OUTERS SPRINGTRIP 2016
MARSHALL TO THE KAP
As usual, Springtrip 2016 came to be about as easily as delivering a baby who started kicking a month early. Our first plan was to do the Onaman Lake route, back to Geraldton, but after inspection of the 3 kilometre port between Onaman and Fullerton Lake, it was decided to move to plan B. The port had been cut during a winter operation, and much of it was now unsafe for walking.
Plan B was to finish the trip we had started in 2015. We had intended to go from Marshall Lake to the Kap bridge, with a side trip up to Faubert Lake, but the Ogoki road was too sketchy to drive a bus down. We only ended up going to Summit Lake and back. This year was a different story, the road was being maintained, so we decided to give it a try again.
We left the school at 9:32 on Sunday, June 19th, and made record time, arriving at Marshall Lake around 11:15 AM. Unloading was fast and furious. We had 15 students and six staff members on this trip. Chainsaw Rob was coming in a couple of days late, but we had Staff Evie and Staff Nurse Caitlin adding a much needed boost to our brigade. Andrew and Lynnea were joining us again, learning the ropes as they move forward to inherit the club when Haslam retires.
Dire weather forecasts had plagued us for weeks as the trip approached. Today called for thunder storms and winds approaching 40 kilometres an hour. We completed the 1200 meter port around 1:00 PM, had a quick lunch and got on the water by1:10. A steady rain was falling, but the lake was completely calm. We made itto the far south side campsite (MC 1.5 on map) by 3:00.
A tent and tarp city arose around us. Staff and students were in good spirits, as they were expecting to not even get on the lake today. Needless to say, the fishing frenzy had already begun.
An excellent supper of Hamburger Helper was supplemented with several delicious walleye fillets.
Rain came off and on for most of the evening, and around 1:00 AM, a huge thunderstorm parked right over our camp and frightened several people with its ferocity.
Monday morning dawned wet and windy. We got up at 7:15 and had a leisurely breakfast of triple cold smoked bacon and bagels.
We were on the water by 9:30, but shortly after everyone was floating, a very large wind came in and forced us all to shore. Mayhem ensued for a few moments as everyone roped their canoes around the corner into a sheltered bay by an old mining camp. We waited for a short lull in the wind and then beat it around the corner to the Gripp River.
Once on the Gripp River, travel proceeded uneventfully. Ports 2, 3, and 4 of the trip were finished in short order. Rain came down in buckets and then the sun came out. Sometimes the rain came down in buckets while the sun was shining. It was one of those kind of days. By the time we got Gripp Lake, everyone was pretty well soaked, despite rain gear. Half way up the north arm of Gripp, a powerful hail storm hit us, chilling everyone to the bone. To make matter worse, someone was camped on our new favourite spot! Imagine that, someone camped on our spot in the middle of nowhere on June 20th! It boggles the mind!
Our minds were even more boggled when we started talking to the fellows. They turned out to be from Louisiana, USA. The talkative one, who looked like a Duck Dynasty wanna-be, held up his mostly empty 60 ounces of whiskey and drawled out “Why, I never seen so many women out here in the middle of no-where!” Although we had several Outers getting very cold, it was decided it might be better to paddle the extra hour down the lake, rather than risk waking up with Mr. Duck Dynasty in our sleeping bag.
By the time we hit the high, rocky site, 2/3’s of the way down Gripp, a couple of girls were getting very cold. We got them completely under a big tarp where they changed into dry cloths and stayed there until the rain let up and the kitchen tarp and fire were going. Everyone really excelled at pitching in to turn this miserable wind swept camp site into a comfortable, warm retreat. Supper was served quickly, and most Outers congregated around the fire, trying to warm up and dry their clothes out.
This had been a very tough day, but despite the challenges, Outers were in great spirits and had an excellent sleep. The boys tent never got cold on the trip, as it was stuffed with eleven guys, as well as the associated gases that come out of eleven guys.
It was very cold overnight on Gripp, but thankfully, the sun was shining when we got up at 6:30. We were on the water quickly because we wanted to beat the winds before we got to Summit Lake. At the end of port 5, out of Gripp Lake, there was a nice new trapper’s cabin. It turned out that one of our Outers from Beardmore had helped build it. It was being used by his family for trapping and commercial fishing.
As we approached Summit Lake, a weather system was moving in from the west. Haslam told the Outers they would be hugging the shore all the way to the bottom of the lake and then up the west side instead of chancing an open water crossing. Much groaning could be heard, but it ended up being the correct choice, as the wind steadily picked up.
We were in camp on Summit by 11:00 AM, so much time was spent tent setting, swimming and cooking. We had two visitors in the afternoon. Chainsaw Rob showed up around 3:00, having left Marshall Lake that morning, and one of the Outer’s dads flew in with a junk food drop off. Head Cook Daniel, with the help of Assistant Brigade Leader Destiny, spent the evening making pancakes, and wrapping the in foil, so that they would just have to pre-heat them in the morning. This turned out to be a great idea!
Chainsaw Rob arrived during a big marshmallow roasting gathering. He wasn’t keen on the sugary puffs, but spying a kid cutting up bacon gave way to a similar idea. Him and staff Haslam roasted up a couple of pieces of bacon over the fire!
The morning dawned calm and beautiful. It was the first nice day of the trip, much welcomed by the wet, soggy masses. Travel today was fairly easy, with three short ports. Outers had a leisurely breakfast and were on the quiet waters of Summit Lake around 10:00 AM. They ran a small chute out of Summit on the left and then continued to float down the Powitik, porting when necessary, and obtaining the first sun burns of the trip. We reached the Falls campsite around3:00 PM. Staff Haslam and Staff Evie shot the last two sets of rapids, but everyone else ported. Fishing, swimming and rock reclining became the main activities for the rest of the night.
Everyone was in bed by 11:00 PM. There was quite a bit of excitement for the next day, as we were going to travel into parts unknown, the mysterious and elusive Faubert Lake!
We awoke to another gorgeous and sunny day! We were on the water by 9:30 and paddling upstream on the placid waters of the Kapikotongwa River by 9:50. It took about an hour and a half of steady paddling to reach Faubert Lake. Much of the upper Kap and most of Faubert appears to have been burned in a fire about15 years ago.
Faubert did not disappoint. We assumed that people did not get to it, and we were right. We got within several yards of five or six moose, who couldn’t quite figure out what we were. Walleye were being caught in the middle of the lake at high noon on twister tails. It seemed like we had arrived in paradise. However, we searched for a campsite for a few hours, before chainsaw Rob suggested a flat spot he had seen upon first entering the lake. Although it looked like another chunk of dense bush, Chainsaw Rob got active, as did all the kids, and an hour later a Provincial Park like campsite emerged.
We settled in for a long night of eating. The walleye were sweet and fat, and we ate many. Stories were told around the fire, and everyone retired around 11 PM, thankful to have finally made it to the elusive Faubert Lake.
Around 5:00 AM, Staff Haslam heard a strange noise outside his tent. The students had washed his tin cup and spoon and left it outside his tent door the night before. The cup was rattling, accompanied by a very heavy sniffing sound. After listening for a couple of minutes, Haslam began yelling at the animal. It did not leave, but merely grew somewhat more interested in the cup. Grabbing his bear bangers, bear spray and big knife (sorry Dave, not the Ripster, I shall explain later), he exited the tent. Twenty five feet away, a huge bear sat looking at him. The head was larger than a Volkswagon . A few more shouts provoked nothing more than curious looks, so Haslam loaded up a bear banger. Fortunately by this time, Staff Andrew was out of the tent. Haslam launched the bear banger right at the brute’s face, and the resounding “BANG” had the bear fleeing like it’s arse was on fire. It also woke up all of the Outers, who thought Haslam was just playing a game to get them up early. Haslam told them to pack up and load the canoes. In the 47 years that the club has been running, we have never had an uncomfortable in-camp-bear experience. Haslam assumed the bear was incredibly innocent, but someone else suggested he might be are located bear, as they sometimes drive them up the Ogoki Road to get rid of them.
In any case, we weren’t about to share seven pounds of delicious triple cold smoked bacon with the marauding Maqwa, so we took off back down the Kap river, stopping at an old hunt camp we had noticed to cook up the bacon in peace.
Shortly after passing the junction of the Powitik and the Kap, we started some rapidrunning. The kids had a lot of fun with the first gentle C1.
Shortly afterward, we arrived at a boney set that has always been problematic. Chainsaw Rob guided most of the kids down River Left so they could walk to the bottom, while Staff Haslam and Evie threaded through the boulders and ran it three times clean. We stopped for lunch shorty afterward on the big bald rock where Robin and gang camped last year. Campsite tonight was going to be at the beginning of the 660 meter mud port, so no-one was eager to go.
We arrived at the 660 around 3:00 PM. Chainsaw Rob lead a train of canoe carrying Outers across the port, while Haslam started cutting out campsites. When Rob returned, he struck out again with his saw to brush out the port and clear some big downfall. By 4:30, tents were being put up and a nice site was rising out of the bughole. Supper was cooked on the spit of land right by river.
Promotions were held that evening, and after it was all over, the staff was heard remarking that this had been one of the best trips in years. The kids had been a pleasure, and everyone had worked hard.
Camp woke up at 6:30 and shortly afterward began porting. The usual drudgery of porting through mud and lancet was made lighter by the knowledge that this was the last day, and the bridge was only a few hours away. After three ports and an hour of paddling, the bridge was spotted, with the bus already waiting. Canes and the bus were loaded within a half hour, just as heavy rain started tofall. Upon arrival in Geraldton, we found out that a microburst had hit, and the power was out. Unpacking had to be done with the big bay doors open on the shop. By 4:00 PM, Spring trip 2016 had come to an end. Next year’s trip is still being debated, but Chainsaw Rob and Haslam were heard making noises about cutting open Meta Creek this summer.