Visit to Greenleaf Lake 2007 - William Cuff

I've been to Algonquin Park many times now and have read many trip logs. At last I had the chance to write one of my own. So here it is.. hope you enjoy.

Day 1 - Grand Lake, Lower & Upper Spectacle, Little Carcajou, and Wenda

I like to get an early start on my trips so I can enjoy a nice breakfast, get on the lake before the winds pick up and have enough time to setup camp and relax on the first night.

Chipmunks are always welcome guests

My first little adventure was to hike the Barron Canyon trail .. a great way to start the trip and get a good little hike in. I arrived at the Achray campground at around 10:00 am. I started into Grand Lake with the wind at my back and made the run to the falls. There are two little portages there that lead to Lower Spectacle Lake .. one 100m and one 220m. My map may be an older version but it didnít show this correctly.

A couple of trippers gave me a very good tip here. When you put in at Lower Spectacle, you must make a hard right rather than continue straight. I would have gone straight for sure as itís a bit deceiving. Thanks for that tip guys! I purified some water here into a clear 1.5 litre water bottle. I'd had to buy it, because I'd forgot mine in the freezer at home. The water had a strong yellow tinge to it. Oh well! The 1270m portage felt a lot more like 3,000m. And, the last 600m is quite tricky. Luckily, there was another tripper who advised me to take a break before doing that part, which I did. Thanks again!

All of the lakes had quite low water levels and were a bit of a chore to navigate at times, due to mud and lily pads etc. When I got to Wenda Lake, there were two campers at the cabin. They were the last campers I would see for the rest of my trip! I was quite tired, so I ate and fell asleep.

Day 2 - Carcajou Creek, Carcajou Lake, Greenleaf

Carcajou Creek

There were lots of beaver dams and lodges, but surprisingly no turtles. All the little portages seemed to tire me out quickly. Carcajou Lake was nice, but I wasnít on it for very long. I was anxious to get to Greenleaf Lake.

I was thinking that the hydro line would be a drag because it's not a natural setting with big metal towers and all. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. This hike was very refreshing and fun. Itís a huge swath cut in the hills with every kind of bush, weed and meadow flower imaginable. There were lots of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries .. which was a nice treat. Itís a double trail like an access road. It's great for portaging .. nice and breezy too.

Greenleaf Lake .. like a sea of glass

I finally arrived on (Legolas) Greenleaf Lake .. Lord of The Rings fans will understand ;) . While enjoying the view, my canoe drifted away from the put-in. So, I was welcomed with a refreshing swim, twice :) . The water was amazingly clean and clear. I could see at least 20 feet down. Seeing down that far into the water kinda gives you that creepy feeling .. all the old logs and boulders .. cool. I filled my clear water bottle and it was as if I had just bought it from the store .. crystal clear. There were a couple of hawks flying around, some loons and ducks. At the other end of the lake I could see high cliffs.

Cliffs on Greenleaf Lake

The weather was hot, with not a drop of rain for the entire trip. After surveying all 3 campsites, I selected the second one. It had an excellent view of the entire lake, a good spot for jumping off the rocks into the lake and a great fire pit. It was sausage and k.d. for supper. A little water in the sausage pan keeps them from burning .. and whiskey and crystal light afterwards.

Rock formation at my campsite on Greenleaf Lake.
A great spot for jumping off the rock for a swim.

I had specifically chosen a weekend when the moon was low, so I could get a good night of stargazing in. I was treated to a perfectly clear night. I spent about 2 hours gazing. I used my monocular as well, which enabled me to see even more stars. The Milky Way was clearly visible (something you donít get to see living in the city) but even with my monocular it still appeared as a cloudy mist. I lay in my tent for another couple hours listening to all the strange sounds in the night. Small animals can make big noises.

Huge water spider by my campsite

Day 3 - Exploring Greenleaf

I spent most of this day exploring the cliffs and rock formations on the lake. After some napping and eating, I decided to jump off the rock at my campsite. I could see that there was no danger of landing on rocks because the water was so clear. However, it still took me a few minutes to conquer my fear of the lake monster lurking underneath the drop-off. I guess I have a vivid imagination .. hehe!

The loons started to get comfortable with my presence on their lake.

I had gotten a bit lazy and filled my water bottle right from the lake and drank it. Later on, (I'm not sure if it was the lake water or what) my stomach began to feel a bit queasy. I was worried I had a bit of "beaver fever" (Giardia lamblia) but it soon went away. Later that night I felt light headed and the queasy feeling came back, and I was very hot. Now I was really worried. Oh no.. now I'd be stranded here for God knows how long .. vomiting and feeling terrible. However, as luck would have it, I was fine. I think I just had a bit of sun stroke or something. Thanks God!

Northern Water Snake at my campsite. I love reptiles.

Day 4 - Back To Grand Lake

I did the Dickson Lake portage a couple years ago. Now I was headed for - and quietly dreading - another huge one. "Why do I do this to myself?" went through my head a few times. I knew that this one was a bit longer, but I loved the hydro line trail with the open meadow and smooth paths. I didnít see any large animals but I did see many spots where something large had laid-down for a rest. I had to stay alert to the possibility of a surprise meeting. This happened to me before on the Crow River, but thatís another story.

Well, Iíd estimated that there was a lot of increase in elevation. Approximately 2 kilometers of the portage is on an incline of about 15 degrees. That may not sound like much on paper. But let me tell you .. you'd better be in damn good shape. It takes an incredible amount of physical exertion to lug a canoe and all your gear up a hill like that. My shirt was absolutely soaked. I took about 10 breaks on the trail. Most of the time I was doing a single-trip carry (16í Kevlar canoe + pack). I didnít bring a watch (never do) but I think it took me just over two hours to complete. I was very relieved to finish that one.

This picture didnít turn out as well as I had hoped but still a cool little guy that was tricky to catch.

Now I know why they call it Grand Lake. It's huge. But, lucky me! I had the wind at my back again! Wahoo! As I paddled along the lake, the wind slowly picked up more and more powerful gusts. "This is great." I thought. Then as I passed the halfway point, the waves started cresting well over 2 feet high! I got a little worried at this point so I tried to stay close to the shoreline. Then things started getting really nasty. I had to get into the kneeling position to keep my center of gravity low. I was getting thrown into the rocks pretty hard. I contemplated staying at a campsite till things died down. But, I was very close to the end at that point and I decided to go for it. I passed one more rocky point and made a b-line for the shore. That was dangerous - and fun! I was packed up and in my truck at 2:10 pm .. heading for home.

So ends my adventure to Greenleaf Lake. Until next year, Algonquin!

If anyone has any questions, comments or tips they would like to share, you can email me - . (I'lI try to post on the forum under the heading Greenleaf as well.)

Me at the end of the trip.