Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 67

He said, “You’ll find some of the province’s highest ridgelines and oldest forests in this swath of quintessential canoe country. Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park is at the heart of the Temagami wilderness. More than 4,700 kilometers of canoe routes have been identified in the region—equal to the distance between New York and Los Angeles. Regional First Nations know the thousand year- old network of portages, trails and waterways as Nastawgan, so did Grey Owl.”

Brian said, “It is one of the planet's most beautiful places. Rock ridges and cliffs, majestic white pine, clear-water swimming, and gorgeous sunset campsites. Evidence of the age and permanence of the land and the people is everywhere. Millions of years held in rocks and stories and trees.” Florence is the largest road less lake in Temagami and the heart of the wilderness park. It’s a gem cradled by its watery arms, rugged hills and quartzite rock. And add to that, every route in is captivating. Because it is not easy to reach, it has become a sort of canoeist’s nirvana.”

He offers this tip regarding a trip to the Temagami wilderness and are seeking “solitude.” How to avoid the congestion. “For all the bad reports and negative opinions about crowding and boats, Temagami is still a canoeist's paradise — if you know when, where and how to go. Use alternate access and avoid Lake Temagami access in July and August.

He also said stay away from the popular canoe routes, which includes the connecting routes with Lake Temagami, Lady Evelyn and Obabika Lakes; also “stay from road-access lakes.” Visit http://ottertooth.com/Temagami/Canoeing/tem_beaten.htm . “These routes are popular due to a combination of easy access, few portages and scenery. In July and August there can be so many canoeists and campers, “you will likely find yourself racing for a campsite at the end of the day and pine for a little isolation.”

Kevin Pinkerton is the Area Ontario Parks, Superintendent, Temagami Cluster of Provincial Parks; he provided some statistics on back country usage.

“Park visitation for the five operational interior parks has remained stable over the past five years. Based on overnight interior camping permit sales over 4700 visitors enjoy these parks annually. Temagami has been a tourist destination for over a century and with over 2400 kilometers of interconnecting canoe routes and portage trails it is considered one of North America’s premier canoeing destinations. The area attracts local residents as well as visitors from provincial, national and international markets. The five parks became operational in 2004 with the introduction of interior overnight camping fees and the hiring of interior wardens to undertake maintenance, education and compliance work along the canoe routes. Fees collected cover the costs of maintaining portages, campsites, privies and overall compliance throughout all five parks.” (I witnessed the ongoing maintenance program; the clearing of historic portages. With historic, indigenous tree blazes still discernible on the trunks of over mature trees.)

The majority of travel into the one wilderness and four waterway parks occurs from access points a considerable distance away. Many canoe routes start or finish well outside park boundaries on adjacent Crown lands. Often recreational users travel in and out of parks, Conservation Reserves and Crown land continuously, unaware of the land use designations they cross. (Adjacent MNRF districts, surrounding the parks in all directions, have not necessarily implemented an ongoing summer maintenance program of clearing portages on Crown land, their responsibility; so don’t be surprised with windfall.) You can access Florence Lake via canoe routes that start: northeast of Sudbury/Wanapitei, along the Sturgeon River; north of Field via Lake Obabika; west of Temagami via a number of routes; south from Elk Lake and the Gamble Rd (Chance Lake) and west of Haileybury to Mowat Landing (Lady Evelyn Lake).

And Kevin said, “Each person travelling in Temagami’s interior can play a part in its stewardship. Much of the area is relatively remote, offering solitude and challenge for those seeking a backcountry recreation experience.”

You can fly in or consider Florence in a day from the Chance lake access point from Elk Lake (Gamble Lake Rd.). Here is a tip, take the two portages – the direct Dees Lake shortcut and track the rapids upstream to Duff Lake (where there is a campsite) See this Ottertooth post: http://www.ottertooth.com/Temagami/Wilson/Route2/florence.htm . There is a Back Roads Bill map, sign in to Google: My Maps or go to https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=15O2acumI5oxUkprkkWm9MbQ3LU0&ll=47.306497948986944%2C-80.5383253&z=11 As a trip bonus find the trailhead for the vista view on Florence (SW end).

Today, being present at Florence Lake means living for a few days surrounded by wilderness. It is recommended that you secure the ‘Temagami Canoe Routes Planning Map’ or go to www.friendsoftemagami.org ; and the definitive book, ‘Canoeing, Kayaking & Hiking in Temagami’ by Hap Wilson.

(Bill is the founder and General Manager of the Canadian Ecology Centre; he teaches part time at Canadore College and Nipissing University. Contact the author, wilstonsteer@gmail.com ; LIKE on Facebook – Back Roads Bill Steer and go to www.steerto.com .)

Park Usage