Algonquin Park: Érables – Biggar – Kioshkowkwi

A four day canoe trip through Algonquin’s north end: Sept. 23 - 26, 2016

Sunday, Sept. 25 4:45pm

Kioshkowkwi Lake

So we’re over achievers again. We were booked to stay on Manitou Lake tonight (which is well worth staying on, may I note, but more on that later) but, having seen only one other party today, we deduced that the park was pretty much empty. And since we were unlikely to displace anyone, we could safely camp on a lake other than that which we had reserved.

Last night we looked at the distances and reckoned that, with favourable conditions we could probably get all the way to Kioshkowkwi today, which might be beneficial if Monday was meant to be rainy and cold.

And while we didn’t know what sort of campsites we’d find on Kioshkowkwi, we figured we’d risk it to avoid a two hour rain soaked journey back to the car Monday.

Today was to be mostly open water paddling on North Tea and Manitou which, legend has it, can get quite wavy and cut your moving speed in half. At least.

So we reckoned if we made the north end of Manitou by early afternoon, we would do the extra 7km to get to the cluster of sites at the south end of Kioshkowkwi today.

We were up and moving just before 7am. It was ridiculously cold. Maybe 5C? Fog shrouded the lake. Although it almost goes without saying. I could see the moon in the sky, so I reckoned the forecast of sun and warm would hold. It just didn’t seem conceivable that the ‘warm’ part would get here.

With numb hands we made and ate breakfast, cleaned up, packed up and set off, hitting the water just before 9am.

The fog dissipated and the temperature rose so much that Martin was in short sleeves by around 11am.

Our route took us west to the end of Biggar, through the connecting creek/puddle and into Mangotasi, North Tea and Manitou Lakes. A lot of time on the water — most welcome after yesterday and Friday for that matter.

The wind gently came across the port bow throughout the morning and we made good progress. We did the math and realized we could make Kioshkowkwi pretty easily today. We figured we’d be happier doing the stretch along the Amable du Fond river in warmth and sunshine.

Manitou and North Tea for that matter are beautiful lakes with amazing beach campsites. We reached one, marked as CS14 around noon and stopped for lunch to check it out. Gorgeous, but we did pick up a lot of flies. A non-biting kind. Sand flies? Not sure what the story was there. Gorgeous site. No doubt very popular.

We passed one party heading south on Manitou and we reckoned that’s where they’d stayed.

After lunch we headed north to the Amable du Fond river, starting the portage through the du Fond farm field just before 2pm. Apart from the fact that the trees are a lot shorter around there, looking at it from the lake, it would take some imagination to see it as a farm field. The first few dozen metres of portage do suggest “nature reclaiming orchard or meadow” but it’s barely recognizable for what it was.

The Amable du Fond has two portages on it and a third for low water situations.

I looked downstream from the end of the first portage and saw one swift. We were both still carrying so I proposed we just take the low water option, since it wasn’t a lot further.

We did and it was fine. We weren’t hurting and I reckoned we’d walk faster than we could wrench through lining, liftovers and swifts.

By 3:30 we’d found ourselves a site on Kioshkowkwi and had put in. It’s on a point, atop a steep, 2 or 3m hill. There’s a sort of beach like thing along the shore but Martin cautionned that the water was full of freshwater clams, the shells of which can be quite sharp. So mind yourself if you’re swimming.

Our site has what looks like it could be a small cliff/rock to jump or dive from. I didn’t check it out or try it so I have no idea if it’s safe or how safe.

I’m glad we pressed on but must make dinner so that we’re not doing dishes in the dark. So warm. So sunny.

I made Laurie Ann March’s Harvest Vegetable stew for dinner this evening, with savoury bannock biscuits and edam cheese. For extra protein I mixed in these Soyarie savoury tofu cubes. It was great — very filling. And I almost made the bannock into proper dough. I just couldn’t help myself, though, adding a bit too much water and (unforgivably) forgetting to bring extra flour.

However we ate it all and have some cheese left over.

We’ve decided to skip pancakes tomorrow and just eat left over granola bars, cheese and trail mix with our coffee so that we can get out from under the rain.