Algonquin: Upper Petawawa, riffle runs, mud slips, Arbutus, trout, Grassy Bay, drying, decisions, stars

2022 Tuesday May 17: Misty Lake to Grassy Bay, White Trout Lake

It’s now 03:25 A.M. and I’m now awake enough in the middle of the night to write … and going in reverse through the day as I relive it, instead of my normal chronological order.

Clear, calm, cold and dewy … Dave’s tent light is on briefly as I woke to water the balsams on the site. It was wondrously starry and cool when I stumbled to the hammock!

Another fine fireside discussion, sharing more musical interests, tonight about Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Billie Eilish, the Elora Festival and the Estonian Choir, and D-bar chords leaving the E-string open … Dave shared a story of his about a river rescue from an icy souse hole, … and so much more … The sky cleared and the strong winds of today dropped as the evening progressed. We dried clothing on lines strung along the shoreline, and also around the evening fire.

Chatting while drying clothes in the late sunshine, and watching Dave prepare his excellent dehydrated chicken fajitas. (Note the old pot set that Cathy and I have used for over 45 years and that we individually and collectively used for the whole trip.)

After much looking at the map, we’re thinking that tomorrow we’ll trail the kayak with one pack in it as we navigate the eight or so beaver dams we have to cross upwards in the first couple of kilometres tomorrow, rather than reverse our route out. We’ll finalize that decision in the morning.

We’ve been making many decisions by spreading the process across time, talking through issues and options individually and collectively, and often thinking on the possibilities for a while, including overnight, before finalizing our thinking. It’s meant for a fine collaborative process which has been both pleasant and effective.

Grassy Bay is much more open than in the Fall several years ago when several of us travelled another route through Algonquin, including this one lake that we are repeating. Remarkably, there are Yellow Water Lily leaves already on the surface of that shallow and therefore warm portion of the long southwest end of the lake. Some plants already have flower buds fully formed above the water! (Which reminds me that the lake and river waters have been astoundingly warm!)

Right at the end of the last short portage into White Trout Lake, Ron caught two Brook Trout in quick succession, one a large beauty — released to grow even bigger. (There were also three gallivanting Otters above that short carry.)

A fine Brook Trout caught by Ron — and released to grow bigger.

The botanical notes of today: no Painted Trilliums today anywhere east of Misty Lake, even though the bush seemed much the same as the last two days where they were the dominant Trillium.

One small clump of Trailing Arbutus at the start of one of the short carries along the river. (Then we saw more plants as the trip went on.)

Trailing Arbutus, Epigaea repens, with the wonderful spicy-fragrance of its flowers.

Lots of very slippery mud particularly at the downstream ends of the portages, one of which caused several sore slips and falls. I’m taking much more care now, tying paddles in and being cautious about loads and footing. I’m certainly lacking the strength and agility of my younger years …

Ron and Ross ran the first clear riffle along the Petawawa, bumping along at times. Dave took his kayak down first, and then cleanly ran my empty 1977 Mad River down as well.

Nary a touch as Dave takes my empty Mad River down the only runnable rapids on our trip.

The paddle down the long eastern arm of Misty was through some cold blowing showers. At least the wind was either behind us or at least quartering, so we were able to maintain a good pace.

Such a remarkable group, and such a fine trip together!

Now about 4:30 A.M. as I finish reliving parts of the day. My fingers are cold, I’m now wrapped up in my quilts, and quickly asleep.

2 thoughts on “Algonquin: Upper Petawawa, riffle runs, mud slips, Arbutus, trout, Grassy Bay, drying, decisions, stars

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