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PostPosted: October 1st, 2011, 7:35 am 
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Canoe Trip ReportBrent/Cedar Lake to Nadine Lake via the Nipissing River (Algonquin Park)

I am just back from the most remarkable canoe trip of my life. I had my first canoe trip when I was 13. The Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia. I took it up again after years of living in California and France (which are deploringly short of pristine rivers, lakes, portages and suitable campsites). For 20 years I have been exploring Northern Ontario by Canoe. There have been MANY terrific memories. But this trip takes the cake.
About 9 months ago, I discovered that a group of friends...three brothers and a sister (aged 55 to 69), were the children of Nadine Mosbaugh. Turns out that Nadine, their mother, has a lake named after her in the northern interior of Algonquin Park.

She was a camper at Camp Tanamakoon in Algonquin in the first year of their operation (almost 85 years ago).and in honour of their first year, the park offered to name a lake after the camper that they elected as most deserving. Turns out that Nadine...an accomplished concert pianist (even at that young age) was elected. And so now, the most revered park in Canada has a Nadine Lake, Little Nadine Lake, Upper Nadine Creek and Lower Nadine Creek. They are in one of the most remote parts of the park and are one of the few areas within the park that is fully protected from logging and other activities. Nadine Lake also happens to be one of the more difficult parts of the park to get to by canoe.

When I came to learn this story, it just made no sense to me that her children had never seen this place and so I got all plannerly. (It’s what I do!)

First I tried to convince Park management that they should allow us to access the Lake via old logging roads. I prepared a detailed proposal complete with maps, satellite imagery, dates, lists and suggested protocols. Not surprisingly, it didn't happen.(though to their credit they wanted it to work out). They truly understood the gravitas of the mission but concluded that because some of the roads were deemed ‘decommissioned’ they therefore couldn’t guarantee our safety. Fair enough.

And so I was left organizing a trip via one of two routes. Out of Kiosk in the north (a hellish combination of long lake paddles and grueling portages), or via the Nipissing River. A route that just MIGHT be doable with these "kids".
Nine months later, eight of us.....the 4 children of Nadine (Garth, Franc, Mary and Eric), Nancy Burdett (Garths partner), Carrie Loring (my partner and Garths ex wife), Lee Mosbaugh (Carrie and Garths son and Nadine's grandson) and I , embarked on a four day adventure that I had planned with just enough hesitation and worry to make it exciting! I very much wanted to introduce the 4 'Children of Nadine' and Lee, her Grandson, to the lake named after their mother who died last year at age 96.


DAY ONE:
It started brilliantly. We had booked a 12 person cabin less than an hour from the put-in. About an hour east of North Bay. (The Mattawa Golf and Ski resort) It was PERFECT! We had a great meal that was planned and executed all at the last minute by Franc and Mary. We organized gear, sorted packs to make sure that no one would be carrying heavy. At the crack of dawn we made our way to the Brent put-in. A 50 minute drive down a long winding gravel road. I had my own canoe, but the others had booked rental canoes at the Brent store at the put-in in the Town of Brent. We were to pick them up first thing in the morning. This is where things went south.

DAY TWO:

Brent it turns out is an authentic backwater Canadian Town. A series of ramshackle cabins, cottages and camps harkening to an earlier day. The Town used to serve as a major railroad hub in the park in the days when logging was more of a going concern. The rail line is now the main road into the Town. Blink and you miss it. I am certain that the residents quite like it that way. I would.

Turns out that the Brent store on Cedar Lake is run by an old, white haired curmudgeon who advised the early arrivals that he had no record of their booking...and that there were no ultra light canoes available. He then went on to scare them about the trip (the trip I had planned) with statements like:

"Well the campsite you have booked is the worst one on the river and it’s not across from a meadow…it’s across from a swamp"
"The day trip to Nadine Portage is 4 hours...not 2.5 as you have been told"
"The portage into Nadine Lake is at LEAST an hour..not a half hour as you have been told..and it's all uphill"
"It's supposed to rain all weekend"
"You're definitely going to have to get out of your canoes and walk them along the rocks of the swifts..be prepared to get wet"
"When you return across Cedar Lake...be prepared to go an hour out of your way because of the cross-winds...it can get nasty out there"
And so I arrived at Brent to find five VERY confused, worried and fortunately DETERMINED trippers!

The ethos of the weekend was "we're going to do this".

Lightweight canoes were ultimately commandeered and Curmudgeon helpfully pointed us in the direction of the Nipissing River Delta. We packed up and headed across Cedar Lake on our adventure just one hour behind schedule - 10.30 am.

There was more than one instance on this trip where one could wonder if Nadine herself wasn’t with us. The first such instance came midway in our paddle across Cedar Lake en route to the Nipissing Delta. With dead calm waters we found ourselves headed straight for 8 loons. Seriously, eight of them, in a flotilla. We paddled straight into them and they made way for us. I’m not one for superstition…but it occurs to me now that I have NEVER seen 8 Loons in one place. Maybe one, maybe a pair, maybe a pair with a couple of youngens; but never eight. They are a lonesome species. And there we were - eight people on a mission and eight loons to greet us and point us to the Nipissing Delta.

Remarkable.

One hour into the journey....two of the stern seats of the rented canoes had broken. Rather than head back to Curmudgeon (my new name for the Town of Brent), we chose to figure it out at the first portage.
After making our way through the grass labyrinth that is the delta, we came across the first portage. 915m. The longest of the five we would face. We sorted out the seats by stuffing gear under them and then we strapped canoes to our heads and gear to our backs and one-tripped the big daddy! WHOHOO!

The rest of the day was longer than I had estimated. In part because we were paddling against the current and in part because everyone was very social and talkative at the beginning and end of each portage! (I should have expected this!). However we made it to camp by 5.45 pm. (a little over an hour late) and it was a BEAUT! Perfect for 8 people. Large open level area under towering trees, overlooking a river meadow. Many suitable tent pads, tons of dead wood for the fire. Perfect! And as with all things poetic, the rain only started in earnest after all the tents had been erected, the bear rope had been hung and the huge tarp had been set over the fire pit.
A very long but successful first day on the water.

DAY THREE:

The plan was to be on the water by 9am. We made it by 10.00 after a long sleep and breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar, nuts and raisins and lots of coffee and hot chocolate. The trip to the Nadine Lake portage was a winding series of oxbows...one after the other for EXACTLY 2 and half hours.
We were guided along this river by a small gray heron that stood stoically by the riverbank until we would get close. Once we encroached on his personal space he would take off upriver. We’d round the next oxbow and there he’d be. Standing in the muck as if to say “what the hell took you so long?”. Then he’d take off again. This went on for over 2 hours! In both directions!

Finally reaching the Nadine Lake portage was an exhilarating experience. On one hand thankful that my detailed planning and estimations had been vindicated while on the other knowing that we were merely a walk in the woods away from our destination. This prospect held SUCH excitement and satisfaction for everyone.

We chose wisely to hike into Nadine rather than take the canoes. It WAS uphill...entirely as Curmudgeon had promised. But it was only a half hour not an hour. It was a wise choice.

Eric the eldest of the Mosbaughs led the way with Sherpa Lee not far behind. We had been paddling in mist, fog and rain for much of the morning but as I watched their backsides head up the long hill, the sun broke. It filtered through the trees creating a fall menagerie of dew, light, shadow, wet leaves and steam. “PERFECT” I thought. As I reached the top of the hill and headed down the bank to the lake, Eric and Lee were already at the shoreline soaked in sunshine. Another Nadine moment for sure. The eldest and youngest greeted by sunshine. The sun fought to stay with us for the rest of our visit.

You could see most of Nadine Lake from the portage. It was a STUNNER! Bar none, the most beautiful small lake I have seen in the park. Surrounded by hardwoods at their peak colour and a PERFECT Tom Thompson Island punctuating the shore. We had a lunch of meat and veg wraps with Kearn's mustard...onion...cucumber.....and then Mary popped a bottle of champaign in honour of her mother.

It was perhaps the most meaningful ceremony I have ever seen as these 'Children of Nadine' (they'll all appreciate the double entendre), offered a small token of her life to the Lake. The small objects were placed in a wooden capsule which quickly sunk to the bottom of the lake near shore.

Perhaps too close to shore and so with élan.....everyone agreed to have Lee...baseball pitcher extraordinaire...toss the box out into the lake. As the box left his hand, the contents sprinkled across the lake creating a multitude of concentric ripples. It was PERFECT. Almost musical.

My Carrie who shared a long history with Nadine also figured prominently. bringing a gift wrapped packet of Paprika (Nadine's favorite) and stuffing it noticeably under a tree root. Hoping and figuring that the next person to meet this place....might also meet a little bit of Nadine.
It was frankly the most magical of experiences.
We were back at camp by 6pm.....and spent a warm evening around a great fire. Eating, drinking and enjoying our accomplishment.

DAY FOUR:
By day four we had 8 well seasoned trippers. Up early. Great breakfast of Loads of coffee, peanut butter and bacon sandwiches and lots of laughs. I will particularly remember each morning. Wherein the Mosbaughs (who all knew my father)...would greet the day with "good morning!" with a song in their voices and recalling his first words at the beginning of every sermon on Sunday mornings at Deer Park United.

Too funny!

The trip out was wicked! With the current we made great time! We had the portaging down to an art. We were able to run all of the swifts and the second last rapid to everyone's excitement and cut a bunch of time (I won't mention the little 'spill'). The last 915m. portage seemed like a cake walk!
We were back at Brent by 5.30pm. and then after packing up and getting our pictures taken by some American tourists, we drove back to our 12 person cabin.

The owners graciously reopened their kitchen for us and we were there until 10pm. eating.....reminiscing and enjoying our success.

It is important to point out at this point, that Curmudgeon is Jake Pidgeon. A former school teacher from Penetanguishine. He took over the Brent Store in 1982 given his long family history with the park, the Town of Brent and his work as a renowned fishing guide in the park. His is also…we believe…the self proclaimed Mayor of the Town of Brent.

I am told that his curmudgeonly ways come naturally and that he greets all ‘city dwellers’ with gloom and doom in the hopes that at the end of their trip they’ll feel exhilarated for having achieved the impossible. I spoke with him at the end of the trip and he confirmed as much. He was genuinely behind our adventure and greeted us with smiles on our return. He was, in the end, more helpful than he knows.

In all?
10 portages totaling over 4 km.
2.8 Km. hike up to Nadine Lake and back
54km. of paddling in three days.
950km. Driven
Hand's down? I would paddle with this crew ANY DAY!
Life really is about making memories. If not for yourself then for others. We made HUGE memories this weekend. Thanks all. WHAT A TRIP

Me darlin Carrie put together this little slide show of our trip. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzXQbVf7dFo

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Last edited by Noddy61 on October 5th, 2011, 4:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2011, 7:55 am 
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Thanks for that report. Great job doing that for her family. I want my ashes sent to the park as well.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2011, 8:05 am 
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Thanks for sharing. Nice to see you all had a fun time!

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2011, 8:06 am 
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:clap: :clap: :clap:

Oh, Nadine. Honey, is that you?
Seems like every time I see you Darling you got something else to do


Tell me more about Nadine...

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2011, 8:17 am 
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Sounds great, Noddy, I'm glad that this all worked out well for you. Nadine lake is said to be undisturbed by logging and that along with the scenery on the Nip... yep, it's on the list, maybe sooner rather than later now.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2011, 10:45 pm 
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Wow Noddy, excellent trip report. Great photography and slideshow as well. You can tell everyone was soaking in the moment.

You have me thinking it's about time for another trip down the Nip next summer.

Curmudgeon.....ROFL.

Les


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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2011, 7:56 am 
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Awesome report. It looks like everyone was having a great time. Excellent reason for making the trip. I am sure that the experience will be remembered by all. Thanks for sharing.

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2011, 1:07 pm 
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Very nice,well done

I love the music from the slideshow. Could you please post the name of the piece and the source.


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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2011, 1:56 pm 
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va3spt wrote:
Very nice,well done

I love the music from the slideshow. Could you please post the name of the piece and the source.


The music is by Paul Halley. He's in his late fifties, born in England but studied in Canada. He does solo jazz piano stuff as well as church/classical rep. He's quite an amazing composer and conductor.


The piece is "Sea Song" from the CD "Angel on a Stone Wall". I think you can listen to it on YouTube, and buy it on ITunes. I'm sure the CD is available too. One of my other favourite cuts on the cd is "Ubi Caritas", taken from a gregorian-like chant, and then he adds jazz and African song.........it is stunning.

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2011, 9:27 pm 
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Nice report and slide show! I am glad that it was a success.

Take care,
Cousin Pete

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PostPosted: December 12th, 2016, 6:33 pm 
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A little late to the party but wow - what a fantastic endeavour, and thoroughly enjoyable read. Good on ya, Noddy.

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