So, I decided to book a spur of the moment trip into Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada, it was going to be a three night trip starting at the Rain Lake Access Point and heading for stops at Bandit Lake, then Misty and finally on Sawyer Lake for the last stop before heading back to the access point to complete the loop. It didn’t work out quit that way….
I started my drive from home at about 6 a.m. and after a coffee and bagel stop, headed north on the four and a half hour drive. I took the back way as to miss the insanity of the morning drive through Toronto, going through small towns I haven’t been through in some time. After hitting the 400 a little south of Barrie it was a smooth ride as I continued north on highway 11 until the cutoff to Kearney. After a quick check in I had my permits and hung a left out the office parking, then taking a left just after the L.C.B.O. and onto Rain Lake Rd., The road isn’t that bad, but it is gravel and get narrow and pretty washboardy in some spots. After about 20 minutes arriving at the access point and unloading, parking the car, reloading the canoe, I was off.
The paddle through Rain Lake can feel lake heading down a river at times, but after about an hour it opens to a bigger body of water with an island in front of you. I head around the east of it(left) and short distance ahead is the portage from Rain Lake to Sawyer Lake, 450 metres. It’s a heavily travelled spot and I ran into three other groups while double carrying my gear from end to end. If your new to this double carry means I’ll walk with my backpack, fishing rod and dry bag and such down to the next Lake set it all down, walk the same distance back from the Lake I came from and strap my paddles in the canoe, lift the canoe over my head, a yoke is there to rest it on your shoulders and walk back again, so basically going 3x the distance. Once all loaded up I shove off onto Sawyer Lake, it’s only a 20 minute paddle across until I’m at the next take out, heading into Jubilee Lake and it’s another 450 metre portage.
The paddle into Jubilee starts with heading through the narrows, watch for the rock, keep to the left, I added a white stripe to the rock. After the Lake opens a bit keeping to the right, a bit northeast I guess, Jubilee is a small Lake as well and takes only another 20 minutes to paddle across. This where I came to the toughest portage of the day going into Juan Lake, it had rained a lot the night before and because this trail was very hilly the low laying spots were extremely muddy. I met a group of guys heading the other way, banging their canoe off every tree, by the sound of it. Passing them I noticed one guy carrying his gear bare foot. “Your brave”, I commented. His answer was he had blown out his shoe and this was the better of his options. After the muddy double carry, I was onto Juan Lake, which is just basically a pond and a 2 minute paddle before unloading again and portaging into Moccasin Lake.
The paddle into Moccasin Lake starts through a narrows for about 10 minutes then the Lake opens to the east and west, with both points having a campsite on them, it’s a beautiful spot, but not my stop for the night. I get to my last portage of the day which is a 450 metre portage into Bandit Lake, this would be the first time I’ve been to this Lake. It’s an easy one, very fast and very wide, with a good size opening into Bandit Lake, which is a pretty marshy area. After returning with my canoe on my second load, and setting it down I heard a huge crashing in the woods maybe 30 yards from me. Thinking I spooked whatever it would have been, I quietly loaded the canoe and pushed off and with a quick 3 strokes to the east ran into a bull moose, about 25 yards from me. What a feeling out in the middle of nowhere, the only person on this Lake and alone with this huge animal. I silently watched and photoed him for about 15 minutes, he paid no attention to me and went about his business, munching away on his favourite vegetation, it was awesome!
After that cool encounter, it was time to find my campsite for the night and I had two to choose from on this lake and I picked the one on an island. It was a beautiful spot. I’ll continue the journey in my next post, stay tuned. Cheers.