Algonquin in Six Days: Misty, Timberwolf, McIntosh and Moccasin Lakes (plus many more)
This was our trip plan for a much longer and more involved trip, and I think this one delivered! This was the trip plan:
Day 1: Magnetawan Lake
Day 2: Magnetawan Lake, Hambone Lake, Acme Pond, Daisy Lake, Petawawa River, Little Misty Lake, Misty Lake
Day 3: Misty Lake, Timberwolf Lake
Day 4: Timberwolf Lake, McIntosh Lake
Day 5: Timberwolf Lake, Misty Lake, Muslim Lake, Wenona Lake, Bandit Lake, Moccasin Lake
Day 6: Moccassin Lake, Addison’s Lake, Petawawa River, Daisy Lake, Acme Pond, Hambone Lake, Magnetawan Lake
Day 1: The plan was to stay on Magnetawan our first night to give us an early start towards Misty the next day. We read this could take anywhere from 4-6 hours, so did not want the worry about the additional 3 hour drive.
Day 2: We had breakfast and were packed up and leaving the site around 9am to cloudy skies. A short paddle had us at the portage to Hambone. We did this in two carries, but decided to try and single carry the short portages from here on out! This was a nice easy portage and we enjoyed the paddle across the lake – Hambone is very pretty. As per Jeff’s map, we decided to try to skip the 55m portage. There were a few rocks at the mouth of the little river and the winds really picked up, so we kept getting blown into rocks. Shayn decided to get out and steer the front of the canoe past the worst of this. Great idea and we were back on track. Otherwise, this was a very easy “skip.” The portage to Daisy was well used and overall an easy single carry. Shayn took one waterproof bag and the canoe. I took the other bag with the food, our backpack, the tent, and paddles. The river into Daisy was low, but passable. The wind really picked up, and as the lake turned East, it was blowing straight against us. Daisy took us a LONG time. I could still appreciate the nice sites on our way by. After the last campsite, it took us a while to see the opening to continue through the narrows. We knew where it should be, so continued on, but it took a while to actually “see” this one. The 135m portage onto the Petawawa wasn’t too bad and we single carried this one.
On the other side, we took time to check out the “falls” and take pictures. Than we were off down the Petawawa River. The sun started to come out as we arrived at the 450m. We chatted with two guys that had been in for a week with the bad weather and were thinking of leaving early. We did this one in a single carry, but I found it a little more difficult, as there were lots of ups and downs. We relaxed and pumped some more water on the other side from rocks in the middle of the “rapids” along the portage.We came across a blue heron that we followed for a few turns of the river. There was one beaver dam that required us to get out and pull over. We crossed Little Misty and arrived at the 935m portage around 2:15pm, after taking our time getting this far. We didn’t find this portage particularly difficult, but we did elect to do it in two carries. It was muddy, but not as bad as I expected given the note on Jeff’s map. We took a break for some energy bars and water, where we met a father and two sons coming in for the week. We carried on into Misty and headed for the small island site. We checked it out, but found it a little bushy and buggy for our liking. We decided to check out the site north of the island. This one had a nice beach landing on one side and lots of rocks on the other.
Day 3: Today we only planned to go one lake to Timberwolf, so took our time with breakfast and packing up. It finally dawned, sunny and relatively warm, so I took advantage of this by going for a quick dip. It was nice to sit on the rocks and take in some sun, finally! Breakfast was a treat of pancakes.
We left at 10:30 and decided to paddle Misty to take the 130m portage through the creek into Timberwolf. We didn’t particularly feel like doing the 845m portage and hoped this would be a nice paddle. The lake was almost flat and it was an enjoyable paddle in the sun. There looked to be a lot of nice sites on this lake. Through the narrow portion of the lake we came across another pair of loons and a baby. This time I had my camera ready and got a few nice shots! As we approached the bay with the portage we took a moment to pump some water, we also mused that the site in this bay would probably have lots of exploring to do. As we approached the portage sign, we realized it had an arrow pointing right to the actual portage. In this direction it became very boggy and shallow until we finally had to get out and pull the canoe along. It became very deep again before the portage, so although we were close to the portage, we had to get in the canoe, paddle 5 strokes, and get out again…between the deep water and the bog there did not appear to be any other option.
Shayn went exploring through the rapids around the base of the portage and he called me to follow him. A bit of a walk through the forest rewarded us with a pretty waterfall!! I am glad we got to see it! The portage itself, although short, was straight up in the beginning than flattened out on the other side. The bugs were terrible. The portage opened into a bog in every sense of the word. Lots of floating muck and it was hard to locate the way into the river. We followed the line of the land and didn’t bother trying to locate any particular way through. The river itself was pretty, but we saw no wildlife!
Before long we came across the old tote road that lies across the river. There was a nice place to paddle through on the left shore and it gave us no real trouble. The site on the mouth of the river was occupied, so we checked out the next grassy site and thought that looked nice. As we had time and saw no one else, we paddled around Snake Island to check out those sites. The one on the south tip was nice, but we saw a canoe, so headed back to the grassy site. Other than this site, I thought the rest looked a little ho-hum. It had clouded over, so we set up camp quickly in case of more rain. We spent the afternoon relaxing and gathering (wet) wood. We had dinner and turned in early because more rain was headed our way.
Day 4: This was our rest day, but we were planning to visit McIntosh. We woke up to lots of clouds (surprise). Our breakfast today was OvaEasy eggs and ready crisp bacon. I have to say I was pretty impressed with these eggs considering they were freeze-dried. As it still looked like rain, we decided to attempt to check out the remains of the logging cabin. We bush-wacked over, and just when we felt we would never find it, we came across lots of old barrels, pieces of metal, and old cans of food. There were also two small meadows full of raspberry bushes. I am not sure if there was more to see, but that’s all we found. As we crashed our way back, some canoeists apparently thought they heard wild life. They paddled towards us and seemed particularly excited, but we couldn’t get close enough to shore to tell them we were in fact, nothing exciting.As we reached our site, the skies opened and after a few minutes freezing under the tarp, we gave in and went back in the tent. Around 1:45pm the rain cleared up and the sun came out. We put our lunch in the canoe and headed for McIntosh. The 405m portage was easy and we headed to the first site on the right for lunch. We tried out the freeze-dried fajita filling by Mountain House and found it very tasty. By this point, we discovered that my tortillas were not going to hold up, so I enjoyed it as more of a dip. This was a really nice site and overall I loved this lake. It would be lovely to come back and stay on it another time. After an hour, the clouds started to role in again, which was our cue to leave. As we got on the water, we were treated to another down pour. On the Timberwolf side of the portage the sun reappeared and held long enough to allow for a quick swim and sun bathing before dinner.
Day 5: Guess what? We woke up to another overcast day. We had a quick breakfast of OvaEasy eggs and bacon before setting off around 9am. Although we had no particular desire to do the 845m, we elected to do it to cut down time. I didn’t find it particularly difficult just a bit long. We were back on Misty to sunny skies. Misty has such an interesting strip of land across the lake on the south side between the two portages. It almost looks like an old bridge, but upon getting closer it does look naturally occurring. We saw what we thought was probably the father and his sons from earlier in the week still on the island site. I was not looking forward to the 1030m portage, so we decided on two carries. This portage was wide and looked fairly well used. There was only one hill I found particularly difficult and was left in the dust, as Shayn continued on with the canoe. On our second carry, the rain caught up with us. Muslim lake was unremarkable and a quick paddle to the portage into Wenona. We did this in a single carry and didn’t find it too difficult either. It was starting to rain more on the Wenona side and Shayn asked if I wanted to wait it out a bit? I said no, as it wasn’t raining too hard. Apparently this was a bad choice, as we got the worst down pour of the trip and headed for the one campsite to wait it out. It was almost lunchtime, so we watched the rain with chicken fajitas. We both thought this was a lovely site and being the only one on the lake it would be a nice destination for another trip….maybe from Rain Lake Access instead.As we finished lunch the sun reappeared and we set out for the 540m to Bandit. The 540m was one of our “longest” of the trip. It was a hard portage with many ups and downs….tree roots, etc. It didn’t help that we were tired, but it just seemed to go on forever. Bandit was a nice enough Lake, but we were not overly impressed with the two sites on it. We did see another loon pair and their baby, so stopped for some photos. The 440m portage was well used and fairly flat. It was also interesting to see where it crossed the old logging road. It would be fun to explore on another trip.
We were on Moccasin quickly and were excited to find the sun coming out and the winds dying down. For a small lake, I thought it was a very pretty with two nice rocky sites (my favourite type). We chose the one on the north-west side, as it looked to have a larger camp area with flatter rocks to pull the canoe out. Overall, this was a lovely site with the only down side being the proximity to the site across the channel. We had a dinner of Mountain house white bean chili and freeze-dried crème brule for Shayn’s birthday. As the sun set, we decided to paddle to the other site to catch the last rays of warm sunshine (we had not got much until now!). This site was STEAP. The t-box was up an incredible hill (wouldn’t want to do that at night) and the fire pit was oddly close to the water. It would also be a pain to pull out gear here, but it was a lovely place to enjoy the evening and a birthday cigar for Shayn. Back on our site there was also a huge variety of birds that were all singing – there is something magical about falling asleep and waking to their music.
DAY 6: We had a fair distance to travel today and wanted to do it fast. We had a wedding to attend the next day and just before the trip found out we needed to attend a dinner that night. We were on our way by 8:30 to a sunny day and the birds chirping on our paddle to Addison’s (of course on the last day). As per Jeff’s map, we decided to attempt skipping the 140m portage. We headed down the narrows/river and were just thinking this would be easy when we came across many logs. We were enthusiastically steering around them until we came across a decent log jam. I suggested trying to pull over it like a beaver damn. Shayn got out onto one large log and was looking for a way across it with the canoe when it started to look like a lumberjack log rolling competition! I suggested he get back in the canoe! I’m sure we could have found a way around it, but at this point, we thought it would just waste time. Luckily this portage also crossed the old logging trail and we were at a point where there appears to have been a bridge. We were able to pull out and walk up to the portage – something it seemed many others had done. In about 5 minutes we were back on the water and grumbling about the log jam winning that round. We saw another pair of loons and their baby on Addison’s lake, but continued on to the 805m portage into the Petawawa River.Given all the rain we got, the rest of the portages were muddy, but the 805m was one of the worst portages I have had the joy of doing. We did this one in two carries and it looked like it would be easy. It was nice, open, and well used on the Addison’s end. About a ¼ way through the portage, we crested a hill and came upon mud as far as the eye could see! Shayn took a moment to contemplate how the *&^% he was going to maneuver this with the canoe. It mostly involved jumping from rocks, to grassy spots, to logs….just as we were getting to the river we hit a long boardwalk. A certainly appreciate the park staff making this, but on this particular day it ended several feet short of the river….and left us with boggy mud that was almost quick sand-like to put in on. We left our stuff on the board walk and went back for the rest. On the second carry, I took a rather spectacular slip on the way down a muddy hill, tripped on a few rocks and slid several feet on one foot until I came to a stop, somehow upright – Shayn said it looked like a figure skating move. Shortly after, we were back on the Petawawa and pulling over a beaver damn when we saw the father and sons from earlier in the week heading back from Misty. We mostly just saw them as we were leaving portages and lost them at some point, as we were in such a hurry. We came to the 450m that we had found difficult earlier in the week, but decided to do a single carry again. As the food wet-bag was now much lighter, we decided to put the tent in that bag – less things to carry. Shayn decided to try it with the canoe, as it was much shorter than our other wet bag. This portage had become very muddy and combined with the ups and downs, and the heavy pack along with the canoe, Shayn was really sore. As he took a minute (and an energy bar) on the other side, I loaded up the canoe and basically pushed the poor guy into it, so we didn’t lose any time. Good thing he loves me!
The 135m into Daisy was easy. As bad luck would have it, the wind had turned, so we had the joy of paddling this lake against the wind again! At least it was not as bad as the first time. We saw one group who were sitting in a canoe; in the middle of the lake….they looked to have 5 people in it!!! Not sure what they were doing, maybe fishing? As we came to the last turn on our way back to the river leading to the portage, we began to hit the ‘insanity’ that was everyone coming in for the long weekend. I was thankful that we were coming out. Of course we saw a few experienced couples, but we also passed a few canoes with three girls in each, in bikinis, with a suspicious lack of packs — I hope they didn’t get too cold at night. The short river was clear, but when we hit the 420m portage it was chaos! There was one family and kids resting while Dad brought over the last of the packs and another few groups going in our direction. We loaded up for the single carrying in hopes of passing everyone mingling about, but as our luck would have it one of the other groups sprung up and decided that they now wanted to do the portage! It was a slow walk to the other side, but this was a nice easy portage. We took off first on the other side and with the other group just behind us. One of the canoes with a young couple seemed to decide that they now wanted to race us across Acme to the 55m portage. They took off, “he-manning” it with the guy in the back throwing his paddle back and forth to steer. As they zig-zagged across the lake, we contemplated telling them in French (that’s what they were speaking) that they could skip this one, but just left it well enough alone and paddled around. It was indeed a much easier “skip” in this direction.
Hambone was a nice easy paddle and we saw several groups heading across the lake to Ralph Bice. This portage again was an easy one and just when we got across, we met around 5 canoes pulling up loaded with an assortment of things for the long weekend. They asked if they could look at our map, as they left there’s with someone coming later in the day. We were at the access point in no time and got to witness a great array of people getting ready to head out. A few groups were with guides and learning the reasons not to load up a canoe on gravel and drag it to the water.
All in all, a lovely trip, although it was a little wet, but we saw some beautiful lakes, and would not trade the experience for the world.