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Grey Owl's Bisco Routes

Biscotasing to Sinaminda Lake

via Mishap Creek

After having explored south from Biscotasing, me and my friends have always been wondering whether one could do a diagonal route that aims south east instead. Mishap Creek goes pretty far that direction and then Sinaminda Creek continues in the same way, with Alton Lake somewhere half-way down. It should end up in Sinaminda Lake which is along the travelled route over to Pogamasing Lake towards the Spanish River. Two scouting trips confirmed it: in July 2005 I soloed south from Bisco up Mishap Creek and portaged over to the headwaters of Sinaminda Creek. The following year in spring, Bob M joined and we started from Sinaminda Lake in the reverse direction and we made it to where I had left off the year before. It's a viable route, off the beaten track and not too difficult, it avoids big open lakes and gives you long stretches of undisturbed nature. Portages do exist thanks to the continued maintenance of a snow mobile trail, and some portages are a bit "weedy" but none of them is longer than 1000m. Camps sites are only sufficient for a small group of no more than two tents.

It's rough going at times and you should give yourself three to four days for this route.


About the topo map extracts on this page and their linked enlargements:
İHer Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada
    Reproduced with the permission of Natural Resources Canada

b-a-s1.jpg (54728 bytes) You can travel to Bisco by train - useful if you want to continue down the Spanish River - or you might arrive by car in order to do a loop. I either case, you would launch beside the General Store at the railway station.

The first night might best be spent on Lake Biscotasi, anywhere north of the town and within 5kms of the put-in. This will avoid running into a dearth of good camp sites within the next 15kms as you head south on the Hogsback Channel. Biscotasi Lake is a park and soon (2007 or 2008) you will need a permit if you decide to camp there.

Houghton Lake has cottages and the visible train tracks leave no doubt that you are still amongst people and their meddling ways.

2004-09-02 008.JPG (78603 bytes) The store in Biscotasing, at the start. Passing underneath the train tracks on the way to Houghton Lake. imgp0723.jpg (201973 bytes)

b-a-s2.jpg (54449 bytes)So, Houghton Lake is still close to civilization, but there are some interesting islands where you cross from Lillie into BazettTownship: huge gray hog backs...

Further along, you could enter the Hogsback Channel and switch over to Indian Lake - the best portage is via a small lake near the "H" of the Hogsback on the map on the right.

As you paddle further south you are travelling on the lake that is labeled Mishap Creek, you might stick to the east shore and run into a dead end of bulrushes. Just switch to the western shore instead, where I put "4" on the map.

Then the river narrows and you glide closely along forested shores.... 



Move to the right shore to avoid the bulrush thicket. imgp0741.jpg (114657 bytes) The Narrows on the way to Skelton L (the pack and map in front of the seat). imgp0744.jpg (123652 bytes)
imgp0732.jpg (228822 bytes) Camping is sometimes on marginal sites, like this one on Houghton Lake.


b-a-s3.jpg (35451 bytes)...... until you reach Skelton Lake.

   There's nothing interesting about this lake except a portage out of the east bay. It promises a potential trip towards the Sinker Creek and thus access to the middle of the Spanish River's West Branch. Let me know if you can confirm this - maybe you have travelled it already....

   There is a camp site on a point off the southern shore. To leave the lake on your way south, you take the portage at the end of the southern bay. You may be able to put in the water along some of its 800m length if you hate long carries. That will get you into Mishap Lake which has two camp sites.

   You continue out of the southern end and up Mishap Creek - a beautiful example of a northern river with spruce and bog on both sides. Mishap Creek gets narrower until there is not enough width to let a prospector canoe through and there it's time to portage again.



imgp0765.jpg (214536 bytes) Left: awkward launch of the canoe into a puddle between Skelton and Mishap


Lunch:         bread, sardines and water- with improvised chopsticks

imgp0901.jpg (179679 bytes) Typical trail blazes along the portage along Mishap and Sinaminda - snowmobilers like to make them long... imgp0854.jpg (215359 bytes)
imgp0771.jpg (187024 bytes) Rocky ridge behind campsite on Mishap Lake.... imgp0776.jpg (182234 bytes) .....and the kitchen corner at the camp site

b-a-s4.jpg (39007 bytes)Paddle as far as you can. The old portage seems to have been on the west shore but it is overgrown by now and hard to work through. An easier choice is the path on the east shore that has been cleared by snowmobiles. It will take you back into the lazy waters of the creek. A short paddle will bring you to where the Metagama logging road crosses. That road is a major artery for logging traffic from the clear cuts further away and it allows the creek to flow beneath it via two large culverts. You have to heave your gear up the steep gravel embankment, move it to the other side of the road, and then let it slide down into the water on the other side. The large wire cages that have been installed to prevent the beaver from blocking the water flow are quite a sight. You are now in Lamprey Lake.

It is a boggy little lake and the road just beyond the western shore makes it not attractive to stay.

But this lake is the hub between two routes: you could move away from our route to the west into Indian Lake (ask me about the location of the portage that leads from Lamprey into the large Metagama Bay). Or you could proceed along as we planned and look for the portage into Winnie Lake.

It is now used as a snowmobile trail that starts in about the centre of of Lamprey, behind some floating peat barrier but the landing is clear....

Mishap Creek south of Mishap L, a typical northern river imgp0781.jpg (115053 bytes)
The creek narrows to a trickle and the portage starts imgp0786.jpg (225564 bytes) Approaching Lamprey Lake, still before the Metagama Rd crossing imgp0795.jpg (112165 bytes)
imgp0992.jpg (146770 bytes) Here the road crosses the creek - note the two culverts.... Up on the road after some heavy grunting, and now the canoe is up on the road, ready to slide down the other side imgp0809.jpg (192913 bytes)
Finally, in Lamprey Lake imgp0813.jpg (109773 bytes)

b-a-s5.jpg (71248 bytes)...Just look for the opening in the bush, a typical start of a snowmobile trail. The portage is only about 400m long and there are no difficult grades.

Winnie Lake is the head waters for the Sinaminda Creek and its water flows to the south. It is wonderfully clear and there are a handful of camps sites - all small and even marginal, but scenic. It's a nice lake to stay on.

To leave Winnie following the creek, you have to portage along the east shore, then a quick paddle across a pond and then again take a portage on the east shore. The next lake has no camp sites but one could pitch a tent on the eastern shore at the southern end.

The outflow is a shallow trickle. There used to be a beaver pond but the beavers are gone and the canoe will not float. You have to portage along the wet area on the east shore for not quite one km and then put into the creek again. Another portage on the same side bypasses a rocky area and you are again using the trail maintained by the snowmobilers. It's another 1km to paddle and then you are in Alton Lake.

On Lamprey Lake - the start of the portage to Winnie Lake imgp0822.jpg (188531 bytes)
imgp0946.jpg (119396 bytes) View from the camp site on Winnie Lake imgp0832.jpg (165710 bytes)
Two lakes after Winnie, a pitiful sight: the beaver is no more and for about 800m   the creek has no depth imgp0889.jpg (117357 bytes)

This was the end of the trip in August 2005 - not enough water on Sinaminda Cree, just 4km north of Alton Lake.

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The following year in June, Bob M came along and we completed the survey of the route. Even though we travelled the opposite direction, the description continues in its original direction, from north to south.

b-a-s6.jpg (12938 bytes)Alton Lake is disappointing as it has nothing interesting - at least that's how appeared to us. We camped at a small site on the eastern shore of the panhandle near the main body of the lake.

To leave the lake, do not follow the creek. Instead, find the landing at the south shore and follow the well-defined trail through a boggy forest until you are at the water again. Paddle south for 1.5km and take the short portage on the west shore.

Bob paddling the panhandle of Alton Lake imgp2150.jpg (78401 bytes)

    The canoe pushes along a  narrow section of Sinaminda Creek, north of Alton Lake.

imgp2172.jpg (123944 bytes)

b-a-s7.jpg (50665 bytes)You are still in Sinaminda Creek but the appearance is that of a narrow lake with a few narrows. A paddle of about 6km and there's a last portage before you paddle in the waters of Sinaminda Lake.

In its northern Bay, on the west shore, there is the start of a maintained portage into Mile Lake - something you could explore if you have time on your hands.

There's a good campsite in the north end of Sinaminda Lake, on the triangular island, facing east.

Lily pads on Sinaminda Creek

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imgp0863.jpg (46284 bytes)

The beauty of the water lily

b-a-s8.jpg (67799 bytes)                            


Bow paddler somewhere along the route imgp2152.jpg (88329 bytes)


In strong wind, Sinaminda Lake typically does not build up big waves like Mozhabong or Indian Lake, but the narrows will act as powerful funnels and you will fight the wind should you be paddling into it.




From Sinaminda Lake, you can follow the portage to the east into Gilden Lake and from there take the route through Dennie, Little Pog and Pogamasing Lakes to rejoin the Spanish River. You would have the option to either walk the road that leads straight to Sheahan, or take the more romantic (and a little more difficult - Bob thinks it's a lot worse and I am crazy for even mentioning that) carry that parallels the outflow of the lake at the Pog River.

Or you could return to Bisco by paddling to the south end of Sinaminda Lake and then head west and north via Mozhabong and Indian Lakes, a trip with fewer portages spectacular scenery on the three large lakes of that route..

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