Hogan Lake Loop out of Brent
1978 May 19-23
A description with photos of a four night canoe trip out of Brent on Cedar Lake in Algonquin Park, passing through Catfish Lake, Hogan Lake, Lake la Muir and Burntroot Lake, and returning via the Petawawa River.
Most of the text below is from Bob and Diana's trip notes with copy editing only (i.e. turning point form into sentences), while the figure captions and other italicized copy are current commentary. Some of the trip notes were hard to transcribe, since the notebook is now spotted with mildew.
Three lasting memories of this trip include the very high spring runoff of the Petawawa River, the embarrassment of having to camp on a closed campsite on Hogan Lake (and the ensuing disdain of the fishermen in their motorboats), and the pleasure of finding the alligator on Catfish Lake.
1978 May 19
We started at Brent at 10:30 AM after leaving Deep River at 7:30 AM. The road in from the highway was worse than usual. We arrived at the other side of Cedar lake at about 11:00 and were through the portage in about 20 minutes. We finished lunch at the top of the falls at about 12:00. We were passed by six people from Deep River (Two canoes and one solo kayak).
The long portage [around Stacks Rapids on the Petawawa River] has changed. Now it is in two sections, crossing the Petawawa River just below the bridge. [Previously the portage was about 500m longer and came out at the eastern end of Narrowbag Lake; it did not cross the Petawawa River.] As we didn't know about the continuation [of the portage across the river], we took out below the bridge and then walked west along the logging road [looking for a trail to Narrowbag Lake] until intersecting the [new and unknown to us] portage. We launched into Narrowbag Lake at about 3:30. We arrived at the camp site [on the point about half way along Narrowbag Lake] at about 4:00. Supper (sweet and sour chicken — good) was at about 7:00. We were into the tent for the night at 9:00.
The day has been hot and strenuous; the temperature at 5:00 was 78F under clear skies. It has subsequently clouded over lightly and is still quite warm. The bugs are out but not too bad. We went for quick (!) swim after arriving here — cold but refreshing. We saw a fox during our after-dinner stroll.
1978 May 20
The wind kept blowing during the night; it is still blowing gently, but persistently, out of the west. We were up and out of the tent at 6:30. The temperature on the floor of the tent was 58F; outside the temperature was 60F. There were high thin clouds. We were on the water at 8:45. We lined up from the end of the portage into Catfish owing to the current at the takeout. [That is, the current was too strong at the top of the portage to allow a normal launch. We had to line farther up the shore — no trail — in order to safely launch] Lots of current at bottom [north end]of Catfish Lake, also head wind all the way up. At narrows 10:00, water surface temperature was 54F. Into Sunfish Lake — many dead trees.
Portage [Sunfish Lake to Newt Lake]: from about 11:45 to 12:45; 1300 paces, hard climb. We had lunch at the pothole [Newt Lake] until 1:15. Portage to Manta Lake: 1100 paces, up and down. Manta Lake to Hogan Lake: 2500 paces, much along old logging roads. A thunderstorm hit as we got to the end at about 3:30. We waited until the thunder and lighting passed and the rain let up a bit. We paddled up Hogan Lake [southwest] in decreasing rain and increasing haze. We rejected a campsite on a small island (flat, wet and sleazy) and went to investigate the cluster of islands to the south. These sites were all occupied by fishermen with outboard motors, so we camped — guiltily [but we were too tired to continue on] — at a closed site with our tent back in trees and cooking on the stove [no fire]. We arrived about 6:10. Chicken curry for supper — neither of us could finish it. (I finished mine — hah! Bob) We were into the tent for the night at 9:00, forgetting to brush our teeth (we are both just beat). The rain had stopped before we got here and just started again after we got into the tent. The wind has been generally SW; the temperature about 64F; the air very humid.
1978 May 21
It was a terrible night — very strong winds. [The guilt of camping on a closed campsite didn't help.] We didn't get up until 8:00 as we figured we'd be windbound. The wind had shifted during night and was now strongly out of the west. The lake didn't look that bad — maybe we wouldn't be windbound after all. After rearranging our wind break, we eventually cooked breakfast in the tent. We got away a little after 10:00. It was a short hard fight against the wind to gain the Little Madawaska River. Here, sheltered from the wind, the weather was beautiful.
We proceeded uneventfully along the sheltered north shore of Lake la Muir. We had lunch at the beginning of the exit portage from Lake la Muir at 1:30 [portage to Red Pine Bay].
We proceeded on — battling the wind from point to point — and arrived at our little island campsite in Burntroot Lake at 4:30. At 6:00 the air temp was 58F and the water temp 55F. We had beef gravy with cheese and noodles for supper. It was good but slow [to cook]. Five canoes passed at 7:30 heading down the lake. We were into the tent for the night at about 9:00. The weather is suspicious in that the wind had completely died and has now risen again. There are clouds on the western horizon.
1978 May 22
We were up at 6:30 — sky clear, water calm but no dew. [No morning dew is usually a sign of rain to come; it is more definitive in the summer; it doesn't work worth a damn in the winter.] The temperature on the floor of the tent was 48F; the outside air temperature was 53F at 8:00 AM. We were on the water at 8:45. Progress [down Perley Lake and then the Petawawa River] with the current was fast. We had a late lunch at the bottom of Catfish Lake. We stopped for the day at about 2:45 on an island near the top [north end] of Catfish Lake — the site of the long lost alligator! [This island is no longer available for camping. The alligator on Catfish Lake had been indicated on the Park map since 1974 — but incorrectly! We had searched for it previously but never found it.]
The paddle from Burntroot Lake was pleasant. We saw a moose swimming at bottom of Catfish Lake and got some photos when he emerged on land [none any good]. We ran the small swift section of the Petawawa River with the 40 yd portage around it. Diana found a good hardwood (Avery, we believe) paddle at the end of a portage. We had Mexican rice with beef gloop for supper — quite good. The weather is still holding. The temperature at supper was 65F. The skies are still clear and the local heating winds have died down. (We saw an osprey this morning on Burntroot Lake.) We were into the tent for the night at about 9:15 after spending quite a while sitting on the rocks out front — just listening and watching.
1978 May 23
We had a good night's sleep (nice needle mattress) though the loons were noisy and the full moon was very bright and all the birds were singing early. We were up at about 6:45 — it was calm, clear, with dew but no mist, and pleasantly cool. We were on the water at about 9:00; it promises to be a hot day.
We stopped to take pictures at the portage at the outlet of Catfish Lake and were overtaken by four fishermen going home.
We had a speedy paddle down Narrowbag Lake (campsite unoccupied), and were through the short portage to below the bridge just as fishermen arrived at the start. We executed an upstream ferry across the current to reach the start of the long portage. The portage took from 10:30 to 11:45, warm and sunny, and a few bugs but no big problem. We were overtaken by the fishermen part way down but they couldn't manage it all in one trip so [in the end] they took longer. [Our load was in three lumps — two packs and the canoe — which we leapfrogged across. If done correctly, each of us walks twice the length of the portage, but we don't need to pause to rest because you rest on the return leg.]
We relaunched and took a break and some photos in the eddy on the left below the rapids. We continued down, stopping for lunch about noon on a small island above the 200 yd portage [around the old timber slide]. It has been camped on but not much. We were away at around 12:40 (the fishermen passed us while we were eating) and then through the portage. Diana had doubts about the complicated eddy below the falls, so we carried beyond that point to where the launch was just a straight run down a chute. [That is, we did the complete modern portage.]
At the last portage we stopped and spent some time visiting and photographing the falls. The day was very hot (especially out in the sun).
It was an easy paddle over to Brent — light breezes and minimal waves. We talked to some Americans on the beach at Brent who were just about to leave for Canoe Lake (they had two Kelty [packs] and a Pinetree Abitibi [a very expensive canoe of the day]). We packed up and started the drive home at about 3:20 and arrived back in Deep River at about 6:00. The temperature was 27C (80F).
We were not consistent in our use of "top" and "bottom". When applied to a lake, "top" sometimes meant north, at other times it meant upstream.
We cannot currently identify the small island campsite — "flat, wet and sleazy" — that we rejected on Hogan Lake.
The closed campsite we eventually stayed at on Hogan Lake is no longer recognized as a campsite. Our "little island campsite" on Burntroot Lake is no longer a recognized campsite. The alligator island on Catfish Lake is no longer a recognized campsite. Thus of the four campsites on this trip, only the campsite on Narrowbag Lake is still an official campsite.
The map in the photo at the top of the page is a 1979 Canoe Routes Map. It correctly shows the rerouted Stacks Rapid portage and our small island campsite on Burntroot Lake. It doesn't show the closed campsite on Hogan Lake and still has the incorrect location of the alligator on Catfish Lake.