Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trip log - Kiosk Loop: Sept. 6 to 13, 2015 - Day 1

Kiosk Lake to Manitou Lake

Today would be our longest day of the trip, time-wise. Our logistics were slightly different as LT would be getting up first, calling me, getting into my car at his place that was already packed with pretty much everything, including the canoe that we strapped onto the roof the night before. He would pick me up. We would eat breakfast on the way, only tea to prepare for drinking in the car.

The call came at 4:10 a.m. I had enough time for one last quick bath while the kettle boiled. We were on the highway by 5:05 a.m. We stopped at the Irving gas station restaurant in Pembroke for a quick hot breakfast.

Breakfast stop
We made it to Mattawa, did the turn onto the 630, which is pretty much paved almost all the way in to the lake. We kept getting peeks at the Amable du Fond river on the way in, which we'd be paddling later today. 

Today's route
We were unloading the car and checking in by 9:40 a.m. And one last use of a flush toilet. Our paddles dipped into the lake by 10:00. The wind was picking up and it was against us. If given my choice, I'd take it in my face rather than at my side. As long as we both paddle into the wind, we keep going straight. 
Unpacking at Kiosk

We made fairly good progress down Kiosk Lake. As we neared the bottom some unusual forms starting showing up in the water. I thought originally they were pylons for a bridge, but they were all over the place. Also there are a lot of deadheads - logs that have mostly sunk, with a portion sticking out of the water. Hopefully enough is showing that you can see them ahead of time! The pylons are probably the remnants of an area where they had log booms to corral the logs while they were waiting to transport them. There was a lumber company close to the site of the portage we were going into.
Pay attention!
What we should have done before setting out is asking the park staff how the water level is this year. It turns out that it was low for this trip. Having that knowledge ahead of time would have helped with the first portage.

The lake kept getting more and more narrow and no portage sign was coming into view. We finally landed on a small sandy spot that looked well traveled. LT went ahead to see if the trail went anywhere and it did. And he noticed some very fresh bear scat on the trail where the portage sign was, which we would not be taking. After a quick snack and drink, we started the portage from where we had landed. It had taken us 2 hours to paddle Kiosk Lake.

As you can see on the map above, this portage can be either one long portage (in low water) or two shorter portages. We got to the high water paddling section in the middle and put our canoe in the water even though it was low water. From what we could see, it was doable. Shortly around the corner, it became obvious that we weren't going to be able to paddle this section.

And thus began our first experience with lining the canoe. LT set up the rope and I became the photojournalist. The river bottom wasn't too bad, mostly small rocks and sand, no mushy, squishy black mud.
First time lining the canoe
We got to the take-out at the beginning of the next portage and had a bit of a break. While we were getting to this point we could see people portaging in the opposite direction that were not putting into the shallow river section.

Now we were putting into the longest section of the Amable du Fond river we would do on this trip. We weren't the only ones arriving at this point, we had a couple of groups coming towards us. Some were on the river's edge we would be launching from, with another group in the water coming towards us.

This section of the map showed us that there would be some rapids we had to go up. We were traveling up the river. These rapids weren't too bad, really just a small swift that we needed to set our canoe in position and power up through, threading ourselves through some rocks we wanted to be 100% sure we didn't hit.

Attempt one didn't go well. We retreated, set up again and tried a second time. No luck. By then the second group were ready to come through, it would be easier for them going down. We backed up and tucked behind some rocks and let them through. After waiting for that, we ended up getting out of the canoe and lining it up through the swift. Then we were back in business, paddling towards the last portage of the day that would take us into Manitou Lake.

The last portage was the longest of the day. There were a few mosquitoes in the woods, but nothing horrible. We stopped for a rest in an area of the forest that had a bit of sunshine peering through. When we started walking again, it turned out we were just around the corner from the portage end on Manitou Lake. This came out onto a sandy beach, there is a campsite to the right (when facing the lake). Also there is an open field close to there, another lumber company site. We could see the notations on the map for these sites, but no buildings or ruins were apparent.
First view of Manitou Lake
Getting our bearings
We took a few moment to get our bearings and to prepare for a long paddle again into the wind. On Kiosk the wind was strong enough that the front of the canoe would rise and slap down onto the lake surface. Not strong enough to splash any water into the canoe, but it can be a bit unnerving when several big waves in a row come at you. We had similar conditions on this lake. 

It was starting to get late in the afternoon and we didn't want to be setting up camp much after 5-5:30. I truly enjoy this time of year for being outside, and we had a gorgeous day. But it gets dark early, we didn't want to be setting up anything in the dark. And because it was our first day, we wanted to make sure we had a little extra time to be familiar with our kit.
Nice parking spot!

Our spot for the night
We started on Manitou Lake around 3 and selected a campsite at 5:30. We had spent 7 hours traveling today. I was pretty tired. LT had brought marinated steak for dinner, our first time doing this. He also had some pre-cooked potatoes and carrots wrapped in foil with olive oil and butter. He started a campfire and cooked our dinner on it. It was amazing! We've got a new tradition - fresh steak the first night out.

Banana nut bread pudding was dessert and we went to bed around 10 p.m. It was well dark before then.
The view down the lake - we're going that way tomorrow
LT has a saw that comes apart and once packed is basically a long tube about 2 feet long. On my last camping trip with my brother and his family, I had borrowed it. I handed off to my eldest niece to put together on our trip, saying "You've got a university degree - figure it out..." so I didn't have to figure out how to put it together. She managed to do it. When I was looking at my bag before packing it for this trip, I found a U-shaped wire that I had no idea what it was. Turns out, it was a part for LT's saw. I didn't bring this piece with me on the trip. However, at our very first campsite I found the exact same piece. As I picked it up LT recognized what it was and said that it was part of a saw. I instantly realized what I had done with his saw, but wasn't that quite the coincidence that we found the exact same part?

Today's numbers:

Portage #1: 265m
Portage #2: 440m - we paddled this one (not added in the total below)
Portage #3: 310m
Portage #4: 1,355m
Total portage distance for the day: 1.93 km 
Total distance for the day: 14.9 km
Total time spent travelling: 7 hours

Other posts for this trip:

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