Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trip log - Cedar Lake to Mink Lake: June 11 to 14, 2016 - Day 1

Saturday - Brent Access to Little Cauchon Lake

We were off on our second trip of 2016. The first one is usually the long weekend in May and the second one is usually for LT's birthday in June. We went a week early this year because of other things planned the weekend of. So we started off on Saturday, June 11. Yes, in June the bugs are bad. Real bad. But we have a bug shelter and head nets. 

The bugs can get to you when your patience is getting thin. But there's not much you can do to control the weather, which was another factor for this trip.

Here's what the launch looked like and it was an improvement over the pelting rain that we experienced on the 3.5 hour, 300 km trip to get to the access point.
Limited visibility
We had studied the weather forecast all week up until the trip and it was changing hourly, which was strange for a long range forecast. Today, Saturday, it was supposed to be raining and end around 8. We didn't arrive at the access point until later than usual as a couple of things had been forgotten at home and we were trying to find replacements on the drive to Brent. We stopped at the Canadian Tire in Deep River where we got a plastic egg carton.
Success for one item - a plastic egg carton
We stopped at another store to buy the eggs that we'd put into the carton. The other item that was forgotten was LT's sturdy chair, Larry. LT didn't find anything there that suited the need. Larry is pretty irreplaceable.
Larry - who didn't make it this trip
As a last hope we stopped by the outfitters right at Brent on Cedar Lake, but they did not have any travel chairs.

I had arrived at LT's at 6 a.m., we drove off at 6:30, but by the time we launched it was 12:30. This was a late start. The weather was certainly a deterrent to a speedy launch as well.

As we paddled down the lake the weather started to lift a bit. 
Our route for the day was to launch at Brent on Cedar Lake, paddle up to the top of the lake into Little Cedar Lake. The next lake is Aura Lee, there's a short portage into Laurel Lake, another short portage into Little Cauchon Lake and find a campsite along that lake for the night.

We made decent time up Cedar Lake and stopped at the island campsite at the top for our lunch. 
Here's looking at you, kid!
No need to unpack, just lunching

The view back down the lake
Raindrops on pine needles
Lunch was charcuterie, cold meats with cheese, cut up fruit. LT even packed a few crackers in his thermos for the Brie.

Back in the lake and we headed up through Little Cedar Lake, then under the train bridge into Aura Lee. There are a couple of campsites on this lake along the narrow section. But we were heading further along. The portage into Laurel isn't very long, 345 metres according to Jeff's map. It's a flat portage, fairly wide, but the base is mostly round rocks. You need to watch your step, especially when carrying a heavy load. I weighed my bag before leaving and it was 54 pounds with all the dried food and 2 full litre Nalgene bottles.

Laurel is a pretty lake with a high island campsite. I'm sure it sees a lot of traffic. It would be good if the breeze was needed to blow off some of the many bugs that were out right now. As we headed to the 130 metre portage into Little Cauchon there is a pretty waterfall and the weather was giving us a pretty view of that corner of the lake. This is not a long portage, but it's brutal. A big up and over into the next lake.

The next landmark is going underneath the train bridge along the bottom of Little Cauchon Lake.
This is from the other side of the bridge
We started up this fairly long lake, checking out any campsites we came across, mostly along the left side of the lake going up. It was starting to get late. June is good for having a lot of daylight. But that can get you into trouble if you extend yourself past your energy level.

We were very surprised at the amount of permanent structures on this lake. There are quite a few cottages, beachfronts and motorboats here. No one was out and about because the weather wasn't ideal.

We got out at the second-last site, but it wasn't very deep and we couldn't see where we'd be able to set up our bug shelter. So we were stuck with the last site. It wasn't great. We considered pushing on to Cauchon Lake, but it would be quite a paddle into the wind and we'd already travelled about 18 km. I had been up since 4:30 a.m. and it was now 7 p.m. I was done.

We tucked ourselves into this tight site, up against a rock at the bottom of a bay where the wind was whipping into us. The bug shelter went up first, then the hammocks. It took a few tries to get my hammock up. I finally went to sit in the bug shelter as I was defeated and LT hung it for me, right up against the rock. His hammock was a bit further over.

We didn't have dinner, our steak and veggies would wait until tomorrow. It wasn't long until I was in my hammock. The wind was howling so loudly in the pines above me, I was very anxious that the canoe would be flipped over and carried by the wind into the water. I got up and tied it so I could sleep better.
Me against the rock
LT's hammock
The bug shelter
The very safe canoe
      Day 2                                      Day 3                                  Day 4  

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