Canoe Trip Log #4:  Algonquin Park, Aug. 12-18, 1997 


Planned Round Trip -- Magnetawan Lake (Access Point 3) to McIntosh Lake, via Hambone and Daisy Lakes, the Petawawa River, Little Misty and Misty Lakes the Petawawa River, McIntosh Marsh and Creek; back via Timberwolf, Misty and Little Misty Lakes, the Petawawa River, Daisy and Hambone Lakes.

Actual Trip -- On Day 2, we decided that water levels were too low to attempt our entire route. Instead of the above, we ended up doing a more leisurely trip -- Magnetawan Lake (Access Point 3) to McIntosh Lake, via Hambone and Daisy Lakes, the Petawawa River, Little Misty, Misty and Timberwolf Lakes; back the same way we came in. Despite the change, we were still able to stay at most of the locations specified on our permit, on the nights when were expected to be there.

Sketch map of route(Adapted from a map produced by The Portage Store)


Lucie, Margaret, Sandee, Lucie's Cocker Spaniel


1 X 17.5' Swift Yukon Kevlar (56 lbs.)Swift Canoe Co.

DAY 1 (Tuesday)

Travel: Magnetawan Lake to Little Misty Lake, via Hambone and Daisy Lake and the Petawawa River

Time: 12:40 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. = 5 hrs, 40 min

(NOTE: Times in this Trip Log are based upon two trips across each portage -- one with canoe and food; one with gear. This year is the first that we had one person solo-carry the canoe across each portage... in the past we have always had two people carry it together.)

This section of the route should only have taken about 4 1/2 hours. Due to low water levels we grounded-out several times on the Petawawa and had to wade the canoe downstream. We also made an error and put in at the mid-point of the 450m portage on the Petawawa. Unaware of our mistake, we continued downstream from that point and had to do a couple of liftovers to get to the open part of the river again.

Weather: Mild, partly cloudy

Canoe distance: 13 km

Portages: 5

Portage distance: 135m + 55m + 420m + 135m + 450m = 1195m

Travel events: Margaret sinks knee-deep into a muck hole at the end of the 420m portage between Hambone and Daisy Lakes... Lucie and Sandee laugh so hard that they can hardly pull her out! A couple portages later, it's Margaret's turn to laugh... Lucie and Sandee BOTH fall into the river at a scenic spot near a portage put-in. We see several Great Blue Herons along the Petawawa; also six Common Mergansers and several Common Loons in the lakes en route. When we reach camp on Little Misty Lake, Margaret discovers seven stowaways in her sandals... one large, two medium and four small LEECHES picked up about half an hour before, when the canoe grounded-out in a marsh on the Petawawa and Margaret got out to wade the canoe to deeper water. Margaret notes that there is no physical sensation associated with the leeches... no pain; not even a hint that they are attached. We get out our little packets of salt from McDonalds Restaurant and sprinkle salt on the leeches. The leeches curl up and fall off immediately. Several of the suck holes bleed profusely for a couple hours. Apparently leeches inject an anticoagulant. Margaret treats the suck holes with Polysporin Cream daily for the rest of the trip.

Quote of the day: Sandee: "I broke a fingernail." Margaret: "Oh ya, well I broke an artery!!"

Camp: Little Misty Lake... only one site on this lake, so we had the lake to ourselves

Supper: Hamburgers, Fig cookies

Camp events, evening: Snappy the turtle paddles up to shore to see what we're having for dinner. Fire ban in effect. To bed @ 8:30 p.m.

Overnight: Steady rain for several hours. Sandee and Margaret hear an owl, raccoons in camp, and what sounds like a person walking through camp toward the lake. Margaret (who is sharing a tent with Lucie) assumes it is Sandee walking around outside; Sandee assumes it is Margaret or Lucie. In the morning we realize that no one in our crew was outside during the night... a closer examination of the campsite reveals that it must have been a moose that walked through our camp to the lake!

Camp events, the following morning: As the rain subsides, we huddle in Margaret and Lucie's tent to make a decision about our route... despite an entire night of rain, it is obvious from marks on the shoreline that water levels are still a foot or more below normal levels. Our concern is McIntosh Creek. If the Petawawa is low enough to cause us to ground out, then McIntosh Creek must be really low. We discuss the advice we received from others we saw en route yesterday, who had braved the liftovers on McIntosh Creek, and decide not to subject ourselves and our really expensive (and uninsured) Kevlar canoe to the rigors of McIntosh Creek. Instead of going to McIntosh Lake via the Petawawa and McIntosh Marsh and Creek, and back via Timberwolf Lake, we decide to go to McIntosh Lake and back via the same route through Timberwolf Lake. This decision cuts our total paddling distance from 63 to 43 km, decreases the total number of portages from 22 to 16, and shortens-up travel times on days two and three considerably. At breakfast, much to Lucie's dismay, she discovers that our bottle of vegetable oil has leaked and soaked all of her coffee filters... they are now very hard to open and easily ripped!

DAY 2 (Wednesday)

Travel: We no longer need to paddle to the east end of Misty Lake today, so we just do the 935m portage between Little Misty and Misty Lakes, and set up camp at the west end of Misty.

Time: 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. = 1 hr, 30 min

Weather: Overcast in early morning, cool, windy and partly cloudy in afternoon.

Canoe distance: 2.5 km

Portages: 1

Portage distance: 935m

Travel events: Lucie sets her personal best for a solo canoe carry... 935m up and over a hill with only one rest break!

Camp: The small island closest to the west end of Misty Lake. Very, very nice... several flat places for tents, a rustic "park bench" and a fire pit surrounded by logs for seating.

Camp events, afternoon: Sandee wins a postcard from Margaret for throwing accuracy when hanging the food pack rope; Margaret: hanging the rain tarp. Then, Sandee: reading; Margaret and Lucie: napping. Later, Lucie: swimming; Sandee and Lucie: hiking around the perimeter of the island; Margaret still napping. Guys coming in from Access Point 3 today tell us that despite the rain the fire ban is still in effect. We see seven loons together in the water to the east of our island camp.

Supper: Pita pizza, Dates

Camp events, evening: To bed @ 9:00 p.m.

Overnight: Partly cloudy, cool

Camp events, the following morning: Margaret gets up at 6:45 a.m. to take some photos of mist on the lake. First she hikes the island shoreline and then she takes the canoe out for a slow paddle around the island... very tranquil!

DAY 3 (Thursday)

Travel: Misty Lake to McIntosh Lake, via Timberwolf Lake
Shortly after leaving camp, we are advised by other canoeists that the river attached to the 130m portage between Misty and Timberwolf is impassable due to low water... they recommend that we take the 765m portage into Timberwolf instead.

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 1:20 p.m. (minus 20 min for lunch) = 2 hrs

Weather: Partly cloudy

Canoe distance: 6 km

Portages: 2

Portage distance: 765m + 405m = 1170m

Travel events: A bizarre happening: we are greeted at the 765m portage entrance by an elderly gentleman, who is just standing and gazing out at the lake... his clothing would be better suited to a senior's bus tour in Florida... white tennis hat, golf shirt, baggy walking shorts, knee socks pulled up almost as high as the legs of the shorts, white sneakers. Sandee sets her personal best for a solo canoe carry... 405m, without any rest breaks! We select a lovely campsite on the west shore of McIntosh Lake. Margaret notes that it doesn't look like the site is used very often... tons of seagull poop on the rocks along the shoreline. We decide to eat lunch before unpacking. After lunch, Margaret and Sandee scout locations for hanging the food pack... in the process, they discover several large piles of bear scat around the perimeter of the fire pit clearing. We have never seen bear scat in the middle of a campsite before. We decide to leave this site immediately and look for a site on the opposite shore of the lake.

Camp: South-east shore of McIntosh Lake... the same site we stayed at on our 1995 trip. Since we were last here, improvements have been made to both the fire pit and seating area around it.

Quote of the day: "Nothing like giant piles of bear crap to make your old campsite look inviting!"

Camp events, afternoon: The last time we camped at this site the latrine box was located a hundred metres or more back into the bush. Sandee and Lucie head off in search of the latrine. They cannot locate the old trail to the latrine box and so return to camp. Later, Margaret and Sandee set out to look for the latrine box. They cannot find it either, and so consider digging a cat hole. Just as they arrive back in camp to get the trowel, Sandee looks to her right and there it is... the latrine box, now just a twenty metres from the lake shore... couldn't have been any closer to camp!! Sandee and Lucie: swimming. Sandee spies a couple of canoes approaching "the bear site" way across on the other side of the lake. She worries that something will happen to these people... wishes we could go over and warn them not to camp there. Wind on the lake and the distance across makes such a trek inadvisable, so Sandee keeps an eye on these people from afar. Margaret and Sandee spot a male Downy Woodpecker on a tree in camp, just a couple metres away from them. Margaret notices what looks like a run-of-the-mill Sea Gull flying over camp... but its call catches her completely off-guard... "ha, ha, ha, ha, ha"... makes Margaret burst out laughing in response... apparently this is NOT a Sea Gull, but rather a Laughing Gull, a rare find in these parts and the first Margaret has ever heard!

Supper: "Extra creamy" Kraft Dinner, Bread, Raspberry Cookies

Camp events, evening: Feeling like a short hike after dinner, we go for a paddle in quest of the 510m portage to McIntosh Creek... Margaret forgets to bring the map along... we end up turning back just before reaching the portage entrance (sorry guys!) We hear a wolf howling somewhere on the south-west shore of the lake at about 9:15 p.m. Lucie is NOT a happy camper... her coffee filters are soaking wet with vegetable oil, she fell in the water and soaked her boots, the food in a pack she was carrying exploded out on a portage (the zipper was not done up fully on the pack), she has a whopping big sinus headache and tonight a Deer Mouse sat on her foot while she was sitting outside after dark!!

Quote of the day: "Get it away... I don't like those!!" (mice)

Overnight: Overcast and windy

DAY 4 (Friday)

Rest day on McIntosh Lake!

Weather: Overcast and mild in a.m.; rainy and cool all afternoon; overcast, cool and windy in evening

Camp events, morning: Lucie spots two "somethings" swimming in the lake. Curious, Margaret and Sandee both rush out of their tents to see what Lucie is looking at... it appears to be a pair of otters enjoying a morning swim about 50m offshore. Lucie's bad day, part two: she drops a pot of boiling water at breakfast and it splashes on Margaret's foot (no injury results); later, on our hike, Lucie gets stung on the chin by some sort of insect... very painful.

Out-of-camp events, morning: We paddle to Ink Lake and hike the 2320m portage to Lake Tom Thomson, without gear. We meet others at the Thomson end who inform us that the fire ban has now been lifted. We also run into the people who stayed at "the bear site" last night... not only did they notice the bear scat and decide to stay there anyway, they also caught some fish and cooked them over the campfire (tempting fate, if you ask us!!!)... nevertheless, Sandee feels better knowing that the people she observed camping at "the bear site" made it through the night. On the return trip across the 2320, Sandee turns an ankle, falls and kinks her back... owww!! She lives on double-strength, coated Aspirin for the rest of the trip, but still manages to carry her share on portages.

Camp events, afternoon: Margaret: hanging rain tarp; Sandee and Lucie: sawing wood. Afternoon tea under the rain tarp; Sandee and Lucie: swimming, reading and napping; Margaret: washing her hair, writing postcards and watching rain fall on the lake.

Supper: Asparagus soup and Hot bannock turnovers (made with homemade blueberry jam)

Quote of the day: "I like the lumps... they remind me of dumplings." (clumps of soup mix that did not dissolve properly during cooking)

Camp events, evening: We hear a wolf howling again this evening around 9 p.m. Campfire! (our first of the trip) Racquette (the dog) finds a stick that she is particularly interested in.

Overnight: Wind that coulda blown us to Oz!

Camp events, the following morning: Racquette picks up her interesting stick again... when she drops it on the rocks and it makes an unusual sound, Margaret realizes that it is NOT a stick that she has been playing with since last evening! As we are packing the canoe, Sandee notices a frog with a long tail sitting on the rocks by the lakeshore.

Quote of the day: "Racquette! Drop that! That isn't a stick, it's part of someone's ribcage!!" (she had been playing with what appeared to be a one-foot tip section of a fairly large rib)

DAY 5 (Saturday)

Travel: McIntosh Lake to Misty Lake, via Timberwolf Lake

Time: 9:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. = 2 hrs, 30 min

Weather: Windy, then sunny, then thunderstorm (just after reaching Misty Lake camp), then sunny and windy in afternoon, then overcast and windy in evening

Canoe distance: 6 km

Portages: 2

Portage distance: 405m + 765m = 1170m

Travel events: Bucking a headwind and whitecaps on Timberwolf and Misty Lakes. We spot several loons together on Misty Lake and also a pair of Double-crested Cormorants standing on boulders in the middle of Misty. The Cormorants take-off, fly cross our path and then east along the south shore of the lake.

Camp: The same island site at the west end of little Misty that we had for night 2

Camp events, afternoon: Margaret: hanging the rain tarp; Sandee and Lucie: swimming; Sandee: sawing wood; Margaret: napping and writing. While sitting by the lakeshore, Margaret observes 16 Mergansers surfacing from an underwater swim right near where she is sitting... fascinating... they just keep popping-up one at a time! As soon as them birds realize a human is nearby they paddle away together (on the surface of the lake).

Out-of-camp events, afternoon: Lucie and Sandee: paddle to the 1030m portage leading to Muslim Lake, hike the trail over and back, and then sunbathe on the Misty Lake side before returning to camp.

Supper: Cheese and broccoli rice dish, Garlic Bread, Prunes

Camp events, evening: Campfire

Overnight: Windy, then windy and rainy. Very cold in the morning.

Camp events, the following morning: We bundle-up and sit around the camp stove, waiting for hot oatmeal and coffee, etc.

Quote of the day: "It's sooooo cold... don't anybody lick the tent pegs!"

DAY 6 (Sunday)

Travel: Misty Lake to Daisy Lake, via Little Misty Lake and the Petawawa River

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (minus 20 minutes for lunch) = 4 hrs, 10 min

Weather: Windy and overcast, warming slightly throughout the day

Canoe distance: 9.5 km

Portages: 3

Portage distance: 935m + 450m + 135m = 1520m

Travel events: We bump into nine Boy Scouts and a family of four, all traveling the same direction as we are, on the first portage. We paddle past 23 Mergansers on the Petawawa. Then we run into heavy traffic at the entrance to our second portage... several groups of men and boys have just come across the portage and are trying to sort out their stuff. They decide to be gentlemen and let us land ashore before they push-off; one even steadies our canoe while Sandee gets out. Then the entire gallery of about twenty guys watches in amazement as Lucie shoulders our 17 1/2 foot canoe by herself and charges across the portage with it. (Sandee and Margaret REALLY enjoy the looks on the guys' faces!!) We bump into two women and their husbands/boyfriends at the end of our third portage.

Quotes of the day:

Margaret to a five year old girl on our first portage with her parents: "Are you enjoying the trip?" Little girl: "Yes... we are going home now."

"Oh... there ARE other women on the west side of the park... we were beginning to think this was some sort of 'male-bonding zone'!"

Camp: An island site on Daisy Lake... awesome "park bench" by the fire pit. The island looks pretty over-used, however... sawed-off tree stumps all over its interior and no undergrowth.

Camp events, afternoon: Lucie: sets personal best at hanging the food pack rope! Sandee and Lucie: sawing wood; Sandee and Lucie: swimming; Margaret: preparing and lighting campfire.

Quote of the day: "When I was sitting on the Treasure Chest, Gilligan stole our tree."
(I'm not even going to attempt an explanation of this quote!)

Supper: Fusilli pasta, Freeze-dried lasagna, Garlic Bread; Hot Bisquick Cinnamon Rolls with Icing

Camp events, evening: Campfire; Giddy fire-gazing

Overnight: Clear and cold

DAY 7 (Monday)

Travel: Daisy Lake to Magnetawan Lake (Access Point 3), via Hambone Lake

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 11: 50 a.m. = 1 hr, 50 min

Weather: Sunny and mild

Canoe distance: 6 km

Portages: 3

Portage distance: 420m + 55m + 135m = 610m

Travel events: Margaret loses her footing and falls while solo-carrying the canoe near the end of the 420m portage. Lucie, who is walking behind the canoe, is the one most traumatized by this event... Sandee was ahead of the canoe and Margaret was under it, so only Lucie watched it happen! The canoe is fine and Margaret only sustains a bruise on the left knee and a gash on the right shin. (Coulda been a lot worse for both!) Margaret shakes-it-off and insists on carrying the canoe for the rest of this portage. We make it out of the interior without further incident, and head straight for Huntsville and the largest hamburgers we can find...

Yes, we got a little roughed-up on this trip, but on the way home in the car everyone agreed that it was a great adventure. We are already discussing ideas for next year's trip...

TRIP TOTALS (over 6 of 7 days)

Travel time: 17 hrs, 40 min

Canoe distance: 43 km

Portages: 16

Portage distance: 6.6 km

Overall distance traveled: 50 km (86% water travel; 14% portages)

Write-ups for our planned canoe route are included in:

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