Cache Lake - Tanamakoon Lake - Sheriff Pond - Little Island Lake
Day 1 - Cache Lake to Little Island Lake
This was a quick two night weekend trip to Little Island Lake, via Access#8 Cache Lake. This trip was organized by a fellow algonquinadventures.com member "Stainless", in what is starting to become a tradition among the regular "AA"(No, we're not "Alcoholics Anonymous"!) members. Each spring and fall, a weekend trip among "AA" members is organized. My girlfriend Joan & I pulled up to the Cache Lake parking lot around 9:15 am, after having acquired our permit at the west gate.
By 9:45 am, we were loaded up and Joan, all smiles, posed for the camera, it was time for another Algonquin Adventure! The weather forecast was excellent, calling for sun all weekend, with some light winds on Saturday. We launched onto Cache Lake, which was very calm, reflecting the sirius clouds beautifully on the water. With the date being late October, boating traffic was almost non-existent, the parking lot virtually empty. It was a cool morning, which is to be expected late in the season. We slowly made our way across Cache Lake to the channel that connects Cache Lake to Lake Tanamakoon. In less than 30 minutes we turned into the channel, and with the sun being so low in the sky, it was still partially in shadow.
Canoe loaded with gear, Joan is all smiles,
here comes another paddling weekend
The docks at Cache Lake were virtually deserted
Thus on one side of the channel we had a bit of morning mist flowing along the water surface, and bright sunshine on the other half of the channel, this made for a picturesque paddle. It took us about 15-20 minutes to paddle the channel, passing through some narrows at the end, and emerging onto Lake Tanamakoon. Ahead of us, was the island campsite I had stayed on, during a May solo trip, back in 2005. As we passed the island, Joan spotted something, urging me to turn the canoe around and go back for another look. I'm glad we did, for onshore, on the grassy slope was a Great Blue Heron. It was just standing there, sunning itself. It did not seem at all bothered by our presence as we drifted to within 5 meters of it. This might be due to inexperience on the Blue Heron's part, as it looked to be a young bird, and not a full grown adult. We took a few pictures then silently departed as we had came. We paddled across Lake Tanamakoon, getting a close look at the extensive compound of Camp Tanamakoon. We were both dismayed to hear and see ATV's in use by camp staff.*sigh*
Paddling the channel west of Cache Lake
Emerging onto Tanamakoon Lake from the channel narrows
We paddled on heading towards the 120m portage to Sheriff Pond. We arrived and landed at a sand and gravel landing..a smooth one. We unloaded the canoe, and proceeded to carry over the short trail. It begins with an upward climb of perhaps 3 or 4 meters, where the trail then flattens out...with a somewhat smooth trail to Sheriff Pond. The put-in was a mucky affair, we used loose stepping stones to board our canoe, in what looked like a flooded landing. Paddling across Sheriff pond was very short, perhaps 6 to 8 minutes. We then arrived at the take-out to the 320m portage into Little Island Lake. Sheriff pond has a dam at one end, and it's use was quite visible at the take out to Little Island Lake. There were many trees there at the landing that had several feet of their trunks submerged. Indeed, all of Algonquin had experienced high water levels for all of 2008, with lots of snow(In winter 2007/08) and much rain throughout the 2008 paddling season.
Great Blue Heron on Tanamakoon Lake
The flooded landing made unloading the canoe a tricky task, but not impossible. The landing was also at the base of a steep climb, as the trail climbs endlessly all the way to Little Island Lake, with only perhaps the last 25 meters being flat, with a 5 meter decline to the landing. The trail at the end forks. We took the visible landing on the left fork, which had a flat sandy/gravel mix landing. This was located next to an old logjam, where Little Island Lake empties into Sheriff Pond. We loaded up and paddled onto Little Island Lake. Right away, we both noticed how clear the water was. The clarity of the water was astonishing, reminding me of similar lakes like Kingscote, or North Raven Lake. The depth to which one could see bottom was estimated at more than 8 meters.
Joan making a delicious dinner by the water on Little Island Lake
It didn't take us long to paddle up to the main island, which is quite large in relation to the lake size, and sits in the middle of the lake. The first campsite on the island, we passed up as looking too small. The next one, had a small sand landing, with rock for a natural dock. We examined the site, we liked the potential of it, it was flat, had a large meadow-like area around the fire-pit, there was also another spot on the south side of the site, that was on a point and highly exposed to the sun. We decided to push on and check out another site on the west end of the island, paddling along the island's south shore we reached the next site within 15 minutes. The landing was smooth rock and sand. We got out and walked around the site. It was vast! Large open areas, with plenty of firewood. Joan remarked that it was in shadow. She was right, we'd freeze sitting in shadow all day
We got back in our canoe and headed back to the previous campsite. We unloaded our canoe, and began setting up camp; Joan busy with the 'kitchen', me with the tent. Then I set out to collect firewood. With a large party of people, we'd need a lot of firewood. I managed to find a somewhat half-decent supply of wood, but I was unhappy with the quality. Stainless then showed up, and we both greeted him. Stainless went about his task of setting up his camp. I decided we needed more wood, I then jumped into the canoe and headed out. Not long after scanning the shoreline, I came upon a long dead cedar tree that had fallen over and laid bare upon a rock slope. I managed to cut the entire tree up and load the canoe. There's nothing like a cedar log fire...such a great aroma. The cool autumn air made it easy to saw the wood..soon I was back at camp.
"Paddlin"; Dave and Jeanine, had shown up as well, and we're busy setting up camp. Next came "Swede", then by late afternoon, Dave Harman had shown up in his lovely home built cedar strip canoe. By this time, we had a small fire going, there was a large pile of wood, which Stainless had set about the task of chopping up. What we found to be quite silly was the campsite privy(thunder-box) being in direct line of sight to the fire-pit. Stainless rigged up a privacy screen, a tarp over the pathway that led to the thunder-box. Joan had prepared Chicken Schnitzel & instant mashed potatoes for dinner, with some boxed wine, dinner was a luxurious and tasty affair..awesome Joan!
Sunset on our first night at Little Island Lake
Around 8pm, Stainless gathered us together for a chance to track the International space station. Sure enough near 8 pm, it came into view, as it coasted across the sky.
The rest of the evening was spent around the fire, enjoying both the fresh air and solitude of an Algonquin Park evening.