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Marshall lake Loop 2010 Northern Ontario

Feb 1, 2013
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Geraldton, Ontario
My apologies for posting so many reports lately...I'm catching up on my school reports, and it makes it really easy for the students if I post them here, as our school site is currently non-user friendly. The Marshall lake loop is an awesome Lake/River trip northwest of Nakina. Great scenery, fishing, and a couple of challenging ports.



MONDAY, JUNE 14 25C Light NW winds

The Marshall lake loop had historically given the GCHS Outers a variety of problems. In the past ten years, we had never completed it. This year, the Outers were dedicated to completing the loop. This trip was also significant, because it was the first time in eleven years that our Staff Nurse, C. Clavet, wouldn’t be accompanying us. However, we welcomed former GCHS student and recent RN, M. Smith from Nakina, who proved to be a most excellent nurse.

The doors of the shop opened at 6:50 and Outers began arriving at 7:00. We were running behind all week, so some last minute details had to be looked after. Four aluminum canoes were roped up, food packing was completed and lamp packs were finished.

The bus departed at 9:40 and the parking lot at Marshall Lake was reached at 11:38. The day was already exceedingly warm, and porting across the 1.2 k road was a sweaty business. By 1:40, porting was completed, and several students jumped into the lake, cloths and all.

The end of the port into Marshall

By 2:00 PM, we were all on the water for a beautiful and clam paddle down Marshall lake. At 3:30, we reached the campsite in the northeast corner of Marshall. This was the first time staying here, and it proved to be a very nice campsite. Staff Lavoie and Haslam began chainsawing immediately, and firewood and tent poles soon materialized. A race between the boys and the girl resulted in the boys constructing a beautiful rope tent first, while the girls took more time with a pole tent.

Canoe over canoe rescue exercises proceeded for the next few hours, terminating when supper was served at six. After supper, the fishing rods came out, and Marshall lake yielded its usual bounty of walleye. The first fish fry of many began around 9:00PM. Camps settled down around 11:00.


Nurse Smith practicing her medical skills on a walleye

Brigade Leader Leupen slicing up the first fish fry
Tuesday, June 15 20C Calm

The evening had cooled off quickly, and when the Outers arose at 7:07, a chilly morning greeted them. The temperature soon warmed up, and a beautiful sunny day unfolded. It was the first morning for the Outers bacon, triple cold smoked and extra delicious. Peon Matt Turner was threatened with doing dishes for the rest of the trip if he burned it.

The crew began to distinguish themselves as one of the fastest moving groups yet. Brigade Leader Rismondo and her minion HF Onabigon had the girl’s tent down and packed in record time.

On the first morning, they speedily finished breakfast, cleanup and loading and were on the water by 9:07.

Marshall Lake was beautiful and mirror like, and we reached the second port of the trip by 9:45. The end of the port was well known as a fish market, so staff Haslam and Smith raced their canoe and gear over to the other end. Haslam was heard shouting instructions to Head Brigade Leader Megan to make sure portaging proceeded in an orderly fashion. Staff Lavoie followed in short order, and the pickerel were soon flying out of the water.

Staff Lavoie nailing the fishies

Staff Smith pulls in a four pounder!

Brigade Leader McKay had a very leaky aluminum canoe. It only took a few minutes for water to fill the bottom. Jeff’s family has had cabins on Marshall lake for a long time, and one of his canoes was stashed at the end of the first port. The Outers canoe was left for future pickup and Jeffrey paddled away with a new, lighter canoe.

Jeffrey at the end of the port with his new canoe.

There are a total of three short ports and a few shallow rapids on the Grip River. A couple of low spots had to be walked before the next port of the day could be reached.


Walking the rapids on the Grip River.

The last port of the day was finished at 1:00. A floating lunch was consumed, and we were underway by 1:40. The Grip Lake campsite was reached at 2:30, a new record.

The usual tent city was quickly constructed and general loafing and relaxing was the order of the day. Brigade leader Sydney Megan had been complaining about having a hot head all day. He claimed that he needed a haircut. Cook Jasmine decided to oblige him. She borrowed a small pair of scissors from the med kit, and the shearing began. Soon, it became a group effort, with two or three girls cutting, and everyone else giving advice. The end result was nowhere near as bad as it should have been.

Syd was a little worried!

Everyone was down for the count by 11:00 pm.

Wednesday, June 16 warm and calm

Up at 6:05 to a beautiful cold morning. The blistering pace set by this group continued, and everyone was on the water by 7:50. Grip Lake was very calm, with the exception of the north end, which was boiling with fish rising for a huge mayfly hatch. The first port, shortly after the end of Grip Lake, was reached at 8:15 and completed by 9:11.


Early morning rituals!

Travel to Summit Lake was fairly uneventful. Four eagles and one moose were spotted along the way. Outers wound their way through wild rice fields until they hit Summit Lake. Summit is a shallow lake that flows both ways, north to Hudson Bay and south to Lake Superior. Lunch has always been held on a small rocky outcrop at the North end of Summit. Lunch was distinguished by Anisa finding a strange deposit stuck to the bottom of her shoe.

Cook Turner serving up the flat bread!

Brigade leader Rismondo on the big erratic boulder on Summit lake.

Upon reaching the second port, it was decided that a lining exercise would be held instead of porting. There wasn’t too much complaining as the Outers splashed down the rapids, guiding their canoes around a series of boulders.


Anisa and John lining the rapids on the Powitik.

The third port of the day was reached around 3:30. Most of the Outers ported, but Haslam ran four canoes through the technical set of rapids with four different bows people. The falls on the Powitick were reached shortly afterward, and camp was set up shortly afterward. Sun tanning and fishing were the main activities for the night, with sun tanning being more successful than the fishing.



Cooking supper at the Falls on the Powitick.

A pleasant night with minimal bugs was enjoyed by all. Nurse Smith proved her worth by catching Staff Haslam as he slid straight for the churning waters on the extremely slippery rocks around the falls. Camp retired by 11:00.

Thursday June 17, very hot!

Outers slept in till the ripe old hour of 7:50. It was another hot, sunny day. Everyone was on the water by 10:00, although Brigade Leader Rismondo delayed departure with a lifejacket vs. sunscreen debate. Staff Lavoie almost caught a fish with his water filter. While filtering, a fish came up and grabbed the float and almost cut the rubber hose in two.

The Kapikotongwa River was reached quickly. A moose was soon spotted, as well as a family of curious otters. The first rapid was reached at 11:40. This is an easy class one, a straight shoot with a few hay stacks. All Outers shot them

Chris and Livia

Cedar strip Pal

Rapid two of the day was reached at 12:15. After a quick lunch, the rapids were lined on river left, with Outers shooting the last few haystacks.

John and Anisa finishing up second rapids of the day.

We were underway by 1:40, and camp was reached at the remarkable time of 3:00. Relaxing and fishing were the order of the day, as it seemed to be for most of this trip. Record times for travel were being achieved each day.

June 18, hot with extreme westerly winds

Up at 6:00 AM. The port began directly out of the campsite, and as usual, it was very wet. It consisted of about 400 meters of wetness and 200 meters of nice dry trail at the end. The outers once again broke all records, consuming breakfast, porting and getting on the water by 8:47.


John walking over the “bridge”.


Sadie almost takes a tumble on the bridge.

Two more ports were conquered with Olympic qualifying times. Outers helped each other chain gang canoes up and down the steep ports.


Flex those twigs!

The Chaingang!

Everyone was on the water again by 10:53. A strong west wind had come up, and pushed us to the bridge on the Ogoki Road by 11:35. At 12:00, Edgar Lavoie arrived with our food re-supply, and plenty of goodies for the kids. After consuming a truck load of food at the bridge, the sugar filled Outers churned up the waters of the Kapikotonga River. The tail winds were pushing us along at around 8.5 kilometers an hour. We arrived at the Esker Hilton at 2:45, another record.

Staff canoed around the esker directly into the wind, and surfed onto the beach in four foot rollers. It was decided to bring the students in on the back of the esker, out of the wind. Lots of clearing had to occur first, and one particularly large and dangerous looking jackpine was taken down by Staff Lavoie. Assistant Brigade leader Sadie was overheard saying “there is the tree that is going to kill us all”.

Setting tents proved to be an almost impossible affair. The wind kept blowing them everywhere. Staff Lavoie searched the entire point for another site, but none were available, so Outers were forced to make due.


Blowing in the Wind!


Using Jasmine as an anchor.

Once everyone settled down, swimming and cavorting on the beach became the main occupation. First on the list was to bury Matt Turner up to his neck in the sand. Then the boys proceeded to build a wind block using Jeff McKay’s canoe.


Swimming at the Esker Hilton

Wind Break!
Supper was cooked on the Coleman stove, as it was too windy to risk having a fire. Around 7:00PM, the wind began to die, and at 8:00 it was calm again. Nurse Smith took advantage of the beach and the warm weather to start a deadly Frisbee game, which lasted for hours, despite the horrendous attack of “no-see-ums”. Toward dark, Peon Matt caught a very large walleye. Camp settled down at 11:00 PM.

June 19, sunshine again

Camp rose at 6:00 AM to 14 degrees C and a light drizzle. On the water by 8:07 and very quickly out to the placid waters of Berger Lake. The overcast skies cleared by 11:00, and an effortless paddle brought us to Stewart Lake at 12:15. Outers stopped at the bughole campsite on Stewart for lunch, only to find there were no bugs. There was “booty”, in the form of two lawn chairs and a frying pan left by the messy fishermen who frequent this site. We hit the short port between Stewart and Stone 1:30 and were off by 2:30. Stone was beautiful, blue and calm, and camp was reached by 3:40.

This is a favorite campsite on a rocky point with a small bay in the middle. Staff has traditionally camped on the north side, while students camp on the south side. A “fish off” is always held between staff and students as well. This year, staff was completely victorious, and they dined on fresh walleye, while the students ate Kraft Dinner.

Staff Lavoie procures supper


The kids cooking Kraft Dinner

June 20, overcast then sunny

Outers arose at 6:50 to 14 degrees C and a light mist curling on the west side of the lake. We left camp at 8:40 and arrived at the dreaded Stone-Ara port at 9:00. This port is notorious for its length and the horrible loon shit swamp holes at the end. However, this year it wasn’t bad. There was only a little clearing to do, and the port was mostly dry. Outers were back on the water by 12:30, which was pretty good for a mile long port.

Nurse Smith at the end of the Stone Ara port.

Haslam and Smith paddled out to the end of the point to check wind conditions. The winds were very light, and it was decided to cross Ara right there, and paddle all the way to Meta in one day. When winds are favourable on Ara and Meta, one must take advantage of them. A long hot paddle proceeded, with a few rollers being encountered just before the Ara Meta Channel. The campsite on Meta was reached at 5:15. At 7:00, Staff Nurse Cheryl Clavett arrived with her partner John. Cheryl had been staff Nurse for Outers for over ten years, but was now running Meta Lake Lodge with her partner John. They brought cookies and refreshments for the overjoyed kids.

June 21, hot and sunny
Because we had combined two trip days on June 20, it was decided to have a rest day. Fishing and loafing were the main activities, although Livia managed to send a walkie talkie for a swim with the fishes. Promotions were held in the evening.

Kris L. Staff
Livia R. Staff
Sydney M. Head Brigade Leader
Kelsey D. Staff Brigade leader
Brett K. Assistant Brigade leader
Sadie G. Staff
Anthony A. Staff
Emma F. Assistant Brigade leader
Jeff M. Assistant Brigade Leader
Jamie Lee K. Staff
Sam C. Assistant Brigade leader
Jasmine L. Fireperson
John A. Assistant Brigade Leader
Anisa O. Head Fireperson
John Wabason Head Fireman
Matt Turner Head Cook

June 22, hot and sunny

Everyone was up at 6:00 AM and eager to make the last port to the bus. We started porting the 3k port around 8:30 and everyone was finished by noon. Jasmine sprained her ankle shortly into the port, and Staff Haslam, Smith and BL Abraham piggy backed her out to the road. The bus was loaded quickly, and other than some foul play on the ride back to Geraldton, the Spring Trip of 2010 went down in history as one of the best trips yet. Warm weather, no rain and tail winds…every canoeist’s dream.
Feb 1, 2013
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I say keep these great trip reports coming! Amazing pics again of your crew. And that shot with all that Walleye...wow! Would've been painful to eat just Kraft Dinner that night.
Jan 30, 2013
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Very, nice so neat to see that age group, looks like everyone enjoyed themselves.
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Don't apologize. Your trip reports are the best! I love seeing all those young folks so happy in the bush.