July 7-10, 2012 - Algonquin - Cauchon, Laurel & Mink Lakes

Photos (including every portage)

  • Location: Algonquin Provincial Park, northwest corner
  • Access Point: 29 (Kioshkokwi Lake)
  • Trip Duration: Four days (three nights)
  • Trip Type: There and back
  • Route: Kioshkokwi Lake, Little Mink Lake, Mink Lake, Cauchon Lake, Little Cauchon Lake, Laurel Lake

This was my longest and most remote trip yet.  It met my solitude goals, as I may have been the only person camping on each of the three lakes I stayed on.  After the first portage from Kioshkokwi Lake, I only encountered two or three other canoes my entire four days.  Sweet!

 Campsites on nights 1 and 3 ( map courtesy of Jeff McMurtrie )

Campsites on nights 1 and 3 (map courtesy of Jeff McMurtrie)

 Campsite on night 2 ( map courtesy of Jeff McMurtrie )

Campsite on night 2 (map courtesy of Jeff McMurtrie)

Day One: Let's Get 'Er Going!

5:00 AM: Alarm goes off.  Final weather check looks good, so let's do this thing.

5:30 AM: Start the drive to Kiosk

5:31 AM: First stop (unplanned) - Hiking boots left unattached on roof of car.  Hiking boots fall from roof of car, startling driver.  Driver picks up boots and places inside vehicle.

8:04 AM: Drive by road into Achray campground on Grand Lake.  Time noted for future reference.

8:09 AM: Short break at rest area on Highway 17

~8:20 AM: See sign for Wawa, only 772 kilometres away.  Good to know.

10:16 AM: Arrive at access point on Kioshkokwi Lake.  Enjoy lunch and discuss trip options with helpful lady in office.  She recommends Laurel Lake over Hurdman Lake as the status of the portage to Hurdman Lake is unknown (fine choice but for future reference, the portage is fine).

11:02 AM: On the water of Kioshkokwi Lake

 Ready to go from the Kioshkokwi Lake launch point

Ready to go from the Kioshkokwi Lake launch point

11:52 AM: Arrive at 635m portage to Little Mink Lake

12:45 PM: Portage complete - On the water of Little Mink Lake.  Keep in mind that I do every portage three times (once with gear, once back with nothing, and once with kayak).  I'm not walking grandma-style but I'm not exactly Usain Bolt either.

12:55 PM: Arrive at 410m portage to Mink Lake

1:30 PM: Portage complete - On the water of Mink Lake

3:17 PM: Arrive at 440m portage to Cauchon Lake

4:00 PM: Portage complete - On the water of Cauchon Lake.  First campsite is available and looks okay.  Take it even though there's a steep hill to get from lake to site.  Set up site and fill water bottles.

 Campsite on Cauchon Lake

Campsite on Cauchon Lake

? - 6:30 PM: Nap.  It's been a long day.

7:05 PM Dinner of Mountain House freeze-dried spaghetti (my favourite!)

7:30 - 8:45 PM: Enjoy evening paddle on pristine Cauchon Lake.  Witness very fat beaver barrel down steep slope and enter water with such force as to disrupt serenity and create a wake.

 Cauchon Lake

Cauchon Lake

Day Two: To Laurel Lake

5:30 AM: Arise from slumber.  Eat breakfast and pack up.

6:42 AM: On the water of Cauchon Lake.  Paddle length of lake and under old railway bridge and logging road bridge to get to Little Cauchon Lake.

~7:30 AM: Witness three otters swim towards shore in front of me.  Watch one get out with something in its mouth (mangled fish?) before they all notice my presence.  Ready camera only to be disappointed as all three quickly head out into deeper water, snorting their derision my way.

8:20 AM: Break stop at campsite on Cauchon Lake.

8:56 AM: Notice large brown blob move quickly in middle of lake. Realize that large blob is in fact a moose that is rapidly heading across the lake.  React with appropriate amount of shock and awe.

 It's a moose in the middle of Little Cauchon Lake!

It's a moose in the middle of Little Cauchon Lake!

10:00 - 10:30 AM: Chase heron around small lake between Little Cauchon and Gouinlock Lakes.  (It wasn't my fault - it just kept moving where I was headed.)

10:48 AM: Arrive at 160m portage to Laurel Lake.  This one was pretty snappy, but it's uphill for the first half from Little Cauchon Lake, then sharply downhill towards Laurel Lake.  There's a nice waterfall entering Laurel Lake immediately right of the portage's end.

 Waterfall entering Laurel Lake

Waterfall entering Laurel Lake

~11:30 AM: Select second campsite (west of portage to Loxley Lake).  First campsite was nice and looks directly across at the waterfall, but it's not very level.

1:50 - 3:30 PM: Paddle up creek towards Little Loxley Lake - looks promising for wildlife.  Find Pitcher Plant and Pickerel Weed instead of wildlife.  Circumnavigate Laurel Lake searching for wildlife.  Find butterfly on flower on lakeshore.

 Pickerel Weed on creek from Laurel Lake

Pickerel Weed on creek from Laurel Lake

 Pitcher Plant on creek from Laurel Lake

Pitcher Plant on creek from Laurel Lake

 Fritillary (Aphrodite or Atlantic?) on Fireweed on Laurel Lake shore

Fritillary (Aphrodite or Atlantic?) on Fireweed on Laurel Lake shore

evening:  Paddle up creek towards Little Loxley Lake (again) to search for wildlife.  Be disappointed by lack of wildlife.

 Rock face on Laurel Lake

Rock face on Laurel Lake

Day Three: Start the Return

5:15 AM: Hear alarm.  Disable alarm.  Go back to bed.

7:10 AM: Arise, thankful for disabling alarm.

7:15 AM: Paddle up creek towards Little Loxley Lake (yet again) to search for wildlife.  Be further disappointed by lack of wildlife.  Why do you hate me, little creek?  Eat breakfast, pack up and head out.

8:42 AM: Arrive at portage to Little Cauchon Lake.

9:07 AM: Meet two other people (there are other people out here?) exiting Little Cauchon Lake.  They're heading for the Brent access point... good luck fellas!

11:40 AM: Stop for break at campsite on Cauchon Lake, to search for tornado damage reported on Jeff McMurtrie's map.  Encounter a very large number of deer flies while wandering along railroad bed searching for tornado damage.  Give up trying to find tornado damage.  Notice frogs staking claim to launch point.

 Frog staking claim to launch point from Cauchon Lake campsite

Frog staking claim to launch point from Cauchon Lake campsite

1:21 PM: Arrive at 440m portage to Mink Lake

1:54 PM: Portage complete.  On the water of Mink Lake.  Decide to go for farthest campsite at north end of lake to minimize day four travel time.

3:20 PM: Arrive at northern campsite on Mink Lake and find it free!  Previous occupants left a nice present of leftover medication and miscellaneous fish hooks.  That's almost as good as the gift of leftover condom wrappers at my Laurel Lake site.  Thanks careless idiots!

rest of day: Nap, make dinner, scour Mink Lake for mammals and find only more beavers... they're everywhere!

 Beaver on Mink Lake

Beaver on Mink Lake

Day Four: Let's Get 'Er Home

6:00 AM: Wake up, eat breakfast, pack and get ready to leave.

6:40 AM: Leave.

10:07 AM: Arrive back at Kioshkokwi access point.  I made it!  Pack everything back into car.

10:42 AM: Leave access point.

~1:00 PM: See a bear cub cross Highway 17 west of Rolphton, ON.  C'mon... I've been in the wilderness for three days and didn't see a single sign of a bear and now I see one on a major highway.  What's the deal with that?  Still, a nice way to end a good trip.

~4:15 PM: Get home!