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8/20/2017 1:36 pm  #1

North Tea Lake aug 9-16

Well, this was an adventurous trip for J. (my daughter) and myself. We've never been  that far to the west side, so all of it was new to us. We initially had a plan, but due to a back injury for me we went with the motto "wherever the wind blows us". We arrived At Northern Wilderness Outfitters without incident, but noticed the high water levels everywhere in the bush. NWO has campsites for $15.00 a night, and an A-frame cabin ($15.00/person/night) if you want a guaranteed dry start in the morning. There was a constant fire going which we were free to use to cook on and the owner (bill) was very helpful in getting a canoe for us etc. His recommendation was a 17 ft green canoe which turned out to be a Nova Craft, about 42 lbs. As J. had offered to do all the portaging with the canoe, it was her that had to decide, as there was also an ultralight, but that would be more difficult to handle in windy weather. And wind we got.http://i68.tinypic.com/20g0ft2.jpg

The next morning we got delayed by a few hours due to an heavy thunderstorm, which immediately tested our new Vango 200 tent. With a 8000mm fly and 6000mm floor, it performed as hoped for, everything stayed bone dry.

NWO is only about a 10 minute paddle from the Amable du Fond, and there was almost no wind when we paddled up the river. Its a great paddle with no beaver dams, and we enjoyed, although there was no wildlife to be found. The first portage was easy, and few bugs, the second portage had a rooty section in it, but was very short too.http://i65.tinypic.com/b9apgw.jpg

We entered into North Tea and right away faced with a strong NE wind. The canoe was steady as a rock and tracked real easy, but the water was rolling big time, making us bob up and down like a cork, although there were no white caps. We paddled until we saw a large beach coming on the north side, and aimed for it, wanting to get off the water. The site was available ( #36 on PCI map)http://i63.tinypic.com/acfinn.jpg
, and we parked the tents on the beach as the actual site behind the beach wasn't very good. Very uneven and steep. A creek was flowing into North tea right at the end of the beach. It was very cold, making me think a spring was somewhere running into it. It was also crystal clear, so we decided to get our drinking water from it, although we treat all water we drink anyway.
On friday the wind was blowing from the west, and we decided to explore into the East Arm, checking out island etc as we went. It was quite busy on the lake and many sites were taken, including just about all the island sites. After sometime we realized the wind had become fierce, and paddling back would be very difficult indeed. J. had an idea; go back through Lorne-Sisco and Lost Dog instead. Sure. we discussed the enoumous amount of portaging (6km)  but she was sure she could do it. I had the day pack with lunch, drinks etc and the drops to  make more drinkable water. The wind was non existing on the portage, and the mosquitos were relentless, as were the deer flies which were still biting. drenched in bug juice which gave enough protection we happily walked the wide 1900m trail, slightly downhill, to Lorne. I loved Lorne Lake, very scenic, but the campsites were in the cedars and hemlocks and the ones we saw were rather small. The Lorne-Sisco portage (700m) was a nightmare. Very muddy, and there's a boulder section where sometimes only the width of your foot would fit between them and the boulders 4 ft high, and mud up to over your ankles. No way to go around it. Because of my slower pace J. had gone out of sight ahead of me, but i expected to see a crumpled canoe with her under it and visions of broken bones every corner i took. It all went okay. Sure, we wanted adventure. We got it in spades. Sisco was small and had a couple of small buggy sites, so we carried on to the 1945m portage from sisco to Lost Dog. The take out was up a slight hill with a space for a tent on the side. Two young man were occupying it and to my consternation they had a very large cooler on wheels with them! Ohhh boy, they still had that 700m portage coming.
The portage to Lost Dog was easy, and downhill, and a bit through mixed forest, again, bugs galore. This portage actually bypasses Lost Dog, but you still have to hop a pond which is a real pain. Too deep and wide to walk through, you cant do anything but paddle the 3 strokes it takes. (pic is of the pond) J. was getting worn out by then, so we did not go to Lost Dog that day. http://i63.tinypic.com/59y7iu.jpg

From the start of the Lorne portage to back at North Tea (and a hop and a skip away from our beach site) it took us 5 hours, making our day on the water about 7 hours long. With this unprecedented amount of portaging for us, we felt real proud of ourselves. Not ever have we done so much in a day.
On saturday morning we got visited by the rangers, which was a first for me in all the years of camping ive done. A friendly chat was had, permit checked, and they were on their way.
As we brought 3 pieces of new equipment with us (the vango 200, a dragonfly stove, and each a lambskin fleece sleeping bag ( I made them for $15.00 each). It is extremely light and stuffs into a medium MEC compression stuff sack., which made it smaller still.The liners were more then warm enough as summer sleeping bags and will be great in september in addition to my old down bag. The dragonfly is a noisy little thing, but i was warned for that, and it did not bother me, just no talking while cooking! The simmering capacity was great, but i found a defuser plate was needed to be able to use the outback oven on it. The payoff  was a great tasting Garlic bread.
Saturday was a bit of a droopy day to start, and we decided to paddle to the large island close to us,  which had no open campsites,as well as the small island on the south side (PCI map sites 22 and 23)
The small  island was a surprise, it had a very difficult take out, an very steep climb up the rocks, 2 small sites with only room for a 1 men tent each and on the top a thunderbox that qualified as a throne in my opinion. However, im not sure i would want to make the trek in the middle of the night due to the very steep drop off on either side of the pathway to it.The island was covered in blue berries and we picked to hearts contend. 

the garlic bread

dubbed 'blueberry island' and pic of site #22 on PCI map


the throne

This is Lost Dogs campsite alongside the portage

We still tripped to Lost Dog on sunday,(pic above) as an afternoon trip, its a lovely walk over the 485 m portage. The campsite is right off the portage, about 30 feet. It looked little used, but was a great spot, tent spots for about 2 tents. There was one other great site on this lake, although stuffed in the hemlocks, which made it very buggy. 
On monday we headed back to a site to be close to the portage, as the wind was still unbelievably strong and we didn't want to get too held up in the morning. The afternoon saw twisting winds, from white caps, to all of a sudden totally dying. We wanted to try the Advantage Sail with the canoe, but up to now the wind had been to powerful to give it a try as i had no desire to go overboard or dump with a loaded canoe. So out onto the water we went to have some fun in the warm sunshine, but with an empty canoe but for the 2 of us.. I have used the sail often with a kayak, and it works wonderfully well, but i wasn't sure if it would be large enough to pull a loaded canoe and 2 persons.http://i67.tinypic.com/24glz6t.jpg

we couldnt believe it when the wind absolutely died, and we were going nowhere fast!
we waited a good while, but ofcourse nothing, so no sooner did we paddle  back to our site and the wind picked up.......the sail caught the wind but there was only about 200 ft to go, which we did in record time. The sail will come with us again (only weighs a few ounces) if we come back.
The only wildlife encounter we had was a woodland jumping mouse on our last night. We had never seen one, but this thing hopped around like a kangaroo, and could leap quite the distance, and its very long tail with white end helped to keep the mouses balance.
J. was a real trooper on this trip, and it was great so see her pickup that canoe and hike with it like it was a day pack. besides her job,she is an athlete, and road racing is her game. Being on a semi professional bike team in her spare time she tries to advocate high level sports for women, and even better, shes always game for a back country camping trip, thereby ensuring I have someone to go with. I'm so proud she's my daughter.

Although we did not manage to get to Manitou or Biggar, that leaves us with room to return some day.

I will eventually write a more detailed trip report, as i have more pictures of campsites on north tea but im out of time for today. Hope you enjoyed and questions are always welcome

Last edited by tentsterforever (8/20/2017 1:41 pm)


8/21/2017 8:33 pm  #2

Re: North Tea Lake aug 9-16

Great trip report...interesting photos, campsite information, personal reflection...it has it all. I'm really interested to read reports about this corner of the park as Ive never been. Thanks for writing.


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