Ten minutes later when I reached the 110m portage, I was getting pounded by rain. By the time I reached the end of the portage with my second load, the thunder and lightning began.
I would have liked to have waited out the storm there, but the put-in was basically in a swamp and the mosquitos were atrocious -- even in the heavy rain. So I made a mad dash up the northern shore of this unnamed lake and was able to take out at the base of a tree-clad rocky slope. There, I pulled the canoe ashore and I climbed up about 8' off the water under some trees. Not ideal in a storm situation, but I didn't want to chance being on the water any longer as the thunder and lightning were getting nearer. Besides, the rest of this pond was a mosquito-infested swamp. I rode out the storm there for about 45 minutes without incident before getting back into the canoe. The storm seemed to have passed for the moment.
The 140m portage to the next pond was a slippery descent next to a small chute. After all the rain it was terribly slick and I accomplished it at a snail's pace. Slow and steady wins the day in those conditions.
The 1125m portage was better in terms of footing, but it seemed long. The path was clear to follow, however and was downhill most of the way. There were only a couple of tricky deadfalls to negotiate. The air in the deciduous forest on the carry was extremely close and humid though. By the time I had finished both trips, I was absolutely drenched to the bone in sweat under my rain jacket.
Back on Flack, I had a 4km paddle due north across that large round lake to get back to Laurentian Lodge. The storm looked like it had subsided, so I made a beeline straight across the lake. About halfway across, as luck would have it, dark clouds moved in very quickly from the southwest once again. Thunder and lightning soon followed. Boy, did I paddle those last two km quickly! I made it to the lodge about 20 minutes later just as streaks of lightning began lighting up the sky. About 20 minutes after that, the storm passed directly overhead as I was pulling out of the parking lot. Whew!
Though the portages on this trip were demanding (especially for an out-of-shape, 50-year-old paddling solo!), it is highly recommended for its scenic beauty (it surpasses Algonquin in many respects in my humble opinion), excellent campsites, good fishing, wildlife, and remoteness. I encountered only one other group of canoeists and one fisherman in 5 days during the first week of July -- at the tail end of a pandemic, a time when it seemed that everyone and their mother was heading out into the backcountry in a canoe. That's saying something!
Driving back to southern Ontario later that day, I told myself that this would not be my last trip into the Algoma Highlands.