Details of Backcountry Camping Trip into Pinetree Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park

I am back from portaging, canoeing and camping at Pinetree Lake in Algonquin Park. I took lots of pictures of flora, but wasn't able to take many of the limited fauna that I saw.

I didn't really see many animals other than birds - although we made a lot of noise to keep the lions and tigers and bears away. I saw frogs and toads. I saw evidence of otters and beavers. To spare you, dear reader, from scatological visions, I will only write about the poop I saw. I saw the scat of white-tailed deer, moose, bear, wolf, fox, and raccoon. The coolest (if I can characterize it as such) of all the scat was that of a wolf - it was chock-full of deer hair.

Birds seen included Merganzer ducks, Common Loons, Big Noisy Seagulls, Ravens, an Eagle, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and a Grey Heron.

We kept a fire going on and off, and the smoke helped keep the blackflies away. We reignited it as needed from the glowing embers hidden under the insulating wood ashes, sometimes simply by laying some birchbark or fine twigs on the coals after clearing away some ashes, and waiting for a minute until the heat built up and set flame to it all.

Decado kept the bugs at bay with his bug hat.

Yoyar wore his Tilley hat, and shared stories of Tilley hats being eaten by elephants.

While it may appear that we are storing our peg legs by the fire, this is not the case. Accidental dunking in the lake meant that shoes and boots needed to be dried out. I just let my shoes dry on my feet, my wool socks dried really easily.

My tent sits on a rise on the camp site. Last year I was in a lower section, and the rain pooled and got me wet. We had just arrived, and I had emptied the bags to see what food we had, and so that could organize my kit. In the background you can see Yoyar's tarp. In the foreground you can see a couple of wet bags I bought from a police auction for $5. Red is the equipment bag. Yellow is the food bag.

After literally hours of fishing I caught a nap on the rocks down by the water. I woke up when it was dark. The next day I discovered black flies had feasted on my exposed ankles and crawled up my pant legs to devour my lower legs. I had not tucked my pants into my socks before passing out from the sun.

Yoyar explored the lake.

Dusk's golden rays glowed on the rocky shores and on the pine woods. Say that 10 times fast. They really did, but I wish I could compose a better sentence to describe it. Heck, just look at the picture.

We cooked over the fire, and always kept a kettle brewing filled from the lake. We ate freeze-dried entrees, and pasta, and curried rice and more. We combined Bisquick biscuit mix with water, kneaded and then wound it around a thick maple branch with the bark removed.

We toasted the wood over the fire first to help cook the inside of the dough before baking the dough over the fire for a few minutes. It was tasty, but next time I would add raisins and sugar.

Yoyar came up with the idea of making a minnow trap with a bug hat as shown above (look under the water). As cleverly conceived and executed as it was, it was a minnow trap that never trapped any minnows, despite containing a juicy chunk of pepperoni.

Decado sawed wood.

Yoyar sawed more wood that week than he had sawed in a lifetime. Note that no forests were harmed in the course of this exercise.

This is a buck saw made of with a wooden frame. This ingenious device is a useful bushcraft tool - you can store the blade in your belt, and construct a saw whenever you need it, using only 3 penny nails and a length of cord for tension at top.

Our fire was good. I fell asleep next to the fire twice - there is nothing like falling asleep by a camp fire.

I will make sure to bring tea bags next time I go. It is utterly uncivilized to go into the woods without good English tea. Uncivilized, I tell you.

I came across a blob of green alien slime or frog spawn. It was one or the other.

A suspicious looking frog was seen near the alien slime.

Fallen, waterlogged trees provide habitats for birds, amphibians, fish and plants.

Behind the peninsula where the camp site was situated, lies a swampy area. Crossing it leads you into the hills behind, covered with miles and miles of forest.

Yoyar went down to inspect his minnow trap. A moment after this photo, his foot slipped from the rock and he got quite wet. I didn't manage to capture that exquisite moment.

Monty had a terrific time. Between his perimeter checks and snuffling about the site, he retreated to the tent to snooze, and to avoid the bugs. He explored the woods. He shared in our meals. He drank from the lake. He peed in the woods.

I went for a paddle and explored the lake edge.

The 40 pound carbon fusion Kipawa canoe, rented from Algonquin Outfitters, was a pleasure to paddle. I would buy this canoe if I won the lottery.

The loons laughed up and down the lake and kept busy fishing throughout the week.

Lily pads covered only a few areas of the shoreline - the water was mostly too deep around the edges.

There were several beaver homes on the lake.

We raided a beaver home for a bit of dry firewood, and took only a little bit. No beavers were harmed during the course of this raid.

An empty mussel shell: the discarded remnants of an otter's meal, I believe.

The remains of an otter's feast.

Beavers take down small trees and large - you can see a thick birch tree that has fallen above.

A seagull defending its nest.

The seagull's nest - I could not see any eggs or chicks in it. It might be that an eagle or a raven took them, I had witnessed the parents mobbing a raven the day before.

I paddled and paddled.

And passed by the camp site.

While we know there were lots of fish in the lake, and certainly tons of minnows in the shallows, we didn't catch a single fish. I did have one on my hook at one point, but it escaped as I reeled it in.

The sunken logs you see in the water above are great fish habitat.

Big sheets of birch bark found on the forest floor.

The sunsets were brilliant - the weather was great all week. It rained on the first day, and it was a welcome cooling shower after our portage in.

Good weather and a good time.



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