Algonquin Park: Shall – Dickson – Booth

Day 2: Annie Bay, September 7, 6:45pm

Brutish. That was a brutish day. When I do the math I think it will tell me we travelled about 28km today. My rough estimate suggests it included 12km of portages. My shoulders are screaming at me. And I’m exhausted. Well and truly. I shall begin at the beginning.

Which was 6:00 am. Breakfast was of the ‘hurry up’ variety. Instant oatmeal sprinkled with granola and dried cherries. And coffee. Never forget the coffee. We were on the water for 7:45 or so, no doubt because we were a bit wired about all the traveling we had to do today. But as Martin said, “We’ll just get it done, as we always do.” Brave words. For someone who’d seen the portage count.

After a short paddle (a sort of theme for today) we did 430m into Hidden Lake. Another short paddle brought us to the 1530m into Fairy Lake. Another… wait for it… short paddle brought us to the 2825m into Animoosh Lake. Animoosh is quite a small lake – surprise – so it wasn’t long before we got to the 1220m to take us into Cisco Bay on Dickson Lake.

On this portage we caught our first and only sighting of people today. Three dudes sharing a canoe if not the carrying duties. We didn’t know where they were going but we reckoned if they took a special trip across each portage just for the fishing rods, it was going to take them a while to get there.

The portages were all in pretty good shape. The terrain not all that arduous. There were a shocking number of mosquitos (for September anyway) but apart from that it was just a long walk in the woods with canoes.

We reached Dickson Lake at around 11am. But we weren’t done yet, oh no. There was a stiff north westerly wind slowing us down as we scraped out of Cisco Bay toward our next portage. However despite a bit of a bouncy castle experience, at 12:15pm we landed at Dickson-Bonfield.

We reckoned it would take us 90 minutes at our usual pace. We planned to pause after 45 minutes and switch loads before continuing. The first bit of Dickson-Bonfield follows a cart trail — wide, flat and very inviting. But after about 800m the cart trail turns north and the portage continues east. And continues. And continues some more. The bugs were bad so our scheduled half way pause was possibly too short.

Eventually just shy of 2pm, we reached Bonfield Lake. Which is quite small and nondescript. Sort of like almost every other lake we’d seen that day. And there are no campsites on it so you have to keep going. Which we did. After our lunch time ration of two peanut butter and jam wraps.

The next two puddle hop portages into Wright Lake and Opeongo’s East Arm were mercifully brief affairs — each less than 300m.

But we weren’t done yet. I’d originally had us camping on the East Arm, but my Googling had suggested Annie Bay was a nicer spot. And contiguous paddling! So we paddled a short stretch across the wind, down a very wavy Opeongo. But as soon as we passed through the narrows into Annie Bay, the water transformed. There were no waves, and only a hint of wind.

We paddled to the site on the peninsula on the bay’s east shore and called it a day, just before 3pm. The sky had been overcast all day. But apart from scattered showers earlier in the morning, we’d been rain free. We set up camp, broke out the scotch and Ibuprophen and made dinner.

The site is really well situated. There’s lots of tent pads and great views south, north and west. But it’s clearly the go-to place on Annie Bay. It was very picked over and had an odd bald spot that looked like it was recovering from a root fire some years ago.

We had a smidge too much dahl, and I would say that the crisped onions I found at Bulk Barn weren’t good enough to warrant the additional weight. Though we did eat them.

We sat around Martin’s fire for a bit, and then staggered into the tent around 9:30pm.