Express to White Partridge (May 2005) . . . by Randy Born
Editor's Note: Access was via the Barron Canyon Road, the Lake Travers Road and the White Partridge Cart Trail. For inventory purposes, this trip-log is recorded under Access Point 23, since the first two-thirds of it's access is common with that point.
The trip started for real at Randyís cottage, when it became apparent that we had to some how fit all our gear and food into the 3 available packs and still be able to lift them. However first things first, we decided that we couldnít fit everything in my 14í fiberglass canoe, so a call was made to the outfitter at 8:30 pm with expectations of the store being open to reserve a 16í lightweight model. Unfortunately, all we got was a recording indicating they were closed and that we should leave a message. A message was left but we fully expected to have to make do with the 14í and had started the gear triage process when low-and-behold at 9:30 the store owner phoned and said " No problem Ö see you at 7:45 tomorrow". Thankfully, we quickly stuffed the triaged items back into our packs.Day1
Our morning started at 6:00, with coffee and muffins to go ( compliments of Bo Knows). And, then we hit the road. Itís a 1 Ĺ hour drive to Pembroke where we stopped for more coffee. Actually, Rob and I picked up an earlier cup-of-joe at the subway store in Cobden. And then with refueled bellies and gas tanks, we headed towards the east gate.
Photo: Trying to figure out if we had enough gear!!!
We stopped at the outfitter and while deciding which canoe to rent , we noticed the "used list of canoes for sale" and decided quickly that the 16í prospector with carved yoke for $475 was a better deal than renting at $22 a day for 7 days ( HeyÖ do the math) and left the outfitters as owners of a fine canoe with future trips in mind.
We arrived at the east gate around 8:15 only to be met with a CLOSED sign on the door and WE OPEN AT 9:00 in rather large print as well. Disappointed, we mulled about for a while and then I noticed the "self serve notice" indicating one could just leave one's $$ in the envelope and fill in the blanks. We quickly did so and then left for the White Partridge Cart trail at marker #61. Arriving a bit late, as our plans were to be there at 8:00 sharp, our cart was waiting. Remember, this is a 12 km cart trail and as you can see the cart in hand was up to the load and trail. Now we just had to designate the pullers!
We had a long way to go, so we left quickly and decided that when it was one's turn to not be pulling, one deserved a drink or two ( somehow this slowed the trip but made it much more enjoyable).
Somehow we finally made it to the White Partridge Lake meadows . The wagon was unloaded, and canoes/boat filled to capacity as we made our way to the first camp on the point to the left of the meadows. At camp, each group went about their own setup and soon a tent city was erected complete with tarps.
Photo: Racoon is wearing the maroon jacket beside Sheila and Derek and John
The tarp setup had a mishap which is a lesson to be learned by all bringing in fresh eggs. The yellow plastic 12-pack of Bo-Knows-eggs had almost made it intact. 11 eggs survived the wagon ride and the pack was somehow hung on a nail in a tree under a lifejacket. While erecting the last tarp, Rob and I had difficulty getting the tarp up and over the life jacket . A quick jerk solved the problem immediately and then before our eyes we saw the yellow egg container do a perfect double back-flip in the air, open up completely and then the eggs one by one SMASH into the ground. Fortunately one egg actually survived and Raccoon was not lynched on the spot. The lesson learned is " leave your breakables at home or be sure they are beyond reach of the Raccoon (human or the other variety)".
Rain had been on and off during the trip in and now with tarps up we decided to do a bit of fishing. A few trolls up the shore proved uneventful for Rob and I. When we returned to camp, Bo Knows and his group of 3 others had gathered a pile of dry firewood they expected to last a few days. I guess if Rob and I hadnít stayed up to mid-night and 2:15 a.m. the first two nights and had turned in early like the rest, the pile might of lasted longer. Supper that night was a self-heating MRE ( Meals Ready to Eat) of the Meatloaf/Salisbury steak variety. I felt rather bad about the eggs and shared a lot of the goodies (cream wafers, graham crackers with cheese spread) as a peace offering . That night most had turned in early (9:30 p.m.) but at least Sheila stayed up with the boys for the first drink or so.
We woke around 8 a.m. to the smell of fresh perked Timís coffee. What a grand way to start the day. We planned to go to the forks. After our breakfast of porridge, bagels and more coffee we packed some 12" subs and beer for lunch and off we went.
The wind was OK but we kept an eye on it, as White Partridge has a way of turning into a lion with little notice. We beached at the start of the 2200 meter portage and then started up the trail. It was a rather easy jaunt and 35 minutes later we were paddling with the current.
After two hours of paddling, hauling over beaver dams and fighting through the alders, we came to the 5th beaver dam which had a decent enough clearing for lunch. Sandwiches and instant noodles were quickly consumed. We then brewed up a pot of tea while trying our luck in the nearby pools . With no luck, since it was past 4 p.m. and as we had a long way to go ( against the current) and a short time to get there, we quickly loaded the canoe and headed back double-time.
We must of really been paddling because even though the alders were harder going up current, we actually shortened the return time by 15 minutes. White Partridge was still calm and we landed back at camp around 7:30 after trolling the lake on the return paddle.
We had Robís home-made Spaghetti and meat sauce. Next time we must bring some wine, bread and cheese to compliment this meal. After washing dishes and ensuring all the gear was properly hung or stored, we settled in to watch the one channel TV. We had the fire all to ourselves as the others turned in again at 9:30. We doused the fire at midnight.
It was cloudy again but the Timís coffee aroma quickly cleared any cobwebs we had. After a breakfast of porridge, English muffins and juice (more tang) we loaded the canoe and set off for Dickson Lake. Calm waters stayed with us again across White Partridge. We soon had the canoe with lashed-in gear ( life jackets/seats/rods and sleeping mattresses) and packs on our backs for the grueling (single portage) upgrade 915 meters. Many-a-time the mind had to say to the legs, "I think I can", and eventually we make Sundassa Lake.
A quick paddle got us to the start of the portage to Little Dickson and we decided to do it as a proper double portage (1Ĺ carry if done right). It was an easy portage to do double, as the beaver dam basically marks half way. Rob carried the monster pack and duffle bag (60 lbs), while I carried the canoe . Rob carried on to the end while I returned to retrieve remaining gear. We met again at the beaver dam and continued on together to Little Dickson.
We had a quick bite to eat (chuckwagons and tea) and then explored all the campsites of Little Dickson, which strangely were all vacant. After exploring and fishing the lake, we quickly singled the 890m portage to Dickson and found my favorite Cisco Island campsite available. Camp was quickly setup and supper made (kraft dinner and hot dogs) . The wind was coming straight at us down the channel so we opted for cooking at the other campsite on the island that was more protected. We tried bobber fishing with worms and Rob had a bite but got stuck when reeling it in. Darkness came quickly and we washed dishes by fire-light then settled in for refreshments and snacks. The Ĺ moon made its appearance for the first time that night. The previous nights had been overcast and rainy.
This was the day we expected Markus! We woke to another overcast sky and yucky instant coffee. However, adding LCBO Irish whiskey tippets or Black Gold powered cappuccino mix improved the taste and assists the eating of another porridge-bagels-peanut butter breakfast. No bacon was allowed. We set off around 11 a.m. towards the portage to Bonfield in hopes of meeting Markus. Half way there (just past the small island) a mini-storm arose from nowhere. We were forced to reel in our lines and to back-paddle to take shelter in the lee of the smaller island for about 25 minutes before we could safely get under way again.
We eventually made it to the portage and made lunch while waiting. More instant noodles and a chocolate bar, followed by tea and cookies filled our stomachs. Noodle eating was tricky as we had forgotten out forks and spoons. But, branches were quickly found to be ideal as chop sticks or wrapped with duck tape to fashion a eating utensil. A mini rest-snooze was taken but was interrupted when a light rain started and we were forced to take shelter under some nearby branches.
We tired of waiting , so a note was left written in charcoal on a cigarette pack and stuck on a tree where it was clearly visible. The rain quickly passed and since I was the stern paddler coming , it was my turn to take the resting seat in the front while Rob paddled us back, while we both trolled. There was no luck fishing, but with the wind at our backs we arrived back at camp around 4 p.m.
It was a little damp and chilly but the sun poked it way through the clouds and we took a small nap on the sunny rocks . I awoke about an hour later to find Rob snoring in the tent and myself chilled to the bone, with the sun has gone behind the clouds again. We decided to have an quick supper of hot-dogs, soup, tea and granola bars. We took advantage of the remaining light to still-fish the island waters with our remaining worms . It was decided that we had to return at 9 p.m. if we wanted to have a few minutes of remaining daylight to cleanup and prepare the fire.
A 8:50 we started getting bites and as luck would go, we ran out of worms just in time to make it back to camp by the few remaining rays of setting sun. Packs were stored and the tent prepared for sleep and then we sat in our front row fire side seats. Once again there was moonlight and the little snooze we had earlier allowed us top stay up way past our normal midnight bedtime. By the moonlight we extinguished the remaining coals, brushed teeth and turned-in for the night.
We woke to a fair day with a slight breeze but less clouds and some sun. More instant coffee and a small fire had the warmth back in our bodies. While munching the last of the bagels and sipping coffee, we spotted a solo canoeist coming down the narrows. Too far away to say for sure it was Markus, we waited until his White Tilly hat was recognizable. At this point I shouted "MARKUS" to which was echoed "RACCOON" and the long-awaited rendezvous began. Markus was quickly unloaded and I apologized for the lack of Caesars but we shared our two remaining beer. He decided to stay the night, seeing that we offered to take him speckle-fishing in Animoosh.
Photos: Rob just canít believe he caught a fish!
We brewed up some coffee and munched on some snacks. Then we loaded the three of us into the 16í canoe and trolled to the Animoosh portage. Markus being the guest, was given the luxury middle seat and he seemed to quite enjoy the ride. The short portage to Animoosh was quickly done and we set off for some serious fishing. It was my turn to paddle and Rob and Markus got to fish. About 400 yards after canoe-launch, Rob said he had a bite and then shortly after more clearly stated " Iíve got a fish". Markus reeled in and manned the camera. Randy took the net and dipped it first to improve its netting ability. The fish surfaced and avoided the first netting but was swiftly caught with the second netting attempt.
The fish appeared to be about 2 lbs and 19" long .. just about as wide as the smirk on Robs face. It grew in size/weight as the tale was retold around the campfires yet to come.
We continued the troll in search of its brothers and sisters but struck-out and decided to lunch on the far-end campsite portage. The stove was lit and we proceeded to make coffee when itís found that we had no pots. That sure put a dampener on the thought and we settled for snacks and water instead. I noticed that the snacks were in paper/foil bags so I thought that it just might still be possible to brew up some hot water. The first attempt worked great producing a cup of coffee for Markus. The second attempt burned a hole in the used bag and doused the stove. But a new snack bag was found and the stove relit to fill Randy and Robís cup with tea.
We finished our coffee and tried the lake for another 90 minutes, but then decided that a baked trout, rice and cream corn meat is waiting. Robs cleaned the fish with Markusís all in one jack-knife. We'd left our fishing knife back at White Partridge, so it really was a good thing Markus was there. Then we headed back to Dickson. Rob was in the lead. Either he was rather excited or just plain hungry because before we knew it he was out of sight and waiting for us when we finally arrived at the portage end.
A troll back to camp once again achieved nothing in the line of eatable fish so we decided to call it a night and to make supper. The fish was wrapped in foil with butter and relish while a fire was built. Water was boiled for the rice and the crŤme corn was heated over the fire in another pot wrapped in foil to make cleanup easier. 15 minutes saw the rice and corn cooked. Then the foil-wrapped fish was cooked right on the coals .. 5 minutes on one side followed by 5 minutes on the other. It all produced a perfect meal.
The dishes were rinsed but the final wash was delayed until morning. Markus produced a Tupperware container of the smoothest tasting rye I have ever tasted. It was mixed with some crystal light he had. We all had full bellies that night and plenty of conversation. Somehow we polished off the last of the rye/crystal light and it was decided that the remaining brandy would likely go stale so it too was consumed. The moon was bright when we called it a night around 1:30 a.m., but it was only a minor contributor to the glow we experienced that night.
We woke around 9 a.m knowing we had to pack and head back to White Partridge. Breakfast was eaten and soon all the tents were struck and the canoes loaded. The wind was at our backs as we bade farewell to the Cisco bay island and started our return trek and the new trek for Markus. Rob and I made it to the end of Little Dickson first and had hot coffee and a snack waiting for Markus when he arrived. The pause would be helpful as well as the caffeine/calories to get him past this portage.
We parted ways at this point, Rob and I hanging back to fish Little Dickson . We spent the next 2 hours fishing Little Dickson and then moved on the Sundassa to do the same but it was obvious the fish gods were not smiling on us any more. We headed over the last portage like beasts of burden wanting to just get it done as quickly as possible.
We arrived at White Partridge around 6:30 pm. and decided that trolling back to the meadows was a must since the lake was a smooth as glass and we were fishless. Arriving at the meadows still fishless, we were greeted by Sheila (Bo Knows had moved backed to facilitate loading the wagons for the next day out cart ride), who announced that supper was hot and waiting. Ken echoed that the Ceasars were getting warm and the beer was cold. We didnít have to be asked twice.
The night went fast. Songs were sung, speeches were made and future trips were planned.
In the morning we said our farewells to Markus, who had to return from whence he came and conquer the Dickon-Bonfield portage once more. The lake was calm as Markus left our camp.
Photo: Markus heading home.
We too had little time to spare as the long trek out awaited us as well. We loaded our wagon and headed home.
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