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8/03/2017 2:24 pm  #1

Trip Report: My failed trip

So my plan was the low maintenance route through Achray into Guthrie then Clover Lake and then out through the Tarn lakes to St. Andrews (see the Trip Planning thread if you want the details). Instead here's what happened:

I had a bad night's sleep, which got me to the access point tired. The trip through Carcajou Bay and McDonald creek was fairly inconsequential. I had to hunt around a couple times in McDonald creek to find the right way but nothing major. I missed the portage marker to Turcotte and had to backtrack. When I found the portage marker into Turcotte, that was the beginning of things going south. The first ~100 meters or so of that portage is through wetland, and it was entirely buried in grasses. I spent at least half an hour hunting in various directions trying to figure out where I was supposed to go. Much of that time I was dragging my kayak with me (which was stupid), and that tired me out quickly. When I finally found the start of the portage in the woods I thought the worst was behind me; there was a well-defined trail and I started along it. 

I single-carried that portage for a few hundred meters. It went from well defined to obscure, to non-existent, with blowdowns everywhere. I dropped my gear and spent the next half hour scouting in various directions, trying to pick up the portage again. I pulled out the Jeff's Map app on my phone, and even when the app told me I was standing right on the portage, I couldn't find it. Finally, tired and discouraged, I gave up. I paddled and portaged all the way back to the access point, got back in my car and drove all the way home.

So yeah. I've been home for quite some time and I'm still really mad at myself. I gave up way too easily, and when things weren't going my way I made the worst possible choices. I could have camped out on Grand and tried again the next day. Instead I was so discouraged I just wanted to get the hell out of there, and that's what I did. In a single day I drove the 5+ hours to Achray, paddled and portaged for another 6 hours (there and back), and then drove another 5+ hours home. An epic day, but not for the right reasons. A moment of weakness led me to abandoning my whole trip, and I'm so damn angry at myself. All I needed to do was sit down, take a 30 minute break to refresh and recharge and then give it another go. Instead I aborted. 

I'm going to Clover Lake next spring, because I'll be damned if I'm going to let this be a permanent part of my camping history. I don't even care about the rest of it - as long as I make Clover I'll feel like I've redeemed myself somewhat. I can handle long and difficult days without issue, but not knowing where to go is something I haven't figured out yet - every time I've encountered that it's gotten me frustrated, fast. It's something I clearly have to work on. 

On a side note, it seems like the kind of trip that might benefit from company, so if anyone's interested in visiting Clover next spring let me know.


8/03/2017 2:31 pm  #2

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

That's too bad Uppa sounds like frustration got the better of you...I've gotten like that several times myself and it sure can be hard to snap yourself out of it eh?  That's a lot of driving in one day!


8/03/2017 2:42 pm  #3

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

Sorry to hear that things didn't work out this time, Uppa... we've all had days like that. It'll be all the sweeter next time when you do get in there... cheers!


8/03/2017 3:02 pm  #4

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

You've had quite the string of bad luck this season Uppa. Good thing you can always bounce back on the next trip.


8/03/2017 6:31 pm  #5

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I feel your frustration but you should never feel bad about changing plans. Being adaptable is one of the most important survival skills. Getting home safe is a good measure of success. Pushing on, getting lost and digging yourself in deeper would have been a bad thing. 

At the same time, I agree with some of your twenty-twenty hindsight. Sounds like you were over tired. That 30 minute rest would have been a good thing. It would have given you time to grab a snack and ponder things a bit. Who knows if you would have made it to Turcotte or not, but I bet you would have come up with a plan B. 

Not sure if this will make you feel better or not, but if you haven't already read it, find a copy of Dangerous Waters by James Raffan. Not enough sleep the night before and starting a trip already over tired played a big part in that tragedy. 

As for adapting - well we started the Obabika loop in Temagami for a trip about 8 years ago. Plan was to do it in about 5 days which would be normal for adults. By the 2nd morning we'd accepted that with the kids the ages they were (7, 9, 12 I think) we weren't going to finish in 5 days. Probably could have done it in 6 days, but 5 days wasn't happening. Instead we spent the time touring around Lake Temagami itself. Ended up be a really good trip and someday we'll get back there to do the full loop. 

Next time you try that route you'll know you'll be blazing the trail and be ready for it.


8/03/2017 7:31 pm  #6

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out, I like your trip reports and you so easily share your experiences , good or bad. Don't be too hard on yourself, next time you'll have a better plan when frustration strikes. Maybe many better plans!


8/03/2017 7:48 pm  #7

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

Bummer ! I bet that trip would be a good one to do first thing in the spring!


8/03/2017 9:49 pm  #8

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I think you got it absolutely right - go for it again! It's a real-life satisfaction when you find the way over obstacles that had conquered you before. In this scenario I'd bring along some tools and flagging tape and clear and mark this portage. Tape is a big help when trail is lost under deadfalls and one has to make circles looking for it to reappear. On the side note: based on my own experience trying to single-carry a difficult portage is a sure Rx for disaster.


8/04/2017 8:30 am  #9

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

Thanks for sharing Uppa. With so many stories available on the internet, it's easy to forget that not all trips are awesome and picture perfect and then it's too easy to get down on yourself when you make a mistake or "give up." We've all probably had similar experiences (I know I have!)

I'm glad you got home safe and I wish you all the luck in nailing this trip next year!


8/04/2017 9:27 am  #10

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I really appreciate you sending that somewhat humbling update. No matter how much background intel you have, sometimes the circumstances on the ground conspire to push us in other directions, particularly on solo trips. A "flat unmemorable" portage can disappear in blowdowns, especially on a low-maintenance route. Anyway, if you got home safely, you won.

Here's to next year's Guthrie/Clover trip!

-Matt in Ottawa


8/04/2017 10:08 am  #11

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I admire the fact that, after all your hardships so far this season you're already planning for next year!!
From what I remember of your first solo this spring you're not easily daunted so I'm guessing it was one hell of a day.
You're home, you're safe; I look forward to your next trip!


8/08/2017 6:15 am  #12

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

Don't sweat it Uppa.  If I told you the whole story of my trip to Clover you'd probably feel better about your decision.  I'd say that I should have done the same as you, but enough time has past that I kind of look back on it fondly.  

Life is busy, but I still feel like I have a bone to pick with Clover.  


8/08/2017 1:05 pm  #13

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

Bummer, trips that get scrapped on the first day are the worst! I wouldn't sweat it though, just call it a character building trip. 

I went hiking in the Adirondack years ago. It was late October and the weekend was calling for blue bird skies. We drove the 4 hrs down, hiked for 30 minutes, scrapped the trip, and drove back. Snow to our knees! Turns out it snowed all week. I felt pretty dumb at the time for not looking at the weather or trail reports, but now I know to!  


8/08/2017 1:27 pm  #14

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

Aww, ok bad 😰  Sorry to hear - You haven't seemed to be able to catch any luck this season lol!  But as others have said, not to sweat it sometimes things don't cooperate...  All the best in your next trip 😄


8/09/2017 10:18 am  #15

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I appreciate the good vibes folks. Clover Lake isn't getting out of my head, so I'm committed to trying again in the Spring with a better plan and most importantly, a better mindset. 

     Thread Starter

8/10/2017 10:32 pm  #16

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I just saw this thread and I agree with Canoe Claire, it's really good to hear about the trips that don't work out as planned, probably more so than the ones that do. So thanks for posting.

And I'm 100% in for a trip to Clover next spring.


8/15/2017 12:53 pm  #17

Re: Trip Report: My failed trip

I'll probably put together a video trip report of my failure, which I'll publish on Youtube in the spring, moments before I leave to try again. So I'll either have to come home victorious or on my ... paddle?

AlgonquinLakes: if you're serious - and you're still up for it come next Spring, that would be awesome. Wait... does that mean I'd have to paddle a canoe? ;)


     Thread Starter

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