LNT Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

2/09/2018 2:20 pm  #1

My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

I didn't want to make a video of this trip, and I sure don't want to post it here, but I feel obligated to do both for reasons I can't entirely explain even to myself. I had a terrible day and made terrible decisions, and gave up far more easily than I should have. No excuses, I just failed. 

My Spring trip to Clover is booked.


Last edited by Uppa (2/09/2018 2:23 pm)


2/09/2018 3:14 pm  #2

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

I enjoyed the vid Uppa.  I did that route back in August of 2008.  I missed the portage as well.  The start looks more overgrown than when I was there.  I just remember a well defined very muddy, wet path with old rotten logs placed for footing.  Once past that point and into the forest the trail was no problem and I was surprised just how good it was for a low maintenance route.  Amazing was 9 years and probably little or no maintenance can do to a trail.  The only trail I had trouble with was the 440m heading out of Clover to Pogonia.  Good luck this spring.  Guthrie is a nice lake.  Old cabin there that was still intact in 2008 but apparently a couple of years after I was there a tree fell onto part of the roof.
At the start of your video you mention that two sites are marked on Lower Spectacle but there's actually only one.  There was two there in 2008 and then again when I passed through in 2014.

'...a man is part of his canoe and therefore part of all it knows. The instant he dips a paddle he flows as it flows.’ Sigurd Olson

2/09/2018 5:24 pm  #3

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Wow! Bad day. You are still the man Bob. 


2/09/2018 10:17 pm  #4

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Great video of a terrible afternoon. Looking forward to the sequel.


2/09/2018 10:20 pm  #5

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

No worries, you made it in and out in one piece and have another APP adventure to reflect on. And not to mention, more seat time in your kayak and another opportunity to practice your bush craft skills in the back country. Win win, my friend. Thanks for sharing.


2/10/2018 10:05 am  #6

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Hey Uppa... thanks for telling it like it is... that port does look rough and having seen what you were up against, I'm thinking about another way in now.. But looking forward to the next plan of attack. 

Surprised there was so much water in McDonald creek, When I tried in mid-Sept about 15 years ago, it was so shallow the canoe had to dragged and that didn't last very long, so I will have to try and paddle there again. And sheesh, the vegetation obscuring everything... might be better in spring when there's less of it... anyway, good luck!


Last edited by frozentripper (2/10/2018 10:07 am)


2/10/2018 11:02 am  #7

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

@Tripper: Thanks for the comments, and the clarification about Spectacle. I swore I read that somewhere (probably here) but I may have confused it with another lake.

@Martin: Glad you're not coming with me now?

@AlgonquinLakes: Hopefully the sequel can be called "The Thrill of Victory". While I'm really looking forward to relaxing on Clover, I'm already obsessing about that loop. I'll have the topos of that area memorized at this rate. 

@ Swift Fifteen: That experience hasn't settled into my mind as one I like to reflect on. I think if I'm successful on the return attempt then it will become part of a good story and memory, however. If I'm successful. 

@frozentripper: Last year was really wet. Water levels were higher everywhere than normal. I don't think McDonald creek would usually have anywhere near that much water in August, but as it was my first time there I don't know for sure. I definitely didn't have to drag, or even scrape the bottom anywhere to my recollection.  Yeah, I'm hoping an early Spring trip will make things a little more manageable from a visibility perspective. 

     Thread Starter

2/10/2018 1:35 pm  #8

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Uppa - kudos for posting that video and comments.  Whether they admit it or not, I think everyone has had moments where they had to give up and turn back, and then have continued to doubt and question themselves for a long time afterwards.  You had a tough day and the portage to Turcotte is no picnic.  I've only checked out the ankle-spraining, knee-twisting start of the trail as a curiosity on a day trip up and down Macdonald Creek, but that was in May during a dry year, with less vegetation and no deerflies.

Given the current snow cover in the area, you will probably have lots of water this spring.  I hope you have good weather and are well-rested for the rigours of your chosen route. The scenery and remote feeling should be worth it - there's some beautiful country in there.  And if you have the time and energy when you get to Tarn Lake, climb the cliff and have a look around - the view is spectacular.


2/10/2018 2:23 pm  #9

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

I respectfully disagree with "no excuses" part: lack of success is not a failure as long as one is willing to use it as a foundation to build upon. Average Algonquin tripping experience doesn't prepare for extended bushwhacking.
as a P.S. - I would avoid going bare-armed or bare-legged on a low-maintenance portage. Sleeves provide for important barrier against unavoidable scratches getting too deep and infected.


2/10/2018 2:39 pm  #10

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

I second Eddy Turn's long sleeves and long pants recommendations - for protection against scratches and also against sun and deerflies (or other biting insects, depending on the time of year).  A wide-brimmed hat is good in deerfly season, since they go for hair reflecting UV and don't like to be under cover.

And a P.S. to my previous post - the big white pine on the left (east) side of MacDonald Creek, visible in the background of your video when you are turning around, is a good marker just beyond the takeout for the Turcotte Lake portage.  Of course you now have a GPS record of where you went, so that will be less important next time.


2/10/2018 3:01 pm  #11

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Great video Uppa. Don't beat yourself up over having to turn around. When my friends and I went to Clover it was opening week of the park and the vegetation wasn't as dense, made it easier for us to spot the portage sign and the rotten log path to the bush. I have no doubt that with your determination you will succeed this year. Good luck and I'll be watching for the video of your success!


2/11/2018 11:07 am  #12

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Don't fret. I bailed on a solo trip 2 yrs ago and i had already made it to camp. After a series of unfortunate  events and bad decisions I decided to pack it in and paddle out as night fell. My mind wasn't in the game. The decision to abort  was one of the bad decisions made that day and fully regret it. Have yet to redeem myself and plan another attempt. The best part of that trip was the paddle out. I love paddling at night. Just an incredible experience despite the failure. After seeing what you went through I can appreciate  how you were feeling and the desperate need to be done with it. Kudos to you for knowing when enough is enough. Looking forward to you redemption video.


2/11/2018 5:51 pm  #13

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

@dcmcelroy: I've seen your photos from that view and I'd love to check it out. I'm guessing the slog from Clover to Tarn (provided I make it that far!) is going to preclude me wanting to add that climb to my day, so you've got me thinking about tacking another day onto the trip just so I can do so. And thanks for the words of support - they're appreciated. 

@EddyTurn: You're right, I didn't go into that trip expecting bushwhacking and it's not something I have much experience with. On my return, I'll be going in with the mindset that I'm going to have to bushwhack most of that 2K portage. If that isn't the case then great, but I'm basing my plans and gear around the worst case scenario. 

@Up-the_Creek: It wasn't so much the turning around (although I gave up too soon, too easily), it was everything that came after. I could have handled it better. I had a multi-day trip planned and instead I drove all the way home just because things didn't go my way. I passed up time I could have been spending in Algonquin!

@Shayne: I've never paddled at night in Algonquin aside from maybe a few minutes on the water near a campsite. Now you've got me wanting to - although not on McDonald creek!

     Thread Starter

2/11/2018 7:38 pm  #14

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

I wouldn't recommend it solo  but it's a whole new world of interior travel. It's not for everyone I'm sure.


2/13/2018 2:03 pm  #15

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Obviously you didn't book Upper or Lower specticle but why didn't you check them out and see if there was a site to stay on for the night? 

I would have gone that route rather than go home.


2/13/2018 4:49 pm  #16

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

If I sat down to think about every "why didn't you..." on that trip, I'd be at it a while. I paddled right past open sites on Grand, briefly considered them, but was too damn angry at myself to do anything but bail. Which was incredibly dumb of me and I had a dozen better options. 

I would not under any circumstances have considered the Spectacle lakes, however. It's one thing to squat on a lake with lots of sites and many obviously available, it's completely another to do that on lakes with very few campsites unless in an emergency. 

     Thread Starter

2/16/2018 11:01 am  #17

Re: My Failed Trip to Clover Lake - Video

Night travel is epic!! It is such a great feeling, and everyone on here is going to be experienced enough to do it. Back when I lived down south, I would drive up Friday after work and get about 3-4 hours in, getting to camp around midnight or whatever. Then I would wake up early, already a couple lakes deep, and have a good head start to get whatever trout lake i was trying to get to. 

​Also, this loop you have posted is one of the spots in APP I have not been, and am attempting to do them all by the end of 2018. This one is one of the more daunting ones left, looking forward to watching your success video in the spring. I would ask to join you, but I am trying to reserve my spring trips to those areas I think have a high likelihood of Brook Trout! Do you think its going to kill me to try it in the summer?



Board footera