Saturday, July 19, 2014

Trip #21 Ralph Bice, Daisy Lake loop May 30 2014

This was our 21st trip into the Algonquin interior in the last decade since we have been tracking our trips. This trip we wanted to try a new access point off the normal hwy 60 access points we had traveled over the last 10 years. The drive up seemed quick and the traffic was great. We arrived at the Kearney permit office about 15 minutes before it was scheduled to open. The staff noticed us in the parking lot and opened a few minutes early so we could be on our way. This was a nice way to start this trip. We had read lots about the varying conditions of the access road from the office to the actual put-in so we knew it could be bad. To our amazement other than a few pot holes and wash board sections it was pretty good and my car made it without issue. We were able to see one your moose in a clearing along the road into the park but we didn't have camera gear ready to catch a photo. Seeing as though the bugs were pretty bad we didn't expect to see many people this trip. We were surprised to see the parking lot at Magnetawan lake so full. Just as we started putting our gear out by the dock and unloading the car a large group of canoes rounded the corner from the Hambone portage and we had to move our gear over into the wooded area beside the dock to give the group the room they needed to safely exit the lake and load up.

  Before to long we were on our way and Blake had his video equipment setup and ready to capture our trip. We were at the Hambone portage in minutes and one this we all noticed was how clear Magnetawan lake was. We made quick work on the 1st portage of the trip. The putt-in at Hambone end of the 1st portage was okay but given that we were 3 to the canoe it was a bit tricky to get to a spot where the canoe wasn't getting hung up on the bottom. Hambone too was a very clear lake. We set out around the South shore and as we rounded the corner and opened up into the main body of the lake I spotted a bald eagle flying out of the top of a large pine tree on the South shoreline. It flew out to the middle of the lake and circled around and then back into the tree tops. Blake was again not able to get a good picture of the great bird. After some ribbing and laughs for the failed attempt at a photo we paddled on. The wind had really picked up by this time and we made our way across the Hambone to Ralph Bice portage. We knew we were in for a rough ride on Ralph Bice and so we sat as low as we could in the canoe and headed out hugging the S/W shore. We went in behind the small islands and headed for the large island on the West shore with the one site on it. To our amaze it was vacant so we went ashore to investigate. It didn't take long to decide that this was it for us. We made camp and started gathering wood.

  I set out for some fishing and explored the water around our island. I came across a young moose calf on the back side of the island. I went ashore and attempted to get a closer look for the moose but it must have made it over to the main land before I was able to track it down for a picture. We paddled over to David lake for a side trip and investigated the island site on this lake. This is a very nice clear lake and the island site is beautiful. This would make a great lake for a secluded weekend get away.

  On day two I spent much of the day fishing and checking out camp sites on either side of Ralph Bice lake. This is a nice lake and the sites are very nice as well. I finally managed to land a Trout late in the afternoon and came to shore to fill out my survey paperwork and make dinner. This was only the second Trout I had caught in the park so I was very excited to say the least. Later after dinner I headed back out to try my luck for another Trout and within 20 minutes I landed another beautiful Trout. I measured and released this one to swim another day.

 The next morning we packed up and made our way to Daisy lake for our 3rd and final night in the park for this trip. We crossed Ralph Bice again into the wind and soon we were at the Daisy lake portage. This portage was a bit longer than the others this trip and had many ups and downs but the weather was nice and the sun was out so it made for a great walk through the woods. We approached the Daisy lake end of the portage and loaded up the canoe. We were surprised to see so many canoes paddling by heading West on Daisy. we pulled out and started looking for a site. Concerned we would pass one up and then lose it to the canoes coming behind us we made extra sure we were passing on a site before heading on down the lake. We rounded the corner at the West end of the main body of the lake and took the last site on the left shore. The site had a good breeze to keep the bugs at bay.

  We spent the afternoon exploring the site and I took a few cracks at catching fish with no luck to be had. That evening we finished up the rest of our food and spent time relaxing around the camp fire.

  The next morning we packed up and headed back to the car. The portages were n eventful and we made a quick trip of it. Once back at the car it became clear that there was much less people in this part of the park then when we departed.

                                              Getting started on Magnetawan Lake Access

1st Portage of 2014

Daryl excited for the trip!

Our alarm clock for the trip

Ralph Bice lake from island site

Visitors to our Ralph Bice site

The calmest day of the trip on Ralph Bice

HDR of Ralph Bice Lake

One Tripping

looking for the elusive Trout

Blake's HDR from our site

I finally caught a lake trout!!! whoot whoot

Blake and Daryl relaxing by the fire

My prize for my patients

Taking part in the Trout survey

Delayed exposure of passing satellites over Ralph Bice

Rock behind Daisy lake site

Trying for more Trout on Daisy

My attempt at playing some tunes on the harp.

Delayed exposure with flashlights to signify our 21st trip in 10 years

Trip #17 Rock Lake September 2012

In September 2012, I (Blake) and Dad took a short trip to Rock Lake.

Here is the Video:

Trip #20 October 2013 Tom Thompson, McIntosh, Brule, Potter Creek

 This trip was a chance to get away into the park for one more canoe trip before winter. This time our nephew Daryl came along as well as our friend Mike. The weather was not the best for a late season trip such as this. We had to contend with wind and rain on most of the trip. Our first day took us to Tom Thompson and we were forced off the lake by an incredible head wind. We opted for the site along the side of the narrow passage to Bartlett lake. The site was rather large and had plenty of space for two hammocks and two tents.
  After we were set up and fire wood had been gathered I decided to take a solo paddle into Bartlett lake to check out the camp sites on this lake. I really liked this lake and would like to some day spend a night on this lake in the future.

  I slept very well the first night and woke up before sun rise to start making some coffee and oatmeal. The day looked as though it was going to be another overcast one and rain was likely in the forecast. We packed up and vacated the site before 08:30am.

  The Tom Thompson to Ink lake portage was on the agenda first off for day two. We managed the portage in good time one tripping it for all but the last 200m. Mike and I were the first to the Ink lake end and we sat and had a snack while waiting for Daryl and Blake. I noticed a couple of Grey Jays in the trees overhead. I held out my hand and in seconds one was sitting in my hand trying to take my granola bar. Blake and Daryl arrived and we were soon off to Ink Creek, a favorite spot for me in the park. We were at McIntosh in what seemed like no time at all. Since our last time on this lake we were forced to the West shore due to heavy winds this time we stuck to the East shore as we searched for a site. We stopped and checked out about 3 or 4 before settling on one around the point near the North East end of the lake. This site was large and protected from the wind. It started to rain as we were setting up and we struggled to get a fire going but were successful in the end. I set out to explore this end of McIntosh and got wet from the increasing rain fall before returning to the site for the night.

Day three we set off for Brule lake and this took us through a few smaller lakes none of which we had traveled before. The first was Straight Shore Lake, followed by Rosewood.  The Rosewood to Brule portage was mapped as 175m but since we took the wrong way, we actually more than doubled the portage.

We soon entered Brule Lake and made our way to our third and final campsite for the trip.  We rounded the corner and located the campsite sign.  The takeout for this site is very steep and narrow.  We managed to pull the canoe up the hill and haul our gear up to the top, where the site is located.

After a short time we decided where our tents and hammocks would be situated, and we made camp.  I set off to try to catch some bass, and on my first cast I reeled in this 3 pounder, seen in one of the pictures below.

The weather turned cold and windy that afternoon, and we were forced to wear all of our clothing to keep the chill off from the strong cold wind.

We pretty much hung around the campfire that afternoon, and tried to eat up as much of our leftover food as possible.

Day 4
We packed up extra early, just as the light of day was setting in.  We were soon on the water and heading towards potters lake and potters creek.  The wind was out of the south and by the time we reached Canoe Lake we were faced with a full-on headwind and whitecaps.  We hugged the east shore of canoe lake, rounding the corner at the Tom Thompson cairn and totem pole, and made a B-line for the east shore, crossing the mouth of Ahmek Bay.  We continued down the east shore, eventually rounding the corner, and into site of the Canoe Lake Portage Store.  This ended our final trip of 2013.

Brule Lake Campsite up on the Hill

Tom Thompson Lake

McIntosh Site
McIntosh Lake

Blake's Hammock on McIntosh Lake
Chilling out around the fire at Tom Thompson Site

Canoeing on Tom Thompson Lake

Campfire on the hill on Brule Lake site.

Grey Jay on Ink Lake

Bass on Brule Lake

Trip #19 Smoke to Bonnechere and Ragged August 5th-8th 2013

Trip #19 Smoke to Bonnechere and Ragged August 5th-8th 2013

This trip was a makeup for our cancelled May trip. With our friend Mike coming along we packed to be able to fit into the 16' Alchemist. This trip we were excited to check out a gem south of 60 again as we had a few years back. The weather was nice and the park was busier than I had ever remembered it to be. Both the Canoe lake lot and the Smoke lake lot were full to capacity. We were lucky to get a spot as another car from a cottager had just left.

As we loaded up the canoe and shoved off the dock we were faced with a lake like glass and sun. The paddle down Smoke was uneventful but a pleasure due to the calmness of the water and lack of any wind.

The portage up into Ragged was a busy one. Nobody was heading in but many campers were heading out. The put-in on the Ragged lake end was a steady stream of canoes. We took a few minutes to have a snack and just sit back and read the map and observe the other campers as they jockied for a landing spot at the takeout.

We loaded up after the madness was gone and headed out into Ragged lake. The sun was beating down and the water remained like glass. Mike and I decided the throw a line out and troll along as we made our way around the large island in the main body of Ragged. We aimed to hug the shoreline of the island and as we paddled along we met a camper getting some water from the shoreline in front of his site. We slowed to a crawl as we passed by and talked to the loan camper for a minute as we drifted by. Just then I had a bit on my line. Seconds later a fish launched from the water and tried to shake the hook free. I reeled in a nice small mouth bass. This was a great sign for me because I normally get skunked. After a brief video shoot of my catch I released the fish and we headed on down the lake. I caught one more bass a short time later and released as well.

The channel approaching the portage to Big Porcupine was very shallow, We made our way up the channel and located a good spot to takeout. This portage was also very busy. We one tripped this one as well and managed to find a spot to set down our gear at the Big Pocupine end as we again waited for the campers heading home to be out of the way.  I enjoy checking out what gear people take along as we sit and watch them portage on by.

This section of our trip in was starting to get secluded. Not as many canoes around and still the sun was shining down on us. The wind had just started to show itself as we headed around the horn towards the west end of the lake. As we rounded the horn and headed down the channel to the south section of the lake the light wind was at our backs so we didn't even have to paddle down the channel. I steered a bit and we took a few minutes to just take in the scenery.

The South portion of Big Porcupine was as expected, nobody around and nothing but birds chirping and the sun shining down on us. As me made land fall at the takeout to the short portage into Bonnechere we met a large group of guys heading home. Again we moved aside and let them get by as we waited in anticipation of whether the GAGA site would be open for us!

The put-in to Bonnechere was a mud hole as in years past. Mike discovered this as he sunk in to his knees trying to get the canoe far enough off the shore to allow him to get in. We headed out into Bonnechere and as we rounded the corner there before us was the site we had hoped to get for the night. To our amazement it appeared to be vacant. We paddled closer and rounded the corner to the small sandy takeout. It was all ours, we were in luck! We pulled up and unloaded our gear. It didn't take long to realize that the last people to camp here had absolutely zero respect for the park or any campers to follow behind them. We spent the first 30 minutes picking up cans, socks, garbage, uncooked food, eggs, toilet paper and about 24 empty plastic water bottles. It felt good to get the site back into shape but this was unbelievable to me. I couldn't understand how anybody could leave a site in this condition.

The afternoon after we had made camp we headed out to locate some fire wood. we paddled down the shoreline and located a good spot to gather some dry wood for a cooking fire. That night we made a delicious camp fire dinner consisting of cubed pemeal, potatoes and canned peaches and cream corn we had placed in plastic Ziploc containers before we left home. We wrapped the food all together in three individual tinfoil balls and placed down in the coals of the fire pit. After about 25 minutes we removed the foil balls and opened them up to see how we had made out. The juices from the meat had helped to cook the potatoes and the corn. This was likely the best camping meal I have ever ate!

This trip I was trying out a homemade gathered end hammock for the first time so I spent some time just getting used to getting in and out of it.

Day 2

We were up early and Mike and I decided to travel to Cradle lake for some fishing. We headed on down the lake and checked out the other sites on Bonnechere along the way. The part of the lake up past the N/W passage I had not traveled before so it was nice to finally see it. The site on the point as we rounded the corner was vacant and looked kind of nice in my opinion. I really liked the large white pines on the shoreline of the site. The northern most site was occupied but the campers were setting out for a day trip as we paddled past. Mike and I rounded the corner and searched for the portage up into Cradle. The portage is very short and well traveled. We put in to Cradle and made quick work of circumnavigating the lake and trolling. We decided to take a short cut and portage through the campsite the borders Bonnechere and Cradle. This site was nice but would have been very buggy this time of year. We paddled against the wind all the way back to camp with out so much as a bite. It was a nice day on the water though and for that reason I don't regret it at all.

That evening we took a trip to the portage to North Grace. We walked the portage and discovered that it ends up at an unnamed pond! I took a lot of flack for that one. We made the best of the short trip and gathered some wood along the way back for that evenings camp fire.

Day 3

We packed up early as it had rained on and off through the night. We were on the water by 06:30 and made our way to Ragged lake for our last night. We got about to the end of the Big Porcupine to Ragged portage and the sky opened up. We found ourselves in the middle of Ragged lake as the lightening started. We paddled as fast as possible to the nearest shore and took shelter for about 30 minutes until the lightening past. We then set out to find our site on Ragged. We ended up all the way down into Birch Point before we located a vacant site. The site wasn't great but it would do.

We managed to get a fire going and attempted to dry out or clothing. I headed out for a paddle and to try some fishing. It didn't take long before I was into some good bass fishing.

Here is a Video of the trip:

Our first night on Bonnechere

Sunset on Bonnechere

HDR Bonnechere

Gaga Site on Bonnechere

Grant and Mike

Campfire on Bonnechere, Long Exposure

Mike, Grant, & Blake

Grant's Bass on Ragged

Blake's Hammock on Ragged

Ragged Lake

After Rainstorm on Ragged

Ragged Lake

Ragged Lake

Gaga Site on Bonnechere

Trip #35 Pen and Rock Lake August 2017

Trip #35 Pen and Rock Lake August 2017