15 August 2008

Access Point 17: Shall-Farm Lake

Well, we had been back from Algonquin for about a week, and were ready to embark on another trip, this time destination Lake Godda, accessed via access point #17 and Shall-Farm-Kitty-Booth-Mole Lakes. Unfortunately luck was not on our side this trip, for while originally planned as a 4 night venture (1 night on Farm, 2 on Godda then 1 on Booth) our trip got cut after the first night due to a piece of rubber the size of a fingernail breaking in our water filter, leaving us with little choice but to end the trip abruptly.

Our Route Map

While short, the trip was memorable, and worth noting in my blog.  Leaving Toronto early we arrived at the launch site with permit in hand around 2:00 pm on July 31st.  Being a long weekend, we knew we would be competing for Booth Lake, and so settled on going to Godda.  The weather that afternoon was iffy however, and so we decided that for the first day we would limit our travels to Farm Lake where we would stay our first night.
Liam and Josh arriving at our site
The site was just about as great as you can get, offering lots of history, wonderful scenery, a small beach, good fishing and an easily accessible supply of wood.  We set up camp quickly, and were left with lots of time to explore our home for the night.

Within minutes we notices several "square shaped risen hills" that I recognized as the foundational remains of the many buildings that once made up "Booths End of Steel Camp/Farming Base".  In all we found 7 such foundations, the closest being a few mere meters from where we had settend up our tent!  I have heard that many such buildings, along with many run down ranger stations were burnt down to (a) return the area to it's "natural state" and (b) increase safety, as the deteriorating buildings had in some cases started to crumble, posing a "hazard" to visitors.
The remains of a buildings foundation, located mere meters from our camp
The small remnants of the buildings "shingle brick" exterior.
After discovering this, we continued exploring our surroundings, and to my surprise ended up on one of the active lumbering roads that while unmarked on the "Official Canoe Routes" map, can be seen on Jeffrey McMurtrie's Algonguin Map; my "Official Canoe Routes" map. Disappointingly, the road is still very active, for we witnessed several large fully loaded trucks leaving the park, as we departed the park at the end of our trip.
An "unmarked but active"logging road.
For the remainder of the day, the kids fished from shore along our small beach, followed by a fantastic evening fire and roasted hot dogs for dinner.  The kids went to bed by ten that evening, however I stayed up till around 1:00 am, as the starts were out in full force, showing off several flying stars, satellites and the International Space Station, for all who stayed up to see.

It was the following morning that things turned on us.  You see, up till that point we relied on the water that we brought in with us, in our water bottles, but now would turn to the water filter to resupply us.  This has never been a problem, however on this trip, after filling two bottles, my  MRS MiniWorks EX water pump stopped sucking water in.  At first I thought the filter needed cleaning, after all we were filling from a beach, but even after a through-al cleaning, no water was being pumped.  Upon further investigation, I discovered the problem; a broken "umbrella valve" and with no spare part, no fresh water.  True I could have switched to boiling or my emergency water pills, however I only use the pills in real emergencies, as they make me feel a bit ill, and I had not counted on boiling water, and hence unsure of having enough fuel for the necessary boiling (my kids drink TONES of water in the park). While disappointed, we would not let this end our trip immediately, and so after a light breakfast and take down of camp, we set off to explore and fish Farm Lake.
One last look at our site on Farm Lake.

For those who have never been to the Farm/Booth Lake area, I can honestly say go, as it is currently my favorite part of the park.  Farm lake is relatively long but small, with lots of interesting inlets to fish and historical references to explore.  One such site is the "Kitty Lake Cabin," located adjacent to where we had camped the night before.
"Built in 1935, this is one of our larger cabins. Materials were salvaged from both the abandoned Booth Depot Farm in close proximity and the adjacent Booth "End of Steel" lumber camp. Road access enabled rangers to easily bring in dressed lumber for the roof and floor. Few areas of Algonquin saw so much pioneering activity as this area. A logging depot farm, lumber camp, logging railway, fire tower, hose drying tower, towerman's cabin, a fire equipment storage house on the river and improvements for the spring river log drive are all evident within one mile of this cabin.
Despite its name, this waterfront cabin is actually situated on Farm Lake. The one room, open concept log cabin is nestled among mature White Pine and has a southerly exposure with a very scenic view. Fishing opportunities include Smallmouth Bass, Pike, and Lake Trout in surrounding lakes such as Shall, Crotch, Farm, Kitty, Booth, and Bridle Lake. It can be easily accessed by canoeing one hour from Shall Lake access point #17."  Source: Friends of Algonquin
Kitty Lake Cabin
In addition to the cabin, there are picturesque rapids along the 90 meter Farm-Kitty lake Portage, as well great fishing adjacent to the islands on Farm Lake.
Farm to Kitty Lake Rapids
Kitty side of rapids.
Great fishing!
As we explored, and headed back to the access point, we passed over 30 canoe loads of people entering the park for the long weekend!  While none were headed to Godda, and hence our destination would have been peaceful, seeing so many people entering made it just a little bit easier to depart.

So while my visit to this part of the park was short, this region has proven to become my favorite portion of the park thus far in my travels within Algonquin Park.  I liked it so much that I will be breaking my cardinal rule (of not repeating a destination in a single year) and returning to this part of the park for my next trip.  I've heard really great things about Godda, and for now, like the name suggests, "I Gotta Go to Godda!"  My aim is to leave my cottage in Huntsville on Sunday August 17th, staying on Booth that night, travel to Godda for the next two nights, returning to Booth for a single night and out on  August 21st.  

As a footnote to this story,  upon returning home, I did contact MSR about my water filter, and upon explaining to them that the umbrella valve broke, was offered a replacement part free of charge.  I asked for a spare, not wanting to be stuck with a broken one in the woods again to which they agreed, and I am expecting in the mail soon!  I'll update you when I get it in!

Wish me luck, as this will be a solo, unless I find someone to join me, and I will write about Godda as soon as I return!



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