When we arrived at the Kearney permit office, we were excited to see Ralph Bice’s portrait and tribute. After reading Esther S. Keyser’s book (seriously, like my top 5), we learned about ol’ Ralphy and my husband proposed a canoe route through some of Mr. Bice’s territory. We even met his granddaughter in town before we headed for our access point. Our somewhat themed trip was off to a great start!
Ralph once said, “In the years since 1917, when I first started guiding in the park, I figure I’ve made 38 acres of pancakes.” And, “There was no way of weighing the large fish, but when the man with the camera got home he weighed the negative, and it alone weighed almost a pound.” Ralph was an Algonquin Guide, Former Mayor for Kearney and a notorious storyteller. He received the Order of Canada in 1985.
We started at the Magnetawan access point at 8:00pm and portaged 135m into Hambone where we spent the first wet night. The most northern site had a terrible landing, but it seemed to be the only one available to us. Didn’t matter, we were just there to crash and get up early the next morning to start our trip.
Up early the next morning, we paddled and portaged 55m into Acme “Pond” Lake, and 340m in Daisy. It was a beautiful day with steam rising from the lake (I say steam because the lakes are so warm right now!).
We had a good day ahead of us paddling down the Petawawa River to Misty to spend our second night. We did a 135m from Daisy to the Petawawa, 450m on the river and eventually out into Little Misty, with a final 935m portage into Misty. Portages were pretty straight forward, and I think we had one beaver dam to negotiate.
When we pulled into Misty Lake, I was hoping for the peninsula site, but it was taken. Instead we paddled east down the lake to a site that had a steep hike to the top, but once up there the view was amazing.
We spent the afternoon cleaning up some messy bushcraft makings left behind, watching a group of 7 loons, and making dinner of dehydrated gluten-free sloppy joes.
A little rant here: I think bushcraft is an important skill to have, but I get irritated when people leave behind live branches and structures. This particular site had huge logs leaned up against a tree on a decline, so if one was to fall over, they’d all roll down hill across the campsite and down into the lake. You’re not supposed to be cutting live branches either, so being respectful of the bush craft, please clean up your makings and make it like you weren’t there at all just like everyone else.
The next day we continued down the Petawawa River that eventually led us into Grassy Bay. Just after we completed the first portage of 850m and paddled down river, we spooked a moose and it ran off into the bush. It was behind us, so I couldn’t get my camera in time to snap a photo. Plus, who wants to see a moose’s behind?
A little further down the river, we were able to skip the 155m portage by wading through the river. There were rocks, but with careful manoeuvring we made it through. Just after this portage we came up on another moose feeding in the river. This one let us get within 20 feet. I took a few photos, and we paddled on our way as to not disturb it anymore. It wasn’t bothered by us anyway, but we wanted to leave on a good note.
We had another 195m + more in low water (which I think it was), and 160m until we stopped for lunch. We were all (B, Banjo and I) getting obliterated by the deer flies when a group of Camp Pathfinders stormed the put-in. It was hilarious. They came out of nowhere, a group of young boys. One even had the courage to hang a leak in front of me! They were all very polite and listened to their leaders (take note of this for a later story) when ordered to get in the canoes and push off.
After lunch and annihilation from the deer flies, we winded down the river to another 80m portage and a 200m right across the river. Eventually into Grassy Bay, we had covered a good amount of ground over the past couple of days. The headwind was at our backs when we sailed into White Trout.
One of the boys from Camp Pathfinder suggested we camp on the island site with a staircase. We took his advice. We had great views of the McLaughlin Depot Farm Remnants, the Ranger’s cabin still in use by park staff, and canoeists coming in from both directions.
The site was pretty cool, and excellent for large groups. There were a lot of tent pads and benches around the fire pit. There was also an old stove door there. B did a great clean up around the fire pit and rearranged it as he normally does. Island sites are cool, but a lot of times there is no deadwood left. We did a good job of finding the last bits on the island to keep us going for a couple of days (we took a day off here to mend a sore elbow and stay off the windy lake). There were a lot of birds around this site. We watched a bald eagle dive into the water and pull a fish out with its talons, more groups of loons and cedar waxwings!
We had dehydrated vegetarian chilli with fritos for dinner and watched the sunset.
Want to read more? Here’s Part Two. Thanks for reading!