9-day September Solo on Lookout River, Shawanabis Lake, & Kopka River, to Bukamega Lake takeout

  • 30 Nov 2021 2:32 PM
    Message # 12156708
    With my BWCAW paddling plans jeopardized by fire, I discovered Wabakimi Provincial Park and Friends of Wabakimi. I'm sure glad I did. 

    Attached is a trip report from my 9-day solo paddle (9/6/2021 - 9/14/2021) where I put in at Shawanabis Lake, headed North on the Lookout River before turning around and enjoying the Kopka waterfalls and taking out on Bukamega Lake. 

    It was a wonderful trip with some challenges and misadventures, but mostly just the trip of a lifetime! I was outfitted by Bruce & Margaret Hyer out of Wabakimi Canoe Outfitters near Armstrong.
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  • 21 Dec 2021 9:30 PM
    Reply # 12209657 on 12156708

    Hi Rob,

    thank you for your thoughtful and detailed report, I enjoyed it very much. Sorry about your phone - and lack of pictures! Considering running the Kopka this summer I wonder how essential are w/w skills for such expedition. I have some w/w experience, but on a remote solo trip I'd limit myself to non-technical class II rapids that can be scouted, and only if there's a safe pool below. Did you encounter any must-run rapids above this level or tricky put-ins/take-outs? Your advice will be much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Sergey

  • 27 Dec 2021 8:03 AM
    Reply # 12217431 on 12156708
    David Mancuso

    Thank you for sharing...Very insightful report and gives me ideas for my trip!

  • 28 Dec 2021 3:12 PM
    Reply # 12220811 on 12156708

    I'm glad it was helpful to you both. David, I hope you have a wonderful trip and that you'll report back here how it went!

    Sergey, keeping in mind that I only did a short portion of the Kopka (from Hook Lake to Bukamega Lake), I did not need to paddle any whitewater. In higher water, maybe one of the rapids would have been runnable, but I lined it, and there was a portage option. 

    In his Wabakimi Canoe Routes Guidebook available on the FOW website, Laurence Mills has a pretty long and detailed summary of the trip. I'd suggest looking there and/or talking to outfitters or other folks who know the trip better than I. There's also a nice video from "Explore the Backcountry" that might give you some idea of what to expect: https://youtu.be/CEqvmDgrAA0. That pair seem to really like running whitewater and makes some really watchable videos.

    I had some self-inflicted problems on a put-in, and struggled to find one portage (that may or may not have been there). Make no mistake, some of the portages are quite challenging, and some of the put-in's take-outs were a little challenging due to the low water, but I suspect higher water would just change which were easy and which were more challenging. However, on balance, I didn't find the actual put-ins/take-outs to be particularly remarkable or problematic. 

    In case it's of interest, I did a webinar with FOW a few weeks ago that also covers this trip. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/8koQ88x_jfs

    Good luck to you both wherever you may go!

    Cheers!
    Rob

  • 29 Dec 2021 10:43 AM
    Reply # 12222923 on 12156708
    Oregon Dave

    Not to discourage anyone, but a reminder of the power of moving water.  A fast water Kopka River accident in 2005 claimed the life of Jane Stewart-Ferguson. 

    https://www.backpacker.com/survival/out-alive-underwater/

    I'd like to see an article in our FOW newsletter regarding serious accidents that have occurred in the Wabakimi area and lessons learned. If you have any contributions, please send them to info@wabakimi.org



  • 29 Dec 2021 4:44 PM
    Reply # 12223665 on 12156708

    Good idea, and point well taken! 

    Another good reminder to use good sense AND consider consulting with those who know more before going. I portaged or lined every bit of whitewater on my trip, and several of the rapids were very clearly marked as unrunnable, dangerous, sure death, etc. by my outfitter on the maps he provided. I wouldn't have tried them anyway, but maybe others would be tempted...and pay a price. 

    See attached...Looks like this person had a bad day on the Kopka (photo by Greyson Morrow).

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  • 29 Dec 2021 9:07 PM
    Reply # 12224045 on 12156708

    Thanks for well thought reply! Surely, to safely paddle whitewater one has to be respectful of its strength and know his limitations.

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