At 8 a.m. we began our journey by climbing aboard Parkbus for the first of its three trial runs from Ottawa to Algonquin Park. I have to applaud Alex Berlyand and Boris Issaev for all of their hard work as Parkbus is truly a great service. Since this was the pilot run, we left Mountain Equipment Co-op a bit late because there were a few presentations and interviews – the usual stuff.
When we originally planned our trip, we were going to have around 12 portages. Unfortunately, two weeks ago I was hit by a car and I’ve been having some problems with my foot. So we reduced the number of portages to 6 to make things easier on me. I couldn’t get my foot comfortably into shoes, so I had to wear sandals. I don’t recommend sandals for portaging.
Before the trip I kept telling my wife, “Canoe Lake is a big lake and we’ll have to work really hard because it’ll be really choppy and windy.” It was as smooth as glass – made me look like a liar. That was how the water was for most of the weekend. Most of the time paddling was easy, with very little effort required. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t work and that we weren’t tired by the end of the trip, but, for the most part, the wind and currents were in our favour.
Mosquitoes were another story. They were terrible. By the end of my trip, I had roughly fifteen bites just on my left hand. We stopped for lunch on Saturday on Tepee Lake and we were practically chased off of the campsite, where we stopped. I think we made and ate our lunch in less than five minutes because they were just that bad. One of my trip mates had 100% DEET bug repellant and even that wasn’t slowing the pesky buggers down. Thankfully the black flies and deerflies were practically non-existent.
I guess I got a little off track talking about the mosquitoes. Like I said, to make things easier on my ankle, we made the portages a lot simpler. Anyways, we started on Canoe Lake, then did the 260 m portage to get around the dam. Then continued on to Joe Lake, then to Little Joe and did the 435 m mosquito-filled portage to Baby Joe. Then we took Baby Joe to Burnt Island Lake. That’s where we found our first campsite. It was a nice campsite with lots of space for canoes and tents.
Saturday it was kind of rainy and drizzly but it felt rather refreshing. Originally, we were supposed to have eight portages but we cut that down to two to be nice to me. So we backtracked from Burnt Island to Baby Joe (200 m portage), then to Little Joe (435 m portage) and again to Joe Lake. We continued to Tepee Lake, then we went on to Little Oxtongue River, then to Little Doe Lake and finally ended at Tom Thomson Lake and that’s where we made camp for the night. This site was on a point and it had a really nice view overlooking the lake. It also had one of the nicest fire pits that I have ever seen. The pit was in a semicircle against a large rock wall. It was really neat. The site also had two levels. The first level had the fire pit and enough room for one (maybe two) tents and then if you went up on top of the rock wall, there were some trails and space for more tents. We all loved this site. The only downfall that it had was the lack of firewood.
Sunday was sunny and hot. It was nice to have some sun on the trip. We said, “Goodbye” to our site and pushed off. We took Tom Thomson to Little Doe, then followed Little Oxtongue River to Tepee Lake. Back to Joe Lake and again we did the 260 m dam portage at Canoe Lake and made our way back to The Portage Store. It was a little windier and choppier on Canoe Lake, so I didn’t feel like a liar anymore. It wasn’t rough enough that we had to worry but we did hit a hidden stump that was under the water. I thought that we were going over, but we didn’t.
The trip was short but overall it was a good trip. We saw five moose. The first moose we saw was a cow and she had her calf with her. We got about 25 to 30 metres away and then we thought that it was close enough. It was pretty exciting.