Clydegale should be called Moose Lake, don't @ me.
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
As always, be expecting a shorter "just the paddle" blog after this one but if you want to read the details here goes...
Backcountry camping finally reopened in June (COVID19 restrictions lifted) and we couldn't wait to get our paddles in the water for some real social distancing. We didn't have much time as Martin was finally going back to work so we searched some weekend Algonquin trips but didn't find anything that felt right until we got a reco from a friend (thanks Ally!). Clydegale Lake, its many admirers and blogs are well deserved, so much so that I'm adding another.
Without hesitation, we booked a permit for Clydegale lake June 19-21 and our canoe from Algonquin Outfitters, Opeongo - they have a delivery option to Rock Lake which saved SO MUCH time and hassle for load in and load out! We still had to go in and grab our paddles and sign our waivers, in masks and loaded with hand sanitizer, of course. It was a different experience as the washrooms still weren't open and the parks were still sorting things out. We literally wrote our permit number on a paper and put it on the dashboard because the Park staff weren't in!
We left TO at 4:30AM so had an awesome early start and launch at Rock Lake with a beautiful day. Some navigational issues (ahem, Martin) made us lose about 30 minutes on the paddle as we went the long way around the islands on Rock Lake. The portage into Pen Lake was pretty painless (375m, nothing noteworthy) and we stopped for a classic Mortadella sandwich on the dock launch... at this point we had only encountered one family who planned to stay on Pen so we were taking our sweet time.
At some point on Pen we noticed some eager canoes creeping up on us and FAST! Being a bit competitive and wanting to land the coveted island spot on Clydegale I started paddling with all my might... to no avail. We were up against 4 buff dudes and they caught up to us on the portage, did the whole polite "where are you headed" and naturally they were headed for the island too. Knowing there was no way we could out paddle them we told them to take it and as luck would have it they were only staying one night so we did a bit of a trade.
Portage into Clydgale was the BUGGIEST thing I have ever witnessed, mind you it was June but STILL!
Martin basically had a mosquito coffin as he carried the canoe and I could barely stop to take one photo without getting eaten alive - thank goodness it wasn't a long one (275m) and before we knew it we were on Clydegale Lake. We veered straight to what is labelled as "campsite 2" on some maps, an elevated spot with beautiful west facing views and a solid rock face. This site would have been incredible had it not been for the relentless mosquitos and black flies, TMI but even had to maneuver our bug sweaters on the thunderbox for added protection - haha. What I loved about this site was the "work station" set up with epic views of the lake and there was also a solid grill for the fire. I know there are mixed thoughts around whether this breaks "pack in pack out" protocol but personally I appreciated not having to break my back on an unsteady log to food prep. Mid-June offered an interesting symphony of sounds into the evening between excessive loon calls, what I could only describe as toad orgies, and the rustling of grouse in the bushes - not ideal for my anxious sleeping but that's what you get in the heart of mating season. Overall the site was in excellent condition, not far from the portage so easier paddling access timewise, and offered many campsite perks.
On day two we waited for the group of buff dudes to pass by on their way back and headed for the coveted island spot otherwise known as "campsite 6" on some maps. DAMN. It was worth it. This site had a lot of the same perks as number 2 but the seclusion of an island at the far side of a lake. It was in great condition, offered a sweet prep station, had access to your own "private beach" and a view of a nice bog frequented by moose. We saw a moose and two calves come out in the evening and morning - magical. The water at Clydegale gets really warm really fast, considering it was mid-June it felt like bath water and made for enjoyable swims... albeit quite tadpole-y. The island was a 10/10 would recommend again and again.
The Sunday morning we packed up and headed back to Rock Lake. Along the way we caught a glimpse of ANOTHER moose with her calf and were so lucky to have a tailwind. The wind actually cut 30 minutes off our paddle time (or maybe it was just the not getting lost bit - ahem Martin). Along the way we saw some pretty sweet campsites both on Pen and Rock lake that we would consider doing one day for an easier trek but being honest, Clydegale was WAY easier than our Kawawaymog > Manitou trip and WAY nicer... if you like remote, moose-y lakes, and relatively painless portages.
In conclusion, Clydegale Lake = Moose Lake, don't @me.