Triplogs / Triplog#16-Day 1
Park Border(IN) - Wilkins - Wilkins - Wilkins - Park Border(OUT) - Lookout Trail - Ragged Falls
Day 1 - Wilkins Lake - Getting There
This trip was a 3 nite solo trip to Wilkins Lake, Thru Access#18, Aylen Lake.
This was a long drive out of Toronto. Around 4:30am I got on the 401 east, then to the 115, up the 115 to the end, then east along Hwy#7 for a few clicks, then jumping on Hwy#28. The drive along Hwy#28, was a bit tense for me, the highway was shrouded in fog. Arriving in Bancroft, I gratefully pulled into Timmy's for a stretch and some much needed coffee. Out of Bancroft I headed north up Hwy#62, then took Hwy#127(almost missed it) north at Maynooth.
Continuing on, I turned off onto Old Madawaska Rd, which links up with Madawaska Rd, which then turns into Cross Lake Rd.
This road was a nice drive...no traffic anywhere, plus with fall arriving, I had the most amazing view of The Algonquin Highlands, as I approached Hwy#60.
Once on Hwy#60 in Madawaska, I turned right, and headed east along Hwy#60.
After 'bout a 10km drive, I turned left onto Aylen Lake rd. Following this road, I eventually came upon signs leading me to the Access office.
Follow the sign - remember the garbage bin!
The view approaching Aylen Lake
I arrived shortly after 8:00am, ringing the bell to wake the staff.
Everyone was asleep...including me, I think!
Soon a women came out(can't remember her name).
I soon learned that I was not only to be the lone person on Wilkins lake, but the only person to come thru the access point that day(reserved). Man I sure can pick'em.
However, my route was great for soloing, If I'd taken any of my friends along, I wouldn't be their friend any longer. I acquired my permit, asked for directions, and headed out. Later I realized, that I was not given a garbage bag, both of us forgot!
I was not accessing Wilkins via Aylen Lake, but directly. Driving up to the border of Algonquin, and accessing the park, thru a cart trail. Aylen lake is HUGE, and I felt it dangerous for me to paddle up such a large lake solo.
I'm Here! Now, where's my garbage bag?
Looking up the expanse of Aylen Lake
Following the woman's directions, lead me to a dead end. I was told to make a right @ the garbage bin, and go north on the fire road.
A little ways down a split in the road occurs.
I was told to take the right fork, and not the left one that goes downhill a bit.
This is incorrect.You must take the left fork.
Note: I've since been contacted by "Pam", the un-named Lady at the access office. Pam sent me a pleasant email apologizing for the forgotten garbage bag. However Pam insists that the directions she gave me were accurate, and that I most likely got confused or was thinking of a different point along the road. Pam and Bob run the marina there as well. I apologize to Pam too, for thinking ill of your directions. My oversight/error seems to make sense to me, as Pam & Bob have been around Aylen lake area for awhile, while this was my first time.
Proceeding along..keep following the road, till you see the 15km marker, at this point you'll come to a multiple fork in the road. Drive straight thru..no left or right, but straight.
Eventually just before km#16, you'll arrive at a gated entrance, to The Park. Beyond a nice flat logging road.
There is a swampy lake on the left, and a few meters before the gate, is a clearing to park your vehicle.
The border of Algonquin Park - Warning: sweaty people ahead!
It was turning out to be a beautiful morning, the weather forecast was for an awesome weekend weather wise. I unhooked my canoe, having decided to carry it first.
I had no cart and intended to portage it all the way to Wilkins lake.
Using the canoe routes map, I noticed about halfway along the cart trail, Aylen River, would be crossing my path. There is also mention of a little black square, right near where Aylen river and the cart trail cross. I don't know if it was a cottage or a ranger cabin from a bygone era, but there is nothing there now, but a clearing. Nothing to see. Note: I have since been told there is remnants of an old stove in the clearing towards the left, look for it there.
Upon reaching the bridge over the river, there was a split in the road..two logging roads now. There was a sign in the middle indicating the right fork was the way to go.
Up to this point the road surface had been excellent, flat and smooth and free of obstructions. As i took the right fork, the road started to ascend.
Enough..I dropped the canoe and headed back for the pack.
Once arriving back at the point where I had dropped the canoe, I kept going, preferring to scout ahead with the backpack. Kinda hard to watch where your going with a canoe on your head, especially into unknown territory. I do this on most portages...backpacking first to get a good view of where I am going, as well as the opportunity to take some pictures.
The terrain became hilly, at one point with a steep and sharp turn in the road, complete with erosion. Even if it were legal, I would not want to drive my car up this hill.
A few more up and downs, and I came to a sign indicating the continuation of the cart trail was off the road and into the bush.
I would estimate; that it is approx. 4km total on the cart trail. 2km to the bridge, and another(hilly) 2km to the bush trail.
I dropped my pack, in the bush...grabbed some branches lying around, and made an arrow in the road. I headed back and brought the canoe up. Whew! This second part was very exhausting with the canoe...the hills kill ya!
I'm glad I made my arrow in the road...I probably would never have noticed the sign leading me to Wilkins Lake.
Too exhausted to put the canoe down, and pick up a pack, I carried on with the canoe...I had to be getting close.
The bridge crossing Aylen River
Taking the right fork to Wilkins - ahead, hilly terrain awaits
The portage in the bush to Wilkins lake, isn't very long, I would estimate it to be less than 400m, but it does start to descend rather rapidly. It gets kinda steep in places.
There are a few areas of rocky steps and knotted roots(especially @ the end).
However the portage is shortish, and with my canoe at the water's edge, I let the cool air from the lake wash over me, as I gazed for the first time upon Wilkins Lake.
It's a big lake, and I could not see all of it at this point, as I was in a bay.
Feeling excitement , I got up and hurried my way back to my pack.
A little later i was loaded and launched on Wilkins Lake. It was 11:30am. Took me just over 3 hrs, to go 4.4km(double carry). Not bad...not bad at all!
Day 1 - Wilkins Lake - The Arrival
Calm waters greeting - Arrival on Wilkins lake
As I paddled out onto Wilkins lake, I was greeted by calm inviting waters and a rapidly clearing sky...It was another beautiful day in Algonquin. The first site on my left came into view.
It's an interesting campsite.
Heavily treed and protected from north and west winds, complete with a semi-detached island to explore. This though, was not my destination.
On my right was the portage to breezy lake, with a campsite right next to it.
As I rounded the point with the detached island, I came upon the full expanse of the lake.
It was big and beautiful, and it was all mine for 3 nites! Following the shoreline past the first site, there is a variety of large rocks sitting just beneath the surface of the water. I scraped one of them, the effect was startling.
Ahead - First campsite on Wilkins Lake - heavily treed & protected
The semi-detached Island
Seeing the water being so calm, I broke away from the shoreline, and paddled across the lake, to the 2nd site up along the west side. It wasn't until I was 'bout 100m or so from the site, that the wind and waves woke up. No matter...they were with me and not against me. The waves themselves weren't too bad, and my confidence remained high.
Almost 12:30pm, I reached the site. Large sloping rock, right down to the water.
I surveyed the site..there was at least 2 flat areas, suitable for tenting, a firepit, a table, and a couch! Yes a couch...a wooden one that is.
I had inquired prior to my trip, 'bout info on any of the sites on this lake.
Lo and behold, one fellow reported having built a couch there with his friends.
So here I was...sitting on a couch, eating granola bars and drinking a bit-o-rum, with Crystal light! Yuck you might say. It's not bad with passion pineapple, better still, with rye!
My energy renewed, I set up my tent & tarp. Set up the tripod, had a few more swigs, and took a nap..I was exhausted.
Almost there - Destination site on Wilkins Lake
The rock landing at Wilkins Lake campsite
Later in the afternoon, I set off exploring the area.
Behind the site there is a path leading to the thunderbox(latrine).
On my way there, I noticed another trail splitting off. I checked it out, I ended up in a dry swamp. It was creepy looking, but had it's own beauty that appealed to me.
Not to mention, 2 dead trees that fell on each other. reminded me of the 'X' sentries(scarecrows if you will)from the movie 'The Planet of the Apes'. Funny as hell!
There was some free fallen wood around that I cut up for firewood, as well as some dry driftwood, along the shore.
I made a fire and started to read a book, as I sat down on the couch.
Hmmm....odd couch..a little bit too long in the leg and too short on the back.
Half of the upper half was missing. Not to mention the fact that the couch was too far away from the fire, I didn't want to build a big fire...oh well.
I cooked dinner over the fire...steak and potatoes! Very tasty!
I took some pictures, and got a really good look at the lake as evening approached. Lots of colours, and all mine, mine, MINE!!
I was really happy to be here, away from the city.
But I was not happy to see overcast creeping up over the horizon, nor the strong wind that sprang up from the south.
Aw man! It was a small fire that night as the wind intensified.
Before it got 2 dark, I went around and inspected all the trees in the general area of my tent. They all looked healthy, I felt reassured that trees were not going to start crashing down on me. I prepared for bed.
I climbed in and for sometime, I read a book, all the while the wind kept getting stronger. The sound of creaking trees, and whistle of wind thru the pines, rolled thru my tent as I slumbered off.
Fall Colours on Wilkins Lake
Looking across Wilkins Lake
I woke up, with a start...a tree had fallen...this scared the hell out of me!
My nose was cold too..it was damp.
I climbed out and looked around.
It was 2:40am...with my flashlight I looked for the fallen tree.
I couldn't find it...but man it was cold outside and the wind was just ridiculous!
It was so damp outside...but no rain. There was fallen branches everywhere. My tarp was fine.
I walked around for a few more minutes, then went back to bed, eventually falling back to sleep.