2015 Algonquin Thunderbox Tour – Part Three

Paddling through Red Pine Bay was pretty magnificent. It had a real tight-knit feel to it. It felt like I was given a hug and I’m not sure why. It was at this lake that I really realized that all lakes have a different feeling to them. Perhaps that’s why I keep pushing myself further and further into the backcountry to see and feel those differences in the wilderness.

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We paddled to an island but didn’t stay there. The landing was difficult and the site was completely covered in trees. There was another island site to the right of us that had a huge stand of red pines. It was only fitting that we chose to stay at the island with the red pines on Red Pine Bay. We preferred island sites because they were more open and kept the bugs down immensely.

Once I stepped foot on the island, I could feel that there was a lot of history to this particular site. The cooking area was like nothing I’d ever seen. The fire pit, which was actually more of a fireplace, rested in a huge bolder. There was a mantle and everything. The unfortunate part was that there was bits of garbage left here. Tinfoil, hot chocolate wrapper, and plastic. You would think that whoever paddled back as far as we did knows better than to leave garbage behind. You leave the site the way you would want a site to be when you arrive. Clean and tidy.

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We paid it forward during the whole trip. Busy always made sure extra wood and kindling was cut for the next people who would arrive. You never know if someone will need a quick fire, and a gesture such as this can save time and energy for someone needing the warmth of a fire.

Wind was blowing in pretty hard from the southwest. The weather changed, you could feel it. Having the ability to read the weather (and know what time of day it was) while in the wilderness is a great skill to have. We always knew that if there was a red sky at night, then it would be a “sailor’s delight” the next day. This proved true throughout our whole trip. If we didn’t have a red sky at night, that meant to hang the shelter up, put our gear underneath, and it would also be a dry area for cooking in the morning.

Weather did blow in that night. It rained all night and all the next day. It was a travel day. We had fried oatmeal for breakfast, hot coffee and packed everything up wet and hit the water. The paddle to our first portage was beautiful, I wish I had taken photos. We paddled upstream and had a small 75m portage around rapids.

We paddled further upstream and had another small portage of 35m around another set of rapids. Sugar and Tackle Box decided to line up the rapids, while the rest of us placed our steps carefully as to not trample or brush up against the thick growth of poison ivy. Again, Jeff’s Map doesn’t lie.

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Busy and I paddled on ahead. We were in moose territory and if Jeff’s Map is true, we’d see a moose munching on lily pads. With Longer Lake within view and nearing the end of the upstream paddle, I was disappointed that we didn’t see one…

… that was until Busy told me to get my camera out. I turned my head right and there it was. Another moose! Completely covered in water up to its neck, and grass and pads hanging out of its mouth. It let us paddle in pretty close and then like nothing ran off in the water. They are so powerful. Happy Canada Day!

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Dark clouds were looming and the wind was at our back as we paddled and drifted down Longer Lake to our last portage of 300m before the big waters of Big Trout Lake. What could have taken hours and what could have been a risky paddle turned out to be not so bad. Again with the wind at our backs, we paddled and drifted down to the southeast end of the lake in no time.

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There were a few island sites that looked great, but nothing could keep us from exploring “Daytona.” You couldn’t help but miss it. It was an island site that was completely eroding on the western side from harsh wind, waves, and people trampling up and down it. We had a rest day the following day, so we camped 2 nights here. This lake was absolutely beautiful with many islands and highlands in the background.

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Read the final part here.

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