Friday, May 29, 2009

Algonquin PP Jul 28 08 - Day 4

Making the best of the rough campsite on Waterclear Lk

No luck with the weather again this morning. The grey pall seems like its going to be the norm on this trip. Despite the gloomy feeling, we had several forest friends to entertain us this morning. The first was a possible fisher that skirted along the shadows of the campsite early in the morning. I couldn't be 100% sure but it was certainly too big for a marten or mink, - cool! The second was a friendly chipmuck that came in the shelter and couldn't get out. Of course Marylou's frantic cry for help had us both jumping and shreiking inside the mesh tent trying to let the poor thing out. It decided to express its gratitude by leaving behind some brown-coloured treats. Last of all, I got to hang out with 3 large garter snakes along the rocky shoreline. We were all there taking a moment to relax and enjoy the surroundings before starting the day.

Hanging out with garter snakes on the shore of Kiosk Lk

It was hard to leave that great campsite, but the temperamental on and off showers quickly had us on our way in no time. If it wasn't for this great campsite, there was certainly lots of activity on this lake to preclude me from ever wanting to camp here again, like the floatplane that just landed, the buzz of outboard motors, and cabins doting the shoreline. So much for a wilderness experience. As we continued east, the light showers continued unabated like the increasing number of canoes on this big lake. Further inspection revealed a major access point which would explain this. We eventually paddled through a narrow channel where train tracks use to cross overhead. I'm not sure when it was decomissioned, but the map indicated that it belonged to the CNR, - a good thing.

Want to see some snakes in action?
Check the video out.

As we continued SW on Kiosk Lk (short form), our second loop was to take us down to Erables Lk where we would then continue back up Maple Creek and end up in the present lake. Our first portage to Little Mink Lk was where we first encountered major human traffic, which I am so fond of. Talk about bottleneck, there were 4 groups including us on a 730m trail. Loading up to go, we briefly spoke to a solo paddler who was cutting his trip short and heading home due to all the rain. (no kidding!, we probably should have followed him out!) Anyhow, we deftly weaved in and out of the congo line and quickly set off from the put-in to try and distance ourselves.

The beauty and sheen of a new canoe's gelcoat.
Wonder how long that will last?!

The short paddle through Little Mink Lk brought us to our next portage. It wasn't a nice take-out as we had to get out of the canoe before shore and balance on shifty rocks beneath the shallow waters before getting to dry land. The most annoying thing was the 2 aluminum canoes blocking our way with 4 young guys sitting on shore chatting. I bit my tongue trying not to say anything, but eventually one kid finally clued in to drag the canoes out of the way. Its not often I get upset, but this kind of stuff really annoys me. Thankfully it was resolved before I said anything. As we were loading up to go, the rest of their troop came trudging in as I found out they were a school group out for a month or so. I was happy to hear that there were still schools doing this kind of things with kids.

This tent is big and spacious, as well as being
stable in heavy wind and rain. More
on it later.

This 450m portage leads to Mink Lk, but we took the 1300m turn off to White Birch Lk, our intended destination. At the put-in we met up with more kids from the same group. They marvelled at our light Nova Craft Pal and even asked to lift it. (compared to their Grummans, I could see why!) I even felt more remorseful after seeing their packs - gray canvas with thin leather shoulder straps and no tumpline or hip belts! I inquired and found out that the tumplines were now a legal liability so they were removed! Man, these kids are really roughing it! Hats off to them! As a twisted farewell, the skies opened up and let loose on all of us. Sigh!

Whitebirch Lk was pretty with some nice campsites on its eastern shoreline. (which is where we should have stayed!) However we continued down its length and quickly portaged 345m to Waterclear Lk. It was the name of the lake that got me curious about camping there, but the overcast skies did little to show her off. It certainly didn't seem as nice as Whitebirch Lk and the only nice campsite at the south end was taken, so we paddled back up and opted for the first one. Evident as it was that the site was not well used, we made the best of it and it actually turned out to be pretty good.

When there is an opportunity, everything
comes out to dry!

Thankfully the skies eventually cleared and a nice breeze followed so we took the opportunity to dry our gear out. Its amazing how grateful we become out in the wilderness for the simplest of pleasures - to be dry! Its times like this that we fully appreciate things we often take for granted. We lived on the edge tonight and slept with the fly door open!

Next: Day 5 - "You have to be kidding me, SPAM?!?"

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