Canoe the Obabika Loop in
We travel to the Obabika Lodge at the southern
end of Obabika Lake where we launch the canoes. Note that
this access is now closed, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources advocates
to paddle in via Temagami Lake and the portage of Obabika Inlet. The south end of the lake is somewhat busy with the boats from
the lodge and a handful of cottages, but it gets quiet as we move up the lake. It's neat
to glide over the sun-lit sandy bottom near the shore and look at the magical world under
water. Further up, along the left shore, where the cliffs come down to the water's edge (in
Anishnabe language, they are called Kaw-gaw-gee Waw-bee-kong), pictographs from
travelers long ago give us time to marvel and reflect. The
further north you camp on this lake, the more likely are you to encounter other campers
and you might find the camp sites occupied. Thus, we paddle about two fifth up
the length of the Lake and camp on the left shore.
We continue paddling up the Lake and stop about half way up the northern part of the lake, at the large rock island. During spring, it's a seagull rookery, but in August it's just one large rocky whale's hump, way out in the lake and bare of vegetation. Its gently sloped shore makes it easy to pull up the canoes, and we explore. No birds are there now, but the evidence of its large spring population is soon obvious: feathers have been blown into every crevice in this rock. But what touches us deeply are the many bones that are strewn about. In a place where so much new life springs forth, death seems to take its casual toll as well. We paddle on, all a bit quieter than before... Near the top end of the lake, we camp on the left shore, on the beach. Obabika Lake(Photo: Bonny Brownstein)It's a comfortable site, with the tents pitched directly on the sand. A small rocky island, just 50 m off shore, is a nice target for a swim, and we admire the brecchia that forms its bedrock.
It's lay-over day on Obabika. Heavy rain and lightning have forced us to stay put. Everyone is huddled under the large kitchen tarp; we are cramped but glad to be sheltered from the elements. In mid-afternoon, the weather improves and we decide to make use of the day. We launch the canoes and paddle to the north-east corner of the lake where there are large stands of old growth white pine. We step on shore and follow a trail that leads up the forest, take a fork to the right, cross a creek and then reach the top of the cliffs where we lunch. We are a group of nature buffs and thankful for the chance to look at the plants in detail. With opened guide books, we stand huddled over some little sprig of green with a blossom and sort out what it is and what it isn't. I love this: in the three or four hours of walk, we barely cover 4 km, and it's time well spent. Eventually, we get back to the boats and realize that we would rather paddle for another hour than return to the camp for dinner. So, we move south along the east shore of Obabika Lake, to the Grand Parent Rocks (Ko-ko-mis and Sho-mis Waw-bee-Kong) and the pictographs there. We have seen these strangely sculpted rocks from a distance, and are keen to check them out. It's a privilege to get up close to these monuments of Native history and connect to the hundreds or even thousands of years of human presence at the lake.
It's time to move on, as we intend to paddle
down the outflow of the lake for about a day and a half, and then loop back into
Obabika Lake via a side creek, a lake and a long portage.
We carry around the small unnamed rapids 2 km from the start of the river. On an earlier trip, I had seen Cedar Waxwings perched high above that shore flutter out whenever an imprudent insect tried to cross the open space on the river, but today they are missing. We pass the portage towards Lahay Lake and judge the trail to be a bad one: it is swarming with mosquitoes and quite overgrown. Then we continue to Kokosh Pow-waw-ting or Pig Rapids, a short carry of about 90 m, and pitch tents on the large camp site there. It's good to know that across the river there is the open space of a former logging camp which could be used if the main camp site were occupied already.
We get up early as we expect it to be a long day. Launching the canoes brings out a new
but not uncommon hazard: a tree stump houses a nest of bees, and
we have to pass close by to get to the put-in. A few in
the party are stung, and we are all glad as we get away from there.
The day starts with a 1000 m portage from the eastern end of Wawiagama Lake. It's not tough, really, because it's level and clear, and we soon get our gear to the other side. It's on the western end of a deep bay of Obabika Lake and, at earlier days, seems to have seen lots of traffic: there is even a wooden dock built for some obscure purpose. We should be paddling south on the lake to get close to tomorrow's pick-up, but the good campsites are the other way and we head north, along the west shore. Finding the camp site of the first day occupied, we cross Obabika Lake and settle down on a small site, up a steep hill. In spite of the small site, we manage to get comfortable and soon goof around to pass the remainder of the day. One couple even heads back across the lake to scale the huge rock face, and we watch them through binoculars as they work their way up to reach the wooded top. Yes, we are on alert for bees, again, as there are a few buzzing around, but no one is stung this time.
The morning sees us paddle back to Obabika Lodge for the pickup. We are relaxed, easy with each other and a bit wistful that it's just about over. Maybe we'll be back the next year....
Evaluation of Route:
Acknowledgement: Photos by Bonnie Brownstein and Barb Hankins (Erhard with rock). The pictograph was found in the website of the Obabika Lodge.
The advice provided in Obabika Loop has been compiled based upon 30 years experience canoeing in Ontario. Every effort has been made to ensure that the advice in this web site is correct. Even so, I do not accept any responsibility for errors or misrepresentations contained herein.
WARNING! This advice is intended for use by those with some prior experience in camping, canoe-tripping and backpacking. I do not assume responsibility for the safety of individuals, nor do I accept liability for any loss or damages that might arise in the course of following the advice presented in this web site.