We had considered several other routes for this year's trip, but settled on this one because of its variety of challenges and types of water. The trip was to be fairly relaxed in terms of time. We were here in 1999 and had, generally, a good trip.
After approximately 10 hours on the road, we arrived at the Aubrey Falls Trading Post. Mike and Jackie made us feel comfortable for the night and Mike ferried us up to our start point on the Mississagi River at Spanish Chutes, with the agreement to leave our vehicle at the road into the Rocky Island Lake Dam, a popular crown land spot for fishermen.
Aubrey Falls Trading Post (Hwy 129, north of Thessalon/Iron Bridge) is under new management. They are trying to regain a foothold in the canoeing, fishing & hunting needs of the area.
In addition to the set up/shuttle of trips, etc., they have a full service motel and restaurant. We found them to be very accommodating to our needs. They had a good knowledge of the variety of possiblities that were available in the area. They certainly treated us well!
We were concerned about the possibility of water level fluctuations due to hydro demand in the hot weather which was forecast over the next couple of weeks.
There are several alternates for pull outs along Rocky Island Lake.
Over the next 9 days, we traversed a variety of environments which went from small streams to marsh and big lakes. The weather was hot and, at times, muggy. The only rain that we got was as we pulled out on the south shore of Rocky Island Lake, a couple of kilometres south of the Rocky Island Lake Dam.
We met no other canoers (ists) over the time that we were on the water but did stop for a chat with Jack, who owned the private family 'resort' on Upper Green Lake. This was at the original location of a Northwest Company Outpost. As well, we talked to a couple of fishermen from Ohio. They were staying at a fly-in outpost on Kettle Lake.
Clicking on any image will get you a larger version.
The Aubrey Falls dam produces electricity for OPG, etc. by holding back Aubrey and Rocky Island Lake through an associated set of dams. This determines to some degree the water levels in the lower section of the Mississagi River.
The 500m portage over the watershed into Sulphur Lake and the Mississagi system is a long, steady climb. The 1000m portage was very buggy and, in the heat, hard. Thrown in among these two brutes are a 200m and a couple of 90m walks, just for kicks.
We were thankful when this series of portages ended. They are the toughest on the trip. It is worth assuming, depending on weather that about half a day will be spent doing this bit.
The only wildlife we saw on this stretch was a snake.
At the end of the portage out of Shanguish Lake, we stopped to fish. Results: 4 small pike.
This was a 'laundry day'. After finding a good campsite on Upper Bark lake, we got off the water fairly early and tended to the domestic stuff. Besides, the temperature had climbed to a point where we decided a bit of shade would prepare us for the next leg of the trip.
We decided to forgo the two portages that cut across from Upper Bark Lake to Bark lake. Instead, we did the 'long way round'. This quiet, colourful stretch of the river took us longer, but was worth it.
The legendary Grey Owl (Archie Belaney) lived in this cabin. Although he was not a native, he lived as one and wrote about his wilderness life. It is unfortunate that his dwelling has been defaced by hundreds of people over the years. The earliest initial carvings that we saw was in the 1940s.
The current owner could do more than put up 'private property' signs. A carving board, for those who must, could be erected away from the cabin. As well, Grey Owl is an icon of our wilderness heritage and as such should be better honoured by keeping the cabin in better condition.
Our weather luck continued. We left camp at 7:00 am due to a rain front moving in. Several of these frame structures can be found on Rocky Island Lake. Our assumption is that tarps are laid across the frames.
At our last camp on the east end of Rocky Island Lake, we enjoyed a bug reduced, warm night.
The campsite was a well used fisherman's stop with a table and frame for a tarp.
This reflective, panoramic south view of the inlet into Rocky Island Lake taken at about 8:00 pm pretty well sums up our trip.
Bright, hot and dry.
Updated maps based on this trip are available by emailing me. Click on the contact link at the top of the page.