TRIP LENGTH: 67.6km • 16 PORTAGES [8.6km]

DAY 1 STATS - LENGTH: 13.5km • TIME: 4.5hrs • PORTAGES: 1 [120m]

Day 1 Photo Gallery

Paddling over the 'lift' on the Tim River

Sean & Tracey approach a beaver dam on the Tim River

Smiles all around as a beaver dam is crossed

Paddling Rosebary Lake

Camp first night on Rosebary Lake

Day 1: September 23rd, 2017

Lovely day for a paddle to Rosebary Lake

This is a trip-log of a nine day semi-solo canoe trip thru access#2 Tim River. The purpose of this canoe trip was two-fold; 1. Completing the Tim River and 2. My 50th birthday! With my 50th birthday on the horizon I wanted to do something special and of course that included being in The Park at the time. Being solo was frosting on the cake. I personally believe that fall is the perfect season for paddling. What better time of the year to paddle than in the fall? Cool frosty nights, great for campfires and sleeping. Warm sunny days with little humidity for paddling and portaging. Few people and even fewer bugs, if any. The smell of autumn leaves, the sight and sounds of wildlife in the forest. I was so ready!

Rather than do something that was epic or insane, I decided to take advantage of an unusual occurrence; The high water levels on the Tim River system in the month of September. Over the years I had paddled most of the river, but had skipped a small section of it, thus leaving the river unfinished.

2017 had been a wet year, particularly in the late summer months. So, as it was the Tim River had high water levels into late September. Typically, by late July or early August it can be difficult to paddle through. In dry years it can become completely un-navigable by mid-summer.

I would also cover some additional areas of The Park that I had never visited before and with the help of my girlfriend, I planned to exit at access#5 - Canoe Lake. So this journey was one-way, not your typical loop.

During my planning of the trip, I was contacted by a friend of mine, Sean Rowley (Of
Paddling Adventures Radio fame) and asked if I wanted to hook-up for a short canoe trip. He had wanted to bring his wife (Tracey) along to get her more into the outdoors, specifically canoe paddling and camping in Algonquin Park.

Sean had decided that a simple two-nighter might do the trick, with only a few simple portages to deal with. Sean's plan was a good one and I mentioned to Sean my plan and he decided it was perfect for them - They would paddle with me down the Tim River from the access point to Rosebary Lake where I’d camp there for the first night of my trip. It had meandering river paddling in a marshy environment, a medium sized lake to cross and just one portage of 120m in length (Or should I say depth!). The portage does drop (Or climbs, depending on your direction). There were also some beaver dams to overcome, a great learning experience for Tracey.
self portrait

Access#2: Typical 'Start of canoe trip' self portrait

After picking up my permit, I met Sean & Tracey at the access point shortly after 9am. The temperature was already over 20°C and the sky full of sunshine. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect day to start a canoe trip. Oh wait, I have to add one more thing, there were no bugs. So it was better than perfect, it was awesome! The weather forecast was unusual with highs of 30°C predicted for several days. The temperatures were typical of late June or early July, not late September.

By 9:30am we were on the water. Following the meandering river as it wound its way thru a marsh on our way to Tim Lake. There was still some vegetation in the water, but it was thinning out as it was dying off as the growing season had ended a few weeks earlier. The paddling conditions were almost June-like. Normally, I would have to navigate around lots of sunken timber and submerged stumps. With the water levels the way they were, I sailed over much of the underwater obstructions with ease.

Minutes after 10am we paddled onto Tim Lake, we paddled along the north shore of the island that dominated the middle of the lake. Not much was seen in the way of traffic. Most of the campsites on the lake were occupied though. We paddled off the lake and back into the river where once again it turned marshy. This area of The Park has been my favourite for wildlife viewing. It is so rich in food sources for many species of mammal - I’ve seen countless beaver & moose. I’ve also seen deer, bear (Twice) and have heard wolves too. Also, there’s many types of birds I have seen too; Loons, Blue Herons, Osprey, American eagles and more.
marshy tim river

Tim River: Minutes after leaving access#2

Sure, many folks have seen most of these species listed above to a lesser or greater degree elsewhere in The Park. However, to see all that wildlife concentrated in one specific area, so often, spoke to the ‘wild’ nature of the Tim River. More specifically, the area below the 120m portage, it never failed to delight, but I was beginning to think there might always be a first time - It was growing hot and I feared that with the excessive heat, wildlife viewing opportunities would be sparse.

At 10:55am we arrived at a narrow section of the river that is usually obstructed with tree trunks. In past years I’ve had to get out and pull the canoe over. One year, it was so dry I had to lift around it. If you do get out of your canoe, there is what looks like an old road or trail at the narrowing of the river where the floating tree trunks are located. With the higher than normal water levels I was able to paddle right thru the logs. Sean & Tracey were able to bypass the section with no trouble as well.

Ten minutes before noon we had completed the short portage around the dam and falls. Another couple in a canoe politely waited for us to put-in to the river before they could ascend the trail. The landing is small and a muddy one studded with rocks. Ideal for perhaps only one canoe at a time.

Thirty minutes of paddling later we arrived at the first of only two beaver dams. In the past I’ve had to cross 5 or 6 beaver dams going down the section of the river between the portage & Rosebary Lakes. Sean & Tracey enjoyed the crossing and it was without a little humour to make the crossing more memorable than just another chore. After all, If you can't have fun, then why are you out there? We continued down the river, crossing Little Butt Lake and into the narrowest part of the river. It was there that the river becomes tiresome - There are many switch backs to deal with (Roughly a dozen) and in the past there were several inconveniently located beaver dams as well. Luckily, there was only one dam in that section to deal with at the time.
paddling tim lake

Sean & Tracey: Beautiful morning paddle across Tim Lake

After this we hit a section of the river that both widened and began to straighten out. It is at this point that you can just see a thin sliver of bright blue; The water of Rosebary Lake beyond. Unconsciously, my pace quickened. Just before 2pm we arrived onto Rosebary Lake under a hot summer sky. It had taken us at a leisurely pace 4.5 hours to reach the lake. It was 29°C. Whew!

We immediately paddled towards the north shore campsite next to the beautiful sand beach. Unfortunately, it was occupied. I’ve never been able to get that campsite. Though, I’ve walked the beach many times. It’s odd though - Every time I’ve paddled thru the lake and visited that campsite it was empty. But every time I’ve been scheduled to camp on Rosebary Lake, it has been occupied. Oh well. C'est la vie.

Other preferred sites on the lake were occupied as well and we ended up on settling on the middle site on the west shore. I’d camped there before. It wasn’t a bad site, it just wasn’t fantastic. It had its perks though - Camped along the west shore, we'd be protected from west winds should they arise and we'd get morning sunshine if the sky was clear. Also, with there still being full foliage cover, we had shade from the hot afternoon September sun. Yay!

We begin to set up camp; tents, clean the fire-pit, check the thunderbox (To make sure it was serviceable), we also gathered firewood and cut it as well. In just a little over an hour we were settled around the fire pit relaxing with cool beverages in hand. It was nice to sit in the warmth of a September afternoon and not to be harassed by bugs while we sipped our cool drinks.

During this time Sean walked over to my canoe and pulled out my spare paddle, a light poplar paddle that had a crack running down the blade, complete with duck tape around it. Sean gave the paddle a disgusted look and tossed it in his canoe. Before I could open my mouth and complain, Sean pulled out a brand new wide blade paddle and presented it to me. "Happy Birthday Markus!" I was surprised, "My 50th birthday present! Doood, can’t thank you enough!"
Better and Better.
tim river portage 120m

120m Portage : The steep put-in to the Tim River downstream.

As afternoon dwindled into evening, I cooked myself a tasty dinner consisting of strip loin steak and potatoes. Yum! Afterwards, when dinner and wash-up was complete, I travelled on foot just south of the campsite to a small rise beyond a big rock, It is there that there is a big tree with a large limb that overhangs a dip in the landscape - Perfect for hanging a food barrel or in my case two stuff sacks full of food. My evening chores done, I re-joined Sean & Tracey around the campfire for an evening of lies and laughter. The fun never stopped.

We never did see any moose or deer. With the heat it was not surprising but a little disappointing. During dusk a beaver did swim past our campsite and there were a few loons on the lake and as the evening progressed a few of them began their ethereal song.

There were a few red squirrels around camp and it became clear very early on that anything with an opening (i.e. food pack, knapsack, etc) couldn't be left lying about. So that was about it, the beaver, loons and red squirrels. A few canoes drifted around the lake - Anglers out for the last few days of trout fishing season.

To me it was another day in heaven, made better by the fact that the weather was awesome and the company I kept was fantastic. To think, I still had 8 more days left in Heaven. Better and BETTER!