Total Distance: 19km
Number of Portages: 6
Total Portage Distance: 4970m
Me, my pal Shane, and our other friend Harry all headed up to Shane’s Kearney cabin Friday night so that we could sort our gear and get an early jump on the weekend. We managed to get up and out at a fairly decent time, not encountering the zoo we expected at the #4 put-in.
This was Harry’s first real canoe trip, and while we had been car camping many times before together, it was usually accompanied by a cooler full of rope and a truck-bed full of tarps. It was definitely a little different this time. We had some long portages ahead of us, and were going lightweight. That being said, it was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we took our time down the length of Rain.
None of us had been to this lake before, and it was better than I had expected. There were the usual yahoos hauling a giant cooler and 2 tonnes of fishing gear, but nothing that got my blood boiling like I have seen on other “close to the access point” trips.
We eventually made it to the only portage of the day, and once we had hashed out who was carrying what we went up the path. Up indeed, the whole portage is uphill! If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say there’s about a 40m difference over 1300-odd meters. But our legs were fresh, so the promise of a cool swim and trout fishing enticed us along our merry way. Before noon, we had reached Casey Lake and were setting about setting up camp.
Before lunch we headed out for a quick exploratory fish, as the locals in Kearney had pointed out Casey as a good trout spot. It wasn’t long until we were hungry though, and we headed in for a parlay and some food. We agreed that with almost the whole afternoon at our disposal to fish this tiny lake, that would be our objective. We also thought it would be fun to try and get to Salvelinus Lake via a bushwhack. Unfortunately neither panned out to our satisfaction.
Fishing turned out to be a bust. Perhaps it was too late in the summer, or the reports were wrong, but even 50-60′ down the fish couldn’t be enticed to eat our bait. The bushwhack too was a bust. We found some small pond, but were unable to find the lake named after the genus of fish we were seeking. It would have been disheartening had the day not been so damn nice. There’s nothing better than a warm summer day with your buds in the park.
Dinner was chicken and rice as we watched the sun set and laughed as Harry complained about the lack of ice for some whiskey, but it was undoubtedly a really great night as we dozed off.
We awoke to another glorious day in Algonquin, and I was very glad I had bought a toque from our outfitter (Canoe Algonquin, they’re awesome). Others were not as lucky, or smart depending on who you ask. A quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee prepped us for our ‘long day’. Because I had booked the trip so close to the date, I was unable to secure two sequential nights on Casey. Being the case, we had to walk to Islet lake, 3 portages to the south. Luckily the first portage back to Rain lake was entirely downhill and much nicer than when we had to go up it.
Unfortunately for us Rain lake is a glorified gully, and the other side was also uphill. It wasn’t too bad though, the portages were shorter, and once you get over the initial shock of the steps to Hot lake it isn’t too bad. These paths are all well-worn and well maintained. We were the first people of the day to arrive on Islet lake, as we had been on Casey, and had our pick of sites. The southernmost site seemed promising as it was a multi-tiered one, but we settled on the island site. We had met its previous occupants on the portages and knew it was well-stocked with some wood and had soft tent pads.
We settled in for a night and rigged our fishing gear while our Kraft Dinner lunch cooked. The portaging had taken it out of all of us, and we needed a bit of rest before heading out fishing again. It was that dangerous “rubbery-legged” type of tired which signaled overheating and dehydration, so we were taking it easy. A quick trip out beach combing for lumber loaded us up for the night and beyond, then we set out fishing in earnest. Being much shallower and warmer Islet is a haven for bass, and we caught our fair share. None were too big, but it was just nice to have a tight line after the disappointing afternoon before.
Once again, there wasn’t a breath of wind to churn up the large-ish lake, and we paddled around our area fishing the many little bays and creek run-outs. It was one of the best weekends weather-wise I’ve had in the park, truly remarkable. That night we spent some time around the campfire, but turned in relatively early to get on the road at a reasonable time. There were some long drives the next day, and we wanted to beat the craziness of the afternoon takeout.
The next morning was just as nice as the rest of the weekend, albeit with a itsy bitsy bit of clouds. The portages back were the easiest yet, as tends to happen. No stops, not even for that giant staircase into Rain lake! We got out without too much trouble, happy to head into town for some grub. The one bit of bad luck was that the notoriously slow chip truck we usually head to was packed like Webers, so I had to wait until later in the day (shout out to Pizza on Earth, the best pizza in Ontario. Just outside of Dorset http://www.mypizzaonearth.com/).
All things considered, it wasn’t a great fishing trip, but damn if it was a great long weekend!