Canoe Trip Log #:  Algonquin Park, July 18-21,1998 


Rock Lake to Pen Lake; three nights at base camp on Pen; back to Rock Lake

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


A family of four... Barry, Heather, Dan (11) & Mike (10); Margaret & Margaret's Springer Spaniel


1 X 17.5' Nova Craft Haida Kevlar (66 lbs.) &
1 X 15' Scott Prospector Kevlar (50 lbs.)

DAY 1 (Saturday)

Travel: Rock Lake to Pen Lake

Time: 2:30 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. = 3 hrs, 20 min.

(NOTE: Times in this Trip Log are based upon two trips across each portage -- one with canoe and food; one with gear. )

Weather: Warm, calm, partly cloudy

Canoe distance: 10 km

Portages: 1

Portage distance: 375m

Travel events: Saw a snapping turtle near Rock Lake Access Point

Camp: Southern-most site on east side of Pen Lake (a spacious, rather hilly site, with a great panoramic view of Pen Lake)

Cross Section of our Campsite

Supper: Pita Pizzas, marshmallows cooked over the Coleman (fire ban in effect for the entire interior)

Camp events, evening: Washing dishes in the dark! After retiring for the night, we hear what sounds like a train off in the distance. Since the sound never ceased, Margaret concludes that, instead, the sound must be the waterfall beside the 295m portage, across the lake from camp.

Quote of the day: "I was born on the side of a hill!" (originally, a Katherine Hepburn ad lib, in the 1938 movie "Bringing Up Baby")

Overnight: Calm, cool

DAY 2 (Sunday)

The first of two days to explore the area near our base camp on Pen Lake

Weather: Warm, partly cloudy, calm in a.m., windy in p.m.

Camp events, morning: 7 a.m. -- beautiful calm water and morning mist; a family of five loons paddles up to our camp... seem very interested in the Springer Spaniel

Out-of-camp events, morning:  We set off to see the waterfall. While approaching the marsh leading up to the 295m portage, we see a Great Blue Heron take flight. We ground-out in the marsh, abandon our quest to reach the waterfall, and paddle down to the 275m portage leading to Clydesgale Lake. We walk the portage (a very scenic creek runs parallel to the portage) and then spend a few minutes looking at Clydesgale Lake. Then we walk back across the portage to our canoes. As we reach the Pen Lake put-in, we bump into a group of three men who came across the 295m portage, where the waterfall is located, yesterday. They tell us that it is possible to wade the canoes right up to the portage entrance. We paddle back to camp for lunch.

Camp events, afternoon: Nap time; reading, "Connect Four" tournament.

Supper: Heather cooks us up a delicious vegetable stir fry, with cheesy rice and pumpernickel bread, for "Sunday night supper." She even brings along ties for the guys to wear at supper! We are too full to eat bannock turnovers for dessert, so we make them for breakfast the next morning.

Camp events, evening: More "Connect Four;" a brief rain shower; tea on the shore of Pen Lake, while watching the sun set.

Quotes of the day:

"I blew a sandal today!"

Q: "How did you get so dirty?" A: "I fell down a lot."

"You know what would be a great game for here? (this extremely tilted campsite)... sock-foot Twister!"

Overnight: Breezy, cool

DAY 3 (Monday)

The second of two days to explore the area near our base camp on Pen Lake

Weather: Sunny, warm

Out-of-camp events, daytime: We set out to see the waterfall again. This time, Barry and Margaret wear socks under their sandals, so they can wade the canoes up to the portage entrance without picking-up leeches. We see two Great Blue Herons near the marsh. We find a garter snake sunning itself on the rocks at the portage entrance. Heather, Dan and the dog swim in the pool below the lower falls. The dog is shocked when a frog leaps over her head and into the pool. We walk the portage to the upper falls. Barry, Dan and Mike explore the area around the upper falls. Margaret sees yet another Blue Heron in the marsh at the west end of the portage. Heather spots a patch of ripe blueberries beside the portage. We spend about 20 minutes picking and eating blueberries. We also take back enough for tomorrow's breakfast (blueberry pancakes!).

Camp events, daytime:

Dan poses the question: "What do you love and hate about canoe-tripping?"

Barry: "I love the canoeing... I miss my waterbed."

Dan: "I love the canoeing... I hate the mosquitoes."

Heather: "I love the scent of the forest... I hate the smell of the latrine box when it gets warm."

Margaret: "I love having the lake virtually to ourselves... I hate trying to repel down from the latrine area (a.k.a. 'the fifth floor') to my tent area (a.k.a. 'the second floor') in the dark, with the dog pulling on her leash."

Mike: "I love the marshmallows!... I hate, nothing!"

A Woodland Deer Mouse visits camp and poses for pictures!

Supper: Soupworks Minestrone and Garden Vegetable (combined in one pot), cheese bread.

Camp events, evening: The water is as smooth as glass. At dusk, a pair of loons vocalize a few hundred feet from our camp; Barry, Dan and Mike paddle around the island across from our site. When they return, we have tea and hot cinnamon rolls on the shore of Pen Lake, while the sun finishes setting. Barry, Heather and Margaret stay on the shore to watch the stars come out. A bat swoops low over Barry's head!

Quote of the day: Heather: "Dan, why are you hiding in the tent?" Dan: "Margaret keeps making me eat candy!"

Overnight: Calm, mild

DAY 4 (Tuesday)

Travel: Pen Lake to Rock Lake

Time: 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. = 3 hrs, 30 min

Weather: Breezy, warm, partly cloudy

Canoe distance: 10 km

Portages: 1

Portage distance: 375m

Travel events: We see a family of Mergansers near the portage entrance. We drink from the spring along the portage... cold and refreshing!

TRIP TOTALS (over 2 of 4 days)

Travel time: 6 hrs, 50 min

Canoe distance: 20 km

Portages: 2

Portage distance: 750m

Overall distance traveled: 21 km (96% water travel; 4% portages)

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