www.AlgonquinAdventures.com  James and Missy Bonney - Petawawa Loop from Magnetewan Access - Fall 2005


This trip was the first time either my wife (Missy) or I had used the Magnetewan access point for a trip. We have both paddled this area before but we used other access points.

September 9, 2005 .. Day 1 From Magnetewan to Misty

We had loaded the car by about 7:30 am and were on our way North by 7:50 am. We made our usual array of stops on the drive north. We stopped at the McDonalds on the 400 in Barrie for Gas/Magazine for Missy and an Egg McMuffin.

Despite not going into Algonquin using the usual fashion (Highway 60), it was hard to convince my wife that we should bypass Huntsville and so we made a quick stop to see what, if anything in Huntsville has changed. Not surprisingly very little has changed. We stopped at Wendys to pick up two small salads for lunch and we were off northward again.

We picked up our permits in Kearney. Weíd been here before as we had gone through Rain lake before. Then we shake-rattled-and-rolled ourselves down the dusty, washboard access trail. Itís tough to call these trails roads. Although I think most would agree that it is better this way .. as people just arenít willing to travel these trails and thus attain more seclusion .. once youíve punished yourself and your car on the way in.

We arrived at the Magnetawan dock and were on the water at 1:05 pm, heading for the first portage. It'is a short 160M portage into Hambone lake. This lake is green like Happy Isle, possibly a headwater lake. From here we headed south into a nameless pond via another easy 50M portage. We met a very nice couple heading the other way on this portage whom we chatted with for a few minutes. They had done a similar route to ours and it sounded like they'd had a fantastic time. Bad news for us though, the water levels in the creeks were very low and had to be waded in most spots. We had been prepared for this but were obviously hoping for the best.

We zipped across the pond and handled the 480M portage into Daisy with as much ease as possible. Daisy was a very nice paddle. The 130M portage out of Daisy is pretty easy and has the added benefit of a very picturesque waterfall for viewing. The river from the end of the 130M portage to the 450M portage was very low. We waded most of the way through mostly muck but also some hard packed ground. There was one beaver dam to pull over but that was not difficult. After the 450M portage the river widened out and we only had to pull through one short section. Little Misty was a fine paddle with a slight tailwind. The 880M portage to Misty was tough with a few nice hills. But, we handled it well. We were on Misty by 5:30 pm and had a camp set up on the point south of the island with the three campsites on it. It was a very nice site with a great sunset view and good tent sites and water access.

September 10, 2005 .Day 2 Ė From Misty to McIntosh

We were on the water by 8:20 am. We had a beautiful Algonquin morning .. cool with a pretty mist on the Lake. A pair of loons visited the campsite and gave us a series of long drawn out wails .. a very chilling effect.

Misty Lake was an enjoyable morning paddle. The lake narrows just after the 700M portage heads north and there is evidence of an old bridge with some cribs still in the water. We were lucky enough to see and photograph a pair of otters that were living in this crib and put on quite a show of diving and swimming for us. There was also a nice encounter with a cow and calf moose on the Petawawa just after the first 840M portage.

The river was good to us for most of this stretch of water, with only small amounts of walking required. We had lunch just after the 190M portage. The 150M portage was a tough uphill climb, then leveled out and then went back down. There was a great spot for a swim at the bottom though. Between the 80M and 150M portage the river tends to meander, there was plenty of water in most of it but it was still slow going. It was not as bad as the Nipissing or Tim Rivers meanders, but it's still a long paddle.

We reached Grassy Bay at 1:11pm. It was just as grassy as I remembered. By 3:00 pm, we had navigated the Grassy Bay marsh all the way to the McIntosh Creek portage. I always enjoy the long meandering paddles. Some people, like my wife, dislike them but we have a great system for that. I plan our trips; so the unwritten agreement is if I plan trips with lots of meandering river travel, I have to agree to let Missy suntan during portions of the meandering river. This occasion was no different as Missy enjoyed a chauffeured paddle through a good portion of Grassy Bay while she laid on our big pack and rested her back and suntanned a bit. Itís a fair trade and itís a small price for me to pay to keep my wife happy and have free reign on trip planning for us!

The two portages between Grassy Bay and McIntosh are straightforward and are separated by a short creek paddle which has the distinction of a rather ominous beaver dam. I must be at least 3, if not 4 feet, high and required some serious effort to circumvent.

McIntosh is one of the nicer lakes I have visited. It is very typical of a fine Algonquin lake with expansive views from any shore. We watched a loon eat what I would estimate to be a fish between 1 and 2 pounds in weight on McIntosh. It popped up a few meters from us, gulped down the fish and promptly dove back into the depths. I had no idea they ate such large fish. We arrived at our new home for the evening at about 4:20 pm. .. the third campsite east of the Timberwolf portage on the McIntoshí north shoreline. It's a very nice site with a great view across the lake and an excellent rock for swimming .. which we took advantage of for a somewhat chilly dip.

September 11, 2005 .. From McIntosh to our car and home

We were on the water at 7:55 am and headed for the Timberwolf portage. The wind had already picking up and we had a very nice red sky this morning, which as the old saying goes: Red sky at night Sailers delight, red sky in morning, Sailer take warning. The old saying held true for us on this day.

We managed the 400M McIntosh to Timberwolf portage quite easily but I, being a route-following-genius, got us lost on Timberwolf. OK, not lost! But I aimed the canoe towards where I remembered the portage to be and overshot it by 50 meters or so. I continued to follow the shoreline for a few hundred more meters before deciding that I must have missed it. We turned around and quickly found it. It wasted probably 20 minutes of time though.

The Timberwolf to Misty portage is quite a monster. It has a canoe rest about half way along but I didnít feel tired yet so decided not to use it. Big mistake as the second half of the portage is a real doozy. Some very steep declines which I find much more difficult than inclines. It is also one of those lovely portages where you see the lake LONG before you actually finish the portage. We zipped across Misty and back into Little Misty where we reached decision time. We had the choice of backtracking our route through Daisy or heading North to Queer and across Little Trout and Ralph Bice. Neither Missy or I are big fans of backtracking so the decision was made and north we went.

The 2420M portage into Queer was tough due to distance only. The terrain was quite level with only a few small decents. It only took me 28 minutes and Missy a few minutes less as I stopped to rest the canoe a few times. Its good to know we can still handle a long portage. We hadnít done one over 2000 meters in quite a while. The paddle north through Queer and across Little Trout was uneventful, the 150M portage being fairly easy. The 440M into Ralph Bice was accomplished and left us with a nice view into Ralph Bice which was being whipped into white caps by the strong winds. The bay that the portage was in was fairly protected. (be careful, as there are submerged rocks).

As we approached the opening into the main lake, another group of two canoes sat there looking at the lake. It was quite a sight with swells up to 2.5 feet at my estimate. We wished the other group luck and pointed out into the lake. We followed the south shore of the lake behind the island and just paddled as hard as we could. The other group gave an attempt but we saw them pull onto a campsite likely to wait it out. We felt confidant we could handle it but stayed close to shore just in case.

By 1:50 pm, we were on the lst campsite on the south shore heading towards the Hambone portage. It was an excellent lunch stop. The site has a long point, with beach on either side and a really spectacular view. Only room for a small tent though. The MNR plane buzzed the lake during our lunch, likely looking for swamped canoes. There was a group of fisherman heading in the same direction as us. They had stayed on the sites for the weekend. We all set out for the portage at about the same time into a very strong headwind and choppy water. We covered the remaining distance and the last two portages as quickly as we could, given the circumstances. The portages were fairly easy and Hambone was a nice paddle, as it is not as open as Ralph Bice.

We had the car packed and were on our way by 3:24 pm. A quick stop in Huntsville (Missy canít leave without a stop in Huntsville) for dinner and to browse the main street shops. Then we were back down Highway 11, heading home.

James Bonney