The Yates Group Trip to Dividing Lake (AccessPoint#14)

The Yates Group - August 5 to 9 2003
Seven in the group this year - 6 Adults and one 13 year old

Day 1 - To Rockaway Lake

Five of us had made the trip from Sarnia to Markham to get the other two. We left Toronto at 5:30 a.m. and headed up Highway 400 to Algonquin Outfitters at their Oxtongue Lake depot to get our rented canoes. At about 8:30 a.m. we had two lightweight Kipawa’s and one three seater tied on to the two vehicles and were ready to head for access point 14.

We headed south to Dorset and got our permit from Tower Marine. Our plan was to stay on Rockaway Lake for the first night, which is outside of the park and requires no permit. Then we were going to Dividing Lake to spend three consecutive nights with a stopover back on Rockaway on the trip back out. The permit was for the three nights on Dividing Lake only. I had forgotten to bring my confirmation form with me and this caused a little stir but we eventually got the papers! WE then headed down the access road to the put in just north of Livingstone Lodge. There was a parking space there that held two vehicles only! We quickly got loaded and on the way.

The first portage was at the south end of Livingstone and a nice cottager pointed it out to us. It is on the right side of the rocky point and is basically a road. We took the gear over the 320m easily and were on our way into Bear Lake. There was no need for us to portage (as marked on the map) into Kimball Lake. We simply paddled through the little river into the next lake. A 3 k paddle or so down Kimball brought us to "The Portage".

It is called the "Golden Staircase" and it definitely lives up to its name. It took the group three hours to get all of our gear over the 2745m trek. We had FRS radios with us for the first time and they really came in handy to keep the whole group posted on the progress of he others. The first two thirds of the portage was dry and fairly flat. Because it is unmaintained, there are a few spots where trees have fallen and blocked the path. The last third is UP UP UP. I had to put the food pack that I was carrying down many times to rest before we made it to Rockaway Lake. Make sure you have plenty of drinkable water with you if you are tackling this monster. We ran low before the end and I was starting to get cramped from the dehydration. The weather was hot and we sweated buckets.

We paddled the length of Rockaway Lake and chose the campsite that was actually ON the portage to Minkey Lake. There was room for our three tents. However, I got a big root to sleep on!. We arrived at 4 p.m. and set up camp. We cooked our hamburgers for dinner and gathered some wood for the campfire.

It was early to bed for all, as the skies were cloudy.

Day 2 - Still at Rockaway

The morning brought the sound of rain on the tent. It was nothing serious, just what looked like an all-day drizzle. We cooked our breakfast of coffee, gruel (instant oatmeal) and bagels, and decided to stay an extra night at the present site rather that move in the rain. Since this was crown land and not a "booked site" we were OK. We were just going to have one less night on Dividing Lake.

We spent the day playing crib under the tarp (lost every game!!!) and fishing. The fishing was very good. We caught some good sized smallmouth that gave all 7 of us a full fillet with some left for a late evening snack. We had so much fish that we postponed the regular night two meal (penne and sausage) to day 3.

There was a break in the clouds later in the day and we had a nice evening although an almost full moon hampered the star watching.

Day 3 - To Dividing Lake

Since we were already on the 965m portage to Minkey Lake, we didn’t need to paddle before we carried. After breakfast we loaded up and headed down the trail. It was much easier than the previous portage but still a lot of up and down. We reached Minkey Lake in about and hour and headed east to the 105m portage to Dividing Lake. On Dividing we chose the North campsite. Really no choice at all! The south site had no swimming and was weedy and just plain yuck.

Photo: Campsite on Dividing Lake .. looking down from the top tent site.

Our tents were on three levels, one down by the fire pit, one halfway up the hill and one at the top on the trail to the "treasure box". It was a great site with a full view of the lake and plenty of seating areas. Be careful on your paddle over to the site, as there is a rocky area in the middle of the lake with one rock just below the surface. I wish I had brought my mask and snorkel because it was also home to a million minnows! ...and also the ducks and loons of the Lake of course!

Photo: There IS a big rock in the middle of Dividing Lake!

We spent the day getting familiar with the site, playing crib and poker, gathering wood and had our dinner of penne and sausage ... thanks to the fish from the night before.

Photo: Dividing Lake site from the water.

Day 4 - Is it possible?

This was supposed to be a day to relax and enjoy the pleasure of staying in one spot. It didn’t work out that way. After breakfast I got out the Chrismar Topo map that I had brought and looked to see if there was another way out to our cars OTHER THAN returning over the portages that we came in on. We decided to send a scouting party of 4 out to see.

We paddled and portaged back to Minkey Lake and went to the west end to see if we could get to Dagger Lake. There was an unmarked portage to Dagger, which we walked without the canoes. It turns out that this is a snowmobile trail and it goes right to the tall pines that the area is so famous for!!! We saw at least three examples of the huge pines and took several pictures.

Photo at right: One of the tall pines between Minkey and Dagger Lakes.

We first walked the north side of Dagger to see if there was a put in for our canoes, which there was. We now know that we could get as far as the west end of Dagger Lake easily. But, what would we do then? I looked at my topo again and realized that there was a logging road (snowmobile trail) that came to the south side of Dagger Lake and appeared to extend all the way back to Livingstone Lake, where our cars were right now! We decided to walk down the road about 5k to the west end of Dagger to assess the situation. After a strenuous and bug infested walk we discovered that there was a take-out at that end of the lake that led up to the road. We had found our way out!

Now what was left was a decision of when to go get the cars. It was an 8.5 k walk from where we were to Livingstone Lake. We decided that two of us (not me!) would go right then and bring the cars back to this point to be parked until tomorrow. The other two would go back to camp and report to the others.

My partner and I walked back the 5k to our canoes and paddled to camp arriving at about 12:30 p.m. They were all glad to know that we had found a different way out. We swam right away and then ate lunch. At about 3:30 p.m. the other two came on the FRS radio to report they were back at their canoes and the operation was successful. When they got back to camp we realized that they had been into Dorset for lunch and a beer, but that they had brought back a chicken for dinner and a dozen eggs and bacon for breakfast tomorrow! We had chicken, noodles 'n sauce, and mashed-potatoes and gravy for dinner. I think it was the best interior dinner I have ever had!

Day 5 - Hollow River - Out and Home

We decided to take our time in the morning since we had an easy way out. We had gruel for breakfast and saved the bacon and eggs for lunch. We took a morning hike down the southern portage to The Hollow River without the canoes. It was a pleasant but uneventful walk. The river is very swampy but also beautiful in its own way. The bacon and eggs tasted great of course!

After lunch we packed up camp and hit the road at about 2 p.m. The trip out was as expected, quite easy. The 105m to Minkey Lake, an estimated 450m to Dagger Lake and a 150m take out portage to the logging road and our cars. We took the canoes back to Algonquin Outfitters and another Algonquin Adventure was over.

If you want more detailed information contact Tom Yates at ... Tom.Yates@freedom55financial.com