Fall on the Kindiogami

Kindiogami Road is a 60km long logging road, that cuts through rugged bush from highway 546, which is north of Elliot Lake, to highway 129. Along it are many small lakes, to which there are rough access roads from the main logging road. There are no other roads that cut across from these two highways, so it can be used as a short cut, but I would caution those who are not accustomed to driving on bush roads.

This corridor was the chosen location for a fall driving/camping/paddling trip with me, my son, and my brother. There was no particular itinerary, just some loose intentions of doing some camping out of our vehicles along the way, and reaching a couple of massive areas of continuous waterways known as Aubrey Lake, and Rocky Island Lake.

Here is the route we ended up taking, both land and waterways;

My brother arrived at my place a day before my son, because of differing vacation days from work, so me and my brother did some sight seeing in the area for that first day. When my son arrived we headed north for the Kindiogami.

It was a rainy day, and not very nice at all for any kind of outdoor activities, but we only had 6 days, so we soldiered on through the weather, although it was certainly not very enjoyable at this point.

There were a lot of hunters up in the bush, since moose season had just opened, so we could count on some campsites being occupied, as was the first campsite I thought we could stay at. This was Otter Lake, where I had visited once before, and I thought that, since the weather was not the greatest for finding campsites, we could spend the night here.

However, when we arrived at Otter Lake, we found that there was already someone set up in there, and I had to wonder if this was going to be a recurring thing as we made our way across Kindiogami Road. We had no choice but to continue our three vehicle convoy onward, along the bush road, to another possible camping location.

As I mentioned, I had been in here as far as Otter Lake, but I was now in new territory, and I had no idea what may lie ahead. I did have my Recreational Map with me though, so I could see where camping possibilities might be. We headed for the next likely lake, which was Toosee Lake.

Many of the lakes along the Kindiogami are not visible from the main logging road. There are small, and sometimes very tricky, access roads leading into these lakes from the main logging road. One has to make a decision, whether to risk driving in, and possibly finding that the campsite is already occupied, or, parking on the main road and walking in, to assess the situation.

Even in clear weather conditions, it can be difficult to see some of these lake access roads, since they can be well camouflaged by the bush. Sometimes we would drive by the access road, and then get a glimpse of a lake through the bush, and realize that we missed the road.

I was in the lead vehicle, so it was up to me to find a place where we could camp for the night, so I was watching, carefully, for something that looked interesting. I was sure that we would be able to see Toosee Lake from the main road, from the way it looked on the map, but maps can be deceiving.

As we were driving along, I passed a road on the right hand side that looked interesting, so I stopped the convoy and we decided to go back and check it out. We parked our vehicles on the main logging road and I was the first one to start walking in. It was still raining at this time, as I walked along this narrow bush path.

I could see a clearing at the end of the path and, when I got there, the perfect campsite came into view, and it was empty. I started running back down the path, indicating to my son and brother that we had arrived.

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We quickly went to work setting up our camp. I had my big tent with me this time, since we intended to be camping along the logging road for the first few days.

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My son set up his tent, but opted to sleep in his vehicle, like the rest of us.

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He was driving his Ford Taurus station wagon, and did a fine job in navigating the bush roads with me and my brother who were in 4X4’s.

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My brother chose a higher spot, with a better view of the lake. This truly was an amazing campsite, better than you’d find in a Provincial Park, and it was free.

Once we were settled in, I got my GPS out to find our actual location. When I started my GPS, I found that it wasn’t locating us and, eventually decided, much to my horror, that I may not have loaded the required maps onto it. After kicking my own ass for a while, I tried it again, and it worked. The problem was that we were located right on the edge of one of the map tiles, and that’s why it didn’t show our location at first. I breathed a sigh of relief.

With the GPS now working, I was able to determine that we were, indeed, on Toosee Lake.

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Although the previous photo’s show sunshine, they were taken the next morning. This is what Toosee Lake looked like when we arrived.
However, the rain did let up shortly after we arrived, so me and my brother went out for a paddle.

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Toosee Lake is not a huge lake, but it was big enough for a nice paddle.

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There was also a nice meandering river section that was interesting, until we reached a beaver dam that we didn’t want to put the effort into crossing, although I did make a few futile attempts at forcing my way over an open part of the dam.

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This was the first trip for my brother in his, newly acquired, wood/canvas canoe, which was a welcomed relief to the very heavy plastic one he’s had up until now.

The next morning I was up early to catch the sunrise over Toosee Lake. I took many pictures as the sun rose, but I will only post a few here.

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This was to signal beautiful sunshine for the remainder of our trip. After sunrise was enjoyed, and breakfast had, I needed to make a trip back to Elliot Lake, to get a part for my sons car, so my son and my brother went out paddling while I was gone. My son had brought mis-matched sections of his paddle, so they came up with a jury-rigged solution during the time I was away also.

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The next day, we hit the logging road again, to continue our journey. We decide that, from here, we would make the run to the Rocky Island Dam, which lay between Aubrey Lake, and Rocky Island Lake. It seemed like a good place to access both lakes from one spot.

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As we made our way through the bush, we stopped at some scenic spots, to take a break, and to take some pictures. There were many hunters out and about, and we did hear a few shots, but not too often.

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This little guy is in dangerous territory, and was lucky that we weren’t hunters.

Before proceeding to the area of the Rocky Island Dam, we decided to go right out to the end of the logging road, where it intersected with highway 129. There is a Trading Post there, and I was curious to see if it had gas available. It did, although none of us needed gas at that point. For those interested though, the gas was about ten cents a liter higher than in Elliot Lake, which is already pretty high.

My son got out his one burner stove, and we made some coffee, in a clearing across from the Trading Post. After lunch, we headed back into the bush, headed for Rocky Island Dam. When we got to the road that leads to Rocky Island Dam, we found that it had a gate on it, and there was no access to the Dam area, so we continued down a diminishing road, to a really nice spot on Rocky Island Lake.

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We set up camp in another very nice spot, with lots of firewood available.

The water level in Rocky Island Lake is controlled by dams, and we estimated that it was about 10 to 12 feet below it’s highest point at the moment. This left large sections of shoreline exposed, and some islands, which were clearly usually submerged, above water. It also meant that we had a long walk to get water, or to launch our boats.

Update

I have since learned that Rocky Island Lake is a man-made reservoir, which was intended for the production of hydro electric power.  In 2002, a company named Brascan purchased the hydro rights for this reservoir and immediately started draining the whole lake to bottom, for a quick profit.  The lake has now made a comeback, but it could still fluctuate according to the amount of hydro electricity extracted.  Still, it is a vast body of water, and is worth exploring for recreational purposes.

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We weren’t going to camp out on the exposed bottom of the lake for obvious reasons.

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It sure made exploring easy though, since we didn’t have to go into the bush to walk along the lake.

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There was tons of driftwood piled up on the beach but, right now, the water was probably a hundred yards away.

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It was pretty neat walking along the exposed shoreline, and I can’t imagine how much water it would take to bring the level down that low, since this lake is huge.

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You could see the exposed shoreline, for as far as the eye could see, around the perimeter of the lake. However, there was a rock face sticking out into the water about 3/4 of a kilometer down from our campsite, so we could not pass that point.

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There were tree stumps everywhere, which leads us to believe that this area was likely not part of the lake originally, but was flooded due to dam activity.

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There were lots of animal tracks on the beach, mostly deer and moose. We did also see a fox one evening near our campsite.

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The sun was setting on our first day at Rocky Island Lake, so we got the fire going, and settled in for the evening. I should also mention that there were lots of biting insects here during the daytime, even though it was so late in the season.

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Sunset at Rocky Island Lake.

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The next day. Sunrise on Rocky Island Lake.

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As you can see, it’s nice and calm, so our first thought was to get out in the boats.

Off we went, into the unknown. Rocky Island Lake is a massive lake, with many bays and inlets, so it would be very easy to get lost out here. Fortunately, I did have my GPS with me so, as long as we all stayed together, and within sight of each other, we could locate where we were anytime. Also, we weren’t going to do any really long paddles, since my son was using that jury-rigged paddle, and it wasn’t up to the abuse of a longer paddle.

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We made our way along the shoreline, in very calm conditions.

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You can clearly see here, how low the water levels were.

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Since I was taking the pictures, I was behind the other guys most of the time, although they were also taking pictures with their cell phones. Of course, there is no cell phone reception up here, so calling for help, in the case of an emergency, is not an option. I do tend to be a bit paranoid in these situations, because I feel responsible for keeping these guys safe, when they come up here to do trips with me. Also, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you know the way back to camp, and then suddenly realize that you don’t know where you are. It’s happened to me, but I always carry my GPS when I’m going into unknown territory.

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The surroundings are so quiet and serene, but you need to keep in mind that you are out in a vast, and unforgiving, wilderness. That serenity can so easily become a terrifying nightmare, if precautions are not taken.

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Coming into view now, is the yellow barrier for the Rocky Island Dam. The water flows out of Rocky Island Lake here, and into Aubrey Lake, which is another vast lake, with narrow waterways, and very rugged, and spectacular surrounding terrain.

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There is a portage around the Rocky Island Dam, on the left side, so we took advantage of that to go ashore and check out the dam a little closer.

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I don’t know how long this portage is but, after we got past this rocky section, which is probably not here at high water, the trail seemed very well kept, and the walking was easy.

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Up on top, we found this pile of huge logs, that were probably used as the old barrier across the dam, before the newer yellow one was installed.

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We got up on top of the walkway on the dam, and checked out the view.

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This is the Mississagi River, which will lead into Aubrey Lake. All the shorelines of both Aubrey Lake, and Rocky Island Lake are protected by Provincial Park status. The area we explored on this trip was within the boundaries of Mississagi River Provincial Park. Further north, on Aubrey Lake, is Aubrey Falls Provincial Park.

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Another view of the barrier across the front of the dam.

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We made our way back down to the boats.

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And we were off, seeking more adventures.

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If you look closely at the boulder on the left side of this picture, you will see the high water mark. I’ll have to do a bit more research to find out where the next dam on this lake system is, but it’s amazing how much water has been displaced from this lake.

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At this point, my son was finding that the temporary fix to his paddle was becoming a bit wobbly.

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Here you can see the duct tape on the middle section of his paddle. They inserted a piece of wood between the two mis-matched sections to join them together, and then duct taped it. It worked pretty good for a while, but it was inevitable that it would come loose at some point.

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This is such a vast lake system, and this one trip would be nowhere near enough to explore even a tiny bit of it.

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But, we were very grateful to get, even this small glimpse of the adventures still waiting out there for another day.

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I’m sure that there will be no convincing involved, in order to arrange another trip back to Rocky Island Lake.

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There are so many arms, inlets, and bays to explore. If we come back in May of next year, the water levels may be at their high point also.

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Look closely, you can see my brother in the shadows down this long bay.

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We’ve been so lucky on most of these trips, to get sunshine, calm waters, and nice temperatures for our exploring.

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I get a kick out of these huge boulders that are strewn across this landscape.

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It was about at this point that I looked across the lake and saw, what looked like, a large beach area. I signaled the guys to cross over, because it looked like a nice place to get out and take a break.

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Being the first ashore on this bare, gravelly island, I got some shots of the other guys coming in.

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The guys, stretching their legs, on a barren landscape. This island is probably completely submerged at high water.

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There were also many tree stumps on this island, indicating that this was not always a barren, gravelly place.

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It was a nice break from paddling, to get out and stretch a bit, and it’s always a nice feeling to know that you’re probably walking where very few people ever come.

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Remanents of days gone by. Most of these trees were probably clear cut before the area was flooded.

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Quiet!! Photographer at work. 🙂

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Yep, I pulled this stump out of the ground all by myself.

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Quietly surveying the situation.

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There was not much on this island, but it did make for a good, open walking space.

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We mounted our steeds once again, and headed back toward our campsite. I had taken a GPS reading while we were on the island, so I knew exactly where we were, and what route to take to get us back.

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I always like to take a different route back, so that we can see as much as possible in the short time that we are here.

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Both me and my brother were keeping a close eye on the wobbly paddle situation, but my son had done a fine job in holding it together for the duration of this paddle.

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Here you can clearly see what my son was dealing with. Look at the bend in the shaft of that paddle!

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Coming in for a landing, back at the campsite.

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A last look at the Rocky Island Lake area. My son had to be back home a day before my brother, so I escorted him out of the bush road, and onto highway 129. Later, he emailed me saying that he really enjoyed the scenic drive down 129, and he made it home safely.

Me and my brother, however, still had another day to explore, and we chose to move our campsite over to Aubrey Lake, so that we could do some paddling there.

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Here we are at the new campsite.

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Someone had kindly left a nice pile of dry firewood here too, so we didn’t have to do a lot in that regard.

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This area was a real contrast to Rocky Island Lake. Aubrey Lake was full of water, and the surrounding terrain was spectacular. After we had set up our camp, we decided to go for a paddle. It was later in the day, so I checked my map to find a route that might be suitable. I did find a route around a very large island, but I didn’t have a way to check the actual distance of that route.

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Anyway, off me and my brother went, into the very scenic Aubrey Lake.

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The sun was fairly low in the sky at this time, as the days are getting shorter and shorter.

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Here you can see what I mean.

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But, the magical, narrow passageways, and the high surrounding rocky terrain were alluring to our paddles.

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We stopped at this location to have something to eat, and to take a GPS reading.

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Then we continued on, mostly following the shoreline of the big island that we intended on paddling around.

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However, the castle lights were growing dim, and we weren’t even half way around the island, so it was painfully apparent that we would definitely be late for dinner.

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The failing light was shining against the shoreline in the distance, but the shadows were very long.

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I turned my kayak around, to catch the setting sun, in all it’s glory, even as it threatened to leave us lost in the darkness.

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We pulled in to an island campsite that was marked on my Recreational Map. We wanted to check out the facilities for future reference, but I joked that we could stay there for the night, which, in hindsight, might not have been that far fetched. However, we came away very disappointed in the meager state and conditions on this campsite, so we soldiered on.

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Into Darkness.

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As beautiful as it was.

It was then that I discovered that I still had my sunglasses on, and when I took them off, I was amazed to see that we still had some light left yet. 🙂

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Still, we had a long way to go, and it was bound to get much darker.

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As the last of the sun’s light receded, we were treated to some fine displays of colour.

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It was just like nature, to show it’s beauty on one hand, and it’s harshness on the other. Nature is indifferent to everything and everyone.

We had no choice but to keep paddling and keep in contact with the shoreline of that big island, so that it would lead us back to the area of our campsite.

Obviously, I couldn’t take any more pictures after this point, but it got a lot darker needless to say. We paddled on and on, until it was pitch black outside. All we could hope for was some kind of sign that would guide us toward our campsite.

Then, out of the darkness I heard something…….something that I didn’t like, but I’ll take it this time. It was a generator. I despise hearing generators run in the quiet wilderness, but I’ll have to bite my tongue on this occasion, because I had a very good feeling that this generator sound was coming from some people that were camped quite close to where we were camped, so I followed the sound.

By this time you could hardly see your hand in front of your face. My brother, who was behind me, told me that all he could do was follow the V formation left by my kayak in front of him.

Sound carry’s a long way across water, so I just kept paddling in the direction of that generator sound. Eventually, I was able to pull ashore right at the launching point of our campsite. Lucky? Maybe, but I’ve always said that life will take you where you need to be. I guess it just wasn’t our time to be lost in the wilderness.

Anyway, we very gratefully came ashore, got the fire going and had dinner. It turns out that this paddle we just did was 14kms long. If I’d known that, I certainly would have known that it was too long for the daylight we had left. Live and learn.

The next morning we got up and had a leisurely breakfast, and then we went for a walk while the dew on the big tent dried a bit.

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We found this nice little section of beach, just off the road, which we had, unknowingly, passed by in the darkness last night.

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After our walk, we packed up and made a beeline back through the Kindiogami bush road, and out to the highway, which led back to Elliot Lake.

It was a fine trip, and a good time was had by all. We were all committed to, one day, retuning to this amazing area to do some further exploring.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Excellent shot of the lake and sky on fire by the sunset, superb actually

    Reply

  2. Posted by zeker on February 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    really enjoyed this son. ty

    Reply

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