Chris and I did a pre-camping trip scout of the Fishog Lake campsites. We put in on Head Lake at the access down the Digby-Laxton boundry road, and paddled across the lake to the Head River. Head Lake is a fairly big lake, but it was nice and calm for our paddle. We passed several rocky islands that were home to sea gulls, common terns and cormorants. The gulls and terns were not happy with us for passing by, and dive bombed us repeatedly until we were well passed. A few times we came close to getting pooped on, the birds having missed us by mere feet.
Once on the river, we passed a few cottages. It's a nice little paddle, with no noticeable current to hinder our process. A few minutes before we saw the water fall which we'd need to portage around, we could hear the rush of water.
The portage is no fun! It's not marked except by no trespassing signs. At first we weren't sure if that was where we needed to go, but I'm assuming the signs mean not to go off the trail. It's a doozy. It's steep at first, levels out for a little bit, then you climb and descend rocky hills with awkward footing, then go down a fairly steep hill to get to the put in. The trail forks at the top of the hill, stay to the left for an easier put in.
You paddle a bit more in the river before it opens into Fishog Lake. Chris and I spent a few hours checking out campsites. Some were amazing, some were obviously never used as the fire pits were overgrown with grasses and ferns. Some we couldn't even find. I have an app that lets me download PDF maps and one of them is a map of Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. As we paddle, a blue dot shows up on the map to show our location. As we went, I was using it to find campsites and more than once we paddled right past one without being able to tell it was a campsite at all.
Fishog is pretty, with lots of rocky cliffs, a mix of hard and soft wood. When we told my parents where we were thinking of going, I said it was near Norland...their response was a sarcastic "Ooooh! Exciting." In all honestly, I had my doubts about the area even though I'd watched a few youtube videos
The deer and horse flies were pretty bad on some of the sites, and the mosquitoes were brutal on the portage and at few sites as well. After the portage, on the way back, there was no breeze to shoo them away so we had to deal with swarms of them until we got back out to the lake.
Our thoughts on the area for the next day's camping trip were mixed. If we could get one of the good sites, it would be wonderful but the paddle, though only a little more than an hour would be difficult with Biscuit if it was anything like our last time taking him in the canoe. Also, the portage, short and not too crazy, would be utterly nightmarish with him dragging me up and down the hills. I kept seeing myself sliding down a rocky hill, burdened down with pack and gear.
We debated the whole evening, and by the next morning, still hadn't decided if we were going to go there or find somewhere else. We really didn't want the kids first time canoe camping to be a painful experience (for any of us.) In the end, we decided to just go for it. The trip log and pictures from that trip will be up in the next day or two.