Trip Number: 12195A
Staff: Terry DeFraties
- Paddle deep into the remote, unspoiled lakes and rivers of an amazing
wilderness area and experience historic voyagers' routes and portage trails
- See wildlife, wildflowers, waterfalls, and unsurpassed scenery
- Visit attractions on the North Shore of Lake Superior and in Thunder Bay
- Camping or cabin near Lake Superior the first night and modern lakeside
cabin on the last night
- Van transportation from Minneapolis or Thunder Bay airport and back
- Float plane flight, train ticket, canoe rental, and camping fees and
Photo: Mike McKinney
Unfortunately, this trip has been cancelled. If you
have questions, please
Venture deep into an amazingly unspoiled wilderness still undiscovered by most. This vast wilderness, which includes Wabakimi Provincial Park and the surrounding area, is considerably larger and more remote than the Boundary Waters Canoe Area/Quetico Provincial Park, but only has a tenth of the human traffic. It is a remarkably wild and natural area. Our path will follow routes used for centuries by First Nations, fur traders, explorers, and adventurers. We will paddle remote, unspoiled lakes and rivers linked by portage trails.
There will be a wide range of habitat, and we could see a variety of wildlife such as beavers, otters, moose, eagles, and maybe even caribou -- all in a truly spectacular setting. "Primordial forest" and "crazy as a loon" will probably take on concrete meanings. We could be serenaded by a chorus of wolves. We will hear silence. There will be time for photography, fishing, and swimming.
This trip will allow you to enjoy and experience the wilderness. Permit and logistical considerations force us to limit the trip to just six participants, plus the two leaders. We should have considerable flexibility with our route and schedule. You will end up with pictures etched in your memory of the sun setting across a lake that is as smooth as glass with a perfect mirror image reflection of trees on the water, and morning mist rising from a lake at sunrise. There could be northern lights; but there will be no city lights to interfere with stargazing as the campfire dies down.
Day 1: We will get acquainted as we drive north from Minneapolis
to take in several attractions along the North Shore of Lake Superior. At night
we will stay in the Grand Marais, Minnesota area and visit Grand Marais.
Photo: Mike McKinney
Day 2: After breakfast in camp (the first meal of the trip)
we will proceed to Thunder Bay and visit attractions there. We will wrap up
briefing and orientation, check personal gear, and distribute group gear. Everyone
will be carrying some group gear. On Sunday afternoon, those interested can
buy a fishing license from our outfitter. We'll double-check everything, do
any final packing, and move our gear to the train. After dinner, we will stack
our canoes in the baggage car and board the train for a fairly short hop to
our starting point in the wilderness, where the train will drop us at a trail
between regularly scheduled stops. Then, we will go a short distance to our
Days 3-7: We will paddle, portage, and camp as we head north toward our pick-up lake. We will see many lakes and rivers but few, if any, people. There will be portages along the same trails that have been used for centuries by wilderness travelers. Wildlife -- flora and fauna -- will be all around us. We will make time for some photography as we travel. Each day, after making camp, there will be time to fish, swim, and soak in the beauty surrounding us.
Day 8: After lunch, we will paddle to our exit point where our outfitter will land a seaplane, pick us up and fly us back to Mattice Lake by late afternoon. We will fix dinner in our cabin there and get things ready to depart the next morning.
Day 9: In the cabin, we will fix breakfast (the last meal
of the trip), load the van, and depart by 9 a.m., retracing our steps back to
Photo: Terry DeFraties
Our first night will be spent in the Grand Marais, Minnesota area; and our
last night will be spent at Mattice Lake near Armstrong, Ontario, which is about
150 miles north of Thunder Bay. The trip price includes round-trip transportation
by van from Minneapolis (MSP) or Thunder Bay airports. The van will depart our
hotel near the Minneapolis airport at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 23. We will be
in Duluth about noon and spend the afternoon along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
We will enter Canada (and eastern time) Sunday morning. A passport is required
to enter Canada and to return to the U.S.
We will stop for lunch during our sightseeing on Saturday and have dinner in
Grand Marais. These meals are not included in the trip. Our first meal of the
trip will be breakfast at our camp or cabin on Sunday morning. We are planning
a late picnic lunch at the Terry Fox memorial outside of Thunder Bay. Dinner
will be at a small restaurant in Armstrong. At the end of the trip the next
Saturday night, we will stay in a modern cabin overlooking Mattice Lake. Breakfast
that Sunday will be the last meal of the trip. We will depart by 9 a.m. and
should reach Thunder Bay about noon for a quick lunch so we can reach Duluth
around 5 p.m. and Minneapolis around 8 p.m.
Accommodations and Food
On the first night of the trip we will camp or stay in a cabin in the Grand
Marais, Minnesota area, and on the last night we will stay in a modern lakeside
cabin. The rest of the time we will be camping deep in the wilderness. We will
be camping in established campsites when possible, and we will strive to "leave
no trace" the rest of the time. Plan to work together to make camp, prepare,
and clean-up meals. The trip leaders really like to cook and to eat, so count
on interesting, varied, and nutritious meals. There will be plenty of food.
If participants wish, they can bring additional between-meal snacks. We will
do our best to accommodate vegetarians and medical dietary restrictions. Those
with challenging restrictions may be asked to bring or prepare some of their
own food to supplement group food. Please contact the leader if you require
Photo: Mike McKinney
Physically this will be a moderately difficult trip. We will be on flat water,
including river portions of the trip. The current is generally minimal, and
we will portage around any rapids or waterfalls. Participants should have some
experience with both canoeing and camping. Other than an occasional fire ring,
there will be no facilities where we camp. Participants must be able to manage
a canoe in at least light wind and small waves. Portaging will be required.
Canoe partners need to be able to move their gear and canoe across a portage
-- it could be a few yards, a quarter mile, or more. To make portaging manageable,
all of your gear and your share of group gear must fit in a single waterproof
pack, plus a small day pack for items needed while in transit (e.g. raingear,
water, etc.). Plan to work cooperatively as a group in completing portages.
We will spend about six hours most days in transit (i.e. paddling and portaging).
This may vary depending on wind, weather, and other factors. If weather conditions
are favorable and our group wishes to do so, there will be a layover day. The
leaders will finalize the trip details based on the capabilities and experience
of the group. Since we are flying out, we will be able to adjust the route and
distance to conditions during the trip.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Mike McKinney
Canoes, paddles, and PFDs are included in the trip cost. Cooking and water purification equipment and camp tarp will be provided. We will have a group first-aid kit for emergencies. However, you will need a personal first-aid kit, prescription medications, and OTC items like Band-Aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. We plan to provide one bear canister per participant for group food, individual snacks, etc. Participants must bring their own water bottle/bladder, mug, bowl, spoon, tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear. Temperatures can range from the 40s F at night to 70s F in the daytime. A good two-piece waterproof rain suit is a must. You will want quick-drying synthetic clothing that can be layered. Participants must have a 70- to 115-liter dry bag with shoulder straps to carry personal gear, with enough space left to hold some group gear and a bear canister (9" diameter x 13"). It is possible that we will need to remove some deadfall or other portage trail obstacles. Packable leather work gloves may be useful for this task and for making camp.
Detailed equipment and gear lists will be provided to participants after they are accepted for the trip. With some advance planning, most gear can be rented on an individual basis. Please contact the trip leader if you have any questions.
- The Boundary Waters Journal
- Vol. 20 No. 4 Spring, 2007, Page 72. Exploring Wabakimi by Chris Williams.
- Vol. 23 No. 2 Fall, 2009, Page 91. Wabakimi Time Machine by Rob Jessekring.
Photo: Mike McKinney
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater
understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.
The focus of this trip is to enjoy the wilderness, and also discuss issues
relating to the environment and the wilderness. Wabakimi Provincial Park was
created long after fly-in outpost cabins and lodges were established by private
entities, and it's a good example of cooperative multiple uses for a vast wilderness
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Terry DeFraties leads local outings for the Thomas Hart Benton Group (Kansas City) of the Missouri Chapter and lives in the Kansas City area. He owns a small construction company and backpacks, canoes and caves whenever he can. Although fairly new to national outings, he has participated in, organized and led wilderness trips for over thirty years. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Holly Johnson is an outings leader for her local Eagle View Group and lives in the Illinois Quad Cities. She is a massage therapist and paramedic who devotes her free time to environmental issues. Holly enjoys all outdoor activities including kayaking, biking, camping and backpacking. She lives with two cats and is the environmental pied piper to all of the children in her neighborhood. Holly has led several national trips and brings great energy and expertise to the outing.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips