This is part two of my Algonquin 5 Day Solo Trip 2018. To see Part 1, covering days 1 and 2, please click here.
In part 2 I am on my site on Bigger Lake, waking up to the 3rd day of my trip on Saturday, August 4th, 2018.
I woke up at 545am on Saturday morning. It was August 4th and after raining on and off during the night, the sky, for the moment, looked clear. I was currently on Biggar Lake and this would be day 3 of my 5 day trip.
I made up a pouch of scrambled eggs and bacon, one of the freeze dried meals and while it fluffed and cooled, I packed up my gear. My tent was very wet so I wrapped it in a plastic bag, then put it in it’s bag and then the backpack. I didn’t like carrying wet gear but I wasn’t about to sit and wait for it to dry. It would just have to be heavier today and be dried when I got to my next site.
The weather originally had thunderstorms forecast but as I had no internet signal out here, I could not confirm if this was still the case or had changed since last nights storm. I could only look at the sky, which at the moment looked clear, and work with whatever conditions I was given presently.
After breakfast, I put away the items needed for that and closed up my bag. It was just before 7am and I was ready to go. I had 4 portages today to get to my final destination Three Mile Lake. It was the most amount of portaging I had to do, a total of 3100m and I would be happy to get it done with. I only had to paddle across Biggar to get to my first portage, so off I went.
The fifteen minutes it took to paddle to the portage, saw the sky completely covered with clouds, just that quickly. I was happy to be on the portage and on many for the day as they were much more favorable when the weather wasn’t good. As I pulled up to the portage, I made a note on my video of what a perfect place it would be to see a moose. Little did I know…..
I left the canoe and took my backpack over the portage to the other side. Sometimes I took the canoe first, sometimes the pack. Today, as I felt the pack was much much heavier than the canoe with the wet gear in it, I felt it would be better to take it first. I made it to Sinclair Lake easily and headed back down the portage for my canoe.
As I reached the end of the portage, I heard extremely loud splashing like a large animal was running. I knew immediately it was a moose I got my camera out and started recording, unsure if I would see anything but prepared for it, just in case. I walked out the portage seeing nothing at first, but as I came out further, I could see a patch of land sticking out into the lake just 50 feet away. Standing there on that patch of land was the biggest, most beautiful moose, I’d ever seen.
He turned to look at me and I continued filming. He stood there for a few seconds, not very long but long enough. I said hello, told him I intended no harm, thanked him and god for letting me see him. He turned his head around and then gracefully sauntered off into an area I couldn’t see. OH EM GEE. This was even better than the sighting I had yesterday.
I stood contemplating what to do. I was fairly certain Mr. Moose was standing just there where my eyes couldn’t see and I decided to get into the canoe and paddle around, just to take a peek, then I heard him run off into the forest. Wow, was he ever loud and you could definitely not mistake that sound for the one the chipmunks make in the forest, although at the time they do seem to be bigger than they sound.
The moment was over but I stood there watching the video over and over again, making screenshots and favoriting them right away so I could easily find the photos again and again. I was so happy and I just shot over the portage in no time carrying the canoe like it was nothing and I had not a care in the world. So entirely and totally grateful! I had been focused for so long on single carrying and I was upset that I wasn’t able to do it, but, if I had, I would never have seen this moose. Just sayin’.
I crossed Sinclair quickly as it was just a tiny lake and began the next portage which was signed 1040m and would take me into Kawa. I had a tough time on it, being the first big portage of the trip and already wishing on was on the last one of the day. I would get there eventually.
And I did. From Kawa I did a very short paddle over to the next portage which took me to Upper Kawa.
I had a really hard time finding the portage on Upper Kawa. I paddled into the lake and went to the top corner where I thought it should be, but no portage so I backtracked and eventually found it sitting there w
On the 1220m portage into Three Mile is where I finally began to see people. I passed about 10 of them on the portage and was surprised to see so many people suddenly at once, but then realized they were all a group that was together mixed with some school kids.
Even though the 1220m portage into Three Mile was the bigger than the one earlier at 1040m, it felt much shorter and took me less time. This portage was very wide, smooth and flat and I guess that made a big difference.
Three Mile was fairly big so I put a bunch of rocks in the back of the canoe to help with the wind. The wind wasn’t too bad and mostly blowing against me so I didn’t have too many issues until I hit the large opening, then I had to paddle a bit harder to stay on track. My goal was to paddle to the furthest site on the lake which would be closest to my portage tomorrow. I checked out all the site on the left side and found them to be nice. The one on the tip wasn’t super impressive and looked like no one had camped there in years. Across from those, however, was one lonely site which was open and it looked really nice.
My goal was to paddle to the furthest site on the lake which would be closest to my portage tomorrow. I checked out all the site on the way and a few were nice but just too far from the end of the lake. The one on the end wasn’t super impressive and looked like no one had camped there in years with big trees laying in the water in front of it, but with canoes coming from the portage regularly, I decided to take it.
Almost any campsite can be made to be awesome and the location to me, was the most important thing on this trip. Far away from most of the other sites so no one would disturb me and except for the site that was actually at the portage head, the closest site to the monster portage I had to do tomorrow morning.
I unloaded my canoe and began to set up camp. My tent was packed away wet this morning so I hung a few lines and hung the tent on one and some of my wet clothing on the other. A lovely monarch butterfly thought my bathing suit was a lovely color and sat for a spell on it enjoying the sunshine.
I was feeling sleepy and a few hours after I had lunch, I made a hot chocolate and the second half of the dark chocolate cheesecake. This time I used a fork to whip it and it was a much nicer consistency, but pretty much tasted the same.
To the one side of my site where I hadn’t paddled past yet, was a big bay. I was dying to see what was over there, more than my arms hurt, so I jumped in the canoe and went for a paddle around the corner to check it out. I kept hearing loud splashing sounds from there and assumed it was either ducks or maybe a deer or larger animal. I saw none unfortunately, but did find a nice place to swim. As my site was in the shade, I came prepared to find a nice swimming spot in the sunshine and located a good rock to stop at and go for a swim.
Unfortunately the bugs were pretty bad and I had to put my bug shirt on almost immediately after getting out of the water, but the sun felt wonderful and I went in the water to cool down and float a few times, then I headed back to my site.
I had a few friends visit in the afternoon and got some pictures and spent most of the afternoon listening to an audio book and watching the canoes come and go, to and from the portage. Eventually it was time to make dinner and the big decision of the afternoon was to make the three cheese chicken pasta or the orange pineapple chicken. I was pretty hungry so I opted for the meal I knew I liked, the three cheese chicken pasta, figuring if I didn’t like the pineapple orange chicken tomorrow, it was my last night and I would survive until I got out the following day.
The three cheese chicken pasta was good, but not as good as I remember. I recall exactly when I had it the first time and the circumstances. I had been exhausted from a very long day of travelling so maybe that’s why I loved it so much. Regardless, it was still good and I ate the entire package.
After dinner, the sun couldn’t go down fast enough. I was so tired I was just waiting to go to bed and rest my body. I really did miss my chair or my hammock and decided I would do my best to get it on the next trip. Sitting on rocks and logs after kicking my body’s butt, just wasn’t comfortable at all and a solution was needed.
Eventually, the sun began to set on the day. I didn’t have the energy to paddle around the corner to get pictures but I did scootch my butt out onto one of the trees that was lying in the water in front of my site to get a few photos that I thought would suffice. Then I said goodnight to the forest, the lake and all the creatures and headed to my tent for a good long nights rest!
DAY 3 – STATS
Paddling -6 kms
Portaging – 3100 m (double carry on all portages 9300m of walking)
I woke up, once again, at 530am. I visited the privy, then began making my oatmeal. I had decided to split up my 2 packages for the remaining days and just eat one and that way I could avoid eating the other package of scrambled eggs and bacon. I wasn’t loving it and after almost getting sick from it, I was definitely not eating it.
After my oatmeal was made, I began packing up my site while it cooled. Then I ate while packing up the last of my gear.
I enjoyed another gorgeous sunrise while packing and took a few minutes here and there to take some photos.
By 7am, I was all packed up and ready to head out across the lake to the 2810m portage. The one I had been dreading the entire trip, lol, maybe my entire camping career, haha, as this was the biggest portage I have ever done solo tripping. I was anxious to get it over with though so off I went.
I had no issues finding this portage and by 7:15 I was on my way to the other side. As there was a big loud group staying on the portage site, I decided to take my canoe in about 100m, then leave it on the side of the portage and get my pack. From there I just carried the pack and decided I would take it a half hour, or as far as I felt like going.
The portage was mostly flat and like a road, literally, flat and even and as wide as a road. I carried my pack a half hour and then decided to go back for the canoe. In my calculations of me taking 20 minutes to do one kilometer, I had figured out that I should have to walk one hour with the pack, one hour with the canoe and one hour back to get one or the other. So 3 hours in total. I thought if I took the pack a half hour, that would be halfway for the pack, then I could get the canoe and do the same, or keep going. The walk back to get the canoe seemed like an hour in itself but it only took 30 minutes.
I got to it, picked it up and walked. The pain set in early, only after about 15 minutes, but I just ignored it and said there was no way I was stopping before I made it as far as my pack. Nothing I could do if I did. I had nothing else to go back for so I kept going. Soon things began to go numb and it was easier. I have no idea why I hurt so badly as I had done 3100m of portaging the day before and had barely done anything when I began getting uncomfortable, but again, I just kept walking. I saw my pack, I passed the pack, and decided I would take the canoe until I dropped or at least another 15 minutes. 15 minutes was all it took though to get to Manitou Lake. I was amazing and sooooo happy. The last part of the portage was all downhill and tough going and here I was 45 minutes later, with my canoe at Manitou lake. AHMAZING! I was so happy.
I walked back up the steep hill and could barely breathe. I was so glad that I did the loop in the direction that I did, as I don’t know if I could’ve carried either my pack or the canoe up this steep hill. I was barely making it carrying myself. I got to my pack fairly quickly, then returned with it to the entrance to Manitou.
I had made it, 2810 metres and in only 2 hours. I couldn’t believe it. All that worry and here it was 9:15 am and I was at Manitou. Wow! It was a big lake and had 42 sites on it. All of them were booked for the night so I was really happy to be here so early. I would have lots of time to get a site and not have to be paddling around the entire massive lake looking for a site, at least that’s what I thought.
I put a few rocks in the back of the canoe, very grateful I’d done so once I got on the water. The wind was horrible and the more I paddled, the stronger it got. I couldn’t stop paddling for a second or I would get blown backwards from where I’d come, and turned and twisted around. The water was full of whitecaps and if I had to guess, I’d say the wind was blowing at about 35km/hour. As I had no internet, I can’t confirm that, but that is my best guess.
It took me almost 2 hours to paddle to the part of the lake nearest my portage the next day and my arms were like wet noodles by the time I made it to that area. When I approached the island which had two sites and was in the perfect location for me to camp, I saw 3 or 4 canoes leaving. I yelled over to ask if they were on their way out and said they were just day tripping. The girl said she thought there was an open site over there and pointed to the right of the island so I paddled around it looking, but every site was taken. Every one.
The wind continued to blow and push me around and I continued to find site after site taken. There were only about 6 or so in the area at this end of the lake and I couldn’t find any that were open. I slowly began to come to the realization that the hard core paddling I just did, would be all for nothing and I would have to paddle back an hour and a half or so (probably much shorter with the wind) back to a campsite halfway or earlier on the lake from where I’d come. Oh noooo. I was so upset, but there wasn’t anything I could do. My poor arms yelled at me to at least stop for lunch, but I knew now that it was getting late. It was 11:30 and I again remembered that all the sites were taken on this lake tonight and I did not want to be paddling around for hours and hours. I just didn’t have that much energy left. Just then, as I accepted the fact that I would have to paddle back to where I’d come from, I heard a loon call and looked over my shoulder towards the island.
From a great distance, I saw the orange sign. I thought that the people I saw leaving had to have both island sites as there were so many of them. I think I had counted 9 people so I just assumed they had both of the sites, but I didn’t see a tent. I did my best not to get too excited and wasn’t even sure I should waste my energy paddling back to see if the site was taken or not as I figured it was, but I did anyways, out of sheer desperation. The closer I got, the more I thought, no one is there, don’t get excited, but no one is there, can it be possible? Can it be possible?
YES IT CAN!!! I had never been happier. I saw no evidence of anyone, no tent, no boat, no gear, no people. OMG! I almost kissed the Ontario Parks sign and literally hugged the tree it was posted to. I didn’t even unpack for a while. I just sat there staring at the site saying, thank you, thank you, thank you, over and over again.
I made myself a little seat to sit on to face the water as the seating at the site wasn’t optimum. Then I put on my bathing suit and literally sat on a rock in the water for what felt like an hour cooling off and staring at the site that I was so grateful to have accidentally found, all thanks to a loon.
Eventually I ate lunch as I was starving but I still sat on the rock in the water to do so. I finally woke up to the fact that I should set up when I began to see dark clouds rolling in. Always be prepared, always set up right away just in case the weather turns. I had ignored all these rules I’d set for myself, but now, I had rested, I had swam and I had eaten so I needed to be smart and get set up.
I did so and then sat back down in the sunshine. I was once again getting warm and the clouds were on and off. At one moment it looked like rain, the next it was hot and sunny and I wanted to swim. I was just about to head back into the water, when standing in my bikini, a speedboat with 2 park rangers pulled up to my site.
Um. what? I was a bit embarrassed and quickly put on my shirt and short over my wet bathing suit and advised that I wasn’t expecting company. I asked what was up and they told me they were going around to sites checking for permits. WOW! I had never, not once, ever, in 16 years of camping in the backcountry, been asked for a permit. And of course, I couldn’t find it.
I searched and searched and searched but as I had just barely set up and many of my things weren’t fully unpacked, it took me a good 15 minutes to find the permit, but I eventually did. It was in my shorts on the clothesline in the pocket and I was so happy when I pulled it out of the pocket.
I showed it to the park ranger and he checked it out and thanked me and wished me a good day. I asked if I could do an interview for my youtube channel but he said he didn’t think he should be on camera but I could take a video of the leaving the site, which I did. I thought it was important for people to see that this is happening, people are being checked and you need to camp on the lakes you book and pay for your sites. It was a big worry of mine earlier that I would get stuck without a site as all of them were booked and if just one person was here without a permit or on the wrong lake, I might’ve been in big trouble. I’d even considered popping over to North Tea to camp there when I couldn’t find a site and am so glad I didn’t do that, not that it is something I’d ever done, but for a moment I thought, who would know? Now I know. 🙂
After the park rangers left, I made myself a hot chocolate and listened to an audio book. I laid in the sun for a bit and heard 2 trees falling somewhere behind the site, but close by. I checked out my tree situation and noticed I had a sketchy looking one that if it fell, would land on my tent, so I decided to move it. I felt that bad weather was coming in and I didn’t want to be squashed like a bug under a tree, or have weird dreams about it all night.
As I was sitting and relaxing, I heard a noise in the forest closeby and saw what appeared to be a chicken strutting through. It was, I assume, a grouse, and I followed it for a bit and got some video of it. I have posted a screenshot below but it’s much harder to see in the photo than in the video unfortunately.
I also got a cool picture of this grasshopper, but as far as wildlife goes, that and the loon who saved me, was about all I saw today.
I made up the Pineapple Orange Chicken freeze dried meal for dinner. I only made half of it as I didn’t know what it was like and figured I could always make the other half if I liked it, but I didn’t. It was okay but it took forever to re hydrate and I”m not sure if it ever was fully there. I ate as much as I could and had some snacks I had left wanting to eat as much as possible. I was leaving the next day and always tried to bring out as little food as possible.
After dinner, I was pretty tired but rummaged around the site just doing a whole lot of nothing. I listened to another audio book until it was time for bed. That is about the time the storm clouds began to roll in.
Way off in the distance, I could hear thunder and I knew something big was on it’s way in. I battened down the hatches, tied up the canoe and put everything I possibly could, away for the night. I waited until the rain came to go into the tent but it was thundering and lightening for quite some time before one drop of rain fell.
Once it did, though, it continued to fall and fall hard. The thunder was so loud I couldn’t even fall asleep and I was tired. I thought about putting in my earplugs but knew they wouldn’t help much. The rain was pounding on the tent and the thunder rumbled through the ground. I could even see the lightening flashes through my eyelids lighting up the tent. It was a fabulous storm that lasted about 3 hours, fully thundering and lightening almost the entire time.
DAY 4- STATS
Paddling – 4 kms (hard paddling in 30km winds)
Portaging – 2810 m (double carry on all portages 8430m of walking)
I woke up early again on Monday, ready to get going. The rain had stopped but everything was wet so I took a bit of extra time to pack my tent up inside a plastic bag and wipe as much of the water off as possible. I only had 3 portages today, less than 1000m in total so not a huge deal but it still added weight.
I was once again rewarded with an amazing sunrise. I had an awesome one pretty much every day and was grateful. I got my oatmeal started and then packed up camp as my usual routine, then ate while I finished up so I could get on my way faster.
When the park rangers were at my site I inquired about the 2 portages into North Tea and advised that I had see quite a few canoes headed to the longer portage and asked if he knew why. He told me there was a water fall there that was pretty and worth the extra 100m walk. I wasn’t in a big rush so I decided I’d give it a go. I didn’t want to miss out on something amazing since I was right here and who knew when I would be back in this area, so why not?
By 7am, was packed up and on my way through Manitou over to the 550m portage to check out these waterfalls. I was technically paddling a half hour to forty five minutes in the wrong direction so I really hoped they were worth it. As I had never been on the smaller portage, I honestly didn’t know the difference. Maybe it was super steep and all uphill and way harder even though shorter and that’s the reason people did the longer one? No clue so I couldn’t really say much about it.
I got to the portage and checked out the waterfalls, hoping that wasn’t it, but again, not knowing what the other portage was like, I couldn’t comment much on it. I picked up my canoe and off I went to see the other side. The beginning of the portage was super steep and full of rocks and roots so I stepped carefully. It took me almost 15 minutes to do the portage which should’ve taken 10 so I knew it was a bit challenging.
When I arrived at the North Tea Lake side of the portage, I did as I was advised. I walked through the campsite at the portage (no one was on it) and checked out the waterfalls. They were actually really cool and I could see staying on this site and sitting in them getting massaged by the water. The bugs were very bad here though, probably due to all the standing water, so I took a few pictures and a video and took off to go get my bag, feeling slightly behind due to the detour.
When I arrived at the Manitou side of the portage, I saw a few canoes pulling up to the portage. I hurried to get my pack so I could get back to the other side and get on my way to avoid congestion when I heard someone call my name. Molsen knew exactly who I was and came up to meet me, letting me know he watched my videos and they inspired him. HOW AWESOME! I asked if he’d like a photo and took the picture above. I thanked him for introducing himself and watching my videos and wished him a good trip and off I went beaming.
It was always so nice to meet people in real life who watch my videos or check out my blog. Molsen said I made his day but what he didn’t know was that he totally made mine. It means so much to me to meet people in real life who support my pages and I am always so happy to hear that I inspire them. It makes me feel like I am making a difference and Molsen, I want you to know how much I appreciate you reaching out to say hello. I really hope you enjoyed your trip and I see you again some day.
In another 15 minutes I was on the other side with both my pack and canoe and on North Tea. I was not too happy with the winds, however, they weren’t as strong as on Manitou yesterday, but they were enough to make me have to paddle hard and as it was a very big lake I’d be doing so for a long time. I could not wait to be through North Tea.
North Tea was an interesting paddle. I watched as the canoes accumulated from all directions. I was paddling inside a group of about 7 vessels, 5 canoes and 2 tandem kayaks. We all headed towards the portage and I knew it was going to be a huge traffic jam. That was before I watched the (what I thought was 8 canoes) leave the island site just before I got to it. It had turned out it was actually a group of 27 people and I could only spot the 8 canoes but there were actually 11.
My new marathon runner portage skills were put through the test and I believe I won the race! I pulled up, grabbed my pack, put it against a tree, put the canoe on my head and I was off like a rocket. I almost ran back to get my pack and zoom, I was over the portage. As I was so organized, I plopped the canoe in the water, put my pack in it and I was out of there in not time. I was elated.
The second portage was no different. BAM! I was in and out and on my way and what made me smile even more was that while paddling the river, I was chatting with a few people. They were all from the island campsite that pulled out way in front of me. I actually stopped at the site about 15 minutes after they left, when I arrived there for a bathroom break and to let a few people go by me, as I knew there would be so much traffic and I thought I might as well take my time. That is how I learned the group had 27 people in it and they all seemed very friendly and nice and I enjoyed chatting with many of them on the way.
When I hit Kawawaymog Lake (Round) I was out in front of about 17 canoes and kayaks and felt like I was leading a brigade. It was really neat to watch the lineup of boats coming through the lake. The water wasn’t too rough and the wind was just strong enough to be annoying but not like it was on my way in. What a difference between that day and today. I had felt so scared and unsettled and unsure of my trip then. Now I was feeling badass and accomplished and proud of all I done.
It took me about a half hour to get across Kawawaymog Lake to the take out. I was the 3rd vessel in a very very long lineup of them so I grabbed my pack quickly and took it to my car and then did the same with the canoe to get out of the way of all the other people arriving. I watched the big group gather all their things and congratulate each other on the trip and it was really nice to see so many people together with the same passion.
When I had arrived on Thursday, I noticed the Voyageur Outfitters had a patio and a sign advertising food. I thought I would go for a bite and watch the people roll in. I had not had lunch and it was now just after 12 so why not? The restaurant, I found out afterwards was called The Broken Paddle and at first I was told you had to order food ahead so I left. I would located by one of the servers in the parking lot who came to find me and tell me she could make me some food. I told her I was feeling like a burger and she said she would find one and make it for me, which she did. I was impressed with the customer service at least. As I sat watching trip leaders help people pack for their guided trips, a friendly couple came up to ask if there was room to sit. They were from Toronto and were staying in Huntsville and had come to the area to do a hike and had just stumbled upon the place and decided to have lunch. We ate together and talked about the outdoors and enjoyed each others stories. Once I was done eating, I said goodbye to my new friends and knew I had to head home, dad was waiting back at my house to do renos for the week again, so off I went.
Even though my trip started out very unsettled, I had an amazing time on this 5 day solo. I saw 3 moose, a double rainbow and an abundance of wildlife, even though I was on so many big (to me) lakes. I found solace even though many of the lakes had a huge amount of sites, and really enjoyed my journey. The problem is now, I can’t wait to do it again…. and again.
DAY 5 – STATS
Paddling – 17 kms
Portaging – 940m (double carry on all portages 2820m of walking)
If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message. Or if you see me out on the water, or on a portage, please introduce yourself and say hello. Although I love the written versions of my trip report, the videos for this series are pretty awesome and there is one for each day of the trip. I hope you take the time to check them out and enjoy them.
Paddling 48 kms
Portaging 13 portages, 7710 m, 23130m of walking