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Kowkash River, Northern Ontario

Feb 1, 2013
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Geraldton, Ontario
I have updated this report to the usual, as opposed to the short report that was on here. be warned, it is picture heavy!

June 19, Overcast, 21 C, Light NE winds 25 K travelled

The doors to the Outers shop opened at 7:15 and students began arriving by 7:30. The trailer was packed by 9:00 and we were ready to go. The only thing missing was our student Brigade Leader. Staff Haslam and ABL Koroscil jumped in the truck and searched the town until the missing person was located. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, the Brigade leader in Charge was not able to go.

On a positive note, we had another new nurse this year. Lenay H. , a former Outer and Brigade Leader was just finishing her RN course and had graciously agreed to go with us.

Nurse Lenay

We were on the bus by 9:30 and made our way down the Greta Rd., arriving at the bridge over the Kowkash at 10:30. Unloading proceeded quickly, and after some quick canoe lessons for a couple of newbies, we were underway at 11:25.

Two sets of rapids had to be walked, and a small chute had to be shot before we stopped for lunch at 2:00.


Shortly after the rapids, we saw our first of many moose.


Brett and Sara


Big John and Megan

Travel pushed on down the river and through Nebula and Ansig Lakes. A potential campsite was examined at 5:00, but was found to be lacking in space, so we carried on to the large site at the beginning of Flemming Lake. A grumpy crew disembarked at 5:40, and supper was served at 7:00 PM. Most people were sleeping by 10:00 PM.




Tripping essentials!

June 20, Overcast in AM, hot and sunny in the PM, NE winds, 15 – 20 kph 29 K travelled.

Camp stirred at 6:55 and enjoyed a breakfast of sausages and scrambled eggs, complete with the bush “fiber” called sand. We were on the water by 9:00 AM, and stuck to the west shore to avoid the NE wind. The narrows on Flemming Lake were reached at 11:00, and the first port of the day at the end of Flemming was reached by 12:00.
Haslam and Staff Nurse Lenay managed to shoot the rapids, after lining through the treacherous busted up dam at the exit from the lake. The kids continued porting the 600 meters until they were back on the water at 1:00, and underway at 2:00 after a floating lunch. Several eagles and ducks were sighted as we wound our way through to Kowkash Lake. The west shore of Kowkash lake has not many camping opportunities on it, so we continued on down the river. A couple of sets of minor rapids were run, but the Kowkash is basically a sedate, beautiful river at this point. At 5:30, we reached the nice jackpine stand that Staff Lavoie had scouted out the previous year, about an hour from where the Kowkash R. exits Kowkash lake.

Staff Lavoie got busy chaninsawing again, and soon a beautiful site emerged. Supper was served at 7:30 and everyone was in bed by 11:00.


New site on the Kowkash


Girls’ Tent

June 21, Sunny and windless, 23 degrees C. 27 K travelled.

The crew rose at 7:00 AM to a bright, beautiful morning. A leisurely breakfast of bacon and oatmeal was served, and everyone was on the water by 9:10. An hour of uneventful paddling brought us to the first rapids and the first port of the day. Staff Lavoie had arrived ahead of us and already shot the rapids and cleared the port. The port ended at a big eddy on river right, so Haslam and Staff Nurse Lenay shot the rest of the canoes through with experienced Outers. The non-paddlers walked the port.

Setting up for the rapids.

The problem existed now in getting the crew out of the eddy. Haslam and Staff Lenay spent quite a bit of time demonstrating the C-turn and the concept of leaning away from the current. Of the six canoes that shot it, only 3 had clean runs. Brett and Amy saved themselves from a near disaster to run a successful second attempt. Sam and Michael took the rocky road, and ended up dragging their canoe over a trickle of water in the middle of the point. The next three canoes had great runs. The final attempt, by Jeff and Emma was an excellent teaching demonstration of what happens when a canoe is leaned upstream. As they pulled out of the eddy, they somehow confused their lean, and in an instant the canoe turned turtle and rolled. After some screaming, both paddlers and the canoe were rescued at the eddy point.
Fortunately, all that was lost was one sandal. Rescue, reloading and drying off took close to an hour.

Travel to the blown out bridge proceeded quickly and we arrived at noon. A gut busting lunch of pepperoni and cheese whiz with wraps was served and consumed with great gusto.

Parking lot at the blown out bridge.

We left for Rupert Falls at 1:00 PM and arrived at 1:35. Porting went very fast and we were on the water at 2:35. Haslam thought he had a world record brook trout, but it turned out to be a greasy pike.

Rupert Falls


Loading up at the bottom of Rupert Falls

Travel to the next indicated rapid/port was quick, and after arriving at 3:00 PM, it was decided that everyone would shoot.

A seemingly endless paddle through countless meanders followed and took its toll on everyone. A constant refrain of ‘where’s the campsite” was pounded into the staffs’ ears. The staff just grinned and answered “we don’t know”, because they didn’t. It was decided that the bug-hole-no wood-crappy campsite at the blown out Lucy Lake bridge was not an option. At 4:45, Staff Lavoie spotted a jackpine stand 200 meters up Johnson Creek. He quickly unleashed his tornado like chainsawing, and 45 minutes later a beautiful site emerged from the middle of chaos. The site will be forever known as “The Howard Johnson”, due to its luxurious space. Supper was served sometime after seven, and a light rain fell off and on during the night.

Tent building at the Howard Johnson


Megan busy cooking


Boys tent, Howard Johnson

June 22, overcast, strong east winds, 30 k travel distance

Camp rose at 7:00 AM. The night had turned very cold, and the breakfast fire was a popular spot.


Bundled up for a cold paddle.

Travel on the river was uneventful. Two easy sets of rapids were shot just before the Lucy Lake Road bridge, and eddy out skills were practiced. The logjam port was reached at 1:30. It was in good shape, and very dry.

Arriving at the logjam port.


The end of the logjam. Students were back on the water at 2:15.

The push was on now for Howard Falls, as some of the more avid fishermen knew that it was a great spot for brook trout. The last half hour of paddling was against a very strong wind. A huge bull moose made an appearance, one of the nine moose we were to see on this trip.

Howard Falls was reached at 3:30, and Staff Lavoie cut out a beautiful roomy campsite. Supper was dome by six, and the trout fisherman lost many fish before finally calling it quits at 10:00 PM.

The endless task of cutting firewood.


Anisa and her minion setting the girls’ tent.


Boys tent, Howard Falls


The upper reaches of Howard Falls (The specs are in the little feeder streams running off to the side)


One of the little guys for the frying pan.

June 23, sunny and warm, strong winds in the afternoon. 21 k total

Up at 6:56 AM. The cooks prepared an amazing breakfast of bacon and oatmeal. Since we were camped at the beginning of the port, students began carrying before breakfast was ready. The canoes had been carried over the night before, so the porting went very quickly. Take down, breakfast and porting the 280 m port was conducted in record time, and everyone was on the water by 9:20.

Weather continued to be strange , as this was the fifth day of northeast winds, and still no rain. Wildlife sightings continued on the way to Albert Falls, with two separate sightings of cows and calves. Several eagles and ospreys circled over all the way to the falls.

More moose on the Kowkash.

The port around Albert Falls is a mere 50 meters, and the Outers complete it in under 30 minutes.

Albert Falls port.


Brendan on the Albert Falls port

At 10:40, Haslam realized that we would be at the Ogoki Bridge too soon, and not wanting to wait in a bug hole, a massive fishing expedition was taken on.
Walleye and pike are pulled from the turbulent waters under Albert Falls like cards from a Balckjack deck. Big John pulled one after another out of his secret spot. Everyone that threw a line in pulled out fish, even Sam Snagwise. At 11:30 the piscine slaughter was halted and the students headed for the bridge.

Brett with a special appearance from Mr. Walleye/


Haslam and Mr. Walleye


Big John with his 100[SUP]th[/SUP] walleye.


Samwise while he still has his fishing rod.

At 12:30, the smiling face of Mr. Wilson could be seen on the Ogoki bridge. He had arrived an hour early, much to our delight!

Mr. Wilson brings us food!

As we pulled in, some older Americans were pulling out; pike fishermen, who would no doubt be delighted with their haul today. Mr. Wilson had brought a variety of refreshments for all of the Outers, and roughly an hour was spent consuming the goodies and repacking the barrels. Staff decided that the trip could now be done in nine days, so some of the food was sent back.

Organized chaos!

Outers were underway again by 1:30, churning up the water with the frenzy born of sugar highs. The next knarly set of boulder strewn rapids was reached in record time. Staff Haslam and Hunking took one of the new canoes and plotted a line on river left through the boulders. It was successful run, with only a slight touch at the boom of the run. Although the port was in excellent condition, and not that long, there was much cheering when Haslam decided to shoot four more canoes through. Unfortunately, the boulder garden decided to reach out and touch someone, and two of the cedarstrips were bruised by the boulders’ caresses.

A second set of rapids was reached minutes after the previous set. These were met with great enthusiasm and the Outers demonstrated their increasing abilities as they shot through with flawless grace. They were surprised to find another set waiting for them, which they shot on their own, with no instructions. Their enthusiasm was dampened slightly when they got toward the mouth of Abamasagi Lake and a strong east wind began to slow their progress.

Staff Lavoie parked in the safety zone.


Brendan and Jasmine


Sam and Michael


Megan and John


Jeff and Emma


Brett and Amy

It was decided to crawl along the lee shore to the beach campsite, which ended with a lot of excitement, because in reality, there was no lee shore. Outers bobbed like corks in a Jacuzzi as they rounded the point to their destination. Screams of excitement and fear accompanied the hydraulic hjinks.

The campsite had obviously not been used in quite a while. A large white spruce had blown down, crowding the beach front real estate. Staff Lavoie did his normal tormado impression, creating a provincial park camping spot out of chaos. Haslam demonstrated his chainsaw prowess by running his saw into countless nails that had been pounded into the spruce over the last fifty years or so. Outers worked furiously clearing the debris from the neglected beach site. In keeping with the other “Hotel” names assigned to camping sites (the Esker Hilton, The Howard Johnson), the newly cleaned beach site was called the Abamasagi Econolodge. A supper of Hamburger Helper was devoured quickly, and then everyone went into relaxation mode. Tomorrow was a rest day.

Cleaning up the beach.


Running the saw through another nail.


The firewood kings!


Enjoying the evening!

Up until this point, seven moose had been spotted; a cow on day one, a bull on day three, a cow on day four, and two cows and a two calves on day on day five.

June 24, sunny, moderate NE winds.

Outers rose late, and then much loafing, fishing, eating , swimming and more sleeping took place. During one fishing party to the mouth of the river, BL Sam demonstrated his casting expertise by throwing his very expensive rod and reel right over the side of the canoe. After much fishing for it, it was declared a casualty. Sam estimated its value at over $200.00. Two days before, Sam had lost his $500.00 glasses. On top of that, he payed $200.00 in trip fees. For everything else, there is Mastercard.

Nurse Lenay in deep thoughts!


Outers retired by 11:00 as the next day was going to dawn very early.

June 24, sunny, hot, windless, 22K.

Camp was called to order at 4:55 AM. A very quick breakfast and takedown ensued, and everyone was on the water at 6:24.

Abamasagi at 6:24 AM

Early morning risings are the norm for Outers when we have large bodies of water to cover. On this morning, Abamasagi was like glass, and students motored up the lake, finishing the 17 k by 10:30..

There was some trouble locating the port out of Abamasagi. The area had been cut over twice in Outers’ history, both times destroying the ports. Staff Lavoie, and Dan Campbell, a Brigade Leader from many years past, had come up in the spring and relocated a new series of ports, utilizing bush roads and cut-overs. The first port of the day had been established about 20 years ago after the original historic port had been destroyed by Kimberly Clark. This port lead to a small pond that connected to a bush road. It had completely disappeared in a mess of alders, and Staff Lavoie cut furiously while Outers cleared behind him. Meanwhile, Haslam had found the beginning of the original historic port, but lost it in a cutover.

The new port was as wide a highway, and by noon, everyone was over it and on the pothole lake. After a floating lunch, Outers started the new port. The first 900 meters was on a series of bush roads, and then there was 700 meters through cutover. The problem with porting on roads and through cutovers, besides the low aesthetic appeal, is that there is no cover overhead, and on this hot day, everyone was cooking. We were on the loonshit filled waters of Terrier Lake by 1:30, and as we began to churn our way down the lake, two moose appeared ahead of us, attempting to do the same.

The beautiful rocky point campsite on Terrier was reached around 2:30. Tent sites are limited, and Staff Lavoie spent some time instructing BL Anisa on the finer points of constructing a pole tent.

Anisa and her pole tent.


The combined effects of 5 AM rising and several kilometers of portaging.

Supper was served at 6:00, and at 7:00 everyone paddled down the lake to see the pictographs. Terrier is a strange, haunted little Lake, lined with small cliffs, the perfect habitat of the infamous Memegwesi.

Paddling over to the rock paintings.


The rock paintings on Terrier

Tomorrow was going to be a challenging day, so everyone hit the hay early.

Staff tent on Terrier

June 25, sunny, strong south winds, 7.1 k

Camp rose at 7:00 and everyone was on the water by 9:10. The first port was a 10 minute paddle away, and consisted of 700 meters through an old bush road, and then 300 meters on a current bush road. Outers started at 9:30 and finished by 11:00. The paddle down Hauenstein Lake was beautiful, and at the end of it, we discovered another short port. We stopped here for lunch, and while everyone was sitting on the bank separating Hauensteinfn from the small pond following it, a loon came flying at us like a Bat out of Hell. At the last minute, it saw all the canoes and plummeted to stop three feet in front of us, then quickly disappeared underwater.

The site of the loon attack.

We were back on the water by 12:45, and reached the next port shortly. This one was 1.5 K, with the first 800 meters crossing cutover. The final 600 meters was a port that Staff Lavoie, Campbell and Haslam opened up in May, and ran directly through the woods to Superb Lake. The temperature was very hot, and many Outers were feeling the strain. However, by 2:45 we were all at Superb Lake. The plan was to paddle Superb down to O’Sullivan and get out at the bridge. The winds had other plans for us. Superb was rolling with white caps, so we started looking for a potential campsite at the end of the port. After much cutting, a site was carved out. Lots of artifacts were found in the bush. Apparently this had been the site of a mine in the 40’s.

Supper turned into a mix and match dish of Chinese noodles, bacon and canned chicken. The plan was to arise at 4:00 AM the next morning, so everyone was in bed early.

June 26, windy, rainy, mild temperatures. 600 m

Haslam got up at 4:00 AM to roaring winds and driving rain. He woke up every hour after that until 7:00, when a decision had to be made. The wind had no sign of abating, so it was decided to just call the bus in and get picked up on the Hauenstein road. Arrangements were made, and then Outers ported back out to the road.

Loading up the bus.

The bus arrived around noon, and by two o’clock, the Outers were back at the shop, hanging tents and cleaning pots. Another successful spring trip was over.

If you follow the map roughly north from Bankfield Lake, Nebula, Flemming, Kawashkagama (this is the actual name of the Kowkash River and Lake, but everyone abbreviates it up here), and then the river runs all over the place till it hits Abamasagi Lake, then Terrier and over to Superb.


Last edited:
Jul 31, 2011
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Dodgeville, Wi
WOW - excellent story and Pics! What a great thing to read on such a rainy, sleety miserable day!

Feb 1, 2013
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Another great trip report with a hard working crew. Looks like a fantastic way to engage today's youth.


Great photos of what appear to be great kids and their fearless leader.
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
Thanks for posting such a wonderful report. The Outers look like a great bunch and no doubt will have fond memories of this trip.
Trip leaders like the ones in this story are a valuable asset to today's youth, Thank You, Young people tripping in open canoes does my heart good!
I also liked that "American Pike Fisherman", how true,
I was born with a red and white in my hand.