Triplogs / Triplog#23 / Days 3&4 / Day 5 / Days 6&7 / Day 8 / Day 9 / Days 10&11
Cedar L(IN) - Petawawa R - Catfish L - Perley L - Burntroot L - Lake La Muir - Hogan L - Philip L - Little Madawaska R - Radiant L - Petawawa R - Cedar L(OUT)
It was a hazy and humid morning, as we woke up just after 7am. We made breakfast, cleaned up and decided what to do that day. Just after 9am, before we headed out, we saw a lone canoe with two people in it, out in the middle of the lake. They were walking! The lake was so shallow in places that by the look of the colour of water on the lake, it appeared that only about the 1/3rd of the lake(the southwest end) was deep enough to permit motor-boating, the rest was too shallow! It was really quite funny to see the folks way out in the middle, walking the water.
If you look closely, you can see a canoe in the middle of the image
Full zoom of the same shot above,
yes they really were out in the middle of the lake!
We decided that we would paddle down the Petawawa a bit. We headed over to the east end of Radiant, passed thru the narrows, which were deep, and went into Snipe Lake. Snipe lake is not very deep and is swampy. We turned around, and headed down the Petawawa, passing under a road bridge. We arrived at the portage around Squirrel rapids, just after 11am. Certainly in spring an experienced white water canoeist could paddle the river, bypassing the portage altogether. For us though the river was too low, and would've chewed my canoe to crap. There is a campsite along the portage, in the middle of the rapids, and is not a bad one either, I'd consider staying there one night if I had the chance, although the landing is a bit steep. The other two sites on the north shore, just before Plover Lake, looked buggy, and might want to be avoided. Plover Lake was a little tricky to navigate into, as there were numerous 'hippo' rocks all about. Once into Plover Lake proper, there is not much to do, except turn around and get out, as it reminded us of the east bay at the end of Lake La muir. It was very mucky and shallow, and loaded with weeds as well..travel was slow, and stinky too, as we churned up the mud and weeds with our passing.
We headed farther down the Petawawa, passing a few deadheads here and there, reminders of the days of logging, long gone on the river. Eventually we landed just after 11:30am at the beginnings of the portage around Big Sawyer and Battery Rapids. There was quite a stand of Cardinal flowers there, something I had never seen in The Park before. We walked the 695m portage and by 12 noon we were looking at an interesting sight along this stretch of the Petawawa river. There was an island in the middle of the river which had a stand of deciduous trees, that gave the surrounding area a look that was indicative of the Carolinian forest found much farther south in Ontario. Here there was another stand of Cardinal wildflowers. I almost regretted not paddling this section, I say almost cause I don't think I missed not doing 14 portages in one day! We rushed back onto Radiant Lake, while coming back up the river, distant thunder could be heard, and it grew even more humid. Both Derek and I got eaten alive by deer flies on the 695m portage coming back. We reached Radiant at 12:45pm, and to the southwest was black sky, and more thunder and the occasional flash of lightning. I was almost in a panic, we had to get back to camp, paddling out in the middle of Radiant in a thunderstorm, made me feel very vulnerable, more so than ever on Radiant, 'cause there was no shore to paddle close to, given the shallow conditions of the lake.
This section of the Petawawa reminded me of the Credit river,
a river much farther south in Ontario
Derek taking a picture of distant hill-lines on Radiant
I took a picture of the same hill lines as well
Derek was much calmer than me, but no less enthusiastic to get back to camp in a hurry, we walked thru the shallows(again), and once we were in deep enough waters paddled back to camp, within 2 min. of our arrival back at camp the rain started. The storm closed in. To the south and southeast of Radiant, the storm struck up a fury. I imagined people around Travers Lake, getting pounded by the storm, as lightning and thunder boomed across the land south of us. The storm didn't want to seem to cross our lake and it did little to relieve the humidity that built up again with the storm's passing. It continued to be hazy and humid, but the rain never did return, and we simply hung around camp the rest of the day, uncertain what the weather was going to do. By 5:30pm, the sky had cleared up, the sun came out and the humidity seeped away. It grew cool that night and we had an excellent bug-free evening by the fire.
An excellent night for a campfire
The awesome August weather continued, as we pushed off, and decided to explore the south side of Radiant Lake. There is alot of history here in this area of The Park, more than the two of us could ever know. What we did know, according to the canoe routes map was the existence of a graveyard on the south end of the lake. We arrived just before 11am, having to walk the last 10 meters though more shallow water, and across a very large beach, well over 60m in width.
The beach at the campsite on the south side of Radiant Lake:
Miles of sand
Memorial Plaque on Radiant: A sober reminder of
past logging tragedies that occurred in Algonquin Park
Remains of an old cedar boat
We found a boulder with a plaque mounted to it, denoting some of the souls buried in the area. However we could not find any signs of any graves. What we did find though astonished both of us. "Where booze bottles go to die", Derek put it. We found a graveyard of bottles and cans, not just one, but several mounds of bottle scattered throughout out the forest. Many were several decades old. Some like a case of empty beer bottles, were more recent. More and more trash was found. An old tent, tarps, empty fuel canisters, a full fuel canister, an old cedar boat, pornographic magazines, oil cans, the trash just went on and on. There was a road that ended at the beach that connected with the old railbed about 150m away. Obviously some folks came here to party via their vehicles, not only that the campsite was only about 150m from the secondary road, tire tracks were seen as well on the beach leading towards the lone campsite as well. What we couldn't figure out is, if most of these folks were driving in by vehicle, why couldn't they at least take their trash with them? The effort to load the trash into a car is minimal compared to what a canoeist might endure in trying to help in cleaning up The Park. We never did find any actual grave-site, and eventually we jumped back in the canoe, and headed west. Just as we were to paddle out of the bay, we noticed a boathouse, with one of the doors open and hanging by one hinge. We went over to investigate. It was in fact a boathouse, but falling apart. We found a trail behind the boathouse, and followed it to an abandoned cabin, that cannot be seen from shore, it is well hidden by the forest canopy surrounding it. The cabin did not appear on any maps we had.
"Where booze bottles go to die", on Radiant Lake:
An ugly side to Algonquin
The next day, we encountered a fellow who was looking after one of the cottages on Radiant, who after asking him about the cabin, learned that it was owned by an American woman, who died many years ago, and that before it could be torn down, natives moved in to occupy it. The cabin still stands today, but is a shadow of it's former glory. It once must've been quite a nice structure, however neglect has caused it to fall into complete ruin. We left the area, and began to paddle out of the bay. It was almost 12:40pm. As we paddled out the wind woke up with a fury, whipping the waves up into whitecaps and massive 2 to 3 ft waves. I was at the stern, and Derek, up front. We had an empty canoe, and with Derek's skill at assisting at steering from the bow, we rode through the mini-storm, with howls of laughter. Neither of us was afraid. The water here seemed deep, but it was August, if we dunked we wouldn't drown.
It was quite an exhilarating paddle, as we howled with glee as I watched my canoe perform as it had never done before. We were doing white water on Radiant Lake! The bow would lift up in the air over a crest and come crashing down upon the waves. It was a fantastic ride, and 35 min. later we landed on the north shore near the bay leading into Shoal Lake. We rested, took a swim and rested some more and then headed up the bay. Around 1:50pm we arrived at the shortest portage I've been on in Algonquin. The 20m portage into Shoal Lake. Paddling to the portage was thru ever increasingly swampy waters, and by the time we reached the portage, the water levels were very low and we had to drag the canoe the last few meters to shore. The portage bypasses a small beaver dam, and the difference in height between Shoal and Radiant, is only a few feet, but enough to warrant a portage. On the other side of the portage, we saw evidence of an otter feeding hole. hundred's of clam shells littered the rocky shore.
The portage from Shoal L to Radiant Lake...a mere 20 meters!
Paddling thru the lilies towards Shoal Lake
We paddled back to Radiant and landed at the oh so marvelous beach we had spied when we first came onto Radiant Lake. It was quite a beach, and the next time I come to Radiant, I would like to camp much closer to this beach, for easier daily access. That evening the sun went down under a clear sky, I heard an owl on the lake, and a few loons were calling too. It was another cool night, with no humidity.
A shot here of probably the finest beach & Swimming hole on Radiant