View topic - How dangerous is crossing Cedar Lake (Brent, Algonquin)?

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PostPosted: September 17th, 2020, 4:35 pm 
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My girlfriend and I are planning a 4 day trip for the end of September, possibly the Cedar-Nippising River - Catfish Lake - Petawawa River - Cedar loop. This is only our second canoe trip, so I’m nervous about crossing Cedar Lake.

It concerns me when I read trip reports from very experienced canoeists saying that Cedar is often windy, wavy and generally terrifying to cross. Should we avoid Cedar as beginner canoeists?

We are looking at Cedar because it’s less busy (canoe routes near highway 60 look quite busy even in late September), and the outfitter is on site which would save us some time. Ideally we would like to be on the water by 9am-ish.

If Cedar is a bad idea, we might consider trips starting from the North River Lake (#26), Wendigo or Grand Lake access points. Grand Lake area seems the least interesting since it has less fall colours (pine dominant) and is still quite busy this year. We’re coming from Ottawa, so the northern and eastern access points are closest for us.

Our only previous canoe experience is a 4 day loop out of Kiosk (Kiosk - Manitou - Three Mile - Maple - Kiosk) last month, which went well. Kiosk was a bit wavy in both directions which made me a little nervous, but no whitecaps. We are experienced backpackers, so we’re comfortable with the backcountry aspects of interior tripping, but I’m particularly nervous about the risk of capsizing in the middle of a large lake.

Any advice or route suggestions would be appreciated. We want to avoid super busy areas of the park and paddle 4-5 Jeff’s-map-hours per day on average. We don’t mind portaging, and in some ways I find portaging gives me a chance to mentally relax since there is less thinking involved compared to paddling.

*when I say an area is “busy”, I’m just judging by the number of fully reserved (red) lakes from the reservation system.


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PostPosted: September 17th, 2020, 6:32 pm 
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-Kneeling helps stability, use strips of closed cell foam for knee padding,


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PostPosted: September 17th, 2020, 8:22 pm 
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Location: Laurentian Hills, Ontario Canada
Most of the time, Cedar is fine. Try to get on the water early to increase your odds of a calm crossing. But if Cedar is in a bad mood, then you wait.


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PostPosted: September 17th, 2020, 9:42 pm 
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The water is becoming quite cold as a result of the recent dip in temperatures up north. I just got back from 2 weeks in Temagami, and noticed a definite cooling off over that time. As mentioned above, kneeling if the wind or waves picks up is key. Err on the side of caution if things get really uncomfortable. There is an old saying...”It’s better to be on the land, wishing you were on the water, than to be on the water, wishing you were on the land”.

All that aside, if you strike out early in the morning, odds are conditions will be favourable, and you’ll be ok. If you’re really lucky it’ll be like glass. Have a great trip!

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PostPosted: September 18th, 2020, 8:00 am 
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I have experienced being windbound on Cedar twice. Once entering from the Nipissing, the other coming down the Pet. As you may know the wind blows predominantly down Cedar from the NW, and is nicely funnelled from the hills. Plan to cross *early* in the morning. If that's not possible there are I think about three campsites right adjacent to the Pet. The one that's almost on the portage sucks, but the one that is to the left of the portage is ok.

In both cases where I was windbound the wind usually dies down late in the day/early evening so if you are prepped to launch then you should be fine, although in one case the wind blew all day and into the night!


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PostPosted: September 18th, 2020, 8:05 am 
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I spent over a hundred days one year doing MNR work on another lake with a reputation for rough water, Opeongo... most of the time there were canoes being paddled around with no problem. So I'd agree with Slipper's comment..

Even if the winds are up, Cedar isn't a bad place to be windbound. There are Plan B options like North River and Wendigo, or a hiking trail for a day trip into Ghost if you want to wait it out at a Brent campsite.

PS... if it's fall color you want and fewer paddlers, North River should be a good choice, since the landscape is sugar maple dominated. It's in a newly-created protected zone where logging is banned so will suffer less from that kind of noise, bulldozers, skidders and trucking going dawn to dusk (logging operations often start up after Labor Day although I haven't checked the operations map wrt where in APP).

Lots of interesting features in the NRL area if you want to spent time poking around cruising the shorelines and checking out features in the landscape... sand beaches, eskers, wetlands, hemlock forest possibly old growth, an old logging road, long ports, small isolated lakes and the North River itself.

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PostPosted: September 21st, 2020, 9:38 pm 
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Thanks everyone for the advice, I’m glad to hear the wind doesn’t blow 24/7 on Cedar (although I’m sure it will blow for our entire trip now that I said that).

I hadn't thought to check the forest management plan for logging activity... in the Cedar area and there are planned fall activities near Brent, in the area between North River Lake and North Depot Lake, west of Radiant, and all along the Lower Nippissing west of Catfish Lake, plus the road that runs across Catfish lake. So basically everywhere except for areas west of Cedar lake.

For the route planning, we managed to narrow it down to 3 options:

1. Cedar-Radiant-North Depot-North River Lake-Cedar (avg. 4.5h/day)

Pros: No crossing Cedar required, trip could start and finish from access#26 if needed.

Cons: It's not very remote since it passes 3 access points, and I’m not sure if the portion between North River Lake and Cedar would interesting or enjoyable.

2. Cedar-Catfish-Hogan-Radiant-Cedar (avg. 5.0h/day)

Pros: Fits within our desired 4-5 Jeff's-map-hours of travel per day.

Con: Mainly pine-dominant areas of the park. Radiant is probably better enjoyed on a hot weather trip when the beaches can be appreciated more. Route from Catfish to Hogan can be difficult to navigate.

3. Cedar-Nipissing-Robinson-Catfish-Cedar (avg. 5.2h/day)

Pros: No backtracking, variety of scenery. Going deep into the interior makes good use of a 4 day trip.

Cons: A little bit longer than we'd like (although since 40% of the trip is on the Nipissing, there is a lower chance being wind bound compared to more lake-intensive routes).


I think we've settled on option #3. It's slightly longer than we would like, but it seems like the most interesting of the 3 options. It makes the best use of the 4 days we have available, since we can explore the Radiant Lake and North River Lake areas on future 2 or 3 day weekend trips

We'll keep option #1 as our backup plan if we get windbound on Cedar.

The fall colours thing isn’t super important to us, but I feel like the bright leaves on the ground tend to make trampled campsites and trails feel fresh again after being used all summer. I realize our chosen route seems to have mostly pine trees though.

If there's anything else I've overlooked please let me know!


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PostPosted: September 21st, 2020, 10:08 pm 
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Random question: At 22:30 in Path of the Paddle: Doubles Basic, Bill Mason demonstrates a having both paddlers move to the centre of the canoe in waves and they casually bob up and down.

Is this technique still used today? It seems like you could only move a slightly towards the centre when carrying camping gear. And if you had a spray deck it wouldn't be possible to move much either. However, I can't find any other videos of people canoeing in waves to see how they manage. I've watched lots of canoeing YouTube videos, but they only show running rapids and large lakes with a spray deck, or flatwater campers who don't attempt to film in rough water.

Not planning to actually attempt this technique, I'm just curious whether it's still used. I'm sure it would take a lot of practice for the bow to move backwards over their seat without tipping the boat.


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PostPosted: September 22nd, 2020, 8:03 am 
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Quote:
... our chosen route seems to have mostly pine trees though.


You'll probably get to see some sugar maple color around Robinson and Burnt Root if the timing's right, depends on when peak color actually occurs and whether high winds and frost have knocked the leaves off.

Late Sept might be a little early for sugar maple color on upland ports and at campsites... the understory leaves below the highest part of the leaf canopy may still be green because sunlight can't penetrate down through to them to cause the color change. But seeing maple stands from lakes could show the maples coloring up nicely.... every year will be different so who knows.

Here's a photo taken about Oct 15 with the upper canopy leaves mostly gone and lower understory maple leaves in good color, these earlier during late Sept probably still would have been green.

Sounds like a great route. Enjoy the trip!

https://live.staticflickr.com/4466/3791 ... 98c6_o.jpg

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PostPosted: September 22nd, 2020, 7:52 pm 
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Location: Laurentian Hills, Ontario Canada
WRT your option #3. Perhaps consider doing it in the other directon, i.e. up the Petawawa and down the Nipissing.


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2020, 6:20 am 
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slipper wrote:
WRT your option #3. Perhaps consider doing it in the other directon, i.e. up the Petawawa and down the Nipissing.


Thanks for the tip! We've made our reservation to head downstream on the Nipissing.(Cedar-Catfish-Robinson-Nipissing-Cedar).


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