John Jackson's Tim River Trip - May 11-19th, 1996
Tim River access point #2 : Tim L., Tim R., Rosebary L. Floating Heart L., Latour, Loontail, Nipissing R., Nod, Barred Owl, Loughrin, Lawren
Harris, J.E.H.Macdonald, Calm, Birchcliffe Lakes, Birchcliffe Cr., Biggar, Hornbeam, Mangotasi, North Tea, Cayuga, Jeepi, Charr, Pishnecka,
Craig, Nahma Lakes, South River, Mujekiwis L., Nipissing R., Big Bob L., West Koko Pond, Indian Pipe, Chibiabos, Tim L., and the Tim River.
Day 1: We pulled in to the parking lot at the Tim River access point and were loaded up and ready to roll at 10 am. We were welcomed to the park by a
freindly family of otters which snorted their hellos and went on their way. We quickly paddled down to and then across Tim Lake. On our way out
of Tim Lake we saw a couple of moose in the flooded area above the Tim Lake dam.
We made our way across the first portage at the Tim Lake dam. The Tim river below the dam was quite shallow and narrow, however the river
quickly widened and we were moving along at a good speed. We pulled over two beaver dams on the way to Rosebary Lake.
After a short lunch break on Rosebary Lake along a very nice beach we crossed a short, flat portage into Floating Heart Lake. A quick paddle and we were at our first
major portage of the trip, an 1800+m carry into Latour Creek. This creek was barely wide enough for our canoe so we did more poling than paddling for most of our trip to the next portage. We found the next portage easily enough when the creek was no longer passable. We portaged from there into Loontail Creek. As it was getting late we pushed on to the first available campsite we found which was along the rapids at the end of a portage on the Nipissing River. There was great fishing at the bottom of the rapids. There is another campsite at the start of the portage but it was taken as we arrived later in the day.
Day 2: The next day we headed down river towards the Gibson Portage. We avoided one portage along the way due to high water levels. We continued past the Gibson Portage and the ranger cabin along the river through the swampy part of the Nipissing River. I can't remember how many fish we caught but it was a lot. It seemed as though every deep
pool held a few fish. It didn't matter what we used spinners, worms, jigs etc. the fish just had to have it. As time passed we realized that we still had a 1900+m portage to do, and a few lake to cross so we started to move on.
We got to the portage that leads out of the Nipissing Valley and except for the killer hill out of the valley it was an easy one. We went through Nod Lake and across Barred Owl Lake, both just tiny puddles, and portaged into Loughrin Lake. All the places we had planned on camping were taken and so we ended up camped on Lawren Harris
Lake. We didn't fish here other than casting a worm out and leaving it. It was a nice campsite on a narrow spit between two islands that appear to be joined. Apparently there are ruins of an old ranger cabin along the south shore of this lake but we couldn't find it.
Days 3 and 4: The next day we continued through J.E.H. MacDonald Lake and Calm Lake to Birchcliffe Lake. There is an old ranger cabin here but we didn't know it at the time. We heard some ATV's in the bush on this lake.(probably going to the cabin). We continued on to Birchcliffe Creek. (AKA the river of hell). All seemed well for the first stretch up to the 200m portage. We even caught some small specs at the end of log jam.
After that we had a hellish time. Around the first bend of this narrow creek, we encountered a winding, fast-flowing pinball machine, and we were the pinball. Because of the high water levels, we were just motoring down the creek at a good clip. At the outside of each bend were low Alder bushes sticking out into the creek, which we were slammed into at every turn. On the other side of the creek it was the same thing, which made the creek about 2 canoe widths wide (tight). So this continued for about two hours before it opened up a little.
At this point the water slowed a bit. A large tree had fallen across the water in this area but someone had cut all the sweeper branches off making it passable underneath. As we started under my partner, Dave, leaned back to duck under the tree. His pack was right behind him, with his extra large sleeping bag (he has a compact bag now!) attached to the outside. He leaned back as far as the bag and then started to lean to the side! Just before the canoe was about to swamp, I jumped out of the boat into chest deep 8C mucky creek water. The canoe only got about an inch or so of water in it, so not all of our stuff was soaked. I guided the boat to shore and got up onto the bank. We unloaded and dumped out the water. This got most of the spiders out of the boat that had fallen in from the Alders we kept crashing into.
We then continued towards Biggar Lake. The river was a bit better after this and even had what appeared to be a campsite partway along. We finally got to the lake and paddled across to the point of land about halfway down at the end of the bay were Loughrin Creek enters. We camped here and it was such a nice site that we decided to stay for two nights.
We fished a lot across the bay along the steep shoreline. This is where we caught most of our lake trout, just trolling spoons. We caught a few brook trout right off the campsite with worms and spinners and spoons. This was an interesting campsite as well as a nice one. At night time we kept hearing 'footsteps' in the leaves beside our tent but when we went outside there was nothing there. We decided to wait outside to see what the noise was. It turned out to be not a bear about to devour us, but just a bunch of dew worms coming out of the ground and crackling the leaves!!! We had a good laugh over this one.
Days 5 and 6: From Biggar Lake we continued west through Hornbeam Lake and Mangotasi Lake towards North Tea Lake There is a nice waterfall in this area. We didn't
fish at all this day as it was windy and looking like rain. The wind was actually going with us so we made good time across North Tea Lake. We portaged out of North Tea Lake towards Cayuga Lake. This was a very beatiful lake but small. The next portage into Jeepi Lake hadn't been used in about 50 years or maybe it just seemed that way. Most of the trail was obscured by deadfalls etc. it was mostly uphill and it was all mud.
At one point we thought we were not getting our canoe back. A large deadfall was across the trail, to our left was an impassable swamp, and to our right was a decent sized cliff. At the point where the tree intersected the trail, it was dense branches. We were able to squeeze through the tree but the canoe was going to be a problem. We jammed the (rental) canoe on top of the trunk and pushed and pulled from each end until it was good and stuck. Eventually we dug out the saw and cut enough branches to get the canoe out.
We finished the portage and paddled quickly across Charr Lake, another small but nice lake. Then it started to rain. We crossed a small portage to a creek and then had to sit in the middle of a little pond while a moose checked us out before it decided to move (just before I dug the camera out of one of the packs). The entrance to the next portage was about 50 feet away when we became stuck in the ooze. After about 30 minutes of struggling and a couple of soakers, we made it to solid ground. We quickly carried this portage to Pishnecka Lake, set up the tarp at the first campsite we found. We camped there for the next two days to wait out the rain and cold. We didn't leave the campsite at all except to get water.
Day 7: Finally when the rain let up, we continued with our trip. We took a short portage into the stream leading into Craig Lake. Craig Lake is controlled by a dam on the north side and the water was down about 5 feet. The stream we were in was quite shallow and a fair bit of wading was required to navigate it. We thought Craig Lake would be the picture of solitude in the park, being that it was on a little travelled route, but, along the tops of the hills to the north, we could see evidence of recent logging and heard a few trucks rumbling along. So much for that!
We left Craig Lake and took a short muddy portage to Nahma Lake. The water in this lake was a very dark green colour and the lake was lined with big pine trees. It is one of the nicest lakes that I have seen. Next we portaged to the South River. It took some searching but we finally found the first portage. The 3585m portage follows an old logging road and is very wide and flat. The portage crosses the river in three places all with very fast water. It was quite a task to get across and at the third crossing we actually lost the canoe. I had it beached it where we thought it would be safe, but the current took it anyway. The spot was where a bridge had once been for the road, the canoe went down river and then came back upstream on the other side. I jumped across on some rocks, and slipped and fell in the water. I got the canoe back and we continued on.
The next portage was just a short one which we found easily enough, however the next was about 900m and we never did find that. The portage out of the river was about 2000m and followed the same old logging road as the first one. There was a very poor unmaintained campsite at the start of portage. The campsite and the portage were unmarked, like everything else along the river so there was some debate as to whether or not this was the start of the portage. I won the debate citing my superior map reading skills and the need to get off the uncomfortable canoe seats and stretch my legs. Shortly up the portage we scared a moose into the bush. After crossing a stratigicaly placed beaverdam we finally made it to Mujekiwis Lake. We ended up camped at a nice flat site and got the tent set up just in time to see the sun set over a glass still lake. It was very nice.
Day 8: The next day we rested for a bit and broke camp later as we didn't have very far to go. We took a few short portages along the head waters of the Nipissing River and got to the portage to Big Bob Lake. Along the portage we saw a monsterous snapping turtle.
We camped on the site just across from the end of the portage on a big flat rock with a huge pine growing out of it. It was quite windy that day so we didn't go out fishing at all. We did use the nice little beach next to the site to wash up. CCCCold! This is the only beach in the park that I have used where I didn't have a leech stuck too me at the end of my swim. Well, not that I ever found.
Day 9: The next day we took off early as the bugs were starting to hatch and it looked like rain. We went through West Koko Pond, Indian pipe Lake and Chibiabos Lake on the way to Tim Lake. We beat the wind to this point, only to have it catch us partway across Tim Lake. It brought friends .. I guess it didn't want us to leave! The wind and rain started coming down hard so we just turned into the whitecaps to ride it out. The waves were quite large and I think we were going backwards a few times but we kept at it. When we finally made it to the end of the lake, the rain just stopped and the wind died down a bit. We made our way up river to the parking lot and got changed just in time to avoid the next downpour!
- Camped 8 nights (2 on Biggar Lake and 2 on Pishnecka Lake)
- Travelled 7 days.
- Total portage length is 25180m
- Longest portage is 3585m
- Average portage length is 599m
- # of portages is 42
- # of low maintenance portages is 21
- We had fished most of the lakes that we passed but didn't have much luck except on Biggar Lake were we caught 8 lake trout (the largest was 23") and 6 specs (largest 19" but all were quite fat).
- We used an ultralight kevlar canoe.
- Participants were Dave Mazurkiewicz at the bow, and John Jackson at the stern.
Email: Questions can be emailed to John Jackson