Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Rain Lake Day Trip
October 8 2011

Last year (2010) on the spur of the moment act (decided the night before), Bev and I ended up doing a small day trip to Rain Lake for lunch the 23rd of October and with the amazing fall weather this year (2011), it seemed like the natural thing to do.
This year being the nice guy that I am, I invited a friend along for the day.

Picking up Bonnie on the way North, we left Barrie around 7:15AM and with coffee in hand, enjoyed a relaxed traffic free drive with a stop in Huntsville for a refill of extra large Tim Hortons. This coffee led to confirm later that yes it is possible to paddle a canoe with a half a coffee sitting upright in the bottom of the canoe without it spilling.
Everything was going well until I turned off highway 11, passed through Emsdale and started heading for Kearny.
Now I know I have only done this drive a couple of times but I was pretty sure the roads were paved all the way. But now I found myself driving down a dirt road. Oh well, the G.P.S. seemed to thing we were heading in the right direction and it was a nice drive that somehow ended with us coming into Kearny right beside the Permit Office.

The paperwork got done and we were off down the access road arriving at the launch on Rain Lake without any more scenic detours.
We were loaded and ready to leave the dock around 10AM, taking our time paddling up the lake which was made a little easier with the help of an occasional 20KM tailwind.
It was decided that to avoid much of the wind as we could returning we would stop at the site on the North side upon entering the narrows before the lake opens up into the large bay with the island.
Pulling up to a small beach landing and with everything in the food barrel, unloading was no problem. The coffee was soon perking as we settled in to just relax and do nothing for the better part of the afternoon.

Just two old friends sitting around a small camp fire, the water lapping against the shore as we caught up on each others lives and what was going on.

More coffee was made and the fire started for lunch as the conversation flowed.
As with most natural conversations there are the odd lull when I would wander off into the woods to gather a little more firewood or Bonnie wandering down to the shore and trying her luck with the fishing rod.

Lunch was my traditional first night meal of steak slow cooked over an open hardwood fire with baked potatoes and asparagus seasoned and wrapped in foil roasted in the coals.
The dishes were promptly picked up and bagged ready for the dishwasher when I got home. After all, day tripping does have some advantages.

With one more round of coffees made the conversation picked back up and the rest of the afternoon seemed to just fly by. You know, there is nothing so peaceful as sitting on the side of the lake beside a small fire with the company of a good friend and before we realized it, the sun was starting to drop and we started to think about packing up and moving on.

The fire drowned and everything packed back into the food barrel,

 we pushed off around 5:30PM heading for the opposite shore, taking our time and exploring the shoreline.

Once again Rain Lake lived up to its reputation for winds and the earlier winds had not subsided, we were treated to gusting 20 to 30KM headwinds and no matter what my bow partner may have mentioned at the time I still say we were moving forward during the gusts and I still stand by my point that had we stopped forward momentum, her fishing rod would have gone slack.
Leaving the main lake behind us and entering the small bay we were greeted with glass smooth water to end the day as the sun set, arriving back at the dock around 6PM.

Things were going wonderfully with the gear loaded and the canoe tied to the car. We pulled out of the parking lot about 6:30PM and again did not have a problem until we passed through Kearney.
It seems I may have taken a slight zig where I should have zagged somewhere. We had a very long but scenic and in some spots spirited drive though the country along lots of dirt roads. We finally arrived at a friends place in Novar promptly at 9PM. Since this trip I have been into Rain Lake a few more times without a problem and never with the G.P.S. on

On the drive home as we were joking about my navigational skills two things were pointed out to me.
1 It is a very good thing I do much better on water than I do on land or they would still be looking after us.
2 It is not against the rules to stop and ask someone who happens to be out on their front yard if they know where I am because I obviously had no idea.

Overall it was a great day with the temperature reacting 23 degrees and sunshine. The only wildlife seen was a grouse along the and and a group of loons swimming by.

Thanks for taking a look.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A.P.P. Fork Lake May 2014 first trip with the new canoe.

The story goes that when I first started combining canoeing and camping my destination for that first trip was Fork Lake in Algonquin Park.
For a number of reasons, one of which was rather low water levels that year, I never did make it. That first trip did happen but the location changed first to Big Crow Lake and then eventually the French River System and I have never looked back.
Years later I found myself sitting there with a shiny new canoe in the garage that had yet to get wet and a free weekend so it only seemed fitting that I finally make that long aborted trip into Fork.

Friday finally came and I left work and headed North, stopping in Huntsville to top off the gas tank and crab a coffee (coffee was probably a bad idea) before continuing with the plan of driving through to the West Gate and sleeping  in the car until the office opened.
Well I found out that I do not sleep in a car as well as I used to, but did manage to get a couple hours sleep over the night, waking on and off to look for the foretasted meteor showers and around 1:30, watching  a couple pull in, pull on the locked office doors and then get back in their car and leave the way they came.
After an early drive through Whitney and a stop at the local dump to look for Bears, I remembered that the Opeongo office opens at 7 and headed that way to find out they had been open for an hour.
Permit finally in hand, I headed back across the Highway and found a pull off on the North side between Sunday Creek and the Spruce Bog parking lot, allowing me to unload and cut off 75% of the hike from the parking lot to the Creek.
With the car moved to the parking lot I headed back to the Creek and slipped the canoe into the water for the first time, loading in my pack and fishing gear.
Well the one thing I forgot about an Osprey is the initial stability is not quite what I am used to and as I slipped into the canoe, I almost went out the other side as fast as I was getting in. As I caught myself I was looking around to check for witnesses before the canoe settled down.
Pushing off from shore, it was a quick pivot to the right I lined myself up for ride over the beaver dam at the North side of the culvert under the highway. With that out of the way I headed down the creek,

floating over at least 2 more beaver dams, winding my way down towards Norway.

Passing through Norway I came across the only dam that was an inconvenience, requiring a slide over and the result of the first scratch.

Looking towards Fork Lake form the beaver dam

I should mention that like every trip I forgot something and this time it was the memory card for the camera, so I worked with what I had and slid my phone into the pocket on my pfd.
Taking my time paddling down Fork I entered the South Bay, exploring the shoreline a bit and just enjoying the feeling of the canoe under me and I might add, feeling much more stable than when I first stepped into it.
The mainland site is pretty much what I expected and a little small and rough but there was a small cache of firewood left and plenty to be found near the site.
Heading back out, I circled the Island and decided that would be home for the weekend, landing on the South West side. In all, I think it was about an hour and forty-five minute relaxed paddle from the time I passed under the Highway to landing on the Island.

The trees are coming back and the South side offered a break from the winds that were great for the temperature but not so great for the bugs. I was either sitting there to hot in a bug jacket or sitting in the North rock face with a jacket on.

Looking North from the point of the Island.

As I sent Bev an OK message from my S.P.O.T., letting her know I had arrived, I glanced at my phone and thought how close I was to the Visitors Centre and may have broken one of the cardinal rules of interior camping, but yes I sent her a text letting her know where I was. Well one thing led to another and the next thing you know I was laying in the tent on an unmaintained campsite chatting with my Wife by text. Both very wrong and sort of cool at the same time. I will even admit to posting 1 picture to social media that afternoon.
With an early night I crawled into the tend around dusk and said good night to Bev before sleeping like a log.

Her first night in the bush.

The South side of the Island may have some decent cover but the North side is still a little lacking, and the thunderbox is a little exposed.

Sometime after Noon I had packed up and checked the weather to find out that there was 30KMH winds from the North increasing as the afternoon progressed.
Thinking there was no better way to get used to the new canoe I pushed off and headed up Fork, passing through the North bay annd arriving back at the beaver dam.

A couple of pictures of the Creek heading back.

The Visitors Centre from along the Creek.

Arriving back at the Highway the current was slow enough that I was able to paddle back through the culvert, and with a bit of a run at it, slide over the beaver dam.

In Summery
The Black flies were annoying, but nothing that a little DEET or a bug jacket didn't take care of.
 I never did go for a wood run and ended up spending a lot of time sitting on the North shore where there was a breeze just looking over the Lake.

The canoe is everything that I expected it to be and look forward to spending a lot of quality time with her over the years, exploring both old and new places. I paddled most of the solo canoes I could including Swift’s Pack Boats (found them to mall for all my stuff) and just feel more comfortable in the Osprey. I did the Happy Isle BT Hogan Crow loop a few years ago in what I found out later was the prototype for the Osprey combi and by the time I made it across BT I was sold. Last summer I tried a Kewedian and never felt comfortable in it.
In Expedition Kevlar, skid plates and Kevlar integral gunnels it tips the scales right at 42lbs with the yoke and solo seat.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A.P.P. Solo summer 2011

A.P.P. Solo 
Happy Isle-Merchant-Big Trout-LaMuir-Big Crow-Proulx

Saturday July 16, 2011

10am Saturday Morning and I was sitting in the back of a water taxi heading North across a calm Lake Opeongo with a Swift Osprey Combi rental tied to the rack, along with one other canoe belonging to a couple and their child heading to Proulx.
30 minutes later I was standing on the dock at the beginning of the portage onto Happy Isle watching the water taxi slip from view as the calm that is Algonquin started to approach.

Looking down Lake Opeongo from the Happy Isle portage

After figuring out the balance point for the removable yoke and strapping my pack on, I started an easy double carry heading down the busy 2180m portage towards Happy Isle Lake, stopping at one point to help a girl who was suffering from a little dehydration.

The start of the Portage to Happy Isle

Along the portage from Opeongo to Happy Isle
It’s really unnerving to be following someone down a trail and then watch as their knees slowly fold under them and they collapse to the ground while her trail buddy looked on from under the canoe rather wide eyed in disbelief.
Stopping to sit with them a bit, encouraging her to take small sips of water and then sharing my Gatorade with her until she started coming back around, knowing who she was and where she was etc.
Leapfrogging my pack and canoe and changing my pace a bit let me keep an eye on her as I would catch up to them while carrying the canoe.

Arriving at the put in to Happy Isle around 12:30 I sat back and relaxed for a few minutes until the group figured things out and got on their way.
Landing area at Happy Isle
 I loaded my pack and food bag and set off, 
Looking across Merchant from site
arriving at the port to Merchant Lake at 1:15 and on site at the second site from the Portage on the East side of the lake, past the point site at 2:30.
Merchant Lake
Fire pit area
This site had one of the nicest fire pits I have seen in a long while, the back of the stone ring facing the lake built up to block the wind and surrounded in a semi circle by three rough cut benches, presenting you with a view not to be missed or soon forgotten.

Camp set up today was very simple with no tarp and just the basics pulled out for the evening.
Dinner was my traditional first night meal of a nice thick Rib Eye Steak cooked over an open fire with baked carrots enjoyed with a couple of sips of Forty Creek.
Don't believe the label on the Whiskey.
The good stuff does not come in plastic.
The first of many stunning sunsets
With the fire out and, I was in the tent falling asleep to the Loons on the lake by 10:15, thinking that tomorrow I finally see Big Trout.

Sunday July 17th

Awake and breakfast of ½ lb Bacon and apple and cinnamon oatmeal done and cleaned up by 8:35ish.
Looking over Merchant Lake
Packed and heading off towards the portage to Big Trout into approx 10kmh headwinds, I recall heading across the lake thinking of the calm winds yesterday afternoon and reminding myself of not going for the pretty sites and head for something a little closer to the mornings portage.
Fortunately other than my first site on Big Trout, the rest of my chosen sites were all amazing.

The portage from Merchant to Big Trout
Making it to the portage I set off and arriving at the beginning of the port approx 10:30 and met up with a couple and their three boys aged 8, 12 and 15 who had driven up from Baltimore to enjoy 8 days in the Park.
The conversation and story swapping was enjoyed as we leapfrogged each other and I will never forget just how much fun the youngest was having. 
I wish I had a quarter of his energy as he passed by me, each time carrying his share and then suddenly running off the trail a few feet to closer inspect something or just to pick up a piece of Birch bark for tinder to be used later, and still beating me to the other end.
With a quick stop for lunch along the trail was back on the water by 1pm.
Launch into Big Trout
Leaving the bay and entering Big Trout proper, its reputation did not disappoint me with the winds hitting me just off the left side and small rolling whitecaps slapping off the canoe.
Heading for the Island site and hoping for the best I rounded the North shore, taking a bit of a break form the winds and came across the Scout Troupe I had run into my first day, leaving me no other choice but to head for the fist point site southwest of the Island.
I felt like I earn't every stroke that afternoon heading into pretty much a straight on headwind as I pointed towards the site and just took another paddle stroke.
Reaching the site I was lined up and heading for the landing when a gust of wind shoved me sideways and forward, causing me to miss the landing but drive bow first straight into a rock, lifting me forward out of the seat about an inch. All I heard was what appeared to be a loud crack as the canoe bounced backwards from the impact about a foot. 
All I recall is looking forward and noticing there was no water pouring in, then thinking that I was not ready to buy a “Slightly used” rental canoe and at pretty much the same time thinking that I guess I was going to see if duct tape was as good at sealing up a canoe as everyone said it was. All within a very long second.
Wasting no time landing and unloading and examining the bow, I could not find scratch. Best I could figure is I hit square on and the impact point was the very front of the plastic. Tough little canoe. 
I was also impressed how well it handled the water today, at one point having the odd wave or three roll over the bow and never give a hint of instability, all this with a somewhat inexperienced paddler. After all this was not only the first time in a true solo canoe but also the first time I had ever used a tandem or kayak paddle and both impressing me tremendously. I still want the canoe and bought a kayak paddle.
Finally arriving around 3pm I had a quick snack of sausage and some cheese before setting up camp for the night.
First site on Big Trout
Everything is uphill
My notes from the afternoon mention that everything on this site is uphill, from the fire to the thunderbox is no further than most but was a 30ft rise, though it did provide a good wind block.
This site was small and as mentioned with not many choices for a tent but served well overnight.
With dinner out of the way and the weather station calling a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for early evening, overnight and tomorrow with a 30% chance of rain, everything was tied down or packed away and the fire out by 9:45pm before crawling into into the tent listening to the wind blow over the lake as a light rain started around 10.
(One thing I have noticed is that I spend an unusual amount of time listening to weather forecasts)
I must of fallen asleep laying there with the door and window open because the next thing I remember it was 4:30am and I was realizing my feet were damp as I tried to sit up inside my sleeping bag as everything went bright outside the tent, leaving a quick silhouette of the trees against the tent walls.
All I can say is Wow are the thunderstorms Loud in Algonquin. 
Mopping up the water off the floor and taking stock, I realized I was lucky and not much was wet.
Sliding my feet to the other corner and ensuring the door and window was zipped tight, I fell asleep to the thunder as the storm moved on.

Monday July 18th

Woke up around 9am to blue skies, a slight breeze and a Chipmunk and Pine Martin poking around.

With breakfast of oatmeal and one package of pre cooked bacon and dishes out of the way, I sat back and enjoyed my coffee looking over Big Trout watching the whitecaps rolling across the water.
Results of falling asleep watching the rain
through an open tent door
 Looking over at my sleeping bag, towel and pants drying out I think I finally accepted that with the current winds I would not be able to make it to LaMuir tonight as planned and over a second coffee started coming up with a plan to get me back on track. 
With having reservations on LaMuir tonight and then two days on Hogan I figuring the best was to be on the water at first light and try to head straight through LaMuir to Hogan, and moving the next day to get me closer to the port to Big Crow.
Fortunately the Lake was not busy and I was more than willing to invite anyone passing by to join me if needed.
As the day progressed the wind would die down and then just when I was thinking of moving, it would pick back up again. Well around 1pm the wind had shifted to coming from the West and died down a bit and the decision was made. Pack up and head for the site on the point, towards the LaMuir portage.
Heading out with a fast canoe and a great tailwind coming around the south side of the big Island, I approached the site on the point heading to the LaMuir portage to find my chosen site empty and was sitting on the bench beside the fire pit in just under an hour.
Fire pit area

What a difference from the last site and I can see why it is a favorite of others who have been fortunate to travel here before me. Spacious with many choices for tent sites, a rock overlooking the water to enjoy your morning coffee, a small sheltered beach great for swimming and a three-sided view of Big Trout, and I have been told since, a fresh spring behind the site. 

top of the landing

Gravel/Sand beach landing
Pretty much everything you could ask for. That and this site had a very underused feel to it with grass covering the majority of the site and the thunderbox covered in moss.
Thunderbox on Big Trout
The evening was dead calm with the humidity settling in. 
With dinner of re hydrated Beef Stroganoff and dishes out of the way it was time to enjoy another evening in Algonquin.
Sitting there enjoying a coffee looking over the Lake I could see why it is a favorite of so many. Very calming, but also very wild in nature.
I also started to notice little changes in my habits and routines, Already I was getting up at sunrise and as the sun started to set I found myself getting tired, but I also noticed that I was no longer talking out loud and my thought process was more focused, thinking about what needed to be done, and prioritizing, focusing on the next day and not really giving thought to everything left behind.

This was a great site, located on South end the large point, providing a sheltered paddle to the port to LaMuir with a small beach. There is nothing like a swim to end your day.
With dinner done and everything pretty much cleaned up and packed to help with an early day in the morning I took one last look around as I picked up the stove and the whiskey to put them in the food bag and recall stuffing the bottle down the center of the bag, ensuring it would stay upright and then closing up the bag, headed off to where I had previously hung my rope. The bag was hung off a branch overhanging a drop-off, so that while it was the equivalent of 10 feet above me, because off the drop-off it was actually approximately 30 feet up and not on the strongest of branches, but it was hung.
Returning to camp I fed a fresh log into the fire and relaxed and enjoyed the quiet.
Waking in the morning, I climbed out of the tent and getting dressed headed off to retrieve the food bag and get morning coffee on the go.
Passing by the fire pit I glanced down and to my surprise sitting there propped up against the rock was my whiskey bottle.
Shaking my head, I was sure I put that away last night and headed off, getting about three feet I thought as I turned around that I would have never left it there beside the fire, I was positive that I had picked it up off one of the log benches.
Oh well, the first thing I thought of was that someone had pulled some sort of a prank and had snuck in and moved it to freak me out and somewhere someone was sitting with a pair of binoculars and having a good laugh.
Heading off to the food bag I started to wonder about my theory when I noticed that there were no footprints or tracks around the tree and I will admit that I was never a boy scout and my knot tying is creative to say the least, but it works. Well I had tied a knot I was proud of last night, doing exactly what I wanted for a change, but there was no chance that I could repeat it, let alone anyone else.
Yup, you guessed it, the knot was just how I left it and for some reason I was not really surprised.
Lowering the bag and retrieving the rope I headed back to camp thinking I had imagined the whole thing when I looked up and there was my whiskey bottle still sitting beside the fire pit.
Setting up the stove and getting coffee on the way I looked deeper into the food bag and could see the slot I had made for the bottle, but no bottle. Heading over to the fire pit and taking a better look around, there were no tracks of any kind.
Oh, I should mention that the bottle was a mickey and over the complete trip, I only lowered it about an inch so nope, I was not drunk.
Some say there are spirits that travel Algonquin, others say that Algonquin is a magical place and many things can happen. Some of us say that they have met up with some of the travelers from the past along the trail.
Weird, freaky, maybe a little crazy, I don’t know and you can choose to believe this or not, but I do have an explanation and if we ever meet up over a campfire ask me.
(This was not the first supernatural experience I have experienced, but it was the first of what has become many in Algonquin Park)

Tuesday July 19th

By 7, breakfast of oatmeal was done and coffee was cooling with the weather service announcing that it was 17 degrees and calm with Thursday to be the hottest day of the year.
Today was my longest day on the water and I really don’t remember much of it, other than a good tail wind on LaMiur. I managed to get back on schedule, arriving on site on Hogan at 4pm. 
I was surprised to see an old dock at the start of the LaMiur portage 

Landing Bit Trout to LaMuir
Beginning of the portage from
Big Trout to LaMuir
and impressed with the work that went into the cut log boardwalk a the takeout to Hogan.
End of the portage approaching Hogan

 The put in to Hogan Lake from LaMuir
Entrance to Island Point Site
The site was a surprise with a staircase leading from the landing to the site. 
Camp was set for the night and dinner of Mountain House Mac and Cheese was done and coffee made by 5:10pm.
3276m total portaging today all double carried for a total of 9828m and I can feel it in my lower back and legs, but nothing a well earned rest day will not take care of. 
Sitting here I realize this is my first time camping on an Island. It is very quiet with the sounds of Loons in the distance. I know there are others booked on the lake but I feel very alone.
8:30pm The food bag is hung and the sun is slipping below the horizon in another amazing Algonquin sunset as the bugs come out in full force. And it is still hot enough that you sweat just sitting still.
Today while portaging from B.T. to LaMiur I felt very alone for the first time and while passing through a meadow I spooked a flock of Grouse in the tall grass. Having a dozen or so birds pop up out of the grass, chests puffed and bluff charging you from all directions can sure get you your heart racing, not to mention quicken your step.

Wed July 19th

Woke at 730 to a breeze coming across the lake, cooling things off enough that I pulled out a shirt and jacket as I discovered my G.S.I collapsible mug had developed a leak at the seam where the silicone meets the plastic rim.
Today was the day my rear finally gave up and started to fully protest having to sit on log benches and rock and with it being a rest day that was pretty much my plans for the day.

Breakfast that day was supposed to be pancakes with rehydrated fruit but as I was getting together what I needed, I discovered that the spatula never got packed. Oh well if that is all I forget I am doing well and opened some of the extra oatmeal I had brought along.
This did raise the problem that I had planned on pancakes for two days but figured I could work around it.
(Ya I know I could have whittled something out of a piece of wood but oatmeal was just easier)
The day was spent pretty much just relaxing around camp, gathering a little firewood and re organizing my pack for the portage into Big Crow tomorrow interrupted by frequent breaks to go for a swim or a walk back through the island, or to just sit and relax and recharge. Snacking as I went.
 Top of the staircase

The afternoon was spent repacking my pack and finding the “Lost” pack of cigarettes in the process and redoing the meal plan. Good thing for that extra oatmeal and bannock. and hoping that the wind would calm down a little. At least it is blowing the right way.

Reading through my trip notes, they start to ramble on a little at this point and go on about the lack of human contact. 
One observation made - When you pay attention, it is surprising just how little noise one person can generate going about their daily thing. Almost if there is no one there to hear them, there is no reason to generate the noise. 
By this point I had noticed that even when walking the portages and talking out loud as I went, the voices were all in my head so to speak, repeatedly finding that I was still repeating the words but had stopped vocalizing again as there really was no need.
At 4pm Environment Canada was calling for chance of thundershowers overnight and morning and fair winds from the N/W.
Finishing a day of really doing nothing I set the tarp up just in case as I had another of those “What am I doing here” combined with “I can’t believe I am here” moments as I noted another day of not seeing anyone.
To complete the day, dinner was Mountain House Spicy Oriental Rice/Chicken with Bannock and I really should have taken more notice if the label and the word “Spicy” before I added maybe a little too much pepper. 
Let’s just say that it warmed me through but still was enjoyable and I would eat it again, only with less pepper. The really nice thing about these meals is the dishes, rinse off the fork and you are good to go.
As I was eating I noticed the breeze picking up again and what sounded like thunder from the far west and by 8pm everything was pretty much cleaned. 
Without leaving the site I had gone from pants a shirt and windbreaker to shorts and a t shirt as the sun set and the humidity started to settle in again giving reason to go for another swim.
By 9:30pm I was laying in the tent on top of the sleeping bag thinking about the stairs to this site. Arriving, what a great idea I thought and was complementing the rather creative Rangers for their work to make my life easier until I started to count how many times I went up and down them, for a swim, for water, for water for coffee, for another swim. No wonder my kegs were still bothering me, and I thought it was the portages.
The plan for tomorrow is to enjoy a relaxing breakfast and be off site by 11am at the latest and at the beginning of the portage by noon.
Laying there thinking about the portage into Big Crow the next day I started to feel the sense of accomplishment developing from this trip. 
Although this is not a very difficult route, it is still nice to know we can still do it and how time is measured by sunrise and sunset, distance and lakes traveled rather than in hours or days. Knowing I had to meet the water taxi in 4 days and not thinking about what weekday that is.

Thursday July 21

The alarm went off at 6:30AM waking me to strong winds from the west and forecast to increase by afternoon.
Hogan Lake
My MSR Dragonfly had been acting up and was getting worse, having to lube the rubber plunger every 2 days of use, putting off morning coffee for unscheduled maintenance once again. 
(This stove was returned to M.S.R. for a complete overhaul under warranty and has been bulletproof ever since)
With coffee finally made water was put on for Oatmeal as the clouds started to blow over and whitecaps started to form on the Lake. By 8:15 with the Humidex it was 35C and rising. 
This was forecast to be the hottest day of the year.
By 9:45 everything but the tent was packed and I was sitting by the water enjoying a coffee watching the whitecaps roll across the lake thinking that if I could head out during a lull in the winds I would be fine.
I am not sure when I actually left but made it to the portage with 3 full bottles of water and a freshly soaked hat, picked up my pack and heading off at a rather leisurely pace.
The only picture of the portage
As others have said, this is not a bad portage, just long and seems to just go on and on. 
The start from Hogan was a bit of a climb and I appreciated the canoe rest at the top.
Glancing at the Friends of Algonquin map before I set off I took note of the trail intersecting the cart trail and rationed one bottle of water between each crossing. As I said, this port just seems to go on and on and you can loose track of distances easily so when I came across the second crossing I dropped my pack and headed back for the canoe, but not before taking a large drink and patting myself on the back for not only making better time than I thought but also not needing as much fluids as I thought I would.
I may not always be the smartest guy in the bush but it did not take long for me to clue in that I should be on a cart trail and something was wrong here. Heading on a little further before setting the canoe off to the side of the trail and heading back for the pack. 
Taking a quick gorp break I pulled out Jeffery’s Map and it all made sense, there was a rather well defined logging road that crossed the port at the half way point.
This also meant that I was not as far as I thought and had just drank the water I had rationed for the next section. With this small of an omission making a difference, this was the last time I trusted the F.O.A.P. Map or have looked at it.
The trail connects with the cart trail for the last portion and what can I say, nothing difficult about walking down an old logging road realizing the most your have seen of society the last few days is the 50ish year old metal culverts that run under the road.
Having stayed on Big Crow before, all I could think of was a refreshing swim and a long drink of water, only to arrive to an old dock ending well before the water and a weedy bay to be cleared before any water could be pumped.
Pretty much tossing my pack and food bag into the canoe, the empty water bottles and water pump in front of me, I pushed off. Paddling to clearer water to pump and drink 2 liters of water as I worked my way to the first site on the North shore when entering form Little Crow around 5pm, setting up the tent and looking at dinner as the weather radio reported the high today was 41C. A great day to double carry a 3750M portage.
First site on Big Crow

Looking South over Big Crow
There was no place close to level to put a tent and the path to the thunderbox was pretty much a bushwhack, only to be seated and staring at a tree 6 feet in front of you.
Pretty much wiped out from the day, dinner was a chunk of sausage and a few baby bells. 
Saw no one on the portage today but did see three canoes crossing Big Crow.
Needless to say there was no campfire this evening and it was an early night.

Friday July 22

Woke at 6:30 and crawled out of the tent an hour later to another day of sunny skies, ready to face the day.
The choice of the day was to just relax or should I pack up and head across the bay to the first site on the right as you enter Bog Crow from Little Crow?
Having stayed on that site a couple of years earlier there really was no choice and after coffee and oatmeal, I dropped the tent and headed across the lake to probably the only site on the lake where you cannot see the Fire Tower.
Camp was again set up by 12:30 and lunch of bacon on pita and coffee was enjoyed before just kicking back and relaxing for the afternoon.
Looking after some garbage
Over the afternoon I started to see the odd bit of traffic as 2 canoes stopped at my previous site only to pass it by and head towards the sandy site at the North end of the lake.
The afternoon was spent looking after some chores, field stripping the stove again and some much needed laundry.
Just another relaxing afternoon in Algonquin gathering a little firewood for later, going for a swim Snacking as the day passed.
Fire pit area
Raised tent pad
for two tents

 and watching a mother Grouse and her youngins playing in the Lake, the little ones climbing on Mom’s back when they got tired.
 Looking North towards the first site
 Looking towards The Crow River
Looking towards Little Crow Lake

By 7pm other than a little laundry still hanging to dry, camp was packed away for the night and a small fire was lit.
As the sun slipped below the horizon around 8:30, I sat there thinking about the day to come and planned to be packed and off site by 9 heading for my last night alone before meeting Bev and wondering how much I would like the canoe after I paddled it without it being loaded with gear. 
My notes make comment about the humidity never really lifting all day and as the sun set, it just sort of seemed to settle.
It had been a while since I had gone so long without human contact and again as I was wandering camp, it kept surprising me just how little noise I was making and just how much I was looking forward to human contact again. 
Although I have always enjoyed spending time alone, I was also looking forward to human interaction again and the rambling of my trip notes more than seemed to reflect this.
9am had me climbing into the tent falling asleep wondering if I would get the site I wanted on Proulx and if I would be talking with anyone.

Saturday July 23

Well I must have been looking forward to seeing people again because I was up earlier than planned and by 7:20 I had camp packed and breakfast of oatmeal and energy bars and coffee done and was on the water heading for Proulx by 8pm. 
I make a comment in my notes of moving at 100M.P.H. that morning.
While drinking my coffee I heard something splashing along shore and saw my first and only Moose of the trip at the entrance to the narrows between Big and Little Crow. Guess I made a little to much noise because as I moved towards the shore for a better look, she looked up at me and wandered back into the bush.
Just as I was leaving site and heading for the narrows the Moose decided to make another appearance, walking out onto the narrows as I approached. 
Slowing down to give her the right of way, we just sort of both sat there for about 5 minutes before she carried on forward, slowly swimming across the narrows as I waited to pass.
Passing through Little Crow I was greeted by a couple camped on Little Crow, my first humans in many days and I was to run into this couple again the next day waiting for the water taxi.
Now I have put up with bad bugs before but I had never seen them this bad. Paddling the Crow River with a double blade it was 3 paddle strokes to 1 slap on the back of the hand, taking out 3 or 4 horseflies with each swat.
The up side is I did make great time arriving at the nice point site on Proulx 65 minutes later. 
Looking back through my notes I noticed that I had shaved 45 minutes off the time it took 2 of us to paddle the same distance a couple of years ago. 
Leaving the Crow River I was greeted by a couple of Beavers who were just not happy to see me, slapping their tails off the water and screeching at me as they surfaced beside the canoe. The one was really not happy to share their space with me and motivated me to move on as one surfaced under the rear of my canoe, striking the bottom hard enough to slightly lift me from my seat.
Stopping at the nice point site on the North side of Proulx to take a break, I moved on to the first site on the North side near the portage to Opeongo and was not impressed.
This site was small, buggy dirty and overused with the odd sock and insole laying around.
There was no way I was spending the night here, no matter how close to the portage it was and headed back to the nice point and enjoyed a PB&J on flat bread and the cooling breeze before setting up camp.
Fire pit area Point site Proulx
One of the many places to pitch a tent
Setting up camp for the day was a leisurely affair as I noted things were finally done sometime around 12:30.
Although this site is well used, it was clean and huge and could easily support a large group. 
One feature I really appreciated was a large rock with a cut in the one side that made an excellent lounge chair. 

Who would think a chunk of granite would be so welcome
Never thought I would be so pleased to have a rock to recline on, but after nothing but logs and the ground to sit on, it was good to be able to sit back with some back support for a change.
(It was enjoying the creature comforts of nature the decision to purchase a lightweight backpacking chair was made and I have since picked up a Helinox chair and love it.)
With everything set up I tried to lay down for a nap around 3:30 but just as I climbed in the hammock  the breeze had died off, letting the afternoons humidity settle back in again.
Giving up on the nap idea I headed down to the Lake for a quick swim and to try and do a little laundry. 
Well if you can call it that, more like walk into the water and start vigorously rubbing your t shirts together under the water, adding a little gravel hoping it will help. 
It didn't help much but at least I could be down wind of my clothes again.

I always try to keep something back for a decent last meal on my trips and started the hamburger and sauce re hydrateing for a final nights dinner of homemade spaghetti. 
Although it is not a fancy meal, there is something about the smell as I stir the sauce that I find comforting and after the last couple of days I was in need of a good meal and a 1/2lb if hamburger in the sauce certainly helped. 
BY 6:30pm dishes were done and I was relaxing in the big granite chair enjoying me evening coffee. BY 8:20pm everything was cleaned up and other than the close line and the Canadian Flag, was packed and ready to go and it was around this time that I decided I had spent enough time alone and it was time to be around people again.
The new plan was to be up and moving early enough to be catch an early water taxi back down the lake before Bev got on the taxi heading in.
The balance of the evening was spent sitting back and just relaxing my last night and writing in my trip journal, summarizing the trip as it felt at the moment and just enjoying my last night of solitude before I came back into contact with other people. 
My notes mention that the last conversation I had with someone was the family I met up with portaging into Big Trout 6 days ago.
They say that on average it is day 3 or 4 that we start to notice that we miss the act of conversation with others but for me this trip it was sitting on Proulx 6 days since the conversation with the Family on the portage into Big Trout and I was ready to see people again and was in bed by 9pm.

Sunday July 24

Up before the alarm today at 5:30 and packed up paddling away from the site by 6am.
I must have wanted to see people more than I realized because that is still a personal best for me.
Landing at the portage and setting the canoe off to the side out of the way, I slipped my pack on and started off down the trail. 
Planning to skip the pond and carry the complete portage I really wasn't paying attention to where I was and thinking I was 500 or 600M in I started to look for a place to set down my pack and head back for the canoe when I looked ahead and saw water. 
Seems I had not only gone the complete 965M but I had also missed the sign for the portage and arrived at the pond and figured that since I was there, why not and headed back to grab the canoe. 

Approaching the pond from Opeongo
Launch/Landing Opeongo side
Looking across the pond at the take out
Loading my one pack and somehow managing to get into the canoe and keep my feet rather clean I headed for the yellow sign across the way, ziging and zaging around the submerged trees and was sitting on the dock at Opeongo at 7:45.

Looking over Opeongo
The start of the portage to Proulx
Only 6 hours early for the Bev’s water taxi, and I was worried about being late.
No problem I thought, just makes it easier to grab a ride but wouldn't you know it. I picked the one Sunday that they were not that busy.
As I sat there a couple of canoes entered the bay and landed and unloading their gear well off to the side as we watched another pair of their canoes paddle right past the entrance to the Bay, followed by two more canoes as the one with navigation issues joined up a bit later.
Talking to the 2 leaders I learnt that they were a youth group out of the States heading into Big Crow and this was the first time most of the boys had ever been outside of a City. 
The most popular question I was asked “How many Moose did you see”?
Standing back out of the way I just watched as they figured out things for themselves and started functioning as a group and was informed by three guys who came out of the portage a little later that yes they made it and yes, the kid in flip flops (he packed his shoes in the middle of his pack) did have a bleeding big toe. 
They also mentioned that they were still talking to each other.
The first water taxi showed up at 12:30 and the driver started loading the 3 solo kayaks as I explained that I was trying to avoid Bev getting on her taxi.
With no room for my canoe, it was set off to the side to be picked up later as I tossed my pack in and we were off to Happy Isle to pick up and other couple and their canoe as the driver used his satellite phone and called the Office to let them know I was on my way out and for Bev not to get on the taxi.
Once again, the staff of Algonquin Outfitters show what customer service should be.
Well when we arrived at the dock, it seemed I was not the only one pulling out unexpectedly and there were 2 more groups waiting hoping to catch a ride.
More canoes off to the side and the mountain of gear up front and people everywhere.
Arriving back at the dock by 1pm, Bev was waiting for me with a Quiznoes Sub and our canoe tied to the roof of the car.
Popping into Algonquin Outfitters to settle up the bill for the taxi and rental we were soon in the car heading for a couple of nights car camping in Restoule Provincial Park to let me used to being around people again. Bev did mention that I was unusually quiet on the drive up.