Trip report: Little Hay Lake

So, I’m long overdue on the trip reports. I started a new job last year, and I’m coming up on my first anniversary in a week. The time has flown by, and the crunch of new responsibilities has died down a bit. I’ve gone on a few trips, and I’m ready to start keeping up with the photos and reviews and trip reports. This is a bit of a year of firsts.

The first first on this trip was going to an entrance point I’d never been to: Entrance 16, on the East side of Algonquin.

View Algonquin Park Access Points in a larger map

The drive there is quite nice. Once you get off the 401 east, you’re immediately on some smaller highways, and it’s not far to some very nice scenery for the rest of the drive.

We stopped in for a good mom-and-pop breakfast, something I can’t recommend enough. It’s a great way to start what will be a long day, especially if you’re driving a desk for half a year before your first trip of the season.

My camping partner for this trip was Ian Hoar, and this was our second trip out. He had come with me last year in late September, and we were going to stay for four days on Little Hay Lake.

Ian at a beaver dam

Ian at a beaver dam

The access point is Hay Lake (the bigger, I suppose), and when we finally drove up to the shore, we discovered there was no station where we could pick up our permits. We backtracked, and made our way to a lodge, where we found there is no place at the access point at all. To pick up permits, you have to go to the East Gate entrance point. Back out to the highway we went, up to Highway 60, to the crazy mall that is the East gate.

Once we got that sorted, we made our way back to the put-in point, which is a public boat launch. This entrance point is actually outside of the borders of the park, so you have to canoe across the large (and it always seems windy) Hay Lake, avoiding the powerboats and numerous cottages, and into a little river system to take us to our one portage. It was a buggy one, and it felt like June, not August. There was a rest bar halfway through the one-kilometre portage, and I was glad to use it for a moment.

resting on the portage trail

At the end of the long, humid portage, I was greeted by a completely unexpected sight — a well-traveled logging road. In fact, as I crossed it to get to the river, I nearly got hit by an empty flatbed zipping along a breakneck speeds. It was a bit of a noisy and unexpected immersion-killer.

Once at our site, however, things calmed down.

The tranquility of the park started to soak in, and the tasks at hand took on their simple importance.

Ian had made a new purchase, and brought along a Hennessy Hammock, the same as the one he borrowed last year. Unfortunately, he seemed to get a dud, as the mosquito netting was ripped, and it looked like a hook had been melted off.

I’m very happy with my hammock, but was disappointed to see this condition on a new product. He told me later that he couldn’t find the receipt, so still hasn’t returned it. Unfortunately, he bought it at Europe Bound, which, although $5 cheaper than MEC, doesn’t seem to be as accepting or lenient with their returns.

I’ll keep you updated when I hear more.

My hammock is still performing admirably and like new after years of use, so I’m inclined to think this is a fluke, and would still recommend them. It’s great to keep your gear dry and close at hand under you, and provides one of the best nights sleep you can get, provided it’s not colder weather.

My Hennessy hammock, set up. Underneath, my gear is stowed in my military poncho. That poncho is also just the right size to be used as the fly.

It was colder than expected, and my new purchase was a one-pound bag, a very small, light summer bag that was a joy to portage. I like my heavier bag, but it’s bulky and heavy and overkill for the summer.

The mist coming off of the lake dropped a chill on us that first morning after, and I had forgotten to bring my espresso. I don’t normally drink espresso, but it’s a traditional pick-me-up on back-country trips. I could have used the warm treat.

We had very little in the way of wildlife, but there was still the occasional curious visitor.

All in all, an uneventful trip, one that’s nice to experience, perhaps not as interesting to describe. I’m perfectly fine with that, however. For more pictures, you can see my Flickr set of Little Hay Lake, or check out Ian’s. We both took the pictures, depending one which camera was closest at hand.

  • http://www.ianhoar.com Ian

    It was a great trip, the mosquitoes were a bit insane, but the sunsets and good times were all worth it. Will do it again and again.

    As for the Hennessy Hammock, I did finally get around to calling Europe bound, but they said how do they know that I didn’t damage it. It’s really unlike me not to check things I buy before using them, but since I used the exact same hammock last year I felt like I had already used it. Europe Bound does have a point, I’m sure there’s lots of people out there that would rip these companies off, which is sad for the honest people out there like me. That said I don’t think I will do business with Europe Bound again. There service stinks compared to MEC, the store is a complete mess and every time you buy something all you will hear is how much of a great deal you are getting. As Mike mentioned, we will pay 5 dollars more for better service.

    I will repair the hammock and it will be as good as new and ready for the next trip. I can’t recommend hammock camping enough, it’s just so fun crawling into your hanging house each night, can’t wait until we do it again next year.

  • http://aWordInTheWoods.com Michael Zimmermann

    That’s extremely disappointing to hear, Ian. I’m still a big fan of the Hammock, and I’m thinking I’ll write to them, to let them know what sort of retail representation they’re getting from Europe-Bound.