Triplogs / Triplog#11
Kiosk(IN) - Maple Cr - Ratrap L - 3 Mile L - Wahwahtaysee L - 1 Mile L - Erables L - Maple L - Kiosk(OUT)
Days 0 & 1 - Kiosk to Maple Creek
This was my big Solo trip. Biggest trip ever, solo or otherwise. This trip was originally for 22 nites/23 days(max. interior stay), but I shortened it, for reasons that will become clear later.
I headed up to Access#29(Kiosk), at The Park's north end, on Friday July 23rd, 2004. I drove up at a leisurely pace, intending to car camp that nite. The plan was then to get up early, and shove off into Algonquin's interior for 3 weeks of solitude!
I pulled up to the permit office at around 3pm, and walked inside and talked to the woman there(I'll call her 'Lucy'). 'Lucy' was very helpful. She pointed out where I could park my car, for the duration of my trip, and while paying for my one night car camping permit, I was able to secure the permit for my interior trip as well. This was handy, as I wanted to leave early before the permit office opened in the morning. I settled into my site, set up my tent, re-checked my gear and supplies for the upcoming trip, and set off on a photo-op around Kiosk campground.
I met some people from Europe(Norway), and chatted about Algonquin for some time, while enjoying the fine July afternoon weather. I returned to my site, and hung around the shoreline. I was restless. I wanted to start my trip now!
I placed my canoe on the shoreline, and put my packs in the trunk of my car. After a submarine sandwich, and a few drinks..I set off to bed at 9pm. I was awoken at 10pm, some people showed up at the site across the road from me, setting up their tent, moving cases of beer around(you know that sound!), etc. By 11pm, they were chopping wood. Annoying!
Realizing that getting up and complaining about it, wasn't gonna do any good(ever tried to chop wood, quietly?), I tired to go back to sleep. Then the music came..not loud, very low actually, but I could still hear it over their voices. 11:30pm another car pulls up, this time beside me. Vehicles moving back and forth, the occasional headlights glaring into my tent. Somehow, I fell back to sleep. 1am, I was awoken by wood chopping by the people next to me. People man...no respect for their neighbors. This was not the first time, I've car camped in Algonquin, I should've known better, oh well.
3:45am..the guys across from me decide to turn off their music and goto sleep..so did I, finally. Sheesh..if your gonna sit around with your buddies and eat and drink beer and listen to music, might as well stay home in your backyard!
7:00am: My alarm went off, and was I instantly awake. I was energized, no more waiting! I packed up my tent, and moved my backpacks into my canoe, once the canoe was loaded, and I was ready to set off, I had the satisfaction, of starting my car and revving it up a couple of times...I'm sure my ill feelings from the night before were reciprocated that morning. Enough, I moved my vehicle, to the parking area, for the duration of my trip, and noticed the permit office was open. I went inside and complained to 'Lucy' 'bout the the problems from the night before. She told me that 1 of the parties had reservations, and the other group just showed up. She also told me that chopping of wood at 1am is unacceptable, and that no music is allowed, especially till all hours of the night. 'Lucy' asked me if I complained to them in person? I said no, I'm a bit of a hot head at times and getting heated at someone in Algonquin at 2:00am is not my cup of tea. 'Lucy' assured me, that they would be reprimanded for their discourteous behavior, and wished me luck on my trip. I bid her well, and walked back to my site.
It was 7:40am, and I was standing beside my canoe, looking at a white wall. No Kiosk Lake, just a white wall of fog. I waited perhaps 20 minutes for the fog to lift a little, enough for me to see somewhat. It was 8am on the button, I hopped into the canoe, and began paddling. Not 3 minutes later, I rounded a point, and the sun broke thru the fog.
What an awesome sight! All the previous nite's woes left my mind, as I gazed at the most surrealistic scene of Algonquin, I had seen in years. What a way to begin a trip. I was so happy, I was home again.
It took me perhaps just over an hour to reach Maple Creek. the paddle to the creek was amazing. The sun warm on my back, water almost like glass, and barely a breath of wind. Crossing the lake to the south shore was easy, and I noticed several campsites coming alive, as people stirred from their slumber. Paddling up the bay to Maple Creek, is a bit tricky, as there are numerous 'dead heads' scattered throughout the bay, it becomes very shallow and weedy too, not having a bowman, sometimes has it's disadvantages. The sun also drifted into my vision as I turned in the bay. As I approached the takeout to the first portage(775m), I saw a merganser and a pair of moose, browsing in the creek outflow.
What a treat. My first morning in..fine weather, awesome scenes, and now wildlife. It just got better and better! Algonquin Park Rocks! I snapped some pictures, and landed my canoe. This was it, my ascent up the creek. The last time I was here, was 4 years ago, and I was suffering from severe back pain and a broken tooth. This year I was in fine shape, ready to tackle the portages solo. I picked up my first pack and headed up the path.
The trail begins in grasses, then enters the forest a few short meters later. Here it can be mucky and a little rocky, then the trail straightens out as it ascends a long slow steady climb. After this the trail curves a few times going up and down a little bit, before leveling for quite a distance. Eventually I came to the landing at Maple Creek. A mucky beginning, surrounded by a wild raspberry patch. Here is the longest unbroken stretch of navigable creek. I returned for my canoe, and hauled it all the way, no breaks. Then I returned for my second pack. This took a little longer as I was a little winded by now. Finally back at the landing, I loaded up and shoved off in the canoe, and was in heaven. This was my favorite creek in the whole park. So beautiful up here, and less traffic too!
Soon I came upon the 190m and 90m portages..these are quick and of no consequence. The landing at the end of the 90m portage, is quite mucky and oozy. I always wear sandals, so this wasn't a problem. Here I encountered a party of 4 canoes, going south down the creek. I remember the leader of the party asking me for the time. It was 1:12pm. Very shortly after this, I came upon the falls that signaled the beginning of the 630m portage. This portage is rugged. The trail twists alot and goes up and down, and up and down some more, and over rocks here and there. It's nothing major, but ya know you're getting deeper into the park. I came upon a short steep drop in the trail, as I trotted down to the clearing at the first campsite on the creek, and the portage landing. There is a lot of rocks here in the put-in, and I had to be careful getting in my canoe as to not slip on any of them. This section of the creek has rocks here and there, but otherwise a pleasant paddle. After a while, I came to the mucky and very rocky landing at the beginning of the dreaded 805m portage.
The landing here is at the foot of some falls, littered with timber and rocks galore. The actual beginning of the portage is real messy for about the first 5 or 10m...rocky as hell, ripped up tree roots,etc. After this I arrived at my destination. The campsite at the beginning of the 805m portage. I had planned this trip for many months, taking into account my physical abilities, safety concerns, and a slow pace. I had planned to stay my first nite on the creek, while carrying my canoe that evening over the portage to the other end. Then in the morning, carry my 2 packs over. I wasn't even sure that this portage was the 'killer' one, till I had passed the 630m one. Now I was sure.
As it turned out it, my plan worked perfectly! I arrived at the campsite at 3:15pm. I hung out on the falls for about an hour, recouping my strength and enjoying the therapeutic sounds of the water. After this, I got a small smoky fire going, to keep the skeeters off my back, while I set up my tent. I had dinner, and a powerbar to boot. Another hour goes by, it is just past 5:30pm. I picked up my canoe and I was off. I guess about 150m in or so, I came to the steep hill, that everyone talks about. I flew up the hill, right by the halfway point and kept going. Four years ago, I could barely even carry a 43lb canoe...This year I had my own 52lb canoe. The hill was quite steep and is long. I estimate it to be about a 45m ascent. Once on top the trail shrinks and kinda skirts a ravine, that goes down to the creek. Here the trail starts to resemble a goat path in places. Ya gotta be careful here. Later on it flattens out, with a few twists and turns, and small dips. The landing at the end is very nice. Broad flat rock. I put my canoe down, to the left of the landing, on some flat ground, next to some bushes, so as not to impede fellow canoeists. Good portage ethics is a must in the bush, else take-outs/put-ins can be extremely frustrating.
To the left of the bushes I looked over this small section of the creek, i kept moving left some more, thru moose tracks, then I spotted it. The 130m portage to Maple Lake. The gap between the portages was like a 5 min paddle, nothing more. I was that close to being there, on Maple Lake. I relaxed and decided to stick to my plan, I headed back to camp.
Back at camp, I fired up my stove and made some hot chocolate. Had an oatmeal bar, and reflected on my journey that day, as I wrote it down in my notepad. I noticed some minks running across the rocks of the falls as I contemplated my first night in the bush all alone. I had never slept in the forest beside a creek before. I had always slept on a site located on a lake or on an island site. Never on a creek deep in the forest. I felt exposed here...nowhere to flee, if a bear should show up. I was tired, I slung up my food pack, and thought more of this as I drifted off to a very deep sleep.