I left off Part 1, Days 1 & 2 heading to bed on my portage campsite on Varley Lake. I was a bit disappointed that the site was on a portage and a little nervous someone would just come walking through the site and scare me to death but otherwise, it was a nice site……
I headed to bed early as I was exhausted from the day of portaging in the rain and got a good nights rest, even though I was on a portage, i was pretty sure no one was coming through at this time and could finally relax a bit.
I woke up and it was very dreary and misty out and chilly. It wasn’t actually raining but it was spitting and I was glad I had left the tarp up.
I wanted to make breakfast first as was my usual routine so I could let the hot food cool and eat it while I packed up, but as the rain was threatening to fall, I opted to tear down first so that my tent and all my stuff would stay dry, just in case it started to pour. There was nothing worse than getting your tent wet 10 minutes before you had to pack it.
Once I had the tent packed up and all my gear under the tarp, I made my breakfast. Today I was having an egg sandwich again. Nothing fancy but delicious and filling. My gear remained under the tarp but the misting had lightened and was barely noticeable anymore.
Once I finished breakfast, I packed up the rest of my gear, the food bag, cooking items and then took the tarp down last, leaving it once again in the very top of my pack, just in case I had rain upon arrival to my next site. It was supposed to be a nice clear sunny day but it so far was not and I didn’t know how much the forecast had changed since last seeing it Thursday afternoon as I had no cell service and couldn’t check.
When I had finished packing and procrastinating, I picked up the canoe and began on my way through the longest portage of the trip, the 1235m from Varley into Camp Five Lake wearing my raincoat as it was a bit chilly and damp out still.. Happily it was a lovely portage and didn’t take much time at all to do, only 27 minutes with the canoe.
I returned to get my pack, the walk back only taking me 17 minutes, and repeated the walk a third time with my pack, now only in my merino long sleeve. The sun was beginning to come out and the air was warming up. I’m sure the over 1 hour of walking didn’t hurt to help warm me up either.
The paddle through Camp Five was very nice. It was a small lake and calm and quiet as most were on this loop. There was a pair of loons calling and looked just like the pair I’d just left on Varley. Maybe they had been calling to each other?
The next portage was from Camp Five into Glacier and was only 345m. The portage wasn’t too bad and had similar terrain as most of the others I’d done in the area, rocks and mud and uneven ground, but nothing too crazy. I just had to be very careful to watch my steps so I wouldn’t twist or roll my ankle so I took my time.
I was actually hesitant to get to my site as I knew it was another portage site and I hoped it was a bit away from the portage and not like the one on Varley, but as it was laid out on the map, pretty much identically, I assumed it would be the same and I wasn’t looking forward to being disappointed.
Glacier was a pretty lake and the next portage into Gull was fairly close by.
This portage was 470m and would be the last one of the day. I took my time and it was looking like a good portage.
Then I came up to a big tree that had fallen over onto the portage.
The canoe was a bit tricky to get through and after trying to shove it in between the two branches, I ended up lifting it right over the top branch and collecting it on the other side, but not before it knocked me on the head while I was trying to shove it over. Once I was past the fallen tree, all was smooth sailing and I was at the Gull Lake end of the portage in no time.
When I came through with the pack, I took it off as I couldn’t fit through the opening with it on. I shoved the pack under the tree opening, crawled through the branches and picked it up on the other side.
It was only about 12:30 when I arrived at Gull Lake with the canoe and my pack. As I was procrastinating big time and was pretty much done my travelling for the day, I decided to take some time and shoot a few videos and take some photos. I spent about a half hour doing this and got some good shots that I was pleased with. In the meantime the rest of the dark clouds had cleared and the sun was starting to becoming mostly sunny, instead of partly sunny which made me happy.
I slowly put the canoe into the water on Gull lake and began my paddle to the other side where the portage for tomorrow and my site waited for me. I could no see it as there was a bend in the lake but very soon I would confirm my suspicions and reveal what my last site of the trip would look like. I crossed my fingers knowing that whatever was there was there and couldn’t be changed but until I saw it, it wasn’t confirmed to me.
Slowly I came around the bend and saw the bright yellow portage sign. It looked like it went straight uphill and I didn’t see anywhere where the site could be. Just a small landing and a trail.
After a few more strokes, with more land being revealed, I saw the site. It was not on the portage exactly but about 100 metres from it and it looked AMAZING!!!! I was so happy I squeeled a little and immediately began to paddle faster, so incredibly grateful and happy. YAY!!!!!!!
As I approached the site my smile got bigger and bigger. Not only was it not on the portage, but it was a gorgeous site. LIke a really really awesome site which made it all the more sweet! I got out and went up to explore and just beamed. All the hard work I’d done over the past few days got me to this beautiful site and I felt like it was a sufficient reward for my hard work, not that Varley wasn’t, but this site was way way nicer.
It was only 1:30 and I planned to enjoy my day. I ate lunch first as it was getting late and I didn’t want to have a late dinner also.
After lunch I set up the site quickly and looked for firewood, which was in abundance. I gathered up a huge pile in no time and then set up my hammock. The site had the most perfect spot for it and I just laid there enjoying the gorgeous view and the sunshine which was now strong and warm. What a perfect day and what a great place.
I went for a swim, read my book, watched the frogs and the minnows and wished for a moment I had my fishing rod.
The day flew by and I took lots of great photos and videos throughout the day to save the precious moments of it.
Eventually, I got a fire going so I would have some hot coals in the pit to cook my dinner and made myself a gin and cucumber water to sip on. Tonights dinner was pasta with re hydrated tomatoes, mushrooms and artichoke hearts tossed in a basil pesto. I poured a bit of water into the ziplock with the dehydrated ingredients for dinner, tomatoes, mushrooms and artichoke hearts and let them re hydrate.
Tonights dinner was pasta with re hydrated tomatoes, mushrooms and artichoke hearts tossed in a basil pesto.
I boiled the water in my UST pot/cup and then cooked the pasta right in it. I thought at first it’d be too small and was going to cook the pasta in the pan, but this was much easier.
Once the pasta was cooked I drained as much water from it as I could, then let it sit. I put the rehydrated mushrooms, tomatoes and artichoke hearts in the pan on the fire and let the water reduce from it as much as possible.
Once that was done, I added the pasta and then the basil pesto and tossed it all together Dinner was done and boy was it delicious! I was super happy and sat enjoying my beautiful view and munching on my yummy dinner right out of the pan.
After dinner I cleaned up which took no time at all.
Then I returned to my hammock to watch the sunset and enjoy the last bit of the warm sun.
I played around with my camera and took some more fun shots as the last of daylight disappeared into the darkness.
Then I went back up to my lovely campfire and boiled some water and enjoyed a nice hot chocolate before bed.
While I was putting things away and looking to make sure I got everything, I saw this snake skin. Pretty cool, but also creepy at the same time.
Around 11 I headed to bed, very tired from my long day, but super happy. I could definitely say this was one of my favorite days of the summer and one of my favorite sites I’d stayed on. I couldn’t be more grateful or understand more the importance of the portage and the things they brought you to and all the struggle and sweat I had endured brought me this reward, and I was thankful.
It had been a cold night for me. I had ended up putting on my long sleeve and my raincoat on my upper half and my rain pants over my tights to sleep in. When I got up, I was pretty chilly.
The fog rose off the water and it was 6:15am. It was so chilly that it took almost 10 minutes for the water to boil for my oatmeal and it delayed me a bit.
I packed up the site while I waited and then ate my oatmeal and packed those items up as well. It was time to go.
I made the big paddle over to the portage from my site. I think it may have taken me a whole 5 minutes and then I was standing there at the bottom of a very steep hill going upwards. Oh dear, this would be another fun one. I put on my pack and literally had to use my hands to climb parts of the hill at the start, it was that steep.
Thankfully, it levelled out and after just a few small uphills, I spent the remainder of the 1km portage going downhill which was lovely. I arrived just 20 minutes later at Cedar Pond.
I went back and got the canoe and repeated the process. I got onto Cedar Pond and enjoyed the views. It was still foggy on the water but the sun was up a bit higher and it looked like the place you would see a moose. I scanned the area but sadly not one in sight.
I slowly paddled through the pond knowing my last portage, 1685m into Cedar wasn’t far off. I ate my last 2 chocolate chip cookies to give me a bit of energy and just drifted on the water, knowing soon I would once again see people and be back on a busy lake with motor boats and lots of activity.
For now, this was mine and I breathed it all in, enjoying the total remoteness of the area and thinking how wonderful it had been to spend all this time in the backcountry and not see one single person during my journey. Complete solace on my solo. It was priceless and totally appreciated and cherished.
I gave into the clock and finally paddled to the portage, the last one of the trip, #9. Completing it would give me a total of 7057m, 21225 m walked and 23 km’s paddled. On my 5 day solo just 2 weeks ago I had totalled 7710m, just 635m more with one extra day. I think I was getting better at this, or just crazier as I went along? Not sure which? LOL
I noticed when I got onto shore that the sign said Fry Lake into Cedar, where as the other sign had called this Cedar Pond. I wonder which name it really was or if it was half of each and how that all worked?
I decided to take the canoe first and would just walk as far as I could. I would then either be at Cedar, or would go back and get my pack and do a piggy back depending on the terrain.
The terrain ended up being awesome. Almost the entire 1685m was downhill and it was fantastic. It took me only 27 minutes to carry the canoe from Fry Lake to Cedar and even though I was still tired, I was pretty happy to be there.
As soon as I arrived at the lake, I saw 3 canoes full of people and knew my solitude was over, but I was still grateful to have had it, even for just a few days. I put the canoe down and turned around and walked back the 30 minutes to get my pack.
An hour later, both my canoe and my pack and myself were all reunited together on the portage from Cedar Lake to Fry Lake and I was hot and sweaty. I had changed into my bathing suit at the other end of the portage, hoping to swim when I arrived but the water was really weedy and not very nice here, so I decided to paddle and see if I could find a nice spot on the way.
Cedar was funny. One minute it was mirror, the next it was windy, then mirror again. I took my time and made my way towards the take out.
I had to take a photo of this campsite. These people had some serious floaties and I bet they were a lot of fun to play with on the water.
After about an hour of paddling, I finally arrived at the take out. I had expected it to be busy, but there were only 2 other people there, John and Elizabeth who had just finished a big loop. They went for a swim and as I put the canoe on the car and we chatted a bit exchanging some of our experiences from our trips. I debated if I should still go for a swim and then decided I should. I was hot and sweaty and had almost a 4 hour drive home, so why not?
The water was refreshing and by the time I went in, I was all alone at the put in at Cedar Lake on Sunday Summer afternoon. I was amazed at how quiet it was and enjoyed every last minute. I got changed and made my way down the very long boring bumpy road out of Brent Campground, smiling at the great weekend I’d just experienced and starving.
Shortly after making my way back to civilization, I found a great little place to stop for food. I got a chocolate milkshake, chicken fingers and fries with gravy and no, I did not even come close to finishing the whole thing, but I made a good dent. It was so delicious but I felt like a stuffed pig my whole drive home. Oh well.
I hope you enjoyed my 4 day solo from Cedar Lake in Algonquin Park and you come back to check out more adventures. I have a lot of paddling trips planned for the next few months and can’t wait for every one of them. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please send a message and I will reply as soon as I can. For the videos of this trip, please check out my youtube channel.