Part 2 of 2
To see Part 1, Click Here:
Part one left us lost on the Track and Tower Trail new Mew Lake Campground! See what happens next!!!
After about an hour of walking, in the humid hot sun, we put the canoe down and all our bags and sat at the side of the trail totally exhausted and really really upset. We were yelling at each other and it was definitely not a good time. Just then some hikers came along and thankfully gave us the news that they knew how to get to the Madawaska river which would take us to Head Creek, which is where we supposed to be. They also advised us it was in the direction we had just come from and we would have to take the canoe and all our gear back another hour from where we came and then take the turn we were supposed to take and walk another few minutes to get to the water.
Sadly , when you are in a situation like this, there’s nothing you can do but go back the way you came, lose another hour, and hopefully end up in the water, and on your way to where you’re supposed to be. So that’s exactly what we did, swearing and muttering all the way there.
When we finally arrived at what I now call mew Lake falls, we were both elated! I had actually only realized a few years ago while visiting mew lake, that this was the place we had gotten lost in 2002.. There were so many people at the falls, it felt like we were back to civilization in the middle of a backcountry trip, but we didn’t care! we were unlost and we were ‘almost’ where we were supposed to be! We were so hot we jumped right in the water and just sat there cooling ourselves down. We actually thought all our troubles were over….
Unfortunately, being lost for several hours, made it 430 and we were now short for time. As soon as we were sufficiently cooled down, we put the canoe in the water, added our gear, and paddled down the madawaska river. We paddled on….and on…, and at some point…we were supposed to veer left to get back into Head Creek but once again we couldn’t find it…. so we just kept paddling hoping we hadn’t gotten to it yet.
At this point The sky had clouded over and we were in a very large swamp full of grasses. There were herons flying around and all types of frogs and birds and lots and lots of …… bugs. We couldn’t make water as it was too shallow and dirty so we sipped on the little water we had left and continued moving to keep the deer flies from eating us up which had now become terribly bad.
As we were in such a rush after our swim we didn’t apply sunscreen or bug spray I was still in my bikini top and shorts. Greg said he couldn’t even look at me because the bugs were crawling all over me so badly and he was totally helpless. I was covered in mosquitoes, deer flies and blackflies …..pretty much… eating me alive and at that point …. I was not a happy camper.
We wanted to stop and put on long sleeves and long pants but there was no place to do so and every time we stopped for a mere few seconds the bugs were even worse, so we just kept paddling.
Eventually we came up to a post. but of course, the sign had broken off the top of it and we had no idea what it said? We assumed that it was the sign marker telling us to turn left, so we did with our fingers crossed. It was about that time that it started pouring rain. Thankfully, shortly after, we saw our portage ahead.
As we pulled up towards the portage our smiles faded. We noticed something standing precisely in the area where we would need to bank the canoe. It was a creature of some sort and as we got closer we realized it was a very large beaver. Looking back, the situation is extremely humorous to me because I’ve seen many beavers in the park since that trip and the second I take out my camera to take a photo, they disappear. This beaver was no relation to those beavers and didn’t want to move from his spot. We yelled and screamed and banged our paddles and finally he moved on so we could get the canoe up onto the portage. Whoever decided to make the beaver one of Canada’s animals made a big mistake… they’re not nice at all!
As soon as we were able to get out of the canoe we opened our packs and put on our long sleeved clothing….bug nets …..and enough bug spray to potentially poison someone. We moved quickly because it was getting pretty late and I was sure if I stopped moving at that point I would just sleep where I was. I was exhausted, bitten up, scratched up, starving and dying of thirst, but somehow I was still having fun!!
We conquered the small portage quickly and got right back on the water, only paddling for a short distance until we saw the next portage. It was a good thing because just as we started coming up to it, the thunder began. We stopped under a tree after we got onto shore, to catch our breath’s. It was pouring so hard and I was so tired. I knew I couldn’t stand still and if we didn’t keep moving we’d be stuck here.
We completed the portage and when we arrived at the other side we were soooo excited to see a campsite sign just across the water and down the way a little bit from where we were. We jumped in the canoe and hurried across the water to the site as the thunder grew louder. When we arrived at the site I was so happy I wanted to kiss the rock I was standing on. Just then the lightning began. Thankfully, I was not getting electrocuted that day!
We found the flattest spot possible to set up the tent and tarp and even though our bags were wet, everything inside them was dry, as it was all packed in Ziploc bags. My version of dry bags! We were still dying of thirst, so we grabbed a some cups, held them at the edge of the tarp and drank the rainwater right from off the tarp! I have to tell you it was the best tasting water I have ever had!
We did a lot of travelling that day….After we set up the tent we showered out on the rocks in the rain, then got in our sleeping bags and ate granola bars for dinner. It was 9pm and we spent almost 11 hours travelling that day. And even though my thermarest was on a slope and the entire night I kept sliding into the side of the tent and a puddle I was very happy to be where I was and quite proud of what we’d accomplished regardless of all the errors we made, we eventually made it and I felt awesome!!!
As soon as the sun came up I hung a clothesline and put everything that was soaking wet from the day before up on the line to dry. The dirty clothes were left on the rocks last night, so I washed them out and hung them to dry as well. We moved the tent out onto the hot rocks and into the sunshine, while Greg made last nights dinner for us for breakfast. We were both starved so I had rice with chicken and he had pasta with chicken. Basically an Uncle Bens type package that you just add boiling water too and packaged dehydrated chicken from the outdoors store.
By 1030 we had dried everything out and re-packed our bags, item by item, and we were ready to take off and start a new day. Hopefully better than the last one.
We left our site on Head Lake and almost immediately went the wrong way and into a swamp full of Muck that led to a forest. After yesterday’s problems we knew pretty quickly things weren’t right and turned back. We found a creek called fish creek which wasn’t on the map but happily about 15 minutes up the creek, with paddles, we saw the correct Portage sign. This portage was 1035 m and it was a bit of work but it wasn’t too awful and we made it through in about 20 minutes. We paddled across harness to the tip of it, and saw our next portage which was only 150 m.
Although it was fairly amazing that we found the portage without too much trouble, the most incredible thing about it was there was a mother moose and a calf standing right by the entrance of the portage. That one instant made up for the entire day we had the day before and totally made this, the best trip ever!!! I took out the camera to take a picture and then we paddled in closer. The mother moose just looked at us and continued eating the grass like it was a normal thing. We docked the canoe at the portage and the moose walked slowly into the swamp. I couldn’t believe what I had just saw and I was so thrilled. What an incredible place Algonquin Park was! I wonder what we would see next?
From there the day went on without a hitch. we did the 145 m potage into pardee lake which was fairly small. From there we did a 10 m portage to Lawrence where we didn’t even need to take our stuff out of the canoe. The portage from Lawrence to Rod and gun was only 415 m but it was mostly uphill and it wore me out pretty good. From Rod and gun we did a 510 m portage that was mostly downhill and took us to Lake Louisa.
Lake Luisa is a big long lake and luckily the wind was at our back’s and the waves weren’t too bad. We paddled hard and got across in about an hour and 15 minutes. This brought us to the portage that I had been dreading… 2985 m to Rock Lake. Surprisingly, it actually didn’t end up being too bad. It took us about 45 minutes and we only stopped a few times to rest, and when we got to the other end, I was so overjoyed! I guess once you get lost carrying a canoe and packs through a campground in 35 degree heat for several hours, a 45 minute portage isn’t that challenging anymore?
We paddled along Rock Lake looking for Rose Island and found it fairly easily. We saw a gorgeous campsite absorbing the evening sunshine just waiting for us so we took it. It was an enormous site with a giant rock face and we ended up calling it king island just because of it’s massive size. In less than a half an hour, we had the site set up and we were making dinner. We were amazed how quickly we could set up and tear down since we began our journey just a few days ago.
For dinner I had brought real beef burgers from the outdoors store which were dehydrated and tasted like cardboard. I made Bannock to use as buns, which helped the burgers immensely as did the cheese and ketchup packets! The burgers were accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes, a sidekick original. I sat thinking about how how different this day was from the last and happy I got to eat dinner today and in such a gorgeous place. I was still pretty sore and tired from the day before so we went to bed early. I thought about the day and how far we’d travelled and what was still to come. What a great adventure we were having. I did not want it to end.
I woke up around 7 AM on day five and picked a bunch of blueberries for our way out. On the breakfast menu was strawberry pancakes which could’ve been yummy fresh blueberry pancakes, but since we were only about five hours away from the end of our trip, we decided to have oatmeal which was quick and simple, and would get us on our way a lot sooner.
We said goodbye to king island and got onto the water about 930, setting out on the last leg of our trip. As you can expect we got lost right from the start heading in the wrong direction once again. We quickly discovered our error and revised our route and soon we saw Echo Bay once again.
We avoided the 100 m portage from Rock Lake into Galeairy by going to the right instead of the left where we only had to get out of the canoe for a brief pick up over a few rocks. It was a tip someone gave us on the way in and served us well.
And then somehow, believe it or not, with only about 3 or 4 km to paddle through galeairy lake, we still made a wrong turn . We noticed immediately as nothing looked familiar and corrected ourselves once again, laughing because at this point it was just comical and there was nothing else to do. How many times can you get lost on a canoe trip? I guess it depends on who you ask?
In the early afternoon of day five we slowly pulled the canoe up to the Galeairy Lake access point where we had started our adventure, hesitant for our trip to end. I was full of so many emotions…. happy to be back….sad to be done the trip … but mostly I was extremely proud of everything that we had accomplished since we left. It was a challenging 5 days for us, but every little obstacle we overcame, just seemed to make the trip that much better.
We unpacked the canoe, left it for its owners, and did what most people do when they finish a five-day canoe trip …..proceed to go out to eat! Because for some reason even though we ate extremely well I was ready to eat everything in sight.
This journey was one that I will never forget and it created in me a deep hunger to trip again and again. It also inspired me to share my adventures with other people, in hopes of getting them to get out and explore as well. I learned a great deal from this first outing and I continue to learn every time I head out on an adventure.
I greatly appreciate you checking out my 2 part post on my very first backcountry canoe trip in Algonquin Park in 2002. I hope you found my post entertaining!
If you have any questions, issues or just want to say hey, leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I am able to!
Please note that some of the photos in this post were recreated, and some others may have been replaced due to loss of the original photos, or non-existence of the original photos due to the year of the trip, my computer crashing a few years ago, when I lost a huge amount of electronic photos, etc, etc.