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8/28/2017 10:41 pm  #1

Four Days From the Magnetewan

Day One
This past Thursday I set out with a friend for our third Algonquin canoe trip. For the past four summers we have made it an annual tradition to end the summer with a short weekend trip. We went to The Massasauga for our first trip in 2014, but since then we have been sticking with Algonquin. In 2015 we explored the park from the Kiosk access point, 2016 was Shall Lake, and this year we headed in from the Magnetewan.

Our plan for the first day was to travel from the access point to Shah Lake via Ralph Bice, Little Trout, Queer and the Tim River. We were on the water by 8:30AM and our trip had officially begun. The weather was beautiful and we were able to paddle through Ralph Bice with little to no wind (something which I hear is not always the case on that lake). The real fun began once we hit the portage from Queer Lake to Tim River. I’m shocked that portage does not have more of a reputation (or maybe I’m just oblivious) because it proved to be the most treacherous part of our trip. It felt like we were constantly going up and down hills, and to make matters worse everything was super muddy. My friend slipped and fell on his butt with the canoe above his head on three occasions before we arrived at the end.

Happy to have finally arrived on the Tim (a river I have been wanting to travel on for some time now) we set out on our way. Almost immediately after launching we heard lots of splashing and movement in the bushes. While we did not catch a glimpse of what was causing the racket I am 90% confident that it had to of been a moose. We carried on our way and enjoyed the many twists and turns that the river provided. This was a ton of fun for the first twenty minutes, but we soon found ourselves wishing the river was just a little straighter.


When we finally arrived at the portage into Shah we were quite excited to be coming to a close of the first day’s travels. The boardwalks on the portage would completely submerge themselves in water when any weight was put on them, but compared to our last portage we had nothing to complain about. Having finished our final portage we set off across the lake for the eastern site that was recommended to us on this site. We arrived at the site shortly after 3:00PM, making the days travels just under 7 hours. The first order of business was to set up our camp chairs and enjoy the greatly desired rest to our backs. After a brief rest we set to work processing fire wood and later enjoyed steak and veggies over the fire. We had the lake to ourselves and enjoyed the call of loons before heading to the tent shortly after 9PM.


Day Two
We woke the next morning to a blanket of mist over the lake thick enough to prevent seeing anything on or across the water. As we ate cold PopTarts around the fire we were visited by a pair of loons who swam close by as though investigating what we were up to. I mention the loons because they are by far my favorite part of canoe tripping. I can think of no greater pleasure than listening to loons cry over an otherwise silent lake.


We took our time packing up camp because our travels for the day only involved the two portages into Misty. When we arrived on that lake we broke out the map and decided to investigate the eastern sites first. As it turned out we ended up setting up camp on the first site we paddled up to. The site we chose was the one just north of the 130m portage into Timberwolf. We both appreciated that this site was large, had a small sandy beach, and was comparatively isolated, so we never bothered to explore other options. The rest of the day was spent being perfectly lazy.

Day Three
At the recommendation of DanPM our plan for the third day was to do a day trip loop from Misty, down the Petawawa, into Grassy Bay, and up through McIntosh and Timberwolf lakes. Doing this as a day trip was excellent advice, as not having the extra load on the portages was a wonderful treat. We set out early for this trip while the mist was still heavy on the water. As the sun burnt up the mist we were once again the recipients of a most gorgeous day. The only thing more beautiful than the weather was the scenery. The Petawawa turned out to be even nicer than the Tim, and Grassy Bay was absolutely beautiful.


The weather made for a rather uneventful trip, but that made it no less memorable. Some of the highlights of that day trip included having lunch at the end of the portage into Grassy Bay, and also canoeing past a large Scouts trip on McIntosh Marsh. They must have had a trail of at least eight canoes all being led by one canoe with a giant pirate flag out front. All in all the day trip took us eight hours to complete. I wish I could write more about that trip, but it was nothing but smooth sailing while taking in the gorgeous scenery.


Day Four
Our final day had arrived and it was time to leave the park. We packed up early and began our journey home. Wanting to explore more of the park we left Misty via the Petawawa and into Daisy Lake. After how muddy the portages were on our first day we were prepared for the worst on the 935m portage into Little Misty, but our fears turned out to be unwarranted. Despite the warning on Jeff’s Map the portage was not even close to being as muddy as the one from Queer into Tim. There was certainly mud on the trails, but it may have just been the relative levelness of the trail that made it seem greatly preferable.

What I was not prepared for was how long Daisy Lake felt. Perhaps it was the wariness of the previous days, but that paddle felt like it took forever. It was also on this lake that we began to encounter a lot of other canoeists both coming and going, so that always removes a little of my joy as I think about the possibility of clogged portage trails. Thankfully we were all spaced well enough a part that this never became an issue at all.

The last thing of note for our trip happened on the portage from Hambone into Magnetewan. There was a family completing the portage to begin their journey into Ralph Bice. As we parted ways I mentioned to my friend that one of the guys in their party looked like Kevin Callan. My friend did not know who that was so I told him that he was also known as the Happy Camper. Turns out the guy in question had a Happy Camper sticker on his canoe that my friend noticed. Just a few weeks ago I was watching some of his tutorial videos on YouTube so I thought it was pretty neat that we passed him by in the park.

Arriving back at the launch we loaded everything into the car and strapped the canoe to the roof and off we went. I can confidently say that this was my favorite canoe camping experience. The weather couldn’t have been any better, and the whole area that we traveled was absolutely beautiful. Thanks to everyone who provided me with advice over in the Trip Planning section of the forum.


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