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November 21, 2015 - Day 3: A Typical November day

Day 3 routing (11.1KM) : Ragged L —> Big Porcupine L —> Return

More paddling, more exploring

More snow fell during the night. Not much though, maybe an inch? The temperature at 7am hovered around -2°C. It was overcast, there wasn’t a drop of wind and the lake was like glass - Beautiful!

It was my turn to make breakfast and as I prepared the meal Mike went off in the forest collecting more firewood. Breakfast was tasty sandwiches, consisting of; Bacon, egg, cheddar, tomato and mayo on toasted rye bread, served with coffee.

Mike returned, chopping the wood, while I stacked the wood and cleaned up after breakfast. We then packed for another day-trip. The time I wanted to explore the other side of Ragged Lake, to the east. Mike agreed and by 10am we headed out, the lake surface still like glass.

We headed east along the large island in the middle of the lake and stopped by one site located there. It was partly shielded from west winds and was a half decent site, though the main tenting area was open to the sky and was covered with snow. We paddled on and entered Archer Bay where in shallow waters we encountered the first ice of the trip. The ice thickness was roughly 1 cm and easy to break with my paddle.

Next, Mike wanted to head to Big Porcupine Lake and so we paddled into South Bay. The further south we moved into the bay the more cluttered it became with tree stumps. The area was a graveyard of tree stumps and sunken logs. Back in the logging days of old, the lake was much shallower. The dam built at the north end of the lake flooded the lake, killing my trees. Now, the South Bay was studded with woody debris and the low water levels of November revealed them easily.

So, we carefully picked our way through the mess as we made our way to the take-out for the portage to Big Porcupine Lake. As we did so a very large bird flew off in the distance, possibly an osprey.

It was around 11:15am when we arrived, again having to pick through wood debris and low water, to get to the take-out. I wussed out carrying the canoe, citing an ankle injury from a canoeing trip a few months earlier and I felt uncertain about weighing it down with my canoe, given the nature of the portage.

The 590m trail is a short one but the carry isn’t. The portage has been dubbed by trippers of old as the “Devil’s Staircase”. It rises nearly 45m in height over the course of half a kilometre. Another words the trail climbs up and just keeps climbing up and up. It is not a fun portage. I would not want to do this during bug season!

Mike expertly picked up my canoe and marched up the trail. I followed behind with our day-pack, marine safety kit, etc. Near the end of the lightly snow covered trail we spotted fox tracks following the path. Just before the lake came into view, the fox tracks turned away, leading into the forest.

Just before 11:30am we arrived at the put-in to Big Porcupine Lake. All was silent. We loaded up and paddled onto the lake. We passed a few campsites, stopping at one as we spotted something in camp from the canoe. Low and behold a Katadyn gravity water filter, left hanging in a tree. Also one of those orange marine safety kits (Cracked). Mike claimed the water filter (I already had one back home, they are not very good at all) and I claimed the broken marine kit. Hey, more rope is always a good thing!

We continued paddling down the lake as snow flurries began to fall around us. I spied a campsite I had camped on many years earlier during an October long weekend visit. The memories washed over me. Man, Algonquin Park is so much fun! We turned left as we reached a campsite on a point and entered the long narrows that separates the upper and lower portions of the lake. The paddle through the narrows was quite peaceful, the only thing stirring was the water as our blades bit quietly through the glass. The air was filled with snow flurries that fell in a dream-like state.

At 12:25pm we arrived at a campsite on a point as we emerged from the narrows. I had visited this campsite previously on a day-trip and I have to say it is one fantastic campsite. Large is an understatement. The site is shadowed with balsam firs and hemlocks, providing great coverage in an open forest setting. Further back in camp, there is a large rock that is blackened from use as a secondary fire pit. Great for when it is too windy out on the point. Gathering firewood for a lunchtime fire was not as easy as the day before. The campsite had been heavily used and most of the wood we collected was kindling. Nevertheless, we found one pine that has fallen at the rear of the site and manage to break off a few large limbs for the fire.

At the fire pit, I found a bluetooth speaker, like the ones you get in cases of beer. It still worked, even though it was wet! We got a fire going and relaxed by the fire, drinking water and eating

I would like to try and camp there in the summertime some time and explore the surrounding area. It could be a really nice place to camp. forty-five minutes passed and it was decided to leave, the sky was becoming more grey and the winds were swirling around the point. There was a chill in the air as well.

Just shy of 2pm we arrived back at the portage and Mike volunteered to once again cary the canoe. What a sport. Not one word of complaint, Just pick up the canoe and go! So with my camera I trotted on ahead and took several action shots of Mike carrying the canoe down the snow covered trail. Ten minutes passed and we arrived back at the put-in to Ragged Lake.

We paddled out of South Bay and headed west along the big island’s south shore. to the south of us was “Wam’s Reef” which we avoided as we didn’t have rods anyways. Trout season had closed nearly two months earlier. As we paddled it began to snow heavily. Not snow squalls, just heavy snow falling continuously, reducing visibility and there was very little wind.

We approached the big island, passing the first campsite which was highly exposed which might be good in bug season (But not now!) and headed for the second campsite. Well, well. That second site was beyond huge. It just went on and on. Not only this it was on a slope for the island climbed high above the water. It was quite a climb up from shore to the site proper. We explored the site for about 10 minutes, liking what we saw. In summer there would be sunrises but no sunset. Still it was a lovely site.

It was almost 3pm when we departed the site, heading back for camp. The paddle back was uneventful except for wind gusts picking up strength as we rounded the island and the snow intensifying. By 4pm we were back at camp, sitting around a roaring campfire with a pot roast cooking while we sipping warming alcoholic beverages. Nice way to end a great day of exploring!

During the night as I slept in my tent I could hear that snow was falling, heavy at times too. I hadn’t slept well all weekend for I was having bad luck (Yet Again) with my sleeping pad. It kept deflating after 20 minutes. I’d pump it up and get a few minutes of really nice firmness then I’d start to fall asleep and as soon as I’d roll over, I’d wake up on hard ground, the sleeping completely deflated. So, I laid there listening to the snow fall. Eventually, I fell asleep but was awakened by a loud crash. It was a tree that had come crashing down and nearby too, towards where Mike slept in his hammock. I didn’t hear any groans of agony and I could hear Mike shifting his weight in his hammock so I figured he was fine and eventually drifted back to sleep.
breakfast campfire
Morning breakfast at camp
Morning snow and glass on Ragged Lake
Video of daily route map (Click to play)
Ragged Lake campsite
Nearby island campsite
Photos from Ragged and Big Porcupine Lakes
Ragged Lake island campsite
Ragged Lake island campsite
Roast on the evening campfire