Triplogs / Triplog#11 / Day 2
Kiosk(IN) - Maple Cr - Ratrap L - 3 Mile L - Wahwahtaysee L - 1 Mile L - Erables L - Maple L - Kiosk(OUT)
Day 2 - Maple Creek to Ratrap Lake
I got up at 5:30am, after having a really great sleep.
This is surprising, as this was only my 3rd solo trip. In past trips, I didn't sleep much. Nighttime brought fear of the unknown, fear of everything that made noise.
As it was, sleeping beside the falls, was a great idea. The sound of the water, knocked me out cold, hiding sounds the forest might make.
It was a beautiful morning, some fog, with clear skies.
I made a quick breakfast. This consisted of instant coffee(yuck!), Quaker Instant Oatmeal, some trail mix, and a granola bar. I mixed Kahlua into my oatmeal and coffee, to flavor things up a bit. I did this every morning.
With the length of my stay in the park, I decided to keep my food as simple(bland and boring!) as possible, mainly because of my unfamiliarity with camp cooking, and the fact that dehydrated foods are lightweight. So all of my food was dehydrated meals, with granola bars, oatmeal, soups, and trail mix. I did bring some hot dogs, but I was saving them for Ratrap Lake. Traditionally I like to bring steak and spuds in the first night. However, the thought of cooking a steak in the bush, beside Maple Creek, all by my lonesome self, didn't appeal to me.
Here was my packing scheme.
Triple portaging! NEVER AGAIN!
Do not do this ever, in your life.
With my lack of experience for trips of this length, plus too many luxuries, I originally packed a monster pack of 103lbs.
I considered many factors of the trip, before deciding on a 2 pack strategy.
103 lbs was just too much. After all I was here to have fun, not kill myself.
103 lbs on my back ,and one tree root, could've spelt disaster.
So, I packed a food pack, of 45lbs, this consisted of many food items;
26 dehydrated meals(1 one a day, with 4 extra). I might add that these packs can feed 2 people per package.
50 packets of oatmeal(2 a day, with 6 extra)
20 Knorr cup a soups
10 Lipton Soupworks
5 various packs of Lipton sidekicks
1 pkg of BBQ sized hot dogs w/buns
5 lbs of trail mix
1 medium sized Glad freeze bag of dehydrated eggs
2 large bags of New Zealand Beef Jerky
3 packs of 25 pepperette sticks
3 Large packs of red licorice(my fav. camp junk food)
25 Oatmeal bars
25 Granola bars
5 Power bars
23 one a day vitamins
46 500mg vitamin C tablets(1000mg/day consumed)
30 Crystal light mixes(1.5 Litre packs)
about 20 Crystal light mixes(500mL packs...great for my small water bottle)
40oz of White Rum( 2oz's/nite by the fire)
250ml of Kahlua
some margarine(for the Lipton sidekicks, and eggs)
Other gear packed into the food pack;
Small pouch containing toiletries
First aid kit
MSR Mini Works water filter
1.5 liter jug for the Crystal light(initially filled with water)
Mug, Filet knife, fork, spoon, knife, plate, soup pot, frying pan
3 Primus fuel cans(the large ones)
There might be more things to add here, but I can't remember my packing scheme exactly.
My gear pack was 55 lbs.
This consisted of too many things;
1 MEC Tarn 3 tent
1 Styro sleeping pad
1 MEC self inflating sleeping pad
1 $10 walmart camp chair
1 towel, 1 dish towel
1 pair of jeans, an extra pair of shorts, underwear, long underwear, t-shirt, and a sweater
1 pair of socks
10 rolls of toilet paper
4 more cans of fuel(the big ones)
1 manfrotto studio tripod(heavy!)
1 sleeping bag
A bag of assorted lengths of rope, and bungie cords
There are other odds and ends that added weight as well. Playing cards, extra batteries, notepad, pens, flashlight, etc.
I finished breakfast, cleaned up and filled with energy, I proceeded to pack up. Finished packing, I decided to lumber over to the falls for a morning view and photo shoot of the creek. I was startled by a A Great Blue Heron as it took off from his perch on some timber on the falls, I was not 5m from the big bird..I hadn't noticed him. So silent and still the birds are, not to mention the fact how well they blended in with their surroundings. Just after 7:00am, I was off with the first pack. Taking the heavier gear pack, and with camera in hand, I moved along the trail, and up the steep hill. This hill just didn't seem that steep anymore. I guess it is because my physical fitness was much better this time around, nevertheless it is a hill that people don't look forward to. Thus most people go down this creek, not up!
Nearing the end of the trail, I noticed some bear scat on the trail. Uh-huh. My alert level went up a few notches, and I almost expected to stumble upon a bear sunning himself on the rock landing, at the put-in.
No such luck. All was quiet, except there was fresh Moose tracks. My canoe was still there too!
So..there had been activity around here. If it wasn't for the creek falls the night before, who knows what I might've heard or seen, or imagined what I'd heard or seen. The return for the 2nd pack and subsequent hike was uneventful.
The short paddle to the 130m portage is very short, and filled with 'hippo' rocks. There was a very small island in the middle.
Going up to Maple Lake, you have to go left, or right(if you are coming down the creek), to navigate thru here. The other side is too rocky. Speaking of rocky, the landing at the 130m portage is rocky and awkward at both ends. The Maple Lake end is aided by the presence of a fallen timber to balance a leg on. However i did manage slip on the timber and fall in the water, while loading the heavier pack into the canoe.
It was close to 8:30am when I launched onto Maple Lake. I was back again. I loved this Lake so much. There was nothing spectacular about it. Just the creek journey and the blue waters of the lake, that plus the lack of people. Every island on the lake had a site. There are 5 islands in all(if you count the double island campsite at the south end, as 2 islands).
The lake here was like black glass, the sun was in my eyes. I proceeded down the lake, passing a family in a nice cedar strip canoe.
The first site on an island was abandoned, probably by the family I had just passed.
The next site on my right had a tent, and looked like the occupants were still asleep. I crept by, noticing as I did so, I could see bottom. Huge boulders lurked under the water's surface, none of them close enough to do damage.
As I approached the main body of water of Maple Lake, the shorelines narrowed quite a bit, and the water became very shallow and sandy. So shallow, that I was tempted to get out and stand, it was barely 2 feet deep there, but not knowing if I'd sink an additional 2 feet I elected to stay with my canoe.
Upon reaching the opening up of Maple Lake, there is a natural rock break wall of sorts, that extends almost two thirds of the way across the gap. Once pass this wall..I turned west. Beneath me there was a ton of rocks very close to the water surface, eventually it dropped off as I made my way west into deeper waters.
I pulled up to the west end of Maple Lake at the 440m portage to Ratrap Lake, pulled out my packs, and stretched a bit, enjoying the morning sun. Standing there soaking in the view, I heard something off to my left. Here at the end of the lake, the creek from Ratrap Lake, empties into Maple Lake, in a marsh like ending, filled with weeds and bulrushes. Beyond this on the opposing shoreline, something was moving thru the bush. I tracked the movement of the moving bushes, jumping ahead to a clearing, in the forest, I watched and waited anxiously. Could it be a bear?
A few minutes later a black bear ambled into view a few meters up from the shoreline in a clearing in the forest. There was perhaps a 30m gap of water between us. This was my very first bear sighting ever!
I stood there not daring to move. I was frozen as waves of emotions crashed over me. Excitement, awe, glee, fear.
Now this was a treat! I had my binoculars around my neck and quickly brought them forward to have a closer look.
The bear looked small. Then again, I had no real frame of reference, had I been standing next to him(not that I'd want to be), he could have been huge...I just don't know, but to my eyes he looked small. Actually if I had been standing anywhere near him, I don't think he would've noticed me at all(ya right!).
So busy was this bear with his nose. I guess he was hungry. The bear moved with his nose constantly to the ground sniffing. I could hear his nose going non stop.
The bear stopped at a log, and pawed at it for a bit before moving on, again with his nose buried in the ground. I was thrilled.
My camera was double bagged in a MEC Dry bag, in the canoe. I dare not move to get it. I'd have to walk into the water, without making a sound, reach into the canoe, pull out the dry bag, and some how extract the camera from a further 2 plastic ziplock bags. No, this would have alerted the bear to my presence. If anything I was sure that if he did suddenly become aware of me, he'd most likely take-off, instead off charging across the water after me. I had my canoe right there with me. I just didn't want to wreck that moment. Thus no picture. I was standing there in plain view, yet the bear never knew I was there. Soon the bear disappeared back into the forest. I shifted my gaze farther up the shoreline, where there was a rocky beach. Sure enough minutes went by and the bear reappeared. I continued to watch the bear for 10 minutes more, before he was out of sight.
I was enchanted. Algonquin Rocks! It's funny how in the past, I had planned many more shorter trips of 2 days, 4 days, 6 days, and in most cases didn't see anything beyond loons or squirrels.
Here I was on a long solo trip, only 2 days in and I was seeing more than I had seen in almost all my last trips combined.
The 440m portage was a bit tight in 2 places. Beginning with a hill, then curving and dipping a bit into a swampy area, the trail then climbed back up a twisty hill. Here there was a lot of fallen timber, which had been thankfully cut up and moved aside by park staff. Again, halfway thru the portage, more fallen timber pushed aside, by hard working park staff. There is a Junior ranger camp on Kiosk, near Maple Creek, and I suspect it was the folks there, that had cleared the portages here. Thank you guys!
Soon I came upon the end of the portage...here it was knotted with roots everywhere from lots of cedar trees. Once I had everything at Ratrap Lake, I launched and paddled over to the island, with one lone campsite on this lake. Ratrap is a beautiful small lake, with another island lying to the north. Later on, I went out and filtered some water near this island. There was quite a large gathering of birds nesting on this island. there was some dead trees too...from the lime of the birds I suspected. I did not have my binoculars with me, and I'm not a bird watcher, So I suspect that they were just seagulls. They were NOT Cormorants. they were white birds not black.
I landed on the site. A sunken timber that was here 4 years ago was still here.
The 2 tenting spots were in the same place. The fire-pit area was completely changed around, for the better too!
A huge flat area had been dug out with a fire pit in the middle, 2 large log benches had been added, and the last occupants had left a small supply of firewood to boot. In the bushes beyond the fire-pit, someone had tossed their trash there. A broken fishing rod, a torn up sweater, and a empty juice jug. WHY?
Why do people leave garbage in such clean places? I drag out all my trash and on occasion(depending on the circumstances of each trip), i'll bring out found trash as well. Here, however, I was going to be moving around for another 20 nites. There was no way I could take this with me. I was both annoyed and saddened by this fact and that it was there in the first place.
I can never over-stress that garbage in Algonquin Park is a bad thing. Cities have garbage collection. Algonquin does not. I ask anyone who reads my triplogs to please respect the park and it's inhabitants and it's visitors too.
Pack out your garbage. There is no need for such bad habits to continue. If they do...the future doesn't look so green for the park.
I set up camp, kicked back and relaxed. By mid-afternoon, I watched a canoe launch from the 440m portage. it was a family of three. The kid in the middle yelled out in disappointed, 'there's someone already there!'. Yup..I was scheduled to be on this site this night. So my guess is this family probably decided to push on from wherever they came, to Ratrap, or didn't want to have to go all the way to North Sylvia Lake. Ya win some, ya lose some.
Actually it was a fair day, blues skies, with a very light wind. If the weather was harsh or dangerous, I'd have no qualms sharing my site with the family, but not this day. They continued west, to North Sylvia Lake I imagine. At 5pm two more canoes went by, heading west. I thought to myself..they still have a long way to go. It really wasn't late, but I figured they'd probably have to rush their choice of sites, with the approaching darkness, and the skeeter blood fest.
I usually like to paddle early in the mornings, and make camp by 1pm the latest. Different people have different strategies, but mine is early to rise, early to camp. I also like to move slowly, not rush my way thru the park.
Around 5:30pm, I made hot dogs over the fire, and wrote in my journal. Later on I went over and visited the old abandoned site on the island's south west shore. Not much there. On the way back, I found a fire-pit and on a flat rock, a supposed campsite that someone had setup, most likely in bad weather or for some other unknown reason.
This was very near the shore and about halfway between my site and the old abandoned site.
I also found a chunk of bone. what it was, what ate it, I don't know. However, I did take a picture of it.
Making my way thru a forest of dead young pines, I collected firewood, and returned to camp and settled down for the night.
While trying to sleep, I could hear the skeeters whine as they attacked my tent, lusting for my blood. Soon the whine was deafening in the forest quiet. I sat up and turned my flashlight on. I looked around, I guessed at least 50 of the little devils were clinging to my tent netting. I'm glad I don't suffer from claustrophobia. If I did I might be tempted to run outside. The psychological effect of all those skeeters and the combined whine, was getting to me. I checked and re-checked the netting. I was safe! I rolled over with an evil grin and went to sleep.