Tobeatic trip report

Tobeatic Trip October 12-19 2013
Will Poole, Corey Ritchie, Matt Hemeon, Erica Amero

We had been planning a week long trip into the Tobeatic since spring. Our main goal was  reach North Bingay Lake as we wanted to see the old growth island that was located there. We had been to the Sporting Lake islands before but had heard that North Bingay may be better. As time got closer to our departure date a planned route had not yet been decided.

The typical route to North Bingay is from the Roseway River but we had heard there was an old trail connecting North Bingay to the Shelburne River from Cofan Lake but the portage was well over 2km long and not frequently traveled in many years which presented a big challenge. It was decided to try this route and see parts of the Shelburne River we hadn’t seen.  So, the planned route was to start at Sporting Lake Stream to Cofan Lake then North Bingay into the Roseway River and down to Indian Fields where a vehicle would be waiting.

Also, while doing a little research and talking with a few people that travel the Tobeatic, the story of Jim Charles came up and with it an old picture of a person standing next to a large rock that was thought to be where he hid out. The location of this rock in the picture is known and goes by the name “Calling Rock” which has a cave along side it, and there is also a rock with a small cave in it next to the shore on Sand Beach lake which they call “Jim Charles Rock” both were added to the list of places we had to see.

larger version

 October 12 – We started the day early and were dropped off at Sporting Lake Stream ready for the adventure ahead. Very nice sunny day. Portages into Sporting Lake seemed well traveled and easy to follow. Once on Sporting Lake we stopped and walked around the largest island which has old growth hemlock and always an amazing place to visit. After Sporting Lake the portages are a little less traveled and grown in at parts. We made it as far as East Cranberry Lake where we made camp at a nice campsite at the start of the portage into Clearwater Lake. Sunny all day with little wind but was a chilly/frosty night.

October 13 – The next 2 portages (into Clearwater lake than into Buckshot Lake) proved to be difficult and slow going. Once on Buckshot we tried to locate the old wardens cabin that was inland about 500m next to an old portage trail but we were unable to find both and decided to paddle on but return at a later date and try and find it. This day we made it as far as Stoney Ditch Lake and camped at a very nice campsite among the pines along a stillwater. Day was very nice and sunny with little wind, night was frosty.

October 14 – Paddled/portaged to Pine lake. We saw old artifacts of what was left of the cabin just before Pine Lake. Then paddled the long still water and portages into Sand Beach Lake. Paddling past the Esker Carry to the short 600m carry we heard something crashing into the woods and someone thought they saw a glimpse of something but unsure what. After a few meters there was the start of the carry and what did we see along the shore but very fresh moose tracks! Confirmed what we had heard minutes earlier but disappointed we had missed an opportunity to see a mainland moose, only minutes if not seconds sooner. Made it to Sand Beach Lake after another sunny day with little wind and were able to witness a beautiful sunset while paddling across the lake to Cofan Cabin.

Cofan Cabin

Cofan Cabin

By the time we were done soaking in all the sunset on the lake the sun had set and we now had the challenge of finding the cabin in the dark, but after some searching it was located. Once settled in we had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and a good night sleep in the cabin. That night we were welcomed by the “Cofan Mouse” who must have been excited to have the company as he didn’t want us to fall asleep.

October 15 – Packed up gear and left it at cabin while we walked to “Calling Rock” which is a couple of kilometres from the cabin. Were able to find parts of the old trail that went to the rock and was very interesting to see the old blazes and at some points on the barrens could follow the trail as was still a path in small parts. The rock was a site to see in person and no doubt the same rock as the old picture.  A cave is along the side of the rock and it is possible to climb to the top if your climbing skills are any good, which ours were not. Tried to recreate the old picture but it proved difficult with all the tree growth. Stayed about an hour then walked back finding more pieces of the old trail and marking all with the GPS. Once back at the cabin we grabbed our gear and paddled back onto Sand Beach lake where we visited “Jim Charles Rock” which is by the lake shore and guarded by 2 Canada geese that didn’t look too happy about our visit. There is a great view of the lake from the top of the rock and also a smaller cave can be found. From there we paddled/portaged to Cofan Lake where we stayed at the campsite at the end of the portage that enters the lake.

Old photo Calling Rock

Old photo Calling Rock

Callling Rock today

Calling Rock today

Jim Charles Rock

Jim Charles Rock

Top of Jim Charles Rock

Top of Jim Charles Rock

October 16 – We packed up and paddled across Cofan Lake to the portage trail. Little did we know at the time how long before the canoes would see the water again. We had received some advice on where to start and had obtained the GPS track of the portage so it was relatively easy to find but without that it would have been very difficult. Once on the trail it was much more difficult than what we were used to and at times there was no trail at all. To make things easier we ended up sending one person ahead with the GPS to find and flag the trail so the rest of us could follow behind with the gear. The old grown over blazes and odd piece of flagging tape proved useful confirming the original trail. It was a rainy wet day and the portage took us a little over 6 hour to complete. The nicest spot being the last 300-400m which was a nice barren with the occasional moose and bear sign. Once back on the lake it was windy and the rain was starting to get heavy. Checked out the North Bingay campsite which looked nice but too exposed to the current weather conditions. Paddled over to the old growth island to have a look and was amazed at the site that in my opinion is better than the Sporting Lake Islands. The trees were bigger and overall appearance was amazing with giant hemlocks with mosses, ferns and Canada yew along the forest floor. From there we paddled around the lake shore looking for another possible site to camp for the night but none were found. At this point all were very wet, cold and tired with no sign of the weather letting up and it was starting to get dark. We decided the best spot to camp was back about 100 meters on the portage trail where there was a stand of pines with open ground and shelter from the weather. Made camp there, made supper, got into dry clothes and all turned in for an early night as was a very long day. Rain/wind continued all night.

October 17 – Nice weather returned in the morning. We had been falling behind schedule and knew there was a lot of water to cover today. Paddled/portaged into Twin Lakes, some of these trails were hard to follow and didn’t seem used much. Had lunch at campsite between Twin Lakes and Three Rivers Lake. We were able to bypass some of the portages after this as there was enough water to paddle down or lift over sections. Given our successful progress we made the mistake of trying this with the Two Cup Carry and learned the hard way that we should have portaged this one going up or down stream. We were able to make it to Half Moon Lake and camped on the west side halfway down just as it was getting dark. Nice sunny day with little wind.

October 18 – We woke up to overcast skies and before too long rain started. Paddled/portaged to Roseway Lake. Noticed how much better the trails were on the Roseway and how they seem to have improved in the last 3 years. Maybe a good sign of more people getting in and enjoying the Tobeatic. Once on Roseway Lake it started to downpour with a headwind the whole way, which always seems to happen when crossing this lake on the way back. Tried to cut out a hazardous strainer into Mink Lake but were unsuccessful; hoping that the high water will take it out. Stopped by Keatings Campsite on Mink Lake for a snack. Ran the sluce into Skudiak Lake and portaged into Moose Lake. Made it as far as McGill Lake for the night and after a cold/wet day, we stayed in the Molasses Run cabin which was a welcome sight and were able to start a fire to warm up and dry our clothes, we all slept very well that night.

October 19 – Sun shining again. We went to try and find the portage from McGill Lake to West Roseway Lake.  After a little searching we found it and appeared that it hadn’t been used in quite some time and looked grown in at spots, a possible route for another trip. We were able to run everything to Upset Falls without too many problems, water levels still a little low. Had lunch at Upset Falls. From there ran everything to Indian Fields, carried gear around Mountain Falls but no problems going down with empty canoes. Looks like it could be an exciting piece of water when levels are high. Made it to a waiting vehicle at the Indian Fields airstrip around 2:30.

It was a bitter sweet end to our trip as we were all tired and a little glad to be home but at the same time sad that it was over and having to return to the real world again. We had traveled through some amazing country and up to this point was our longest trip at 8 days and 7 nights without seeing another person since we left.

Special thanks to Andy Smith for his book “Paddling the Tobeatic”. Alain Belliveau, Mike Parker, Bob Johnston and Davis Bennet for all of the info that helped in planning this trip which certainly made traveling this rugged landscape go a whole lot smoother.

Link to Matts Photo’s

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Paddlers reach Boundary Rock

mp0348Boundary Rock is near (sort 0f) the intersection of the boundaries of three Nova Scotia municipalities – Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby – way off in the wilderness. At one time it was quite out in the open and frequently visited as you will see in an early photo. Today, as you will find from the report, it is a much more grown up and harder place to find. Thanks to Will Poole for the story of their adventure.

Boundary Rock Oct 13/12-Oct 16/12

Oct 13/12
Will Poole, Corey Ritchie, Matt Hemeon, Dan Peacock, Donovan Blauvelt

All met at Indian fields around 0600, drove to Silvery Lake, road is getting bad took about 2hrs to drive in. From silvery lake portaged to Roseway Lake, had brought canoe carts as portage trail (1000m?) trail into roseway lake is good. After this left carts to pick up on way back as unable to use on further portages. From Roseway Lake 2 portages (100m and 350m) to Grass Lake, 1 (400m) to Halfmoon Lake. 2 more portages (50m and 200m) after these found a old campsite along the river where set up camp for the night. Good weather most of the day.

Oct 14/12
Up early, last portage (150m (not on the tobeatic map) into Junction Lake, left canoes where current counties meet and walked 2 hours (just under 3km) to boundary rock. Had GPS coordinates from group that had rediscovered it 2 years before. Difficult walk with allot of hardhack, swamps, large rocks. Was a memorable moment when finally seeing the Rock appear though the trees after learning and researching the history behind it. Stayed about an hour or so, started a fire to warm up and had some lunch. Walked back to the canoes which seemed to be better walking. Canoed back to campsite by this time just getting dark. Weather colder, damp and drizzle most of the day.

Oct 15/12
Packed up camp and started return trip, paddled/portaged as far as Roseway Lake. Wind had picked up so decided to wait and see if winds would calm before going on the lake. Had lunch and nap as all were sore and tired from the hike the previous day. Winds not calming so decided to make camp for the night here, about an hour and a half before dark wind calmed a bit. Decided to paddle across from campsite on Roseway lake to try and find evidence of old saw mill. Couldn’t find were it was but did see old stumps that had been sawn, couldn’t even see where old road was suppose to be, returned to camp as getting dark. Weather windly, rain at times, mainly sunny with clouds.

Oct 16/12
Packed up camp, found canoe carts again. Paddled Roseway lake, portaged gear into mink lake, ran canoes down the river, hazardous tree across river that almost caused a problem, had to lift boats over this section then ran rest of the river into mink lake. Paddled to keatings campsite on mink lake, stayed their under an hour then paddled back to the 800m portage from mink lake to silvery lake, used canoe carts again on this portage. Returned to vehicles. Weather rain all day at times heavy rains.

Click on top photo for a link to more story:

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SW Nova Scotia sea kayaking trail up-to-date

Thanks to the work of Pat Hudson (in the field and doing the footwork and writing) and Dan Earle (website coordination) we have developed the most comprehensive coverage of  sea kayak access points in southwest Nova Scotia. We have listed almost 100 sites with a photo of the site and a description of its features, including its GPS coordinates. Clicking on the map on the website connects to an interactive Google Map to give a general idea of location and concentration of access sites. Click on map above to see this feature. The list of sites is in the menus under the masthead of the site website.

Please pass this information on to your paddling friends.

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Profits of paddling from Badger Paddles

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Spring/Summer trips in planning stages

Sandra Phinney is looking for suggestions of places to go (and dates) for spring/summer/fall  day trips.

The only trips that are carved in stone are the women’s extended trips:
JULY 5-9, Bario + parts of 2 rivers beyond the Bario and SEPTEMBER 26-Oct 1  Birchdale.

Contact Sandra Phinney: Sandra Phinney <[email protected]>

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Kayak festival being planned for Shelburne

There is a group of community members and staff that are planning a kayak festival in Shelburne this summer. They are looking for support and have asked that we let Southwest Paddlers know about this opportunity. They would welcome any assistance our members can give.

Please contact:

Sheila Bird
Population Health Promoter
Public Health – South West District Health Authority
Shelburne County
[email protected]




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SW Paddlers develops protected area list

As you may have heard, the province is attempting to protect 12% of all lands by 2015. Currently, they are looking for folks to participate in the “land review process.” You, or anyone you know, can do that by calling (902) 424-2117 or emailing [email protected] and letting the government know you want to participate.

If you don’t want to be part of the land review process, but want to express an opinion, please do so. Simply send an email to that same address.

To know which parcels of land are up for protection, check out this map: As you’ll see, many of the suggested areas for protection are Irving owned, and properties that we hoped the government would buy back for Nova Scotians.

SW Paddlers has developed its list of preferences for protection by the Province as a part of its drive to place a least 12% of our lands in a highly protected status. This list is open to comment and additions by SW Paddlers post readers. Send additions or comments to Dan Earle, [email protected]

114 Sable River: Dunraven Bog
170 Great Pubnico Lake: numerous islands and west shoreline
173 Tusket River: Flat Falls, Gridiron Falls
235 Tusket River, Cold Stream: Third, Kegeshook, Canoe lakes
347 Roseway River, two pieces E and W branches 361 Shelburne River
378 (Upper) Silver River: Carrying Rd lakes to Long Tusket Lake
381 Carleton River: Sloans, Raynards lakes
418 Sable River: Dunraven Bog
421 Indian Fields Provincial Park Reserve + 422 East Branch Tusket River
424 Roseway River: Bluffhill, Moose, Skudiak lakes
425 West Branch Jordan River Longview L to Lake John, Eight Mile Brook
426 West River/Inness Brook; Tobeatic buffer
427 Kejimkujik buffer
428 Napier River block;Tobeatic buffer
429 West River/Inness Brook; Tobeatic buffer
430 Little Tupper, Tobeatic, Little Tobeatic, Roseway; Tobeatic buffer
431 “The Boot” Halfmoon, Junction, Great Pine, Siskech, Little Tupper lakes
432 upper Sissiboo River:Sixth Lake to Lake Joli (W Br Bear river)
434 Tobeatic buffer 435 Little Tupper, Sand Lake, Shelburne River
455 (Lower) Silver (Barrio) River: Barrio Falls to N Kemptville
478 Stave Lakes
numerous coastal islands & headlands


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Birchdale 100th open house

Birchdale (a.k.a. Nova Nada) is 100 years old! Open House, August 22-28 to celebrate this milestone. All welcome to take a walk down memory lane, paddle, hike or simply put your feet up on the old veranda and relax. Some cabins available for a night. For information contact Sandra Phinney [email protected] 902-648-0462 or Helen Matthews 902-740-3913

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Paddle events announced

These trips in from Sandra Phinney. Contact her at [email protected] for more information or reservation.

July 14-18 … Woman’s wilderness full moon paddle trip. The Tobeatic/Sporting Lake Stream is not a suitable place to bring Kayaks because of two portages. Looking at one of two Ponhook Lakes or a system of lakes in Quinan. Will provide more information once this is decided. But please let Sandra know if you are remotely interested so she can send more details. If you need boats, she has extra canoes/paddles. Usually take care of own breakfasts and lunches and assign teams to prepare evening meals.

July 30 … annual South West Paddler’s Tusket River paddle from bridge in Quinan to Wilson Lake Bridge (open to anyone). [email protected]  This is an easy run; around 4 hours; pack a lunch; lifejackets mandatory; a few “riffles”.  There is one short section of white water at the Grid Iron falls but there’s also an easy/open/short portage to avoid that for anyone who does not want to do the run.  This even is listed as part of Yarmouth’s 250 here

Sept. 21-25 … Birchdale Women’s Rendezvous.  Basically: cabins are assigned (there is hot water; toilet and shower but no electricity); pay a nominal fee per night; take turns making meals (again, breakfast and lunch on your own; people assigned one evening meal);  paddling can vary from a challenging run in white water to gentle paddling in the lakes and/or through stillwaters up into the Bario. Paddle as little or as much as you want. Although some women come for all four nights, you can also come for shoter period of time.

Please let Sandra know if you plan to go, especially if you want the same cabins you had last year. NOTE: Helen is planning a week-long “open house” in honour of Birchdale’s 100th anniversary. Will be more information later but she’s hoping lots of people will drop out to visit during the week.


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Paddle School instructors wanted

Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia has announced a call for instructors for the 2011 Paddle School. CKNS will accept resumes for interested instructors and the potential candidates will be forwarded to the Directors of Canoe and Kayak Instruction.

Director of Sea Kayak: Christopher Lockyer

Director of Canoe: Brian Anderson

Location: Paddle School will take place at Camp Avalon located in Birchtown, NS.  8051 Highway 103, Shelburn Country


Canoe Training – May 27th-29th, 2011 & June 10th-11th, 2011

Kayak Training – May 27th – 29th, 2011

Deadline for applications is April 27.

Resumes can be emailed to [email protected]

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