Days 2 - Chiniguchi Lake to Stouffer Lake (23 km)

Day 3 - Rest Day 

Day 2 - Chiniguchi Lake to Stouffer Lake (23 km) 

After a relaxing morning of camp coffee and bacon-and-egg wraps, we broke camp and got on the water shortly before 10 AM. It was another scorcher of a day. 

We paddled into the north end of Chinguchi Lake, got a glimpse of the faded pictographs on the eastern shore (see Laura Lake Loop Trip Report), and moved past the turn-off point to head back into McConnell Bay. From this point, I was in unchartered territory in terms of where I had been before.  

Just before the portage into Sawhorse Lake, we passed Chiniguchi Camp on the right. It was a large collection of buildings that seemed to be under renovation to some degree. It looked to be a nice spot. 

To get to Sawhorse Lake, it was really just a 20-meter liftover rather than the 85-portage listed on my trip notes.

Sawhorse Lake is a small, narrow lake that gets very swampy at its northern end where we found the portage to Adelaide Lake through a barely-open passage of water amidst deadfall, mudflats, and lilypads. 

There was a forgotten single croc sandal at the take-out. Rightfully, an animal showed its displeasure at the discarded item being left there and had decided to defecate on it. 

The 620-meter portage started off a little rough due to some deadfall, but soon connected with an ATV trail and became wide and easy. It met up with an even larger logging road, where we turned right for about 30 meters and then left and down another ATV trail to put in on Adelaide Lake. 

Paddling on Adelaide, we looked for smoke or signs of fire. There was a very small forest fire near a pond just to the east of Adelaide Lake that also began on July 3rd, two days earlier. Its status was listed as "Under Control" however, so we were fairly sure it would be out by the time we got to that location. In fact, on Chiniguchi Lake, the night prior, two helicopters flew overhead in the evening in the direction of Adelaide Lake and we assumed that they were checking to see if the fire had been fully extinguished. Perhaps because of the thick, pine-clad forest and wind direction, we did not smell or see any smoke as we moved up the lake. 

We entered a creek at the northeast end of the lake and then had to do a short 20-meter portage next to a broken-down bridge on an ATV trail to get into Button Lake. We had been on the go for nearly three hours by that point and with the extreme heat, we had plowed through all of our water. We also wanted to get some lunch to replenish some spent calories. 

We investigated the site at the south end of Button Lake. Dad got out to take a look but said that it was fairly trashed with broken beer bottles in addition to being buggy. I had figured as much as it backed onto a logging road. In my experience, sites that can be accessed by ATVs tend to get trashed. Sigh.  

We found a nice mound of rock to the west of the island in the middle of the lake. There, we rehydrated ourselves with water mixed with Gatorade crystals (a lifesaver on this hot and humid trip!) and made some peanut butter and honey wraps which we ate in the shade of a tree. We also took the time to strip down and enjoy cooling off with a swim in the lake. 

Lunch and the swim got us set for the portage into Dougherty Lake, a steep 560-meter climb up and over a ridge. Though, it wasn't a very long portage, the elevation changes in very high temperatures made it a tough one. A weather check on my satellite device showed that the "feels like" temperature was in the 40s! 

We were very happy when we reached Dougherty Lake. A wind had come up which gave us some relief from the heat. As we emerged past the island-dotted narrows from the southern bay and into the main part of the lake, we saw how beautiful the lake was. There were a few islands in the centre of the lake, one of which looked to have a gorgeous west-facing campsite. We were aiming for Stouffer Lake for the evening, however, so we kept on paddling. 

On a point heading into the western narrows of the lake, there was supposed to be the ruins of a fishing lodge; however, the building we saw was anything but in ruins. It was loved and cared for with a new dock and sauna at the lake's edge. Obviously, someone had purchased the property and had refurbished it into a fantastic retreat. 

Moving west, the skies over the horizon looked ominous. It was apparent we had weather blowing in, which was inevitable with the heat and humidity that we had been experiencing. By the time we reached the take-out to the 160-meter portage to take us into Frederick Lake, steady rain was coming down. 

We unloaded the canoe, put on our rain gear, and made the first trip of the short but rocky portage. By the time we returned for our second load, it had become a thunderstorm and the rain had become a downpour. We leaned the canoe against a tree and ducked under it during the worst of it.  Thankfully, it only lasted about twenty minutes and we were able to complete the portage and put in again without much delay. 

As we paddled the southern back bay of Frederick Lake, I turned to take a shot of the pretty hills behind us with wisps of mist floating amongst them. 

The narrows between that back bay and the lake displayed the remains of an old logging road bridge that once spanned the water there. It was on full display in the crystal clear water. 

There was also supposed to be a sunken boat near there, but we couldn't locate it. As we moved north, just past the bridge on the right, there was an island with freaky streaks of white quartzite zipping through the granite. Unfortunately, my photo of it didn't turn out.  

By the time we made it into Frederick Lake, we were tired and spent. Again, we had gone through all of our water and needed more. The lake was beautiful and we contemplated setting up camp there instead of moving on to Stouffer Lake. We investigated the one site on Frederick but it was bushy at the back and didn't really have a suitable place for me to hang my hammock, so we moved on. We got out on a small island in the narrow northern bay of the lake to filter more water and have some snacks to energize us for our last portage of the day. 

We found the 165-meter portage (this one was actually signed!) to the left of a creek that ran from Frederick into Stouffer. It was a straightforward and easy carry. 

After putting in on Stouffer, we paddled up the east shore of the lake to check out the pictographs there. These were more discernible than the ones on Chinguchi Lake. 

From there, we paddled to the northwest corner of the lake where we were very happy to find a wonderful campsite on a long, esker-like point with water all around it. It overlooked the entire northern bay of beautiful Stouffer Lake. 

At the tip of the point there was an odd carving in the rock with an inexplicable message. I'm not sure why someone would carve something in order to be forgotten. Doesn't a carving etched in stone do the opposite? 

The sky was threatening, so we immediately set up camp, this time erecting our NoBugZone shelter, which became a bit of a lifesaver for the rest of the trip in terms of both keeping us dry and safe from the very many biting critters on this trip. 

Day 3 - Stouffer Lake (0 km) 

Around 4 AM, it started raining. By 5 AM it was hammering down and continued to do so for most of the morning. A weather check on my satellite device revealed that that we were in for it all day and right up into the evening. We knew that the Sturgeon had some steep and rocky portages that we certainly would have liked to avoid in wet conditions, so we decided to stay put for the day. Besides, it simply isn't fun canoe tripping in a heavy downpour, nor is setting up and breaking camp when everything is wet. 

It was a lazy day of reading, eating meals in the bug tent, and watching 4 loons continuously circling our point and performing dances of epic proportions. It was quite something to see. At the time, we assumed it might be some kind of mating dance, but we found it odd for them to be mating at that time of year. After doing a little subsequent googling on the subject, I discovered this site:,and%20rapidly%20paddling%20its%20feet.

Apparently, they were threatened by our presence on the site! I now feel bad knowing that we were stressing out the poor creatures. 

Dad and I each napped for a good 2 or 3 hours in the late afternoon which was glorious. By 7:30 PM, the sun finally broke through the sky on the western horizon. It was a welcome sign after 24 hours of solid gloom. 

We hung out in the bug tent at dusk due to mosquitos, chatted, and enjoyed a couple of libations before hitting the sack.