Basecamp on Mink Lake - July 2015

by Barry Bridgeford

In 2015, this canoe trip generated numerous entries in the website's Portage Campsite Inventory. However, the production of this actual trip-log did not happen until Januaruary 2020.   MAP

Day 1

Since the Kiosk access point is a fair distance from 'home' and since Kioshkokwi Lake is known to generate some big waves by afternoon, we'd decided to spend our first night at the Kiosk drive-in campground and to head out into the backcountry early the following morning.

Having never visited this corner of the park before, and having seniors' "fading physiques", we decided to make it a basecamp "rest & recreation" experience. We hoped to acquire what appeared on maps to be a primo campsite on the north shore of Mink Lake. From there, we were hoping to do a bit of exploring, some bass fishing and lots of lazing around.

In an effort to keep weight down, I only brought along my small Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 pocket camera, a choice I now regret due to its photos not being as sharp as my larger camera.

Our Kiosk campground campsite was overlooking the lake to the south.

The campground lane curved around a forested area to the north.

Motor boats are allowed on Kioshkokwi Lake. This beach is for campground boaters.

Further to the east is the backcountry 'canoe beach' and swimming area.

The access office overlooks the canoe beach and campground lane.

The evening sky cleared. The temperature dropped a bit but the wind did too. We were able to enjoy a lazy time on the shore, where a wooden staircase leads down to a rocky beach. Well after our campfire had died down, we were visited by a fox that lived in the wooded area behind the access office.

Looking down the shoreline steps by the sunset's afterglow.

The access office staff-lady had told us to lookout for this local fox.

Day 2

I arose prior to 7am, well before Bill, and decided to wander about with my camera. It looked to be shaping up to be another pleasant day.

I came across where the old railway once rolled right by the campground. The tracks are now gone (as of 1995) but the right-of-way is technically still owned by the railway and most of it is posted as private. Only a few decades ago, Kiosk was a fully functioning lumber mill town located on this then-busy CNR rail line.

Looking east as the railway right-of-way disappears into the forest.

These signs refer to the 'private' status of the right-of-way.

Standing on part of the right-of-way that crosses the lane to the campground.

We were soon packed-up and ready to head out on the water. The sun was shining nicely in a blue sky with only a few puffy clouds, and a wind was already starting to blow out of the northeast!

9:50 am .. Getting ready on the beach. (Bill's photo)

Approaching the old railway bridge. (Bill's photo)

Into the wind, toward the portage to Little Mink Lake .. just above Bill's right shoulder.

In the distance, some canoeists were arriving at the put-in.

At the landing, our arrival and others' departure. (Bill's photo)

When we returned to the landing for our second carry, the other group was long-gone.

Looking up the portage, Bill has just arrived for his second carry.

Looking down at the portage put-in at Little Mink Lake.

Looking back up the slope at the portage put-in.

Getting ready to paddle across Little Mink Lake. (Bill's photo)

Approaching the portage to Mink Lake.

Mink Lake put-in, with old rail-bed running along far shore.

We inspected a pair of campsites on the north shore.

Both campsites were small and backed on the old rail-bed.

We finally arrived at the campsite we had hoped would be availble. It's situated on a large point that juts out into the lake a substantial distance from the old rail-bed. The south part of the point is a small treed hill with a beach landing on its east side. It's connected to the actual raised campsite by a short foot trail. We were fortunate to find it was vacant, supplied with pre-cut fly-poles (the cutting of which we do not condone, but don't hesitate to use) and quickly had it claimed as ours!

By the late afternoon sun, I'd finished getting my tent up.

Bill had set his tent up across the campsite clearing.

Down on the treed end of the point, the sunset view was great.

Day 3

The next morning I slept in and Bill was out roaming about with his camera. This was to be another fair weather day .. a great day for exploring. It seemed as if no one else was camping on the lake. It sure fealt like we had it all to ourselves!

Early morning mist .. looking east from the beach landing. (Bill's photo)

By mid-day we were ashore at the portage to Cauchon Lake.

This gentle grassy grade starts the portage to Cauchon Lake.

The landing at Cauchon Lake was small and shadey.

The north shore was a treed slope of rocky talus.

We looked over a couple of small campsites on the steep slope.

This campsite was on the south shore, looking down the lake.

The campsite's landing and view were on the east side of the point.

After a sunny and calm paddle back to camp .. a lazy evening and sunset. (Bill's photo)

Day 4

Overnight the weather changed. It was a cool, grey and sullen day with on-and-off showers. It was a day for collecting and cutting firewood, reading a book, watching the clouds, and photographing the campsite.

Mid-day, this group of eleven paddled up the lake. (Bill's photo)

My tent was situated at the east end of the clearing.

Looking across the campsite from under Bill's tent's rain fly.

Looking across the east bay toward the landing beach.

Looking across the east bay from behind the landing beach.

Looking down from the treed point behind the landing beach.

Looking across the treed point, back toward the mainland.

Looking east up the lake, from the landing beach.

Day 5

The early morning started as if the day might be a repeat of the pervious day's drizzly dampness. As is Bill's habit, he headed out for a solitary "teasing-of-the-fish". I stayed at camp to read a couple of chapters and to prepare some firewood.

Bill sought out the bass amidst some early morning showers. (Bill's photo)

By mid-morning, Bill was back and the sun was starting to peak through. (Bill's photo)

By late morning, we had paddled to the west end of the lake.

All of a sudden we heard a vehicle on the north shore, over by the old rail-bed. A large white pick-up truck was heading along the gravel rail-bed. We figured it was either an Ontario Parks or an Algonquin Forestry Authority vehicle. Although we had already crossed the rail-bed once before arriving at Mink Lake, we were curious to see the state of its surface at this location. We paddled across near to a spot we'd assumed was a washed out section and climbed up the embankment to see.

The truck had either driven around the gravel pile or had parked infront of it. (Bill's photo)

Twenty minutes later Bill got into the bass.

Ten minutes later, I got a bass plus its regurgitated mouse-lunch. (Bill's photo)

Finally returning to camp, we landed at a small beach on the point's west side.

Looking back down the path to the west beach, behind Bill's tent.

After dinner, we went out for a quiet evening paddle. (Bill's photo)

Day 6

The morning weather started like yesterday's .. damp and grey. And I was up early, wandering around the campsite area with my camera. The last full day before the end of a trip often has a special air about it. I chose to relax around camp, read, and capture some of the finer details around the campsite with my camera.

I was once again drawn to the unique image of the east side landing beach.

This narrow trail joins the campsite to the beach.

The damp mornings had brought on some interesting growths.

More of the campsite fungi.

Looking east into the lake's early moody calm.

A pair of newly arrived campers were fishing a distance down the lake.

My eye was drawn the complexities of bark.

Another of the campsite fungi.

Late afternoon hijink. (Bill's photo)

By evening, the sky had cleared considerably.

A clear sunset sky suggested the morrow would be pleasant.

Day 7

The morning had a cloudless blue sky with blazing sun and a strong breeze out of the southwest. We took our time breaking camp and paddling down Mink Lake. Like most trips's 'last days', there was a melancholy slow pace to the return to civilization. However, the breeze was quickly becoming stronger and we wondered what the wind would be upon returning to Kioshkokwi Lake under the old railway bridge.

These loons on Little Mink Lake were the only birds we got to photograph on the trip.

As expected, upon passing under the old railway bridge, we were paddling into a strong headwind and splashing waves. Exercising caution, we paddled straight into the wind to a point well off the access point's landing beach. We then co-ordinated a quickly powered turn toward the beach, so as to avoid being unduly broadsided by the waves.

Back at the landing beach just before noon. (Bill's photo)