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Algonquin Journal - 2000

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

July/August 2000

Participants: Jim and Dave FitzSimmons in a red Folbot Greenland II
Route: Magnetawan Lake access (#3) to Hambone Lake, Daisy Lake, Petawawa River, Little Misty Lake, Queer Lake, Little Trout Lake, Ralph Bice Lake and back out through Hambone Lake and Magnetawan Lake; side trips to the Tim River and David Lake
Distance Paddled: 37 km
Time Paddled: 12 hrs
Distance Portaged: 135 m + 420 m + 135 m + 450 m + 2435 m + 175 m + 435 m + 295 m + 135 m = 4615 m
Time Portaged: 0:45 + 1 + 0:35 + 1 + 5:30 + 0:25 + 1 + 0:45 + 0:35 = 11:35 hrs
Distance Hiked (including multiple portage trips and side trips): 28605 m


Thursday, July 27, 2000:

Weather: sunny

I drove to Columbus and packed up our supplies with my brother, Dave. We bought food and other stuff and then drove to our parents’ house in Lucas, Ohio, and stayed the night.


Friday, July 28, 2000:

Weather: cloudy, rain

Dave and I got up at 7:00 a.m. to retrieve tent poles from Columbus. We had lunch at Wendy’s. We encountered heavy rains south of Toronto. We ate supper at Harvey’s (very good Teriyaki Chicken sandwich). From there we drove to Kearney, Ontario, and stayed at Kel-Mac Bed and Breakfast. It was a total of 547 miles from Lucas, Ohio, to Kearney, Ontario.


Saturday, July 29, 2000:

Route Paddled: Magnetawan Lake Access (#3), Hambone Lake, Daisy Lake, Petawawa River, to Little Misty Lake
Distance Paddled: 15 km
Time Paddled: 5 hrs
Distance Portaged: 135 m + 420 m + 135 m + 450 m = 1040 m
Time Portaged: 0:45 + 1 + 0:35 + 1 = 3:20 hrs
Distance Hiked: 4360 m
Weather: partly cloudy, rain

We got up at 7:00 a.m. and had breakfast at Kel-Mac. We drove into Kearney to get our permit and then continued on a long, rough, 20-km road to access #3 (Magnetawan Lake). We put the Folbot together, packed up, and left around 11:30 a.m. After a short paddle across Magnetawan Lake, we took the easy 135 m portage into Hambone Lake. This and all portages were triple-carried (see the miscellaneous thoughts at the end of this trip log for our thoughts on this). Dave is a professional photographer and insisted on bringing all of his lenses and even his big, heavy Bogen tripod. I claim (despite his vehement protestations) that he single-handedly caused us to have to triple carry the portages!

Hambone Lake was beautiful, deep, clear, and cool. A short paddle brought us to the 55 m portage to an unnamed pond. The water was high enough, however, to allow us to walk the Folbot through. We saw a mother common merganser and her duckling at close range in the pond. Then we were on to the 420 m portage into Daisy Lake. This portage was well taken care of with a log dock at the Daisy Lake end. A couple from London, Ontario, who were headed the other way offered to help us with our carry. Their kind gesture allowed us to cut off one of our trips back for more gear.  [In 2003, I received an e-mail from Brian MacDiarmid and Lynn-Marie Birkby that they had been reading this trip report and realized that they were the couple mentioned.  What a small world!]  We had lunch of pita bread, summer sausage, cheese, and bananas at the beginning of the portage.

We went swimming in Daisy Lake off a beautiful campsite on a promontory (northeast of the island) where there was a huge old circular saw blade from logging days. The clouds let loose with heavy rain as we made our way down Daisy Lake, but we enjoyed it as it cooled us off. All along the lake, we noticed the deer browse line where the deer have eaten the vegetation up as high as they can reach. The 135 m portage into the Petawawa River was fine except for the mucky takeout. At the end of the portage was a picturesque waterfall.

old logging circular saw blade
on Daisy Lake
boating in the rain on Daisy Lake

Water levels were low so we had to get out and pull the Folbot for about 200-300 m. We saw many freshwater clams, a bullfrog, a mink frog, and a solitary sandpiper along the river. The last portage of the day, 450 m down the river, was fine, but by then we were tired.

The river continued to meander back and forth across the valley (we kept scaring up a great blue heron who kept flying downstream to where we were headed) and finally opened into Little Misty Lake. On the way to our campsite (the only one on the lake) we saw two beavers and heard their tails slap as they disappeared under water.

We got into camp about 8:30 p.m., set up camp, had good beef stroganoff (Richmoor dehydrated), hung our food and dishes from an excellent tree branch far away from bears, raccoons, and other animals, and went to bed about 10:30 p.m. During supper, a deer mouse kept trying to sneak a bit of our food. We heard on awesome exchange of loon calls at close range, echoing off the surrounding hills.

hanging our food and dishes

Sunday, July 30, 2000:

Route Paddled: Little Misty Lake
Distance Paddled: 1 km
Time Paddled: 0:30 hrs
Weather: mostly sunny

When I got up this morning I saw a mink swimming along in front of the campsite and watched it climb up on the rocks and disappear along the water’s edge. We had breakfast of hashbrowns and oatmeal and relaxed in the tent and read. Later we swam out from the campsite and had pickerel nibbling at our toes and fingers. We had wild rice and vegetable soup for lunch.

When we went to use the Folbot today, we found that it was full of water from two holes in the hull. These holes probably had been inflicted the day before by a log with sharp, broken branches that must have torn through the hypalon. We patched the holes and were ready to go immediately. While we were out, a loon swam to within 25 feet of us. Then we swam off the boat.

We had curry rice from "Adventure Foods" and dehydrated peas for supper, and they were very good. Our water filter began to clog because of the sluggish water on Little Misty Lake, so we boiled some drinking water. There seemed to be a lot of tannin in this lake.

This lake was very deserted except for the middle of the day when trippers came through en route to lakes deeper in the interior. After dinner, Dave called to one of the three loons on our lake and it answered him back. They carried on a conversation for several minutes including several different types of calls. At several points, the loon put its head under water as if trying to echo-locate Dave. It was awesome! Then we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

During the evening and night we heard some unfamiliar noises. We heard one or two smacks in the forest across the lake and then we heard a tree fall. In the morning, I saw one of the trees actually fall. We figured that it must have been beavers felling trees. Neither of us had ever experienced that before!


Monday, July 31, 2000:

Route Paddled: Little Misty Lake to Queer Lake
Distance Paddled: 1 km
Time Paddled: 0:30 hours
Distance Portaged: 2435 m
Time Portaged: 5:30 hrs
Distance Hiked: 12175 m
Weather: overcast, rain, thunderstorm

It rained hard last night. We awoke to overcast skies and had breakfast of oatmeal and packed up. We paddled the short distance to the 2435 m portage into Queer Lake and began the portage at 10:00 a.m. We did two long trips across the portage and then cooked and ate lunch (cheese and chicken and dumplings from "Adventure Foods" and dehydrated peas) for an hour. The portage was relatively flat with just easy rises and falls, but plenty long. I saw a leopard frog on the first trip across with the Folbot. The third trip included 30-45 minutes while Dave took pictures of a beautiful red russula mushroom for a calendar project of his. On this trip, Dave saw a ruffed grouse strut into the underbrush. We finished the portage at 5:00 p.m. Dave and I agreed that this portage trail was the buggiest place that we had ever been (in Canada or the U.S.). Even with layers of bug lotion, we both ended up with many welts (mainly from mosquitoes).

Jim carrying Folbot Greenland II
Dave carrying "Big Yellow" waterproof backpack

We made camp on Queer Lake on an awesome site on a peninsula (across the lake from the portage we had just completed; it was the site farthest toward the eastern end of Queer Lake, on the north side). We heard loons and saw a female moose from our campsite. Supper consisted of chicken teriyaki from "Richmoor" (very good) and dried nectarines. A thunderstorm hit shortly after supper and continued on into the night. It rained very heavily, starting at 7:30 p.m., with much lightning and thunder.

We worked hard today, but it was a satisfying exhaustion at the end of the day. All in all, the portage wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be (considering that we had never done more than 550 m before), but each trip across seemed longer than the previous one.


Tuesday, August 1, 2000:

Route Paddled: Queer Lake; side trip to Tim River
Distance Paddled: 3.5 km
Time Paddled: 1 hr
Distance Hiked: 3070 m
Weather: thunderstorm, rain, overcast

We got about two inches of rain last night. Luckily for us, Dave’s Marmot "Hoot" tent stayed dry, even with water puddling underneath it. We saw red-bellied leeches swimming by the rocks of the campsite, some as long as 6"! They were a pretty green with light spots and red bellies. With another storm looming, we ate cold foods quickly for breakfast and battened down the hatches in the tent where we endured another inch of rain.

We read and slept through the storm and were awakened by two rangers who checked the site and our permit. Lunch consisted of cheese vegetable chowder from "Cache Lake Foods" and macaroni and cheese. We washed some clothes and then paddled to the 1330 m portage to the Tim River. Along the way we saw and photographed a female moose up close in a marsh eating water-shield. The moose remained there for most of the day. We hiked the portage and the 410 m portage along the Tim River. There were a couple of huge yellow birches along the portage trail. We also passed a leopard frog. There was a beautiful waterfall on the Tim River along the portage, and nearby Dave found another mushroom to photograph.

moose browsing in Queer Lake
waterfall on the Tim River

After returning across the portage, we raced a storm back to camp, but it went north of us and all we got were sprinkles. We had Zatarain’s bowties and black beans for supper (very good). The filtered water from this lake has a queer aftertaste. I wonder if that is the origin of the name of this lake. [I later looked Queer Lake up in the Friends of Algonquin Park Technical Bulletin "Names of Algonquin," but the lake was not listed because their research had uncovered no basis for the name].


Wednesday, August 2, 2000:

Route Paddled: Queer Lake, Little Trout Lake, to Ralph Bice Lake
Distance Paddled: 7 km
Time Paddled: 2 hrs
Distance Portaged: 175 m + 435 m = 610 m
Time Portaged: 0:25 + 1 = 1:25 hrs
Distance Hiked: 2700 m
Weather: overcast, partly sunny, rain

Before breakfast, we paddled up into the marsh at our end of the lake. We breakfasted on huevos rancheros from "Adventure Foods" (pretty good). Dave got another picture of a mushroom at our site for his calendar, and we packed up and paddled to the 175 m portage into Little Trout Lake. We made this portage in two trips because a nice soul helped us carry since he was going the opposite way. We returned the favor. Dave took another picture for his calendar (this trip was turning out to be a gold mine of mushroom pictures for him). There was a beautiful put-in to Little Trout Lake from this portage featuring a beautiful view and a sandy lake bottom.

We paddled across Little Trout Lake, a very nice and picturesque lake, and took the 435 m portage to Ralph Bice Lake. We ate lunch of hard salami (not as good as the summer sausage we had earlier), cheese, and pita bread at the portage. There are tall, old red pines along the shore of Ralph Bice Lake where the portage from Little Trout Lake comes in. Not surprisingly, after the 2435 m portage earlier, today’s portages seemed like nothing.

There was a stiff headwind coming at us across Ralph Bice Lake, which was kicking up one-foot waves. It was a lot of fun to paddle through these in the Folbot as they broke over the bow! We found a superb campsite, the easternmost of the two sites at the southwest tip of the long island. The site featured views in 270 degrees. It rained as soon as we set up camp, and then the sun came out. The site, unfortunately, was very dirty. Previous users had left trash all over the site, had chopped down live trees, and had tried to burn planks from the privy. It’s too bad when unthinking, selfish people ruin sites for others coming later.

island campsite on Ralph Bice Lake

We went swimming and got water. The water was so clear that it seemed to not clog the water filter at all. This was a beautiful lake with clear, green water through which you could see down quite a distance. This crystal-clear water was the best I’ve seen so far, supposedly coming from a spring. The swimming was refreshing in the cool, clear water with the wind and one-foot waves!

We made a small campfire and had Zatarain’s red beans and pasta (very good) and dehydrated green beans for supper. I took an evening paddle while Dave took sunset pictures.


Thursday, August 3, 2000:

Route Paddled: Ralph Bice Lake; side trip to David Lake
Distance Paddled: 4.5 km
Time Paddled: 1:30 hrs
Distance Hiked: 1240 m
Weather: overcast, rain, sunny

It was chilly this morning (60º F). We had a breakfast of hot chocolate and oatmeal and then paddled to and hiked the 620 m portage to David Lake. It was a very pretty trail to a nice (and seemingly not-often-used lake). Dave got four more good mushroom pictures along the trail while I scouted for birds (I saw two yellow-bellied sapsuckers). At David Lake, we ate pita bread, peanut butter, and dried cranberries for lunch.

When we got back to the campsite we went swimming. Later, a raft of two dozen common mergansers swam right next to our site. Rangers showed up and cleaned up the campsite and brought us a new privy (we had seen them on the David Lake portage trail and had told them about the state of the site). The sun finally came out for good so we swam again. I couldn’t get enough of swimming in the cool, clear water! The lake was even clearer in the sunshine! Also, in the sunshine, everything finally began to dry out.

We had turkey supreme from "Richmoor" (pretty good) and green beans for supper. After supper, a ruffed grouse flushed from the area near our privy. It landed in a tree and we got a good, close look at it. We have also seen a flock of cedar waxwings and a song sparrow, which flitted around our site. We had a fire and later went for an evening paddle around our island and saw that there was a cut through in the middle that we could boat through. On our island, we watched kids swinging on a rope hung from a white pine and then diving into the lake. It sure looked like fun so we decided to come back tomorrow. When we went to bed, we marveled at how many stars we could see because there is no light pollution. Dave and I both grew up on and live on farms in Ohio, but even on the farm, there is still light pollution from the major cities. Here, we could actually see the Milky Way extend all the way to the horizons! It looked like it would be a clear, cold night tonight.

Dave and Jim have supper

Friday, August 4, 2000:

Route Paddled: Ralph Bice Lake, Hambone Lake, to Magnetawan Lake Access (#3)
Distance Paddled: 5 km
Time Paddled: 1:30 hrs
Distance Portaged: 295 m + 135 m = 430 m
Time Portaged: 0:45 + 0:35 = 1:20 hrs
Distance Hiked: 5060 m
Weather: mostly sunny

We had breakfast of an omelet from "Adventure Foods" and granola bars and then packed up. Before heading out, we went to swing off the rope swing into the lake. It was great fun! We did it over and over, but unfortunately it was time to head home. It’s bittersweet to be leaving. We both had a great time and don’t want it to end, but I am looking forward to seeing my wife, Therese, and our 11-month-old son, Stephen, and Dave is looking forward to seeing his girlfriend, Olivia.

rope swing on Ralph Bice Lake

We paddled to the 1455 m portage to Daisy Lake and hiked it. At the other end we had cheese, dried apricots, pita bread, and Italian salami (also not as good as the summer sausage that we had earlier) for lunch. On the way back across the trail, we saw a wood frog and several of the many chipmunks that we saw on the trip and Dave got a nice picture of another mushroom for his calendar.

wood frog on portage from
Ralph Bice Lake to Daisy Lake

We paddled to the end of Ralph Bice Lake and took the 295 m portage to Hambone Lake. We then paddled to the 135 m portage to Magnetawan Lake. Before taking the portage, we swam one more time in Hambone Lake. Then it was on to the takeout on Magnetawan Lake. What a wonderful trip!

We took apart the Folbot and loaded all of our gear into Dave’s car. We slowly made our way back out the logging access road and went to Forest Tower Outfitters in Kearney to make phone calls and for ice cream and pop. Then it was back on the road toward home to get some mileage out of the way until we found a motel. We had dinner at Harvey’s and then kept looking for motels, but they were either full (this was Friday of a Canadian holiday weekend) or more then $140. Finally, at 1:00 a.m., we found a Motel 6 between Oakville and Burlington (west of Toronto) for $80 and fell into bed exhausted.


Saturday, August 5, 2000:

We had breakfast at Harvey’s, lunch at Arby’s, and supper with Mom and Dad at their farm in Lucas. Then it was on to my family and farm in Pleasant Plain, Ohio. I finally got there at 8:30 p.m.


Miscellaneous Thoughts, Observations, and Reflections:

  • It was very neat being on a lake all by yourself (Little Misty Lake).
  • Next time we need to be sure that we can double carry all of the portages. Triple carrying added much to the time and energy usage of the portages.
  • The Knu-Pac portage system worked very well with our Folbot double touring kayak. Last time we were up here, we did a two-person carry of the Folbot with one person carrying each end by hand. The Knu-Pac frame allowed one person to carry the boat overhead which saved time and made it much easier to carry.
  • Our new MSR "Dragonfly" stove also worked very well.
  • As before, the loons were awesome!
  • Algonquin is such a wonderful park! Where else can you go to get a lakefront campsite with no other people in sight?!
  • Both times that I have been up here, everything that we have brought has come back covered in dirt and detritus.
  • We have seen and heard loons calling on each lake on which we have camped.
  • We have had wild blueberries on every campsite.
  • It was really great getting to take this trip with Dave. We had a fantastic time!


Animals Identified in Algonquin Provincial Park:

  • Amphibians (6): American Toad, Bullfrog, Green Frog, Mink Frog, Leopard Frog, Wood Frog
  • Reptiles (0): none
  • Birds (23): Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Common Merganser, Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruffed Grouse, Solitary Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Swainson’s Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Song Sparrow, American Goldfinch
  • Mammals (6): Eastern Chipmunk, American Red Squirrel, American Beaver, Mink, Deer Mouse, Moose


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