Algonquin Trip Log Late Summer 1997

 

Evening

 

Route: 

Canoe Lake, Burnt Island Lake, Otterslide Lake, Otterslide Creek, Big Trout Lake, Misty Lake, Petawawa River, Timberwolf Lake, McIntosh Lake, Ink Lake, Tom Thompson Lake, Canoe Lake.
We made this trip with four adults, two teenagers, and a three-year-old child.

 

 

 

Preparations |Trip log, Days One to Five | Trip Log, Days Six to Nine | Observations |

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Preparations Beforehand:

1. We planned our route and made reservations.
2. A trial trip by two was taken to North Tea Lake in Algonquin Park to test out stoves, fuel quantities, packs, and food carrying devices and portaging capeabilities. Olive barrels seem kinder than square plastic buckets on the back of the person carrying them. All food must be hung at night. Wildlife trying to get at food includes bears, chipmunks, squirrels, and mice. A candle is lighter to carry, will help start fires when fuel is wet, and is smaller than lantern. A limited quantity of paperback books that  may be read and then used to start fires is welcome on non-travelling days.

3. We planned our menu and prepared dehydrated food. Snacks were carried by each person and generally were nuts and dried fruit.

4. We reserved rental canoe for teenagers -  an ultralight Swift - and they practiced back field tandem portaging.

5. We purchased groceries and packed with an eye to being sure that no pack is too heavy for any other person to carry, should someone be hurt. Fresh food was very welcome in terms of eating but very heavy to carry.  We needed warm clothes, rain gear, cool clothes, and sleeping clothes, as well as tents, sleeping bags, tarps. Also we needed matches, duct tape,first aid and knife and saw or hatchet and we divied out who would bring what.   A compass is of assistance for setting general direction.  A special note:  the official Algonquin Park map sold by the park DOES NOT have north at the top of the map (see Day 3).

6.  We agreed that in a canoe we must wear a life jacket, have a whistle and a spare paddle.


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The Trip - Days One to Five

Day 1:
We drove hwy 401 until traffic blocked up - at Hurontario St.(Hwy 10). North on Hwy 10 to Hwy 9. Hwy 9 east to Hwy 400. Hwy 400 north to Hwy 11 north. Four of us stopped in Huntsville overnight and stayed in a motel where we had our last warm shower before trip. Three others slept in their vehicle at Canoe Lake.

Day 2:
We left our motel at 6am (last Tim Horton's stop) to get to our meeting point at the Hwy 60 Canoe Lake entrance to Algonquin Park. The rental canoe was picked up for our teens. We got registered when office opened at 9am. We paddled north on Canoe Lake to its end, took four portages and stayed at Burnt Island Lake. Today's portages were not bad.

Day 3:
We separated, in the morning with a planned meeting point later in the day.  Our group got lost trying to find the portage out of Burnt Island Lake. On theAlgonquin map 'North' is not at the top!  We paddled around the entire lake before we clicked that this was the problem, and we had missed the portage by very little, but went the wrong way to try to find our way.

We had lunch of cheddar cheese & bagel then travelled up Little Otterside Lake to Otterslide Lake. We saw two moose at about 3pm.

The other members of our group  had set up camp and watched us consult our map several times before they put out their canoe to show where they were. We had most of the food and they were getting hungry and concerned.   We were tired.

Day 4:
We stayed on an island site at Otterslide lake.  Our teenagers tried swimming using a green log to support them. They had to support it. We had mice for visitors. There was a good swimming rock at our site.

Day 5:
Up Otterslide creek to Big Trout Lake.   Five marked portages!  On an unmarked portage, one of us was pulled over backwards into the water by the weight of the pack.  The food packs are too heavy and we must eat some of the fresh food and redistribute the load.  Otterslide Creek is very rocky and low at this time of year.

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The Trip - Days Six to Nine

Day 6:
We stayed on an island at Big Trout Lake. Folklore says there are no bears on island sites but we saw proof to the contrary - fresh bear droppings.

Our teens swam out to a deserted island and back. While hiking around our site, they saw a neat 'map' made out of natural items such as sticks, fungus, but returned to our camp when they observed fresh bear markings.

Day 7:
Across Petawawa River to Misty Lake. Seven portages today but we're more fit.  Four of us stopped before the 850 meter portage to have hot soup and bagel and whizzed through afterwards.   The food really made a difference.  A blue heron accompanied us along most of the river.

The Petawawa River was very muddy and there were several beaver dams which we had to get out of the canoe to negotiate.  The teens conned an adult into pulling them over beaver dam. Walking, embarking, and disembarking is quite rough here, and an adult fell twice and dropped the canoe when he fell the second time. The canoe was holed just at the water line!  We made a temporary repair with duct tape. We tried to shift the load in the canoe to keep the hole out of water as much as possible but a canoe becomes difficult to handle when inproperly balanced. We stayed at our one-and-only ugly campsite, on Misty Lake.  The lake is indeed 'misty'. We saw an old cookstove and lots of junk lying around. As our campsite improvement here, we whittled sticks to cover the dirt in camp area.  We are getting tired.

Day 8:
A short trip through Timberwolf Lake. We saw two moose and stayed in on an island in McIntosh Lake. The weather was considerably colder today and swimming was not an issue.  Again a bear had been there before us. 

Our wonderful teenagers made a checker set inlaid in a tree stump for next campers to find and enjoy. They worked well into the dark. When a utensil set was misplaced, a new one was carved.

Day 9:
This morning we experienced some difficulty finding the exit from McIntosh Lake.  The Algonquin map is not particularly accurate. We saw a moose family at Ink Lake before our dreaded 2.3K portage.

We had planned to stay at Tom Thomson or Littledoe Lake but due to a teen's neck injury while carrying canoe on his head on this long portage we decided to exit.  Extra trips were taken to bring our injured member's gear and canoe.  He could not carry anything until checked out by doctor.  He was taken on ahead and out.  By the end of Canoe Lake he was able to move a bit and help with paddling.

Tom Thomson Lake was very pretty, contrary to what we had been led to believe. We exited Canoe Lake at about 3pm and headed for home and the doctor.   Fortunately the injury was not serious.
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Some observations for future trips:

There were too many people both in our group and on this route to feel isolated in the wilderness.
A two km. plus portage is too much for youth on first portaging trip out. In any case, tandem portaging should not be done with canoe on heads.  Groups need to stick together when travelling, and wait at end of each portage until all members are done and loaded ready to go.  It helps relieve aching muscles to be able to paddle on either side and to exchange bow and stern positions occasionally.  We travelled the last week before Labour Day.  The weather was not great but was quite reasonable. It rained a few times but not too much. It was not hot. There were mosquitos only on the one long portage.

A plastic container works better than a ziplock bag for powdered milk. A water filter works well and the water tastes much better than boiled water. Be sure to empty and wash out water jugs each day rather than just top them up.  Take plenty to eat and drink. People's eating habits change when camping. Don't plan on some people not eating some foods.  It's a guarantee that they will when you don't have much with you. It is very difficult to plan food for more than just one family as different eating habits and priorities exist.  Always take at least one day's extra food with you in case of delay. Wind and bad weather and bad map reading as well as exhaustion, illness, or injury may delay you on your trip.  Cooking over open fires is slower than over small one burner stoves but conserves fuel.  Mice make a real racket at night when checking out your plastic bags and chewing up things.

A Special Note Re Bears:
Bears can swim and do not stay away from islands.  If a bear had come to our site, we decided to try to make a lot of noise and hit at it with our paddles.  In bear country we decided to sleep with paddle and whistle. All food and wrappers must be burned or packed out.  No sleeping with toothpaste, toothbrush, or even gum in tent.  Dirty hands should not be wiped on clothes.  All food and garbage packs must be hung safely at night, preferably before sundown.

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