Kiosk 7-Day Loop
September 6 to 12, 2015 - by Cathy Quigg
We launched at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday from Kioshkokwi Lake and completed our 7-day loop around noon on Saturday. We had a new view every day of our trip!
We did some longer distances the first few days and did not have any rest days where we did not travel. However, near the end of the trip, we had much shorter distances to travel.
There were some wind and waves on the big lakes on the first few days. The 3rd and 4th days were the longest portaging days.
We did almost exclusively single carries on our portages, with the exception of a couple of really short ones. We were careful to remain together for this whole trip. Neither one wandered off from the other. Weather was very co-operative. It never poured rain on us while we were travelling, except maybe a few sprinkles here and there.
This was our first trip with two hammocks and no tent. I miss the security of having my bodyguard right by my side, but we tried to share one tree when hanging our hammocks so we weren't far apart. I would not go camping again with my particular hammock. I would invest in a tent-style hammock.
Day 1: Kiosk to Manitou:
This was the longest day of the trip, time-wise. We were on the highway by 5:00 a.m. We stopped in Pembroke for a quick breakfast.
We were unloading the car and checking in by 9:40 a.m. Our paddles dipped into the lake at 10:00. The wind against us was picking up.
What we should have done before setting out was asking the park staff how the water level was this year. It turns out that it was low, something we would encounter more than once.
Kioshkokwi was getting very narrow with no portage sign in view. We landed on a small sandy spot that looked well traveled. LT went ahead to check the trail and found the portage sign a bit further upstream. It had taken us 2 hours to paddle Kioshkokwi Lake.
This portage can be either one long portage or two shorter portages. We chose to paddle the middle section. It looked doable. Once around the corner we knew we'd have to line the canoe for our very first time. The river bottom was mostly small rocks and sand.
Once in the Amable du Fond River, we had a swift to go up. After two tries to power up it, we gave up and lined the canoe. Then we were back in business, paddling towards the last portage into Manitou Lake.
We took a few moments to get our bearings and to prepare for a long paddle, again into the wind. After 3 ½ hours of paddling, we selected a campsite. Dinner was fresh marinated steak, pre-cooked potatoes and carrots heated on a campfire. Banana-nut bread pudding was dessert and we went to bed around 10 p.m.
Day 2 - Manitou Lake to Biggar Lake:
Breakfast was fresh eggs with pre-cooked bacon. We were on the water at 11:00 a.m. We were facing stiff breezes again, with lots of Manitou Lake to paddle.
We chose the longer route to North Tea Lake to check the pretty waterfall, it was worth it.
Once we were back in the water, we still had more big lake before turning the corner to get a bit of a breeze at our backs.
Hmmmm. Where to put in? Once on Biggar Lake, we checked out site after site, getting closer all the time to the next day's portage at the far end. It's a pretty lake, but we weren't finding a site we liked. We took the last campsite. It is low-lying. There were a few mosquitoes there. We had a strong wind the previous night, but not this night .. being tucked around a corner on a smaller lake.
Dinner was pasta, with pineapple upside down cake for dessert.
I think we were in bed well before 10. I was exhausted.
Day 3 - Biggar Lake to Three Mile Lake:
It was a much quieter night. No windy big lake noises. Breakfast was blueberry pancakes with butter, real maple syrup, and bacon.
We launched at 11:30. The first portage was close. This day would be a longer portage-walking day.
We finished our last portage into Three Mile Lake. The day was becoming greyer and threatening rain. We headed up the right side of the lake, checking out each campsite as we went. None of them looked particularly great. We turned around and went to one on a rocky outcrop when the rain started.
The first order of business was to hang tarps so we had somewhere dry to hang out.
The next thing to do was to make a lunch of comfort food .. Kraft Dinner with pepperettes.
When hanging the hammocks, we tried sharing a tree, as usual. However the second tree I was attached to wasn't quite thick enough. As I sat in the hammock to test it, I fell backwards onto the ground. As soon as I caught the breath that had been knocked out of me, I wailed "I hate my hammock!"
It was probably a mistake to eat lunch so late. I ended up making a pizza dinner in the dark using my headlamp.
Day 4 - Three Mile Lake to Erables Lake:
I filled the kettle, primed the stove, boiled some water and went to get the bear bag down. Breakfast was dehydrated eggs with dried canned ham.
We knocked out portage #1 pretty quickly. Then #2. We dropped our bailer container on the first portage and didn't discover it was gone until we were well past being able to go back for it.
Halfway through the day's 3rd portage, we were walking over some boardwalks. With all the night's rain, they were slippery and down I went. Falling is one thing, but going down with an extra 50 pounds on your back .. well, it's not pretty! I felt something give in my knee. LT had to put the canoe down and come rescue me. It really hurt. I'm glad I had my hiking poles.
As we paddled into the narrows going into Maple Lake, we saw flying overhead, very close to us, a bald eagle!
We stopped for the day and chose a very hilly campsite. A pretty site but it was hard walking around it. I was worried as the next day would be the toughest portage day so far.
We made camp at 4:45. Dinner was pasta again. I rehydrated raspberries in the Thermos which worked so well, I would now use it for all desserts.
LT set up a clothesline to dry anything that had gotten wet from the previous night`s rain.
Day 5 - Erables Lake to Mouse Lake:
The day dawned with gorgeous sunshine. I woke up at 6, but managed to snuggle in the hammock for another hour.
I spied a posse of 6 loons swimming together. They look so tough with their black heads and black eyes, heads sweeping from side to side as though they're checking out the 'hood'.
Breakfast today was pancakes with the last pre-cooked bacon. We launched at 10:30.
Today we had 3 portages with over 3 km to walk. I gamely set out with my trekking poles. I was slower than usual, but LT is a patient man.
Lower water and marshier terrain made for some pretty muddy landings.
Part way through our portage we saw them - a pair of grouse in a mating dance. He had his neck feathers all ruffled up and was strutting around. She was his adoring audience. Our presence disturbed them, he went right, she went left off the trail. But we could hear them calling to each other, "Where are you?", "I'm over here. Where are you?", "I'm over here....."
We got to Mouse Lake at 3:30. It's a fairly small lake, a circular one. Two sites share a beach between them. We chose one of those sites.
For supper we had soft tacos. Dessert was pineapple upside down cake.
It was early to bed, 9 p.m. September camping means shorter daylight.
Day 6 - Mouse Lake to Mink Lake:
This was to be an easy day for us. Breakfast was dehydrated eggs with dried ham and dried veggies.
We had a short paddle through Club Lake leading into low, marshy water. With low water came rocks, very low spots, and sunken logs. My nerves were frayed sitting at the front of the canoe trying to see absolutely everything under the water in our path.
We came around a bend to this sight ...
We made it through this portage rather quickly. It had probably been a road at some point. It was a relatively easy walk. We got into Mink Lake and were met with a strong wind.
We had decided on the 8th campsite on the right. But as we got closer, we saw a bright yellow canoe at that site. People! We backed off and went back to the 7th site. It turned out to be my favourite site of the trip. This was our last night in the park. It would also be the coldest. It went down to about 6 degrees.
We landed at 2:45, time for a treat - cinnamon buns! LT started a fire after he carried up the bags.
Dinner this night was chicken, rice and veggies. Dessert was banana-nut bread pudding.
Day 7 - Mink Lake to Kiosk Lake:
On the last day of our trip, I got up first and started a fire to warm up. Breakfast was oatmeal with dried bananas, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and maple syrup flakes.
We knocked out the first portage of 410m in 7 minutes and the second portage in 10 minutes. It might have had something to do with the 15 pounds of food and water that I was no longer carrying.
It took a bit of backtracking once in Kiosk to figure out a way of getting through the low water. Out into the lake, we were predominantly protected from the wind as we followed the train bridge which is built across the lake as a solid embankment.
It only took us two and a half hours to get back to the launch. In Mattawa we drove around to find a chip stand for lunch.
As we drove closer to Ottawa, the weather deteriorated. We came home to a very rainy day. We were so lucky and no one believed that it had been a sunny day for our last day in the park.