(The Fishing Expedition)
Springtrip 2015 had a rough birth this year. Staff had selected a route that went from Marshall Lake to the bridge over the Kapikotongwa river, with some exploration in-between. However, the Ogoki road had other plans for us. Staff Haslam took a run up the road the weekend before the trip, and found a variety of wash-outs. Although none would stop a truck with 4 x 4, it was doubtful that the bus could make it past the four washouts between Marshall Lake and the bridge. Discussions with the Fire Base and MNR yielded little hope that the road would be fixed, so plan “B” had to be created.
Outers began congregating at the shop at 7:30on the morning of June 22. The bus arrived around 9:20, and everything was ready to go by 9:40. Everything proceeded well, until we reached the junction of the Ogoki and Anaconda Roads, where the bus made a noise like a dinosaur expiring, and ceased all movement. A pool of yuck began to run out from under the bus. Inspection revealed that a radiator hose had burst. Haslam got out the Sat phone, and a mechanic was dispatched to come to our aid. Meanwhile, Haslam and the bus driver took off in the truck to evaluate the washouts after Marshall. Upon reaching the first one, it was apparent that no bus could navigate it, so Plan “B” became official.
We were back on our way by 1:00 PM, and arrived at Marshall lake around 2:00. Outers began unloading the trailer in a light rain.
By 3:45, the 1.2 K portage was completed, and everyone was on the water. The rain began in earnest.
Plan “B” consisted of paddling and portaging back to Summit Lake, and then returning along the same route. It was to be a short and easy Outers trip, but one that become memorable none the less. Our goal for this day was to make it to the campsite on the northwest arm of Marshall, and although it rained hard, the wind was very cooperative, and we made camp at 5:15.
A rain tarp was immediately set up, and supper got underway. After all the work was finished, Outers began fishing right from the campsite, and a few dozen healthy walleye were landed, with ten or eleven being consumed.
Camp retired to a damp sleep around 11:00 PM.
Everyone was up by 7:10 the next morning to another wet looking day. The triple cold smoked bacon was busted out to chase our blues away. On the menu this morning was the bacon, toasted bagels and cream cheese.
We headed across the placid waters of Marshall lake to the first port of the day. This year we were very lucky to have the husband/wife team of Andrew and Lynnea. They are being groomed to take over the program, as Haslam is retiring in four years. Their excellent attitudes and high spirits were a big addition to the trip. As well as these two, we had Sara, a previous student of GCHS, and good old Chainsaw Rob for a total of five staff.
Here is a map showing Day Two travel and some of day three.
The first port out of Marshall is easy to find. Paddle down the Gripp River until you see an old trapper’s cabin. A 260 meter port on RL will take you to an opening in the Gripp. It will also take you to one of the hottest walleye spots in Northern Ontario. Staff and students probably caught and released over 50 wallies in under a half hour.
After getting our fill of fishing, we proceeded down the Gripp River toward the next port. There were some shallows and riffles that had a few canoes walking, but it was a sedate paddle.
When we reached the next port, it soon became apparent that most people doing the trip before us had missed the port and had been bushwhacking through a “trail” by the start of the rapids. We cleared and re-established the 200 meter port that ended at a small pond. Again, multiple fat walleye were caught in the pool below the rapids. A floating lunch was had here to escape the bugs.
Outers quickly conquered the next port of 116 meters, and we proceeded to the north arm of Gripp Lake. After some searching, we found the campsite mentioned by Robin on the far northwest shore. It was quite a large site, and had obviously been used quite a bit in the past. We arrived at 3:15 and immediately set up a big rain tarp, as a huge thunder cell was rolling in. As soon as the tarp was up, torrential rain came down. Later on in the evening, the sun came out, and students started fishing from the rocks at the campsite. Many walleye were caught again.
Camp slept in on day three, as we only had to go to Summit Lake, one port and 13 k of paddling away. The day dawned grey, but quickly switched to bright and sunny. Port number five is 285 meters long, and the Outers were quickly across. The area after the port is a beautiful and isolated series of small ponds and wild rice.
One of the students’ father is a bush pilot, and he stopped in to see us, dropping off a care package of goodies for the kids. It really tugs at the heart strings of every real Canadian to see that little float plane skimming down through the water and then hear the roar as it takes off again.
We continued on to the west shore of Summit Lake to an old and garbaged up campsite. Chainsaw Rob got busy and cut out a couple of spots for the big tents and staff popped theirs up wherever they could find space.
Fishing frenzy hit again, and staff and students plied the waters of Summit for the willing walleye. Several were caught and cooked to perfection by staff Lynnea, and then devoured without class by the hungry hordes of Outers.
As the evening wound down, we had an accident with one of the students that needed medical attention. We phoned trusty George, our pilot from earlier today, and arranged an evac for 9:00 AM the next morning. The student was in no danger, but we felt it was necessary for him to see a doctor. Camp wound down and went to bed around 11:30.
At 8:55 AM the next morning, George buzzed in from the south and landed right in front of the campsite. We paddled our casualty out and then tied the new cedar strip Chum to the plane. We were back to even numbers, so Staff Haslam was stuck in the stern of a Nova Craft Prospector now.
We packed up and were on the water by 10:30. Chainsaw Rob headed across the lake before us and ran into a couple from Renfrew who were doing the trip from Marshall lake to the bridge at the Kap. This was the first time Outers had ever met other canoeists on this route. The paddle back up to Gripp lake was uneventful, and we stopped at the old Outers campsite around 1:30 for lunch. It was a blistering hot day!
Once again, the bottom of the rapids at port five produced multiple walleye, double, triple and even quadruple fish on at the same time!
We decided to check out the old outfitter cabin on Gripp Lake. it proved to be a very interesting adventure. We even found one of our missing paddles under an old aluminium boat. Someone must have found a lost one on one of the ports from years ago and kept it.
The cabin was in a state of serious disarray, but many of the notes posted on the walls were very entertaining. The main theme was bears and pike. Shown below are a sample:
The name over the cabin didn’t really live up to the reality of the interior.
After everyone had a good look, we headed back up Gripp Lake to the North end campsite. Tent sites were already cleared, so set up was very fast. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and, of course, fishing. A huge amount of walleye was consumed with the evening meal.
On day five, camp rose at 7:00 AM sharp. We had a regular day of travel ahead of us for a change, not one of these leisure paddles. Three ports and around 20 K of paddling would normally be considered an easy day, but for this trip, it was the most distance travelled. The early morning light was beautiful, and Outers were on the water by 8:55.
As we paddled the narrow arm between the north arm of Gripp and the main channel, we found a big eagle nest. If you look closely, you’ll see the head of the little eagle poking out.
The paddling and porting was over very quickly. We arrived at a beach about a kilometer from our access point at 2:30. We were contemplating finding a camping spot along that shore, but it was pretty rough in the bush, so we returned to the camping site at the end of the 1.2 k port.
We had lots of time to kill over the next day and half. The bus was’t coming until Sunday morning, so a rest day on Saturday was in store. Brigade Leader Evelyn once again showed up the boys by making a super tight tent. She then took out the reflector oven that Oldie Moldie had donated to our club and baked several pans of cake. A very talented girl!
Unfortunately, Staff Haslam didn’t get any pictures of the reflector oven in action as he had to deal with another medical concern. A student developed an allergic reaction and swelled up like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, so he got walked out to the road and picked up, after a five hour wait.
On Sunday morning, everyone was eager to leave, so everything was ported up the 1.2 k trail by 8:30. The bugs were vicious, so people developed a variety of strategies to deal with them.
The bus arrived at 9:45, and by 1:30 PM the Outers were shutting the shop doors on another Spring Trip. Although this one wasn’t as challenging as the usual trip, it will be remembered for the awesome students and staff, and the great fishing!