Rock Ė Pen Ė Clydegale Canoe
Starting at Access Point 9, Rock Lake Campground into
Pen Lake. There is a large dock at the Rock Lake launch to accommodate the
heavy traffic in the summer months. The river you launch into is the
Madawaska River which connects Whitefish L. to Rock L. When leaving, depart
on the left side; the right side will bring you into Whitefish L. The
departure point is a pleasant, short, meandering paddle lined with hanging
bushes and trees that opens up to the lake quite soon.
We did this trip in Mid July. I was glad we made
reservations. When we were getting our permits there were people arriving
without reservation and they were denied access as all lakes were full. In
spite the fact that it was mid summer, the weather was very cold and down
right nasty. There were high winds and the waves were dangerously high. It
was the worst weather Iíve ever paddled in, and, I intend to keep it that
way. If I ever meet that kind of winds and waves, I will definitely wait it
out. Getting across the lake was rough; we were fighting the wind and waves
and at times we were hardly moving at all. Every now and then, a white
capped wave would pour into the canoe. We were relieved when we finally
reached the leeward side of the lake.
There is lots of nice scenery on Rock Lake, including
high cliffs. As we paddled south, the lake changed from a large open lake to
a narrow and wonderful tree lined passage that led directly into the
portage. The 375 metre portage navigates around rapids and can be walked
from beginning to end in about 5 to 10 minutes. It starts with a short,
narrow boardwalk that leads up a small hill. After you reach the top, itís
a smooth , ending with a short steep incline to Pen Lake. A small dock makes
the launch easy. Pen Lake is a finger lake that continues along the same
fault as Rock Lake and the upcoming Clydegale Lake and its narrow shape
makes it very easy to navigate. We grabbed a site on the east shore. It
remained cold and windy and continued to rain. It was quite busy, and since
nobody was paddling in the nasty weather, we had a few visitors that were
hiking around the shore.
The next day, we continued to Clydegale Lake. On the
portage, we met a pair of paddlers coming out. They told us that the lake
was quiet and they were the only ones on it. This was surprising, as the
park office denied access to other paddlers as the lakes were supposedly
full. The only explanation that I could come up with was that the other
people, who had reservations were stopped by the high winds and bad weather.
Since the was only my seconds canoe trip, I think we just didnít know any
better. No complaints from us; we certainly didnít mind having the whole
lake to ourselves.
The portage is an easy 275 metre over a dam. We found a
nice site on a rocky hill with a great view of the lake. After setting up,
we ventured down the South Madawaska River. It was an east trip because the
wind was on our back. When we returned to our campsite, we had to face a
fierce headwind. Most of the time, we had to paddle full throttle just to
maintain the same place.
we decided that we would have to get up very early to try get as far as we
could before the winds pick up. We left our site at 6:30am. We paddled by a
cow moose at the portage and continued to Pen Lake. It was relatively easy
as we went through Clydegale and Pen Lake. When we arrived at Rock Lake,
although it was sunny with deep blue skies, the breeze was starting to pick
up again. All we could do was stay close to the west shoreline and fight the
wind. It was a very tiring trip.