Trip Log - An Early Spring Canoe Trip into the Brent Crater

On 2012 April 13 through April 16, Bob and Diana went camping in the Brent Crater. The early spring gave us the opportunity to visit this area without having to share it with bugs or other people, and we were not disappointed. This part of the park was devoid of people and the mosquitoes were minimal. Here are some photos and a synopsis of our trip.

2012 April 13

We have previously visited the Brent Crater several times, but always as day trips. This time we chose to take advantage of an early window between ice out and the onset of bugs and the fishing seaon to visit for several days. We chose to stay at the campsite on the south shore of Gilmour Lake because it appeared to be more private than the other two campsites, which are directly accessible from the portage trail. But we made that choice before we discovered that the south shore campsite is directly connected to the Brent Road by an ATV trail.

For more photos and discusion of the Brent Crater from our previous visits, see our page Day Trip into the Brent Crater and a more geologically focused description in our page Return to the Brent Crater.

Before we could begin our trip we needed to purchase our interior camping permits. And because the Brent Road office was not yet open for the season, we needed to do this by phone. We found this to be an aggravating experience. The major problem was that the park refused to sell us our permit the the day before. We were told that we could purchase our permit after 8:30am on the day of our departure. The operative word here is after which, apparently, doesn't mean at 8:30am but rather some undefined time later. Once someone showed up to answer the phone, the process of purchasing our permit was relatively painless. But our start time was considerably delayed. I see no valid reason why permits should not be purchaseable in advance.

We finally got away from the house a little before 9:30 and reached the trailhead -- the portage from Muskwa Lake/Brent Road to Tecumseh Lake -- at around 11:00.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  portage to Tecumseh Lake

(photo by Bob: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

Diana on the portage from the Brent Road down to Tecumseh Lake.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  snowmobile tracks

(photographed: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

The portage was still snow-covered in places, with snowmobile tracks clearly evident.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Tecumseh Lake Fen

(photographed: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

Tecumseh Lake is separated from the end of the portage by about a hundred metres of fen. Here Bob is portaging a little ways out onto the bog mat. And yes, he ended up with wet feet. The open water channel to Tecumseh Lake is too narrow, too shallow, and too twisty to allow easy passage of our canoe, a Swift Kipawa.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  campsite Tecumseh Lake

(photo by Diana: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

Having lunch at the campsite on the north shore of Tecumseh Lake. It was clear that this campsite is rarely occupied. The thunderbox had never been used.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  portage to Gilmour Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

Along the portage from Tecumseh to Gilmour Lake. A lot of recent effort has gone into clearing blowdowns along this portage. Since much of the debris is on top of the snow, it is clear that this clearing was done during the winter just past. Snowmobile tracks were also evident in places along this portage.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Gilmour Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-13 - explore

Gilmour Lake from the end of the portage from Tecumseh Lake. This view is looking approximately north. There is a campsite along the far beach and in behind it, the remains of an old lumber camp.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  clear water of Gilmour Lake

(photo by Bob: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

The amazingly clear waters of Gilmour Lake. We didn't have to clean our water filter even once during this trip. Gilmour lake is, reportedly, the most bufferred lake in Algonquin Park.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  campsite on Gilmour Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

We set up at the campsite on the southern shore of Gilmour Lake. None of the campsites on Gilmour Lake are all that great but this one sufficiently met our requirements. On the basis of previous visits, this one seemed to be more private -- not that there was anyone else around.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  coffee time

(photographed: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

Lighting our Trangia for an afternoon cup of coffee.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  abandoned car

(photographed: 2012-04-13 - map - explore

The campsite came with its own car. As near as we can determine, this is a Ford / Mercury / Meteor / Monarch from about 1950. But no model that we can identify seems to perfectly match all its characteristics.

2012 April 14

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  sunrise on Gilmour Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

Diana, contemplating the sunrise. Earlier it had been quite red. Rain to follow?

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Gilmour Creek

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

Saturday's expedition was to explore downstream on Gilmour Creek to Brant Lake. This is Gilmour Creek as it flows out of Gilmour Lake. Through to Brant Lake, the creek is shallow with noticeable current. Its very clear water and cedar shoreline differentiates it from most Algonquin Creeks.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Brant Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

In the top part of Brant Lake. Bob and his friend Ric had stopped for lunch on those rocks, three years previous.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Brant Lake narrows

(photo by Diana: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

The narrows leading to the southern part of Brant Lake.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Gilmour Creek

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

This is the outflow of Gilmour Creek from Brant Lake. It was not clear whether the rotting timbers in the foreground were the remains of an old logging dam/bridge, or had just floated in randomly. We suspect the former.

The landing for the portage here was sufficiently obstructed with driftwood that we decided that it wasn't worth the effort or very real risk of wet feet to land.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  logging works

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

We discovered this old remnant of logging activity on Brant Lake. Not sure what it is: a sunken dock? base for a skidway? The implication seems to be that logs were at one time driven down Gilmour Creek. It never ceases to amaze us how such small bodies of water were utilized for log driving.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Gilmour Lake campsite

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

Back at our campsite on Gilmour Lake.

2012 April 15

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  sunrise on Gilmour Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

Sunrise.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  breakfast

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

Diana fixing breakfast -- Red River cereal, to be served with melted butter and brown sugar (a bad habit Diana learned from her grandmother). In this setup we are using our Littlbug Sr. as a windscreen for our Trangia alcohol burner. We have retired our noisy white gas stove.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  view from the thunderbox

(photographed: 2012-04-14 - map - explore

This is the view from the thunderbox -- obviously the remnants of an old road. Today's adventure would be to trace this road. To Brant Lake? To the Brent Road? Or did it just peter out?

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  trail clearing

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

It soon became obvious that there had been a lot of recent effort expended on keeping this road open.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  trail to Brent Road

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

Farther along, and after the road had climbed out of the the crater, some blowdowns had not yet been cleared. But here, the bush was sufficiently open that detours were possible.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  ATV access to Gilmour Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

We surmise that the trail clearing was to facilitate ATV access to Gilmour Lake and in support of that, we found evidence of recent ATV activity. The clearing would also allow snowmobiles to travel in and out freely during the winter.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  ATV trail at Brent Road

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

After a couple of kilometers, the trail emerged on the Brent Road.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park ATV trail to Gilmour Lake

(photo by Diana: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

The return leg, back to our campsite. The trail was clearly an old road in its previous life. We speculate that the road was perhaps a winter road and perhaps associated with the old lumber camp on Gilmour Lake.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  old beer can

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

Along the trail, a very old beer can from the days when you still had to use a can opener to get at your beer. Molson's Ex -- Bob used to drink that! That it is not an aluminum can and there is no pull-tab suggests that it dates from the early '60s or before.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  relaxing at Gilmour Lake campsite

(photographed: 2012-04-15 - map - explore

Bob, relaxing back at the campsite. After all, it was his birthday.

2012 April 16

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  thunderstorm

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

As we packed up to leave on Monday morning the weather was suspect. (It had been suspect every morning; it's just that on Monday it was more suspect). A thunderstorm arrived as we reached the portage to Tecumseh Lake. This is our departing view of Gilmour Lake.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  rain on Tecumseh Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

The thunderstorm lasted just a little longer than it took us to complete the portage to Tecumseh Lake (seen here).

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  storm lifting over Tecumseh Lake

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

The storm lifting over Tecumseh Lake.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Tecumseh Lake narrows

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

The narrows of Tecumseh Lake. In spite of the thunderstorms, we had decided to press on towards the portage. We could hug the western shore and be able to take cover if another storm cell approached. However, once we were through the narrows, we would be committed to reaching the portage due to the marshy nature of the shorelines in that area.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Tecumseh Lake fen

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

Note the flagging tape. This is the only marking for the entrance to the channel through the fen to the foot of the portage. Getting through this narrow gap necessitated both of us disembarking. Once through, we could return to the canoe and push/paddle our way forwards with only a few exits required.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  Tecumseh Lake fen

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

Diana woman-handling the canoe back towards the portage out of the crater to the Brent Road. The structure in the background is a viewing platform on the Brent Crater walking trail. which shares the portage for a section near Tecumseh Lake.

An early spring canoe trip into the Brent Crater in Algonquin Park  portage to Brent Road

(photographed: 2012-04-16 - map - explore

It took us a somewhat over 10 minutes to cover the 100m through the fen and reach the foot of the portage. Now, all that remained was to portage up and out of the crater. The weather appeared to be clearing. After a short snack we started up the portage. Less than an hour later we were back at the car.

All in all a pleasant trip and our 60+ year old bodies did not let us down! The weather was suitable but was often threatening with occasional light mistings of rain, but never sufficient to force us into our rain gear (until the thunderstorm on the way out).

We are disturbed by all of the evidence of mechanized access to this area that we encountered. The ATV trail into Gilmour Lake destroys that campsite as an emotionaly comfortable place to stay.

It also occurrs to us that the recently cleared trail that, last fall, enabled us to walk into Ghost Lake (see A Walk to Ghost Lake in Algonquin Park) also provides snowmobile and ATV access to Ghost Lake. We suspect that many or most of the small trout lakes in this area have similar access. We cannot but believe that this is bad for the future of the fishery.

Here is our annotated packing list for this trip and here is our slightly editted and largely unabridged trip diary.