Flack Lake Loop

Day 4 -  Upper Mace Lake to Bobowash Lake (14 km)

Map provided courtesy of Toporama which contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada. I have marked my route in blue and portages in red. 

Day 4 - Upper Mace Lake to Bobowash Lake

The lake continued offering me fantastic sights when I awoke. The temperature was cool in the night and had created a lovely mist over the lake when I awoke just after sunrise. It was so serene.

I was glad to have awoken early. My aim for the day was to make it to Bobowash Lake, another lake of reputed beauty, and I had a decent chunk of Ten Mile Lake to paddle, a large body of water known for its wind. The earlier I got there, the better.


I was able to break camp, load the canoe and start paddling by 8:30 am. Heading back to the portage to Swamp Lake, in the shallow eastern section of Upper Mace, I startled a large black bear as I rounded a point. It was sitting on a rocky slope with its nose in the air when I came around the bend. I'm guessing it had smelled me before it heard me. As I reached for my camera, it deftly darted into the bush before I could even raise my arm. It was quite an encounter; it was only about 20 feet away from my canoe on the shore. My heart was beating a little quicker than normal for the following few minutes, but I was thankful for the opportunity to have seen it.


By 9:30 am, I had retraced my steps into Swamp Lake and back into Ezma, where I paddled to the eastern bay on the north shore to locate the "Eagle Pass" portage into Ten Mile Lake. The landing area at the portage had several boats and items belonging to Ten Mile Lodge, a sports lodge just on the other side of the portage. It was obvious to see how they got all those items to Ezma when I took the portage, which was a wide ATV trail that even included rubber tracking over a makeshift bridge.

I was glad to be moving downward on this portage as there was quite a steep section in the middle, giving the portage its nickname.


I couldn't have asked for better paddling conditions on Ten Mile, where I paddled past people doing work on the lodge and another fellow building a new structure at his cottage just down the lake. Further along, I chatted with a local fisherman for a while who was curious about where I had been and where I was going. He was a local on the lake who had been able to enjoy the trout on Ten Mile Lake for years. He informed me that I was the second canoe to pass him in the last hour, the first containing three people. I guessed the three ladies from Ezma had gotten up and out a little earlier than I had.


I was able to locate my portage north about halfway down the lake. It was next to a small waterfall that came off the northern slopes. The chute seemed to run right into the boulders that dotted the shoreline. Either I didn't paddle far enough to see where the water emerged, or the waterfall went right under the rocks and into the lake below me. 

The portage was only 200m but it was straight up at about a 45-degree angle for most of it. My reward at the put-in was the pretty western bay of Hyphen Lake that sported an amazingly large cliff on its western shore.

I traversed the small western section of this lake and lifted over a small beaver dam to get into its larger eastern section. As I rounded a bend while skirting the southern shore, I saw a black head moving across the narrow section of this lake. It was a bear cub frantically swimming to the northern shore. My second bear sighting of the morning! I took a video of the little guy emerging onshore, but in my haste, I didn't check the focus and it turned out quite blurry, unfortunately. He scampered up the slope toward the direction of the portage that I was about to use only a few hundred meters away. What concerned me was that Baby Bear of this tiny size was most likely following Mama Bear that had already crossed the lake and into the woods before I had rounded the bend. I could hear him (or both?) crashing through the bush on the shore next to me as I paddled toward the port.


I found the portage into Dollyberry at the very northeastern tip of the lake to the right of a large slab of rock face. I paused a bit and listened for any animal sounds in the woods at the top of the ridge. After a few minutes of not hearing anything, I was somewhat satisfied but apprehensive. I completed this short, but tremendously steep uphill portage in record time with both a bear banger and bear spray in my pocket as I went. For good measure, I loudly sang an off-key version of Springsteen's Born to Run to make my presence known and to give me the incentive to do this one quickly.


Hey, judge me not! If I startled a Mama with Baby, who knew what kind of reaction she might have had. I was alone and I could smell it (them). It was a musty, pungent odour. I suspected that it (they) had passed through or near the portage just ahead of me.


I was able to put in and paddle into Dollyberry without any further encounters of the ursine nature. Dollyberry was quite a pretty lake, containing a rocky shoreline and large pines.

It didn't take long to get to the take-out for the portage to Bobowash Lake at the end of a back bay on the northern shore. My jaw dropped when I saw the rock face that I immediately needed to climb at the take-out. As daunting as that looked, in reality, it wasn't bad. The previous two portages were more difficult in terms of steepness.

Emerging out on Bobowash Lake, I was immediately happy to have made the decision to stay there. What a gorgeous lake! There was an empty site near the put-in, but I was aiming for the prime site on an island in the middle of the lake. I saw the large white canoe belonging to the three ladies beached at another site on the western shore. I wondered why they hadn't gone for the island site I was hoping to stay on.


I decided to paddle over and say hi again, hoping I wouldn't be bothering them. We chatted a little about the day and the trip to get there from Ezma. We took a look at each other's maps and it turned out that their map didn't display some campsites that I had on mine, including the island site that I was aiming for. A short paddle back toward the centre of the lake, I found the site and it was indeed vacant. I felt a little guilty nabbing the better site when they were on the lake before me, but they were already set up on theirs.


After setting up camp, I cut some wood for the night's fire, relaxed a bit, and went out to catch some fish for dinner. The wind was up, however, and it wasn't easy to maneuver a light, empty canoe to the spots I was trying to find. I returned to my site fishless and rehydrated some chili rice for dinner.


The ladies were out having a picnic dinner on an island and as they paddled past my island on their way back to their site, I invited them up for a chat next to my fire for a bit. They accepted and we had a nice conversation. It was my fourth night on a solo trip and I was happy to have the company. I learned that for two of them this was their very first backcountry trip. I certainly would not classify the route we were on as one for novices, so they were having quite an initiation! They seemed to be loving it though and none of them complained about the difficulty of the portages nor the remoteness of the location. They seemed prepared for the challenge, enjoying nature, and were taking it in stride. What a great experience they were having; I sincerely hope it will make lifelong canoe trippers out of all of them.


They paddled back to their site before sundown, and I enjoyed another lovely evening next to a nice fire.