Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Picture Post: Portage signs from Kiosk Lake trip

I attempted to photograph all the portage signs for this trip. I tried to take pictures of the signs at both ends of each portage (in theory, I should have 48 signs and there are only 36 here). But, alas, I did not get all of them. The first one wasn't visible due to low water, we had to take out before the actual portage. When we were at portages with other people, I also did not take out my camera. (Silly to be shy about taking the pictures.)

Here's one that did not identify the location
Day 1: Sunday
Kiosk Lake to Amable du Fond to Manitou Lake
(one sign missing going from Kiosk into Amable du Fond)

Day 2: Monday
Manitou Lake into North Tea Lake, Mangotasi Lake into Hornbeam Lake, into Biggar Lake


Day 3: Tuesday
Biggar Lake to Sinclair Lake, to Kawa Lake, to Upper Kawa Lake, to Three Mile Lake

Day 4: Wednesday
Three Mile Lake to North Sylvia Lake, to Boggy Lake, to Dahinda Lake and Ratrap Lake, to Maple Lake, to Erables Lake

Day 5: Thursday
Erables Lake to Big Thunder Lake, to Mink Creek, to Mouse Lake

Day 6: Friday
Mouse Lake to Club Lake, to Mink Lake

Day 7: Saturday
Mink Lake to Little Mink Lake, to Kiosk Lake

Monday, September 28, 2015

Trip log - Kiosk Loop: Sept. 6 to 13, 2015 - Day 7

Mink Lake to Kiosk Lake

Last day of our trip. A happy day, but a sad day too. Our portages would be very easy today. The paddling wouldn't be too onerous either.

Today's map:
It was cold in the hammocks. I woke up very early and really could not fall back asleep afterwards. It was all about keeping warm. As I wrapped my arms tightly around myself, I discovered some muscles on the back of my arms!

I got up first and didn't even consult LT, I started a fire to get a bit of warmth. There wasn't much wood around that would keep it going for long, but just a bit would be nice. I ended up finding enough small stuff around that it burned long enough to warm us up.

Breakfast was oatmeal with dried bananas, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and maple syrup flakes. Last meal I'd make in the wild on this trip! Next stop, poutine in Mattawa! As you can see from the photos below, the weather was great.
Our launch from the campsite - starting our day
The view at the top of Mink Lake
We surprised a heron who was hanging out in the area pictured above. We saw a couple more herons today. One had flown by our campsite the day before, they are graceful birds for their size.
The view at the end of the first portage
We knocked out the first portage of 410m in 7 minutes! It's a well-traveled route for sure. Even still, I had my bear bell jingling as I strode along. My knee was very much improved, but probably more because the trail was fairly flat.

We knocked out the second portage in 10 minutes! Again, this trail is well-traveled and relatively flat. Oh, it might have something to do with the 15+ pounds that I was no longer carrying. 13+ was food that we'd already eaten, and I was only carrying 1 litre of water for the trip out. Usually I was carrying 2 litres and each litre weighs about 2.5 pounds.
The last put-in, into Kiosk Lake
It took a bit of backtracking once in this water to figure out a way of getting through the low water. Once we got out into the lake, we were predominantly protected from the wind as we followed the train bridge which is basically built almost across the lake as a solid embankment.
Approaching the train track bridge

Once through the bridge it wasn't far to go.....

Until we were back where we started 7 days ago
When we were paddling towards the train bridge, we spotted a fellow in a yellow canoe to our right. We went through the left to get to the shore. He landed shortly after us. He was sitting in his canoe on one side, a method the pros use to minimize the canoe's contact with the water. And he was silently doing figure 8's with his paddle as he steered himself to the shore. I recognized the canoe as the one that had been "next door" to us last night. He was doing a solo trip. He had a lot of bags, I can't imagine he was doing single carry portages.

LT went and got the car to bring it to the shore to load it up. We both went into the park office, I wanted to tell the staff member about the blow down on the portage from Mouse to Club Lake (she noted the information and seemed to be glad to have been told). LT did something he never does, he bought a souvenir t-shirt. It's perfect. It's a t-shirt with a portage sign on it. If anyone deserves that shirt, he does. 24 portages on this trip, almost every single one a single carry!

It only took us two and a half hours to get back to the launch, the car and my cellphone. Neither of us usually bring our cellphone, however, when I had left a week ago, my father was in the hospital recuperating from emergency gall bladder surgery. It took another 20 km of driving before I got a signal. As the emails starting popping into my inbox, I was able to breath a sigh of relief to hear that he was well. Still in the hospital, but out on a day pass today and tomorrow.

In Mattawa, we drove around to finally find a chip stand on the outskirts of town. The town was hopping today, there was some sort of waterfront event, the chip stand was busy. The poutines were delicious and I had not 1 but 2 cans of Coke!

The drive home was a bit longer than usual. As we got closer to Ottawa, the weather deteriorated. It was funny to talk to people the following day. They saw their rain on Saturday and assumed that was our trip, the whole trip. Rain. We were so lucky and no one believed that it had been a sunny day for our last day in the park.

Today's numbers:

Portage #23: 410m
Portage #24: 635m 

Total portage distance for the day: 1.045 km 
Total distance for the day: 7.4 km
Total time spent travelling: 2:30 hours

Other posts for this trip:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Canoe Country

I just picked up a book at Chapters this afternoon:

I'm looking forward to reading it now that canoeing season is pretty much done for the year. At least for us softies.

I've read a couple of Roy MacGregor's other books, "Northern Light: The Enduring Mystery of Tom Thomson and the Woman Who Loved Him" and "A Life in the Bush".

Both books were an enjoyable read. It's nice to be able to read about the park even when you're not in it.

Now I just need to convince Jeff of Jeff's maps to make a 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle of the full map of Algonquin Park.....

Friday, September 25, 2015

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

Today would probably be a fairly easy day for us. We only had 2 portages, neither of them fairly long or with big hills. Our distance travelled wasn't going to be too long. 

I slept pretty good last night. I did have to get up around 1 a.m. for a bio break, but managed to fall back asleep until 6:30 a.m. I lay in the hammock for a while. ZigZag had to defend his territory against a marauding squirrel, the hole under our hammocks, about 15 minutes later. I finally got up around 7.

It rained a bit overnight and the trees were still slightly dripping. But the sun was shining, it looked like it was going to be a nice day. Breakfast was dehydrated eggs with dried ham and I had tossed in some dried veggies to spice it up a bit. It worked, so I'll do that again.

This morning I used my Thermos to make a third cup of tea to carry on the trip. We don't drink coffee, tea is pretty easy to make in the woods. We drink our tea with sugar, also easy to do. I usually drink it with milk, but don't mind it without.

I had a treat planned for today - a clean t-shirt, clean shirt, and clean pants. I had only brought one pair of wool socks, but they were holding out pretty good. Well, they are dark gray, so no dirt was obvious. The night before, I had dipped my feet in the lake, attempting to clean them a bit, and when turning my socks inside out, I managed to dump out all the sand that had accumulated in them. Almost clean! I had tried to minimize my wardrobe. The only clean item I had each day was underwear. I was also betting my fresh, beige wardrobe would be pretty dirty by the end of the day.

Today's map:
Check out the blue near the end of our Club Lake paddle, this means marsh!
It took 5 minutes to paddle to our first portage today

This was blocking our path, it went all the way down into the creek
Starting into Club Lake
There was a short paddle through Club Lake, then we got into marshy water. As previously mentioned, the water was lower than usual this year and the marsh is nice in that there aren't any whitecaps. However there are rocks. And very low spots we can't paddle over. And sunken logs. My nerves were frayed sitting at the front of the canoe trying to see absolutely everything under the water in our path.

Finally we came around a bend to see this building:

Yes, we still had to paddle through this to get to the portage sign next to this building
This is where we had paddled from
The view in the other direction (not a passage)

Close-up with the lumber company building
Where we came from (the left), viewed from the top of the hill by the building.
A bear left us a present!
We stopped here for a break. LT was chowing through his snack mix, I was attempting to drink hot tea without spilling it on myself (I wasn't doing really well at that - the tea was pretty hot!)

We made it through this portage rather quickly. It had probably been a road at some point, so it was a relatively easy walk. We got into Mink Lake and were met with a strong wind. We were headed North. We started counting off the spots we were seeing on our right to get our bearings. This is a loooonnnnggg lake!

We went by the first 5 campsites without really considering them. We wanted to be at least halfway up the lake to have a bit less paddling tomorrow. At the next campsite we took a break and got out of the canoe to check it out. It had looked pretty good at first, but there was a lot of grass even though it was relatively high up, and it was hard to tell where the actual ground was to put a tent, even though we didn't need to. Reject!

Back in the water, we had decided on the 8th campsite on the right (okay, all the campsites on this lake are on the right), but as we got closer, it was apparent there was a bright yellow canoe at that site. Wow! People! We backed off and went back to the 7th site.

It turned out to be an awesome site! It was my favourite of the trip so far. This was going to be our last night in the park. Bittersweet. It would also be the coldest. I claim it went down to about 6 degrees. Not that I've got any advanced weather skills, but I did have with me a $5 mini thermometer I picked up at MEC. Aha, I'm giving away all my secrets here!

We had already filled the big "dirty" bag with water from the middle of the lake, so we were set to set up camp. It was 2:45, time for a treat - cinnamon buns, yummmmm! LT started a fire as his first task once we hit land. Well, after he carried up the bags including the large bag of water. This dirty bag holds close to 16 litres of water. My filtration systems cleans 4 litres at a time. This is how much water we usually use each evening/morning.

Cinnamon buns - here we come!
As you can see from the next picture MY hammock was hung before LT's. That's because he was building a fire. We had a really cool table here, doing dishes with a view. The logs around the firepit were awesome too, very flat, really usable.

Starting out.....
Taking off the oven to test for doneness
We let the fire die down once the cinnamon buns were baked. 
Kitchen sink with a view!
The large black bag in the picture above is a new piece in my kit. I'm not sure if I'll carry it again, today was the first time we used it. It's a shower! I had picked it up at Canadian Tire, it was about $15. LT tried to fill it with water from the lake, but it was impossible to get water into the small opening near the top. He used the water in the dirty bag (it has a spout) to fill it and then he went out in the canoe to get more water for our use.

The next step was to leave the bag in the sun (and we had lots of sunshine), with the black side up for a couple of hours to warm the water. LT hung the bag for me after a couple of hours in the sun and I had my first backcountry shower! The hose has a mini showerhead end that you need to pull out to activate. I washed my hair - that felt so good! 6 days without washing my hair was a first for me.

Dinner tonight was chicken, rice and veggies. Dessert was banana nut bread pudding, a perennial favourite.

Treats this trip: I usually bring along large Cadbury milk chocolate bars with various fillings (cashews and coconut, Oreo pieces, etc.). However, when consulting with LT (he usually helps me eat the chocolate), he claimed he didn't want any on this trip. So I didn't bring any. I did bring a package of mini individually-wrapped, chocolate-coated peppermint patties. There weren't that many in the bag, they were handed out sparingly. LT brought some whiskey on this trip, but not very much. It's pretty heavy to carry and I don't think I can dehydrate it. But I guess I could try. :-) I also did not bring along any hot chocolate mix. It's usually messy to clean up, I often drink it after dinner. I just skipped it this trip, but would have liked to have it a couple of times.

BTW the cinnamon buns were pretty delicious. I had forgotten to warm the water before rising the yeast, so I had to warm the cup it was in with the water and sugar. It was cool to see the yeast activating right before my eyes! Unfortunately the buns were burnt a bit on the bottom, but they were 90% edible. Mmmmmmmm!
Aaaaand both hamocks hung
The last few evenings we had attempted to find a weather report. LT had brought along his iPod that has a radio. He found a CBC station. However, it wasn't really relevant for us. It was giving weather for Timmins and more Northern locales. 

I saw something here that I will ensure I use at any further campsites. When I went to the thunderbox to use the facilities, I opened the lid and there was a small, fresh balsam branch there. Instinctively, I grabbed it to toss it away. But then I noticed that the seat of the thunderbox was the cleanest I've ever seen. What a great idea! 

It got very cold tonight. I would fight the cold by wrapping my hammock over my face to try to keep some warmth in.

Today's numbers:

Portage #21: 610m
Portage #22: 1,165m 

Total portage distance for the day: 1.775 km 
Total distance for the day: 8.3 km
Total time spent travelling: 4:15 hours

Other posts for this trip: