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6/15/2021 9:48 am  #1

Cache Lake Loop - June 11-13 2021

Day 1: 1110m Portaging 6.12km total.
Cache Lake P760 > Hilliard P350 > Delano Lake 
Our day started rushed, waking up at 4:30am in the city as we had a few early morning clients to take care of before leaving for our first trip of the season.Arriving at Cache Lake around 3pm we had a wind free, easy paddle, and easy time portaging to our first site on Delano Lake which happens to be the only one on the lake. Upon first arriving it looked un-inviting but it grew on us. It is a small slightly overgrown site with poor water access but once we clambered up it wasn’t as bad as initially thought. We had a lovely evening cooking our steak and warming up some veggies on our camp stove, fishing (only catching small perch), watching the sunset, and enjoying a few beverages before heading to bed early knowing we had A LOT of portages for the next day (10 to be exact). 

Day 2: 4165m Portaging 12km total.Delano Lake P965 > South Canisbay P190 > Kingfisher P500 > Mohawk P845 > Little Mohawk P300 > Plough P365 > Cradle P50 > Bonnechere P175 > Phipps P60 > Kirkwood P715 > Pardee Lake 
We woke up around 5:30am to the sounds of loons yelling back and forth at each other along with the usual song birds. With the onslaught ahead of us we took our time eating a solid breakfast with lots of coffee before tearing down camp and battening down the hatches for (what I called) the “Portage Party”! We were at the first and most challenging portage for the day by 9:00am. It was 965m with 40m of elevation gain in the first 200m complete with two blow downs about halfway through, a great warm up. While being eaten alive by mosquitoes clearing the blow downs I was happy I ended up bringing my folding saw as it made quick work, regardless of the fire ban as it was worth the minimal extra weight. The icing in the cake though was the swampy put in at South Canisbay Lake which required about a 5-10m slog in almost knee deep stinky muck, avoiding spots of total impending submersion, before being able to stand on a conveniently placed log on some firm enough ground to load and get into the canoe. From there onwards the paddles were relatively short and the portages were more tame but still overgrown and some with some quick elevation changes. There was an abundance of fresh and old moose sign, lots of big tracks as well as smaller ones along with many piles of poop. And the mosquitoes? Still relentless on the trails.We stopped for lunch at the site that sits between Cradle Lake and Bonnechere Lake and it is as nice as I’ve read about! Crystal clear blue waters of Cradle Lake, fire pit built up against a large boulder, lots of open space, and some nice tent pads. The only downsides might be the potential for other trippers to want to use it as a shortcut while you are occupying it. By this point we have completed seven of the ten portages to get to our second destination, Pardee Lake. The remaining three portages were an easy 175m, an easy 60m, and a 715m which was moderately challenging given the nine other portages we did that day.We arrived at Pardee Lake and proceeded to the northern most campsite, which is the nicer of the two, given the southern site looks fairly unused and overgrown. The site is very wide and sits atop a gently sloping piece of rock that faces south and is spotted with groupings of blueberry bushes and behind it sits a hemlock forest.We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying some well earned snacks, bourbon, some unsuccessful fishing, a rehydrated meal, more bourbon, camp stove s’mores, and some star gazing before succumbing to the relentless mosquitoes and our pure exhaustion. 

Day 3: 2820m Portaging 10km total.Pardee Lake P145 > Harness P1035 > Head P1640 > Cache Lake 
We woke up later than the past two days around 7:30am not in a rush to go anywhere. We only had three portages and nowhere to be in the city, nor did we particularly want to go back so soon, we were just getting into the groove. We slowly disassembled camp while sipping on a few cups of coffee before committing to making our breakfast of s’mores oats (oats, cacao powder, chocolate chips, and mini-marshmallows) which is, deliciously, a similar viscosity to that of wet cement.We finally decided to hit the water and it was a very short paddle before our first portage of 145m which we powered through. Considering all the portages the day before and that we only single carry we should be experts at the craft. Harness Lake was beautiful as we meandered through the marsh on the south end and into the perfect glassy open water before landing at the portage into Head Lake. Harness Lake was the first lake that we saw other people on the entire trip before that point. That portage was relatively flat compared to what we faced the day before until the end where we had a quick decent down to the makeshift dock. Head Lake was as calm and glassy as Harness Lake once we got through the creek at the put in and lifted over two beaver dams. From there it wasn’t long before we hit the last and longest portage of the trip and it was my goal to carry it in one go without putting the canoe down as it would be the longest distance I’ve ever single carried in one shot. I was helped by a relatively flat trail, an abundance of boardwalks, some dried mangoes I stashed in my pocket, and a surprising lack of ravenous mosquitoes. I completed my goal and we were back on Cache Lake. It was a calm, quiet, and uneventful paddle and just like that we back to the car. We loaded up, returned our rental, and we’re on our way back to the city after an aptly named and awesome first trip of 2021. Here’s to many more! 

28km Total
8655m Portaging
15 Different Lakes

Last edited by Austin.M (6/15/2021 9:49 am)


6/15/2021 12:23 pm  #2

Re: Cache Lake Loop - June 11-13 2021

Sounds like a great trip. Amazing that you saw so few people, just proves the adage of putting a few portages behind you and the crowds will always disperse. Thanks for sharing.


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