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A Canadian wilderness river, right in our backyard.

A Canadian wilderness river, right in our backyard.

This September Kate and I paddled the Weikwabinonaw River, in Ontario.  The Weikwabinonaw has intrigued me for years, due mostly to its closeness, but I had never been able to find any good information about it.  Since we did not have time this spring for our usual Canadian river trip, we thought we would take the short drive to the Northern Light lake area and give the Weikwabinonaw a try.

The river wildly exceeded my expectations.  The river itself was very scenic, with beautiful rapids and rocks.  Portages were in good shape, rougher than most BWCA/Quetico Portages, but much better than many farther north portages we have done.

In the last few years I have come to believe that that the best way to enjoy a trip is to do enough planning to make sure the trip is safe and feasible, and not much more.  Why spend your time looking at someone else’s photos of the campsites and scenery of your route, when you can discover it for yourself?   To me a large part of the appeal of wilderness tripping is the sense of exploration and discovery.  When you reach a remote enough area, while you certainly aren’t the first person to travel that route,  you can see it through that first traveler’s eyes.  Knowing what is around every bend makes that feeling nearly impossible.

Although this trip was fairly short and through an area that is fairly easy to access, it served as an affirmation of the above ideas.  The river was totally different than I had imagined, and the landscape offered many surprises each day.  The route was easily doable in the four days we had.  We must thank Robert at Red Pine Outfitters for his advice, hospitality, and for facilitation our car shuttle.

Starting out on Weikwabinonaw. It was a classic shield country lake filled with rocky points.

Starting out on Weikwabinonaw Lake. It was a classic shield country lake, filled with rocky points.

Looking up river, towards Jacob Lake.

Looking up river, towards Jacob Lake.

Start of the Weikwabinonaw River

Start of the Weikwabinonaw River

Kate, preparing to portage in a heavenly glow

Kate, preparing to portage in a heavenly glow

Lunch stop on our first day.

Lunch stop on our first day.

Checking out the area around our camp on Koss Lake.

Checking out the area around our camp on Koss Lake.

Cooking fire at our Koss lake site

Cooking fire at our Koss lake site

Day 2 started in a heavy fog.

Day 2 started in a heavy fog.

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The Start of a long rapids. With spring or even early summer water levels it would have been a fun and straight forward run.

The start of a long rapids. With spring or even early summer water levels it would have been a fun and straight-forward run.

It rained on and off for our second morning.

It rained on and off for our second morning.

A rough road crossed the river at a large rapids. There was a nice established campsite on the portage.

A rough road crossed the river at a large rapids. There was a nice established campsite on the portage.

Looking at another larger set of rapids.

Looking at another larger set of rapids.

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Kate, waiting patiently for me to be done looking at the large set of rapids.

Kate, waiting patiently for me to be done looking at the large set of rapids.

We found a very scenic site on a small lake that the river passed through. after determining that we would stop for the day, Kate paddled the canoe around to a better landing spot.

We found a very scenic site on a small lake that the river passed through. After determining that we would stop for the day, Kate paddled the canoe around to a better landing spot.

Even at the

Even at the “better landing”, the site was still difficult to access from the water.

The evening view from our site

The evening view from our site

Saying goodbye to our site in the morning

Saying goodbye to our site in the morning

The last stretch of river was very scenic, with high rock faces and fast water,

The last stretch of river was very scenic, with high rock faces and fast water.

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popping out into Northern Light Lake. We fought a strong wind for the rest of the day.

Popping out into Northern Light Lake. We fought a strong wind for the rest of the day.

Lunch on Northern Light. We later found a serviceable campsite within a couple hour paddle of our take out point.

Lunch on Northern Light. We later found a serviceable campsite within a couple hour paddle of our take-out point.

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