Triplogs / Triplog#1
Access#29 Kiosk(IN) - Maple L - Ratrap L(2) - Maple L(2) - Kiosk(OUT)
Day 1 - Maple Lake - Getting There
It had been 7 years since I'd last been in the park.
My interest re-kindled, I planned a 6 day trip to Algonquin's North. My Friend John and his wife, were coming from Japan to visit friends and family, and to do a little bit of portaging with their 'friend' Mark, in Algonquin.
Even before the trip began, I was in danger of not going. 2 weeks before the trip, I threw out my back. I was in sheer agony, I couldn't even put my socks on, much less walk without severe pain. With 5 days till the trip, I grew desperate...I had to get my back fixed. After all John & Norie, were coming all the way from Japan...I didn't want to disappoint them. For three days I went through intensive Chiropractic therapy..painful as the process was, it worked! well...sort of.
There were 4 of us(2 couples).
My friend JP & myself. As well as my friend John & his wife Norie.
We linked up @ around 4:30am in Toronto's north end(no time for beauty sleep). With coffees in hand, we headed north. Taking our time(and many smoke breaks later), we arrived @ Kiosk around 10:30am. We had picked up our canoes at 'Halfway Chute' outfitter(no longer in business), and drove to the access point, checked in, and got our permits. We parked our vehicles, loaded our Canoes, posed for a group photo, and we were off!
The weather was fair, with partly cloudy conditions, with temperatures in the low 20's °C. There was a light breeze with gentle rolling waves. It took us 'bout an hour to cross Kiosk and locate Maple Creek. Man..it was almost 12 noon and the hard work hadn't even started yet.
We came upon the first portage. 775m...no messing around here.
We had rented a ultra-light Kevlar canoe(43lbs). I tried lifting it, almost immediately my tender back protested the excessive strain, I dropped the canoe as lightly as I could...damn!
First portage: Looking up Maple Creek
I looked to JP and asked her to help me, I knew she wasn't looking forward to this part of the trip. I thought i'd be able to do this on my own, but my back had other ideas, and my mind was filled with uncertainty, I needed her help.
Together, we doubled everything, we each had a pack(too much stuff), plus the canoe. this 775m portage was up and down and around and seem to keep going. It started to get humid, then we came to the end and gladly lowered our canoe and prepared to launch up the creek!
Now the fun part began...this is the longest un-broken stretch of Maple Creek to paddle, man it was beautiful here, Tamaracks everywhere!
Green, green, and MORE GREEN!
Maple Creek: Solitude and beauty, abound
There were beaver dams here and there(three in total), one had actually been broken, and going up the creek made crossing the dams much more unpleasant then going down a creek and over a dam. Next came the 90 & 630m portages, more of the same, however the portages seem to be getting more rugged..or was I just getting tired?
Near the 805m portage(if i remember correctly), JP & I came upon an 'S' bend in the creek.
The current was too strong, and we couldn't paddle thru it. No problem, I lept out and sank upto my knees in muck.
Good thing I was wearing my Merril velcro sandals and not my loose fitting running shoes, I would have lost them in the suction as I slogged thru the muddy creek bottom. The water was upto my hips and in the process I destroyed a pack of smokes...oh well. I did some research on this area beforehand, and never came upon a trip-log, where anyone went up the creek...now i know why!
On Maple Creek: Painfully Happy
We came upon the 805m portage.
Picked up our packs and away we went....whoa!
About 150m in, there was a hill, that was very steep. I was not looking forward to carrying the canoe up it. We grabbed our packs, and did the hiking bit first. The hill was really quite ridiculous. The angle of the ascent was steep and the path kept being interrupted by roots and rocks, and the trail it self sloped sideways too. I thought to myself, "This is a portage?" Upon the end of the 805m portage we dropped our packs and headed back to grab the canoe.
Going down the hill was so steep, one wrong move and off ya go tumbling down the hill side, I was literally hanging onto trees on my way down.
We arrived back at the beginning and had a short rest. John & Norie elected to keep going.
Arriving at the 805m portage: unaware of what's to come
I was resting 'bout 20 meters from the creek and JP was 'bout 10 meters closer.
While resting, I heard branches breaking and looked up...across the creek I saw the thick Alder bush starting to move around and 'shiver' as something large moved among the bush. I saw a huge rack claw it's way thru the bush, thrusting and twisting it's way. I stood transfixed by what emerged from the bush..It was a big Moose!
A Big PRIME BULL Moose, he was huge, and a very large rack to boot. I had seen Moose before, much closer too, but never this big. What a magnificent creature!
Surprisingly JP hadn't noticed him..I called softly to JP, the moose heard me and turned to stare at us, in a way that all moose tend to stare...deadpan. Jp was thrilled. She had never seen a moose before. I'd hadn't much more experience with moose either.
We were just in awe. I told JP that we should be on our way, having left the camera with our packs at the other end(doh!), we picked up our canoe and headed off. A quick peek and I saw the moose heading off in the opposite direction, drinking and munching on plants, as he wandered down the creek.
Preparing for another hike
Norie: Algonquin Rocks!
We arrived, with canoe @ the bottom of the steep hill. OH shit! My back is sore as hell, JP is tired, and knowing standing around smoking and complaining wasn't gonna help, we started our ascent. Near the top of this hill(and I was having the most terrible time of it), there was a 'halfway' point, a place where you can rest your canoe, without having to set it down on the ground. Why it wasn't farther down the hill, I don't know, but I was carrying the canoe myself, because Jp & I had coordination difficulties going up the hill, and my back started to feel a bit better. I thought it better to do it on my own. If your like me, you'll use that rest spot, the angle of the ascent was just ridiculous! It was really REALLY steep going up this thing. Not to mention the knotty roots, that were abundantly aware of our presence and tried at every opportunity to do their best to trip us up. Then there was the muddy condition of the portage itself..it had been raining last nite by the look of things. This portage sucked!! Then I remembered the little smirk the dude at the permit office gave us when he saw where we were going. My back was killing me!
Halfway point: Along a portage on Maple Creek
Jp, Norie and even john, were beginning to wonder where the hell Mark had planned to send them! Hmmm...I think they were no longer thinking of me as their 'friend', anymore.
I assured them though, that once we were thru this, it was a piece of cake, it saved us a full day going this way, instead of thru Mink,Club,Mouse, and Erables.
Besides, coming back this way, everything was obviously downhill.
At the put in at the end of the 805m portage, we passed some people coming down the creek. No one ever passed us coming up from behind us, nor did we pass anyone ahead of us. I think we were the only ones going this way, too late now. We should be almost there. On to the creek again, overcast now, there's a light breeze and if feels good to get out of the humid forest, not 6 min. later, we were back in the forest. One last portage,130m. I don't even remember this portage, so it couldn't have been that bad, I do remember a huge owl flying ahead of us along the portage as we approached his stoop.
3 times he took off and landed ahead of us before heading back to where ever he came from. Such a wondrous bird, how big it was, and how slowly and silently he glided thru the air!
Taking a break along Maple Creek
All of a sudden we were upon Maple Lake. Wow it was getting dark..I asked john what time it was, 8:45PM!! Shit! We had been on this creek almost 9 hrs! Oh man, we suck, and smoke too much!
With light rapidly fading, we had no time to rest, we jumped in our canoes and headed off. The first site, was an island campsite. John and Norie approached it from the far side, as we continued down the shore to check out the first site along the west shore.
John discovers the site is occupied, we continue on to the west shore site...it's empty!
Not caring weather the site was good or bad we lept out of our canoes, it was just after 9:00pm, it was dark in the forest, and as soon as we hit the shore, the bloodfest began!
City blood! skeeters loved us!
Sunset on Maple Lake
JP was practically in tears, the skeeters were relentless. We struggled to get the tent up as fast as we could. JP dashed into the tent, I struggled with my hatchet to cut some thick dead fall, shortly we had a fire going, John fired up his stove and made some coffee. JP came out of the tent and joined us around the fire. The four of us sat around the blessed fire, faces aglow and exhausted.
I pulled out a package of buns and BBQ sized hot dogs. We roasted them over the fire.
We devoured them and John sat there munching on his dog. "We hauled ass today!" he said. We certainly did! and I'll be damned, but, these were the best tasting hot dogs in the Universe! We drank our coffee and remarked bout our journey, how tired we were, happy, sore, bug-bitten, and how proud we were of ourselves.
I couldn't have picked a worse route...but we did it! We were on Maple Lake. We crashed after dinner, thoroughly exhausted.
Day 2: Waking up on Maple Lake
We woke up before 8:30am. The first thing i heard was the soft beating of a loon's wings as it passed directly over our campsite. It was that quiet!
It was a beautiful sound to awaken to. I crawled out of the tent and walked over to the lake's edge. It was a sunny morning, still and quiet and green everywhere.
Norie was impressed. Having never been to Canada and never being to a place even remotely like Algonquin, it was hard for her to believe that such places existed.
The 5 hr drive to get here, blew here mind. Japan is a small mountainous nation where almost 75% of it is uninhabitable, because it is too mountainous.
John once told me that on top of Mount Fuji(in Japan), that there were vending machines. and in places like europe you can drive thru several countries in the space of 5 hrs...and here we were in the same province, and no vending machines in site!
A moment of Solitude on Maple Lake
We broke camp before 11am and headed off to Ratrap Lake for 2 nites.
As we went down Maple Lake it became narrow, and shallow. Huge rocks lurked just beneath the surface. We glided by them silently.
A group of loons, 4 adults and perhaps 4 young were quietly swimming nearby. As we approached them, the young suddenly dove under the water, and two of the adults took off swimming rapidly in a huge perfect circle. When the opposing loons met at the apex of the circle, they continued down the lake in opposite directions in straight lines. This tactic, I suspected, was to draw us away from the young. Well we continued on, and arrived shortly thereafter, upon the main body of Maple lake, it opened up just as we crossed the narrowest part of the lake. Here it was studded with what seemed like a submerged break wall. It became really shallow, then it dropped off immediately as we crossed into the main body of the lake. Still the occasional large rock could be seen here and there, rising up from the depths to challenge our hulls.
What a beautiful lake. Not a soul around, and total silence, except for the music of nature. We swung west, and paddled to the 440m portage to Ratrap Lake.
This portage was not too bad, it starts out a bit low and swampy, then moves to higher and drier ground with very small hills. The trail then moves deeper into the forest, away from the creek connecting Maple and Ratrap lakes. Lots of roots and rocks here and there, then before anyone could start to complain...we arrived at Ratrap Lake.
Wow! Talk about seclusion.
There is only 1 site on this lake and it is on a medium sized island.
Ratrap is not big, but it is not small either, lots of space to canoe around, cause being on this site for 2 nites has limited opportunities.
No rats around, but man 2 nites on this site...what a trap!
This site is screwy! Heavily forested, the landing has a few submerged logs(that we could see), so no one was ready to jump in for a swim.
and that ugly word again,"STEEP". Can ya believe it? This island is shaped like a cone. Standing around the campfire one found him/her self either on their heels or their toes! there was only 3 flat spots. Two spots for the tents, and a log to sit on by the fire.
Exploring the island, there wasn't much to see. Atop the island, the was a collapsed structure, possibly an old outhouse, or small cabin. Hard to tell, the wood was in rotten condition. On the southwest corner of the island, the land levels out and the remnants of an old campsite were noticeable. This site looks like it had been scraped years ago, it is flat and lumpy(swampy almost) and offers little protection from any south or west wind.
Campsite on Ratrap Lake: it really is that steep looking
There were a few mushrooms growing here and there. None of us knew anything about mushrooms, so we didn't eat any. Knowing, that any of'em might possibly kill.
During our first night on Ratrap Lake, it rained all night. Just a long gentle summer night's rain.