Tim River To Rosebary Lake
September 3-9, 2015
Trip report through the eyes of 2 old friends - by Wanda Spruyt
We stayed a few days near Dwight, where I spent several days with a 15 foot solo Keewaydin lightweight canoe with kayak seat, rented at Oxtongue Outfitters. Having no experience with a solo canoe, it was important to me to try the canoe out with only my weight in it, in different weather conditions, as we were to do river travel, and crossing open water on the trip. The Keewaydin performed flawlessly during the tryouts, keeping straight in strong headwinds, and proving easy to handle in narrow river conditions.
Thursday, day 1
Sharon owns a small kayak, and on September 3rd we set off early in the morning to get our permits at the Kearny office, arriving at 8.00 am and getting back on the road at 8.10 am. We'd never been to this access point and could not wait to get on the water. There was only one other party on Tim Lake for that night. So there was lots of choice of campsites. The weather was warm and sunny, 30 degrees C with the rest of the week to be even warmer.
After loading our boats, we were off by 10.00 am
The river was full of floating sphagnum moss islands, which had a rich variety of plant life, some of which are sometimes hard to find. Pitcher plants, and sundews among them.
A strong east headwind gave us our first workout, but it was easy enough to reach the lee side of Tim Island. Finding the eastern facing site on the island to our liking, as it had a nice patch of grass, we set up there. Sharon has a tent we nicknamed 'banana'. Mine is an old MEC Northwind, and without its fly looks like a marshmallow.
Not being able to find a lot about the trip on the internet or in trip logs, it was to us a great adventure. However, our first concerns for doing this trip was our strength and flexibility, due to age. This site was easy to access, with two small sandy bottomed bays, and a flat rock to swim off. We promptly did that.
Once dinner was done, the food barrel was hung. The wind settled down and we heard the first loons. The sound carried around Tim Lake and bounced off the surrounding hills. We spotted 6 loons, and enjoyed their calls until bed time rolled around. Then it became bothersome, as they just never quit. Once the stars and moon were out, the calls became orchestra strength. By 4.00 am I was ready to make loon soup out of all of them!
Friday, day 2
Up at a reasonable time (I'm no early bird) Sharon and I packed up and set off to what we had read was an "easy and short" portage.
Only half that sentence was true for us. We had taken the reference from a trip log and taken it pretty much for granted. OOOOOOH, big mistake.
Although the portage was easy to find and to land on, we noticed it going up sharply over a dry riverbed interspersed with very large, and many, roots. There was no way that either of us was going to be able to portage the canoe and a pack in one trip over to the other side. It was much too steep for us. With 2 packs each, a food barrel and the 2 boats, we were in for a nasty surprise. Taking a pack each and paddles, we ambled to the other side and that was even worse.
It was a very steep sandy hill descent, with steps too far apart to be of any use. It was too steep to have a canoe over your head, that's asking to loose your balance and get hurt. So, we got the bear rope out, and decided to let the packs and boats down that way, with one of us guiding the boats to the narrow river on the bottom. There's barely enough room to get 2 boats loaded again, and thankfully no one came upon us that were in more of a hurry. Instead of a 10 minute portage, it turned into 45 minutes! Several litres of sweat were left behind, as the temperature had climbed to 34 degrees and the sandy descent was out of the wind and in the blazing sun.
Looking at the riverbed before setting off again, a light bulb should have started burning. It didn't. The river was unusually deep, 3 "s" turns later we found out why. Beaver dam! Jeez, nowhere had we read about that, other than in a trip report that said there were a couple of 'lift overs'. This was NOT an easy lift over with our solo boats.
I can see that a two man canoe can handle this maybe quite easily, but we couldn't. Sitting flat in the middle of the solo canoe, and having the food barrel in front of me, getting out over the front was not possible.
Lining up sideways with a 15 feet boat in a 10 ft wide river was also a job and a half. Pulling myself up at the cross bar, stepping out with one leg and then making sure to not do the splits was about the only way to get onto the beaver dam, then pull the canoe across and try to get back in on the other side. Water depth was measured with the kayak paddle; at least 4-5 feet. Sharon did not fare so well, standing up in her kayak could not be done, the only manner in which she could get out was to roll onto the grassy, spongy,floating side wall. Pull the kayak over the dam, and try to roll back in. Once we had it done, we happily went on our way, soaked to the skin and smelling like beaver dam, only to find we had 5 more beaver dams to cross.
We were not too tired to look for moose while we were paddling. But, we were disappointed to see exactly nothing. I would have loved to go to the Mediteranean-looking beach on the north side of Rosebary, once out of the river. But no, a swim would have to wait. Being late afternoon (yep it took us about 5 hours from our Tim Lake site) we were not strong enough to face the hard-blowing east wind to get to the site that is close to the beach. Instead, we paddled around the corner to the south-west and picked the 3rd site, because although small, it was a totally covered in grass and appealed to us.
After dinner we ventured out to the other end of the small bay on which our campsite was, and to my delight discovered a very sandy bottom. It lead to a thin strip of white sand and could be seen as a 'beach' with a bit of imagination. The water was only knee deep at least 10-12 feet out into Rosebary lake. Nice, sturdy sand. There were an awful lot of moose prints on the sand, and we promptly dubbed it "moose beach".
It was to be our swimming spot till the end of our stay, and no moose to be seen at all.
Saturday, day 3
Wanting to explore the lake some more, we decided to head out and see some of the other campsites. Being the long weekend, the sites were all full. There were only a couple of sites we liked, most being uphill and quite deep into the trees. Paddling back, Sharon realized her boat was taking on quite a bit of water. Oh NO, the kayak had sprung a leak!
There was a Lot of head scratching as to what would be the best way to fix the problem. Between the two of us, we came up with an old bit of Gorilla Glue and a roll of duct tape and hoping that it would all hold. We let it dry overnight and hoped for the best. In the meantime I had to refill my fuel bottle for my Peak 1 stove, and to my horror, the extra MSR bottle would not open. No matter what we tried, it pushed down, clicked, as it supposed to, but to my frustration, would not open up. Seeing horrid visions of having to cook with my new light weight REI set over an open fire, I tried one more time after several hours, none the wiser as to why, it opened.
Because of the heavy wind, I had put the fly on my tent for the night, and a shower came by. Nothing to worry about, until all of a sudden 'SNAP' and there went one of my poles. It did not puncture the fly, but it was necessary to take it out quickly, and then I had a lopsided tent, although still usable.
Sunday, day 4
A great day to explore, walk some of the David Lake portage (3375m) and gather driftwood. We enjoyed an excursion with both of us in the solo canoe, leaving the seat empty, but forgetting that the canoe can be quite tippy when used like that. Coming back in, I did not lift my leg high enough when stepping out and promptly went overboard . Ah well, a swim was welcome anyway. And still no moose, anywhere.
Monday, day 5
It was time to head back for 2 more nights on Tim Lake before the trip was over. The beaver dams were as bad as on the way up, and at the last one, Sharon missed her step, and tumbled backward over the beaver dam into the guck. I couldn't help it, I laughed so hard I couldn't get back into my canoe.
Now having to face the portage's horridly steep sand slope and towing the canoe and kayak up, we decided to use the bear rope again and use the two of us like horses in front of a plow, to get to the top. Sweating, shoving, pulling and pushing, and breathing hard from the effort, we eventually had all our gear in place on top of the sand slope to get it back to the easier side.
Facing a very strong west wind (headwind of course) we ended up sitting out the heavy rollers and whitecaps on Tim Lake on the west facing site (coming from the portage) on the Tim River's mouth, giving us a needed break, until early evening when we paddled back to the east facing island site and made a campfire.
Tuesday, day 6
The day was warm and sunny, but the evening became cloudy and humid. While I floated quietly in the canoe, 4 otters came to see what I was all about, huffing and snorting, but too fast for a good picture. Then the thunderstorm of all thunderstorms rolled in. Once over, it left behind a great sunset.
Note: Tim Island is split in the middle by a shallow stream running east to west. This is not visible on Jeff's Map.
For the first time ever I tried some purchased dried meals along with bringing my own. Here are the results.