Day 8- McCarthy Bay to Wolf Lake  

(20 km) 

Day 8- Matagamasi Lake (McCarthy Bay ) to Wolf Lake  (20 km) 

I woke up at dawn with the sun beaming in from the east with an incredible red glow. 

We wanted to get on the water early to get across McCarthy Bay before those prevailing west winds whipped up again. We were on the water by 8 AM and I took a couple of shots of our island site as we departed it. 

There was a large group of kids and adults camped on one of the sites on the southern shore as we paddled through McCarthy Bay. We made short work of the long stretch and were pleased with our decision to make camp early the day prior. There was little wind to impede us on a normally windy stretch of water. Within an hour, we were gawking beneath the cliff faces at the narrows leading into the main bay of Matagamasi to spot the pictographs there. 

By 10:30, we had made our way through the north arm and were nearing the portage to take us further up the Chiniguchi River. The sky began to get overcast and it looked like the red skies at dawn were proving the old adage correct. 

It didn't take long to get us across the 300-meter portage where the put-in at the far end was very pretty with its crystal clear water and rocky shoreline. 

From there, the paddle to the steep 330-meter Toenail portage took just minutes, and we were soon taking out again. It appeared that no one was at the portage at all. We took our time on the return trip and took a number of shots of the Chiniguchi River cascading down the rocks next to the trail. 

Before heading back for the second load, we made the side trip to Paradise Lagoon, which somehow we miraculously had all to ourselves. We could not resist taking a quick swim in the inviting waters. It was just as well because the humidity was high and we were sweating. 

Finishing the Toenail portage, we put in and re-entered the  world's largest old growth red pine forest just as the nasty black clouds blew away and it became sunny again. 

We made our way through Silvester Lake and paddled hard up the swifts into the southern reaches of Wolf Lake. No one was around, it seemed. How rare to have this extremely popular part of the Chiniguchi wilderness to ourselves. We admired the large white cliffs on the southwestern shore of Wolf Lake. 

We paddled over to the eastern part of the lake to check out the campsite there. It was high on a cliff above the water and the views of the lake from there were pretty incredible. What an absolute shame it would be if this pristine slice of nature were to be destroyed by a full-scale mining operation. It breaks my heart just to think about it. 

We spent a bit of time exploring behind the site and admiring some of the larger trees.  As much as we would have loved to spend more time on Wolf Lake, we regretfully made our way up the lake to the portage back to our car. It was nearing 2 PM and we had nearly a seven-hour drive ahead of us, factoring in the time it would take us to get out on that horrible road. I couldn't resist turning around and taking one more shot of the top end of Wolf Lake as we carried our canoe and gear up to our car. 

Our vehicle seemed to be in good order and had thankfully not been disturbed. Again, as mentioned at the outset of this report, it was some white-knuckling to get out on that road, But we luckily made it out without any vehicle issues.

Driving back to Peterborough, we commented on how this route had a little bit of everything a canoeist could want on a canoe trip -- large lakes with incredible island campsites, swampy wetlands where we were able to spot moose and other wildlife, terrific natural scenery consisting of quartzite rock and old growth forest, gorgeous cascading waterfalls, ancient pictographs, rapids in high water that were incredibly fun to run, winding river scenery with 100-foot sandbanks, etc, etc, etc. Come to think of it, I would say the Sturgeon River Loop is a "must" trip for any avid canoeist. 

Sure, we didn't get to paddle the Steel River this time, but we had such a great trip, maybe things work out just the way they are meant to in the end.