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Sierra Club Wilderness trips and expeditions
   Chapter: Michigan (Mackinac)
   Group: Central Upper Peninsula (CUPG)
   Leader: Michael Neiger, Marquette, Michigan (Web site; e-mail; bio)

Review trip journal from this completed trip

June 30 to July 10, 2005

19th Annual (Summer) Canadian Backpacking Expedition

(Notice: Trip dates, itinerary, rations, and costs revised 06-21-05)

On this year's 46-kilometer, 11-day summer Canadian Backpacking Expedition, we'll explore the remote and inhospitable, trail-less, Lake Superior shoreline between Chalfont Cove and Old Woman Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Other than sea kayakers paddling the coast, this portion of the park is seldom, if ever, visited, especially in the interior. In addition to exploring the coastline's coves, cliffs, and beaches, we'll be pouring over our maps and working the interior bush in search of waterfalls, fishing holes, swimming holes, rocky peaks, old growth, old trappers cabins, and pristine bivouac areas.

Along the way, we'll be keeping an eye out for massive moose sheds dropped the preceding winter. They should be plentiful, especially as we approach Grindstone Point, a place where moose are known to yard up in the winter. On past trips many klicks south of this yard, we were cataloging up to three sheds a day. We will also be keeping an eye out for ground spoor (tracks and scat) from the ever-elusive timber wolf.

   Lake Superior Provincial Park
   Algoma District
   South of Wawa, Ontario

Experience level:
   -- Expert-level, high-skills backpacking
   -- Only suitable for the hardcore, extremely-fit expeditioner
   -- Requires prior backpacking experience with leader

   -- Extremely strenuous
   -- Extremely remote, seldom-traversed, cross-country route
   -- Extremely rugged, steep/high-angle, mountainous terrain
   -- Extremely bad bug conditions
      ...black flies, no-see-ums, mosquitoes,
beach flies
   -- High heat & humidity
   -- Heavy rucksack due to ration load

Off-trail/on-trail rating:
   100 percent off-trail map & compass recon

Participant requirements:
   -- Notice: please review the homepage on this Web site
      for general wilderness tripping requirements
   -- 18 years old or older
   -- non-smoker and non-drinker
   -- very physically fit (very good aerobic endurance)
   -- adventurous spirit
   -- proficient swimmer
   -- prior wilderness tripping experience
   -- fully equipped with lightweight backpacking gear
      including rucksack, bivouac gear, survival gear,
      foul-weather gear, rations, stove, etc.

Evac advisory:
    Evac will require watercraft or helo support,
    depending on location

Bivouac advisory:
   This is not a basecamp trip. We will move each day
   and bivouac in a different location each night,
   often deep in the bush and far from roads,
   dry & level campsites, potable water, toilets, and fire rings.

Trip info:
   -- 8 a.m. Friday to late afternoon on Saturday, or Sunday
   -- Club fee: $15 (U.S. funds)
   -- Park camping permits: $7.50/night or $67.50 (Canadian funds)
   -- Sign up by June 17 required
   -- Contact trip leader for sign up
   -- Review journals and photos from similar wilderness trips

Specialized equipment required:
   -- In-pocket survival kit (knife, matches, firestarters,
      compass, whistle); Sierra Club survival kits can be
      borrowed free of charge
   -- River-fording footwear
   -- Some basic climbing equipment may be required

Rations required:
   -- Breakfasts--10
   -- Snacks--10
   -- Lunches--10
   -- Dinners--9
   -- Backup rations--1 full days
   -- Rations and stoves info

Additional destination info:
   -- Algoma Central Railway, 1-800-242-9287, http://www.algomacentralrailway.com
   -- Lake Superior Provincial Park headquarters, 1-705-856-2284, http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/parks/lakes.html
   -- "Railpacking," by Don Stap, Backpacker Magazine, September 1985, pp. 48-49.
   -- Backpacking and Wilderness Camp Site Areas in Algoma Central Country, undated 3-page photocopy by Algoma Central Railway.
   -- Canoe Routes, Lake Superior Provincial Park brochure, 2000 edition
   -- Hiking Trails, Lake Superior Provincial Park brochure, 2001 edition
   -- The Complete Guide to Walking in Canada, by Elliott Katz (Firefly Press, 2001)
   -- Voyageur Hiking Trail Guidebook, (Voyageur Trail Association, 1998)
   -- Agawa Ice Climbing Map, (Granite Publishing, 1999) http://www.climbingcentral.com
   -- Algoma Central Railway, by O. S. Nock (A. C. Black Limited, 1975)
   -- Tracks of the Black Bear, by Dale Wilson and Gordon D. Jomini (Nick Belt Rails, 1990)
   -- The Algoma Central Railway Story, by Dale Wilson (Nick Belt Rails, 1984)
   -- Forest Trails: Mile by Mile, by Rick Vosper (Algoma Central Railway, 2002)
   -- Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Superior and Michigan: The Best Day Trips and Tours, by Bill Newman, Sarah Ohmann, and Don Dimond (Globe Pequot Press, 1999)

   -- Exploring Superior Country--The Nature Guide to Lake Superior by Craig Charles (1992, NorthWood Press, Inc.)
   -- Search destination in http://www.google.com search engine

Travel info:
   -- Driving maps
   -- Road conditions and weather reports
   -- Tourism info
   -- Road trip gear

Wilderness skills and resources info:
   -- Backpacking skills
   -- Land nav skills
   -- River fording skills
   -- Water purification skills
   -- Lightning safety
   -- Low-impact skills
   -- Backpacking links, books, & vendors
   -- Ultralight backpacking links, books, & vendors

   -- Dressing warm skills
   -- Sleeping warm skills
   -- Winter-camping skills
   -- Ice-crossing skills
   -- Snowshoe links, books, & vendors
   -- Winter-camping links, books, & vendors

Emergency contacts:
   -- Ontario Provincial Police, Wawa, 1-888-310-1122
   -- Ambulance, Wawa, 705-856-4203
   -- Hospital, Wawa, 705-856-2335
   -- LSPP Red Rock Lake Headquarters, 705-856-2284
   -- Algoma Central Railway, 1-800-242-9287
   -- Sierra Club Outings Department 24-hour help line: 1-888-outings

Provisional itinerary:
(Note: Totally revised 6-20-05)
Trip Architect: Chris Ozminski, Flint, Michigan
Total approximate distance: 43.0 klicks (km)
   04.5 klicks along established portage trail
   28.5 klicks bushwhacking
   10.0 klicks established trail hiking

  • Friday, July 1: 4.5 klick early-morning trek along established portage trail from Highway 17 (north of Rabbit Blanket) to northeast corner of Alpine Lake; 3.0 klick bushwhack from NE corner of Apline Lake, recon Apline outlet for falls, Till Lake, and down along Till Creek Falls to Lake Superior.
  • Saturday, July 2: 3.5 klick bushwhack to Gravel Lake, recon Cheer Lake Creek Falls along the way
  • Sunday, July 3: 2.5 klick bushwhack to Bushy Bay and Grindstone Point
  • Monday, July 4: 3.5 klick bushwhack to middle of Red Rock Canyon
  • Tuesday, July 5: 3.5 klick bushwhack to Red Rock River mouth and sand beach on Lake Superior
  • Wednesday, July 6: 4.0 klick bushwhack (1 klick on beach) to Sommers Lake
  • Thursday, July 7: 3.0 klick bushwhack to Sommers Lake rivermouth on Lake Superior (cobble rock)
  • Friday, July 8: 2.0 klick bushwhack/shoreline walk, swimming crevasses, to Ryan Point/Cove
  • Saturday, July 9: 3.5 klick bushwhack to Chalfant Cove; possible finish of trip with 10 klick trail hike to cars at Gargantua Bay
  • Sunday, July 10: 10 klick early-morning trail hike to cars at Gargantua Bay, or bivouac at Warp Bay, finishing hike on Monday

Land Nav Team Info:

   Topographic maps:
      1:50,000 Old Woman Lake 41N/10 & 41N/11 (required)
      1:50,000 Michipicoten Harbour 41 N/15 (required)
      1:20,000 20-16-6500-52600 (Ontario base map, optional)
      1:20,000 20-16-6400-52700 (Ontario base map, optional)
      1:20,000 20-16-6500-52700 (Ontario base map, optional)
      1:20,000 20-16-6400-52800 (Ontario base map, optional)
      1:20,000 20-16-6500-52800 (Ontario base map, optional)
      1:20,000 20-16-6500-52900 (Ontario base map, optional)
       --Topo map ordering information
       --Topo map waterproofing & GPS prep

   Park maps:
      1:100,000 Lake Superior Provincial Park Map
       --Order at 1-705-856-2284

   2005 Magnetic declination specs:
      Magnetic declination for Lat 47° 40'N, Lon 85°00'W:
         07° 07' west
      UTM easting grid line to meridian line deviation:
         01° 40' east (Old Woman Lake, edition 2 quad)
      UTM easting grid line magnetic declination:
         08° 47' west

   GPS configuration specs:
      Grid coordinate system
        1000-meter Universal Transverse Mercator Grid (UTM)
      UTM grid horizontal map datum:
        1:20,000 (current) maps:
            1983 North American Datum (NAD 83)
        1:20,000 (old) maps:
            1927 North American Datum Canada (NAD 27 Can)
        1:50,000 edition 2 (old) maps:
            1927 North American Datum Canada (NAD 27 Can)
        1:50,000 edition 3 (current) maps:
            1983 North American Datum (NAD 83)
      UTM grid zone:
         Zone 16
      UTM grid hemisphere:
         Northern hemisphere
      Unit of measure:
      Battery type:
         Lithium, for deep cold, or long-range use
         Alkaline, for 3-season use
      Battery type setting:
         Select type of battery (lithium, alkaline, or Ni-Cad);
         battery discharge-rate differences affect meter accuracy

   Misc nav setup:
      Roamer UTM plotter scale(s):
         1:20,000 & 1:50,000
      Ranger pacing beads:
         Metric--9 100-meter beads; 4 1-kilometer beads
      Magnetic declination setting on compass:
         0° of offset

   More land nav team info



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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.

 — John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

Content Copyright © 1984-- 2005-10-29
by Michael A. Neiger

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