Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Less Than Expected

Well another canoe tripping season has come and gone.  The last few splashes of colour still cling desperately to the aspens and birches as the cold late October winds and rain blow the leaves about haphazardly.  It's hard to believe that six months ago I was desperately waiting for the ice to melt off the lakes so I could start another excellent tripping season.  But mother nature and other powers that be would have different plans for my long planned out canoe trips.

After a long winter spring was slow in coming.  My expected departure date of April 30th to head into the Tattler Ranger Cabin with my Dad on our annual fishing trip was delayed due to ice still being on the lakes.  Hence I had to cancel the cabin and was unable to secure it at a later date as it was booked up through the month of May.  The Park's backcountry was officially opened May 6th and we heading in on the 8th to Booth Lake.  With work and the change in plans our trip also had to be shortened from five to four days.  With two of the four days traveling we in essence had two days to fish.  The first day was a long haul into Round Island Lake where I've had good luck in the past but this time we only came up with one fish.  The next day was suppose to be another long day into Boot Lake but upon reaching Raja we were unable to locate the portage to Muskat Lake and gave up looking for it after an hour and headed back to camp after unsuccessfully fishing Raja.

The end of May and into June I headed off on my annual solo trip.  I strayed from my normal 4 day venture and headed out for seven days through a section of the Park I had been longing to do for several years.  I started at Aylen Lake and headed north into McKaskill and Dickson before heading east into White Partridge and over to Greenleaf and down through the Carajou system before finishing up at Achray.  It was a good trip but hard.  There were a couple of portages that were taxing because of numerous blow downs.  But the most difficult part of the trip was coping with blisters on the backs of my heels and sides of my feet after day one because of new sandals.  I noticed a small tear on my old ones just before my trip and didn't want to risk taking them in case they blew out while out there leaving me with no other footwear other than my flimsy moccasins.  I've never had that problem with sandals in the past so I figured I would be alright.  The pain and discomfort made the enjoyment of the trip less than what it should have been.  Despite that it was a rewarding trip with great weather, fishing and scenery.  I finished up my solo trip at Achray on Grand Lake where I was met by my family.  We camped there for several days exploring the glories of Algonquin's east side.

The family canoe trip this year changed venues.  We headed off to Temagami for a four day adventure.  I have tripped there several times but hadn't been in almost ten years.  We headed into Wasaksina Lake which has some really nice sites and great fishing.  The boys found out just how good the fishing was when each landed a 4 and 5 pound Smallmouth Bass right off of the campsite using their Angry Birds floating lure.  The fishing was so good that my wife lost my expensive Shimano spinning outfit when she leaned the rod against the gunnel of the canoe and a fish came up, grabbed the lure, which was just dangling in the water, and pulled the whole kit-and-kaboodle into the lake.  Still not sure what kind of fish it was but it must have been a big one!

The last trip of the season was to be my annual August venture with my Dad.  This year we had planned to head out of Kiosk to the Birchcliffe Ranger Cabin via Maple Creek and then head up through Erables and Maple back to Kiosk.  Dad was scheduled to have heart surgery sometime in the late fall early winter and a couple of weeks before the trip his surgeon advised him not to go on the trip in case something happened.  So Dad was out but I still planned to do the trip on my own, it just wouldn't be the same without him.  Two days before the trip I was diagnosed with a hernia, so that put the kibosh on that trip.  Looking back I probably could have done it but I didn't want to take the chance of it rupturing or getting strangulate out in the middle of the bush.

So needless to say it was a little disappointing tripping season but I was still fortunate to get out and enjoy the Park when I could.  Planning is already underway, or should I say just about completed, for next year's trips.  Both Dad and I should be back to full tripping form by the time May rolls around for our annual spring fishing trip.  We've planned on going in a week later than normal to ensure that the lakes are ice free.  The Big Crow Ranger Cabin is our destination.  This will allow for more fishing and less time traveling to get to the fishing spots.  With the exception of Hogan if Dad feels up for doing the trek there.  I'm also contemplating having my boys and wife join us at the cabin for a few days at the end of the trip with my Dad.  This will give me a week at the cabin and hopefully some good fishing and if the weather is unfavourable at least the boys with have some place warm and dry to entertain themselves.

As for my solo trip  I'll be doing another week long trip and again finishing up on the east side.  I plan to start at Opeongo heading out of the East Arm into Dickson to White Partridge.  I'm already not looking forward to doing the dreadful portage from Little Dickson to Sundassa unless the Park gets into clear it out before I go through there.  I'll head north down White Partridge Creek and pray that water levels and alders aren't that bad.  I'll head west on the Crow River to Lavieille and then back track on continue on the Crow River to the Petawawa.  Down the mighty Pet I'll head all the way to McManus.  I've done the Petawawa several times, and always in the spring, but never have I done it solo.  I know what rapids can and can't be run so this will put my skills to the test when I tackle the Schooner and 5 Mile rapids.  As with this past season my family will meet me when I finish up and we'll camp for a few days again at Achray.

The family trip is planned again for Temagami.  I'm just not sure at this point if we'll head back to Waskaksina or try another lake.  It's just easy to get to with only one short portage so that makes it appealing.

In August I'll try with my Dad again to do the trip that was slated to be done this past season with a slight route change.  Rather than do a loop and finish up at Kiosk we'll head into Mouse and the Cauchon lakes and into Hurdman finishing up at Brain Lake and catch a shuttle back to Kiosk.

Those are the definite planned trips for 2015.  If time, weather and the wife permits I may slide a couple of other solo ventures into the mix.  The first would be an early spring solo trip before the fishing trip if the ice goes out early.  I have yet to do the South River so if everything cooperates I'll head out of the Tim Rive access point up to the South River into Craig Lake, into Lost Dog and out at Kawawaymog.

The second would be a fall trip, which I haven't been able to do for years.  Leaving from the North River access point I'd head into Wabamimi then into Big or Wee George, spend a couple of days on Radiant where hopefully there's be some good birding, then up to Allan and back out at North River.

Well that's it for next season's trips in a large nutshell.  I've updated my lake list bring my grand total to 432.  I'm still working on getting a colourized map that shows all the lakes, etc. that I've visited.  In a few weeks I'll get around to posting my trips logs from this past season.  Until then, happy paddling!

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