In 2000 we completed one of the toughest canoe trips we've ever done in a loop from Wallace Lake over the Obukowin Portage route (5km) through Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Carroll Lakes down the Gammon to Aikens and back to Wallace. This trip was so tough, mainly because of the horrendous weather conditions we had. Persistent rain, strong winds and temperatures of around 10 degrees hammered us for days, flooded portage trails and swelled rivers and creeks making them dangerously fast and high. To top it all off, I got some gut rot and managed to lose about 10lbs in a week! Good times... ;)
In 2002 we planned to come back and do the same trip in better conditions. Alas. The day we were leaving the weather was absolutely brutal again! As we camped near Wallace Lake on Monday night, trees were blowing down around us! Several guys actually slept in the vehicles due to the nasty weather. Only Steve and I slept in our tent and we ended up with a hilarious skunk story that I'll tell you about if you ask me sometime. We bailed on Aikens and drove to the Rabbit River in Nopiming Provincial Park and did a very easy Cole Lake canoe trip instead.
Finally, in 2003 we managed to get our luck together! We planned a full 5 night canoe trip to take full advantage of the loop - planning to camp at some gorgeous sites we'd hurried past three years previous in our race against the conditions and the clock. We were all stoked to see how this trip would hold up in good conditions and we weren't disappointed - it was fantastic!
I hate to admit it, but I can't find my journal from this trip - I'm not even 100% sure I had one. My photos are also very limited and I seem to have lost some of them since digitizing my collection. Writing this in 2016, there's no way I can remember the small details, but I will show / comment on the pictures I do have and they may help convince you that in good conditions, the Aikens Lake loop from Wallace Lake is one of Manitoba's premier canoe routes.
[Canoeing on Siderock Lake before the Obukowin. On this trip we camped part way down the Obukowin which nicely broke it into two distinct sections.]
[This was a rushing stream last time - now it's bog... The first section of the Obukowin ends at this point.]
[Welcome to the suck! At least she didn't give up without a bit of a fight. :)]
After the first long portage section we crossed a small lake and started the route past the "Stoneman" to the kidney shaped lake. This is where we camped on day 1 before continuing the portaging on day 2. This broke the 5km long Obukowin in half and worked very well. I can see it being pretty buggy where we camped though. You may not want to bother.
[A great camp site high up on the portage route - make sure you bring lots of water up!]
[Eating supper by the "Stoneman" (R)]
[We hauled a bunch of gear to the end of the portage to save some trips the following day.]
[Steve tries some casts before we head back to camp on day 1.]
Day 2 saw us complete the Obukowin Portage route before continuing across Obukowin Lake and into Woodland Caribou and Carroll Lake. From here my memory is a bit hazy as I'm not 100% sure where we camped on Day 2... Obviously, as you can clearly see from the photos, we had much better weather than the previous three years!
[Carroll Lake - notice how low the water is this year?]
[A nice stretch of river.]
[Beautiful camp site!]
[What a difference from three years ago where almost every night was crawling into bed exhausted. You can see the flames reflecting in a nearby canoe - there isn't two fires!]
The third day saw us navigate the Gammon River back into Aikens Lake. It was spectacular, as always, providing excellent fishing and gorgeous scenery. In a highlight for the trip, we camped on a sandy beach after crossing a glass-smooth (!!) Aikens Lake, located right near the long portage from Aikens to the Broadleaf River.
[Dad finds a nice seat in one of the local guiding outfits boats just before Aikens Lake!]
[Another excellent portage around falls on the Gammon River.]
[Impressive and beautiful Carlson Falls - a Walleye hotspot for sure!]
[My favorite Atikaki flower - the purple Iris]
[Canoeing across Aikens Lake - much calmer than last time!!]
[An awesome, sandy beach camp site for Day 3, complete with our own cold, clear creek for water.]
[The sublime camp site on Aikens SW side near the portage to the Broadleaf River, with a glass smooth lake in the background.]
[This is the life!]
Day 4 we portaged the long (1.8km) trail from Aikens Lake to Kostec Lake and the Broadleaf River in perfect weather and continued our trip on a much subdued river compared to 2000! We camped at Leaf Lake again and caught tons of fish on our way across it.
[At least we can find the portages on the Broadleaf now.]
[A great fire again on Leaf Lake.]
[A nice fire and clear night on Friday again.]
Our last day was a nice paddle down the Broadleaf and Wanipigow back to Wallace Lake. As I stated earlier, this trip was so much different than in 2000 it seemed like a completely new trip. I can highly recommend this as a nice 4-6 day loop for experienced canoe parties.
[Running a beaver dam, after spending a ton of energy breaking through it.]
[Paddling through a beaver dammed Wanipigow River to Wallace.]
[Another excellent canoe trip comes to an end.]