Mark's Algonquin Park Sampler - Triplog#23 - Access#27 - Cedar L - Days 3&4

Triplogs / Triplog#23 / Days 3&4

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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)

Day 3 - Catfish L to Burntroot L

It was a beautiful sunny morning, perfect for more coffee and oatmeal! While sitting high up on the rocks overlooking the lake, rush hour on Catfish Lake began. The mess of canoes(my guess is a dozen), that we saw upon entering Catfish Lake two days earlier, paddled down past our site, heading south out of Catfish lake. "That sure was one BIG party of people", I thought to myself. Breakfast done, we packed up, it was time to move on. We were heading to Burntroot Lake for two nights, another lake that neither Derek or I had seen before. We headed out, and passed the campsites we had visited the day before, then catfish narrows into a channel before opening up in a marshy zone. Turning right at a widening of the marsh, we saw our portage sign in the distance, and finally landed at the 365m portage bypassing Catfish Rapids. I don't remember much about this portage, so in my mind that means that terrain wise, it is not difficult. There was an incident though on that particular portage that I do remember; The ambush of Derek.

It was 11:30am, when we landed at the portage, and for some reason, the skeeters were lying in wait for us. They attacked Derek in droves, leaving one arm a bloody mess. It was weird, they never attacked me, only Derek. I surmised 4 possible reasons for this attack;
1. Derek was carrying the food barrel, perhaps there was something in the barrel that was giving off a scent, however the barrel is supposed to be airtight.
2. Derek has this daily ritual of washing his face and neck and hands every morning, weather he put on deodorant or his soap had a scent I do not know.
3. Maybe Derek was sweating alot that morning under the morning sun and his scent attracted the little buggers.
4. Unknown.

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Preparing to do the 365m portage: Derek had no idea what was coming

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Skeeter ambush: Derek was covered with dozens of the little devils


The next three portages were of no consequence, the 320m, bypassing snowshoe rapids, the 90m one was bypassed, by simply walking in shin deep water and rapids, and pulling the canoe after us. I have no memory of the 420m portage, and we arrived on Perley lake just before 1:30pm. Around 2pm, we arrived at the first of 2 large bays on Perley Lake. Derek was paddling in the Stern, when we spotted a lone cow moose, browsing near the shoreline. Derek steered us over, cameras at the ready. Derek brought us to within 3 canoe lengths of the moose, and it's only outward reaction towards us ,was a few sideways glances, and to urinate. I took many photos and after about 10 minutes, we left the moose to continue her feeding & peeing. Derek and I had both seen moose on countless times, yet with every new encounter, it's like reading your favorite book all over again, finding new ways to appreciate the experience. It was great to be back in The Park!

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Morning rush hour on Catfish Lake


As we approached the last and smallest bay on Perley lake, the 155m portage came into view, as well as the noise of a chainsaw! What was going on here? This portage was definitely not to be bypassed, the waterway connecting Perley to Burntroot, is loaded with rock and would tear any canoe to shreds. So onwards thru the noisy portage as it were. It was just before 3pm, when we loaded up on Burntroot lake. The weather continued to be very nice, lots of sun, some cloud, "Simpsons" clouds, Derek called'em. and a strong breeze blowing across Burntroot Lake. There was 2 canoes here as well, not from campers, but from Algonquin Park Staff. Four guys, 2 adults and two younger guys were on the site next to the portage. The site itself was nice, except for a massive pine that had partially fallen and was leaning dangerously right over the firepit. The pine had become entangled in nearby trees and that was all that was keeping the tree from falling, a major hazard, thus the 4 Park Staff guys, and the chainsaws. We greeted the staff, and inquired about an old structure that was in the area. Bo Knows(From AA forum), had known of our planned route thru The Park, and recommended the cabin/root cellar as a stop not to be missed. Park Staff directed us to a short trail behind the campsite. The Staff ceased their operations and waited patiently while we checked out the 'cabin', as we would have to cross their path coming back out. The structure was amazing! Probably about 7 or 8 feet square inside, and barely 5 feet high. The structure was composed of cedar, and seemed in remarkably good condition. Derek examined it with a critical eye. It seemed that there was a double wall system, an outer wall of logs, and an inner wall, in between these walls, was a space of almost 4 feet thick, This space was then filled in with earth. I can imagine being here in a late autumn storm, and seeking shelter in such a hut, it sure would be cozy, if a little cramped. There was even a removable door!
It was obvious the hut was many, many decades old, evidenced by the big trees growing on top of the roof. I'd love to build something like that one day. The heat retention must be really good(thinking of winter), and it being a hot summer day, it was quite cool inside. We thanked the The Park Staff for their time and launched onto Burntroot lake. This time I took the stern. The water here was semi-rough, and with my heavier weight, we thought it prudent I be in the rear of the canoe, to balance things out better.
Burntroot Lake is a big lake, with many islands, more than seems to be shown on the canoe routes map.

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This cow moose was very patient with our presence


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Somewhere along Perley Lake

We paddled down the west side of the lake passing the first island with two campsites on it, on the wrong side, and missed both sites. We paddled on and landed on the south site on a double campsite island just outside of Whistle Bay. The site was south facing, small, very rugged, and neither of us like it. We pulled out the binoculars and spied the big island in the middle of the lake, with a lone campsite, but could not locate the site from shore. Farther south of us, and a little west of the big island, was another double campsite island. Derek wanted to go there, but he was getting tired, so was I, the waves on Burntroot weren't helping either, and we had been going almost 6 hrs. We paddled south passing the big island, and not wanted to have to search for the site, we paddled on. As we approached the island with 2 sites on it, Derek was able to see someone walking along a beach, then another person on another part of the island. So, at least one of the sites was occupied, was the other one occupied as well? Just after 4:30pm, we landed on the north site. The site was unoccupied, and Derek, went for a hike checking out the beach. As it turned out, it was hard to get to, and Derek found part of a beaver skull on the beach too. The landing at our site was mucky(no swimming possible). The site itself was small, and didn't seem to well used. Derek returned and began to unload. I pulled my pack out and stopped. "Derek, I really don't want to stay on this site for 2 days", I said. Derek seemed a little miffed by this, he was tired and so was I, I just didn't 'feel' good about this site, I wanted something better. Well, the other site is occupied(by alot of people it seemed), "where'd you have in mind?", Derek asked. "Not much farther", I said. "There's an island Bo Knows told me about just south east of here, probably a 20 minute paddle". "Ok, let's do it" Derek replied. I felt confident that I had made a good decision urging Derek and I to push on. After all Bo Knows had suggested the site I wanted to camp on, and his advice in the past had been priceless, still I was anxious to see what we were in for.

As we closed in one the site, it looked more and more like it was un-occupied, and the height of the island became larger and larger. We landed at around 5:10pm, to an empty site! The campsite was ours, for two whole nights, and what a site it was! The site is much longer than it is wide, however this doesn't in any way diminish the site's appeal. We had a great view from southeast to the the north. The southwest was the best view, many scenic islands to gaze at. Derek picked a spot on the south side of the island, in a depression protected from the wind from the height of the land around him. I picked a spot a good 30m farther away, about 50m from the firepit(this site had lots of room!), up high on flat sand covered rock, near the water's edge about 5m up. I was highly exposed to the wind, but it was summer and that didn't bother me.

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Mark emerging from the tiny cabin on Burntroot Lake


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Derek inspecting the interior:
The fine craftsmanship was well preserved


Derek, prepared dinner, a fantastic one too! Pasta, and mashed potatoes with gravy and chicken soup supplemented with tuna in a foil packet. Derek, enjoyed cooking and that suited me fine as I wasn't as enthusiastic about it, so a deal was struck, Derek made the meals and I cleaned the dishes and such afterwards. While eating dinner I looked over to the island we almost camped on, and noticed that the east site(that was occupied), had a large beach, and about a dozen canoes on it! I thought this a little odd, and I suddenly realized that this was the group we had passed on Catfish Lake, and the same group I had seen passing us that same morning.


It was just after 7pm, that I noticed a large contingent of canoes from the island, departing, heading southwest. We counted at least 9 canoes. I became curious, I told Derek that there was something very odd here. "They are probably moving to another site", Derek suggested. "No way", I said, "There is no other sites over there, according to the map we are on the last one in this area". "Maybe, they're just going for a paddle", Derek continued. Maybe, maybe not. If that was the case, I could see that with such a large group, the possibility of one or more, staying behind for one reason or another. Here though, it seemed everyone one had just up and gone, and it was past 7pm, if they came back, they'd be paddling in the dark. Something wasn't right, things weren't adding up here. I followed them with my binoculars for a time till I lost sight of them behind a large island, after which we both lost interest. About an hour later, I spotted a figure on one of the islands to the southwest of us. It was hard to see, as the scene was at the limits of my binoculars' range. Both Derek, and I took turns looking. It turned out to be a single person, pacing up and down the shoreline, with what looked like a white towel up in a tree. We surmised that maybe this fellow's canoe had got away from him and he was stranded. Suddenly we noticed a red canoe on another island closer to us, where there was no campsite. I thought perhaps this was the fellow's canoe, but then we saw a figure emerge from the forest and haul something out of the canoe. Didn't this guy see the person stranded on the other island?

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Countless islands of beauty populate Burntroot lake


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Fragment of a beaver skull


Normally I don't care 'bout what other people do in the bush, it's their business. However, there was no official campsites in the area and it was well after 8pm. What was going on? The pacing of the man on the shoreline continued. We decided to launch a rescue mission, figuring the poor chap, had lost his canoe. Dogbyte grabbed some water and trail mix bars, in case he was starving, and we headed over. As we approached the island, another island closer to us, came into view. There was another person on shore. What the hell was going on here? 'Survivor challenge', Dogbyte thought. We approached the first island, and discovered it was a lad of perhaps 13 or 14 years of age. We asked him if he was alright and if he needed assistance. We told him of the other man on shore that we saw and we were heading towards him, when we spotted this kid instead. We noticed that neither of them had no canoes visible. 'Finding God' was what the young lad said.
A 3 day solo camp challenge. These young folks were expected to camp for 3 days all by themselves. No tent, no canoe. Looked like a tarp, a hammock, and a backpack with food I guess, was all they had. The lad also had a book(A bible I presume), in hand. I guess these young folks were expected to spend the time by themselves in prayer and reading of the Bible. Heading back to camp we talked about this 'finding God' stuff. Utter nonsense I thought, Ya want to find God, look around. God is everywhere...the sky, water, trees. The scent of pine, the cry of the Loon, Moose feeding in the shallows. Algonquin the Beautiful.
In my opinion, these people were surrounded by God, and had completely missed the point. On the way back, we spied the red canoe on the island closest to us ...Figuring it was a counselor, keeping a respectable distance, but being in the area of the young folks, just in case. Thoughts of the Timiskaming tragedy years ago came to mind. I hope all went well this time.

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We stayed on 'Anchor' island for 2 nites: A fantastic site!

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The firepit was well constructed,
and there was plenty of fallen timber far back in the bush


That night, Dogbyte headed back to the Thunderbox, as nature was calling. Imagine his surprise, when he heard voices down by the shore, then quickly getting himself decent, a face popped up and saw Dogbyte pulling his pants up. It was a woman and a boy, that had walked along the shoreline, to get to our camp, to check out the famed anchor that was on our site, from an 'Alligator', from decades past. I think Dogbyte was more embarrassed than annoyed. I would've been annoyed..can't even take a sh*t in the woods these days without being disturbed it seems. No matter, the folks were pleased to have seen the anchor, as were both of us, it is quite a thing to see from Algonquin's past to have sitting on your 'doorstep' as it were if only for 2 days. I had learned recently that a fellow, was one among a gang of kids in the 1960's who hauled the anchor from the alligator on Burntroot Lake to the present location of the campsite we were on. Pretty cool! The sunset that night was pretty good, and the bugs too were of no consequence, we had a good fire going and then went to bed.

Day 4 - looking for alligators

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The cleared land is where the Barnet depot farm resided



After breakfast and lounging around, and having a swim in the lake, we decided to head over to the southwest corner of the lake. Here was supposedly the remains of a famed 'alligator' a tug left over from the logging days of old, that was capable of winching itself over land. Well, on our way there, we spotted more and more of these kids on every island. On the shoreline less than 200m from the Alligator was another kid. Little did he know, that he was very close(50m or so), to a huge raspberry patch, that had bears in it recently, as indicated my stepping into a huge pile of fresh bear dung. Did the boy or his counselors know of the presence of bears nearby? I doubt it, else he would not have camped nowhere near the wild raspberry patch. The thought of exploring these islands was sucked away from us, as we noticed more and more kids hanging 'bout the islands.

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Derek and I were both fascinated by the alligator,
and spent many hours exploring the area,
the ruins and artifacts are very extensive


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Wooden Nails

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The boiler


We found the alligator hidden from shoreline trees, it is quite an amazing piece of equipment for it's time. There were many parts of it scattered throughout the forest. There was also remains of a depot farm here, many foundations of buildings were found in the last stages of decay. Having loaded ourselves up on Raspberries, we found an old trail that lead south west from the lake, we must have followed for a kilometer or two and almost caught up with a moose in the forest, as we could hear him fleeing, his rack becoming caught up in the thick bush. We never did manage to find the moose, but on our way back we found a pair of Spruce Grouse, and observed them for a little while before heading back to our canoe. It was another beautiful July afternoon, and as we headed back to our site, we stopped at one of the islands(with a 'stranded' kid on it), and landed on a beach and went for a nice cool swim. Algonquin IS Heaven in the summer!

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More artifacts: Derek was finding them all over the place

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We wanted to explore this island, however it was umm, already occupied

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The Anchor

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Derek relaxing among the relics, miles of space for tents


While walking along the shore of our island, I found a huge fish skeleton, almost 3 feet long, and the head was intact too, which lead me to believe that the fish died naturally. Unfortunately i forgot to photograph it. Derek found a bird's nest with a chick in it, at our landing beside our canoe. It was about 5pm when we returned and Derek fired up his stove. We had another fantastic dinner, thanks to Derek's cooking, and a cloudless sunset that night. By 9:30pm, Derek was relaxing in his hammock, watching the sunset deepen. We had another great fire that night and hit the hay before 11pm.

                  


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