June 15-17, 2012 - Algonquin - Mole & Booth Lakes
- Location: Algonquin Provincial Park, south side west of main Highway 60 area
- Access Point: 17 (Shall Lake)
- Trip Duration: Three days (two nights)
- Trip Type: There and back
- Route: Farm Lake, Kitty Lake, Booth Lake, McCarthy Creek, Mole Lake
This trip was a chance to try a less heavily-used access point and explore an area of the park where I had never been before. I loved it! If you've never been to Booth Lake, you should go - it's beautiful! I liked it so much that I want to head back there when the leaves are out in the fall. I was also very happy when I found out that there are no motorboats allowed on any of the lakes accessible from the access point.
The highlights of this trip were the solitude and the wildlife. I used access point 17, named Shall Lake but actually between Farm Lake and Crotch Lake. It's at the end of a 25 kilometer road (the first 13 kilometers are paved, the final 12 are gravel) north of Madawaska. I spent my first night on Mole Lake (after carrying over a couple of beaver dams) and my second on Booth Lake. My original plan was to portage in to Rumley Lake for the second night but the bugs were so bad that I wimped out and opted for Booth Lake instead. That turned out to be a wise choice! Booth Lake is a large lake bordered by hills and cliffs and I didn't see another person on the water for the entire two days I was there. There were a couple of occupied campsites, but I didn't see another boat on the water, despite paddling around for 15 hours or so, nor could I hear any other roads. It was very peaceful!
It was the best trip for mammals I have ever had. I saw three moose but the highlight was definitely a cow with a calf. I saw the cow and calf twice but it was in the same place so I presume they were the same individuals. I spent probably two hours watching the cow and calf from my kayak, allowing her to get used to my presence and slowly inching closer without disturbing her. She was obviously comfortable with my presence, turning her back to me and eating and letting her calf suckle a few times. It was an awesome experience to be able to hear her instruct the calf. Go lie down! Get over here and feed! Luckily, this was the first kayak trip that I took an SLR camera on (my old one with an 18-200mm lens) so I was able to get photos of the whole thing.
I was also lucky enough to see two separate wolves, one beautiful gray individual that stood still on the south shore of Kitty Lake about 15 feet in front of my kayak and another on the south shore of Booth Lake that I only saw the back of. Alas, my camera was resting comfortably in a dry bag during both wolf encounters. On the trip up I saw a fox and a deer cross the highway and a fisher cross the gravel road in to the access point. I also disturbed a large mammal, likely a bear, on Booth Lake. Crows were loudly cawing above a spot and when I came to that point of the shore, something went loudly crashing off into the woods. I also saw many beavers and a muskrat to round out the mammals. Add in herons, loons, kingfishers, a flock of 14 baby mergansers and I was a happy camper!