Kawayaymog-Nipissing-Cedar Loop

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Additional Route Information
145 km
9 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
24530 m
Longest Portage: 
2740 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Day 1 - Kawayaymog L-Amable du Fond R (P 150 & 260)-North Tea L-Mangolasi-P250-Hornbeam L-P90-Biggar Creek-P140-Biggar Lake.
Day 2-Loughrin Creek (P2040 and P560)-Lawren Harris L-P20-Loughrin L-P350-Barred Owl L-P10-Nod L-P1950-Nipissing R-P350-Campsite on portage.
Day3 - Nipissing R-P2740(Allen Rapids)-P500 (Graham's Dam)-P390 (WWII POW Camp)-P1320 (High Falls)-P1950-Remona L-P480-Whiskyjack L-P30-Robinson L-P1310-Burntroot L.
Day 4 - Burntroot L-P160-Perley Lake-Petawawa R-P430 (Cedar Rapids)-P90-P320 (Snowshoe Rapid)-P370 (Catfish Rapid)-Catfish Lake.
Day 5 - Extra day on Catfish Lake.
Day 6 - Catfish L-P80-Narrowbag L-P170-Petawawa R-P2370 (Stacks Rapids)-P260-P720-Cedar L.
Day 7 - Cedar L-Little Cedar L-Aura Lee L-P280-Laurel L-P140-Little Cauchon L-Cauchon L-P460-Mink Lake.
Day 8 - Mink L-P450-Little Mink L-P750-Kioshkokwi L-P1010-Amable Du Fond R-P1220-Manitou Lake.
Day 9 - Manitou L-P450-North Tea L-P260-Amable du Fond R(P150)-Kawayaymog Lake back to Access Point.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

August 7 – 15, 2004

Bernie & Les

Day 1
We arrived early Saturday at Kawayaymog, 7:50 AM to be exact, got our permit and were on the lake by 8:25 AM. Sun was warm and the lake was calm. We got through Amable du Fond River and by 10:15 we were on our way across North Tea Lake. The portages were empty and we didn’t cross paths with more than two or three canoes. We went through Mangolasi Lake, and a couple of smaller lakes and portages took us to Biggar Lake by 12:45 PM. After lunch, we enjoyed some hammock time, did some fishing, and set up camp. The weather got overcast in the afternoon, but brightened up after supper, although it was cool all day. The lake was empty of other campers as far as we could see.

Day 2
We were up a little late, and got going at 8:50 AM. The weather is clear, sunny, 26 C, and about as perfect as you could ask for. We spent a few minutes in the bottom of Biggar Lake trying to find the outlet to Loughrin Creek. It is a little camouflaged by the grass and bushes. However, a short paddle on this cold narrow creek took us to the first portage. The 2010m portage was one of the toughest of the whole trip, mainly due to the fact we were still heavy with food, and the steep climbing at the beginning of the portage. Loughrin Creek is very winding and full of heavy grass, which slowed us down. It took about 2 hours to canoe to the next portage. We had to walk through a number of rocky stretches, pull over beaver dams and so on. Water socks came in very handy today.
We lunched on Loughrin Lake while a moose stood neck-deep in the water next to the campsite munching plants the whole time. Prior to that we saw a cow moose and her calf in Lawren Harris Lake, also up to her neck in the lake. Lawren Harris Lake had a very deep muddy bottom around the put-in. The last portage from Nod Lake to the Nipissing was a GYP! The Chrismar map listed it as 1480m, but the portage sign said it was 1950m, and it felt like it. Nonetheless, it is a fairly easy carry, and I only had to stop once to get the blood moving in my shoulders again. The campsite at the bottom of the portage was a hell-hole (like Al at the Access Point said it was), so we continued east on the Nipissing to the next 350m portage which had a decent site at the end of it. We set up camp at 3:15 PM. We had a swim in the river there and washed some clothing. It was very picturesque with the rapids next to us. Didn’t see anyone all day other than Bernie. We were anticipating a sound sleep with the sound of the babbling brook next to us.
Bernie was convinced that there were fish in the river, but he produced scant evidence to prove it.

Day 3
We slept well, but were woken up a few times overnight by cold and critters. We had a mouse or some little creature running in and out underneath the tent last night. We must have set up on top of his hole. It was 4.7 degrees when we got up, so we had a hot breakfast around the campfire. The sun came out very strong and warmed things up quickly.
This was a very long day. We got going at 8:15 AM, traveled east on the Nipissing River over several portages. The long 2.7 km portage over the Allen Rapids went a lot quicker than I expected. Except for the length, this was not a difficult portage. We lunched at the end of the portage which goes by the former WWII POW camp. It would have been nice to explore this area for a day, and read a little history on the POW camp. However, time didn’t permit it. We ate in the shade as it was very hot in the sun and took a 10 minute siesta to recharge before continuing east on the Nipissing. We headed south at the portage to Whiskeyjack Lake, then headed over to Robinson Lake and finally, one last portage south to Burntroot Lake. When we got there, there was a nice sandy put-in. We had a quick swim then a short paddle to our site, which was the first site on the west shore. We arrived just before 6:00 PM.
This was a very long, tiring day, but we had a real sense of accomplishment afterwards. Our total portaging was 8.5 km and we were still carrying a lot of food at that point.
We saw a lot of pretty sights today such as High Falls. The Nipissing River is very clean and clear, but is deceptive when planning a trip. Although we were paddling with the current, the trip went slow due to the creek winding up and down (sometimes backtracking), the blockages (beaver dams, rocks, shallow water, log-jams) and whatnot. One logjam was particularly time-consuming and took us about 20 minutes to get around. Clearly this part of the park is not well used. At least we were travelling in sunshine all day.
We only saw one group today, a family of four going south on the portage from Whiskeyjack to Nipissing River. Unfortunately, they came out of the portage just as Bernie was taking a whiz.
We had Tandoory Curry for supper. Very tasty, but we have need to drink a ton of water, and the after-effects did not help the air quality in the tent.
Bernie did not have an opportunity to go fishing for very long and is still facing a shut-out.

Day 4
We slept like rocks after our long day. It rained briefly just before we got up. The thunder woke us up at 5:00 AM, then we slept in until 7:30 AM. Well, we deserved to sleep in after the long day before.
We dried things off, had bacon and eggs, and got going by 9:00 AM. We traveled under sun followed by cloud, followed by sun until we got to the far side of Perley lake, where it pretty much became overcast and stayed that way. The black clouds moved in as we headed down the Petawawa River, and we started to hear thunder off in the distance. We were crossing our last portage (350m) for the day when it started to rain lightly. We stopped at a campsite at the end of the portage (where the Petawawa River empties into Sunfish Lake) and quickly set up a tarp to eat lunch under. As lunch was cooking, the thunderstorm rolled over us, and we got a pretty good scare when a thunderbolt struck in the very near vicinity. The bright light and the bang were simultaneous. We waited for a tree to fall on us, but it didn’t happen and the storm moved on. Thank goodness we packed clean underwear!
10 minutes later, the sun came out, and 10 minutes after that we had a huge torrential downpour. And 10 minutes after that, the sun came out again to stay, and we headed up Catfish Lake, looking and feeling dry. It was kind of funny, because we passed a southbound group a few minutes later who had obviously just paddled through the rainstorm.
Catfish Lake has a really unique feel. In the northern part, the islands really make it feel like a small lake. We took a site in the northern part of the lake and set up for the night. What a beautiful site. Big, and nice flat ground for the tent.
Bernie went fishing, but he has yet to contribute anything meaningful to our meals.

Day 5
We took a break from travelling and stayed on our site at Catfish Lake for an extra day. The day started nice, but quickly became overcast and stayed that way. During a break in the weather we went to find the abandoned Alligator tug on a nearby island. Unfortunately, the Chrismar map placed it on the wrong island, so we got a little wet searching the island for the tug. Well, we found it a short time later, but got wet when the rain started up again, even with our ponchos on. Anyone looking for the alligator should be aware that it is on one of two small islands which are side by side after you emerge from the channel on the northeast side of the lake. There is a small “No Camping” sign on the island. It is a small island and you will have no trouble finding the remains of the Alligator. All of the wood is gone, but the cast iron parts should be there for many more decades.
We spent a good portion of the afternoon under the tarp, reading, telling stories, and eating

Day 6
We got up early and left camp under an overcast sky. It got sunnier and warmer as the day progressed. We traveled down the Petawawa River through a few portages, one of them quite long, 2.3 km, but not terribly challenging other than the length. Les stepped on a sharp rock in bare feet at the end of the portage and got a nasty cut and bruised foot.
We made it to Cedar Lake by 11:00 AM, and fought the waves across the lake, as they were rolling us from the side. Not to big for the Kipawa, but worse water than we’ve encountered yet on this trip.
We went across to the Brent Outfitters to stock up on fuel and get some junk food. Lets just say the store is a disappointment for cleanliness, selection and friendliness.
We fought a nasty headwind going west across the lake from the Outfitters dock to the western shore, but once in the lee of the west shore, the lake was calmer and we were able to make our way north through Cedar Lake without too much effort. We found an interesting campsite at the north end of the lake with an old stone fireplace still intact on the island. It was obviously part of a cabin some time ago. We’d be interested to know the history of the place. The first thing I did was take a bath and wash my clothes, but Bernie wanted to fish instead. We had a great hammock time and didn’t wake up to eat supper until about 7:00 PM.
By evening the sky was clear and we were treated to a moonless, cloudless night with a spectacular star show.
Bernie is still Oh-for in the fishing department.

Day 7
We woke up to a very heavy fog at 6:00 AM, but by 9:00 AM it had burned off and we were under a warm, cloudless blue sky, travelling north through several lakes; Little Cedar, Aura Lee, Laurel, Little Cauchon, Cauchon, and finally our destination, Mink Lake. Laurel Lake was one of the prettiest lakes we have visited, with extremely clear water. The 440m portage from Cauchon to Mink Lake was pretty tough, with steep climbs. However it was short.
We found the sites on Mink Lake disappointing, obviously well-used and most of the campsites were occupied by supper time. We settled on a site just north of the point in the middle of the lake which was actually pretty scenic, but very close to the adjoining site. Luckily no one showed up next door.
Well, Bernie finally caught a decent fish, a big small-mouth bass. (12 inches and about 6 pounds) We each had about a pound of meat for supper. Bernie is an expert at cutting out the meat, so there were no bones or scales. Unfortunately, when he went to dump the entrails in the middle of the lake, he dumped the canoe and had a bath. He was near shore, so no harm done, and we got most of his stuff dry by bed-time. He needed a bath anyway, as it had been several days.

Day 8
Today was superb for weather. We woke up to heavy fog again, which lifted by 9:00 AM. We traveled north through smooth lakes. What wind there was was at our backs. The sun was out all day and we marveled at the blue sky reflecting off the crystal clear lakes. We traveled through Kioshkokwi Lake and took the Amable du Fond River portages out to Manitou Lake. The first portage on Amable du Fond River actually has a 475m low water portion, which we could have paddled, but it is a fairly easy walk, so we stayed on the portage. The second portage is moderately challenging due to some uphill climbs, but overall an easy walk. I am convinced that it is a couple of hundred meters longer than the 1220m indicated on the maps and trail signs. At the end of this portage there is a large raspberry patch, and a beautiful sandy beach. We took the opportunity to eat fresh fruit and go for a cooling swim.
After that, we paddled for about ½ hour until we found a nice site on the big island on the north part of Manitou Lake. There was a brand new cedar thunderbox on the site.
We got a few hours of sun-tanning in on the beach, and had a swim, as well as some hammock time. All in all a great day.
We both started to miss our families back home and were looking forward to seeing them again the next evening.

Day 9
We started early on our last day, and quickly overtook a couple of groups with less experience. We really didn’t want to follow them through the portages, since we tend to travel quickly. The rocky uphill portage we chose is shorter than the one on the southeastern corner of Manitou, but it is a shorter and more direct route to North Tea Lake. At that point, we were pretty light on food anyway, and the trip was no problem.
We continued through North Tea Lake and were lifting out on the portage to Amable du Fond River by 11:00 AM. At that point, being a Sunday, things were very busy. There was a group in front of us blocking the put in, but we finally got going, and passed them. From there it was just a matter of avoiding the amateurs taking wide corners as we made our way out the river. I had visions of being holed by a rental canoe a number of times as people came straight through the corners going too fast.
We stopped for lunch at the little beach where Amable du Fond meets Kawayaymog Lake. After that it was a short trip back to the Access Point, and the trip came to an end. There are no showers at the Access Point, but we were able to change and clean up before the mind-numbing drive back through Toronto.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
We used the Chrismar 1:80,000 Algonquin 2 map which was fine for the whole trip.
Special Comments: 

This is a challenging route, and could be done in eight days. Some of the portages are very difficult due to length and the weight of equipment. We did all the portages in one carry, and packed light. Organzation and early mornings are the key to a successful trip. This route allowed us to see some relatively unused portions of the park.