Resource Guidebook: Canoeing Ontario's RiversRon Reid and Janet Grand
Publisher Douglas & McIntyre
Tom Stewart's Store
25 Main St. P.O. Box 360
Webwood, Ont. P0P 2G0
I am a firm believer in good maps. The MNR publishes an excellent map and river guide. Contact:
Ministry of Natural Resources
Gogama District Office
P.O. Box 129 Low Avenue
Gogama, Ontario P0M 1WA
THE SPANISH RIVER
After lunch the youger guys just had to climb to the top of the rock cliff and throw some rocks into the water.
The Spanish River above Agnew Lake is a premier white water river river for canoe tripping. It has many rapids negotiable with loaded canoes and mild white water experience. The fishing is good, and the portages are short. Although much of the river is paralleld by an active railroad, the scenery is good. and the campsites, though few, are not heavily used.
This trip can be started at either of two points on the upper end or entered at several places enroute. These other entrance points and river statistics can be found at Canadian Canoe Routes. The trip illustrated herein started at Duke Lake on the East Branch of the Spanish River.
We unloaded our gear as the shuttle driver abandoned us in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. We were surpised to find that this site had a boat ramp for motorboat access to the chain of lakes from Duke Lake down to Second Lake. Maybe not such wilderness after all.
We continued paddling down Duke Lake and through the chain looking for a suitable campsite. Camping early the first night gives us a chance to rest up from the over night drive.
We paddled only a short time before finding for a good campsite. We found an ideal spot at the entrance to what I believe was Sixth Lake. The site was flat and had appropriately spaced trees for erecting the dining fly. The area was open and grassy.
I couldn't help but include another picture of this great campsite. Here we are fixing breakfast the first morning. Notice the Outback oven baking biscuits for the sausage gravy. Also, see the paper towel roll. How did we ever survive before paper towels?
The young men might climb the rocks but they don't get up in time to enjoy the sunrise
Trip length from Duke Lake to Agnew Lodge is 142 km.
Duke Lake down to Second Lake is all flatwater with no portages. Several unmarked campsites along here. Use the map to help find them.
Portage 78 meters to First Lake, so they say. We have always been able to paddle through. The Snake River, connecting with the Spanish West Branch, empties into First Lake on the right. A cabin can be seen on left.
First Lake to Expanse Lake is reported to be fast, shallow and rocky for 1.6 km. It may require lining through or a road on the right can be used to carry as a last resort.
We took a different route. We portaged from First Lake up the left side of Snake River to the South Branch of the Spanish. This was a very rough portage.
After breaking camp we paddled on to First Lake. There are no portages up to this point, but the narrows between Second Lake and First Lake requires some negotiation and may be a rock garden at low water. The picture below is looking at Snake River where it flows into First Lake. Very little water is flowing by mid summer. The source is the West branch of the Spanish River. Instead of proceding on down the East Spanish we made the very arduous portage up the Snake and to the Spanish River proper. I have done this three times and enjoy that part of the Spanish, but the next time I will continue down the East Spanish to the confluence of the two rivers. This is the "normal" route.
This small rock island on the Snake River looks out on to the Spanish River. We bushwacked the site the first time here.
After setting up camp it was time to swim amd cool off from that last portage. We NEVER use soap in the water, but hang a sun shower in the trees for clean-up.
Again I was up before the others and patiently watched as the rising sun painted the sky.
After some mild rapids and a short portage we encounterred this challenging rapids. Running it with gear turmed out to be a slight mistake, but only one of the boats swamped. It was mine, too.
Poor Miss Piggy!. She sure wasn't happy about getting her outfit and makeup wet. But you have to take the bad with the good, that is part of the deal.
If you don't have your food and camp gear waterproofed this can really dampen your spirits.