Total Distance: 20km
Number of Portages: 2 (same one twice)
Total Portage Distance: 3280m
2015 was another long winter. It wasn’t a particularly brutal one, but it was cold enough to keep the ice on the lake longer than anyone had cared for. Me and Shane had decided to book another trip into Head Lake via Cache again and explore prime trout country while knocking the dust off our gear. It wasn’t until the day before we were slated to go in that Algonquin started issuing permits for that part of Algonquin, so we were more than pleased to be the vanguard (at least we thought).
It was a bright sunny morning when we pulled into Cache Lakes parking lot, eager to put paddles to water, and with last years navigational issues behind us we were at the portage in no time. Along the way, we took the time to deliciously flip the bird at the large patched of ice that were still hanging around in the shadows where sunlight could never breach. The portage was muddy, but we were buoyed by our enthusiasm and made short work of it. A quick break at the spacious end of the portage was all we needed before setting out on the water once again.
Our spirits dimmed as we rounded the same bend we had last year, near the waterfall on the southeast side of the lake, to dicover that some daring soul had bested out time and gotten to it before us! I was aware of a few people on the internet who were “thinking” about heading into that area, but only one set of tracks had made us hopeful. Undeterred we started setting up camp on the steep site across the bay. This site was suitable for no more than a group of four, but was more than adequate for out purposes. We even managed to get the tent set up so that we would be able to see the sunrise through the trees (room with a view is usually an extra on Expedia.com!).
We had a quick lunch and hung up the food bag, and I went out for a quick paddle around the bay to get some pictures of the falls (because I can never have enough) and try my luck fishing there. To my delight the occupant of our coveted site was packing up! Apparently his young dog was having a tough time in the shoulder-season cold and he wasn’t in love with his rented solo canoe. Apparently it felt “too much like a kayak,” which I can identify with. I gave him the tip I learned from MaddyTheGooses’ triplogs and suggested a childs sleeping bag for his puppy and wished him good day. As soon as I could, I furiously paddled back to our site and told Shane to start throwing things into bags. After an overly complicated time getting tangled in the food lines (really should take less lengths of rope), we were inefficiently loaded and barrelling across the bay. Just in the nick of time too, as we had to disappoint a crew celebrating a bachelor party with the phrase “we’re just setting up”.
Much of the rest of the day was spent in idyllic bliss, enjoying the unseasonal warmth of the sun and trying in vain to replicate our success fishing from last year. We have since learned where and how to get them in that lake though, with photographic proof from when we came back for a day trip on May 24 weekend. Apparently I never learn and overindulged in the vodka one or two sips, because the next morning I had very little in the way of energy and appetite. This made the portage back a real chore, so much so that we wound up “one and a half” portaging, where you drop the canoe half-way to the end take the packs to the end, then come back for everything else. It was a dreary slog. Alas, it had to be done and was a damn sight better than last years paddle up the Madawaska river!
As much as we loved Head lake, next year we’re looking to do something a bit different. No doubt we’ll return though!