Trip Log - Brent to Burntroot Lake and Return
An account of a seven night canoe trip in Algonquin Park. We started at Brent on Cedar Lake, camped on the Petawawa River above the "timber slide" and then proceeded to Catfish Lake via Narrowbag Lake. We camped for two nights on Catfish Lake and then proceeded to Burntroot Lake via the Petawawa River. We stayed on Burntroot Lake for three nights before returning to Catfish Lake for a single night. On the last day, we returned to Brent via Luckless Lake and the Nipissing River. We checked out the alligator remains on Catfish Lake and at Barnet Depot on Burntroot Lake.
Most of our recent forays into Algonquin Park have been day trips or base camping close to an access point. It has been 25 years since we have undertaken a real travelling trip and we weren't sure whether, as a pair of senior citizens, we were still up to it. So we decided to return to Burntroot Lake (probably our favourite lake in the Park, although we knew it then as Portal Lake). We figured that the Stacks Rapids portage would be a good test.
We are forgoing our usual style of basing our account directly on our unabridged trip log — the one from this trip is a little long and wordy. However, for anyone interested, our unabridged diary may be found here: Trip Diary — 2014 September 03-10 — Brent / Catfish Lake / Burntroot Lake
2014 September 03 (Wednesday)
Brent to the Timber Slide
We camped for the night at the campsite opposite the top of the portage. We had elected to save the Stacks Rapids portage for the second day.
2014 September 04 (Thursday)
Timber Slide to Catfish Lake
The day was overcast and quite humid. We reached our campsite on Catfish Lake (northernmost site on the lake) by mid-afternoon. We felt that we had acquitted ourselves well on the portage but nevertheless, we were quite tired.
We didn't see anyone all day.
2014 September 05 (Friday)
Friday was a lazy day in camp. We were pseudo wind bound. If we had had to travel we could have, but it was much too windy for a pleasant recreational paddle. The wind abated a little after lunch and we went for a short paddle down to the narrows, checked out the alligator and other campsites, etc. We decided that our campsite was as good as any, especially in a blow.
We heard some distant thunder that evening with light rain starting around bedtime. Both the wind and rain died away overnight.
Again, another day without seeing anyone.
2014 September 06 (Saturday)
Catfish Lake to Burntroot Lake
Saturday morning dawned calm with high overcast and broken clouds out of the west. As we paddled down Catfish Lake we were surprised to see that another party had arrived the previous day and had camped, illegally, on the alligator island. We also saw another group — a single canoe — heading south. We caught up with them at the Catfish Rapids Portage, two older guys — i.e., about our age — on a loop out of Kiosk (Kiosk / Cedar / Burntroot / Nadine / Maple). They clearly knew what they were doing. Although we were heading in the same direction, they finished the portage ahead of us and we never saw them again.
We had conservatively reserved the site at Cedar Rapids as our destination for the night. However, as the site was unappealing, the day was young, and the park interior was pretty much empty, we pushed on to Burntroot Lake.
After checking out several sites — perhaps we're just too fussy — we chose the site on the point on the western shore of Burntroot Lake. The site and tent space were fine but the landing and water access were the pits.
The sky was clear with a solid north west wind.
2014 September 07 (Sunday)
We spent the morning (albeit, a late start) exploring Barnet Depot. Everything is getting pretty grown in — not much left in the way of buildings, etc. We found and photographed what was left of the alligator. It too is pretty far gone. Finding it was a bit of a challenge but we weren't going to leave without visiting it. However, enough yahoos have found it and “salvaged” it and carved their initials on it and left their wine bottles in it. Let it rest in peace and decay in dignity.
The wind remained lively into the evening, shifting to the southwest and then dying at sunset.
2014 September 08 (Monday)
By morning the wind had shifted all the way 'round to the south. A change was on the way, but when?
We spent the morning exploring the lake (but left enough unexplored for future trips).
The wind continued blowing from the south. There was a red sunset but it was a less than convincing harbinger of good weather.
We haven't seen anyone on our three days on Burntroot Lake — nobody since the two guys at Catfish Rapids.
2014 September 09 (Tuesday)
Burntroot Lake to Catfish Lake
The wind blew out of the south all night with just a bit of a respite in the early hours. In the morning there was a little blue sky overhead but high overcast to the west. The sunrise was pink; the rain signs continued.
We packed up and headed back to Catfish Lake.
We camped on the site in the bay east of Turtle Rock; quite a nice site, with views to the west, north, and east. The wind had continued solidly out of the south all day but were were quite sheltered for that wind direction.
2014 September 10 (Wednesday)
Catfish Lake to Brent via the Nipissing River
The morning was dead still; absolute quiet except for the odd mosquito and distant loon; slight mist on the water with little wisps of pink in the sunrise and a light overcast. An hour or two later a heavy mist descended, obscuring the hilltops. The mist slowly cleared as we made our way over to the Nipissing River.
Our plan was to camp on the Nipissing River at one of the campsites at Plumb Creek junction. We rejected the campsite at the end of the portage from Luckless Lake because of the off-putting mucky water access. We checked out Rolling Dam but decided to continue down river. The last Plumb Creek campsite was quite unappealing so we continued down river. In the end, we just kept going until we reached Brent.
All in all, a good trip. We can still do it but we need to take it a little slower. And we lucked out with the weather. For the next two days, the weather was vicious — strong gusty wind and pouring rain.
For more photos, see our associated photo gallery Brent to Burntroot Lake and Return - 2014 September.