Trip Log - Brent to Carl Wilson Lake
Bob recently undertook a three day, two night solo canoe trip in northern Algonquin Park, from Brent on Cedar Lake to Carl Wilson Lake and return. On the first day, he started at Brent, paddled up the northwest arm of Cedar Lake, passed through Little Cedar Lake and Aura Lee Lake, and camped at the island campsite on Laurel Lake. On the second day, he travelled through Little Cauchon Lake and portaged into Carl Wilson Lake where he spent the night. On the third day, he returned to Brent following the same route in reverse.
2008 August 19
I left Point Alexander a little after 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday August 19 for a short solo canoe trip. The temperature was 10C and the sky was clear but with a few clouds; it was a breezy morning. I reached the Permit Office on the Brent Road around 9:00 (hours in summer are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) and didn't run into any problems with site availability. Since there was minimal cell phone reception at the office, I returned to the top of the hill just west of Deux Rivieres and checked in with Diana to confirm my planned route. I arrived at Brent at about 9:45 and was away by 10:00. A group of 8 canoes were leaving Algonquin Outfitters; they disappeared from view, most likely heading down the Petawawa. I counted 14 cars in the parking lot by the dock, but didn't see how many cars were parked at the store.
The paddle up the northwest arm of Cedar Lake was uneventful. The wind was not much of a problem but was noticeable, rising and falling, even generating some whitecaps occasionally. Since it was mainly out of the north, I was able to find shelter along the northern shore. I especially appreciated the shelter afforded by Gilmour Island where I was able to rest in calm water, sitting in the sun.
Suspecting that the next point might be the former site of Kish-Kaduk Lodge, I landed and went bushwhacking, but found nothing. The point was completely overgrown, and given the size of the trees, it was obvious that there had been nothing there, at least not for a very long time. I proceeded up the lake.
2008 August 20
Wednesday dawned cool (about 8C) with a heavy mist and light breezes. Earlier it had been clear with an almost full moon. Sleeping in a hammock and with the breezes and damp air, I wouldn't have wanted it any colder, but I slept well. I was up at 6:15, and was on the water and ready to travel by a bit after 9:00. (I need to add some efficiency to my solo camping skills, but the reality is that things just take longer when you're alone, especially when you're still at the Keystone Cops stage of solo experience.)
The portage to Little Cauchon Lake is short but steep. After completing the portage, I went back to take photos of the falls.
I encountered a moose at the beginning of the portage from Little Cauchon Lake into Carl Wilson Lake. While I was setting up for the portage, it came out of a side trail only about 20 - 30 ft away, clearly curious as to what was going on. I stood still and we just stared at each other. All the while I was calculating how I could get to my camera without spooking him, but before I could make my move, the moose started ambling towards me with a let's-get-better-acquainted look on his face. I moved slightly sideways and said to him: "Are you really sure that this is what you want to do?" The moose stopped dead in his tracks, took a closer look at me, turned and hightailed it off into the bush. Pretty neat, but no photos.
The portage into Carl Wilson is a steady, but not gruelling, uphill all the way, climbing 30m in one kilometer. It is a good trail at the beginning, but gets a little mucky at the Carl Wilson end.
In mid-afternoon, a single canoe containing a man and a woman passed by, heading south along the far shore. I was glad it was a couple rather than a large group, as I felt a little guilty hogging this large site all to myself.
Since I had stopped to make camp quite early (a little after noon), I had a mid-afternoon supper and then went out to explore the lake. I paddled down to the southern end of the lake, and as far as I could determine, apart from myself the only occupants of the lake were the couple who had passed by earlier. They were camped near the point on the eastern shore. The lady at the Permit Office had told me I would be sharing the lake with three other parties. She also told me that I would have Laurel Lake to myself, but there was a large group spread over two campsites there. I guess people don't actually do what they say they're going to do.
2008 August 21
On Thursday morning, I got up a little after 6:00. The temperature was about 10C and the sky was clear. There was less mist than Wednesday morning. I was more efficient at preparing coffee and breakfast and packing up than the previous day and was ready to go at a little after 8:30. As I launched I could hear the couple down the lake launching their canoe as well.
The couple passed me on the portage; they were single carrying and were through in about 20-25 minutes. I was double carrying and it took me about 45 minutes. They headed west towards Kiosk while I turned east towards the portage into Laurel Lake. They were the last people that I saw until almost Brent.
On the way back down Cedar Lake I again stopped to explore, and this time indeed did find the remains of Kish-Kaduk Lodge (it was a little west of the point where I had looked previously). However, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I didn't get any photos good enough to present here. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to make a return visit!
I arrived back at Brent a little after 3:00. Most of the way down the lake, I had been fighting an intermittent headwind, similar to when I paddled up the lake - not fair, but par for Cedar Lake.
A good trip: beautiful country, excellent weather, few people and no significant misadventures (other than a sunburned nose).
A 1919 Map of Algonquin Park shows Laurel Lake and Aura Lee Lake as one continuous body of water named Aura Lee. This map also shows Carl Wilson Lake as Dog Lake.
Donald L. Lloyd (2000); Canoeing Algonquin Park, Published by D.L. Lloyd. Distributed by Hushion House Publishing Ltd. Toronto.