Day 2 - Potter Lake to McIntosh Lake (11 km)

Day 2 - Potter Lake to McIntosh Lake (11 km)

All maps shown on this page are provided courtesy of Toporama which contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada. I have made additional markings to show route information

I slept well. The night had been cool, but I was snuggled comfortably in my hammock. I emerged to sunny, cloudless skies and a gorgeous Algonquin lake that was as smooth as glass. You know...the kind of moment one does all the insanely hard work of planning, preparing, packing, driving, and portaging for. Is it worth it? Well, if you have ever sipped your coffee in quiet solitude on a sunny morning next to a glass-like Algonquin lake that you seemingly have to yourself, you might answer that question with an affirmative. 

Naturally, on a morning such as that, I took my time with breakfast and morning chores. I ate wraps of naan bread, cheese, and ham and enjoyed a coffee or two with a sniff of Bailey's Irish Cream. Yummy. 

I eventually broke camp and finally got on the water shortly before 10:00 AM. I snapped a picture of my beautiful campsite as I departed. 

I began trolling for lake trout but the lake was surprisingly shallow in most spots near the centre. Potter Lake was really two lakes -- the larger northern and southern bays, connected by a narrow shallows in the centre. I did have a fish on the line in the northern bay. It struck my lure with such force that it ripped the rod backwards; I almost lost it in the drink. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for the fish, there was enough slack on the line, allowing the trout an opportunity to release my lure with a couple of powerful head shakes. I got my hands on the rod just in time to feel those undeniable lake trout head shakes and then felt the line go slack. Sigh. I was angry at myself for not having firmer pressure on the rod while trolling. It seemed to be a large fish. 

To get to the portage into Brule Lake, I had to lift over a beaver dam. As I was standing on the dam and pulling my canoe over it, I felt something tweak in my right knee. Ouch. I stood there bending and extending it for a moment or two. I could put my full weight on it, but something had obviously happened.  This concerned me with the amount of portaging I needed to do over the next two days. 

The 730-meter portage was nearly a carbon copy of the one from Potter Creek to Potter Lake in that it was on the same access road, just a little further north. This one, however, had a steeper climb to get up to the road, so the good people at Ontario Parks had constructed a staircase to get canoeists onto the road. You have got to love the luxuries of canoe tripping in Algonquin. No such opulence exists on more remote routes further north.

My knee was tender as I was walking and I could feel something "clicking" on many steps. I was still able to carry the full weight of my pack and my boat, however. I would have to keep an eye on it and was praying to the canoe-tripping gods that this was not something serious like a meniscus tear that would impact future trips for the summer. 

I smiled to myself at the put-in. The day was beautiful, as was the scenery in that Algonquin-like way. 

Brule Lake was a pretty lake. The rocky point that juts out into the lake at the southeast corner was striking. 

Across the lake from that to the north are a couple of cabins, one of them with a bit of history. In fact, all of Brule Lake has quite a bit of history. A small town, oddly and inexplicably called Brule  (go figure), grew up around a lumber mill at the very northwest end of the lake. It had year-round residents and a train station about a hundred years ago. When the sawmill closed, most of the residents abandoned the area. A fire in the 1950s did the rest of the work in driving the remaining villagers away. My map indicated that there were still some ruins there, so I thought I go and have a look-see. 

I took out at the portage to Lillypond Lake. There was a grassy clearing at the take-out with a poop-ton of raspberry bushes. Too bad I was too early in the year to enjoy some. There was evidence of other edible plants there, as well -- remnants of long-forgotten gardens.  

The only thing I found in this large clearing was some weathered planks and what seemed to be an old stove of some sort. 

A short jaunt to the west took me back to that same old access road that I had been portaging on earlier There, I came across a remarkable old, dilapidated cabin that contained some interesting relics of the past. The life these homesteaders must have lived in such a location! The thought of overwintering in such a place is astonishing and frightful. 

I'm sure there were more relics further up the portage, but my propensity to explore and continue on my route further kicked in and I went back to my boat.  

As I headed for the portage out of the northeast corner of the lake, I passed the two properties on the north shore. The one further to the west was once known as Pringrove, the property of a lumber baron. There were three buildings that I could see from shore. The one in the middle was built out of squared original old-growth white pine. I would have loved to get a better view of the structure, but it is now private property and three good ol' boys were on site, enjoying the weekend. Out of respect for their privacy, I neither paddled too close to shore nor took any photos. 

The take-out to the 170-meter portage into Rosswood Lake was on a dock that had seen better days. Though the lake was reclaiming it, I was still able to get myself, my boat, and my gear up onto it.  Sure beats dragging over rocks. 

It was an easy walk that emerged at the largest beaver dam I had seen enroute thus far. Beavers never cease to amaze me at how they can alter a landscape by changing water levels. Truly amazing creatures! 

I found Rosswood Lake to be a gorgeous little spot that would be an excellent place to camp and have a lake to oneself. Too bad there were no official campsites. 

When I reached the start of the 1000-meter portage to Straight Shore Lake, I thought I should have an energy boost before tackling it. I made a couple of peanut butter and honey wraps and filtered some more water at the take-out. It was a nice little rest sitting in the sun, just me and 3245 of my best blackfly friends. 

The 1000-meter portage was fine but there were a couple of downed trees and the typical muddy flooded spots of spring to negotiate. I shared the portage with a father-daughter pair travelling in the opposite direction -- the first of many canoe trippers I would encounter on the trip. We exchanged pleasantries as we passed one another. It looked like they were having a good time. 

Straight Shore Lake was interesting, but not in a good way. At the put-in, I marvelled at the clear water with a greenish hue. A few paddle strokes later, I realized that the colour was a result of a rather formidable algae bloom. I was immediately glad that I had filtered water on the previous lake. I was not sure if the algae was of the dangerous blue-green variety that contains a harmful cyanobacteria but I didn't want to test it. Cyanobacteria!?! Ewww. I'm not sure what that does to a person, but it sounds like it might make one's eyeballs explode. I was unable to find any further information on this lake in subsequent online research but I would not recommend other trippers to stop for a swim or water refill break on that lake. 

Here is a photo of Straight Shore Lake from the take-out to McIntosh. It is a shame about the algae; it's a gorgeous lake otherwise. 

The 670-meter walk to McIntosh Lake was fairly undulating, but not overly so. It was a moderate descent down to the water on the McIntosh side.  I smiled upon seeing McIntosh Lake again at the put-in; it is a gorgeous island-studded lake, making it one of the more popular ones in the entire park. 

My smile diminished somewhat upon emerging out of that western bay. Many of the prime campsites appeared to be occupied. Sigh...just like the last time I arrived at this lake 6 years earlier. I crossed the lake to the northeast in the hope that some of the island sites would be vacant -- no such luck. I then headed for the east shore, hoping I could get a site with a prime view of a possible sunset later that evening. The one on the northernmost peninsula was available, but it seemed the previous occupants had gotten a little "fire happy"; there were a lot of oversized half-burnt logs strewn all over the place. Sigh...again. The view west across the span of the lake was awesome, though. 

The back of the site was a steep climb up to the forest and thunderbox. There was room up there for a few tents. I prefer to hang my hammock near the water if possible and did so. It was a bit closer to the fire pit than I would have liked, but I had to make do with the trees I had available. I tried to clean up the debris on the site a bit, but as you can see, it was still a bit "junky".  I would end up burning a lot of that strewn debris away. I always try to leave a site in better condition than I find it. 

I read in my hammock for quite a long time -- very relaxing! I cooked yet another steak for dinner that night with some instant mashed potatoes. I know...steak two nights in a row isn't the healthiest choice for a man in his fifties, but I don't do that often and it's just so darn good! 

It was a good night but I couldn't enjoy staying up next to a fire. The mosquitoes had hatched with the heat of the day and were out in a big way. It caught me off guard because there were hardly any the previous night. Because of that, I hadn't set up my bug shelter, but when the evening arrived, I sure wished I had. The previous day's rain and the heat of the day had done the trick, it seemed. 

I did get a partial sunset that was very pretty, nonetheless. I snapped a few photos, escaped to the sanctuary of my hammock, and slept for 8 hours straight. Lovely. I was awoken once as I was falling asleep because some idiots on the lake were shooting off firecrackers. Seriously?!? Thankfully, it didn't last long and I drifted off again. On these trips, I often sleep better than I do at home in my bed.