Thursday, July 2, 2009

8-day Algonquin Park Canoe Trip Work UP
This whole trip started as a high school graduation gift for my son. For years he had wanted to go out either on a long hiking or canoe trip. We joined a high adventure boyscout troop but all their events landed on weeks that where no good for our schedule. So this being the year he graduates I started planning a canoe trip. I was initially planning a trip to the Boundary waters. A Friend mention why not look at Algonquin Provincial Park. Well why not, it's 500 miles closer and looked as though it might have less traffic than the boundary waters just by the shear numbers of outfitters in the boundary waters. We have never done a long canoe trip like this. So my planning started before the 1st of the year. I jumped on a lot of forums and searched the net for as much info as I could find. I initially was planning on using a full service outfitter. But decided to do all that on my own. I like to cook so the food menu was a big thing for me. For months I slowly picked up camping items that I didn't have or items more suited for a canoe trip than car style camping. I decided to pick up 2-30L barrels for food and dry storage. Which faced me the next challenge of how to carry them on portages. My goal was to do single portages. As the months flew by I slowly gathered the gear needed and worked out what I thought would be the best method to carry everything. My son would carry the 2-barrels and 1-drybag I would carry the tent, sleeping pads, tarp and other misc items along with the canoe. My sons pack weighed in at 70lbs and my pack weighed in at around 27lbs plus the canoe and the items still in the canoe. The only thing lacking was the true test.
Algonquin Park Getting there.
Well our day finally arrived. We have about a 500 mile drive from Ohio. We where headed up to Huntsville Ontario the day before our canoe trip for a good nights rest and some local food. Most of the drive was the normal highway senery. We crossed into Canada at the Peace bridge then faught traffic as we made our way north. On the way we stopped at the Famous Webers Grill for a late lunch. The food was good after a long day of driving. Webers is the true fast food restraunt. I was amazed at the speed of the cooking and serving. But I guess if that's all you did every day it would become second nature to you. We got back on our way heading for huntsville.

Huntsville not a large town so it didn't take us long to find our hotel. After checking in we headed downtown for some siteseeing.

Huntsville is a quaint little town with a small town charm. We walked down by the river and visited a few local stores. One of them being Algonquin Outfitters where we pick up a few last minute items and chatted with the employees about our trip. We also had to stop at Canadian Tire. Now thats a Mans store. Heck they even sell headers for your car or truck if you need them plus a lot of camping and fishing items. My son was impressed.
Day 1
Access #3
Ralph Bice
Little Trout
To the 1st camp site on the Tim River
approx. 7-miles paddling
2370 meters portaging

We woke up on our 1st day to some rain showers. The weather forecast showed rain all day then nice weather for the next 7-days. We wanted a good breakfast before we ventured out. so we headed downtown Huntsville for some pea meal bacon, eggs, pancakes and hash browns. Then off we went to the town of kearney.

In Kearney we picked up our camping permits at the park office and stop by to finalize our canoe rental. Our canoe would be waiting for us at access #3 chained to a tree. So off we went again

The farther away from Kearney we went the more out in the wilderness it felt. The park officer had warned us to watch out for turtles nesting and laying eggs on the way to the access point.It was drizzling but the temperature was very comfortable.

Well we hit the end of the pavement and now began the long drive down the gravel road. We where driving my sons car which is low to the ground and had no mud flaps on it so our speed was pretty slow. Some spots in the road where
nice and smooth then all of a sudden you hit the shutter bumps which about shake your teeth out.

Wasn't long before we started spotting the turtles. In some spots they where everywhere. Farther down the road we spotted a giant bull moose with an impressive rack running through the woods. Wow we thought that thing was big. Then just a little farther as we are approaching some water next to the road a moose jumps out of the water just in front of the car. If not for hitting the brakes I think we would have hit it. I'm not sure who was more surprised us or the moose.

In just a few more minutes we arrived to the access point. There was only two other vehicles at the access point. It's still drizzling which it ended up doing all day. We where instantly attacked by mosquito's as we got out of the car. Deet and head nets ended up being our friend on this day and many others.

Now the true test began. After all the months of planning and packing will all this stuff fit into the canoe. I was surprised when it actually worked. The pack with the 2-barrels and dry bag attached to the backpack frame fit across the canoe. The other pack fit just in font of the Yoke. We finished up packing and preparing the canoe. We donned our rain gear and off we went.

Honestly we have not canoed in some time so I felt a little unstable at first till we both adjusted ourselves to the canoe and rowing.

Just a short paddle and we found our 1st of many portages today. This was a short 160 meter portage so this will be our trial portage to see if we can do it. The goal from the beginning was to single portage to save time. My son carried the barrels and dry bag at around 70lbs and I carried the canoe 1-pack and the misc gear we attached to the canoe. So mine weighed in around 80lbs. I have never carried a canoe on my shoulders let alone carry it with a backpack.

My sons pack was heavy so I would have to lift the pack up so he could get strapped in before I could put my pack on and throw the canoe on my shoulders. I'm sure we looked clumsy at 1st but by the end of our trip we had turned into a well oiled machine during our portages.

We made it to Ralph Bice Lake with 2-portages under our belt and it felt good. The load was heavy but it seemed manageable to us now. We had taken off from the access point about the same time as 2 other people in kayaks. We passed them up on our second portage. Once onto Hambone they headed for a different portage. So when we reached Ralph Bice we where completely by ourselves. This is what we had hoped for. To be the only ones on a lake. Oh how quiet it was just nature. Even though it was raining it did not spoil it for us. It was so peaceful.

Ralph Bice was the largest lake we would travel today. We decided to do a little trolling while we paddled. I have never fished for trout so this would be all new to us. I had stocked up on lures before the trip but most of them where smaller. My son choose a larger spoon at Canadian tire the night before and decide to use it. I used one of our smaller spoons. We let out quite a bit of line on both poles.

We started paddling enjoying the beauty of the area. Before long I watched Matt's pole start bending. He grabbed the pole and started to fight the fish. I reeled mine in and tried to keep the canoe steady. The fish seemed to be straight down below the canoe. Then all of a sudden his line went limp. I thought he lost the fish but it turned out the line snapped and we lost the fish and his only big spoon. We where both bummed, that could have been a nice snack. We tried fishing some after that but did not get any other bites.

We reached the end of Ralph Bice to a longer 440 meter portage to Little trout lake. We could feel the weight more on this portage. Little trout is a smaller lake which we paddled pretty quickly. Very quiet and relaxing except for the seagulls dive bombing us. We got to the next portage to Queer lake then a short paddle to the long portage of the day.

A couple days before our trip began we changed our trip plans for the 1st day. We wanted to get the long portage to the Tim river behind us instead of waiting till the next morning Our camp site for tonight would be the 1st campsite on the Tim river. We reached the long portage to the Tim. We loaded up and off we went. This portage started out going up hill. We are still waring rain gear and our bug nets over our heads. So I'm starting to sweat and huff and puff. The portage was muddy so I slipped and fell with the canoe. This didn't help. My shoulders where getting sore from the canoe digging in. I ended up going about 500 meters before I had to stop. My son was feeling it also. As we rested we decided that maybe it was best if we doubled portaged this long one. We lighted up my sons load and I just carried my backpack. So we started off again. This portage seemed so long. We had both removed our rain pants by now since we both sweating. The trail was still muddy and the bushes where wet. We reached the end and started back to pick up the rest of the gear. We loaded my sons remainder of his load and I carried the canoe. I had to stop on the way again. The canoe was digging into my shoulders. I'm now wishing I had bought the canoe yoke pad in Hunstville. I'm wondering what have we got ourselves into. After a short breather the canoe seemed fine for about 400 meters till it started digging in again. We reached the end and where both whipped. The bugs where still out in force so we loaded up quickly and got on the Tim river.

It was now about 7:30 and we still had to find our campsite and eat dinner. I was warned about the twisting and turning of the tim river plus all the beaver damns. wasn't long before we hit a beaver damn then another and another. I was starting to get worried about finding our camp site. The beaver damns and log jams where slowing us down. It was now after 8:30 before we finally spotted the campsite.

The park officer had suggested getting your fire started 1st to keep the bugs down. I put Matt in charge of starting a fire. Everything was wet but he found some dry tinder and got the fire started pretty quickly. I got the tent set up as he got some coals going for dinner. It was starting to get dark. The bugs seemed to have let up some So I started a dinner of steaks and garlic mashed potatoes. We finally sat back enjoyed dinner and reflected on our 1st day. The whole time knowing we where out in the middle of nowhere all by our selves except for the frogs.

Day 2
Tim River to
Approx 10-14 miles since the river is so twisty
860 meters of portages

The day started out with no rain. The sky looked clear so it should be a good day. My body was still sore from the long day yesterday and the portages. Plus I knew that tomorrow morning we would have the longest portage of our trip. I really was not looking forward to that. The bugs where out but didn't seem as bad as the day before.

After some coffee and breakfast we broke camp and said goodbye to our 1st campsite.

Down the Tim river we headed. Yesterday we crossed beaver damn after beaver damn but today they eased up some. The river is twisty back and forth and narrow. Today was a good day to really learn how to steer your canoe. The water depth varied in the river from shallow to deep. The river sported all kinds of plant life. The grass in the river looked like long flowing hair and on the land wild flowers where everywhere.

I read many trip logs about the Tim river and the length of time to do the river. Well I have to say they are all true. The river was endless it seemed. We paddled and paddled. The day turned out to be a wonderful day, sunny with a slight breeze and bugs where OK. Both of us liked being in smaller water since you can see all around you better. nature was everywhere. Except for the little noise we made it was quite. There wasn't any planes flying over just the sounds of nature. Pretty relaxing even though your body was sore.

It was about noon when we made our 1st portage of the day. Just after the rapids we decided to try some fishing in the rapids. We used some little silver spoons and started catching fish. nothing supper big but fish is fish when it comes to fighting them. This is where we had our 1st experience with the black flies. We both had our long shirts and bug nets on plus our gloves. The black flies where attracted to the dark color of my gloves. They would not move off my hand for anything. You could swat them but back they would come. They where not biting though the gloves so we just had to learn to tolerate them. We saved a few of our catch and started a fire at the nearby campground and cooked up some fish for lunch. This was a nice break in the middle of day. Smoke from the fire chased away the bugs so we could remove our head nets and eat.

This stop took us 2-hours and we where only half way on our trip so we put the fire out and started paddling again. We made our next portage in short time and kept heading down the river towards Shippagew. The river opened up more and the trees spread apart. Felt more like paddling in a large open field with tree lines on the edges. The wind had pick up and was blowing pretty hard at our face. I thought the wind blew out of the west where this wind was coming out of the north northeast. Blowing wind slowed down our progress and made paddling more strenuous. This went on for hours it seemed. Our arms started to feel the affect of the wind. We spotted a moose on one of the many curves.

Beaver damns, I thought we where done with those hours ago but the Tim river still threw more at us.

We finally made it into the cover of trees so the wind had slowed down and the river narrowed up. This made paddling easier. We spooked another moose on the river.

We made it to our last portage to Shippagew. We made short work of this and headed for a campsite. Shippagew is a smaller lake not to wide. The wind was blowing again straight at our faces. We could see the red markings of the campgrounds but our progress was slow with the wind. We both wanted to get off the water and relax so we pushed hard and made it to camp.

Our campsite we chose was perfect with great views of the lake. We where glad we made land and could relax while staring out at the lake. The bugs had died down so we could shed some clothes and kick back. We made some dinner and just enjoyed the surroundings.

In the evening when the water calmed down to glass we went for a short paddle around. Just stopping to listen and stare. The loons where calling all around. Once back to camp we watched some beavers swimming around in the lake near camp. Another wonderful day and we did not see another person all day.
Day 3
Longer lake
Burntroot Lake

Approx. 8 miles paddling
1950 meters portaging

We awoke to another fine day. I tend to wake up on the early side more when it turns light out side. So I was normally up around 5:30. Matt always slept till the coffee was ready. There was a slight mist on the lake and the lake was calm. While making the coffee I spotted a moose grazing just across the water and also what looked like a deer on the waters edge or a baby moose.

This was a perfect campsite with a nice view of the lake around you. It's hard to believe how quiet things are without all the noises of your normal life. You could here noises from across the water. Frogs croaking on both sides of the shore a mile away from each other.

I could have sat and starred all day but we knew we had a long portage ahead plus much more scenery for us today. So we started packing up camp, loading the canoe and putting out the fire.

We started out for the big portage. The water was calm and the temps where very comfortable. The sky's where clear and the sun was out. Since the last portage was rough on us we decided to double portage this long one. We split up the gear and off we went with the 1st load. This portage is up and down several hills and is long. The easy load of the backpack was not a problem for me. I was not looking forward to hauling the canoe up and down the hills. My shoulders did not like carrying the canoe. It rubbed and made my shoulders sore. We made it back for the second load. Matt decided to go off ahead since his load was a light one this trip. I new I would have to stop a few times to give my shoulders a rest. The mosquito's where worse on the portages so we wore our head nets and long sleeve shirts. Off I went. wasn't long before I started to sweat and huff and puff up the hills. I probably went 500 meters before my shoulders where sore from the canoe. My back was also hurting some from leaning forward while carrying the canoe. I think I was leaning forward to help how the canoe was rubbing on my shoulders. I probably stopped another two times before I finally made the end where I found Matt resting up against a tree at the waters edge.

The wind had picked up some on this side. The wind tended to scare away the bugs. We rested and cooled down a bit before setting off again. Longer lake was somewhat narrow and the wind was slowing us down some. It seemed that in this lake we spotted more submerged logs or logs that sunk years ago when they where logging. Since the logs all seemed like they where cut on both ends and looked to be the same length.

We rowed farther till the lake narrowed up even more. Matt liked this part of the lake. He said it looked like we where paddling though a flooded field. The depth got really shallow and current got stronger also along with the wind. We spotted a mother duck with her full entourage of baby ducks. They would get on her back then slip off then get back on. It was pretty funny to watch

We slowly made our way to the 1st set of portages around the rapids. These
where all short portages today. We did stop and try our luck fishing after the rapids with no real luck.

After our next portage we spotted a moose on the bank pretty close. We slowly paddled forward to view the moose. This moose didn't seem to worried about us. If they did get scared they would just move away slowly.

We kept paddling some into the wind. We stopped at another campsite for some lunch. After lunch we kept on paddling up burntroot to find a campsite.

We got to the larger section of Burntroot and the wind was blowing at our faces. The Waves had increased a bit I was getting worried about paddling across the big lake to find a campsite. We had previously looked at the map to spot campsites. We had chosen a couple but once we got close they didn't seem that great. The lake was still rough and slow going. The map showed a Island site with two campsites so we headed for that site. Once we where close the island shielded us from the wind and the waves calmed down. We spotted a site with a sandy beach.

After a quick inspection of the island we figured this would be a nice campsite. The sun was hot today and I was starting to stink. The sandy beach was a whole new and exciting perspective. We quickly set up camp. We decided now was a good time for a swim. The water was cool. after a little adjusting to the temps we where swimming and enjoying the peaceful setting of this campsite.

The sun was hot plus a slight breeze so the bugs seemed to go into hiding. We where really getting relaxed on this island with nobody else in sight. In fact we have not seen anybody since Hambone on day 1. We adjusted very well to island living. After our swim and cool down period we explored the island.

We had picked up many books on edible plants for the area plus other plant books. So we headed out to explore the island. We where looking for plants to make some tea with or eat. We could not find the plant we wanted for tea but we found many really neat and colorful plants. We did strike out on our plants for tea so we resorted to making some tea with Hemlock. I have never done this before but my son was really wanting to do this. So we chose the perfect hemlock to make some tea later. While searching we found many flowering plants on the island. We looked all of them up in our plant books.

We made some dinner and just sat back and enjoyed the sights and sounds of nature. For the last couple days I have been hearing a sound in the background. It almost sounded like the distant sound of a motorcycle race. It was high pitched hum in background almost all the time. We figured out that the hum was bugs. Not the sound of a bug going in your ear but a faint constant hum in the background. I would hear this even when the bugs where not biting but it had to be quiet to really hear it.

We sat around the campfire made some fresh Bannock and stayed up to watch the stars. It takes for ever for it to get dark. Even after the sun set there was light on the horizon for hours. At 11:00PM there was still some light.
Day 4
Relaxing day on Burntroot
Side trip to Portal Rapids
Side trip to Barnet Depot farm
Approx. 6.5 miles paddling

Today I slept in later than my normal since we stayed up late to view the stars. The day was perfect again. Just a slight breeze and the water was flat. We had decided to head for the portal rapids at the end of the lake. So we packed our day bag and headed out.

The lake was flat and perfect. The canoe felt good without all our gear and it moved fast with no wind. I like the sound of paddling on a smooth lake. All you hear is the sound of the water dripping off your paddles on the way forward to take another stroke.

The lake was long so we would stop once and awhile to just listen and stare. Near the end of the lake I think we surprised a beaver swimming in the water. I really don't think he noticed us till we where on top of him. He swam around us a bit then smacked his tail and left.

We found the rapids. Which is actually two sets of rapids separated by a small strip of land. One set of rapids looked as though it was a damn of some sort years ago. There was old timbers with long bolts hanging out. We landed the canoe grabbed our fishing poles and headed out to try some fishing.

We where catching many small fish. in both sets of rapids. We stayed for awhile before heading back towards camp.

It was close to lunch time so we stop by another campsite and had some lunch while gazing out over the lake.

On the way back we past a couple small islands that looked to be nesting areas for what I think are ducks. Some of them looked black with long heads. I didn't have any bird books so we where not sure exactly what they are.

The lake was still perfectly calm but the temps where rising. I think this may be the hottest it has been. It felt like a long paddle back since both of us where tired and just needed a good day to relax.

Once back at our private island we both went for a swim. The sandy beach made it fun. After swimming we wadded around in the water playing with all the clams and small fish. We spotted many fish guarding their eggs. So we just watched them as they scared the other fish away.

It was getting hotter by the minute so we both headed back to the shade in camp. That’s what was nice about this campsite. You could go soak up rays or go sit in the shade. The island was pretty narrow where the campsite was so there always seemed to be a slight breeze. We where both relaxing. Matt was tired so he headed for the tent for a nap. I sat back up against a tree and sipped on some tequila. Right now is when I started craving and ice cold drink or a beer.

I started writing in my journal and reflecting on our experience. But my shoulders where still sore from the long portages. This is when I decided to get innovative and figure out a way to add some padding between the canoe and my shoulders. After looking through what I had to work with I came up with an idea. I had brought two quick dry towels. When you fold them up a certain way it was about 1”-1.5” of padding. They where folded at the ends so I could lace some small rope at the ends and tie it to the yoke. This I figured would work perfect. I would find out the next day.

Matt was asleep so I sat back on the beach again. It’s quiet again. No other people or noise just nature. Pretty relaxing. It’s hard to explain you just have to be there and experience it. I just hope Matt was feeling the same way I did.
It was still hot so I waded some more in the water to cool off. Pretty relaxing day.

After dinner we took a short paddle to the Alligator and logging depot. The water was still flat and calm. We explored a little around the site. The big field had plenty of wild flowers growing and wild strawberries growing. The strawberries where not ripe yet.

It was getting near sunset so we paddled slowly back towards camp hugging the shore line. Once back at camp we got the fire going and made some more hemlock tea.

Day 5
Longer lake
Big Trout lake

Approx 8 miles paddling
415 meters portaging

Woke up to another day with no rain. There was a slight breeze and the sun was rising.
Hard to believe it was our 5th day already. After breakfast we packed up camp and said goodbye to our island campsite. So far this has been the best site we stayed at.

We have seen yellow stuff in the water the whole time we have been here. We where not sure what it was. Then some time during our paddling we where both looking at a shore line when a whole pine tree released the pollen at one time. Just a big cloud of yellow came off the tree all at once. Both of us have never seen that. So now we knew what was in the water.

We are on our way to Big Trout lake. The lake was calm but the temps where getting hot again today. On our way we stopped by an island campsite with a big rock overlook. We sat back and enjoyed the view and snapped a couple pictures with one of the pollen in the water. This was a really neat campsite with a great view. Matt wanted a campsite like this on big trout.

We kept on paddling towards our 1st portage. We are in a shallow and marshy area when we spot a moose and her baby. The water was really shallow so we kept back away a good distance. We watch till mom wanted to get her and the baby away from us and into the cover of the woods.

Once at the 1st portage we tried our luck fishing again. No luck there so we headed for the next portage. We tried fishing again in the rapids but still no luck. So off we went for longer lake. Matt really likes the shallow narrow part of longer lake.

The wind changed on our way back through longer lake. When we headed east from access#3 the wind was against us or coming out of the north or northeast. Now on our way back west the wind was in our faces again. But this direction is normal. So we had to paddle into the wind both ways. Just like walking to school uphill both ways.

By now we where both getting pretty efficient at rowing and portaging. So we easily made our way down longer lake to the last portage of the day. We stopped for lunch at a campsite next to the waterfalls coming from Big Trout.

Once on to Big Trout we didn’t paddle very long till Matt spotted an Island camp site with some high rocks. We stopped and checked out the island and decided to stay. The day was sunny and hot again. We had to put up our tarp for the 1st time for some needed shade.

We made it too Big Tout on the early side of the day so we did a little fishing but didn’t have any luck. I went for a swim to cool off. Then we both sat back to relaxed and discuss our trip.

When we picked up our camping permit the ranger told us that if we needed to change our route plans that it was Ok since the park was pretty empty and was not booked up.
We where both tired from paddling and portaging. So we starting looking at options to our long trip back to the access point. Since we have never done this before I may have misjudged how far a good distance to travel each day is. When you look at the map the route I chose looks good. But when you factor in the few long portages and the wind at our faces both ways it really wears you out. Both of us didn’t want to keep pushing but wanted to enjoy the trip more.

It was getting late in the day when we heard noises. Sounded like a motor. As of this point in the trip we have not seen anybody. We finally spotted a boat pulling a canoe way off in the distance. Then later on we spotted a canoe with two people trolling.

We both thought the lake was busy and that we truly enjoyed being the only people on the lakes. We decided to start our trip back to access#3 a day sooner so we could explore a little more and get off the big lake. Or plan was to head to White trout the next day instead of staying on Big Trout.

We later explored the island and found some neat wildflowers again. It was getting close to sunset so we sat on our big rock looking down about 30’ to the water and watched the sunset.

In the evening we sat around the fire pit overlooking the beautiful lake in the background. Matt wanted some more Bannock. But this time we stuffed them with some pepperoni and cheese. These turned out pretty darn good, just needed some pizza sauce with them.

Day 6
Big Trout
White Trout
Grassy Bay
McIntosh Creek
McIntosh Lake

Approx 11 miles paddling
1320 Meters Portaging

Woke to another perfect day. The lake was calm and there was just a slight breeze. The birds where chirping all around.

Started the fire to get breakfast and coffee going. It’s been fun cooking everything on the fire. I brought a stove and fuel but have not used them yet. I’ve come to realize that the most important things we needed for this trip are fire and water. Well the bug spray and nets has been a good thing too. It’s been hot on this trip and I’ve been amazed at how much water we have purified each day. I think yesterday went drank almost 6 liters not including the coffee water. We have been pumping about twice a day now.

We packed up the canoe and off we went towards White trout. The lake was calm so we tossed some lures out to troll on the way. This was another perfect day on the water.

We started to get close to the narrows between big trout and white trout when we spotted a campsite with other campers there. This is the 1st campsite other than ours that we have seen occupied since we left 6-days ago. We kept trolling and through the narrows with no luck so we gave up.

We had planned on stopping by the old McLaughlin farm depot to explore. So we started to head that way. The wind had picked up some and there was a little chop on the water.

We reached the depot site and hopped out to explore. The site had large clearings mixed with a few trees here and there plus wild flowers everywhere. We found all sorts of neat flowers. The bees where also finding the flowers you could hear the buzz. We spotted what looked like and old well and some timbers from what was a building at sometime. Next thing we saw was wild strawberries that are ripe. So we sat down and started to eat. Sweet and small but plentiful so we kept on eating.

I was worried some about bears since they too like berries. When then spotted some bear scat so I kept my eyes peeled. We kept on wondering in the field. I was climbing higher up the hill to get a better picture of the lake. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted something black. I ducted down and sure enough there was a bear also grazing in the berries. There was a small group of scrub trees somewhat blocking the bear seeing me. Matt was farther down the hill. I called out for him to duck down and get behind me. We walked farther up the hill using the slight cover of the small of bunch scrub trees. We finally got out in the open so Matt could see the bear. This was his 1st bear in the wild and my second. Wasn’t long before the bear spotted us, stood up on his hind legs for a better view then high tailed it too the woods. Matt and I where both really excited to have seen a bear in the wild like this and not in our camp. After the bear we got our picture and headed back down to the canoe.

Headed back out on white trout. On the opposite side of the lake was a large rock cliff that we paddled for. Farther down the lake we spotted another campsite that was occupied.

When we changed our travel plans the night before we planned on camping on white trout tonight near grassy bay and taking a hike up to the fire tower using the trail shown on the maps. We found a campsite on the end of the lake before grassy bay. We unloaded the canoe and had lunch. I was not real pleased with this campsite so I did not unpack or set up camp yet.

We hopped in the canoe and headed for the ranger cabin where the trail head was supposed to be. As we approached the ranger cabin we saw two guys loading gear on the dock. This would be the 1st people we talked with in 6-days. We found out they are waiting on the float plane to take them back home. They have been in the park for 10-days clearing the fallen trees and sprucing up the campsites. What was nice is that they where only about a day or two ahead of us. That explains why most of the campsites and portages had fresh saw dust from chainsaws. Must have been some pretty heavy storms over the winter since we spotted big trees down all over the park and on portages. When we asked about the fire tower trail, they advised us not to hike for the fire tower. The last person who tried they found lost a couple days later. I guess there is no marked or visible trail to the fire tower anymore. Bummer since we both wanted to go on a hike. Instead we filled some water bottles up with cold spring water from behind the cabin. Closest thing to ice cubes in a long time.

We headed back towards the campsite. On the way the back we watched the float plane take off with the rangers. It was early so we grabbed our plant books and headed for the swampy area to find plants.

We found many plants and watched little fish near the dense growth. As we where talking about how quick we paddle this far today. The wind was blowing at our backs for once today so we both decided to head back to camp load up our gear and head farther towards McIntosh lake.

Wouldn’t you know it? Soon as we started through grassy bay the wind shifted and started blowing in our faces again. We just kept on paddling. Grassy bay was a big marsh area with a path zig zagging though the lily pads and plants. Perfect area for moose. We spotted many birds, ducks and other wildlife along the way. Grassy bay narrowed down then we finally reached our 1st portage of the day.

We would have two slightley long portages before we would reach McIntosh lake so I rigged up my pads to try them out. I Helped Matt getting his backpack on. Which was getting lighter by the day since our food stash was dwindling. I threw my backpack on and tossed the canoe on my shoulders and started off. The 1st thing I noticed was I could stand straight up now without bending over. This helped to balance the canoe better. I was glad since the mosquitos seemed to always attack your elbows on the portages. So one hand would be shoeing them away. I made easy work of the portage without any pain in my shoulders. I wish I would have know this when we started.

We finished this poratge got back on the river and headed for the next portage. We got to the next portage and started out agian like we knew what we where doing.

We reached McIntosh and started looking for a campsite. It was late in the day we had paddled a pretty good distance today with a head wind most of the day so we are both tired and getting cranky. We started looking for campsites. Matt chose a campsite that I didn't like since it was completley out in the open and the wind was blowing. The firepit was at the waters edge with no trees. I made him get back in the canoe and look again. He was not happy with me. We paddled towards another site the wind was blowing and the lake was pretty choppy. Matt quit paddling so I ended up paddling some by myself. I stopped and decided to pump some water since our water bottles are about empty.

Matt seemed to wake up and we both started paddling till we found another island campsite that was not so exposed. This campsite was a much better site. We are both getting good at setting up camp and finding firewood.

Before you new it the fire was going and we started dinner. We have not sat in chairs with real backs all week so we both needed to support our backs. The logs used for seats at the camp made for some nice backrests. We both lounged around camp till sunset and watched the sunset again for another day.

Later that evening Matt made the last batch of Bannock we had