to what we had run.
Overall it was a good trip. We paddled a new interesting area, and had the full range of weather. We saw great wildlife, including eight moose and a woodland caribou. I was able to catch fish, which means fishing must have been excellent. I hope to return to the area again to explore more of the routes the Nakina region has to offer, and would be happy to share the information I have gathered to anyone interested in a trip in this area. A good starting point for planning a trip in the area is http://www.greenstonewildernesstrails.ca under the “trails” section. The site has info for many routes, including the Steel river, which Kate and I paddled last year.