Looking upstream on the Petewawa from the put-in of P2345
My goal was the campsite with the Kish Kaduk ruins at the west end of Cedar Lake. It’s a long way from Brent to the west end of Cedar Lake – roughly 5km and took me about an hour. As I came around the corner near my targeted campsite, I was disappointed to find a metal fishing boat and group already there. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to check out these ruins another time. I continued on to the only campsite left at this end of Cedar Lake – a small island with an old stone chimney in the middle of it. I landed there and got out to inspect the site but wasn’t impressed. I really had my hopes set on the Kish Kaduk lodge site but oh well. I definitely didn’t want to stay here so I decided I would push on through Little Cedar Lake and make camp at Aura Lee Lake if it was available. I paddled through the narrows that divide Cedar Lake from Little Cedar Lake and after another fifteen minutes or so I was approaching the north end of Little Cedar. The route through here becomes very narrow and rocky – too rocky in fact, I had to exit my canoe in order to avoid becoming stuck. I approached the old railway bridge and wondered which side I should go under. That decision was made for me as the entire right side of the bridge was clogged with logs and other debris.
When I arrived at Cedar I was pleasantly surprised at how calm the lake was. I’ve heard horror stories about this lake and even experienced a bit of horror myself on a trip here two weeks ago when I dropped off my food supply. It took me about 25 minutes to make the crossing over to Brent and I landed at the Brent Store dock by quarter to four. I tied my canoe and walked up the lawn to meet Jake. Unfortunately, Jake wasn’t there as he had family things to attend to out in Penetanguishene. I spoke with the same lovely girl I had met two weeks ago when I dropped off my food cache. She was very helpful in getting my resupply items in order, as well as the fresh grocery items I had special ordered through Jake. Everything was good to go except I had ordered a steak and it wasn’t there – I surely wasn’t about to make a stink about it, small error and these guys were already doing more than enough just by helping me out. She mentioned she had fresh homemade burgers that were frozen and ready to go. I was more than happy with that, so I asked for two of them. In addition to my resupply box (containing 8 more days of food, booze, toilet paper and stove fuel) I managed to pick up a loaf of bread, two pounds of bacon, two burgers, a brick of cheese, a couple bags of chips, some chocolate bars, candies and 2 cans of coke, both of which I chugged back to back. Before I left I had one final favor to ask of her – it was a big favor but it would really help me out a lot. I asked if she would take my garbage. Normally I wouldn’t dream of this but due to the fire ban, I had 8 days of garbage with me and it was getting stinky. She was able to help me out and after she rang up my order we said our goodbyes. She was a really awesome girl and Algonquin Outfitters is lucky to have her on staff.
By 4pm I was loading my supply box and a few grocery bags into my canoe – I must admit, the concept of ‘grocery shopping’ in the middle of a canoe trip isn’t one I would have predicted a few years ago. I huge thanks to Jake, AO and their amazing staff for helping to make this trip possible. I pulled away from the canoe and began my trek westward. For the most part the entire first half of the trip was travelling east but now that I was travelling west I would likely be encountering some windy resistance. As I was coming around the limestone corner I could see two people in a canoe – they looked familiar, then they called out to me. ‘Brandon?!’ they shouted. ‘Jill & Gareth?’ I replied. Sure enough it was them. I was really happy to run into them again and we had a quick chat about how the rest of their trip went. They told me they’re journey down the Nipissing was full of moose. I was really happy for them as I’m not sure moose is a common, or even possible sight in Scotland. We wished each other well and continued on our way – but not before they wished me happy eating – the look on my face after re-supplying must have given away my excitement at all my fresh new food.
A welcomed surprise! Mark & Teresa stop by for a quick visit while on their way to Burntroot
Looking back at the waterfalls at P300
Campsite on Aura Lee Lake - too bad I can't use that wood :(
Top end of the waterfalls at P300 - there used to be a massive log chute here
Day 8: Catfish Lake to Aura Lee Lake via Brent
I woke up pretty late today – 10:10am. I looked outside my tent and once again couldn’t believe my eyes – another day without a could in the sky! The amazing weather put me in a good mood but I was still feeling a bit sluggish and I decided to get out of the tent to have coffee and breakfast before breaking camp. Another basic breakfast consisting of oatmeal and coffee but it would get the job done. Today I was headed to Aura Lee Lake but first I needed to make a quick stop at the Brent Store to see Jake and pick up my re-supply box that I had left with him a few weeks earlier.
After a few photos, I decided it was time to move on so I walked back to my boat and continued downstream. Not ten minutes later I arrived at my next and final portage of the day – a 715m trail leading down to Cedar Lake. It was almost 3pm and I was getting antsy about getting to the Brent Store and picking up my next 8 days of food – along with some fresh groceries I special ordered through Jake. I loaded up for the carry and made my way down the trail. I stopped just past the halfway mark because I saw an off-chute trail leading to the waterfalls. I dropped the gear and took the camera to investigate. Once again, another beautiful set of waterfalls and I spent a few minutes photographing them. I returned to the portage and re-loaded to complete the carry.
It was tempting to sit on the rocks and let the water splash over me ala John Scarlett
It was nearly six o’clock when I arrived at Aura Lee Lake. I was happy to see both campsites vacant, and with it being so late in the day I was fairly confident that no one else would be showing up. I decided to take the second site and it was a nice one. It had two landings and plenty of open space. Someone had spent a lot of time collecting and processing firewood, which would have been great to cook my burgers but alas that wood shall be left for someone else. I wasn’t hungry yet so I spent my time setting up my tent then trying to organize my food supply – but not before pouring myself a whiskey sour – too bad I couldn’t have brought a coke or two with me. With my campsite set up and my food supply box unpacked and organized, I fired up the stove and pan-fried a hamburger. I had both mustard and ketchup for my burger so I was really looking forward to some fresh meat. I cooked one up and dressed it between two slices of bread – no shit, this was one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know if it was the fact I’ve been camping for 8 days, or a combination of secret ingredients Jakes uses in his patties but holy shit – I’ve never enjoyed a hamburger as much as this one. I started to think of what it would have tasted like cooked over an open fire, but it didn’t matter – this was still amazing. I poured myself another whiskey sour and chilled out on the bench as the sun began to set. At 10pm I was ready for my next burger and once again fired up the stove. It didn’t take long to cook despite being a thick patty and in 20 minutes I was wolfing down my second and last burger. It was at this point I regretted not taking four burgers instead of two when the girl at the Brent Store offered more. I would have eaten these for breakfast without question – and I have a long day tomorrow so it would have helped!
When I was done eating I went behind the campsite to hang the food sack. It was much easier to having during the first half of the trip because each day was lighter than the last – but now that I was back to 8 days of food weight, I struggled to get it up in a tree (it also may have been the whiskey). By 11pm I was tired from a long day of travelling and ready to go to bed. I debated putting the rain fly on the tent but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I opted to leave it off for the night.
I was at the 80m portage around the logging chute where the otters were playing by 12:30pm and didn’t bother taking the portage, I simply lined the canoe down the very short swift and continued on my way. Narrowbag Lake very much reminded me of Perley Lake – long, skinny and west-east orientated. There was one campsite on the lake and once again didn’t look ideal for bug season. By 1pm I was at my first portage that I’d actually have to walk – a quick 170m trail around Narrowbag Rapids on the Petewawa River. It didn’t take long and I relaunched on the other side within minutes – only to look across the bay to see the start of the next portage – the infamous 2345m trail called ‘Unicorn Hill’. Luckily, I was going down unicorn hill, not up. I already paid my uphill dues on the portage from the Nipissing River to Remona Lake.
An oddly calm Cedar Lake - my lucky day!
Pick a side - left, you win. Right, you'll loose then you'll turn around and go left
The narrow channel between Little Cedar Lake and Aura Lee Lake
The sun sets behind the Laurel Lake hill
Brent to Aura Lee Lake
Petewawa River Waterfalls at P715
I finished breakfast and packed up as quickly as possible – it was getting late and I really should get going. Around 11:45am I had everything packed and loaded into the canoe. I did a quick once-over of the campsite and when I returned to the shore I had visitors! My friend Mark (Stainless) and his wife Teresa stopped by my campsite as they had seen me from the water. It was really nice to talk to people I actually knew and tell them about my trip so far. They were also able to confirm that the fire ban was still in place. Mark asked me how the first 8 days of solo tripping was going and I replied it was going well – then Teresa asked me if I was talking to myself yet, I said not yet, but I was talking to the squirrels! We chatted for a few minutes longer then posed for a photo. We both headed off in opposite directions and continued on with our respective canoe trips.
Not much privacy if you need to use the bathroom
The log chute near Narrowbag Lake where the otters were playing last night (Click here to see more!)
It's tempting to have a fire in that fireplace, just for funzies (Click here to see more!)
There are a lot of much-needed goodies in this box!
Wake up to yet another gorgeous day in Algonquin Park
Looking up at the same waterfalls
Looking across Aura Lee Lake at the Laurel Lake hill
Looking across the small bay at the landing for P2345, AKA: Unicorn Hill
Nothing but blue sky & blue water!
Paddling through Little Cedar Lake
Looking at the south-end end of Narrowbag Lake
I landed at the take out for P2345 at ten after one in the afternoon. I loaded up for the downhill trek and found it wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. It’s probably a much different story going the other way though, so I won’t talk too much smack. I set the canoe and gear down a few times along this portage and after 40 minutes I was at the other end. There were a couple campsites along the way but none of them looked desirable. I launched onto a wide section of the Petewawa River and continued my journey downstream. In roughly a half an hour I was at the next portage – a 300m trail around one of the highest waterfalls in Algonquin Park. There was a campsite here and this is where Mark and Teresa had stayed last night. It didn’t look too bad for a portage-accessible campsite but it’s not a place I would book to stay at unless I had to. I wanted to spend some time at the waterfalls so I carried all the gear across first, then backtracked with my camera to hang out and take some photos. The water falls here are very beautiful and I would really like to see them during normal water levels as I suspect they’re even more scenic.
Robinson Lake to Catfish Lake