Algonquin: Shall-Dickson Loop (76km)

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Oren Nimelman
Trip Date : 
Sun, Aug 30, 2009
Additional Route Information
76 km
6 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
15000 m
Longest Portage: 
5300 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

I'll just excerpt my float plan:

Alright guys, here's our trip itinerary in case of emergency:

Trip Members:
Oren Nimelman [yours truly], 21. 71 inches in height, approx 135lbs. Dark brown hair, blue eyes.
Justin *******, 21. 74 inches in height, approx 160lbs. Blond hair, blue eyes.

Small portage: under 250m
Medium portage: 250-750m
Large Portage: 750+m

Day 1: Shall (Access Point 17) to Booth
approx 8km
(incl 1sm, 1med portage)
Night 1 at Booth Lake

Day 2: Booth to Opeongo (East Arm)
approx 16km
(incl 2sm, 2med, 1lg portage)
Night 2 at Opeongo (East Arm)

Day 3: Opeongo to Dickson
approx 8km
(incl 2med, 1lg portage: the large portage - 5.4km, is expected to take up the bulk of day)
Night 3 at Dickson

Day 4: Layover
Night 4 at Dickson

Day 5: Dickson to McKaskill
approx 9km
(incl 1med, 3lg portage)
Night 5 at McKaskill

Day 6: McKaskill to Shirley (Alternative site at Ryan Lake)
approx 8km
(incl 2sm, 2med, 1lg portage)
Night 6 at Shirley

Day 7: Shirley to Shall (Access Point 17)
approx 5km
(incl 1lg portage)
Night 7 in Toronto

We are leaving in a few minutes, so:

Our primary contact will be Scott *******, Justin's father. He will be called as soon as we reach our access point, and other friends and family members will be called the next time we are in a region with cellular access. We expect to reach our access point by 5pm on September 5. However, if Justin and I judge the weather, or any other conditions on any given day, to be unsafe for travel, we may decide to remain at our site as a rain contingency, and try to make up for it later. If we cannot do this, we could forseeably be a day late. If we have not called by that time, do not be worried. Do not call Scott in a panic.

If we have not been heard from by 12pm on September 7, then it may in fact be time to worry. Call Scott as our main point of contact - he will be the first person that we call if we have limited time tor communications. If he has not heard from us, call Algonquin Park and/or Parks Ontario. We are renting from Algonquin Outfitters at their Oxtongue location, so they'll be able to tell you if we've returned the rented canoe, and when.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
Algonquin Canoe Routes map<br />
Special Comments: 

This was the float plan sent out before the trip. Some discoveries I wish I'd known at the time:

1) The Opeongo River flows from North to South. I didn't bother to check this, and so we spent a full day waist-deep in water dragging the canoe against the current. It wasn't horrendous - kind of fun actually - but it would have been extremely unpleasant if the weather hadn't been as nice as it was. If I were to do it again, I would reverse the direction of the loop and do the whole trip anti-clockwise.

2) We found - at least in late August of 2009 - that nearly all of the portages along the Opeongo River could be skipped by wading the canoe through the current. It wasn't so strong as to be worrying.

3) The 5.3km portake into Dickson Lake, as well as the trio of portages out of it, both suck. Get to Dickson, though, and you won't regret it.