This year my wife and I decided to take our two boys, now aged 5 & 3, on another extended interior trip. Last years trip into Lavieille via the Dickson cart trail was a great experience. We wanted to do something different and we've always wanted to visit Hogan so we dialed the park reservation system digits and made our reservation. First night on Big Crow, the next 5 on Hogan, and then Big Crow again on the way out.
Jimmy from Opeongo Outfitters was again our Taxi driver and quickly got us to the Proulx Lake portage safe and sound. Once over the pond, we were on our way down the trail. About half way, we encountered a porcupine. Startled as we were, he began coming toward us - quills high in the air. We backed up, giving it lots of room. Of course, it never occurred to us to pull out the camera! After we all got a really good look, I started toward it clapping my hands and it sauntered off into the bush.
The paddle down Proulx and into Big Crow Lake was pleasant. The pickerel weed was in bloom and we saw a beaver enter its lodge. We arrived at our campsite around noon, allowing the boys to play on the beach while we liesurely setup camp. After a long afternoon nap, everyone pitched in to make dinner .. panfried steak with fresh snap peas from our garden. We retired early in anticipation of the hard trail into Hogan Lake the next day.
The morning was calm and the night chill brought a lovely mist over Big Crow Lake. After a quick breakfast, we packed up our stuff and made for the portage across the bay. We carried the first 200m to get past the boulders and then set up our cart. The trail going into hogan is gradually uphill. We followed the first 1400m of the portage and then split off onto the cart trail. The going was pretty good and we stopped frequently for breaks. About 1/2 way the trail picks up on an old logging road lined on either side with raspberry bushes. It didn't take much convincing to get the boys out of the cart! It was a very welcome distraction during an otherwise semi-gruelling experience. Of course, we kept an eye out for bruins not letting the boys get too far.
We were tired and worn out when the trail grade took a turn for the better and started heading downhill. We sensed we were near the end and then we saw the flash of blue between the trees. The breeze had also picked up and we knew were were home. We ran down the hill with everone letting out a loud "yippee!!" 3.5 hours end to end - not bad. The dark blue waters of Hogan Lake beckoned as we quickly disposed of the cart and made our way out into the channel.
With a very helpful tailwind, we were at Parks Bay in about an hour. Carey quickly eyed the prime real estate, a lovely site with a beach for the children and a beautiful view of the lake. We swam, relaxed, and snoozed the afternoon away. That night we sat around the fire roasting marshmallows, looking out onto the lake imagining where we fish the next day.
We were out fishing the next day by around 9:30, not exactly the prime bite. No matter, Carey had the luck and brought in a couple of real beauties - a 23" laker and a 17" speck. Both were enjoyed for brunch cooked over the fire. It was a very enjoyable meal.
We fished when we could and the bite was fairly consistent all week. In total we caught 14 trout, 11 lakers and 3 specks. We kept five for meals plus the one we gave to Markus and Dogbyte (see note below). The rest were released, including a couple of real monsters. Here are a few pictures for the angler in all of us. The really big laker I'm holding was 30" and weighed 12 pounds. It was caught again 2 days later by a pair of research biologists also staying on the lake. They had set their net not far from where we released the fish. It was missing half its tail which allowed them to make a positive ID. We ran into them at the access point when we came out which is how we know. they opened up another large laker that had 12" cisco's in its stomach. Neat eh?
Note: we ran into Markus and Dogbyte (and girfriend - sorry can't remember her name) while out fishing one night. Both are class-A fellows and it was a real pleasure chatting. Fair winds and tight lines to you both.
Here are a few more images of the general scenery in the area ...
We had some really spectacular sunsets. There was also a firepit on a rocky point not far from our campsite. On our last night, we roasted the last of the marshmallows over a cheery fire and watched the colours light up the sky ...
The trip going out was much easier. We had eaten most of our food and the barrel was considerable lighter. The trail is decidedly uphill coming out of Hogan but then starts heading down at the first intersection with the portage. 2.5 hours going out - again, not bad. My sons put a water lilly on my canoe seat. It was a very thoughtful gesture so I decided to capture it in a photo ...
Our last night on Big Crow was rather non-descript. Went out fishing and couldn't buy a strike. I have caught fish in Big Crow before, but never in good numbers and always after many rod hours. The next day we climbed the fire tower trail. Raspberries galor and an A+ view made for a terrific end to our adventure ...