Trip Reports

Rock Lake 2024

20240621 124336 resized Edit EditTrip Memoir–Rock Lake, Algonquin PP

June 20 - 22 2024

A trip was discussed with my sister Jane for a canoe trip to Algonquin. We had a time window of four days, so we decided to book a trip to Pen Lake. From there we would take day trips to Clydedale, and to other small nearby lakes. Although I had been to Pen Lake on another RACCC trip, I had never been to Clydedale and other small lakes in the area. I posted the Pen Lake trip on the web site in May 2024 for the June trip which did not result in any interest or participation from club members. Trip options included the trip duration, intensity, distance, portaging, and schedule, yet this very special Algonquin trip was not experienced by any club members except the author and his sister. So this determined pair of trippers decided on the canoeing and fishing adventure that had been planned for some time; and we are now happily able to share the experience with through this memoir.

 

 

 

As the trip drew closer, the weather began to show signs of significant rain on the last two days of the trip. Because the goals of the trip could not be achieved with the incoming rain, the trip was changed to go to Rock Lake only, where no portaging was needed and where we could easily escape from the rain if necessary. It turned out to be a very good decision. There was one campsite on an island that is considered by many to be the best site on the lake, and as we approached on Thursday, we saw that it was open. Nearby campers at another site told us that the other campers had just left.

The Campsite

After setting up camp, we just stayed on this beautiful site and enjoyed well earned snacks, drinks, and supper. The site was on an island, was very open and spacious, and could easily accommodate a large group of trippers.

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The Trippers

Enjoying this trip there were two trippers; myself and my sister.

The Author

Here the author is enjoying the view of the cliff over Rock Lake. The campsite here was very rocky and rugged. It was hard to get to shore with the canoe and it would have been very hard to get it and packs off the water if staying at the site.

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The Enthusiastic Tripper

I had the enthusiastic company of my sister on this trip. She was always smiling and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

The cliff at this end of the lake was very impressive. About 300ft high. This would be a nice campsite to enjoy the rocky lake scenery.

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The History

There is extensive history on Rock Lake from both indigenous and non indigenous people.

Indigenous History

Source:Thor Conway’s Discovering Rock Art: A Personal Journey With Tribal Elders (2016).
He discusses them in terms of two panels, an easterly one (Panel I) and a second one (Panel II) several meters to the west. He notes that “at least 51ochre paintings are clustered on the two alcoves along the cliff.”Perhaps a better term than “painting” would be “marking” given that most of the now very faint applied ochre is in the form of lines, some up to 12” (30 cm. in length); the hematite powder/fish oil mix would be applied with a finger running down the rock face. Conway himself writes this. With the exception of one image of a person, animal or spirit creature, the pictographs of Rock Lake are tedious to describe, since they are clusters of short lines. Despite not being as attractive as spirit images, these lines are important. Sometime in the past, an Algonquian tribesman chose to make these immortal images on the edge of the lake.

In this picture, at one of the campsites, the rocks to the right seem to be spirits that are present and ever watchful.

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Rock Lake Map 

Non Indigenous History

Source: Publications - Algonquin Park - History
In 1896 J. R. Booth set out to build a railway from Ottawa to Parry Sound. One of the key stops along the way was Rock Lake Station. Rock Lake soon became a mecca for camping and fishing enthusiasts. In its heyday, in the early part of the 20th Century the train was the lifeblood of this little community and trains would allegedly pass every 20 minutes or so.

The Booth family established a large estate in 1900 which anchored a lively community composed of leaseholders, loggers, and railway workers.

Exploring Rock Lake

The most memorable event of the camping trip was the Friday day trip around the lake. We were told by our camping neighbor Desiree of a very high cliff on the far side of the lake. The cliff could be climbed from the right side through the forest along and above the cliff. Rock Lake is very picturesque with many rock formations, steep cliffs, in flowing creeks, and inviting beaches. For a newcomer to the lake, it can also be complex from a navigation point of view with islands, hidden channels, and puzzling shore lines. It's a delight for a traveler following a map, compass, instinct, and the sun.

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Rock Formations

Rock Lake must get its name from the many rock outcroppings and cliffs around the lake. At this cliff it is believed that there are indigenous pictographs. We searched but never discovered any.

The shoreline provided many opportunities to enjoy the rugged landscape.

Exploration

During my travels, as I review maps and enjoy new experiences, I notice new routes or camping places for next year that are beyond where I have ventured and could be more adventurous.

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Scenery

The scenery on Rock Lake is stunning. There are a number of impressive cliffs and rock outcroppings. I was told that this cliff has a trail to the top where there is a great view of the lake. There is also a hiking trail that starts at the beach campsite which takes a hiker to the top of a cliff overlooking the lake.

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The Wildlife

There was a rich variety of wildlife around us in the park. Most notably were all the birds that were constantly active and singing. There were also many squirrels and chipmunks. We were fortunate to have a very tame duck come into the campsite.

Conversation with the Duck

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Being Entertained by the Duck

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Fishing

As I expected, the fishing after the spring heat was poor. I once met the famous Algonquin guide Frank Kuiack on this lake, and he showed me where and how to catch the trout on Rock Lake. He even showed me his favorite lure. I tried fishing only for trout with deep lines, as Frank had shown me, but there were no bites. As we left the campsite on the way out of the park, a canoe with three fishermen were fishing in front of the campsite. One of them said that on the previous day a fish had bitten there and pulled the line, rod, and reel right out of the person’s hand while fishing from the canoe, and then was gone. It had escaped with the fishing rod and reel. That is ok as that kind of miss is always good for a fishing story of the big one that got away.

Further down the lake shore, another group was cleaning fish on the shoreline. They said that they had caught some nice bass further down the lake and were going to enjoy them for supper.

Food

Food can be quite specialized for any multi day canoe trip. Items that spoil easily must be avoided as well as foods that have a strong aroma which can attract unwanted camp visitors like a bear or raccoons. The best foods are those that are dehydrated with a long shelf life that are also resistant to the heat of a hot summer day. For this trip, the main dish was steak with a baked potato, bagels, and re-hydrated vegetables which after everything was cooked turned out to be more than a meal. The leftovers were saved as a delicious stir fry for the next day’s breakfast and supper. Fish are always the main source of protein on all of my wilderness adventures, but on this trip, none were caught. The best way to carry camp food is in a water tight sealed barrel that are available at outdoor retail outlets. I use a 60 liter barrel that holds all my food plus the cookware.

Examples of food that are suited for a long wilderness trip include:

• Fresh meat like steak for the first meal
• Dry spicy sausage for subsequent meals
• Dehydrated potatoes, carrots, peas, eggs
• Pasta
• Rice
• Gorp
• Chocolate
• Energy bars
• Coffee

Dehydrated food items included potatoes, carrots, peas, and even soup and stew. Without these dried foods, the trip menu would have been much harder to prepare.

Future Adventures

The trip was posted for fellow RACCC trippers; however there was no interest from club members. Traveling as a group is very rewarding for many reasons. Most importantly, the experience is shared with fellow travels through the travel, food, pictures and memoirs like this. Also, much of the planning and effort to prepare the trip can be shared which includes route planning, gathering equipment, food preparation, packing, all with much anticipation. This makes the trip less laborious in all aspects of wilderness travel. So I am always looking for fellow trippers for next year. Perhaps, through this memoir, club members may be inspired to travel with me on these very memorable adventures.
A big part of this adventure was exploration of new places to experience and new places to go next year. I was not disappointed with either. This year I not only visited places I had previously enjoyed but I also explored much further along the lake. As a result, as I followed maps during my travels, I noticed new destinations for next year.

I really like beaches. At this site there was a sand bar extending out into the lake from the campsite. I will always look for beach sites in future travels.

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