Algonquin Provincial Park Trip Out of Kioshkokwi Lake (Kiosk) - August 1998
by - Lloyd Bowles
All portage lengths in meters from Algonquin Park Canoe Route map. Changes in elevation in feet from topo map. Day 1
My 3 teenage sons & I started our trip from Algonquin's access point # 29, Kioshkokwi Lake (Algonkin for Lake of Many Gulls) on the north side of the park. I was in the stern of my Clipper Tripper with my twins, Nat & Josh. My youngest son, Phil was using a kayak paddle in the Wenonah Advantage. We passed under the railroad bridge across the eastern end of Kioshkokwi & headed east in the direction of Cedar Lake. The CN rail line is now abandoned & tracks removed. CN Rail & CP Rail now share a track up the Ottawa Valley. We had just 2 easy portages (730m & 450m) and selected a campsite halfway down Mink Lake. At this point Phil discovered that his new knife was missing. He and I went back to the last portage to search. No luck. While we were gone, the twins watched a moose swim across the lake. Day 2
We had a light headwind as we continued east and the sky clouded over. We had an easy 440m portage over the railbed to Cauchon Lake and later paddled under another small rail bridge into Little Cauchon. There are a few cottages & lodges along this stretch. Under another bridge, across a 130m portage, Laurel Lake, a 275m portage, Aura Lee Lake, Little Cedar & Cedar Lake. The breeze was getting annoying. Phil was starting to lag & mutter about having to paddle the solo. We made camp at the last site before the mouth of the Nipissing River just as light rain started. Day 3
The mouth of the Nipissing river is a reed filled swamp with a channel weaving through it. I usually see a few moose in this area but no luck this time. About 1 km upstream is a shallow rapids & the remains of an old logging bridge. The portage is 915 m but very wide & not steep. We gave up on single portaging at this point because the solo has no yoke & Phil wasn't used to the weight on his head. Further upstream we had a liftover at a gravel island in the middle of a bend. So much for dry feet. A kilometer upstream we crossed a 230 m portage & then had several km of ideal moose habitat. The river was a tad lower than I've seen it before but caused little problem. The current is quite slow so going upstream is easy. We had lunch on the water. It was raining when we reached the next portage (180m). I tried getting the boys interested in a what I think is the best campsite along this stretch. No way! They wanted to cover more distance so on we went. The next portage (110m) was a short distance upstream. We reached the far end & Phil retired to the bushes, but stepped on a bee's nest. I yelled to him to run to the river. He submerged a few times until all the bees were dead or gone. Then I had the fun of removing 11 stingers. By now Phil was feeling cold & weak. I didn't know how much was from cold water & how much was due to bee venom. We got warm clothes on him, put him in the middle of the tandem & headed upstream to find a campsite. Josh took the solo & veered all over the river. We reached the next portage (365m) with the sound of thunder in the distance and set up camp. The campsite is a small clearing right on the portage, with an overgrown trail to the box privy and no good trees to hang the tarp from. Oh, well. Paddles make good tarp poles. Phil was still feeling the effect of his adventure so he got in his sleeping bag as I started some soup. Heavy rain started just as a couple appeared over the portage from upstream. I told them to take shelter in our tent as the 4 of us were fine under the tarp. They responded that they had 4 more paddlers & needed more shelter. We shifted canoes & squeezed one of their tents beside ours. The rest of their group arrived & all took shelter as the storm hit. We sat under the tarp drinking hot chocolate, listening to the wind & counting seconds between flash & boom. During a lull in the storm I supplied the other group with hot water for drinks. When the storm eased up it was late enough that there was no point in the other group moving on. They squeezed in one more tent, totally blocking the portage. We discovered that the couple who arrived first live in Ontario but the other 4 were visiting from Germany. They all had hiking experience but none had paddling experience. Quite a trip for beginners. I was impressed. Day 4
We broke camp, said goodbye & headed upstream. After a bit, the river narrowed & started to meander. The trees receded. We had 4 hours of twists & turns, usually into the wind. I was using my new playtoy, a GPS unit, to track our progress toward the portage that would take us away from the river. The river meandered enough that often we were loosing ground. Finally we reached the portage to Nadine Lake. Someone had set up camp here but nobody was in sight. Judging by the clothes on the line, the camper was a solo male. He had a 7 foot high family dome tent and a crude canoe cart made of bicycle wheels, about 18 feet of angle iron, 4 shelf brackets, and foam blocks. It outweighed my solo! I don't know how he got it there but I bet it's still there. It would have been worse than useless on most of the portages we had done so far and impossible on the ones ahead. After a brief break we hit the trail. This was the first serious portage of the trip. It's only 1410m long, starts out easy, then climbs 235 feet to Nadine Lake. By the time we double portaged to Nadine Lake I was feeling my age. It was a nice lake and our objective for the day but the kids insisted on continuing. I made it clear who was in charge. We continued on. The next portage is 1765m to Osler Lake. It rises 215 feet & then descends 250 feet. It isn't as bad as "The Pig" in Killarney Provincial Park but it finished me. We slowly headed up the lake checking campsites. My favourite from a previous trip was burned out. Day 5
We portaged 870m headed to Little Osler Lake, the highest lake of the trip. Then another portage, 190m to the muddy shores of Little Nadine. A very short paddle & a 550m portage to Skuce Lake, the day's objective. Oh well, off we go again across a 720m portage. We encountered several freshly fallen trees across the trail & I had to break out the saw to get the canoes through. We reached the big question of the trip - Maple Creek. I had been having serious doubts about it having enough water between here and the next lake. No problem. We never got our feet wet & it was a pleasant cruise with 2 easy portages (90m & 660m). We reached Erables Lake & passed a spot where I camped in February '98. We ran NW across a bay to a campsite on a point. From here our route was directly into a stiff west wind so we stopped. By the time we finished eating supper, the wind was beginning to drop. When it died completely we set out again. An hour of paddling and an 80m portage took us to Maple Lake, a nice island campsite, another supper and my first bath of the trip. Day 6
We had an easy paddle across Maple Lake to Maple Creek. This stretch of creek isn't paddle friendly but the dry summer didn't make it much worse than normal. First we did a 130m portage & paddled 100m of shallow swamp. Then a steep 805m portage along a real side slope, followed by 200m of paddling. Then 3 portages in quick succession, 630m, 90m & 190m followed by 1 km of paddling. When we reached the final portage, we met a group of young adults on a canoeing course. One of them warned me that the portage was rough. I didn't remember it that way but thanked her & chuckled to myself, thinking of what was ahead of her. The portage was a breeze - wide smooth, level at first & then a gentle downhill grade. The only annoyance was the extended mud flat caused by low water levels at the Kioshkokwi end. An hour later we were back at the access point, a day early. Darned kids.
by - Lloyd Bowles
"Keep the open side up!"