Mark's Algonquin Park Sampler - Triplog#11 - Access#29 - Kiosk - Days 9-11

Triplogs / Triplog#11 / Day 2 / Days 3&4 / Days 5&6 / Days 7&8 / Days 9-11

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Kiosk(IN) - Maple Cr - Ratrap L - 3 Mile L - Wahwahtaysee L - 1 Mile L - Erables L - Maple L - Kiosk(OUT)

Days 9 to 11 - 1 Mile to Erables Lake

Oh man...I don't know where to start.
This by far had been the most brutal day of my trip so far. I didn't even write down in my journal this day's events till the following day(day10).
The night before I went to bed and tried to go to sleep. Seems the forces of nature had other ideas. Laying there, I suddenly heard the rush of something crashing thru the bush. Instantly the the image of a huge black bear, with a gaping maw, and Ichor dripping from it's teeth, popped into my mind. In the 3 seconds that I heard this noise, I was scared shitless. I was frozen with terror as I dared not move or breathe. A few seconds later, the sound turned into the distinctive noise of a tree falling as limbs of the tree snapped with the falling of the tree. I guess I was hearing the top(crown) of the tree at first, which sounded like a something moving thru the bushes. The sound was on my side of the lake, towards the 3rd campsite.

Still I didn't move for like 10 minutes. I finally breathed a sigh of relief, and rolled over.
'Plop'. Again, panic swept thru my body. Something had landed on my tent fly and was scurrying up it. Sheesh...I was jumpy tonite, I thought to myself. I brushed the mouse(if that's what it was), away. Rolled over, and laughed at myself for my fearful feelings.
Not 15 minutes later, the creepiest sound reached my ears. I heard the distinct sound of a thunderbox door being dropped shut. Being in the park on and off now for a few years, It was very easy to recognize that sound. What was really creepy about it, is that there was no one else around.
There in fact was no one else on the lake.
I turned on my flashlight, and looked at the map. I was too distant from Wahwahtaysee L, Tille Lake, or even Erables lake, to have heard something like this.
I was very freaked out by this time and with hair rising on the back of my neck, I stepped outside, and looked around. Nothing. I lit a fire. and sat by it for an hour or so, while I dipped into my supply of rum. A couple of stiff drinks and maybe I'll fall asleep. As I sat by the fire, I thought the nights events through.
I believed I was still of sound mind, and that I wasn't 'hearing' things. People who imagine hearing things in the bush, don't imagine the sound of a privy door being dropped shut. That was just too crazy. Then I thought perhaps some ghost of Algonquin Park, was having some fun with me. This made me smile, then I thought perhaps the ghosts of Algonquin have to answer the call of nature as well!
hmmm...maybe I had a bit too much rum now...thinking of ghosts.
To this day I still cannot explain what I heard. It remains a mystery.

I had gotten up @ 6:30am, made my usual oatmeal breakfast, packed and was off and arrived at the first portage to Maple Creek at 8:00am.
My Loon friend drifted very nearby, as I climbed out of the canoe.
As I unloaded and prepared to depart up the trail for the first pass, The Loon took flight as he left the lake. I guess he was saying goodbye. It was a magical moment.

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                    Beginning my paddle down Maple 'Creek'

I estimated that I could make it to Erables in 7 hrs. Boy was I wrong!
The weather was back to sunshine and warmth as I headed thru the first portage(405m).
This trail wasn't long, but it had a lot of up and down hills and twists in the trail.
the skeeters were out, but they'd stopped bothering me days ago. There was alot of blueberry patches along this trail, but most of'em had been stripped clean. There was a bit of a small ravine or an old creek bottom that I had to cross. With about a 7m crossing, your sure to get dirty, trying to cross the moose muck. A few strategically placed rocks and a timber helped with the crossing, but on the last pass with my canoe, I lost my balance and landed in the mud standing.

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                Spongy moss covered trail

Once finished, and ready to set off in the canoe, I gave a really good look at my surroundings. I was astonished! This wasn't a creek, it was a stream. I knew that the Canoe Route map warned of low water levels on this part of the creek. But I thought to myself, that this was ridiculous, how could anyone ever consider this a 'canoe' route?
I started off paddling a few meters under some Alder bush, then came to a vast field of grasses, almost as high as my shoulders, while standing up in the 'creek' bottom.
The 'creek' was no wider than my canoe, and mere inches deep in water.
I walked the 'creek', while pulling and sometimes dragging the canoe over the sandy bottom. Many times, I would come upon a section deep enough, that permitted me to get in and paddle again, no sooner did I do this, when I had have to get out again and start walking. It was beautiful here, but this was truly silly.

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                            Old Beaver hut on Maple Creek

After 'bout an hour, I came to the next portage. grateful to get off the 'creek', I slipped on one of my packs and headed along the trail. It was gorgeous morning, and under the those circumstances, I'd have to say that this was one of the most beautiful portages I had ever walked. First off, it was only 480m, it was also virtually flat. I came thru a heavily wooded part, that had an underground brook running thru it.
Standing still, I could feel the water underfoot, in some places. Heard as well was the soft gurgling of the water, as it poured thru small openings around tree roots. I saw some wolf scat here too, old looking it was, loaded with fur.

At one point along the trail, another stream crossed my path in a large patch of water soaked grass. I was wearing sandals, and walking thru this, was like getting a cool refreshing foot massage. Soon after I came to another stream or tributary of the creek with a few logs thrown across it in an attempt to make a bridge.
Some of the logs rolled..only one in particular was lodged in place. After the bridge, I hit about an 80m section of mostly flat and straight spongy moss covered trail. Walking on this was like heaven. This portage rocked! not another soul in sight either..This was the 4th day now, that I hadn't seen anyone, although I was sure, I'd see people on Erables Lake.

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                           A deeper section of Maple Creek

The next creek section was much better. It was deeper in most places and much wider.
This area reminded me of The long section of Maple creek, down by Kiosk. Lots of grasses, and a slow snaking creek. I came to the third portage at what looked like a massive beaver dam, holding back a deep pool of Maple Creek.

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               Large Beaver dam ahead - Portage on the right

I don't remember this portage at all except of course the length was 485m. What I do remember was what came after the portage.
Hell! Pure hell.
For this part of the creek I'm glad I was solo. If I had brought a party thru, I'd have been lynched fer sure!
Not 3 meters, into launching the canoe, I was ducking under Alder trees of the vilest kind. Most of the branches were 2 to 3cm thick, some as big as 6cm(2.5 inches for you imperial folk). It seems this area had not had the Alder cleared in some time.

This area was really bad.
I was having to bend over, while inside my canoe to get around the Alder.
It was really REALLY thick here. Then the creek became shallow again. There was also some logs clogging the creek. Many times I had to climb out of the canoe, and pull my canoe thru thick Alder bush, over jammed logs, under more bush, all the while pushing the Alder out my path. Branches slipping from my grasp and slapping me in the face. This went on for quite a while, and I lost track of time. I noticed some compacted bush here and there and wondered if this 'trail', was made by the French couple, that passed me by 4 days previously. I tried following a few of their paths(if that's what they were)a few times, but started to get lost each time. The paths seem to lead nowhere. The Alder bush was so thick and higher than my head, that I was blind. I couldn't see where I was in relation to the forest or really which direction it was going , the creek had twisted around so much, I had lost my sense of direction. I didn't bring a compass. I sat down, and for the first time, I started to panic. I was really upset, and thought about staying right there, and waiting for the rescue helicopter to show up 15 or 16 days later. That thought disappeared fast. What a joke! With all this bush, they wouldn't even see me anyways. I was out of water now too. I had only a liter when I started the day off, and by the time I was thru the first portage, I had only 500ml left. That was hours ago, and I was starting to get thirsty. It was warm out, but not humid. I looked at the water, and didn't even think twice about filtering the water here. Nooooo way. Wait till I get to a nice big clean lake like Erables! I pushed on, I had to keep going. I had to save myself, from myself.

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                                Entering the Alder patch


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                      Another horrible section of the 'creek'

Within 30 minutes of my panic attack, I was thru the alder, and came upon a widening of the creek. It was awesome. Relief flooded over me as I was able to paddle unimpeded down a much deeper and wider, true creek. The sun shone down on me, above me, a blue sky with the odd fluffy white cloud here and there.
A perfect August afternoon.

Soon I came upon a rocky shallow landing and noticed it was the portage to Tillie Lake. I gave a ragged cheer, confirmation, that I was following the correct path. That cheer didn't last long. Back into the Alder.

Thicker and even more tight knit the bush was. Here the creek seemed to run off in little channels here and there. More than once I had to turn around, and backtrack from a dead end. My morale at this point was very low, but with my passing of the portage to Tillie L, I was determined to get to Erables. Finally, after quite a while(I'd lost track of time again), I broke thru into a another clearing and widening of the creek again. Eventually I arrived at a juncture, where an old road(AFA I presume), crossed the creek. Where there should have been a bridge, was a 4x2 meter wooden dock(for lack of a better term), that been placed across the creek.

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                  Short lived relief from the alder bush fiasco

I guess years ago, if there was a bridge here, it had washed out. To the south, the road climbed up a steep bank and out of sight. To the north the road was flat and curved to the west and out of sight. The was also a makeshift fire pit here too, right in the middle of the road. So...someone at one point had put up with the creek, just as I had, and most likely camped here, with night drawing in upon them or possibly bad weather. I was tired, and sat on the dock and looked around. My canoe, must had about 5 lbs of leaves, spiders, twigs and branches in it. It was coated with vegetation. I checked myself over. I had leaves and spiders all over me. I looked down to my feet, and noticed blood on both feet. When did that happen? I sat down and pulled of my sandals. there were leeches on my both of my feet. two on one and one on another. The things were so black, they blended in with my sandal straps. Painless too..I never knew they were there. Regardless, it wasn't pleasant. I successfully removed two of them with a lighter. the 3rd, wouldn't come off. I poured salt on him, still wouldn't come off. The leech was dead still attached to me, I had no choice but to rip it off. It began to bleed a steady slow trickle. My other foot was bleeding too. I washed my feet in the creek, put my sandals on and went to launch back down the creek.
My feet continued to bleed. I was confused here. The creek below the dock was very rocky here. obviously not a canoe route. Had the road I just passed, doubled as a portage too? Had someone torn the portage sign down? I looked down at the rocks again, and didn't notice any markings on them from previous canoes. My instinct told me to 'stick to the creek', so I did, I tried dragging the canoe over the rocks, from the rocky bank.
As I stepped on one rock it overturned, the was a big fat leech and a baby one on it, a mere inch from my foot.

Enough! I jumped into the creek ahead of my canoe and pulled my canoe along, no longer caring. Very soon, I was back-in the Alder, AGAIN! Here I go again, more logs blocking my path, a few old beaver dams, Alder bush, forcing me to either bend over in my canoe, or get out and fight my way thru, while pulling the canoe along. I love Algonquin...but I was never coming back this way again, ever! Not unless I had confirmation all the Alder was cut. 4 days now, I hadn't seen anyone. I was out of water, I was tired and my morale was low. The Alder didn't last long though..very soon, within a mere meter or 2 of the portage, the Alder parted and revealed the 225m portage sign.

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            Emergence from the Alder - Oh! Happy yellow sign!

I had never ever, been so happy to see a portage in my life. I was that close to hugging the tree. I don't remember the portage, but I do remember that after that, no more alder trees. On a map the stretch from the 485m to the 225m portage looks short, but it is not. It took me hours and hours to get thru there. Mind you, some of the most beautiful creek paddling I've seen in Algonquin resides there...where it opens up in places. but it is not worth it, I think. After this it was smooth sailing pass the 720m portage to Skuce Lake, and to the 90m portage along Maple Creek.

Very shortly, after the 90m portage, I came upon a bull Moose, browsing thru the creek. for about half an hour, I pushed the Moose down the creek. He'd move ahead and stop, then I'd paddle a bit towards him, and he'd continue to move farther down. He wouldn't leave the creek...he just kept going down it. I was very very thirsty now. I couldn't even spit. I took alot of pictures of the Moose, but I wanted to push on. The slow pace of the moose, forced me to play this game, I had no choice, but to wait.

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               After the alder - Some Maple Creek eye-candy


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                              Approaching the Bull Moose

I had to get to Erables soon. I needed water badly. I refused to filter water in the creek. In a lake, no problem, but not in the creek. I was perhaps too paranoid 'bout getting sick, and here I was dying of thirst! Finally after about 40 minutes, I could see the portage sign ahead for the 660m trail to Erables!

Yippie! The Moose, decided then to leave the creek, climbing over the bank and off into the tall grasses and out of sight. I pulled up to the portage. Got out and did my first pass. I don't remember much about this portage, except there were a lot of ferns on the trail, and a short steep descent near the end as I approached Erables. During my second pass, I chewed on some gum, to work up some saliva. All I got was a mouth full of froth. I couldn't work up any salvia at all. This was not good. I was so parched. Finally, with my canoe loaded I set out on to Erables Lake.

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                         Bull Moose feeding in Maple Creek

it was 5:30pm. It had taken me almost 10 hrs to get here! The beginning of the lake here, was like being on a really wide version of Maple Creek. it was very still, stagnant if you will, clogged with vegetation, the water was shallow too. Paddling my way thru the weedy channel, I eventually cleared the bay, thru a narrow channel, and passed the first campsite. The lake started to open up, but still I waited to collect water, I felt I wasn't far enough from the swampy beginnings of Erables Lake. As I approached a point, where Erables opened up, there was a large bay, with an island and two campsites on it. This was my destination(I hoped). I pulled out my containers. A 500ml water bottle, 2 litre juice container, and my coffee cup. As I rounded the point, I turned into wind and waves. The change from the previous sheltered section of the lake was immediate. As I paddled, I took turns pointing my canoe into the wind, and waiting for lulls in the waves, I quickly filled both bottles. this done, I grabbed my coffee mug, and drank straight from the lake. Ahhhh. sweet cool Algonquin water. As I was chugging back water and taking turns paddling, I made my way to the island.

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Moose can read signs too! - exiting the creek - portage to Erables Lake

The first site was occupied by a couple. We waved to each other as I pressed on, the first people I had seen in four days, and then I struck gold! The next site on the west end of the island was empty, and it was a nice one too! Two excellent tenting areas under good shade. A great clearing with a firepit, surrounded by red pines. The shoreline was mostly rock, and the swimming opportunities looked great. I rushed to set up camp, with renewed energy. I made a batch of Crystal light, fired up my stove, and was preparing to make some dinner, when I noticed a canoe coming my way.

It was another couple, and I could see the disappointment in their faces, when they realized the site was occupied. I hadn't seen anyone in four days and was dying for company. I invited the couple on to the site.
I discovered they were from the Netherlands. There names were Paula and Anna. They had been to Canada before, to B.C. as a matter of fact. They had friends in Toronto, and this year they were trying out Algonquin.

It was great talking to people again, I relaxed and was happy as hell. As the light rapidly faded, we were discussing each other's routes thru the park. Both Anna & Paula, had mentioned that they hadn't seen much wildlife, and they really wanted to see a moose.
I told them that I had seen 5 moose so far, and that their exit route(down Maple Creek), should yield a moose encounter.

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   Algonquin attracts worldwide: Paula & Anna from the Netherlands

While talking about moose, I noticed something coming around, from the north side of the island. What do ya know? It was a Moose, swimming across the bay. The angle at which the Moose was swimming across the bay, suggested that the moose came from the island we were on. I did a quick scan of my side of the island previously,and saw nothing. Out came the cameras as all three of us tried to take pictures of the moose swimming across the bay, in the dying light. My pictures never turned out, as this was a new camera and I'd not perfected my night photographing techniques. The images I took, were blurry as hell too. that's how hurried the shots were! We settled around the fire, I had a few shots of rum. A full moon came up out of the south and lit the sky.

I learned that Paula and Anna had started at Kiosk, and went down thru Mink Lake, then to Club & Mouse Lakes, thru Big Thunder, and onto Erables. The next day they were heading back via Maple Lake and the creek down to Kiosk. I told'em to try and stay a nite on Maple, especially the island sites to the south end of the lake. I was planning to park myself there for 8 nights!

Days 10

I can't remember when I got up this day. Anna & Paula got up, had breakfast and jumped into the lake. After their swim, they packed up and we said our goodbyes, as they left at 11:30am.

The rest of the day, I explored the island. Noticing the other campsite, was now unoccupied. While exploring the north shore of the island, I came upon a huge pile of Moose dung. Sure enough, the moose we saw the night before, had in fact been on the island. I guess I wrongly assumed, if that there was a moose on the island, I'd spot him standing there. It didn't occur to me that a moose might be lying down, out of sight. That also made me think how easily that a bear could've been on the island instead of a moose.

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                       Paula & Anna departing Erables Lake

I hung around camp lazing all day, in my hammock, in my chair, etc.
Late in the day, I heard some thunder in the distance. Ahh, thunderstorms!
I love thunderstorms, but at the same time, being in the park, they scare the crap out of me. Dangerous they can be to anyone out in the bush. The humidity level increased and so did the height of an approaching cloud mass to the south. The storm blew by, and I never did get any rain. Later in the early evening, the sky cleared up and the humidity disappeared. Around 6:30pm, I heard 3 beeps of a car alarm, to the north west of the island. I was surprised, and annoyed, it seemed to me that Algonquin was becoming noisier these days. I didn't appreciate the sound of technology, intruding on my solitude, no one does!

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                     Boletellus chrysenteroides

That nite, while sitting under an almost full moon, enjoying a fire, I heard some splashing in the water behind me. I walked over to investigate, and under the brilliant moon, I could see a small frog, choking down a big crayfish. This thing was huge, but there he was, the frog, swallowing this crayfish that seemed like twice the size of the frog. It was an interesting thing to witness. It was one of the most beautiful moonlit nights I'd experienced in Algonquin. I stayed up late, past midnight, before eventually wandering off to bed.

Day 11

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              Looking south from the campsite on Erables Lake

This day I hung around camp again, I really was starting to enjoy this part of my trip. Being lazy for a bit, wide open spaces and awesome weather. I took a swim, had a bath, did some laundry, pumped 3 liters of water, had a nap in the hammock. I also went for a little paddle along the shoreline of the bay I was in, for about 90 minutes, during this time a tree came crashing down. The acoustics here were amazing! Later on in the day I saw a party of 12 people in 4 canoes, paddle up the lake. They made such a racket in those aluminum tubs, although I'd welcome that sound any day over a truck or car alarm. The next day I was scheduled to move on to Maple Lake for 8 nites. I went to bed early, just after 9:30pm.


>Next Page - Days 12 to 16

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