|Some moving water between Smoke and Ragged|
Smoke Lake was a big lake to paddle through and the putin was crawling with cottagers rushing to get to their weekend getaways, so my first impressions were not great as I have a bit of a problem with motor boats in Algonquin period. For the most part the boaters were courtious and slowed down when passing by but a few didn't seem to notice we were there. We made quick work of Smoke Lake because for us the trip really doesn't start until you can't see any more cottages and motorboats.
|A Heron taking flight on Ragged|
Ragged Lake has a large number of really great sites and for those people looking to get away and only want to contend with one portage this lake would be great. We noticed as we got further into the lake that the South end is littered with dead heads and evidence of a lake with a much lower water level prior to the logging boom in the late 1800's. The dead heads gave me a bit of a chill as I imagined what the lake would have looked like prior to the dam at the Smoke Lake portage.
The portage into Big Porccupine was a bit longer at 590m and it had a greater elevation change which gave my heart a workout as it did Blake's I am sure. I carried the 20lb camera pack and the canoe and Blake carried the 40lb canoe pack (note from Blake: more like 50lb). We one tripped this one as we had on all the others to this point which surprised me because I was sure we both weren't in the best of shape heading into this trip. Once at the putin to Big Porccupine we sat and had a drink of water and I filled up my bottle with micro filter lake water.
We paddled into Big Porccupine and opted to paddle around the large land mass seperating the North and South portions of the lake. We weren't in a rush and we wanted to see as much of these lakes as possible scince this was our first journey into this part of the park. We checked the map and decided to paddle to the East of the two large islands as we approached the portage into Bonnechere. Looking back we both agreed that parting them would have been the way to go but as I said we were not in a rush. The portage into Bonnecher was a 200m one and it to was easy to conquer. At last we had arrived at the lake that we were camping on the first night. It is really exciting to paddle into a lake you have never been to and go through the motions of site selection. You would think that two brothers in their 30's could act like an old married couple but if you were there you would see that it is possible. From selecting a site with a view to a site with a good swimming access to a site with wind protection we argued about it all. I am sure that the birds and other animals in the area were wondering what was coming to spend the night when we arrived to scope out a site! We crossed the lake and from a distance we saw "THE SITE". The arguing stopped and we both just paddled closer and closer to the site just hoping it was vacant. As we rounded the point it became clear to both of us that this was the one and it was ours for the taking.
|The Gaga Site|
|The bow saw was definitely a good idea|
|Grant by the fire the first night|
|The Algonquin night sky|
|The Milky Way|
|Pretty happy to get this shot|
|Our first site on Phipps|
|Big old tree by the fire|
Phipps Lake was small and has two sites both on the North shore about 400m apart. We stopped and chacked out the West one but Blake thought the site was too enclosed and would be hard to see the stars come night fall. We paddled to the East site and after a few minutes we knew this was the site for the night. This site was up high on a rock and had a great view of the lake as well as the sky. There was plenty of wood laying all over the site so getting a fire going was easy. Blake spent the rest on Friday taking pictures and I jumped in the canoe and scoped out the entire lake. The weather was on our side and the rain gear we brought was not getting and use which was nice for a change.
After supper (beef jerky and freeze dried rice with chicken) we decided to paddle down the lake and check out Kirkwood Lake. Blake was taking pictures of every water fall we passed on the entire trip and so he thought it would be worth a trip with me to see this portage. The portage into Kirkwood is short only 175m and is to was relatively flat as far as portages go. I wanted to paddle into Kirkwood but there was no convincing Blake at this time, he was paddled out for the day.
|Small falls between Phipps and Kirkwood|
|Swampy area near the portage from Phipps to Kirkwood|
|Comforting fire once the light goes out|
|Blake reading on Phipps Lake|
On Saturday we were getting a bit bored of sitting around so we decided to pack up our camp and move it to the other site on Phipps. We grabbed some fire wood and were loaded to go in 10 mins. The other site on Phipps is a bit more grown-in. Great for getting out of the wind, but a little dark for spending much time at. We stayed that last night there, but went to bed early to get a good sleep.
|Enjoying out last night by the fire.|