Friday, May 8, 2009

Algonquin PP Jul 26 08 - Day 2

Viewing the small falls at the south end of Hornbeam Lake

Sleep wasn't restful due to the muggy condition and the rain that came during the night. Despite feeling sluggish, it was time to get up and get started. It was grey and overcast outside but at least the rain had stopped.

Our first of 3 loops was to head SE to Biggar Lake and then head back north to Manitou Lake. Paddling down Mangosti Lake, the skies darkened ominously and began thundering in the distance. (deja vous?) As we portaged 240m into Hornbeam Lake the deluge began, but it didn't stop us from taking time to see the rapids and chutes that it bypassed. A quick paddle brought us to another portage that skirted a small but wide fall that I would imagine would look much better at higher water levels. Then one final portage brought us to the considerably larger and aptly named Biggar Lake.

Checking out the chute along the portage to Hornbeam Lake

At the east end of Biggar Lake, the sun finally came out so we beached the canoe on its sandy shoreline to refuel and hydrate before we began a marathon portage session that Algonquin is so well known for. We decided to aim for Three Mile Lake, but that entailed 4 moderately long successive portages with short paddles in between. (barely enough for a "recovering" rest) So we tightened the belts/straps, prayed for strength and motored on. The first 475m went without a hitch, but the second 960m began uphill. To say the least, it winded us, but we made it to the top and I took full advantage of the canoe stand that Algonquin is also well known for. Near the end, a very wet section had a boardwalk that literally sank (and disappeared) as you walked across it, which gave us a few good laughs.

See the "disappearing" boardwalk!

This walkway could use some more support,
- "Really, I'm not that heavy!"

The third portage was short (320m) but the put-in had me stumped. The trail followed a logging road near the end but it disappeared under water! As there was no portage at the water's edge, we had no idea if we were in the right place? We backtracked and searched for the "correct" route but didn't find anything, so we decided to put the canoe in and paddle out. We quickly found the reason for the flooding as the left side of the road was built up like a small retaining wall. We also soon found the answer to the perplexing put-in dilemma as the portage sign appeared on a stump a distance from shore! I guess the architectural landscape designer (aka the beaver) didn't like the past shoreline! Is it too much to ask that he move the portage sign as well?!!!

Seems to be a trend with the trail doing the disappearing
act! See video below.

Upper Kawa Lake was a pretty gem of a lake and it was an ideal place to camp, but it was early and we had another 1125m portage to go, so we reluctantly set off. Despite the length, it wasn't too bad and we soon arrived at the put-in to Three Mile Lake where we met a solo canoeist.

I rarely meet people on my canoe trips as I avoid places/times when they are around. Not that I'm antisocial, but it is my time to get away from it all, so the opportunities are minimal. Although, the few times I've met canoeist, its been quite enjoyable, sharing stories or trail info, of which we presently did with Ron. We ended up talking at length as we both were covering the same route and then exchanged contact info. I would say half the time nothing ever materializes afterwards, but in our case with Ron, he did contact us and we now send the odd email. (if you read this Ron, sending a "Hi" your way!)

Taking a break on the eastern shore of Biggar Lake

We continued our paddle up the NW shore where we eventually camped on a point 2/3's of the way up. It was a good day, tiring, but of the good type. The one where despite the exertion, you feel positively satisfied. Unfortunately we didn't get to have a warming fire due to wet environment, but a hot soup with bread for supper warmed us thoroughly and contentedly put us to a deep sleep that night.

Next: Day 3 - "Water is coming over the gunwales!"
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