Day 4: Nipissing River @ Highview Cabin to Nipissing River at Graham's Dam
I tried to get an early start to the day but getting out of bed at 7:30am was the best I could do. Today was moving day and after all that rain, I figured my journey down the river should be a bit easier. I got a jump on packing up and after setting up the gas stove for coffee, I immediately packed up my bedding and clothing. Once I had my coffee made I packed the other odds and ends into my backpack – I wasn’t in a mega rush to leave, but it was a nice day outside and I wanted to get jump on my day. I had everything except my kitchen set and my breakfast ready to go before 8:30am.
Looking over the campsite towards the river
At noon I arrived at my first real portage of the day – a quick 385m around Stuart’s Dam. It’s a fairly straightforward portage and it was also the first portage of my trip classified as regular maintenance – all portages up to this point were in the low-maintenance area of Algonquin. It took only minutes to reach the other end, which features a campsite. Not much of a campsite but it would do in a pinch. I relaunched onto the Nipissing and continued on my way. It was becoming hotter and hotter as the day progressed and I had to continuously soak my bandana in the river to keep cool. Half an hour later I was at the next portage – the second longest of the trip – a 2140m around Allen Rapids. I loaded up and didn’t look forward to this crossing – it was getting so hot outside I debated swimming in the river. If you’ve paddled this part of the river, you know its not ideal for swimming. So far I have found all the portages along the Nipissing to be flat and obstruction free. The last two definitely see heavy use. Before I even began the trip across this trail, the bugs were becoming thick. I sprayed myself with bug dope then loaded up for the carry. This trail was mostly flat but it felt really long. I stopped for a break around the midway point and it was a quick one – the bugs had no trouble finding me here. They were notably worse here than anywhere else – I figured there must be a marsh or standing water nearby. As I approached the campsite about 2/3rds of the way down I took a quick look in passing and thought ‘nope.’ A lot of the campsites along the Nipissing aren’t very nice – but that’s subjective – everyone likes different characteristics in a campsite. It took me about 40 minutes to make the crossing and boy what I exhausted. It was now brutally hot and the bugs were just relentless.
Same log-jam, different view - otherwise known as 'Option B'
Remains of an old bridge that once crossed the Nipissing River (Click here to see more!)
Looking downstream from Graham's Dam
Fresh 'fries' and a glob of ketchup - lighten the load!!
Well, I've seen worse - but hopefully this is the last of the log-jams
I was hoping it would be smooth sailing to my campsite as there have been a few unexpected obstacles today – but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes. Luckily enough, the rest of the journey was uneventful and although no animals were seen, no obstacles were either. By 4:30pm I finally reached the campsite at Coldspring Creek and I wasn’t impressed at all. It didn’t look very appealing from the water but most of that is because I couldn’t see up the 3ft mud bank. I paddled up to it and still couldn’t see the site (In a pack canoe, the seat is on the floor of the boat, similar to a kayak) as it was just too high off the water. Because the bank was vertical and straight down into deep water there is no stepping out into the water then up onto the site. It would just be too much of a problem to camp here regardless of how nice the site was, so I figured I would move on. In about 300m there is another campsite but it’s along a portage, which I usually try to avoid. I approached the 410m portage and loaded up for the carry – I was really hoping the next site would be a good one, I didn’t feel like going any further. In five minutes, I came around a corner and over some rocks leading to the site – it was perfect! It didn’t have anything fancy but it was right by some rapids and a bit of historic remains – Graham’s Dam.
Couldn't ask for more on this amazing day
Log-jam along the Nipissing River - looks like I'll be getting out of the boat for this one...
The Nipissing River has such a remote feeling to it
What's going on up there?
Remember that time I said 'I've seen worse'. I stand corrected - it doesn't get much worse than this
The rapids which P410 circumnavigates
I will never tire of this scenery
Gorgeous river travel
Another beautiful evening in Algonquin Park
Where am I going? Through there? Is there an Option 'B' or?
Nipissing River @ Highview Cabin to Nipissing River @ Graham's Dam
Some interesting textures on the rocks here - some areas remind me of elephant skin
I was home for the night and happy to be here. It had been a hot and somewhat long day with relentless bugs and sunshine. I could really use a shower so I waited to set up camp and instead took advantage of the fast-flowing water to take a bath. Its amazing what a bath/shower can do for you when you’re out here. I put on some fresh clothes and once again felt like a million bucks! I still wasn’t in a rush to set up camp so I grabbed my camera and hopped around on the rocks below to take some photos. I assume this rapid looks more impressive in spring flood, but it was still pretty cool. I debated the idea of fishing because my dinner tonight is supposed to be fish and chips, but I have been slacking on my lunches so it may be wise to catch up on my food plan as opposed to killing a fish. I have only been snacking throughout my travel days even though I planned and packed for a peanut butter wrap each day. I was behind by 3 wraps, so this along with chips will suffice as my dinner tonight. Some clouds moved in and it looked as though it would soon rain, or if not now then later on for sure – you could smell it in the air. I put up the tarp for the first time since coming out here, then proceeded to get the tent up. After all that work, the clouds began to break and the sun came back. Funny how that happens sometimes. I decided to air out my sleeping gear then moved on to make dinner.
Shaping up to be another amazing day in Algonquin Park!
The Nipissing is a very beautiful, ever-changing river - never gets old!
Not the best, not the worst - Campsite at Graham's Dam on the Nipissing River
The view up river keeps changing everytime I look at it
...or will I? Nope - just duck and cover - sweet!
With some oil lightly boiling in the pan, I tossed in small chunks of fresh cut red potato for a quick frying. As they cooked I slathered some peanut butter on pitas and ate them before the potatoes finished cooking – I was pretty hungry. I scooped the cooked potatoes out of my ‘fryer’ and placed them on a plate with a huge glob of ketchup. I had some vinegar for the fish, but I’ll save that for later I suppose. It was around 8pm and I sat down by the rocks with my chips. The bugs weren’t too bad here but a bunch of no-see-ums came out while I was out on the rocks and gave me a really hard time – they were worse than the mosquitoes! I ate my food rather quickly because of this then cleaned my plate. I wasn’t sure what to do with the oil given the fire ban, so I dug a hole about 10” deep, poured in the oil and re-covered it. I hung my food way behind the thunderbox as the sun began to set. I still had a bit of energy left but I went with my gut and decided to call it an early night. I was off to my second highlight of the trip tomorrow – two nights at Robinson Lake. By 9:30pm I was in the tent and passing out.
Now given that I was still at a cabin, it was still vacation mode and breakfast today would be no exception. It would be a repeat of yesterday – but really, who can complain about eating pancakes, syrup and bacon two days in a row? I whipped up breakfast and spoiled myself with a second cup of coffee – lighten the load! I was really looking forward to having a much lighter backpack with three days of food and some liquids gone. Around 9am I was eating at the table then becoming slightly bummed that I was leaving the cabin. It’s not the Royal York but it’s a really great little cabin – I like it here! I finished breakfast with no urgency then cleaned up and packed the rest of my kitchen kit away. I made sure to leave a good stockpile of wood for the next occupants of the cabin then did a final sweep.
At 11am it was time to say goodbye to Highview and I loaded up to continue across the portage – there was about 400m left to cover. The trail was flat and easy enough to follow then in just minutes I arrived at the put in. The water seemed to have decent flow so it appeared the rain had indeed helped me out a bit. I launched onto the river and my journey through The Park continued. My travel day today would be a bit easier than the last few – I only had 4 portages to cover and two of them were half portages (I camped on two potages). The paddle down the Nipissing was beautiful and the sun was back out in full force. It was a long stretch before the first portage and I was once again hoping to see some wildlife along the way. I was also scouting for placed to catch a brookie as fish n chips were on the dinner menu tonight. About half way between the cabin and the portage up to Nod Lake, I came across the remnants of what appears to be an old bridge from the logging days. I snapped a few photos and continued on.
I was happy to have the last portage behind me as my plan was to camp at the lone site near the Coldspring Creek junction. I paddled as quietly and calmly as possibly, not only to rest but in an effort to see some wildlife – nothing and no one all day. It was smooth sailing and in twenty or thirty minutes I reached the campsite at Kelly Creek. I got out to take a quick look around – it was small and moss covered. It was better than the others I’ve passed so far, but still nothing special – I suspect it does not see a lot of use. I continued down river and was slowly becoming tired of all the left and right and left and right action – I’ve been paddling a windy river for 4 days now and I could use some time on a lake. With minimal wind, the bugs were becoming worse following the day of rain – it didn’t matter if I was on the portage or the river – they were bad. I was back to smooth sailing down the river and it was only 3:15pm – I would be at camp in no time. Then it happened. I came to the largest log jam I have ever seen in my paddling adventures. There was no ‘lifting-over’ this particular log jam – it just wasn’t possible. I looked for a way around and spied a tiny hole in the alders. There wasn’t much of a landing and I got out onto the high bank to carefully extract my pack and other gear form the boat below. I carried the gear first and came back for the canoe. It wasn’t long, maybe 25m or so, but it was through a tunnel of alders. I snapped a few pics and shoved off down the Nipissing.
Supposed to be fish n chips... it's not even chips... it's chunks. Still good though!
Nipissing River between the huge log-jam and P410