Trip Log - Brent to Cauchon Lake and Return
Bug Fest 2014
An account of a four night canoe trip in Algonquin Park, starting at Brent on Cedar Lake, staying on Laurel Lake and Cauchon Lake, and passing through Little Cedar Lake, Aura Lee Lake and Little Cauchon Lake. We visited the ruins of Kish-Kaduk Lodge, investigated some possible Tom Thomson painting locations and explored the Mink Lake sill. Overall, the trip was very buggy (very buggy).
Our investigation of Kish-Kaduk is described in greater detail here: Kish-Kaduk Lodge, while the Mink Lake sill is described here: The Mink Lake Sill. The Tom Thomson painting locations will be more completely discussed in a future page.
The main text of this page is an abridged version of our trip diary with the more extensive edits and clarifying comments indicated by square brackets. The author of the diary comments — Bob or Diana — is also indicated.
2014 June 22 (Sunday)
- 10:00 am. We have just pulled over [to the shore] about 2km west of Brent. The lake is dead calm — but not quite glassy smooth. The temperature is hot / day is sunny. Scattered cumulus clouds beginning to appear.
- We got away from the house at 7:40, away from the permit office at 8:40 and on the water at 9:40. There were three parked vehicles at Brent and one occupied campsite.
- 12:30. Just finished lunch a little shy of Aura Lee Lake (beyond culvert). We stopped at Kish-Kaduk lodge to get some photos.
- No systematic wind but lots of thermals — it's hot today. Saw moose at Aura Lee end of Little Cedar (young bull).
- A few motor boats on Cedar but no other canoes.
- 4:20. Ensconced in our campsite on Laurel Lake (since maybe 3:00). We checked out all of the campsites on the lake. This one, second on north shore just east of the portage to Loxley Lake, is the best of a bad lot. In some ways the island campsite is the best [the wind was blowing the bugs away] but it is so beaten to death, it is aesthetically unpleasing. It really should be closed for a few years.
- The day is hot and we are both tired. Is it our age or did we just not get enough sleep of late?
- The problem with the campsites on Laurel is that the ground is very rough. No good tent spots. The lake is an advertisement for hammocks.
- The wind has diminished and the black flies are becoming a nuisance.
- Set up bug net under fly — flat roof — plenty of sky hooks.
- Helinox chairs are excellent.
- 8:10. Everything is put away for the night. Food is hung but not out of reach for a bear — [no good trees]. We're protected from racoons and chipmunks!
- We're now in the screen house. Black flies are horrendous outside and barely tolerable inside.
- Minestrone soup before dinner, Bob thought it fine; Diana was less impressed.
- Jambalaya with pepperoni for dinner, good but way too much.
- Early part of night calm, clear, many stars (and many mosquitoes). Cooled off a bit but still just using the sleeping bags as quilts.
2014 June 23 (Monday)
- Up at 6:00 although it was lighter much earlier. Didn't feel like getting up and fighting the bugs.
- In spite of being as careful as possible, we got a lot of mosquitoes in the tent during the night while answering calls of nature,
- Currently ensconced in the bug net watching the sun rise and having coffee. Lots of broken morning cloud. Mosquito coil burning — not sure whether it is effective or not, but it is quite tolerable inside.
- 11:45 — back at campsite after a morning exploratory paddle [around Laurel Lake and investigating the channel between Little Cauchon Lake and Laurel Lake].
- A single tandem canoe came through (heading towards Brent). They are currently stopped, probably having lunch, in the middle of the lake. Temperature ~23C A breeze has come up which is removing the oppressiveness
- 4:15. Lazy afternoon of snoozing and watching the wind blow. Attached lines on bottom corners of bug shelter by tying around scrunched up stuff sacks. Bugs are starting to be a nuisance as temperature drops. About to put soup on — chicken noodle [soup] followed by chicken pilaf [dinner].
- 5:30. Soup was fine. Bob liked it better than Diana did. Pilaf made a huge quantity. Overall we have much too much food on this trip. — i.e., too much for a warm weather trip that is not strenuous. Will re-evaluate when we get home.
- Temperature ~23C, almost no wind, light overcast.
- 6:30. In bug tent having our evening booze. Bugs are worse this evening. They're pretty bad!
- Rain after supper and then periodically during the night / overcast / condensation showers.
2014 June 24 (Tuesday)
- Awake at 5:15. [The multitude of mosquitoes, announced by their incessant whine from just outside the door] necessitated us both getting up and evacuating the tent at the same time. The bugs were bad — temperature ~15C — but we managed to establish a haven in our bug tent — but we will probably run out of mosquito coils [before the trip is over].
- Lake is glassy smooth / sky overcast / atmosphere hazy (misty)
- 7:18 — Breakfast over, sitting under shelter, raining.
- 9:20. We're all packed up [and ready to go] and huddled under the tarp [waiting for the weather to break]. It's pouring, a solid steady drenching rain. The mosquitoes are keeping us company under the tarp (the bug shelter is packed away).
- 4:10. We have just finished our afternoon coffee in our bug shelter under the tarp on a campsite on Cauchon Lake. It is raining like hell. We are warm and dry but the tent isn't up yet.
- We left Laurel Lake a little before noon as the weather seemed to relent a little. The paddle here was OK, just a very light rain, on and off. The heavy rain started shortly after we arrived here at about 2:40. First order of business was to pitch the tarp and get everything under cover.
- It's still pouring rain. The shore makes it difficult to collect water without launching the canoe. We are currently collecting rain water running off from the tarp. Water collection is working exceptionally well. All the water needed and more. [And no pumping required!]
- 7:15. Supper done / tent up / food rope up but [food] not yet hung. We got a break with the rain after supper [and got the tent up], but in spite of encouraging signs — wind stirring from the north (northeast?), some ragged clouds, etc. it is raining again — hard, but not as hard as before.
- Just for the record, my rain jacket is no longer waterproof.
- Cauchon is a very scenic lake — lots of big hills and bays. Will compare with [the Tom Thomson painting] The West Wind when rain stops (tomorrow probably).
- All quiet today — saw no-one at all — cottages / houses on Little Cauchon — nobody home. No other canoes (or any boats). Saw the campsite on the rocks on Little Cauchon where we stayed [a couple of times, we think] in the '70s.
- Supper — Tomato vegetable soup — OK (Diana liked it better than Bob. Meal — macaroni & cheese with [dehydrated] beef pot roast. Made only 2/3 of quantity bought — 1/2 would have been fine. Macaroni rehydrates fine, also pot roast. Packaged cheese sauce a little salty but otherwise OK.
- We didn't eat lunch today (i.e. no bread with PB & J) just more snacks while waiting for the rain to stop.
- Water collection on Cauchon from rain off tarp filled the bucket several times quite quickly.
- Campsite is the last one before turn into bay on northern shore.
2014 June 25 (Wednesday)
- 7:00 am and up and drinking coffee in the bug shelter. Thermometer reads about 15C but it feels cooler than yesterday. Sky is overcast, no rain since around midnight. Slight breeze out of the north. There are bugs but not too bad (you don't need ear plugs for the whine this am.)
- Breakfast is over. Temperature 14C. Slight breeze in the tree tops. Northish. Sun is burning the clouds off. Blue sky with milky patches rather than defined clouds.
- 12:45. Back in camp after an exploration of Cauchon Lake (Note that I was late in turning the Spot tracking on today — perhaps we confused our watchers.)
- We did not find any meaningful waterfalls at the mouth of creeks feeding into Cauchon Lake.
- We walked the portage to Mink Lake and photographed the sill.
- We didn't see anyone yesterday. But two fishermen were out trolling in a motor boat today. They were quite quiet. They headed back towards Daventry mid afternoon. We have the lake to ourselves.
- I remember being quite unimpressed with this area when we visited 35+ years ago — scrubby vegetation on rock. And the railway. Now it is quite lush. The tree have grown up and filled in and the railway is gone.
- 5:05. Supper (Curry noodles with chicken) and soup (chicken noodle) are rehydrating.
- Diana awake 5:45 this morning, Bob ~6:45 [Bob thinks Diana exaggerates a little here.] [Note to Bob - My watch is a bit fast, so I'll give you 6:42. Diana]
- Today's exploration all around the bay behind our campsite (very scenic, lots of variety) and up to the Mink Lake portage and back. (Mosquitoes were horrendous on the portage).
- Breezy, clouds gradually cleared. Sun quite hot but air temperature pleasant. Sat out on the beach along the shore for a while this afternoon, as breeze and sun kept the bugs down to a tolerable level.
- Bob put up a clothes line and we aired everything out.
- Very lush vegetation all around the lake — forest includes pine and spruce, plus maple, elm, many birches & others. Wild raisin in flower, sheep laurel, orange hawkweed, daisies, iris, pale corydalis & others. Impressive rocks at the end of the lake — like a mini Barron Canyon. We investigated all creeks looking for waterfalls. Biggest falls were ~3m high, 20 cm wide.
- 7:35. Supper over, teeth brushed, food up — temperature 18C, lightly overcast, no wind. Bugs bad, but we're inside our bug shelter having our evening libation.
- Supper notes. Soup OK. Curry noodles and chicken — divided in half and only made one half — right size for one supper. Appears that all suppers are too big by a factor of 2. Curry noodles were fine (chicken needed more rehydrating). Don't bother dehydrating celery in future — not much flavour and texture is awful.
2014 June 26 (Thursday)
- 5:50 am. In the bug shelter waiting for the coffee water to boil. Awake at 5:15 but delayed a bit before exiting the tent. Temperature 14C. Bugs are fierce but a beautiful morning. Dead calm (both lake and wind), high cloud.
- 8:35. On the water. Away at 8:25. Still calm. Sunny with high broken, almost mackerel clouds. Feels warm.
- 10:53. Just finished our snack break on Laurel Lake. Took some reference photos. We saw some smoke from the island campsite and we started paddling towards it [to investigate]. Then we saw [that the fire was attended and not abandoned] and so we stopped short and had the second part of our snack break.
- 12:25. Having a rest / snack break beside the big island in Little Cedar Lake.
- 1:10. Just finishing lunch on island at the top of Cedar Lake with stone chimney. (lovely spot / rotten campsite). Wind is blowing (sometimes with enthusiasm) every which way. Sky is clear except for small cumulus on northern horizon. Hot. Bugs are not an issue here on the island with the breeze.
- Encountered a guy in Little Cedar Lake in a squared sterned Scott with a motor and a painting easel set up amid ship.
- Arrived back in Brent at ~3:00 pm and home at ~5:00 pm. [Godfathers' pizza for supper.]
[All in all a good trip; we accomplished most of what we set out to do. The bugs were a major issue but were tolerable with the bug net, Helinox chairs and cooking on the Trangia. And we were not disturbed by other canoeists. The bugs didn't ruin the trip, but it would have been much nicer without them.
We verified the location of the Tom Thomson painting Aura Lee Lake. But we are not providing photographic evidence at this time. The issue is that, at the painting site, you can't see anything other than a wall of trees. In the painting, the country has been heavily logged. But now the forests have grown back. But if you visit the lake, along the north shore towards the portage, you will have no doubt that Laurel Lake is the Aura Lee Lake of the painting (see notes).
The painting Little Cauchon Lake is not of the waterfall between Little Cauchon Lake and Laurel Lake.
In our view, the hills of Cauchon Lake have the right "feel" but they do not match those in the background of The West Wind.]
For more photos, see our photo gallery Brent to Cauchon Lake and Return.
- Note that since Tom Thomson's time, the names of Aura Lee Lake and Laurel Lake have become confused. That is, the lake that Thomson knew as Aura Lee is now known as Laurel. The lake currently know as Aura Lee was then known as either Laurie or Laurel. See the discussion in Donald Lloyd's book (pp 189-191).