Monday, February 19, 2007

Low Maintenance Portage Route on CC 2007!

As I mentioned in our UPDATED PLAN for CapsizedCanoe 2007, we are venturing into some uncharted territory for us on this years trip.... Algonquins infamous "Low Mainantance Portage Trails". For Gerry and I, the lure of these relatively unused trails speak for themselves. They represent a new challenge and that feeling of adventure that will be somewhat absent as we retrace many of our steps from CC 2006. Below is a response to a question I posed about the Low Maint Routes we will be taking this year.

"I went in to North Cuckoo, Macoun and Plumb coming from the Petawawa . Sounds like you would be coming from the other direction (Robinson Lake). Macoun gets very liitle use. The campsite is quite small and had not been used for about 2 seasons when I stayed there. There was a large site around the point from Macoun on Plumb Lake that looked like it had regular visitors each fishing season. It had tables etc all made up. The portage from Macoun to North Cuckoo is tricky. Its an old road for about 1000 meters. when you come off Macoun just remember to always stay left on the road. There is a fork in the road part way down. Stay to your left. The remainder of the portage to North Cuckoo turns off the old road on the right side of the road. It was poorly marked when I used it. Portage signs were ripped down and the trail off the road is not easy to see. Part way through the bush to North Cuckoo you come to an area where there is a small creek. Very difficult to identify the trail at this point for about 100 meters. You may need to wander a bit at this point to pick up the trail again so take a good bearing before doing so. The good news is that the portage from Macoun to North Cuckoo is downhill all the way to the Petawawa.
Since you are going to be in that area I would recommend that you try Lynx and Luckless lakes as well. There is a very nice site on Luckless and the portage from Luckless to the Nippising, is long but easy. Mostly flat road and downhill."

The goal for 2007 is to build on the practical experience from '06. While it was a great trip, I want a second chance to prove to myself that I can finish strong on any of the portages that kicked my ass on the first attempt. The one that really stands out was the 2345 M form the Petawawa R. -> Narrowbag L. This was my first portage and as I set out I remember saying to Gerry " I am going to crush this...". Well, the only thing that was crushed was my spirit as I was forced to hand off to Gerry about 1/3 of the way in. By the time we got to the half way mark at "Unicorn Hill" I was feeling pretty deflated. In retrospect, I really had no idea how hard a single carry with a 60lb pack and a 50 lb canoe would be....well now I do! By the time we tackle it again, it will be a year of thinking about how hard it was, so my hope is that I will now be overestimating how difficult it is.'s a theory anyway...

Below is a quote from Scott Smith's Trip Log and it describes the portage to a "T"...

"If you consult the Canoe Routes Map, the 2,345 meter portage doesn’t look all that intimidating. But I can assure you, it is very unforgiving .. even for the experienced Voyageur. This is definitely one of the most challenging portages I’ve ever done in Algonquin. On this carry, you climb most of the 80 meters difference in elevation between Cedar and Catfish. It’s an uphill grind all the way and it really takes a toll on you physically and psychologically. With light packs and determination, it can easily be done in a single carry. At the hilltop, you pass by a canoe rest on your right that has a sign that reads “Unicorn Hill”. I’ve always wondered what the significance of the name is and hopefully one day I’ll discover its meaning."

This year Unicorn Hill....this will be the year I crush you!

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