Friday August 1st
We drove from Sarnia Ontario, leaving at about noon and arriving at Algonquin Portage at about 9 p.m... We had booked accommodations with Algonquin Portage previously ($27 per person) as well as breakfast the next morning ($8.00). The rooms were waiting for us as advertised, and we had a game of cards on the front porch before we turned in. The rooms were great and well looked after. There are plenty of showers also!
Saturday August 2nd
We woke up to rain pouring down on us and waited till our breakfast was prepared. They open at 8 a.m... After breakfast we got our canoes and loaded them onto our two vehicles. We also met Markus and Joan in the store!
We had arranged for Algonquin Portage to transfer our vehicles during the week back to McManus for us. The road to Travers is well looked after and we made good time getting to the put in. By the time we headed out into the lake the rain had stopped and the weather was quit nice.
Our goal was to get as far up the lake as we could so that the next day we would be close to Big Thompson rapids. We scouted sites along the way had 8 people in the group so we needed a good amount of flat space if possible. We used FRS radios to talk to each other about the sites and hop scotched along the shore. We arrived at our final destination, the last site on the lake, and set up camp at about 1 p.m. or so. We had a dinner of hamburgers and played a little poker and looked forward to the journey ahead.
Lake Traverse campsite.
Sunday August 3rd
We had breakfast and broke camp by 9 a.m. and headed out to Big Thompson Rapids. The water level was high because of all the rain this year so we were going to portage both Thompson's HOWEVER two of our members decided to give it a shot rather than carry. They had portaged the gear already so they were just going in the empty canoe.
The results were less than spectacular as they dumped no less than 10 feet into the rapid and ended up on the far shore. They got in and proceeded to dump again and float down to the rest of us. A humbling experience for sure!
We continued on the portage around little Thompson too and headed on to the first rapids we would all run, Grillade. There were some big waves and high bouncing canoes but we all made it through with full canoes. Great fun!
Our destination for the camp was Crooked Chute. There were a few choices of campsites but we want the one at the final takeout if possible.
We had decided to canoe past the first takeout and get out at the second. There is a campsite at the second takeout but it is less than desirable. It looks like it is there for emergency use for late arrivals. We portaged our gear down to the last takeout and saw that our desired camp was available! And what a winner it is. It had plenty of flat tents sites and was right on the raging river. A top notch site in anyone's book!
We were happy that it was so ideal because we were going to stay an extra day here. We spent the rest of the day getting settled, exploring, and fishing. There was some bass caught so we had enough for one filet each for dinner to go along with our penne.
Monday August 4th
It was a pleasure to not have to get up and pack for the road. We just had a leisurely breakfast and planned a day of exploration and relaxing.
The campsite is right on the portage and we had a couple of groups go through. There is also a shortcut right through the middle of our camp to get to the put in below the chute. We had a group from Wales take that very route.
We walked down the shortcut to the chute itself and watched in awe as the water squeezes through the narrow opening, thanking ourselves that we were not in a canoe going that way!
We also portaged the canoes to the put in area (they had to be there tomorrow anyway!) and explored the Lake are below the chute. There is a beach and a ranger cabin. We swam and explored and I got bit by horse flies (an annual tradition).
Back at camp there was cards (another tradition) and resting in the hammock and afternoon naps and just plain enjoyment. We had fish with our dinner again but just a teasing snack amount! Dinner was noodles n sauce with Italian smokies sausage.
The weather was great here and we even had a change to see some shooting stars. WE did discover that the rock at the campsite has a population of mice living in it. We made the discovery when one of the guys had a mouse crawl OVER HIS FACE while he was lying on the rock LOL!
They were there but they didn't really bother us. I recommend this site to anyone going this way!
Cooking the noodles at Crooked Chute.
Tuesday August 5th
We broke camp again at about 9 a.m. and headed out to Rollway rapids. We were definitely portaging here as we are greenhorns at this whitewater stuff. The portage is not too tough and we did it in two stages with the gear going first and the canoes coming on the second trip. We stopped at the Blair Fraser memorial. The cross has been broken off. I can only hope that is was a tree that did it rather than a person. Right below where the memorial is supposed to be there is a broken canoe in the water to remind us that portaging is not so bad.
Next was the Notch Rapids. We decided to carry the gear over first and decide whether to run or not on the way. This portage is horrible! The Petawawa white water guide says that "you have to be a mountain goat to do this portage" and they were not kidding. I think even they would avoid this portage!
The Natch - Portage.
We decided to run the rapids with empty canoes because no one wanted to carry an 85 pound canoe over that portage! One canoe did get carried however because they did not want to run. Everyone made the run safely except me and my brother in-law Ted. We dumped and proceeded to swim over the falls and float down the river waiting for rescue. All we could think of was that it was still better than carrying that darn canoe over that portage!
After the Natch we had quite a long paddle to get to our desired camp near Schooner rapids, but boy was it a beautiful paddle! The cliffs are fantastic!
The Cliffs at the Natch.
Our goal was to stop before Schooner and camp for the night but none of the spots were good so we pressed on into Schooner. Again we did them with full canoes and had lots of fun in big waves and high water. About half way through Schooner there is a little lake (right before the hydro lines) and we still had not found a suitable campsite.
On Jeffrey's digital map, (which I had with me) there is a site here that is marked on a road. The same site is not marked on the Canoe routes map. We found the site but there was no orange sign. I don't know if we were breaking any rules but it was getting late and it looked like bad weather was coming so we made camp. What a strange camp it was. It was on a road, just down from a Hydro-One bridge, and the grass (weeds) was high! There WAS a thunderbox in good condition AND a picnic table. If anyone knows the story of this site, let me know.
It started to thunderstorm at about 7:30 p.m. and rain shortly after. We headed to the tents for a long (if restless) night of sleep.
Wednesday August 6th
The rain stopped just as we got up in the morning (About 6 a.m.) and there was least 2 inches of water in the cups left on the table! We got breakfast and got out of there. Our goal for the day was to complete the rapids (the rest of Schooner and Five Mile Rapids) and then look for a campsite on the lakes.
We had great fun running the rest of the rapids with a few rocks hit but nothing major and everyone right side up. Once we got past all the rapids we started looking for a place to spend our last night. Site after site was either too small (not enough tent spaces) or too weedy and buggy (as river sites tend to be). However as we came through the last swift and into McManus Lake we saw the holy grail of campsites! It's not on Jeffrey's map OR my version of the canoe routes map but it was clearly marked with the orange sign.
It had a great flat area on top of a nice hill over looking the lake. I am not exaggerating when I say that at least 10 tents could be set up on this site! And it was beautiful too.
The Hydro-One site.
We enjoyed our last day in paradise with a great evening of poker, Kraft dinner, and a wee bit of scotch. We were only 3 k from the take out so the next day was going to be easy (except for the 9 hour car ride!!)
Thursday August 7th
Up at 6, off the site by 8 and the takeout before 11. Picked up the cars, took the canoes back and rolled on back to Sarnia! Another successful Algonquin Adventure!
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