www.AlgonquinAdventures.com Lake Louisa Trip www.AlgonquinAdventures.com

August 26th to August 29th, 2009
by Mike Burns

August 25th, Visit with Sean

My first canoe trip to Algonquin Park in 2009 was an interesting trip for sure. Started off great with my drive up Tuesday and staying with Sean Rowley and family at Pog Lake campground. I was greeted with smiles and a nice chicken supper. Thanks Sean and family! I saw a family of bears off #60 near Bat Lake on my way into the campground and when at the office, a Park Ranger drove up with a bear cage to trap the problem bears in the area.

Wednesday 26th, Travel to Louisa day.

Sean and I were up by 5:00am, ready to go to the Rock Lake access point. I think by 7:30am we were on the river, heading into Rock Lake. We took our time following the west shore and greeting cottage people on their docks as we paddled by. We tried to find the pictographson the famous rock cliffs, without any luck . The skies had dark clouds with chance of rain. The wind was helping us along the way for a change.

Sean looking over the map so we do not get lost...ha, kidding Sean!

Sean just before the first cottage on Rock Lake

Trying to find the Pictographs

We reached the 2895m portage within an hour.

Portage sign

Sean ready setting up his yoke

By the time we finished the portage the skies had cleared and the threat of rain was gone. The portage has many slight hills and boardwalks to make it fun. My heart was pumping a little harder during this portage. A few small rests along the way were in order.

I took a break about 1200 meters into the portage

Sean coming up to the two tier high boardwalk about half way thru.

Lake Louisa was, in most part, empty of campers. We did pass a group of kids just as we started canoeing. We passed my favorite campsite at the point on the north side nearest the portage. A couple were leaving their campsite beside this one and commented that they were wind-bound the day before. Halfway up the lake we found a real nice campsite on the north side across from also a nice site up high on a point. We were going to check out this site out, but a couple had paddled up to it and as it turned out they were just swimming and sunbathing. Oh well. We stayed on the north shore site. The site had nice comfy feeling to it. Lots of dead laying trees behind the camp for firewood. The sites on Lake Louisa mostly have rocky landings. Only a few have sand beaches.

Our campsite for Sean's one night and mine for 4 nights.

View from the water.Cedar and pine tress make nice cover.

After camp was set up we went for a paddle down towards the west end islands. We spotted a wooden cross made from 2 huge old trees, perched up high with rocks. This is on the south side shore point, near the Islands. We both wondered what the history was for this cross. As I found our later this was done about 3 years before, when a group was bored being wind-bound for a few days.

Wooden cross.

Sean and I had a great afternoon to check out Louisa.

Our Ospreys at rest on our campsite.

The wind was getting stronger and we decided to go back to camp for an afternoon rest. I crawled into my Hennesy Hammock and fell asleep in no time. Nothing better than having a nap in the park on a lazy afternoon. For supper, we had steak and tators with fried onions/peppers and mushrooms. Opps...........sorry Sean! My frying pan dumped on the dirt and we had to settle with just the meat and tators. Oh well!

Sean cooking up our streaks. My frying pan fell over my stove shortly after this picture was taken! (:<)

Clear skies for the night brought cool temps down to 40 F. I was happy that I brought a warmer sleeping bag! This was my first real test with my Hammock. It takes a bit more energy to get in a sleeping bag up to you head. I found a few comfortable sleeping positions. I was well rested and felt great with no back pain. I was a happy camper!

Very nice sunset.

Thursday 27th - Rest day.

Sean was leaving after breakfast. After such a cool morning, he cooked up some bannock by the nice warm fire. I sat by the lake, drinking coffee and enjoying the morning fog floating off the warm waters.

What a beautiful morning!

We leisurely paddled back to the portage to Rock Lake in the fog. It was such a peaceful and relaxing paddle.

Sean canoeing in the morning fog.

I was going to stay on Lake Louisa today and take it easy. As Sean unloaded his canoe I wandered over to the log jam beside the portage and took some pictures. I decided at this point to help Sean carry over the portage.

Log jam at the creek to Rock Lake, beside the portage.

I grabbed my yoke pad and joked with Sean that, "I'll help you carry over. But, I am not going to carry the barrel!"and that I'd take his light sweet Osprey. It's about 10 pounds lighter then my cedar-stripper. We made it across the portage in about 45 minutes. We said our farewells and I watched Sean paddle off towards Rose Island.

Sean off on Rock Lake.

I had a nice walk back to Louisa. The straps on my Keens water shoes were rubbing on the inside of my feet, making some blisters. Great, I was planning a huge loop tomorrow and I wouldl have to deal with the blisters. I had duct tape to take care of this problem.

Lumber road/bridge that crosses the portage, closer to Louisa. It was in great shape and used.

As I paddled off I was feeling alone, after having such a great time with Sean. I followed the shoreline and went into Pondweed. This is a nice quite area to go to with only one campsite. You have to navigate thru a small opening and over a beaver dam. The campsite looked inviting from afar, with rock ledges up high to sit on. I stopped here for a lunch break. The fire-pit is right by the water edge and under some trees. Nice little site that I would camp at .. no problem. Nice swimming to boot. There is a steel bracket lag to a rock by the water. Maybe used in the logging days for something. A few loons watched me and got closer chatting up a storm. It was very relaxing to sit there and enjoy the day.

Campsite on Pondweed.

Nice place for a fire...watch your step!

Chain and Lag bolt to rock from logging days?

View from campsite across from mine looking west towards the islands.

Getting some firewood for the night.

I went back to camp for a swim and a nap. I was woken by a power boat. I got up to see who it might be. No power boats are allowed, so I was curious. Maybe a Park Ranger? The small boat had 6 people. They would stop every 500 meters or so and call for some kind of animal. It was strange. They for sure were not calling moose, bear or wolves. Perhaps some kind of bird. Just as I see this boat go by my site, an Army plane swoops by! Holy cow, this was a strange afternoon! (note: on my way out I stopped in at the permit office at Rock Lake as asked about this boat. The people were naturalist doing a study and got permission)

Army plane doing a low fly-by.

Group of naturalists in a boat, on a study program.

I set up a tarp incase it rained. I did not want to rush to put one up the following day, after my planned loop.

My campsite with tarp up. Was useless 2 days later for the wind.

My hammock.

I did not see any trippers until 7:30pm. Two women with a dog grabbed the site across from me. Such a late time to get to camp I thought. Sun was going down and they were running around trying to set up camp and pump water out in the canoe in the dark. I would not like that. I could hear them talk about all the fire wood left and how beautiful the site was. At least they did not have to get fire wood that night. I hope they left some for the next campers.

I cooked up some bannock with peanut butter for supper and sat by the water until bedtime around 10:00pm.

Bannock for supper.


My happy mug.

I was awakened by some noise in the bush behind my hammock. Loud enough to concern me. My food pack was hung out that way. When you are by yourself, your hearing gets real sensitive! hahaha. For a half hour I listened to something turning up logs and rocks. I'm thinking bear of course. Then silence. I was awakened again by it and all of a sudden I could hear it go under my hammock! I then realized it must be a raccoon. Sure enough, the raccoon made way to some gear I'd left out. I got out of my hammock and yelled at it. He took off by the water and did not come back. I was worried about the rest of my gear getting torn up. I decided to hang my pack up with my food. Not the thing I want to do at midnight eh? Another cool night but not as cold as the night before.

Friday 28th - Side trip day.

A big day planned! I was planning to do a loop that would take most of the day. I'd never been on these lakes before. I was up around 5:30am and had a hearty breakfast of bacon and pita bread. By a little after 7:00am, I was on the water. It was a cloudy day with a light wind. I'd rather have clouds then cook under the sun on a warm day. It was a very quite morning as I glided down Lake Louisa towards Rod & Gun portage. I passed only 2 campsites being used along the way. The lake was indeed quiet this week.

Here is a quick run down of my day trip:

My fun day starts!

Looking down to the start of the P510 from Louisa.

--8:00am at P510 to Rod & Gun. Portage was rocky and up hill mostly, but not that bad.

View from the cockpit. On a portage that is!.

--8:30am at P415 to Lawrence. The "Devils Staircase" as it's called. At Rod & Gun it goes up a bit, flattens out and THEN all down hill to Lawrence. I would not like going the other way. That hill would get the heart racing in no time! Weather at the time was cloudy, cool and no or little wind, perfect for tripping.

Looking UP to Devils Staircase.

--9:12am at P715 to Kirkwood Lake. Portage is mostly rocks and uphill a tad.

--10:00am at P60 to Phipps. Water falls right beside portage that was cool to check out. An Island is nearby on Kirkwood that might be nice to stay on to hear the waterfall. I did not check out the site though. Portage was easy as they get.

Entrance to P60 to Phipps. The waterfall is to the right of the portage.


Looking back at Kirkwood Lake.

Waterfall at P60.

--10:40am at P175 to Bonnechere Lake. Toward the end of Phipps, the water level was low and then narrows down to a river. There's some wadding thru the creek, or most get out early and line the canoe along the grassy banks. The portage is easy. The putin to Bonnechere, at the end of the portage, was clogged with 3-4 canoes going the other way. I had to force my way thru the group to make room to unload my canoe and take off. They were friendly and asked about my cedar stripper. Bonnechere is a real nice lake full of rocky shores and I would like to camp here some time.

To North Lemon Crik....SKEETERS!.

--11:35 at P1250 to North Lemon Creek. I did this portage in 17 min. This portage had it all. Skeeter-infested tall grass, board walks, rocks, roots and swampy areas...yuck. At the end of it I did not stick around for the skeeters were present. The fresh cut bench made by junior portage crews was not inviting enough for me to sit!

Fresh cut bench at end of P1250 .. My butt did not see it!

--12:10 at P645 to McGarvey. Crap landings with rock. It was muddy and rocky up and down portage. Mud into McGarvey from the boardwalk. I was getting hungry and tired and decided to head towards the island for a rest and fuel up on food and to pump some much needed water. I checked out the campsite as I munched on some snack bars. Not much of a fire pit area to brag about and for anything else to speak of. I also found the water was not that clear with a lot of sediment.

Island site on McGarvey. Rock landing.

Exposed island fire-pit area.

The wind picked up around 1:00pm and I was concerned when I would get back to Louisa. So I made no waste of time making way thru portages. All simple single carries with a day pack.

--1:35pm at P810 to Lemon. This was a muddy portage.

Boardwalk dock on Lemon.

--2:00pm at P165 to North Grace. Muddy boardwalk/docking area. Oh great!, a head wind on North Grace!

Boardwalk dock on North Grace from P165.

I had a family of Loons follow me for a few minutes on North Grace. The female (I think) was squawking at me big time. I rested a bit until the wind started to blow me backwards. This is a longish lake to paddle against the wind. I passed one group that I noticed as being from Lake Louisa, at the last campsite nearest the portage to Rod & Gun that morning.

Loons on North Grace. I love them. My favorite bird by far.

My last portage sign for the day.

--3:00pm at P1460 to Lake Louisa, home! I did this portage in 22min. I made note that this portage would suck going the other way. All downhill to Louisa.

Landing at the end of the portage on Lake Louisa.

Sorry for the foot pic. Duct tape is great!

--3:38pm. I was on the move crossing Louisa, towards the eastern shore to get out of the east wind. Whitecaps were present now. I now felt lonesome again, remembering canoeing with my son Ryan thru these waters for the first time. He was 10 years old when I took him here. I cut thru the Islands to help get out of the wind. I was going to check out a island site that I was told was nice, but it was just taken by a large group. They were setting up tarps for some possible rain. They were right indeed!

Back to my campsite.

I finally got back to camp around 4:40pm .. 9 hours 40 minutes to do this loop. I was bushed and glad to be back at camp, as the white caps were getting worse now.

I was happy with my day trip.

The wind was getting stronger now.

I turned down one side of my canopy on my hammock to block the east wind.

The site across from me was empty again, when I got back. But about 6pm, 2 guys pulled up and grabbed it. The last few days I was thinking that I liked that site better. But now that there was this strong east wind, I was very content on my site being protected by the elements a bit more. Before supper I actually was thinking of packing up and trying to get out before the storm came. I needed about 3 to 4 hours to get out back to Rock Lake and I was running out of time. Besides, I was bushed and did not want to tackle the 3km portage to Rock.

Okay, I'll stay put and "hunker down". I made up some supper of rice and tuna. I hung my food and pack, cleaned up my site and put most of my stuff under the tarp area. I had a fire and sat quietly thinking about my day's travel. I should have moved my tarp around to block the wind better, but I was lazy. I put out my fire with some water and went to bed about 9:30pm. I had no problem falling asleep that night!

Saturday 29th. Rain, wind and departed one day early.

Holy cow! What a night! Blowing rain started early in the morning. I was swaying with the large trees my hammock was tied to. It felt nice actually and I would drift off to sleep like a baby. The gusts of wind must have hit 60kph or more. This was a big test for my hammock. I was dry and could see a flood under me when I got up.

What it looks like inside a hammock. I was high and dry.

I was awake around 4:00am and just lay there until 6:40am .. watching the weather unleash.

The weather when I left my hammock.

The weather a half hour later.

I thought about leaving today, a day early...but the wind was so bad I decided to stay put for safety sake. I got out of my hammock when the rain lightened and untied my gear and got my rain suit on. I took some pictures of the water. Wow, what a sight. The rolling white caps were bad. The mist/fog was lifting from the water and blowing almost horizontal with the wind. The fog almost looks like blowing snow in the winter. Looked pretty cool. I spent an hour to reposition my tarp and moved my canoe to help block the wind. I was getting real hungry and wanted a fire to cook and warm up.

My moved tarp and canoe to block the wind and rain.

I had some wood, but it was a little wet from the night. I walked along the shore and into the bush and found some dead laying pine trees. I was able to split the wood to get dry wood for the fire. I also had a wood stove that needed fuel to boil water for my much needed coffee. I had a breakfast of oatmeal and then I made some soup. It was about 10:00am and the wind gusts were not as bad. The large rolling waves had died down a bit. As I sat under my tarp and wondered what to do, I decided to leave instead of hang around a wet day and night. I had been intending to do another side trip today, but the weather put an end to that. I felt comfortable with my abilities to take on the wind and whitecaps. Make note: that if this was late fall or early May I WOULD NOT attempt to leave with cold waters. I would not want to dump the canoe and deal with hypothermia.

One last look around my site, the fire was out and I was in the canoe by 11:30am. I pointed the canoe straight into the east wind and dug in. I had to paddle very fast and hard to keep the canoe running straight. Some waves were splashing over the gunwales with the bow bouncing up and down. It was fun in a way. I stayed near the shore but not to close as the rocks and waves coming back from the shore made it worse. My Osprey was great in the rough. I stopped after 30 minutes at the point on the north shore (my favorite), to rest and take some pictures. I landed on the sandy beach and with protection from the point, all seem calm.

I do have to mention ab out all the toilet paper off the side of trails around the campsites. It was all over and was the same on my site. Like come on, please use the thunder boxes ... that is what they are for!

Anyways, I continued to the portage and was there about 12:20pm without mishap. Rain was still off and on. With my duct taped blistered feet, I started the portage about 12:35pm. I walked thru many mud filled puddles along the way. Special care is needed on the slippery boardwalks. I did take off my rain coat for the carry. The canoe protects you from rain anyways.

I stopped at 12:55pm for a 5 minute rest and finished the portage at 1:21pm. This portage for sure is better going downward to Rock Lake. I had to put on my rain coat, as the rain was coming down hard. It was a huge bonus that the wind had died down to next to nothing. I was a happy camper again...... sort of. With my canoe loaded for the last time, I was off to the access point.

On Rock Lake, rain clouds dumped some more of that wet stuff on me for fun.

I could see Rose Island was full with campers hiding under tarps, with a few kids running about. By the time I got to the pictograph bay, the rain had stopped. I waved to a few older gentlemen that I seen a few days earlier at the cottages. Another canoe was coming towards me, making several turns trying to navigate. Must be rookies. As they got closer, I could see it was a woman in the stern and a man in the bow, with a garbage bag over him for a rain coat. She asked me where Pen Lake was. They did not look impressed at all!

I got to the access dock at 2:15pm and the skies opened up with rain again. Yep, was wise to leave that day. I had a great trip .. only cut short one day. Another Algonquin Adventure to add to my collection of many more to come! Thanks for checking out my trip log. Oh ya .. I make a habit to carve a simple stir stick during each trip in the park. Darn it, I left it at my campsite somewhere. I wrote the date on it. Perhaps someone will make use of it!

"Wanted" .. My stir stick!

Mike Burns.