2018 Outers Spring Trip
Steel Lake – Deadhorse
Steel Lake – Sun Road North
Steel Lake – Eaglecrest Road
Stone Lake – Kapikotongwa Bridge
Stone Lake – Ogoki Road
Namewaminikan River – Kinghorn Road
The 2018 GCHS Outers Spring Trip barely made it to launch this year. The first plan was to start at the south end of Steel Lake and paddle back to Longlac. However, the Terrace Bay Conservation Officer advised us that the Deadhorse Road was not safe for a school bus.
We then switched the trip to start on Sun Road North and paddle down Steel Lake and then back up. However, with one weekend left, it was discovered that the first three ports were completely destroyed by some kind of weather event. Then the Eaglecrest road washed out.
So with three days left till departure, it was decided to go north again. We were going to put in at the Kapikotongwa Bridge and paddle down to Stone Lake and back. However, with two days left, after torrential rains, MNR advised us that the Ogoki road was no longer safe for school bus travel.
With two days left we came up with a fool proof route, starting and finishing on the Kinghorn Road, in an area that was virtually washout free. We would be using the Namewaminikan River system.
DAY ONE, JUNE 6 Light NE winds, 16 C
By 9:30 AM the bus was fully loaded and we took off down the highway for the 45 K drive. We unloaded at the culverts on the Kinghorn road and were quickly underway. It was approximately a ten k paddle to the traditional Outers site at the end of Partridge Lake. This site was made famous by the infamous Doc Dean Debacle that occurred in 1996. No remnants of the disaster could be found.
It began to rain as soon as we hit camp, and a tarp city was soon constructed.
Work was completed around 4:00PM, and some serious lounging around occurred.
A quiet night descended, with the occasional rain shower. Camp was asleep by 11:00.
DAY TWO, JUNE 7, Sunny, light south winds, 26 C
Camp was awake around 7:30 and the first of many leisurely breakfasts occurred, with the famous triple cold smoked bacon taking front and centre. The rain had ended and the skies were clearing. Everyone was on the water by 10:00.
Brigade leader Jarryd lead the charge down the lake. He had agreed to paddle my Chestnut Chum cedar strip solo, and he made light work of it.
After a fast paddle down Partridge Lake, Outers arrived at Kinghorn Falls. Usually they would port over a rough rocky ledge, river right. However, water was so high that the port was completely under the roaring torrent. Haslam and Staff Evie located an area close to the road on river left and cut a short port up to the road. Following the road for around 500 meters brought us to the foot of Kinghorn Falls.
Here’s a short video of the uphill struggle and at the end the Falls. There was a strong back eddy coming right in a the launch. After Haslam and Staff Evie ran the rapids in the square stern, it was decided to make the port another 200 meters further to completely get around the very pushy current.
As we waited for everyone to finish porting, Brigade Leader Danny caught the first of only two walleye on the entire trip.
We continued on down the Namewaminikan to Coral lake, a frequent destination for our fall trips. Arrival was around 5:00 PM. The boys decided to use a different tent set up than usual,, even after a scolding from Haslam.
Meanwhile the girls had their tent completed in record time.
A quiet night unfolded, until the wolves began to howl at about 2:00AM.
DAY THREE, June 8, sunny, light easterly winds, 26C
Camp rose late and was not on the water until 11 AM. The destination today was Expansion Lake, a favourite beach site that Outers had used for decades. We quickly arrived at the first set of rapids of the day. This was traditionally a mild set that was always run by experienced Outers and Newbies. However, the easy C1 had been transformed into a monstrous bone grinder by the high water. Haslam and Staff Evie ran two canoes through, and then decided it was time to cut a port. A short port was cut and the remaining Outers ported over.
Once on the water, everyone proceeded to the third port of the trip, around a beautiful set of falls. Upon arrival, Staff Haslam and Carr proceeded to cut a 150 meter extension, as the regular landing was right beside a tumultuous chute that was just waiting to suck a hapless grade nine into its destructive fury.
Lunch was served on the beautiful rocky plateau.
BL Danny took advantage of the lengthy lunch to clear the driftwood out of the launch area.
The Nova Craft fibreglass canoes we had purchased a couple of years ago were proving to be extremely durable and economical. At 1100 dollars each (outfitters price), and 67 pounds,, they are one of the best bargains on the market.
After lunch, we launched into the turbulent waters of the Nam, headed for Expansion.
Due to the excessive high water, the rapids quickly smoothed out and the river became wide and mirror like.
Haslam met the crew at the entrance to Expansion lake, having sped along with the mighty 2.5 Suzuki.
We arrived at Expansion lake around 430, and it proved to be a poophole of a spot. The entire area was cluttered with boats and pontoons, and it smelt like an elephants butt. Staff Lynnea eventually found the source of the stench, a bucket full of rotted fish guts. She bravely disposed of the mess in the lake, but not without some personal grief. Much chainsawing occurred, and the site was slowly restored to its former glory.
DAY FOUR, JUNE 9 Sunny, south winds, 26 C
It had been our intention to spend a rest day on Expansion to do paddle instruction and canoe over canoe rescue, but the old fish bucket caused us to shove off the next morning. We paddled west on Expansion, and noticed quite a few new cabins. As we approached the Paint Lake turn off, the Outers headed back upstream on the south channel of the Namewaminikan river. Outers noticed very quickly the difference between upstream travel and downstream as they laboured at their paddles. Haslam and Staff Evie took off in the square stern to do some beach combing at the falls portage.
There was a big pile of logs at the top of a back Eddie that made leaving or arriving at the falls a difficult task. Evie and Haslam tied ropes to the floating driftwood and revved the mighty 2.5 until it was smoking. They slowly cleared the jam, only to see it caught in the back Eddie and returned to its original position within 15 minutes. Sisyphus of the North could not have been trapped in a worse situation.
At about 330, the rest of the crew showed up and took advantage of the stellar scenery by camping for the night. Jarryd fished for many hours, but only one puny walleye was retrieved.
DAY FIVE, JUNE 10 Sunny, south winds, 26C
Haslam and Staff Evie went ahead and checked the entire shoreline of Vezina Lake looking for a good campsite. Everything was underwater, so it was decided to return to Coral. They met up with the Outers at the Kinghorn bridge and made a hasty retreat to Coral lake. Everyone was fairly bushed from the upstream paddling, so it was a quiet and early night.
DAY SIX, JUNE 11. Sunny, west winds, 26 C
This day proved to be a great rest day. Around noon, we hit the water to start advanced paddle instruction and canoe over canoe rescue. Canoes were brought out in pairs, and Outers were out through a variety of canoe maneuvers. We finished up the exercise with canoe over canoe rescue that all members participated in. Here is a short video of some of the procedure.
After a brief warming period, canoe races were started. We had several heats in different categories with one common theme. Jarryd was the winning member of every winning team. He was a paddling machine, a veritable Super Outer! The video clip below highlights some of the action.
Winners received the coveted Bug Spray trophy.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and cleaning up for the big exit on Tuesday. Promotions were held around 8 PM. More than half of our crew will graduate this year, and move on to colleges and universities. We will be rebuilding the club next year. I am sure that these fine people will excel in their chosen fields.
DAY SEVEN, JUNE 12 Cloudy with showers in the afternoon.
Camp was up at seven AM and on the water by 8:50. The bus arrived at the Kinghorn bridge just as the canoes did, around 9:30. Canoes were quickly loaded and the Outers returned to the high school by 1130. It had been an easier trip than normal, but the weather had been beautiful, and a great deal of learning occurred. We are already planning next years trip through he infamous Frog Creek portages off the Ottertail river.