# of portages: 2
Total portage distance: 3390m
Total distance: 7.2km
Rain…2016 will go down in my books as the year of rainy camping. Had it been any other weekend, I probably wouldn’t have gone, but the best man at my wedding just accepted a new job in Korea which will keep him busy for years and we hadn’t been on a canoe trip yet. So despite the rain, we packed up and headed out with Shane for a quick taste of the park.
Rain lake lived up to its name. We got there around 8:30, with just enough precipitation falling to be annoying. Luckily we’re all amateur meteorologists and knew there was a gap in the rain coming up on the radar. We unloaded what we could, leaving the packs in the car and took up residence under a tree. We chatted with a friendly MNR employee who was putting up signs raising awareness over the fire ban. That’s right, despite the rain there was a fire ban on park-wide! A large 60-hectare fire was burning on the east side, and it was just coming under control. He did suggest some fishing spots though, great guy.
Around 9:30, the rain started to subside and we started out. The lake was calm and the company good. Before long we came upon the only portage of the trip, a long but easy 1600-odd meter cart path. It was great! Wide, clear, and level. Near the end, you divert from the cart path into Little McCraney. We caught our breath, changed footwear to sandals, and pushed off from the sandy beach towards our destination.
Heading south through a relatively spacious creek, Ed was impressed with the beaver dam we had to lift over. A helpful couple we passed warned us of low water levels, but at this point in the season it was very passable. It is a controlled environment though, so I could see trouble with the creek if the system lost 30-odd centimetres.
As we pulled out to McCraney lake, the rain began spitting again. We decided to take the first available site and make the best of whatever we had. Turns out, this meant the northernmost site on the west. It was a small site, with a big root system running through most of it, but there were some dilapidated benches and plenty of trees to strap down a tarp or two.
First thing we did was put up a tarp, so that the gear would be dry, then we could worry about things like food and where to put the tents. We put all our eggs in one basket with this tarp, using all the rope we had to tie it up, down, and sideways. By the time we were done lunch, it had started to rain steadily again.
As we busied ourselves around the camp fishing, building/improving benches and rock tables, the rain really came down. We dug moats to keep the drainage up, but it was a losing battle. Eventually we were ankle deep even right under the middle of the tarp! The rain came and went all day, but there are worse places to be warm and (mostly) dry.
The rain really hampered any plans to explore the lake, which was large and has many features to visit. Dinner was undercooked. We left the same way we came. In almost every way this was a write off weekend, but I’m so glad to introduce Algonquin’s interior to Ed before he left. He claims to have had a good time, so next time we’re on the same continent I’ll have to bring a portaging pack.