For our weekend it was showing red for black flies and mosquitoes and green for deer flies. Preparation included carrying multiple bottles of Watkins bug repellent. We both carry a pump spray bottle and the cream (which I think is more effective). L.T. had a new spray he was trying out that was less toxic. I brought a new box of mosquito coils. And I carried the Thermocell with 2 butane cartridges and 4 of the strips. We both had bug hats, I wore mine pretty much the whole weekend, except inside the bug shelter and my hammock.
Conclusion? We're still both covered in bites. And the deer flies were out. I would have rated them just at the bottom of high activity. They will follow you out of a portage and join you in the canoe, sticking with you for the full paddle. I was wearing thick wool socks with my Keen sandals and they can very easily bite through wool, my ankles are the witness.
We've taken the mid-June trip off our schedule this year because of the intensity of the bugs. The Canada Day trip might go the same way.
As mentioned in the timetable post, we set off on our drive, got our permit, got to the access point, loaded the canoe and set off at 10:30 a.m. We had a long paddle down Cedar Lake.
|Today's route in purple (Jeff's maps)|
|Access point at Brent|
|Not a sunny day, but calm|
|First portage, beginning|
|It's also a campsite|
|Deceptively nice beginning|
The portage is 960 meters and puts in below the last of the rapids. The sides of the river are high here and a couple of streams gush into the river. It's hard to see them though, the mouths seem to be protected by trees. The current is pretty strong if you chose not to paddle too heartily, you'd eventually get pushed to the next portage take-out. We did paddle though. The water was really dark today, the dark skies contributed to that.
We dropped what we were carrying and retraced our steps. Again I did a loop through the undergrowth to go around the water on the trail. I picked up my backpack, fit my hands into my trekking poles, and started the final trip on this path. My poles have a harness on them where my hands fit and they are velcroed in. When we got to the wet section, I tried my circuitous route and as I ducked under a fallen tree, my backpack got stuck. I tried to wiggle lower and lower then fell onto the log below on my stomach, both of my trekking poles collapsed into half their size in front of me while getting wedged into the muck below. One forearm also ended up in the mud. L.T. had to come over and help me out. With both hands locked into the poles I had no ability to extricate myself.
It had started raining too. This was a miserable portage. As we got to the end, thunder and lightning could be heard. We decided to wait it out a bit then the skies opened and it just poured for 15 minutes. We were both drenched completely through right to underwear. Finally L.T. wedged the canoe into a Y in a tree and we stood underneath that. We were getting a bit concerned about the time, so we set off while some thunder was still rumbling in the distance. At least the rain had stopped. We had eaten some of our lunch during this wait. One bonus of torrential rain, the bugs weren't able to fly around.
There's not a very far paddle to the next portage, probably half a kilometer. A train bridge comes into view and a stoney path up the side of the hill leading to the train bridge is visible. The real portage is about 50 meters further. We took the train bridge route. It's a serious straight-up scramble. This portage goes around Devil's Chute Rapids. And there's a section at the end called "Five Man Grave". I was very glad we were going around this section of the river!
|Looking across the bridge|
|The path coming up to the track|
|Waiting for L.T. to join me|
The majority of this informal 860 meter portage can be done on the tracks which is much easier than the down and up of the portage. Where that portage crosses the tracks, we had to turn onto it, off the track. But not for very far.
|Put-in at end of last portage|
|Marker for last portage|
|Smiling because I don't have to portage anymore today|
We got out onto Radiant Lake, there are a few cottages at the mouth of the river, lucky folks that have those. There are 5 campsites along the top of the lake, we were hoping for the 3rd site. It was occupied. We decided to go to the 4th site. L.T. had been on the 2nd site on a previous solo trip and he said it was nice. But the 4th site might have a sandy beach, so we pressed on. The 3rd site is probably the best with a real sandy beach. The 4th has a sandy bottom with a pebble-filled beach. Still not bad. We landed around 5:30 p.m.
|Campsite pines (taken on Sunday)|
Later on when L.T. was hanging the ropes and pulley for the bear hang, he could hear a fairly consistent peeping noise that he was struggling to identify. He followed the sound until he came to a hole in a tree. Ah, a nest of baby birds of some sort. He backed away and the local woodpecker came in to protect her babies.
Breakfast - L.T. made scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese and grape tomato wraps to eat in the car.
Lunch - L.T. prepared various deli meats, cut up some delicious old white cheddar, and had cut apples with plums and grapes. He also packed some crackers in his Thermos with some brie. But with the rain downpour we skipped that portion.
Dinner - L.T. had brought a fresh steak and veggie meal for tonight, but we were both too tired to go look for wood to burn. Besides with the rain, most of the dead fall would be wet. Instead we had Sunday's dinner which was deep dish pizza with rehydrated veggies, basil and garlic pasta sauce (also rehydrated), bacon, pepperoni and cheese. Dessert was raspberry fruit crisp (rehydrated raspberries, a bit of sugar and granola topping).
After dinner as we were sitting in the bug shelter, a whippoorwill sounded its call as it flew by. The park is recording sightings (or hearings) of that bird to try to get an idea of the population and where they are hanging out. We didn't hear many loons though.
Today was Canada Day and for our homage to being Canadian: we were out in the Canadian wild and as for wearing the Canadian colours, we were both white-skinned with red bug bites. For fireworks we had fireflies flickering around the campsite. And there were no line-ups anywhere, even for the port-a-potty at the back of our campsite, unless bugs count.
When the going gets rough, the camera stays in its bag. I did take lots of pictures of the campsite on Sunday. Here are a few pictures:
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