Portaging a kayak-3×2 to Scorch Lake – Algonquin Park PART 1

When my friend and fellow blogger  Joyce asked me if I wanted to do a trip to Scorch Lake with her, I said yeah! When she told me there were 3 portages totaling over 3 km’s, I said ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  I mean, I paddle a kayak, not a canoe, and I have portaged my small kayak,  but never that far. I suggested we rent a canoe, then I thought about it for the night.  Then somehow, I said yes, let’s do it!!! WHAT???

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I don’t know what I was thinking exactly when I said yes? But, I had and I was a girl of my word.  We talked on and off about it and if we were crazy. We both believed we were, but somehow that only made us more determined.

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Thankfully, the dehydrator I’d ordered online arrived 3 days before the trip, so I took a crash course in dehydrating, taking tips from both Joyce and my friend Kyra as I had no time to research. I just needed to get the food into the dehydrator and dehydrate it as soon as possible, and so I did.

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I had used a dehydrator for my first summer backcountry camping trip in 2001, but then gave it back and just did my own thing all this time without one.  As I mostly kayak camp, weight isn’t usually an issue but for this trip, I needed all the help I could get.   With this post from Kyra, I even did scrambled eggs!  Then I took out my kayak and looked to see if I could make any modifications to it to make it more comfortable to carry.

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For now, it was light and easy, but I had a feeling after a half a kilometer or so, that would change.  Guess we would see?

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I woke up at 5;30am Saturday to a balmy 5 degrees in Port Carling. This prompted me to put my toque in my clothes bag, a decision I never regret and would be very grateful for later.  I also had alot of fog to deal with on my drive, which then turned into blinding sun as I was driving right into it.

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It was really pretty though!

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I arrived at the sign around 845 and waited for Joyce. She was about a half hour behind and had a much farther distance to drive.  The park you register at is across the street and I had to register my vehicle so I didn’t want to drive the 7km’s to the put in only to come back.  I spent the time going through my gear again and eliminated a huge amount of stuff.  I didn’t want to carry anything in that I didn’t absolutely need.

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Joyce and Goliath (her pup) arrived soon and we went to the campground  to get our permit, then headed down the winding road to the put in.  It was very scenic and I slowed down to take a few photos on the way.  Then we arrived at the put in.

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We got busy taking our boats off our cars and getting all our gear packed up. We would be doing this many times today, unloading and loading our boats.  Fun times ahead!

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Soon we were ready to go! It was about 10am and we had a mirror lake, sunny skies and a gorgeous day! Doesn’t get any better!!!! Except, the looming thought of the portages… but we had all day, right? So sooner or later, we would make it!  Little did we know how true that saying would become.

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After a bit of paddling in a round about direction,  we found our first portage.  It was marked on the Algonquin Park map as 1300m, but on Jeff’s map it was 1470m.  Just shy of 1.5 km’s.  This would be the longest I’d portaged my kayak.

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We unloaded our boats, picked them up and off we went! GET ER DONE!

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We carried our boats as far as we could, then dumped them and went back to get our gear. As you can see I attempted to put a pool noodle on my shoulder to make the impact of my boat on my shoulder a bit less painful, but it only lasted about half a km, then I was stuck the rest of the way making sure I didn’t drop them and litter accidentally.  It kept falling off and was causing more trouble than good.  Live and learn was another motto of the day!

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After we picked up our gear we would then walk with it as far as possible and keep switching it up. Kayak a ways, gear a ways, etc, etc, etc. Seemed never ending already!

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After about 2.5 hours, we made it to the end one last time, and had all our items with us.  WOW! That was hard. I honestly didn’t know if we could make it to Scorch Lake at this point, but we were going to die trying!

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While walking back to get things, I found all these really cool mushrooms on the portage and stopped to take a few pictures.  Anything to delay the inevitable. LOL. In case you were wondering, it takes about 2500 steps to walk 1470 meters with gear! Yes, I counted and I did it for all the portages. I need to know where I am and how far I have left to go and for me, I found it really helped a lot.

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We got in our boats and made the short paddle to the next portage, except we kind of went the wrong way and went around the lake before realizing the portage was only a very short distance from the 1st one. Oh well! It was nice to paddle instead of portage for a while anyways!

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Portage #2, Big Rock Lake to Byers Lake.  Only 660 meters and this one felt really easy after the last one which was almost three times as long!

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Another cool mushroom on the way and after about 1100 steps, we’d completed the 660 meter walk to get to the other side of portage!  Woohoo!

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We got in our boats and started paddling. This was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to as the waterway here is really narrow and like a long creek. This is my favorite type of paddling and I enjoyed it immensely!

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We were paddling along, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and being out here, what seemed like, alone.  Suddenly, we started hearing running water, like we were approaching a waterfall of some sort, then realized there was a giant beaver damn across the waterway blocking our boats from the direction we needed to go.

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I saw a small path on the one side that looked like where people had gotten out and pulled their boats over the hump.  I pulled up to do the same but when I bent over to pick up my boat I heard a giant BLOOP sound and instantly knew my iphone 6s had just fell into the water!!! OMG!!!!!

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It sunk to the bottom which at that point was only a foot, maybe a foot and a half!  I grabbed it as fast as I could and pulled it out, then waited. NOTHING happened!!!!  WHAT????  I checked it repeatedly, it didn’t shut off, the screen didn’t disappear, nothing.  I must be the luckiest person in the world right now!!! YAY! for the iphone 6s! Maybe it was already waterproof!! Who needed a the 7 now, not this chick it seems.

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We continued paddling along the scenic waterway and I continued to take photos and use my phone like nothing had happened. I still couldn’t believe it but I was a very very very happy camper!

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Eventually, we arrived at portage #3, our 1065m portage, just over a km.

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I decided I would carry my boat halfway and made it about 2/3’s which was awesome. I went back and got my gear and took it all the way, then went back to get my boat.

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During our walk we saw this really cool turtle shell. I guess I was anxious to continue carrying things as it’s a bit blurry, sorry, but I still had to post it cause it’s just so cool!

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One of my favorite pics of the trip is above, Joyce carrying her kayak mimicking the portage sign behind her, but with a kayak instead of a canoe.  At this point we have both confirmed we are crazy, but proud at the same time!!!

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Below is what we saw when we finally walked the 1700 steps, a total of three times, to get our kayaks and gear to Scorch Lake over this portage.

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It was extremely disappointing. We were both thoroughly exhausted. It was 7:30 and would be getting dark very soon and from what we could see, there wasn’t any water for us to paddle through.  I got a better pic on the way out which I will post below, so you can see all the obstacles in the water we had to get through, getting in and out of our kayaks about 3 times each so we could  get through to the lake and water that was deep enough for us to paddle in.

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We had made it this far so we carried on, knowing we would finally get to our campsite soon.  We knew that all four sites on the lake had been booked, but we saw no one since the first portage and had no idea if everyone had arrived yet or not?

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The first site we came across didn’t look very nice. It was overgrown and not very big, and also, beside a swamp. Good for watching wildlife, I suppose, but bad for bugs and even though it was September, they were still out and had been biting us all along the portages to make sure we knew they were still alive and well!

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We paddled through the lake and saw that the other 3 sites were definitely occupied already, so we went back to the first site and started to unload our stuff and did our best to set up our tents before darkness fell. We were unsuccessful in our mission and sadly could barely find 2 places to put our tents. We did the best we could and were definitely disappointed. All that travelling…. 9.5 hours, from 10am when we left the put in, to arriving at the site at 8pm when w finally unpacked our boats for the final time today. We were exhausted, hungry and ready for bed, but I wasn’t too tired to make dinner, so after I set up my tent in the best spot I could find, I put some boiling water on to test out one of my dehydrated meals!  Honestly, I could’ve eaten anything right now but what I got was a lot better!

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Due to the time, and the mood, I had only taken one photo. I had also discovered that I had lost my utensil bag somewhere on the way in.  My favorite spatula that had been on every trip I’d gone on was in there, but really nothing of monetary value, unless I wanted to eat? Thankfully, Joyce had an extra spoon so that would be my only utensil the entire weekend and honestly, it worked pretty good!

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My meal was nest noodles which I cooked in boiling water. They only take a few minutes once the water boils. I had also dehydrated some Asian sesame dressing which came out like taffy, a bit sticky and thick but better than liquid.  I put some into the already boiling water, added the asparagus pieces I’d dehydrated and some fresh king oyster mushrooms, also dehydrated. I let it all simmer until all the water was absorbed and then ate it and it was SPECTACULAR!!!  I finished it up quickly but was so glad I’d made it.  The growling in my tummy had stopped and I felt a bit refreshed already.

I put the dirty pot in my bear vault, walked the bear vault down a small trail a good distance from the campsite and Joyce and I went to our tents and went to bed. It was around 11pm and we were both exhausted, but happy and proud at the same time. I was looking forward to exploring the area tomorrow, and figuring out how to make pancakes without my spatula!! LOL

See how I overcame that obstacle, how we got back out, if my phone remained working after drowning, how the other dehydrated meals turned out and the rest of our awesome adventure during our visit to Scorch Lake, in my next post!!!

I don’t normally split up trip posts, but this one was just way too big to put it all in one post! I hope you come back and check out part two!  STAY TUNED!

Thanks so much for reading!

Happy Portaging!!

Camper Christina

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Portaging a kayak-3×2 to Scorch Lake – Algonquin Park PART 1

  1. Good write-up… I was at Kingscote a couple of weeks ago at the “walk-in” sites and it was great, no one else around for the 1st three days! Interesting to hear your adventures with the kayak as that is my next year trek with my 12ft kayak. Needless to say, I have been gear adjusting!

    On a side note, the Pine Cove resort where you get your permits does have showers you can use for $2 (two loons actually)… so if you want a shower before the long drive home there is an option.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliments Jim and the great info! There was someone on the walk in site by the put in when we got there and they were very loud and noisy. Both Joyce and I were happy we didn’t come the night before and stay at that site. We wouldn’t have gotten any sleep by the sound of it. nice to hear it can also be a haven at times. How heavy is your kayak and where do you plan to take it?

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      1. The kayak is an older Swift Adirondack 12ft LT Kevlar fusion.. weights 26lbs.

        The site I was at was #6, furthest from the put-in and right on the water. I don’t know if they keep the roads clear in the winter but Kingscote could be calling your Teepee, especially one of the sites really close to the parking lot 😉

        1st trip will be to one of the Kingscote interior sites (most likely the 4th site clockwise from the put in). I want to make sure the loading, balance and center of gravity all workout good before I get too far in. After that I have several possibilities mapped out 🙂

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  2. I love reading your trip reports, but… you left us HANGING!? 🙂 I love the super calm water in your shots. When I did a kayak trip my friend and I grabbed the bow and stern grab loops of one boat at a time and carried them together. They were still heavy! I can’t imagine walking that far with your boat on my shoulder. I never walked that far with my whitewater kayak. You are definitely crazy.

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  3. I believe Pine Grove Point (http://www.pinegrovepoint.com/home.html) is open in the winter… at least they have winter pictures in the gallery! They have a number of “wilderness” sites (translation tent sites instead of trailer sites) that the teepee would work on if you want to be a bit closer to wood, food and showers 😉

    I’m not sure if Ontario Parks has Kingscote walk-ins open or closed; however, since it is technically a “backcountry” site it should be “open year round”… but remember you can’t reserve online beyond Oct 9th. I imagine they are open and you just have to arrange with Pine Grove Point since they are the permit issuer.

    Yah, the kayak set me back a number of pretty pennies several years ago when I had some pocket burning happening !! By the way, I noticed you have your pack on deck, doesn’t that throw off the balance?

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    1. Nope, I have all my gear in the back hatch so it actually balances it to have the pack on top. The only reason I do that is my bear vault won’t fit inside the boat so I put it in the pack to keep it from rolling off and rolling me over in the process as the pack sits flatter. When I get to the portage I just pack the stuff from the hatch into the backpack and off I go. Works pretty good, or has, so far! I will have to check into pin grove point. Thanks so much for all the info! I really appreciate it! 🙂

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