Kawawaymog Lake(IN) - Amable du Fond river - N. Tea L - Lorne L - Kakasamic L - Mattowacka L - Fassett L - Shad L - Shada L - Fassett Cr - Manitou L - N. Tea L - Amable du Fond river - Kawawaymog Lake(OUT)
This was a 10 day solo trip, through the Northwest corner of Algonquin Park. Getting up at ridiculously early hours, driving, and picking my canoe up along the way, I arrived at the permit office on Kawawaymog(Round) Lake, shortly after nine a.m. It was an easy access point to find and there was ample parking available. There was also a flat sandy spot from which to launch. I acquired my permit, and set off to unpack. This for me was my quickest launch to date. From arrival to launch, it took me a mere 18 minutes, I was so excited, and launched at 9:33 am.
The Permit Office at Kawawaymog Lake
Tripods sure are handy: Here I was, ready for a 10 day solo in Algonquin Park
It was a perfect sunny June day. The temperature was around 23°C, and already I could tell it was going to be a hot one. As I paddled across, a light wind sprang up from the south end of the lake. I marvelled at how shallow Kawawaymog lake was. In most places it was only about 1 to 1.5 meters deep. For a lake that had many cottages on it, I was surprised. Swimming was definitely a plus on that lake, I surmised trout fishing was not. As I came to the halfway point of crossing Kawawaymog Lake, the waves and wind increased to unmanageable levels. The waves and wind, were coming at me from a 90° angle, perpendicular to my course, waves were crashing over the gunwales. This had the affect of pushing me onshore, and after a mere 10 minutes or so, I landed on a cottage beach. I had several litres of water in my canoe and had to bail it out. With my canoe emptied of water, I headed out again. The waves and wind were still providing me with a challenge, as I headed down the lake on a new course...this time with the waves at an 45° angle. As I came to a point on the shoreline, dangerous rocks loomed ahead, but I managed to avoid them, and continued on. Soon I reached a noticeable narrowing of the lake, and a bend in my course. Here the water was very shallow, weedy and sandy. As I came around a another point, I saw a father/son pair, who were coming out of The Amable du Fond River. They were paddling furiously, and gaining about an inch a minute, here the wind was astonishing. As I came up to the pair, I said to them, 'You might as well just get out and walk, the wind around the bend is even worse, the water is shallow too!" I continued on, a few minutes pass and I looked back. Sure enough the father and son were walking and dragging their canoe along, at a much faster rate than when they were trying to paddle in that crazy wind.
Barely 10 minutes from my launch, I was beached on cottage property
Looking south across Kawawaymog lake, the waves and wind were rough
By 10:30 a.m. I was on the Amable du Fond River. I had never been on the Amable du Fond before or through access#1, and was quite pleased at my paddling experience along the river. I was shielded from the wind for the most part, and saw many ducks along the way. It was a pleasant watercourse to paddle, however where the river widened, the winds swirled and swirled, they were very gusty, pushing my canoe all over the place, from one riverbank over to the opposite one, what fun! By 11:15 a.m. I reached the "Street Light". An oddity, in the middle of the bush, it is north of the river, opposite a sign, on the south shore of the river. The sign indicates "North Tea" one direction, and "Access Point", in the other direction. Once you see this sign, look across the river to the north and you'll see the street light. At 11:35 a.m. I reached the 135m portage. It is hilly and very short, it seemed to me that it was only 35m, not 135m. Moving along, by 12:15 p.m. I reached the 255m portage to North Tea Lake. Finally I was getting to the lake. I didn't think that it would take me almost 3 hours to get to North Tea Lake. The Amable du Fond, really is long and twisty in spots.
The Streetlight along the Amable du Fond River
The Amable du Fond River: a pleasant and very long paddle to North Tea Lake
At the beginnings of the portage, there is a natural rock dam, forcing the river into a torrent. I can imagine in the spring it is spectacular. On a late June day there was still quite a rush of water. The beginnings of the portage, has a huge well constructed wooden dock, and a staircase, to help with a steep ascent. It is not long though, and soon, I found myself on a well worn and wide trail, essentially flat with a slight downhill gradient. While sitting at the river end of the portage, resting before my second carry, two canoes pulled up. A guy and a girl in one canoe, and a female soloist in the other. I marvelled at the dexterity of the soloist, obviously she was much skilled in her paddling ability. I also noted that the soloist was wearing light coloured long sleeve jacket of a light fabric. I myself was wearing a just a cut-off t-shirt, and shorts with sandals. I love the sun, and cringe at having to cover up, like the female soloist did. This would come back to haunt me, as I'll relate later.
There was a cairn dedicated to two Algonquin Park rangers of old, being in an out of the way place such as North Tea Lake, compared to places like Opeongo or Canoe Lake, it reminded me how vast Algonquin was, even way back when..almost 70 years previous. Close to 1:30 p.m. I was ready to launch and gazed out upon North Tea Lake. There was 10 million whitecaps out there! In the protected bay, where I was launching from all was calm, out there however, waves and wind reigned supreme. I studied my map, considering which way to go. My destination was Lorne lake, and there were two ways to get there. The first option was to paddle along the north shore of the west arm, following the portage to Lost Dog Lake, then shortly breaking off the trail to another portage, the 2010m trail to Sisco Lake. Yes that's the way it is spelt. Not with a "C", but with an "S". I thought it odd myself. Paddling Sisco Lake, I would encounter another portage, this one a 730m trail, before coming onto Lorne Lake. I ignored this option and took the more 'direct' route. Direct? Some might ask. Yes, going the seemingly longer way was in fact 800m shorter by trail. If I had to do one 5km portage or five 1km portages, I'd take the one 5km portage instead. Too many multiple portages in one day, drives me nuts, more than 6 in one day, and I get mad.
The start of the 255m portage to North Tea Lake
At the portage to North Tea Lake: I guess I'll stick to the trail!
Option two, I was to paddle across North Tea Lake, to the East arm, and up along the north shore, to the 1920m portage to Lorne Lake. It was alot more paddling, but less portaging. I paddled onto the expanse of North Tea Lake, and didn't even have time to look back. The waves were quite big at well over 2 foot rollers. It was quite an exhilarating paddle. Although the waves were rough, I had the waves and wind at my back(For Once!), and it was late June, the waters were warm, and am a capable swimmer. I saw two motorboats on North Tea Lake, although I knew to expect them, they bothered me little this day, as I just steered myself into the East arm, enjoying the ride. As I came to the narrows and a sandy point between the west and east arms of North Tea Lake, the water became very shallow, sandy and weedy. All of a sudden I was 'surfing' in my canoe on over half meter high whitecaps. It was incredible! The shoreline was a mere 3 meters away and here I was almost on the verge of tipping in vast rollers and whitecaps! I let the waves push me ashore, and pulled my canoe around the bend into calmer waters and took a five minute rest to admire the land and water around me. I noticed at this point, that my legs and arms were sun burnt. A little too late, I covered myself with sun block. At this point I had been under the sun for over 4 hours.
The North Tea Lake end of the 255m portage: Memorial to the left
View of Deception: North Tea Lake looked calm, it really was rough going though
I paddled along the shoreline, trying to stay out of the gusty winds that were so prevalent that day. I passed many beautiful islands, complete with campsites. Virtually all of the island campsites that I passed were very rugged looking and highly exposed to west wind. Indeed, on one site, I saw a canoe perched upside down on black pointy rocks...some sites had no landings at all. Just before 2:30 p.m. I landed upon a nice long sandy beach, the beginnings of the 1920m portage to Lorne Lake. I picked up my pack and started off down the trail. The portage started, going up a small incline. To the right of the trail, a few meters from the beginning, there is relics of logging days gone by, old rusty pieces of equipment.
Two things to note here. For this trip I was double portaging. One canoe, one pack...oh but it was a heavy pack! I had learned my lesson the previous year and promised to never again, burden myself with triple portaging. The other thing I wanted to mention was the lack of a thermometer. Although there are weather stations closer to to where I was; Trout Creek and Powassan; The Algonquin Weather Station located at the east gate had more comprehensive HOURLY readings, whereas the two previously mentioned locations only had daily readings. For the purpose of this trip-log, I'll refer to temperatures and humidexes, based upon readings from Algonquin Park's East Gate Station. As well, in the back of my mind, I added perhaps a degree or two to the temperature and 2 or 3 to the humidex readings, while I was deep in the forest.
The landing at the 1920m portage to Lorne Lake: Great swimming locale!
The beginning of the1920m portage to Lorne Lake
I plunged into the forest, glad to be out of the glare of the sun. The cool and shady inviting forest turned out to be something completely different. It was hot! It was humid! The forest turned into a jungle. The air laden with moisture and mosquitos galore! By 3 p.m. temperatures readings(At the East Gate) were 31.1°C, with a humidex of 36°C. I kept going, the trail pretty much flat but lumpy in sections, lots of small up and downs. The trail was worn but not that worn, and thus not wide at all. Finally after about 50 minutes of non-stop mosquitos, and Lorne Lake still not in site, I threw down my back and backed away. A cloud of mosquitos furiously attacked my pack. It was incredible, the amount of hell, June can deliver in one afternoon. I headed back, upon arrival back at North Tea Lake, I was tired, hot, and soaked through with sweat, and covered with sunburn and mosquito bites. I stripped naked and dove into the water. Oh man, what relief! I relaxed for 30 minutes or so by the water's edge, lounging on the sand, taking my time, prepping my mind and body for hell: part 2, that was to come; The one point in a trip when a man(or woman) is helpless, carrying a canoe, and the skeeters have their way with you.
I picked up my canoe and headed up the portage. The relief I had enjoyed at the lake, soon vanished to be replaced by relentlessness. Mosquitos, ever present, ever biting.
At one point, three things happened at once; in one mid-step, a twig caught in my sandal, jumped up and slashed my sun-burned ankle, sweat dripped into my eye, and a mosquito was biting into the hard bone behind my ear(while I swatted at it), all in one motion, it was almost comical. I laughed, but it was a hysterical laugh, I pushed on. Virtually the whole canoe carry, my attention was drawn to swatting the little devils, thus time seemed to pass more quickly and before I knew it, the 45 minute hell carry was over, I had reached the pack, I put down my canoe and picked up the pack. Not five minutes later, I reached Lorne Lake. I had come so close to the lake the first carry over and had not realized it. The landing at Lorne lake was down a short steep eroding sandy bank. I ran back, got the canoe and completed the portage in a hurry, and launched onto Lorne Lake at 6:03 p.m. Lorne Lake was pretty. No motorboats, no canoes, no one in sight. It is also a green lake, as I headed to the lone island campsite, I passed by a smaller island with a large rock shoal, even at a distance of about 20m, huge rocks lurk just beneath the water's surface. Just before 6:30 p.m. I landed at the island campsite. The angle of ascent to get to the campsite, was astonishing, roughly 70°!! maybe even 80°. I'm not kidding, it's more than 60° for sure. I know I was tired and sunburnt, but it really was a crazy climb. I had to scramble like a gorilla to get to the campsite. With my canoe stowed, my tent set-up, I surveyed the site. It was heavily treed, with a small rock wall to the north. I began thinking about cooking, when the mosquitos changed my mind. The site was a bugtrap. I ate some gorp, drank some water and juice I mixed, and crashed into my bug-free tent, read a book for a awhile then went to sleep around 9:30 p.m.
The island campsite on Lorne Lake: It's in there...somewhere
I was awoken at 4:30 a.m. to the sound of thunder. I looked around...lightning was flashing in the distance, approaching from the west. It started to rain. I flew out of the tent, and began putting my fly on. I had neglected to do it the night before, it was hot, so I wanted whatever breeze I could gleam from the forest to find it's way through my tent. As soon as I started to put the fly on, the rain stopped, not 10 seconds of rain. I finished the job, and went back to my haven. 5:30 a.m. Thunder and lightning again, this time coming up from the south, however it faded and I drifted back to sleep. 7 a.m. I finally got up. Pain! I felt it all night long, but now that I was up and moving around alot, I had time to examine myself. My top of the feet, ankles, and lower shins were sun-burned really bad. However it was my neck and shoulders that suffered the worst. My shoulders were blistering...bubbling up, with many pockets of water underneath. Day 2 was a day of rest, although I didn't want it to be, I just wanted the pain to end. I had brought along some solar-caine to relieve the pain, it worked but only for mere seconds at a time, when applied. I could not see sunrise on the campsite, shrouded as it was in forest. For that I was thankful, for wandering around camp all day, everytime I stepped into sunlight, my sunburnt skin objected with more pain signals. Around noon, I dug out my supper from the night before, that I had neglected to eat. Steak! It was already hot again, with a temperature of 29°C, and a humidex of 35°C, I was both delighted and surprised at how well my frozen steak fared through the heat, I had buried it deep in my pack. Pulling it out, it was still quite red, and just starting to turn brown a bit on one side. That afternoon, I fought off mosquitos, while I cooked and ate steak and mushrooms. It was one luxury that I allowed myself, and it was good! It also took my mind off the pain if only for a short while. During the afternoon, while lounging in my tent, reading a book, I could hear voices drift by in a canoe. I didn't bother to investigate, as I was comfortable, and didn't want to move or stretch my aching skin. Night came, I didn't bother with a fire, I learned with cooking my steak, that sitting next to a fire while sunburnt, is a waste of time, wood, and is painful. I went to bed early, shortly after 8 p.m.
For two nights I virtually 'hid' in my tent, weary of June sunshine and bugs
After approx. 30 hrs in June heat,
my frozen steak was still plenty red when I Prepared to cook it.
Steak & Mushrooms: mmmmmm good!