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Author Topic: Algonquin Park: Access 1 to North Tea Lake via Amable-du-Fond River (Feb 25-27)  (Read 626 times)

Offline Marko_Mrko

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Hey all,

This is a write-up of a trip along the Amable-du-Fond river from Access 1 in Algonquin. I highly recommend it - great scenery, minimal hills, great camping sites. Very worthwhile. My only hesitation is the possibility of toboggans slipping into the river as the banks were icy.

We tried to get to NTL last year, we were close but not quite:
https://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=4727

The plan this year was to do a 5-day trip to NTL and explore around a bit. Spoke with Bill at Northern Wilderness Outfitters on Kawaywaymog Lake - nice guy, knowledgeable about the area. He recommended to follow Amable-du-Fond river from Kmog to NTL on the south side. The reason was that there is a branch of the river that flows north, and it's difficult to cross (even in the winter).

Ultimately the trip was a success, but not without hiccups. Original plan was to leave on Saturday Feb 23rd. However, with 5C and 20mm rain on the 24th (followed by -20C on the 25th), we decided to wait til the 25th. Left around 6AM on Feb 25th. Encountered COMPLETE whiteout conditions, and saw several car pileups on the southbound highways 400 and 11. It was the worst drive of my life. https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/02/25/major-pile-up-involving-50-70-vehicles-on-hwy-400-in-barrie/



We arrived to Access 1 at 1PM, packed and departed around 130PM. Using the Atuk Alaskan and KniCo Alaskan Stove with homemade baffle (love the baffle, love it). The ice conditions were spectacular. It was -10C. Yesterday's rain froze and created a beautiful crust on the lake. It was a dream!



The winds were still high - 35-40km/h, but they were at our backs. It really wasn't any trouble, but it would have been brutal going against the wind.



It took us about an hour to cross Kmog Lake (we took our time, checked out the NWO location). The toboggans were being blown alongside, without us having to pull. Speaking with Bill over the phone in January, he just said to go along the south side of the Amable river. We tried to find any kind of a trail, but were unsuccessful. I am certain there is no snowmobile traffic along the Amable. After about 30 minutes, we decided to walk along the river bank. The river itself was completely free of ice, with river banks clearly apparent due to 4-6 feet of snow.





It was at this precise point that I became a life-long fan of traditional snowshoes. I brought three pairs of snowshoes: 14x48 Hurons, 30" MSR Ascent Snowshoes, and 22" MSR Revo. I weigh 155lbs. There was 6' snow along the banks. Even with the 30" Ascents, I broke through the crust and sank 12-16" consistently. My 185-lb friend floated on top of the crust with the Hurons. Bastard.

We walked along the river for about 30 minutes (700m). At this point, it was already 330PM. We found a reasonable site (a bit small) on the bank of the river, and set up camp. There was plenty of standing deadwood. Unfortunately, we rushed a bit and didn't sinter a sufficiently large footprint, so the tent sagged a bit. The winds were only about 20km/h at this point, and the tent handled them beautifully. There are several really nice camping spots along this stretch of the river, most of them on the inside of a river curve with plenty of wood.



The night was completely clear, with minimal wind and beautiful stars. The next day was crystal-clear. Given that our trip was cut short, we decided to make a day trip to NTL. Walking along the bank was very easy. There was minimal elevation change. There are only two possible issues if trying to bring toboggans:

1) The crossing of the Amable river by the portage (close to the NTL)
2) The toboggans may try to slide into the river along the icy-crust banks... It would probably require staying a bit further inside the bush, and may be a harder trek.

Here's the crossing of the Amable. You can see how the banks slope to the river, and toboggans would have been very slippery. I cut a staff, and probed down to the ice. The upriver half of the ice bridge was solid, the downriver half was not very thick at all. If would have been a challenge getting across with toboggans - I'd love to hear if anyone has any experience with this.



The trek from the campsite was almost 5km, it took us 2 hours. NTL was spectacular.



Walking back was a breeze - saw a lot of moose tracks on the portage. We got back and relaxed in the sunshine.



The next morning, we woke up by 730-ish, and broke camp by 10AM. We were at the car by 11:09AM, a pretty good pace (4km total trek). The drive home was brutal due to another winter storm, but not as murderous as the last one.

Cheers!
Marko



« Last Edit: March 01, 2019, 06:22:09 pm by Marko_Mrko »

Offline Bothwell Voyageur

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Looks an interesting trip. Just goes to show that it is much safer in the back country than out in civilisation.

For those tricky crossing we put a person either end. Shorten up the haul ropes and put a tail rope on, just a few feet long. Take one sled across at a time and keep your fingers crossed.

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Offline cousin Pete

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Hello Marko_Mrko:  Sounds like a really cool trip.  Lovely pictures.  Thanks for sharing.

Take care,
Cousin Pete
"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908

Offline Marko_Mrko

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@BV - that seems reasonable. Was also thinking that it would have been a good idea to have a floating rope between the two of us when crossing that river... A dunk in those rapids would not have ended well...

@CP - thanks! I think it's a great spot for winter camping if coming from the TO/west side of the park.

Cheers
M

Offline Bothwell Voyageur

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Certainly worth carrying a paddlers throw bag most times you are likely to be anywhere near questionable ice.

If there were trees on either side you could also set up a static line across the creek and clip everything/everyone in to that, though that would likely involve a lot more equipment than most of us carry and some pretty extensive training. Lots of potential for things to go bad very quickly.
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