Pinetree Lake Algonquin Park Solo Trip - Part 1: Getting There

It has been a long week since I returned from my solo camping trip (with beagle) into Algonquin Park, on Pinetree Lake. Since then I have been run off my feet with work and haven't had much chance to update this blog... But now that I've had a chance to breathe...

Last Sunday morning I left Toronto at 5:30 with a 42 pound pack, containing cooking kit, my axe, sleeping bag and wool blankets strapped on, freeze-dried food, beef jerky, rice, flour, dried fruit and all of my gear all on the pack. I carefully strapped Monty into the back seat of the car and he lay down to relax for the rest of the trip.

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After a stop at McDonald's for the obligatory Sausage McMuffin and coffee, and getting the canoe, at about 10:30 and 340 kilometers later I arrived at the parking lot off of highway 60 . The canoe was a Shearwater Solo canoe, weighing a mere 39 pounds. It was made of a Kevlar/Carbon Fiber blend, and it was the lightest canoe that I'd ever carried. Paddling it was like pushing a leaf along a stream - light, responsive, yet stable. I picked it up at Algonquin Outfitters, at the Oxtongue Lake location, just west of the West Gate of Algonquin Park along Highway 60.

Mungo Says Bah! Bushcraft, Camping, Nature, Canoeing, Alqonquin Park
Getting into Pinetree Lake take a bit of time - you need to park your car, portage in all of your gear through about 2 kilometers of woods (1.885 km), then paddle through two lakes to find one of two sites on Pinetree Lake. But it is worth it - for the solitude, for the joy of the portage (*guffaw*) and for the unsullied land and views.

Mungo Says Bah! Bushcraft, Camping, Nature, Canoeing, Alqonquin Park
To find the parking spot off of Highway 60, drive from the West Gate of Algonquin Park (which is kilometer 0) past the Rock Lake road (around 42 km) for another 9.8 km. You'll see a little ramp into the woods if you are looking very carefully. Pull off, and drive in about 50 meters.

Mungo Says Bah! Bushcraft, Camping, Nature, Canoeing, Alqonquin Park
The portage was fairly even, with 2 or 3 small creeks that I had to cross. It felt pretty long though, and I was tired out by the time I arrived at the lake head. It was a fungus-filled trek, an amateur mycologist's paradise really. I saw nearly 20 different distinct varieties and species of fungi, and it was quite amazing. Puff balls, earth balls, lacquered polypores, jelly fungi, tinder fungi, and much more. The rain had started slightly, and cooled me off when I had to drop my pack and the canoe and rest for a few minutes. Monty was having a terrific time wandering about the trail but he stayed quite close to me at the same time.

Mungo Says Bah! Bushcraft, Camping, Nature, Canoeing, Alqonquin Park
A quick note for anyone else doing this trek: When you first see water at the bottom of a hill as you walk the portage, bear left across a small log-built bridge over a 2 foot wide creek, and walk uphill. I first thought that I was going way off track, but 100 meters later I arrived at open water. If you take the first opportunity prior to bearing left, you'll arrive in very swampy water with no clear access to the lake.

Mungo Says Bah! Bushcraft, Camping, Nature, Canoeing, Alqonquin Park
I ended up at a narrow shoreline in a small lake. After a 15 minute break, I plopped Monty into the canoe, along with my pack, and started off paddling. By this time, the rain was getting a bit stronger, but the air was warm and it was quite comfortable. Soon this small lake opened up into a 2 kilometer long lake, which then narrowed through a very shallow channel. I had to carefully avoid hitting rock bottom and dropped trees, but within a few minutes this channel opened up to reveal Pinetree Lake proper - and it was a 20 minute paddle straight across and along the shoreline to the site.

Mungo Says Bah! Bushcraft, Camping, Nature, Canoeing, Alqonquin Park
The skies opened up a couple of minutes after the canoe touched land, so I quickly rigged the tarp, and put the blankets down on the ground so Monty and I could wait out the storm. After a while I set up the tent, and hung the wet blankets and other items under the tarp ridge line to dry out. The rest of the day was amazing - I made a late lunch and made camp.



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