View topic - Shawanaga – Dogfish River Area Loop - 2018

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PostPosted: June 29th, 2019, 4:30 pm 
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Joined: September 25th, 2006, 2:56 pm
Posts: 161
Location: Gravenhurst
Today was a solo paddle, back up into the area southeast of Pointe au Baril. The heat wave had broken, and we were now into a cooler trend. This was a long day, me being in my “husky” mode, determined to keep on going! I was going to try and reach Ox and Spectacle Lakes (part of the Dogfish River) and loop around through Trout Lake. I could always take the long ATV trail from Trout back into the Shawanaga River if I started to run out of daylight.

I drove to the Shawanaga Lodge and was in the water on Rock Island Lake by 9:30AM. The temperature was definitely cooler, however the air still felt humid. I was dealing with a headwind as I paddled up the bay towards the mouth of the creek from Granite Lake. The water level was considerably higher than the last time I was here, so I was optimistic pond levels would be good as well, and I would complete my planned route.

Once in the creek, I still had to deal with the logjams, so pulled out the canoe and just portaged up to Granite Lake. The bush in here was fairly clear of saplings and undergrowth, and with a marked trail for half of it, the route was easy. Instead of bushcrashing from Granite to Twin Lake, I decided to try the marked trail, a bit longer route, but clear walking.

A cached boat marked the beginning of the portage. This trail was well marked, and seemed to be used often by ATVs. The numerous forks could create some confusion when portaging in the opposite direction, however as they merged from the west with this trail, there was no issue trying to guess the correct route while portaging towards Twin Lake.

I put into Twin Lake by a boat cache, and paddled with a moderate headwind to my next portage to Turtle Lake. A wetland to the east was in my “crosshairs” to paddle through, rather than do the rough bushcrash, along the overgrown logging road towards Turtle Lake. If water levels were good, I would have 2 shorter bushcrashes, rather than one long one, plus the extra scenery of the pond.

The route to this wetland was tough. A flooded “ditch” blocked my way to start with, then, there was an overgrown logging road to get through. I struggled through, more areas of dense sapling growth, before carefully working my way down a steep slope into a narrow waterway. This waterway led into the wetland, and fortunately water levels were good. The wetland has a small lake, completely surrounded by a floating matt of peat, and other vegetation. I didn’t attempt to find a way in, opting to paddle through the flooded area along the perimeter.

My next portage, now into Turtle Lake should have been a quick one, however, due to the past (but recent) logging, I found myself veering all over the place trying to avoid dense areas of saplings. There were lots of moose signs all through the area, but they were all hiding from me. After what seemed to be an eternity, actually about ten minutes, I finally saw a glimpse of the lake ahead. Paddling up Turtle Lake, against a strong wind, I started to wonder, whether my route to the Dogfish River was going to be a stretch. Daylight lasts until 8 PM, and the latter part of the route was mostly paddling I kept telling myself, so, as long as I still had energy, onward it was.

Two short bushcrashes, and a beaverpond in between brought my into Kibeong Lake. My plan for lunch on Spectacle Lake was out. It was now 12:30, and I still had another pond, then a long bushcrash down into the valley to reach the lake. I decided to continue into the next pond, and eat lunch there. If there were any issues with water there, I would then change my route.

Water was good on this pond, so onward I would go. Lunch first. I wedged the canoe onto a bit of vegetation in the middle of this long narrow waterway, and enjoyed a short lunch break. The pond was quite scenic, with the rocky points jutting out from the forested areas dotted with towering spruce. Not much time to sit and admire the views though.

I started the deep descent towards Spectacle Lake, it now being 1:30 PM. I wouldn’t have much time to fish here, however, I would do a little. Fifteen minutes later, and after not a bad route, I put in on a narrow creek, which opened up into Spectacle Lake. I made it! Whew! Oh ya, to get out of here, eventually, and into Trout Lake would not be easy.

Out came the rod, and within seconds, a largemouth bass hit my lure. Paddling down this small lake, numerous casts resulted in numerous fish between 1-2 lbs. (more or less how I remembered it 20 years ago) The forests had really grown since I was last here. The high ridge along the north side of the lake (150 ft.) was barely visible today. There used to be vast areas of open rock, providing a nice view of the area, and lake below. I could only see the odd rock outcropping, mostly east of the lake. Now, enough fishing, time wasn’t waiting for me.

I continued on eastward into the long wetland, happy to see lots of water. I was able to paddle right to the spot I was hoping to exit the valley, portaging towards Trout Lake. The bush was thick, but no where as bad as the logged areas earlier today. Twenty minutes later a broad swamp appeared ahead of me. This was a “checkpoint” on the route into Trout, insuring I was heading in the correct direction. Bonus, the swamp was flooded to the point I could paddle through the bushes! I had no difficulty reaching the next bushcrash, which, while steep, was again not too difficult. I was finally into Trout Lake, and pressure was off. (well not quite) I still had a long way to go, but now I could make up some time with the long stretch of paddling, and with a tailwind to assist me!

I was still feeling energetic enough, and with it being still relatively early (2:45PM) I decided to continue down Trout Lake, and take the route into Partridge Lake, taking the river back into Black Oak and Rock Island Lakes. I can hear the voices now … your crazy! I guess so!

It took a bit over an hour to paddle down Trout Lake to the west end of the bay to the marked trail to Partridge Lake, a beautiful paddle, and with the lake to myself. The trail into Partridge was well worn, except for a couple of spots hidden a bit with ground cover. Fifteen minutes later I was paddling out into Partridge. (4:15PM now)

I entered the Shawanaga River, pleased to see that with higher water, paddling was easy. I actually ran the first set of rapids (carefully) without too many rock scrapes. The next beaverdam had sufficient water flowing over it, that, with a good run to start with, I went over it as well. The next rapid, although a bit loner than the first, and with some split channels, was runnable as well. A few more rock scrapes occurred on this set, but nothing too severe.

I reached the final set of rapids, deciding to take the portage. This was a longer stretch of water with a number of rapids, and possible log jams. Considering the time of day, and (I admit) feeling a bit of fatigue now, I decided to take the portage. I wanted to check it’s use, and ease to follow, so I started where the cache of canoes were. I found a reasonably well-worn path for most of the way. There was flagging tape at the start, however it continued towards the open marsh to the south. I kept closer to the river, following a path the entire way.

I was at the mouth of the river now, and with one more runnable beaverdam, out onto Black Oak Lake. It was now just before 5:30PM, and now about an hour paddle back to the car. I did have a bit of a headwind, however, it was fairly light. Hugging the north shore, I was rounding the corner with the lodge in sight, and with the sun still above the horizon.

Back at the car before 6:30PM, with only my knees feeling a bit stiff from the longer stretches of paddling. Now the dangerous part of the trip … the drive home! A great paddling day, just over 32 km, I should sleep well tonight!

A link to some pictures, and a map of the route:

PostPosted: July 4th, 2019, 11:05 am 
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Joined: June 28th, 2008, 2:06 pm
Posts: 359
Location: GTA
Nice report, and nice photos. I was just in this area thanks to a long-ago posting by you. But I took a lot longer getting through the area!

This is a link to my recent report: ... 08&t=47488

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