Frontenac Canoe Trip
Even though Frontenac is the closest wilderness park to
my home, this was my first canoe trip to this park. One of the reasons I had not
tripped here before was due to the popularity of the park and the fact that
the campsites are in clusters.
Back in June 1996, two of my sons and I did a 3 night
hiking trip on the staying at Big Salmon, Slide Lake and Doe Lake. It was a grueling adventure, mainly due to our inexperience. It
was before the days of dehydrating our food and owning a water filter.
Nevertheless, it was an amazing trip that none of us will ever forget.
It was a cool morning on October 1, 2006 when Fred & I
launched our canoe at the west end of Big Salmon Lake. This was the first
day of our 7-day canoe trip of Frontenac Provincial Park. Our goal was to
relax, do some fishing, photography and many side trips. Our itinerary was
made up of all easy days including a two night stays at both Little Clear
Lake and Little Salmon. A trip that could have been completed in two or
three days was purposely expanded to a leisurely 7 days.
It was Sunday and the park was still quite busy. We
paddled the calm lake to the far east end to our camp at Cluster #5. It
consisted of two campsites that were very close together and with no
privacy. After setting up camp, it was off for a hike. The landscape was
scenic and the fall colours were at their peak. That evening we enjoyed a
few beverages with our neighbours, swapping adventure stories and
experiences and listened to the coyotes yelping just to the south.
The next day we rose to a gorgeous misty morning. After
a quick breakfast, we packed up and headed for the portage (491m) to Labelle
Lake. A short paddle across Labelle and a short portage (190m) to Big Clear
Lake and we headed for our next campsite, cluster #13. It was now Monday and
we were the only paddlers camping at this cluster. Although Big Clear Lake
had a few cottages and the odd motor boat disturbing the peacefulness, it
was a beautiful clear lake. Once we arrive in the bay of cluster #13, our
only visitors were the local loons.
Day 3 included a couple easy portages (666m & 503m) and
the crossing of Black Lake before arriving on Little Clear Lake. Since we
were staying two nights on Little Clear, we had plenty of time to explore
the area and try some fishing We caught few nice smallmouth bass,
snapped their photo, and released them back into the cool waters.
There was an abundance of wildlife in throughout
Fronentac park. We witnessed deer,
beaver, mink, turtles, frogs, snakes, salamanders, loons, ducks, Great Blue
Herons and variety of other bird species. Even though we were deep in the
park, we could still hear the sound of death in the mornings. We assumed it
was the killing of ducks.
On Day 5, we portaged (856m) to Little Salmon Lake. For
Fred, the portage was a bit longer as he took a wrong turn and ended up
followed the hiking path rather than the portage. Little Salmon was a two
night stay and, again, we had lots of time to explore and relax. We did
plenty of both.
We had no neighbours since our first site, but we were
aware there was going to be others on the sixth night. It was the Friday
before Thanksgiving and the park would be filling up for the long weekend.
Sure enough, Friday night, a pair of hikers arrived on the site beside ours
and a pair of paddlers landed on the next site.
On Saturday we spent the morning exploring and slowly
finding our way to the final portage (974m) back to Big Salmon Lake. A quick
paddle and we were at the dock.
The highlight of the park (besides the fact that it is
less than 2 hours from my driveway) was the abundance of wildlife in the
park. The scenery was beautiful as the fall colours were at the peak. I am
not a fan of the cluster style campsites, but I can understand that it is
necessary in a park like Frontenac as I am sure it is the best way to
maintain and preserve the environment.