Trip Log: Brent / Maple Lake / Catfish Lake Loop
1975 August 11 to 21
In 1975 August, Bob and Diana undertook a 10 day canoe trip starting and ending at Brent on Cedar Lake in Algonquin Park. We travelled through Little Cedar, Aura Lee, Laurel, Cauchon, and Little Cauchon Lakes to Mink Lake. From there we doubled back through Whitebirch and Waterclear Lakes, then went via Club, Mouse and Big Thunder Lakes to Erables Lake. We moved on to Maple Lake for a day, then returned to Erables Lake and travelled through Skuce, Little Nadine, Little Osler, Osler and Nadine Lakes to the Nipissing River. The original plan was to descend the Nipissing River all the way to Cedar Lake. However, we were ahead of schedule and feeling strong, so went only part way down the Nipissing River, portaged over to Luckless Lake, then went through Lynx Lake to Catfish Lake. From there we followed the Petawawa River down through Narrowbag Lake and back to Brent.
Material from our log, recorded at the time, is reproduced below. Many entries in the original log are records of arrival times at various points or times spent on portages. Some of this material has been edited out of the trip log text below, but is summarized at the end.
1975 August 11 — Brent to Little Cauchon Lake
- - Warm - many large cumulus clouds - wind from West
- - We left Brent 11:00, had lunch end of Cedar Lake (12:50 to 1:15) and arrived at the last campsite on Little Cauchon Lake at 5:20 (all the other sites had been taken)
- - Celestine soup, tuna goo for supper
1975 August 12 — Little Cauchon Lake to Mink Lake
- - up at 6:30 - clear day starting calm - lots of loons
- - eggs & pork sausage for breakfast
- - We left campsite at about 9:00 and stopped for snack break almost to the end of Cauchon Lake at 10:25, having taken a ~15 min photography break previously
- - We couldn't find the portage into Club Lake and wasted at least an hour looking. We also made an abortive attempt at bushwhacking on what appeared to be an obsolete portage trail. The trail was too difficult to follow and very rough
- - We stopped at campsite on point half way up Mink Lake at 1:30 PM and decided to stay
- - dropped pocket watch in lake
- - into bed by 9:00 PM
- - Jerky curry for supper. (note: next time bring more coffee).
1975 August 13 — Mink Lake to Mouse Lake via Whitebirch, Waterclear and Club Lakes
- - up at 6:00 - southeast wind - mostly overcast - red sky in east - no sun visible
- - Red River cereal & nuts for breakfast - need more sugar
- - heavy overcast in west - couple of cracks of thunder - a little rain
- - on the water by 8:30
- - We reached White Birch Lake at about 10:15 and stopped for a break. The sky was lightly overcast with a strong wind out of the south.
- - We stopped for lunch at an unmarked campsite on the south side of Waterclear near narrows. We restarted at 12:30. There is an unmarked [in 1975] portage of about 350 yds at the end of Waterclear into Club Lake. The take out is a real S.O.B.
- - There is what appears to be an abandoned logging camp on Club Lake, although perhaps a little fancy for a logging camp.
- - We found the other end of the portage we couldn't find yesterday. We walked over it and back which took about 25 min - length 1350 paces. It comes out up Mink Creek - farther up than we waded yesterday. With the prevailing water levels canoe would have had to be walked up.
- - Club Lake narrows were quite shallow
- - We had to wade canoe up creek in parts to reach portage into Mouse Lake
- - It is now 5:25. We are camped (but not yet set up) on an unmarked campsite on Mouse Lake. We have already had our swim. The wind is now very strong from the west southwest (white caps on the lake) - sunny with cumulus clouds
- - In bed at 8:45
- - Vegetable soup, chicken stew for supper
1975 August 14 — Mouse Lake to Erables Lake
- - strong winds all night
- - up at 6:30 - wind strong out of west - clear sky
- - mushroom omelette for breakfast
- - away by 9:15
- - 1860 yd. portage to Mink Creek, 9:50 to 11:35, mostly uphill, trail rough in spots, wet at both ends
- - 250 yd. portage Mink Creek to Thunder Lake, 12:05 - 12:25, rough - relatively new
- - We stopped for lunch on prominent point on Thunder Lake at 12:40 It has previously been used as a campsite; looks OK for 1 tent
- - wind still strong out of west - temp 69°F
- - 1800 yd portage to Erables Lake, 1:45 - 3:10, trail rough and fairly new
- - Camped on island, lower end of Erables Lake
- - a group of 5 Americans were camped at other end of island. Bill and Evelyn and family from Canton Ohio
- - went to bed about 10:00 - wind essentially died
1975 August 15 — Erables Lake to Maple Lake
- - Bill and Evelyn visited early (before 7:30)
- - We left at 10:00 AM and visited them. We had lunch with them and finally left at 1:30 or maybe 2:00
- - Camped on island, north side of Maple Lake.
- - into tent for night at 8:50
- - Weather unsettled but we expect rain
- - Jerky stroganof and Vermicelli soup for supper
1975 August 16 — Maple Lake to Skuce Lake
- - up at 6:30 - sky clear - light breeze from east - clouds appeared later from south - breeze rising.
- - left about 9:15
- - met Bill and Evelyn at 90 yd. portage & exchanged addresses
- - We arrived campsite on Skuce Lake at 1:50
- - The day had been warm & sunny, large cumulus clouds, wind now mainly from west, not too strong
- - lazy afternoon
- - jerky macaroni, soup with macaroni shells for supper
- - There are lots of birds here - chickadees, warblers, whiskeyjacks, woodpeckers, loons, mergansers, hummingbirds (very close) & others in trees & on ground; also loons & mergansers; tame-ish but skittish chipmunk; pine borers [sawyer beetle] making lots of noise.
- - in tent at 8:15 - rest of day was warm - breezes from various directions - now clouds streaming out of west
- - quiet night except for loons
1975 August 17 — Skuce Lake to Nadine Lake
- - up at 6:15 - light airs, clouds intermittent -little sunshine - clouding more heavily from west - wind rising from east
- - on water by 9:00 - started to rain as we left
- - We finished portage into Little Nadine by 9:30 and stalled around waiting for wind to let up
- - Started portage to Little Osler at 10:00. The portage is a real brute in this direction. i.e. 250' climb. Open deciduous forest (maples and beeches) at top. Finished portage at 11:25
- - Stopped for lunch on Little Osler at 11:45 (It has stopped raining)
- - 1900 yds. to Nadine about1:00 - 3:00. The trail went up & down a lot, but not as bad as we expected from Bill and Evelyn's description
- - clouds clearing away & bits of sun - wind out of west
- - camped at old site, south side of Nadine, stopping about 3:30. We had checked out newer site on other side behind islands but it was gloomy, and also it had had a ground fire & was marked "no fires" on the sign.
- - Where we stopped is very spacious, well set up, faces north. It is open but sheltered from wind.
- - some fantastic big trees around (birch, white pine)
- - sky continued to clear - wind west - sunset red, wind rising & falling
- - canned ham for supper (very good) & yellow pea soup
- - In tent for the night at 8:40
1975 August 18 — Nadine Lake to Rolling Dam on Nipissing River
- - windy intermittently through night
- - up at 6:00 - clear sky, 47°F - distinct north wind
- - on water at 8:40
- - 1540 yd portage to Nipissing, 8:50-9:45, good trail (old road)
- - paddled through marsh & stopped for lunch at 1:00 at end of 400 yd portage.
- - wind north, large cumulus clouds
- - 2 portages 200 yds each
- - camped at bottom of 2nd one where we had camped in May, [Rolling Dam], at 2:30
- - day cool, more clouds than sun
- - potato soup, jerky stew for supper, made bannock
- - wind died at sunset
- - in tent for the night at 8:40
1975 August 19 — Nipissing River to Catfish Lake.
- - calm night, good sleep
- - up at 6:30 - temp 40°F- sky mainly clear - mist on water - wind from northwest
- - on water at 8:35
- - We reached portage to Luckless Lake at 8:55 - finished at 11:10. 3100 yd seems to be accurate length, trail mainly along roads & uphill poor footing in gravel (4100 paces).
- - crossed Luckless Lake - very pretty.
- - took 650 yd. portage into Lynx Lake, 11:35-12:05, mainly along very old roads.
- - We had lunch on Lynx Lake and watched an otter eating a fish.
- - We went out through narrow & shallow channel into Catfish Lake. It looks like other portage from Luckless Lake has been changed due to shallowness of bay
- - We stopped at an unmarked (on map) campsite not far from 90 yd. into Narrowbag at about 2:30
- - chicken curry, onion soup for supper
- - winds northwest by west all day - large cumulus clouds - coolish (had a swim anyway, felt great) - wind calmed at sunset - "evening cloud of northland" again
- - into tent for the night at 8:35.
1975 August 20 — Catfish Lake to Cedar Lake
- - Calm night, full moon
- - up at 6:15 - clear & calm - 50°F
- - on water at 8:30
- - into Narrowbag by 9:15 (saw bear with 2 cubs at portage)
- - wind light - northwest by west
- - 3100 yd. portage to Petawawa, 9:55 - 10:30, (took shortcut, 3300 paces). (saw a weasel on the trail)
- - ate lunch at 12:15 at top of 280 yd portage
- - took pictures of waterfalls
- - into Cedar Lake by 2:30
- - camped up lake from mouth of Nipissing at 4:40
- - Jerky curry, pea with smoked ham soup for supper
- - beautiful evening, calm, full moon
- - in bed at 8:20
1975 August 21 — Cedar Lake to Brent
- - calm night, spectacular sunrise
- - up at 7:20 - 50°F clouded over, intermittent rain
- - ate breakfast & lunch at campsite
- - explored a bit of shore, headed to Brent, arrived at 1:30
- - wind started east, shifted to southeast, southwest strongly at about 1:00, west by 2:30 (our pickup time)
Since this was our first significant "travelling trip", we recorded a lot of information with respect to start and stop times, distance traveled, etc. The intent was to get a better handle on our expected speed for planning purposes. A summary of our traveling times follows:
|Day||Time||Paddling Dist. (mi)||Portaging Dist. (yd)|
|1||5 hr 20 min||10.9||500|
|2||3 hr 30 min||5.5||480|
|3||7 hr 00 min||6.9||3000|
|4||5 hr 15 min||2.8||3910|
|5||1 hr 30 min||3.0||90|
|6||4 hr 05 min||4.6||1700|
|7||5 hr 30 min||2.4||4780|
|8||4 hr 50 min||8.8||2340|
|9||4 hr 55 min||4.8||3750|
|10||5 hr 00 min||5.0||3850|
|11||1 hr 15 min||4.0||0|
|Total||48 hr 10 min||58.7||24,400|
The times have been approximately corrected to account for lunch, breaks, etc. (Canada went metric sometime in the mid '70s. In metric, the total paddling distance was about 94 km and total portaging distance was about 22 km.)
These data indicate that we paddled at about 2.25 miles per hour (3.6 km/hr) and portaged at about 1150 yards per hour (1 km/hr). (For portaging, we have three loads — the canoe plus a small pack and two Duluth packs — that we "leap frog" across.)
On the basis of further trips, we settled on the following for planning purposes: On a traveling day, we travel for 6 hours at a paddling rate of 3 km/hr and a portaging rate of 1 km/hr. This is pretty conservative compared to advice we currently see posted on the net, but these guidelines have served us well. Your mileage may vary.
Donald L. Lloyd (2000); Canoeing Algonquin Park, Published by D.L. Lloyd. Distributed by Hushion House Publishing Ltd. Toronto.