Sept 13-15, 2017
# of portages: 6
Total portage distance: 2890m
Total distance: 20.0km
My sister decided to get married at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, and being so close to the West Gate of Algonquin a plan was hatched. She was getting married on the 16th, and I was required to be there for the evening of the 15th. I took the Wed-Fri stretch off before the wedding so Shane and I could take a mid-week jaunt into the bush. Shane picked out the lone site on Hilly Lake as a destination because it was isolated and in the midst of some black-line portages. This trip would be a bit more of an adventure than the other trips we’d been on in Algonquin.
We met at the West Gate where we would be picking up our permits. It was unseasonably hot, and I was already regretting bringing so much fall gear. The leaves were turning, but it was already north of 15 degrees by 8am. Gathering our stuff into one vehicle, we trundled back along Hwy 60 until we were juuuuussst out of the park and found a spot to leave our vehicle by a snow plow turnaround which was marked on Jeff’s Map. I have to say I was a little worried about leaving the car right on the major highway like that, but it was no worse for wear by the end. It was on a short portage around a culvert, so we were basically right on the water.
We set out onto Park Lake with high spirits. We had no reason to see anybody else on our trip and it was through a part of the park we had found excitingly little in the way of information. There was a very shallow bit between Park and Snow lakes, where I had to put a boot in the water and skateboard-scoot out boat forwards, but other than that it was clear and easy paddling.
Our first portage was a short doddle, nothing too crazy but definitely not a highway like on Canoe Lake. Our biggest hurdle of the day was finding the portage from Greenwood Lake to Shawandasee lake. On Jeff’s map, the portage is right on the point on the east end of the island, but after 30-odd minutes bushwacking around that point, we decided the best route would be to head to the southern roads and travel along that quickly while avoiding any traffic with extreme caution. As we headed for the south-eastern shore, lo and behold we saw a hodge-podge of a sign hidden bag down a short path. This path was one of the best portages I’ve ever been on. Level, wide, and straight we made it down there in 20 minutes. So much better than bushwacking!
Aside from a few beaver dams here and there, and a bit of creek navigation, it’s not hard to get to Hilly Lake. Let me tell you, it’s worth it to get there too! The lake isn’t very scenic like Booth Lake is, and you can still hear roadways in the morning when all is still, plus there’s a ton of large animal activity around, but the site is nice and the fishin’ is bitchin’! Our site could easily accommodate 3 tents, and there was a cold little stream a short walk down the beach to grab water. Someone had brought in aircraft cable and set it up as a mainline for tarps if you needed one. The thunderbox was stable and clean. It was nothing like I imagined our little camp in the middle of nowhere-Algonquin to be like.
The fishing was great too! Bass of all sort and perch. Nothing I had read said that, so you heard it here first. Hilly Lake might have trout in the spring, but in the early fall, come set for hungry bass. All times of day they were biting, and we didn’t have to go too far to find them.
We passed the time idly, there was no good spot for swimming unfortunately, but we took a trip upstream to Bluebell lake. It’s a pretty little lake and there’s rumors of a site opening there next year, but it’s tough to get to. Lots of lift-overs and beaver dams as you go against the current. I wouldn’t suggest making a slog from the west to turn around here. Our food was good and quick; chicken burritos with a pre-made rice mix, eggs and bacon, pepperette wraps, beef kabobs with instant mashed potatoes and rehydrated corn, and “just add water” pancakes. Very good, filling, and fresh.
Heading out was very easy, as we knew exactly what we were looking forwards to and we were going with the current in the squeezed rivers. We got back to the car which was no worse for wear and headed off to my sisters wedding. A shower was very well received by myself, and the people who were in my general vicinity. Hilly Lake, wonderful little trip!