Achray to Carcajou Lake via the Spectacle Lakes and Returning via Carcajou Creek
Some notes (no photos) from a one night canoe trip in Algonquin Park from Achray to Carcajou Lake via the Spectacle Lakes and then returning the next day to Achray via Carcajou Creek. These notes provide some limited additional information about the now abandoned canoe route down Carcajou Creek from Little Carcajou Lake, see Exploring Carcajou Creek.
1978 June 10
Left Deep River 8:00 am (4°C, foggy), arrived Achray 9:30, clear skies. On water about 9:45, crossed Grand Lake, up Carcajou Bay. Passed 2 guys singing “Waltzing Matilda” before narrow place – we lined, they portaged and passed us. Took steep portage to Carcajou Creek, finished just as other guys were leaving (they took the portage in two parts) and they headed up creek. Into Lower Spectacle Lake, light breeze, bugs not too bad. Found portage exactly where marked, good trail, through to Upper Spectacle Lake about 10:45. Had snack and drink on water, continued on, took 1390 yd portage (1800 paces) to beaver pond. Passed some guys (heard but not seen) working their way up creek. 400 yd portage out of pond a bit of a bastard – up and down, quite rocky. Stopped at campsite on Little Carcajou Lake about 12:45 for lunch. Passed by 2 guys (from Forestry) who stopped for lunch farther down lake. Continued on about 1:45. Portages in to and out of Wenda Lake short and OK. Saw a deer walking into bush before latter. 3 more short portages for rapids, beaver dams, etc. on creek before finally hitting Carcajou Lake at same time as foresters (about 3:30). A lot of poison ivy on last trail. Large sawdust pile and old woodpile on Carcajou Lake near end of road to Grand Lake Camped at campsite opposite swampy peninsula. Weather sunny, breezy, bugs not too bad. Put up tent (not the greatest spot – a bit slanted), had Vermicelli Soup, Macaroni and Cheese with meat sauce, snacks, etc. Clouding up from the west, bugs getting fierce. After getting things squared away for the night, into tent about 7:30. No-see-ums a nuisance but at least blackflies and mosquitoes were outside. (Note – on drive in to Achray this morning saw 3 deer, a porcupine and a fox). Diana twisted her ankle and fell on last portage – suspected a sprain, but not too painful, only a little swelling, so should be OK. Now 8:05; temp 70°F. Dozed off.
1978 June 11
Both up at 2:00 am for calls of nature – otherwise good sleep. Stars visible, some sounds from woodpeckers, mergansers flying over. Up at 6:40, sky semi-clear, temp about 60°F, a few bugs, breezy (wind died off during night, too warm for Gerry bags). 2 cups of coffee, breakfast, packed up, on water about 9:00. Diana's ankle in good shape. Cruised through creek and portages, snack on Wenda Lake, investigated cabin at end of portage in from Grand Lake – no-one home but obviously inhabited by canoe rangers. They were working at end of portage into Little Carcajou Lake (swampy). To Stone Chute about 11:30. Portage starts in bay – rocky but not too bad. Top part of creek rocky, wide marshy edges, some current. Scraped a bit. Unscheduled portage at bottom of 1st wide part, about 600 yd., fairly good trail though not obvious at beginning. Continued on, rocks smaller, more current, had to wade through many riffles as water is obviously well down from maximum. Kept up a series of snacks rather than lunch. Around 1st major corner, bush closes in, still riffles, shady and very pleasant, water very clear. Waded through small log chute (?) also passed remnants of road and bridge. Farther down bush pulls back, marshy edges again, more current and runnable small chutes, some beaver dams, generally runnable though we had to get out in some places. Passed campsite – it is beside a tumbledown bridge (we just barely fit under it) and on old tote road. Cruised along into wide part of creek – wind up a bit and gusty, but basically behind us and keeping the bugs away. Sky cleared in a.m. and temp to 80°F at least. Arrived at portage to Carcajou Bay about 4:00. Went through 1 trail, down bay, surfed across Grand Lake, to car about 5:00. Drove to A&W in Pembroke for supper and then home. Windy but warm and pleasant. (forgot to mention – saw 2 deer in morning, feeding in marshy spot across from campsite – they were around for about 1/2 an hour, obviously hearing some of our noises and aware of our presence but not too worried – perhaps because they were upwind of us.)
Carcajou Creek is no longer recognized as a canoe route. We are not advocating that you travel this route; we are only describing what we did.
In 1978 there were two ways to portage around Carcajou Falls (High Falls). The portage on the western shore (downstream end) takes you halfway up. You then paddle across the creek and continue portaging on the eastern shore. This is the current (2013) configuration. However there is also a portage on the eastern shore that goes from end to end. This trail still exists but is no longer marked. It is impossibly steep on the downstream end.
"Gerry bags": Gerry was a manufacturer of quality backpacking and camping equipment in the '70s. We still have and use some of their stuff.