Six Day Solo WCPP

Aug 22, 2013
Red Lake, Ontario
Summer 2014 was not the greatest for canoeing. First I wasn't eligible for vacation until July, but the wet spring and start to summer made for the worst mosquitoes I have ever seen in my life. My son and I were going to make a 3 day trip in July but cancelled it because the mosquitos were so voracious. Finally the stars were lining up and I was able to take some vacation in late September and was bound and determined to get away for a week of canoeing.

After experiencing military MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) a couple of years ago, this past winter was spent dehydrating all sorts of new things and creating some instant(ish) meals. This also made me really anxious to field test some of my concoctions as well. The second part to dehydrating these things was to create complete meals in a single bag. So the main course, desert, beverage and any other necessities for the meal all in one bag, but healthier than and lighter than the military model. I do have thought that one day I may put all that on paper and make some sort of cook book. Maybe one day.

One of the places I have always wanted to visit was South Aegean after reading one of Glen Hooper’s trip reports and this trip was supposed to be when I finally had enough time to get there. I am lucky enough to live here in Red Lake so it wasn't like I needed to make a plan two months ago and stick to it no matter what. And would you believe I did not even look at a map until 2 days before I left? I toyed with the idea of flying into Talon and paddling out but decided I needed the money for other things at the moment. After spending a night a few whiskies pouring over the maps, I decided on a route of Leano, Upper Kilburn, Dragon, Boomerang, Talon, South Aegean, Paull, back to Upper Kilburn and Leano out.

I went to the Park office Friday to get my permit and talk to Claire about the route and it's always a good long chat when I go. She even pulled out her personal topo's and if you have never seen her "master" topo's you have seen nothing. They are chock-a-block of information. Fires, wildlife sightings, campsites, beaches and on and on. I would be willing to pay very good money for copies of those maps or more specifically all the information contained within them. She advised that the creek going from Dragon to Boomerang would be difficult this time of year and to do it at the start of day rather than the end because it may turn out to become a long haul. Duly noted. We spoke of the alternate route as well and that some folks found it un-navigable and turned around. This information was incredibly valuable and goes to show you to speak to the park office before and after your trip. Before is for the most up to date information on he route and afterwards to give feedback and report on conditions.

In the days before the trip and while packing for this trip it snowed and was cold for September. We had over a week of weather that was more suited for mid October rather than mid September. One night dropped below zero and we lost a tomato plant. This affected how I packed significantly. I subtracted bug protection and added warmth and redundancy in clothing and dry gear. The weather turned out far far better than I could have hoped with a few minor exceptions.

I was packed up and ready to go Friday. Saturday morning woke up 630, and made a nice breakfast of oatmeal, yoghurt and grapefruit juice, then off to the coffee shop to let the old men entertain me during my morning coffee ritual. I could write a whole book on this entire life experience but that's another matter. I proceed to make the 1.5 hour drive from Red Lake to Leano Lk at about 830. About an hour in ran into a moose, not literally,but sadly my camera was packed away. I did make an attempt to get a picture but it simply didn't happen. I got out to get the camera so he took off. I carried on and there he was again. So this time I grabbed the camera and he took off, not to be seen again.

I get to Leano Lake, make the first portage of the trip (350m) into Leano Lake ready to push off at about 1030.

Here I am loaded up and ready to go. For this trip I chose the Woods knock off pack and the Oostrom Wabakimi Pack.

Once to the bottom of Leano I carried on to Upper Kilburn through a series of 4 portages totalling 675m. Water levels were considerably lower than when I went this way in the spring.

Here is s shot of the waterfall that you portage around to get into Upper Kilburn.

And the same spot in May...

I the spring this is a bit of a scary landing, make a mistake and over you go, but this time I actually had to walk my canoe to shore because the water was so shallow.

I opted to camp early rather than attempt the 1km portage late in the day on day one. I did try to find a campsite closer to the portage but the only one I could find was the windy spot on a point. It has a great tent pad. You could set up a rather large tent on this location, the landing is super with a low sloped smooth rock landing. The only thing better than this to me is a beach landing. The fire pit area was not the greatest but it worked.

Here is shot of the tent with my tarp extending out over the entrance.

I can stand up and change or take my shoes and possibly take wet gear off before getting into the tent with this set up. I also sleep with the screen only allowing maximum fresh air into the the tent.

Oddly enough, I did not record what I ate for dinner the first night but suspect it was an instant FD meal from Mountain House which is typical for day one. Keep it simple untilI I get into the groove.

It was an off and on sort of day for the sun and the wind oddly blew hard all night.

First Day tally
12.3km total travelled distance
5 portages at 1025m total

Sunrises can be equally captivating on a clear morning or on a cloudy morning. This one was pretty fantastic.



Loaded up and ready to go for day two. I was not intent on capturing the clouds in the water like that but was very fond of the results when I got home and saw this picture. I wish I had of framed it better. I'll leave the artistic photos to the professionals and just use my camera for documentation I think.

The day started out quite cool at 8C and warmed up to 17C but the clouds were dominant for the day. Only time the sun seemed to want to appear was on portages. Winds were from the WNW and light at around 5-10km/h in the morning and then increased to 10-15km/h from NNW in the afternoon.

The first portage out of Upper Kilburn is a nice hike at 1000m, but at the end you are rewarded with a nice beach.

The beach is also full of wild rice too.

Then there is a short paddle to the 90m very steep portage into Middle Kilburn. Thankfully it was downhill steep.

Next was the two stage portages to get into Dragon Lake. First was a 325m portage which turned out to be only 70m. Had me all confused and was checking my GPS to make sure I hadn't zigged when I should have zagged. Right spot, so I put my canoe in the creek through a bog and managed to float it 10m before running out of water. What followed was a dragging the canoe over the other 250m of that portage through a mucky swamp. The muck was varying depths in some spots it was almost to your knees and in other spots you could almost stand on to without getting your feet wet. And the smell. Yech!!!


Finally got through it and floated the canoe across the short un-named lake only to find access to the next portage was pretty much the same.

Well that was completely exhausting and then I still had the 550m portage to do. Got that up and down affair out of the way and had a headwind paddle up into Dragon Lake. The whole time I am recalling what Clair said about the portage into Boomerang. She said that one would be bad. I had thoughts of spending an entire day dragging the canoe through a swamp. As the afternoon winds picked up I began searching for a campsite. I eventually settled on a spot that wasn't a campsite at all but just a flat spot in a blueberry patch. Glad blueberry season was over else it would seem I was sleeping in Mr Bear’s pantry. I was tired and out of shape so I had had about enough. It was after 4 when I dragged my gear into the spot to set up. I still had a bunch of clearing of deadfall and couple of widow makers to remove and figure out where I was going to set up my stove on this bed of moss.
My back is now aching, my feet are sore and my calf muscles are cramping up as well. I really need to do more on my conditioning. And all of this added to my decision to re-route my trip.


Food for the day was a double dose of oatmeal for breakfast, with 6 slices of bacon, Larabar, beaf jerky, fruit bar and handful of nuts for lunch and dinner was Chicken Alfredo. Oatmeal is home made, consisting of 1/3c of rolled oat, pinch of salt, 1/4c raisins,1 tsp of sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon then vacuum sealed. Chicken Alfredo was dried chicken, dried mushrooms, dried green peppers,1 tbsp milk powder. I pre soak it for a few minutes then add a package of instant Alfredo sauce mix along with a few tbsp of olive oil. Boil it up until it thickens and put it in the food jar while I boil the whole wheat pasta, which I package up with a tsp of salt and vacuum seal that as well. I did not take any pictures of the food, could be I was ravenously hungry and was more focused on eating rather than picture taking, but one day I will document the whole food process.

That night I looked at the map and decided to take the northern alternate route into Talon.

Day two tally
13.7km total travel
4 portages at 2065m total...sort of

The following morning my calf muscles were cramped up pretty good, I could barely walk. But I soldiered on resulting in a late start.

The winds had changed overnight to a more WSW wind and was again 10-15km/h in the morning and increasing to 15-20km/h and gusty in the afternoon. The morning was the coldest of the trip at 6C but it warmed right up to mid 20's. It also started a two day trend where there was not a cloud to be found anywhere.


More Dragon Lake photos.


The day started with a 50m brushy portage from Dragon Lk to small un-named lake followed quickly by a 300m portage into another un-named lake.

I then struggled through another 100m portage with the calf muscles screaming the whole way. Now if you have a the old Park Map, the one they were selling only 2 years ago, there will be a single portage out of this lake into Talon at the SW end of the lake listed at 475m. After the snow event of October 2012 this portage was never recovered and a new 250m one was cut at the NW end of the lake. But this one would require another 275m portage to get to the same spot as the old portage would take you. Claire mentioned people had turned back from here because they couldn't find the new portage either. After a bit of searching I eventually found it but understand why people missed it. The landing is littered with downed trees and the take out involves dragging the canoe and all the gear over a mess of trees. From there the portage just got worse. I named this portage Cruel and Unusual Punishment. It was straight up and when it got to the rocky slope I was immensely grateful it was not raining otherwise it would have been a scary proposition to come back down the trail. Once you get up the sheer face the climb is a slower pace quickly followed by a steady downhill to the next lake. The trail is cut with zig zags in that make manoeuvring a canoe impossible without some back and forth 6 point turns. Then there is the spot where the trail runs right beside a tree making it impossible to get the canoe by without side stepping off the trail, only trouble is the side step involves a 24" drop.

Here is a shot of the canoe at the bottom of the slope, from about half way up.

By the time I was done this portage I was knackered. Completely spent. And now the wind was stiff and in my face. I paddled around the next corner and there was a campsite right there and it took no convincing to pull in there and call it a day. The site was nice but needed quite a bit of clean-up of deadfall. There was a crude bench which I ended up rebuilding, making it higher and using a log that wasn’t rotted. There was a single tent pad but the fire pit area was huge.

Home for the night.

Fire pit area.

The bench was amazing and with my “carry everywhere” seat cushion was quite comfortable and gave my back a well needed break. The seat cushion is one of those foamy things they sell for ice fishing. It has a little strap on it and I tie it to my belt so it hangs freely. It's always hanging there and wherever I go I always have something soft and dry to sit on. It is extra padding while canoeing and when I portage the woods pack I flip it up use it as a back cushion. I got the idea from Les Stroud who did a winter Survival scenario in Temagami and had a piece of fur hanging from his belt for the same reason. I am sure it looks silly, but I can't see myself ever tripping without one of these again.

So this little guy came up and decided to eat his mushroom in front of me while I ate my supper.

This is the squirrel who made me start thinking of bears on bad drugs attacking people.

I managed to do a little fishing after dinner and almost right away hooked into a pike that gave me a 20 minute fight. Was that ever a fun fish to catch. It was also the only fish I caught on this trip. I did not end up doing a much fishing.

Today's food was bacon, Mountain House dried scrambled eggs, baked beans and a whole wheat pita for breakfast, same lunch as always, and shepherds pie for dinner. Dried ground beef, dried onions, dried corn, tbsp whole wheat flour and spices. Pre-soak the meat and vegetables then boil up until gravy is formed. While that is continuing to rehydrate make your instant mashed potatoes and enjoy. I package the instant mashed potatoes with a tbsp of milk powder and 1/4 tsp of garlic to give them a fuller flavour.The corn didn't rehydrate well but this was a tasty meal overall. I will definitely make this one again. The baked beans rehydrated were also a first for me and worked very very well.

Day three tally
8.5km only
4 portages at 600m

After the re-route and the limited progress day 3 I figured it would be another two days to reach my goal of South Aegean Lake especially with the pain I was feeling in my calf muscles. So rather than heading west into Aegean I decided to head north into Paull and make sure I make it out on time and not leave people worrying when I didn't come when I said. Actually it is the fear of running out of food that drives many of my decisions. I planned on 7 days, pack food for 8 and after only 3 nights I was not prepared to commit to my buffer day of food not knowing if getting wind bound or taking an injury day was in the cards when the trip was not even half over.

So I headed north into Paull. There was a series of small and scenic portages today and favourable winds from the SE blowing between 10-20km/h. It was also a much warmer day with a morning low of only 12C and warming up to 27C. This was like mid summer but without any mosquitoes. The last portage was a steep descent into Paull that went down in front of north facing cliff. It was an interesting lush trail that I am sure had a unique micro-climate due to the shady nature of the cliff.
Here are a couple of shots of the area but I was not able to capture the feel of how steep it was.


However the highlight of the day was the 375m portage between two small lakes. The first 150-200m was through a bog. But not like the last one. This was a well established bog that had trees growing in it and the smell was not of rotting vegetation but of pine and strong Labrador Tea. I loved the smell of this trail. I was kind of excited thinking it was going to be flat for good portion of it and was I wrong. It was akin to walking across a soft couch, but soaking wet. Soft and wet enough that it managed to suck the shoes right off my feet twice.


The canoe is down there somewhere.

As the trail progressed so did the trees, but the ground didn't seem to get any firmer.


The highlight of the trail was finding these carnivorous Purple Pitcher plants

The end of the trail was quite steep up and down but as always very scenic.

Today’s campsite was not a well used site on the north side of a large island at the west end of Paull lake. I moved the fire pit and made another high bench. The tent pad was up the hill and was surrounded by dead and leaning trees so decided to put the tent up in a small opening in the smaller trees and on thick moss. Comfy!



Food for the day was cold cereal which is pre-portioned with milk powder and then vacuum sealed so I just add cold water and bam. Dinner was whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce with dried diced peppers, dried sliced mushrooms, dried diced celery, dried shredded carrots, dried onion bits, dried sliced olives with a healthy dose of herbs and spices. So the process was to pre-soak the meat and vegetables. Then I boil the water for the pasta, once it is boiling I add some hot water and the tomato sauce leather in the food cup with the soaking meat and vegetables. As the pasta is boiling you stir the the hot water into the sauce until the tomato leather dissolves. Don’t forget to add a good dose of olive oil like with all the meals. Funny thing happened with tonights dinner. I was draining the pasta water into my coffee cup to enjoy a cup of fortified hot chocolate. The cup was full and there was a little bit of water left so I was dumping that onto the ground when the lid slipped and all the boiled spaghetti fell on the ground! I ate it anyways, along with bits of moss, a few twigs and some grass. I barely even noticed.

By the end of today I was beginning to feel much better physically. Legs and back and feet were beginning to get into the condition they should be. It always takes me a few days to work out all the aches and pains and get my conditioning up to a comfortable level.

Day four tally
10km travelled
6 portages at 700m including 3 lift-overs

I should have known that the easterly direction of the winds was a sign of changes in the weather. The next morning was cool, and overcast. The winds were still out of the SE and fairly strong at 15km/h. The thermometer said 14C but it felt colder. I wanted to get an early start so I could search for the pictographs on Paull Lake. I looked and looked and looked but could not see any pictographs where Claire said they should be.


The weather remained gloomy and windy all day but never actually rained.

It was a 10km paddle to get to the first portage and I did that by noon. Amazing the distance you can make when the bags stay in the canoe all day. From there it was a series of 6 scenic portages to get into Elephant Head Lake, then navigating a small rock garden to get into Boot Jack Lake.

The site on Bootjack is one I have stayed at 3 years in a row. I think the beavers are working hard on destroying the site as most of the trees have been gnawed. It has a very nice sheltered tent pad and the fire pit area, while small is well set up. I rebuilt the fire pit as the other one was looking kind of full and was just a big pile of rocks. I prefer the open fronted fire pit with a high back so I can boil water in my tea billy. I spent a goodly amount of time cutting up some of the ample deadfall on this site. I left a good stack of firewood even a bunch of it split. This site also provide some scenic sunrises which didn't happen this time because the heavy cloud cover continued until the end of the trip.


Tarp set up is same as always. Front just over or very near to over the fire.

Tent is tucked away in the trees.

Now there is no sunrise picture from this site on this trip but here a few from previous trips.


Food today was oatmeal, bacon and dried apples for breakfast, the usual lunch of snack foods and dinner was Mountain House Beef Stroganoff.

Day five tally
15km travelled
7 portages at 710m which includes 2 lift-overs

Day 6 started out with the hint of rain in the air, a few light drops but nothing really developed. Overcast and feeling cooler than the 15C thermometer was telling me. The winds were strong again and from the SE but most of todays route would help me avoid the brunt of them.

I started the day with bacon, eggs, baked beans and some whole wheat pita…mmmm. This is my new favourite breakfast, baked beans make every meal better.

There is two portages to get into Bunny Lake a 125m and another 20m. I lolly-gagged around today attempting to catch the elusive Lake Trout but I just can't seem to catch these guys.

The next portage was the 300m from Bunny Lake to Leano Lake and this is essentially the last one that has a lake at the end of it. I was never fond of this landing. It's rocky approach and then the high edge just to get your gear up onto the trail.

At the end of this portage your into Leano Creek. Last August when I was through here, it was a long mucky walk to get past the shallow rocky landing but this year, despite the dry and lower landings throughout the rest of the trip, this one was high. Hmmmm. I paddled down the creek and at the last narrow section where it is usually a tricky navigation to avoid leaving paint on all the rocks, there before me was a huge beaver dam. I have paddled through this part several times a year for 6 years and this seems like it came out of nowhere. It was pretty tricky getting over this one. And I was so thrilled to have done it without going for a swim I forgot to turn around and get a picture of this 3 foot high beaver dam. So settle for a picture of it from the high side.

No more pictures, after this it was a crazy paddle into a serious headwind and 2 foot waves. Not sure what the wind was at because I was too busy trying to stay pointed in the right direction to pull out the ADC. For anybody who has paddled this stretch the scariest part was after you get through the first set of narrows and the water gets shallow with all the paint scraper hidden rocks. I was thinking if I go through there and hit one of those of dig in to make a paddle stroke and find nothing but rock I could get into trouble. But I made it through there then it was the tough pull to get to the east-west narrows. A chance to give the burning arms a break. The next section to cross trying to get to the turn and the island for shelter was hairy. No more Canadian style paddling. It was on my knees spread out resembling an Olympic paddler. Making very little forward progress with every stroke, spending more effort ensuring the canoe stays pointed in the right direction to avoid going broadside to the crazy big waves.
Once I made the turn I was more of a quartering wave from the rear and then it was a game trying to surf the waves. I was glad to be back on dry land and made the final 350m portage to the truck around 130pm.

Loaded up and headed home. 10 minutes out of the Leano Lake parking lot I managed to shoot a bird for dinner that night.

Day six tally
13 km
5 portages at 795m include the one lift-over the beaver dam.

Total for the trip
72.5 km
31 portages
5895m portage distance.

I uploaded a small synopsis on the Garmin website if anybody want to see the GPS details of the trip.

Hope I didn't bore you with too much details.
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Jul 11, 2014
Ontario Canada
Awesome trip and a great report! Thanks Red. I love pic heavy reports like yours, and all the details too. What you ration for daily meals and how you prep it is good to know. It helps me rethink our own mealtimes. You take good photos too. They answer all the questions I whisper to myself as I read along "What's the campsite like tonight?" "What does the trail through the Lab Tea look like?" What'll I see around the next bend?" Thanks Red.
Sep 2, 2011
Raymond, ME
LOL.. Thanks for bringing back ugly memories of the Dragon Lake Portage. I went after floods and it was not paddeleable but not walkable. After winding up on my back solo under the boat with a pack on my back and thinking what a he** of a way to die....

Now you have me scrambling to find my WCPP maps and where did they go? I did get to South Aegean ( where it rained alot) but my route was a little different. and I did have ten days Though I cant remember it.. there was Paull and Jake and Bunny and at the series of portages to South Aegean the portage was in the waterfall.... Even at high water that last portage into Leano from Bunny is a big push up.. At high water there were two choices...jump up or jump in.. it was deep.

Not so fond of the new Leano to parking lot portage.. I did make a trip there when the 60 m portage was operational and one where the "new kid on the block was there" It seems wrong to end and start a trip with a haul but it does keep the cars off the lake.

Ah yes. I remember mushrooms. Lots of them. 2009.
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Wow what an epic trip report.... I'm going to give it another read just to make sure i didn't miss anything.. Thanks so much for sharing.
Aug 22, 2013
Red Lake, Ontario
I am still proof reading it myself so you may seem some subtle changes but on to things like spelling and grammar and stupid auto correct mistakes. Not to the content itself.
Nov 7, 2013
Great TR RL! I have not been that way in the Park for several years, so your photos brough back memories. I was up in the north and central part of the park this summer. Man the "Snowdown" was something to see!
Aug 22, 2013
Red Lake, Ontario
Great TR RL! I have not been that way in the Park for several years, so your photos brough back memories. I was up in the north and central part of the park this summer. Man the "Snowdown" was something to see!

I got some great photos of the tangle of trees in some spots. Snowdown...I like that better the Great Snow Event I call it. Is there a another series of videos coming??
Sep 13, 2013
Long Island, NY
What a great trip and report! Great detail and photos. I'm glad you had fun and thanks for bringing us along through your trip report.
Jun 12, 2012
Appleton, Maine
Thanks for sharing your trip, like Yellowcanoe I need to get my maps out and see if we used parts of the same route around Paull. Two tarps is a nice luxury, packing a dry tent after a rainy night must be nice.

That's good information about looking at Claire's topo's. When I spoke to her she was a wealth of information and marked my topo's with good information. It was shortly after a paddler had to be extracted because of a broken paddle and she asked me a few questions about my being prepared.

I enjoyed reading about your food preparation, very nice tripping meals.
Aug 12, 2012
You made my morning coffee a lot more enjoyable this morning. I am sure your report to Claire put even more data into her records.
Feb 1, 2013
Nice report! Maybe spruce grouse are so silly because of their mushroom consumption too!
Jan 8, 2014
Minden, NV
It has been an education to see all the great TRs by solo paddlers. I am keeping an eye out for a solo boat after paddling tandems solo for years.
Jul 25, 2012
Thanks Red for the great report! Enjoyed the adventures with your cooking experiments. It really sounds like you're onto something delicious there, probably at a reduced level of salt too. (thinking of mountain house)
I'm curious about your "billy pot" or what ever it's called, don't believe I've ever seen a camping pot like that before. Are they currently available somewhere?

Thinking about your squirrel and the mushrooms. Wonder what advantage it would be to the mushrooms to develop these various strange chemical or are they just some by product of normal metabolism. The mushrooms propagate using spores, so wouldn't it make the most sense to invest in smelling bad so nothing would eat you? So much I don't know.
I often wonder when I'm picking and eating blackberries; the berries are delicious and the thorns are sharp. Now just what in the heck is the message the plant is trying to send?
Reminds me of a girl friend from long ago: "Come here, come here, (little wiggle) come here. Get away you brute! Is that all you ever think of?" She sure was cute but flat wore me out with her games.

I guess I'll know about these things when I'm a grown up.

Aug 22, 2013
Red Lake, Ontario
It has been an education to see all the great TRs by solo paddlers. I am keeping an eye out for a solo boat after paddling tandems solo for years.

I don't use a solo boat. I use a 16.6 foot Langford Prospector canoe that I paddle kneeling from the centre thwart. It is outfitted with knee pads and ankle blocks that make it tolerable to paddle in that position. I paddle from the left side of the canoe all day with it heeled over. Makes it a bear in a breeze but also makes it super responsive while paddling. I know other paddle the same style canoe but backwards from the front seat essentially moving the centre of gravity more towards the middle of the canoe where it should be. I mostly paddle solo because I think I am the only one who likes me enough to spend time in the bush with, and even then I am not sure I like me enough for that. ;-)
Aug 22, 2013
Red Lake, Ontario
An excellent trip report, I do like all the little details! I would need a book to keep track of half of that!

I have a little logbook sort of thing I found in Chaltrek the last time I was in there. It is a sort of fill in the blanks type thing. I am not one for a journal so this helps me track all the little details.
Mar 18, 2014
I have a little logbook sort of thing I found in Chaltrek the last time I was in there. It is a sort of fill in the blanks type thing. I am not one for a journal so this helps me track all the little details.

I figured you would have had a log book for the trip! I think its a great idea for retaining the details.