Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trip #7 - May 2008 - Rock, Pen, Welcome, Harry, Louisa, Rock Loop

This trip was one of the more aggressive ones we have embarked on site we started interior camping. In the past we tried out some different canoes but when setting up this trip we knew that we had to pack very lite. We had been looking at canoes to buy but hadn't yet decided what we wanted so for this trip we rented from the Canoe Lake outfitters. This canoe was a 16' ultra lite Kevlar weighing in at 38 lbs.

We arrived at the outfitters about 20 min. before they opened and the anticipation of the journey ahead of us was intense.

We had purchased our permit from the West gate prior to renting the canoe so once the canoe was secured to the roof of the van we headed to the put in at Rock Lake Access #9. We arrived around 09:00 and wasted no time loading our gear and shoving off on our trip. The water was high due to the spring melt and this meant that protruding rocks and dead heads that we had become accustomed to were now just beneath the waters surface making the paddle even more interesting.


We made our way across Rock and Pen lakes in record time and didn't really take a breather until we got to the Galipo River portage on the S/W end of Pen Lake. Though we had been to this water falls numerous times before this time seemed different. This time we were pushing on into the unknown that being Welcome Lake and beyond. There is something to be said about being familiar with the lakes you intend to travel especially in early Spring when the water is so cold. This trip we planned on seeing 5 lakes we had never ventured to before. Keeping our excitement in check was a must as we didn't want to make any stupid decisions along the way that could wreck our planned trip itinerary.



Blake on the edge of the falls that run along the side of the Pen to Galipo River portage.


The first new portage was the 2170 m one from Galipo River to Welcome Lake. We landed on the start of the portage and took off in a flash to get to Welcome Lake. We forgot to snap a photo of the portage sign at the start of the portage so this picture was taken once we reached Welcome Lake.
We made quick work of the 2170 m portage by one tripping it. Like I mentioned before we packed very lite. One tent, one pack, one canoe and this made it fairly easy to one time time portage. We made it to Harry Lake around 14:00 and decided that this site was the best choice for the 1st night stay. The site was on a beach at the East end of Harry Lake just as you paddle up stream through the narrow channel from Welcome Lake. We set camp and spent a couple hours just exploring the beach looking for signs of Moose and Bear. We did have a visitor at our camp that afternoon in the form of a Pine Marten. This little critter ran back and forth from behind our site to a tree just in the bush behind the site. We did get a picture but it really doesn't do the little guy any justice as we only had with us cheep digital camera with very little zoom capabilities.

Day two started off early around 05:30 with breaking camp and a brief look at the Chrismar map to ensure we identified the next leg of our journey. We made a quick stop at this site on Rence Lake. This shot shows what some of the sites look like when venturing into the interior this early in the Spring. Sites this far in have yet to be visited by the Rangers for Spring clean-up.


Before we knew it we were on another portage this 320 m portage takes us from Rence into Frank Lake. This canoe was a dream to portage and with Blake carrying the pack I think I had the better carry.

We completed the 320 m portage and then were faced with this unique paddle through a narrow section at the South end of Frank.


We paddled up into Florence Lake and then prepared for the 1725 m portage from Florence to Louisa. The weather was calm and this made paddling enjoyable. Getting an early start on each leg of this trip




This picture speaks volumes to how winter tends to hold on in Algonquin. This East facing ridge along the portage to Louisa only sees sun in the early morning but due to the trees blocking most of it these large chunks of ice take forever to melt.


We stopped for 3rd night at a site on the South shore of Louisa about 2/3 of the way down the lake. The weather turned and the rain started to move in. We managed to get a fire going with our magnesium stick and some birch bark. We did some exploring in the tree covered hills behind the site and even managed to hike to the site West of us only to discover that it was occupied and judging by the comments they made to each other we had the occupants wondering what was coming through the woods behind their site. We never did come out and say hello or even let them see us so I am sure they thought we were a Moose or something.

Day 3 was heading home day. we awoke to more rain and packed up fast knowing we would be unpacking at home and drying out our gear anyways. We headed off towards the long portage from Louisa to Rock Lake around 07:00.

This portage was the most intimidating until we actually started in on it. We one tripped this one as well and this was a great accomplishment for Blake and I.

We stopped twice along the way to Rock Lake to grab a snack since we skipped breakfast this morning. Blake is pictured here with the pack and a small water tight pack that contained our food. This yellow pack is great for food and is easy to rig up into a tree on your site to keep the food from animals. The pack is totally water proof and therefore also contains any food smell so bears and other curious animals won't be tempted to investigate the contents.
In all this was my favourite trip thus far. The loop was aggressive for a 3 day trip but packing lite and smart made it enjoyable.

Of all the trips we have done this one was my fovourite because we were faced with challenges and we over came them and pushed on. I really think I learned the most about tripping during this trip and completeing a loop is kinda a scence of accomplishment.