Brent to Rosebary Lake via the Petawawa River and returning via Latour Creek and the Nipissing River - 1986 May

A trip diary from 1986 of a seven night canoe trip in Algonquin Park out of Brent on Cedar Lake, travelling up the Petawawa River through Perley Lake, Catfish Lake and Portal Lake (now Burntroot Lake) to Longer Lake, up the Tim River to Shippagew Lake, and then through Stag Lake, Devine Lake, Ranger Lake, Sittingman Lake and Long Bow Lake to Rosebary Lake and returning to Brent via Floating Heart Lake, Latour Creek, Loontail Creek and the Nipissing River. Unfortunately, we have no photos from this trip.

1986 May 09

Left Brent at ~11:30 am overcast, slight east breeze, temp ~12°. Crossed lake in ~1/2 hr, 1st portage ~20 min. Ate lunch at top. Talked to a couple of French-Canadian fishermen – their boat trailer had broken on the Brent Rd. Started again ~1:00. On portage around timber chute met a man we had met before camped by the portage into Portal Lake – Phil [...] from Hamilton. Weather began clearing & was sunny by the long portage. Portaged 2:00 – 3:30 (incl. break). Met 8 guys in various spots along the way – they are camped on Catfish. Arrived at Narrowbag about 4:00 – to campsite on point ~4:15. Set up camp – quite tired & slow. Florentine rice & ham steak for supper – rice 5, ham 8-9 [out of 10]. Evening very pleasant – sunny & slight breezes, but cooling. A few flies – there were quite a few on the long portage. Lots of frogs in the swamp – heard snipe, partridge, loons. Saw hawks on the long portage. Also Bob saw 2 otters (?) on the timber chute portage. Into tent for the night ~8:30.

1986 May 10

Calm night – slept solidly. Bob up at 6:00, Diana 6:30. Calm morning, sunny. On the water a bit before 9:00. Passed the group of 8 coming down from the short portage into Catfish. Water is low enough to use normal takeout at the top. Numerous people camped on Catfish, some out fishing. Stopped for a snack break about 10:00 at narrow place where we once saw a moose swimming. Carried on. Met 2 guys with a wood canvas canoe fishing at the top of the lake. Did 1st 2 portages & stopped for lunch ~11:45. Carried on at 12:30 – paddled up short rip & through next portage to Perley ~1:00. Bits of wind from various directions, only occasionally strong. Paddled up Perley & took a break just below the narrows. Through next portage into Portal [Burntroot] ~3:00. Wind a bit fresher, still erratic. Camped at the small spot across from the portage. 2 canoes went by later, 1 with a wheel (we have been seeing tracks all the way from Brent). Bob fished a bit but didn’t catch anything. Rice a Roni & Pepperoni for supper – Bob rates 6-7, Diana OK but pepperoni a bit much. (note – in future bring only Minute rice). Finished up rather late. Wind cool from NW died at sunset. Some loons & mergansers on lake; noisy ravens; snipe. Into tent for the night at 9:00.

1986 May 11

Quiet night. Bob up at 6:00, Diana a bit later. Cool sunny morning, slight breezes. On the water at 8:50. Paddled down to the bottom of Portal – saw various people fishing, mainly near the bottom of the lake. Into Redpine Lake. Took a break at 10:00 by larger island just before 1st portage. Saw a yearling moose on the back of the island. People camped at portage, fishing. Saw another moose in marsh to left before next portage. Through ~11:00. Paddled up river & up Longer Lake to mouth of the Tim (~noon). 2 men & 2 kids in a canoe fishing. Ate lunch at top of the first hill on the portage. Carried through to Shippagew – took about 20 mins. Decided to push on (it was about 1:15). Paddled up to Tim, up river, did short portage. Passed 3 guys going down on the next stretch. A bit of difficulty finding the portage due to its being farther upstream than on the park map. Finally started through at 4:10 & got to Stag Lake about 5:50. Trail fairly good, some along old roads. Somewhat hilly. Pleasant campsite on north shore of lake. Set up & had supper (FD beef, rice, Knorr pepper sauce – largely bland but OK). Lake has beaver, loons, mergansers, lots of moose sign. Beautiful calm evening (after a lovely day). Into tent for the night at 8:45, exhausted. (Forgot to say we saw a deer – doe – at the bottom of Longer Lake.). Saw crescent moon & Venus after sunset.

1986 May 12

Bob up at 6:00, Diana a bit later. Calm night with stars. Clear morning, slight east wind rising & falling. On the water at 8:40. Portage to Devine Lake 1 ¼ hours. Fairly good trail through hardwood bush, some on old roads (like last one yesterday). Took a break on Devine Lake then carried on. 1st portage very easy trail; next one short but steep up & down. Met 2 friendly guys fishing, headed for Devine. 700 m. to Sittingman Lake fairly good – confusing fork where obviously re-routed in the last couple of years. Pulled over at 1st campsite ~noon & had lunch. Sunny, warm & quite windy from east, still variable. After lunch ~1:00, short hop to creek. Met 2 canoes with 6 people headed for Devine. Last portage not necessary due to lots of water in the creek. Paddled 2 km down Longbow Lake & took a break at 2:15. Continued on to Rosebary & stopped at campsite on point at right ~3:00. Set up camp & had tea. 2 fellows in a cedar strip canoe passed coming south along the shore while we were preparing supper. 68°. All tidied up early & into the tent at 8:20. Wisps of cloud all day, a bit thicker in west – grey streaks at sunset. (This is a very nice area – all maple & birch bush, a few spruces & pines at shore. Lots of nice firewood). Blackflies becoming a minor nuisance – also a few mosquitoes. Supper was scalloped potatoes & FD beef burgers – good.

1986 May 13

Very quiet night with stars. Bob up just before 6:00, D. later. Temp 36°, clear with mist on the water. 2 canoes out trolling around. On the water at 8:40. Light wind from east rising & falling, wisps of cloud. Easy portage to Floating Heart Lake. 1370 m to Latour Creek up & down, some wet spots, steep downhill to creek. Finished ~10:20. Creek very narrow but enough water. Paddled down & took a break in a side channel. Continued on to portage 845 m fairly good trail to Loontail Creek. Through abut 11:50. Launched with intention of eating on the water but found a spot to land & had lunch about noon. Carried on through meandering channel. Short unmarked portage where an old road crosses & logs from a bridge block the way. There is also a campsite. On to 375 m portage – nice rapids, very nice campsite. Done at ~1:40. More meanders, then 90m (seems longer) around more little rapids. Met 2 canoes, 4 fishermen at next portage (110m). They said they had gone down the river & were coming back up, with more of their party behind them. Through ~3:00. Took a break on the water & another canoe passed going up. Went a couple more turns in the river & found a campsite – decided to stop. Another canoe passed while we were setting up & another after supper. Supper was chicken & rice & mushroom sauce – bland but OK. Temp 73°, wind still rising & falling, sky clear. Campsite very ‘moosey’ – lots of droppings & trails, trees heavily browsed. Blackflies are getting quite annoying. Wind died at sunset. Into tent for the night ~8:00. Talked for a while, had a smoke, then went to sleep.

1986 May 14

Quiet night with stars. Slept well. Up at 6:00 – clear, calm, mist rising from water, 38°. Saw a cow moose & yearling calf while we were having our coffee. On the water at 8:30, had a smoke break, then moved on. Wind rising & falling from east, occasional strong gusts. River very meandering. Remains of old bridge at road crossing, also a campsite. Took a break at ~10:20 just above next portage (345 m). 90 & 840 m portage part along road – crosses large open spot with signs of an old lumber camp. Still one cabin in very good repair with stove, bunks, etc. obviously well used by canoe rangers & others. Through a bit before noon. Weather quite hot, wisps of cloud, thicker in west, some puffies. Pulled over a bit farther down & had lunch on shore. Passed end of portage to Nod Lake. – back in familiar territory. 365 m portage with grassy wet spot (old road). Met 3 young fellows wading their canoe upstream just above Allen Rapids portage. Started through at 2:20. Weather a bit threatening though still sunny & quite hot. Got to campsite on portage a bit after 3:00 & decided to stay. Clouding up. Set up camp, including tarp with tripod at one end. Wind quite strong at times though off & on – direction not obvious. Blackflies becoming a pest. 2 canoes passed down rapids while we were making supper. Supper was Spanish rice with cheese – both rated it very good. Clouded over & 60°. Cleaned up for the night, rigged orange tarp on front of tent. More mosquitoes now. Into tent for the night ~8:00. Wind has died away somewhat.

1986 May 15

Fairly quiet night – rained lightly twice. Orange tarp enabled us to keep the tent door open in the rain, which was nice because it was relatively warm & humid. Up at 6:00 – murky clouds, damp, 50°. Started through rest of portage at 8:30. Got on the water & had our smoke. Coming around a corner in a meandering stretch of river we came upon a very large moose standing in the middle with its head under water. Eventually it noticed us & went up the bank & into the bush. Took a break ~10:15 not far above the next portage. Portage around dam – previous group had left their fire going – we put it out. Next portage by lumber camp. Arrived at start of High Falls portage a bit before noon. Carried down to the small campsite beside rapids – it was free, so we stopped & had lunch. The group that passed us at Allen Rapids ran the top of these, carried around the falls to the campsite, then ran on down from here. Set up camp. Weather very humid, warm, clouds from southwest, breaking a bit. Saw a canoe come up, stop, then turn around & go down. Bob went fishing below the falls & fairly easily caught 4 small specks. Clouds breaking quite a bit – sunshine interspersed with damp grey clouds. Mosquitoes getting annoying. Scalloped potatoes & beef goop for supper – first good, second OK. (Made bannock before supper – the pitas started showing mold yesterday). Into tent for the night at about 8:00. Wind stopped (what there was of it). Sky fairly clear, clouds more from west. Still humid.

1986 May 16 (written May 19)

Fairly quiet night – little wind, intermittent rain, light to moderate. Up at 6:00 – not raining. Mosquitoes annoying. Packed up & on down the portage ~8:30. Smoke break on the water. Through next portage – 2 people we saw turn back yesterday were camped at the end, just packing up. Had a chat, then carried on down the marsh. Saw a red ABS canoe & 2 packs at the old building, but no people. Stopped at Nadine Lake portage for leak & break. Continued down the marsh, meeting numerous people. Stopped for lunch ~1:50 at a spot above where the river straightens out & comes close to hill on south side. A bittern was standing in the marsh on the other side, doing its call (quite a performance). Continued on, meeting more people (to a total ~20). Almost no wind, intermittent rain, clouds from south. 1st short portage – campsite seems to have been wrecked by spruce bud worm. 2nd portage quick. Met 2 guys & 2 kids at top of Rolling Dam portage – quite friendly. They almost forgot their fishing rod. 2 men & a dog camped at the bottom – had a pleasant chat. Through ~2:30. took a break on the water & decided to go for Brent. Some rain. Saw a moose in the wide part of the river – it saw us, but kept eating as we went by & didn’t move away. Ran riffles in zig zag part of river (there is a portage not marked on park map). Hit last portage ~4:45 – through ~5:15. Paddled down & out mouth of river – various motorboats fishing. 2 yearling moose in weeds in delta. Weather cleared off & we crossed Cedar Lake in calm air & sunshine, arriving at Brent ~6:15. After buying cigarettes & goodies at the store, we went home. Weather clouded up & rained off & on again. Brent was very busy, as was the traffic on the road. Overall water levels very low.