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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 and photo ablum from this completed trip

August 4-15, 2005

19th Annual (Fall) Canadian Backpacking Expedition

On this year's 65-kilometer, 11-day autumn Canadian Backpacking Expedition, we'll explore the rugged coastal trail and inhospitable, but rewarding bush along Lake Superior shoreline between the North Swallow River and Hattie Cove located in Pukaskwa National Park.

Along the way, we'll do some canyoneering in search of hidden waterfalls and pristine bivouac sites. We'll also be keeping an eye out for massive moose, or possibly even caribou, sheds dropped the preceding winter. We will also watch for ground spoor (tracks and scat) from the ever-elusive timber wolf.

   Pukaskwa National Park
   Thunder Bay District
   West 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:
   90 percent on-trail; 10 percent 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:
   -- 4 p.m. Thursday to late afternoon on Sunday
   -- Club fee: $20 (U.S. funds)
   -- Pack access fee: equal share of $56 group permit (Canadian funds)
   -- Park camping permits: $8 per night or $80.00 (Canadian funds)
   -- Boat shuttle fee: equal share of $460 (Canadian funds)
   -- Sign up by July 13 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

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

Additional destination info:
   -- The Complete Guide to Walking in Canada, by Elliott Katz (Firefly Press, 2001)
   -- Voyageur Hiking Trail Guidebook, (Voyageur Trail Association, 1998)
   -- 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)
   -- Teasing the Spirit--A Comprehensive Guide to Paddling Pukaskwa National Park's Coastal Waters, by Craig S. Zimmerman (Words for Wildlands, 1996)
   -- Pukaskwa National Park (Friends of Pukaskwa, 1990) [$8.95 non-topographic park map]
   -- Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario (Parks Canada, 2000)
[free fold-out non-topographic campsite and trail map]
   -- Pukaskwa National Park of Canada--Visitor Guide (Parks Canada) [free]
   -- Exploring Superior Country--The Nature Guide to Lake Superior by Craig Charles (1992, NorthWood Press, Inc.)
   -- Coastal Hiking Trail & Maps booklet (Friends of Pukaskwa)
   -- Exploring the Coast paddling guide (Friends of Pukaskwa)

   -- Search destination in http://www.google.com search engine

   -- Marathon Tourism Information Center 1-800-621-1029
   -- Pukaskwa National Park
       PO Box 212, Highway 627
       Heron Bay, Ontario P0T 1R0
       E-mail: Ont-Pukaskwa@pc.gc.ca
       Web site: http://www.parkscanada.gc.ca/pukaskwa

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 1-888-310-1122
   -- Ambulance 807-229-2232
   -- Hospital 807-229-1740
   -- Pukaskwa National Park Headquarters 807-229-0801
   -- Sierra Club Outings Department 24-hour help line: 1-888-outings

Provisional itinerary:
Total approximate distance: 64.7 klicks (km)

  • Thursday, Aug 4, no hiking
    6 p.m. departure from Hattie Cove by 28-foot motor boat for late-evening insert and bivouac at North Swallow River (sand beach)
  • Friday, Aug 5, 2.0 klick recon of North Swallow River rapids and 3.0 klick trek along coastal trail to Hideaway Lake (rocky) bivouac
  • Saturday, Aug 6, 6.8 klick trek along coastal trail to White Spruce Harbor (sand beach) bivouac
  • Sunday, Aug 7, 3.1 klick trek along coastal trail to White Gravel River; establish provision cache; 3 klick canyoneering up North Branch of White Gravel River to falls bivouac
  • Monday, Aug 8, 4 klick canyoneering down South Branch of White Gravel River to White Gravel River-mouth (gravel and sand beaches) bivouac
  • Tuesday, Aug 9, 7.1 klick trek along coastal trail to Fisherman's Harbor bivouac (sandy coves; deep harbor at 5356300mN
  • Wednesday, Aug 10, 7.2 klick trek along coastal trail to Oiseau Bay (long sand beaches) bivouac
  • Thursday, Aug 11, 5.1 klick trek along coastal trail to Fish Harbor (long sandy beaches) bivouac
  • Friday, Aug 12, 9.0 klick trek along coastal trail to Willow River (sand and rock beaches) bivouac
  • Saturday, Aug 13, 8.6 klick trek along coastal trail, with suspension-bridge crossing of White River Canyon, to lower White River Falls bivouac (Playtor Harbor, with nice sand beaches is 1.8 klicks further along coastal trail)
  • Sunday, Aug 14, 7.8 klick trek along coastal trail to Hattie Cove; optional post-trip dinner, overnight, and breakfast in area
  • Monday, Aug 15, Travel day

Land Nav Team Info:

   Topographic maps:
       1:50,000 Marathon 42 D/9 (required)
       1:50,000 Oiseau Bay 42 D/8 (required)
       1:50,000 Otter Island 42 D/1 (required)
       1:20,000 20-16-5500-53500 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5500-53600 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5500-53700 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5500-53800 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5600-53300 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5600-53400 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5600-53500 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5600-53600 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5700-53300 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5700-53400 (Ontario base map, optional)
       1:20,000 20-16-5700-53500 (Ontario base map, optional)
       --Topo map ordering information
       --Topo map waterproofing & GPS prep

   Park maps:
       -- Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario (Parks Canada, 2000) [free fold-out non-topographic campsite and trail map]
       -- Pukaskwa National Park of Canada--Visitor Guide (Parks Canada) [free, informative park guide]
       -- Coastal Hiking Trail & Maps booklet ($8, Friends of Pukaskwa)
       --Order at 1-807-229-0801

   2005 Magnetic declination specs:
      Magnetic declination for Lat 48° 25'N, Lon 86°12'W:
         06° 15' west
      UTM easting grid line to meridian line deviation:
         00° 34' east
      UTM easting grid line magnetic declination:
         06° 49' west

   GPS configuration specs:
      Grid coordinate system
        1000-meter Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid
      UTM grid horizontal map datum:
         1:20,000 edition maps:
            1983 North American Datum Canada (NAD 83 Can)
      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-- 2005-10-06
by Michael A. Neiger

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