Day 5 - August 25, 1999
Route: Burntroot L., Longer L., Big Trout L., White Trout L., Grassy Bay, McIntosh Creek, McIntosh L.
Distance: 20 miles
Portages: 75, 40, 300, 745, 510
Travel Time: 7:15
Today, we started on our way home. We had a long way to paddle so we got off to an early
start. As we paddled down Burntroot L., we were just taking in the scenery. It was a beautiful
morning with just a bit of haze.
We soon reached the first set of rapids on the way to Longer Lake. Foolishly, we believed that
we could paddle up the rapids. Paddling as hard as we could, we made it half way before
getting wedged on a rock. We kept paddling, but the rock kept us from moving forward anymore.
We turned back and nearly tipped on a couple of rocks. We headed back to the portage
marker - pride in tow.
The paddle from the second portage to the bottom of Longer L. seemed very long. First, we had
to paddle upstream in a pretty strong current. As we reached the open water of Longer L., we
were paddling into a heavy head wind.
Finally, reaching Big Trout L., we came across a lone paddler who easily outpaced
us. We were impressed but our pride took another hit. We passed him when he stopped for lunch,
but were worried about the embarrassment should he pass us later. Fortunately, we were spared
We decided to stop for lunch at the ranger station on White Trout L. Both of us had been there
when we had been in high school and were curious to see how it had changed.
On the way to the ranger station, we passed two of the worst paddlers we had ever seen. From a
distance, I thought they were using kayak paddles. As we got closer, we realized that it just
looked this way because they were switching sides so often. Two strokes, switch. Three strokes,
switch. It was comical to watch. From this point on, they would be known as "the switchers."
As we stopped for lunch, they headed into Grassy Bay and we hoped that we wouldn't get stuck
behind them later.
The ranger station was much as we remembered it. Although overgrown, the spring to the right of
the house was still there. Even though the fire tower was long gone, it looked like the trail
still went up there. We briefly thought about hiking up there but decided against it since
we still had a long way to go.
After lunch, we headed toward Grassy Bay. Grassy Bay is a long winding paddle through vast
expanses of mud and plants. You are often tempted to cut a corner to avoid a long paddle,
but we knew better from our past experience. Eventually, we passed "the switchers".
Before reaching the first portage, we had to cross seven beaver dams. None of these were much
of a problem.
Portage on McIntosh Creek
There was quite a traffic jam at the first portage. Four canoes were already there with another
five coming in behind us. Already at the portage was a group of four young guys. They had the
largest pack I had ever seen - nearly twice the size of our largest pack. They affectionately
referred to the pack as "Big Red". It took two of them to help lift the pack onto the back of
a third. On the portage, he was unable to set the pack down to rest. On the far side of the
portage, Seth asked about "Big Red". The guy carrying the pack told us that it was their food pack.
With disgust, he said that the people responsible for the food had never been to Algonquin before
and had packed things like corn and potatoes. Seth and I had a good laugh.
Sign for Toilet Box
We reached McIntosh Lake and headed for a campsite, which Seth had stayed in before. Unfortunately,
this campsite was taken so we settled for a campsite on the northeast side of the lake. It was
4:00 and we were tired. We immediately hung our hammocks and relaxed for a bit.
The campsite was very wide open with a lot of moose droppings. It was so wide open that there
was no clear path which led to the toilet box. It was very amusing to see the sign on the tree
showing the way.
Because he was hungry, Seth cooked dinner for the first time. Because I was tired, I stayed in my
After dark, we went down to the edge of the water to find a cricket which had been making a racket.
The cricket was happily chirping from a large crack in the rocks. Looking in the water with our
flashlights, we found several large tadpoles.
We spent some more time around the campfire before calling it a night.