Checkout time is 2:00 pm and please pack-out your beer cans........
OK......we'll get to the opening line, but lets start at the beginning. My husband and I had just returned on Thursday from a wonderful vacation in Morocco and Spain with friends. I wasn't due to go back to work until the coming Wendsday so I had some time to kill. The powers that be made it official that Algonquin Park would be opening on Fri May 11 ( I know, because I was in Casablanca checking ice-out conditions ). From our hotel room I booked three days for a solo trip which I hoped would include a trout. After flying home, that would give me Friday to pack-up, so I could head out early Saturday the 12th.
I didn't get out the door until 7:00 am Saturday ( not bad considering the jet lag ) but made great time as there was little traffic. I picked up my permit at the West Gate office and headed to the parking lot off of Hwy #60 that led to the 1885m portage into Pinetree Lk. I made sure to ask how many others were booked on the lake. I was told only one other party. With only 3 sites on the lake at least I knew I would have some choice. As I pulled into the parking lot at Km 50, I was shocked to see 9 other cars in the lot. Something seemed wrong. If there was only one other party booked, why so many cars. Hmmmmmm.
Happy to be on the water again
I unpacked and made my way down the familiar portage. The sun was out but the air still cool in the early day. I brought the canoe down first which was easy going. Second trip, was my pack, which is always the heavier load but still kept to a minimum of necessary items. Once back at the put in, I can tell you it was a wonderful feeling to get into my canoe and back on the waters of Algonquin Park. The water was flat with a slight ripple from a faint breeze blowing from the West as I passed quietly through the channel making my way to the lake proper. As I entered the open waters of the north end of Pinetree, I noticed that the first site was occupied. I decided to paddle over as the inhabitants were busy casting their lines into the water, and its always nice to find out how active the fish are. There were several men, mostly very young and the one older man told me that they had not had much luck. I made my farewell as they did not seem very interested in chatting. I was hopeful that the site on the point would be available. As I came out into the south end portion of the lake, I could see my coveted site was occupied, so I turned toward the last remaining site only to find when I got there that it, also, was taken. Hmmmmmmm. This was a fist! Someone was here that shouldn't be! I stopped to talk to the man who sat reading his newspaper from the comfort of his chair and asked him how long he was out for. He and his dog, Charlie, were out until the 17th. I told him I was looking for a site and all were taken although I was told that there should only have been two parties on the lake which I expected would be me and this fellow with his dog. I left him to his paper and headed across to the site on the point to where a group of 8 or 9 guys sat out on the rocks at the water as I pulled up. Ok, I admit I was ready for an argument. Somebody didn't belong here and I knew I had paid for my ticket!!! I asked them if they had booked their site as I was told there were only two sites booked and yet all of them were occupied. They told me they had got their pass the day before and were leaving the next day, but the guys on the first site they suspected had no permit. Now I'm not happy. Back I went to the first site. As I approached the site I saw the older man bringing gear down to the canoe with one of the young guys. Two guys sat on the rocks continuing to fish. No one looked at me. As I pulled up I asked them when they would be off the site. It was now 2:30pm."We'll be packed up in an hour, an hour and a half tops", the older guy says. I told him I would be back in an hour. I pulled up on the rocks in the small bay where I could watch their progress. I made use of my time by gathering and processing some firewood, the whole time watching ( OK maybe glaring lol ) at the one guy who continued to fish while everyone else packed up. I have to say I think a little steam was coming out the top of my head as I sat there, in the direct sun, hot, thirsty, hungry and ya, angry. Finally at 3:45 the older fellow took off in the canoe with two of the guys and the other 5 came bush wacking all around bay. The were wakling out! They passed me as I sat on the rocks. Sleeping bags in hand, shorts and tank tops, walking through the bush all the way out........interesting! Non of them made a passing remark as they pushed passed me. I quickly canoed over and set up camp. The site was up high on the rocks and had a lovely view of the water but could be windy which may or may not be desirable. I spent a quite evening reading and enjoying the quiet that was all around me. Dinner was a pot of "Sidekicks" fettuccini alfredo. I tried a little fishing as the evening cooled and the sun disappeared from view but the fish had all gone to bed and so I decided I would too. As I closed camp for the night, I looked out over the water, only to see a trout snap a fly from the surface. I will see you tomorrow my friend!
I am NOT happy......waiting for my site to be free.
At least I spent productive time collecting wood.
You cant see my hammock but its there!
I love my hammock set-up and I continue to perfect my "hang".
I have found it far more comfortable than sleeping in a tent
Do you love the colour?
I was up at 7:00am. I had gone to sleep in a tank top and the temperature had drop through the night and I was cold. I put my down jacket and hat on and went down to the water to try a little fishing again. I must explain, that fishing to me means dropping a line a dozen times and calling it a day lol. I don't spend hours at it. I just drop a line here and there through the day in hopes of getting lucky. I cast into the spot that my friend had splashed in the night before. This however was not to be a lucky morning and I quickly packed up my rod and headed back up to camp where I built a warm fire. I made a bowl of oatmeal and campfire coffee. There is NOTHING better than campfire coffee when it is done right. I spent the morning updating the tie-outs on my tarp with a new setup I wanted to try and then spent the morning reading and puttering around camp. The gentleman with his dog came canoeing by and he stopped to ask about the existence of a portage into Leaf Lk which is behind the campsite. I told him I had hiked into Leaf Lk before and was planning on doing it again but I have never seen an actual portage. The only access is to bushwack. He told me he was heading back down the portage to his car to get meat from his cooler. Wow! That is a lot of work to get a meal. I bid farewell to John and his golden retriever, Charlie. Not long after, I took the walk into Leaf Lake. It is a small lake that is said to have brook trout which is why many people look for access to it. The only way is through the bush and getting a canoe in there is all but impossible. That's OK. Save the brook trout.........there aren't many of them. It was hot and sunny by this point of the day and since the canopy of the forest had not yet opened up, there was no shade to cool my passage. I followed the brook that ran out of Leaf Lk into Pinetree. The brook danced and sang as I made my way through the sunlit woods. It was only about a 15 minute hike to Leaf Lk.
A very rocky brook that babbles
all the way into Pinetree
Looking down Leaf Lk
Much of the north/east end of the lake had drained away as there was a large break in dam that held the lake back. I walked the south/east shore,
getting about half way down the lake before rock cliffs put a stop to further exploration. I looked down to see beer cans on the ground....new beer cans that were suspiciously the same brand as a dozen I fished out of my fire pit the night before that the previous guests had left for me. Thanks again guys! I packed them out.
I don't know about you, but every where I go I can't help but
look at dead wood and think "boy, would that make great
firewood......to far to drag it though lol
Why, oh why?
I headed back to camp and spent the rest of the day reading and kicking back. For dinner I made a pot of saffron rice with egg and mushrooms and then tried my hand with the rod again. It was about 8:15 and the sun would set soon so I threw down the line, casting in the direction where I had last seen my finned friend the night before. I made a half dozen casts and as I reeled in I experienced that magic moment when you feel the line tighten and the inevitable splash and lurch of a fish. The unfortunate victim had taken the lure only 4-5 ft from shore at the top of the water ( I love spring fishing ) so it was quick work to land him. It was not a large trout, measuring 16 inches but I dispatched him quickly with a single blow to the soft spot on top of his head. He gave a gentle shudder and gave up his life. This fish would be a gift for my father.
Complete your survey
- postage paid!
Keeping the fish cold required harvesting some ice - score!
The trick now was how to keep him cold???
I quickly gutted him and then bagged him, sinking him in the cold water, under the weight of a rock. I can tell you, I was worried all night that something would steal it away but it was there the next morning when I got up again at 7:00 am and checked on it. He was a male 16" long. I made sure to fill out the Algonquin Park Angling Survey as the information is valuable in assessing the health of fish populations and I encourage everyone to complete one when fishing.
The view from my campsite
Night one, I dug out a dozen beer cans
from the fire pit. They were hidden in
amongst the fire pit stones and under
ash. Why is it easy to carry full cans in,
and so difficult to carry empty cans out?
My final day was spent doing a little paddling and stopping by fellow camper John's site where Charlie greeted me with a friendly wag of his tail. I gave John what info I could on Leaf Lk as he wanted to visit it. John, I discovered, was an experienced camper with over a 120 trips noted in his log book. Wow! I want to be THAT guy! I hope to see you again sometime, John and Charlie. I made my way back to my site, stopping to chip off some ice from the only spot I had seen any. This would keep the fish cold on the portage out. Back at camp I quickly packed up and pushed off at 2:30. It was a lovely paddle back to the portage.
I was surprised to see two park maintenance workers busy with chainsaws, cutting logs up at the put-in. I forgave them the noise they were making, as I knew this was a necessary evil, as floating logs had a tendency to pileing up at this particular portage. We chatted a bit before I was off down the trail, pack strapped firmly to my back. It was sunny and hot!!! The trees offered little shelter. As I made my way back for the second load, I met up with John and Charlie heading back to the car for more fresh meat from the cooler. That is some serious dedication to having meat in your diet when camping! By my second trip with my canoe (and the fish which was packed on ice ), I was exhaust. This was the hardest hike out I have ever made. The direct sun was a killer.
HOT, HOT, HOT!
The trilliums had bloomed along the portage since my first day out
I have longed to bring a trout home to my Dad, and I drove directly to my parents house to deliver it before heading home. My Dad doesn't get out to fish now and he was very happy to make a dinner that night of Algonquin lake trout. I am chosen to be conservative in my approach to angling and prefer limiting what I harvest and mostly catch and release but this fish was special......it was a gift, in every sense of the word.
Time to plan my next trip.
Hope to see you out there.