Monday, November 26, 2007

Maple Mountain Loop Jun 27-Jul 2

- On top of Maple Mountain, the second highest point in Ontario! It was a overcast and gloomy day, but as we posed infront of the firetower, the cloud broke enough to give the sky some colour. I suggested climbing the firetower, but Marylou would not hear it. Been up there and its a little daunting - the tower sways up there in the wind!

Happy Belated Canada's Day! Sorry, we were away and well, you probably already know. We snuck out paddling! This time we headed to Temagami so Marylou could experience Maple Mt before wide-spread clear-cutting begins (unfortunate) and ruins the scenery from the top. I had done a similar trip with a bunch of guys years ago and had such a good time that I couldn't keep the experience from her any longer so we packed and away we went!

- Two maps are not always helpful, especially when they don't agree. This time, I picked the wrong one to follow! There was a portage around a shallow rocky rapid that I decided to line since I thought it was short (or so I thought), but it continued further on where there was less water. I can still hear it - "I told you so!"

We started at Mowatt Landing, up the Montreal river, down a chain of lakes to Tupper Lk where we hiked up Maple Mt (second highest pt in Ontario) and headed back out to Lady Evelyn lake where we went through another chain of lakes (Sugar Lake CR) and back up the Montreal river to the vehicle. Surprisingly, we didn't really see too many people until we got back to Lady Evelyn, seeing that this is a very popular route.

- Morning of the second day on Mendelssohn Lake, ready to leave. It was windy, (as you can see some whitecaps) but it was okay since we were right around the corner from our next portage. It was a long hard push from Mowatt Landing yesterday as we arrived here last night at 21:30, just as it was getting dark. The outfitter told us we may not make it.

The bugs were fairly bad, mainly black flies and mosquitoes. The weather wasn't co-operative either - constant rain then sun, then rain then sun - literally minutes passed with each change in the weather front. Some of the portages were rough and tough, - boggy and rocky, as well there was some long tough days of hard paddle against the wind. But despite it all, Marylou (not me, I didn't coerce her!) even admitted she really had an amazing time out there. She even had a "panic" moment near the peak of Maple Mt, (she's not keen on heights) but she composed herself, and mentally overcame her fear and got down fine! (very proud of her!) So when she admitted she had a hard time leaving, it was reassuring to know that despite the route I chose, she had a great time!

- Maple Mt's "Hillary Step" - an almost straight vertical climb (panic attack ahead!) up about 15-20 feet. Marylou almost made it to the top before having her "moment" when she realized she was so high. I thought she was going to give up, but she got over her fear and we did have a nice time at the top. I guess for those who are also scared of heights know exactly what she was going through.

Sometimes I know people wonder why we do challenging trips, but really, in the end, I believe its like life. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I've always felt that, and I know Marylou experienced that as well. (not always..., but most times) With the rain and sun we also saw a record 6 rainbows! One literally bent around us!!! I'm serious! It was sunny and all of a sudden rain starting falling, the wind picked up, the waves were rocking the canoe as we paddled to shore and right before us was this amazing rainbow. I've never seen one where you can see where it begins and ends, but we did! I felt like I could touch it! (and believe me, there weren't no "Pot of Gold" at either ends!) I just wished I could have got a picture of it!

- A rainbow on Lady Evelyn Lake. One of 6 we saw on this trip! I've never seen so many in such a short span of time! Where was the Pot of Gold when I could have used one!

Portages were fun. Those of you that have been to Temagami are well aware of the messy portages. I was way ahead of Marylou and I stepped into what I thought was "firm" ground and in I went up to my knees. To keep my balance I had to step right next to my other foot and then they were both in. I tossed my canoe off and tried in vain to get my feet out. One finally came out, but I didn't have a firm place to put my other foot to leverage my other leg out. Heaving and straining only got my foot halfway out of my shoe! I quickly put my foot back in because I wasn't leaving without it. Long story short, I finally got it out, but I was a mess. Lucky I got out just as Marylou came into sight, because if it was me, I would have taken the picture first, then pulled her out!

- Dramatic sunset on Lady Evelyn. Doesn't matter how many you see, they are never the same and you never get tired of them.

One last thing, Temagami has recently been charging camp fees, which is a good thing in some ways, but a pain in the other. When I found out there was only 2 park wardens, I wondered how they were going to check whether people had permits or not, let alone look after the vast area. Well, the one night we were on Lady Evelyn, we heard a motorboat land at our site in the morning. We were still in our tents sleeping in a bit and wondered who it was, when I had to scramble out and dress as the park warden wanted to see our camp permit. I guess its easy for them to check the most popular and easily accessible sites with their motor boat, but I wonder if they head into the interior? If they do, I just might get another wake up call, except this time it will be silently. Hope I'm just not sleeping in!

- Amazing campsite on our last night on the Montreal river. The only negative is the boat traffic that passes early in the morning and in the evening. (I'm talking fishermen in motorboats!) Other than that, the quiet moments in the narrows was memorable.

Well, enough babbling...hope everyone is having a great summer! July is a dud for me in terms of canoeing. I think I going into depression. I better check into rehab!
Ciao everyone!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chiniguichi River Trip - Jun 13-17 07

- Bushwhacking up the "Elephant", we ended up at the 'head' part. On the topo it said it was approx 460m high. The view was spectacular, but heat and humidity was intense up there

We just got back from 5 days on the Chiniguichi river. Boy was it hot! Sweltering heat and humidity made for some tough long days. We also relived some memories on this trip as we had previously been there 4 years ago doing the full loop. Instead this time we went to the top of the loop and headed back. We were also lucky to have 4 out of 5 days rain free, unlike our last time there when we had 6 out of 7 days of rain!

- Located at the northwest corner of Telfer Bay, we found the ruins of the Alligator; only the massive boiler remains

We decided to make a trip back there because Marylou and I loved the area. I wanted to revisit to see and do some things I missed the first time through. Besides, it was going to be my birthday so Marylou thought it would be a great place to relax and celebrate. I couldn't agree more!

- Surf (albeit small) and sand at the campsite at McConnell Bay - whose says there is no beach in northern Ontario!

On this trip there was a few thing I specifically wanted to see and experience. Most importantly, I wanted to experience Paradise Lagoon. A beautiful secluded swimming hole complete with its own waterfall and aquamarine coloured water. We missed it the first time through so I had to make sure we found it the second time. (Marylou actually found it with some girls on a previous trip so she knew where it was) Secondly, I wanted to climb the Elephant, a massive white ridge that flanks Lake Chiniguichi's west side that when looking at its profile, looks like a elephant lying down. Lastly, I wanted to see the 'Alligator' in Telfer Bay - a relic from the logging days.

- Within 2 hours we witnessed the magical transformation of an aquatic nymph to a full fledged dragonfly right before our eyes! Totally fascinating!

The bugs were pretty bad on this trip. It seemed to come and go. Some places worse than others, and at times worse than others. We had the whole gamut of things - black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, and horse flies! Yes, it sounds horrible, but it wasn't unbearable. We still enjoyed our time there. The flip side, (whether the bugs had anything to do with it), we had the whole place to ourselves! A couple was paddling in on our way out! Awesome!, as this place gets pretty busy.

- Yes, that is a frig-gin watermelon!!! But boy was it good in the heat!

Being my birthday, Marylou wanted to bring a few surprises for me. Of course, they ended up in the barrel I was carrying. Man was it heavy! Want to know what it was?!!! A 'mini' watermelon! (5lbs?), a litre of Australian Shiraz, bottle of Kahlua, and a cake mix! Of course I didn't want to complain, but trying to do single portages made it brutal! (but the pain was worth it) Then there was the wine incident - just imagine. First, I can't handle alcohol very well, secondly, we were really hot and probably dehydrated. So when we had made supper (Spaghetti) we toasted and drank. Let me tell you - it was (I think) a sorry scene. I couldn't keep my balance, my head was spinning, I was falling over, and could barely finish 250 ml!!! (yes, how pathetic, I brought back rest of the unfinished wine) Needless to say, we made the cake and I ended up in the sleeping bag early that night!

- There you have it - Paradise Lagoon, complete with a waterfall! Just gorgeous, and as a bonus, all to ourselves!

One of the coolest thing Marylou and I experienced was seeing the total transformation of a nymph to a dragonfly. Several of them crawled from the water to our bug tent, hung on a strap and literally broke out of the shell and developed into a dragonfly within a span of 1-2 hrs. It was truly mind boggling and amazing how fast the metamorphosis took place! Most of them turned out fine, but we witnessed a few that didn't - one missing a leg, another that dropped from its perch and couldn't finished it transformation and thus became ant food. Sad, but that's life.

- Ah yeah, that's me swimming in the lagoon. It was my birthday and really, I am expected to wear my birthday suit - and being in paradise, only made it that much easier! Sorry folks!

In the end of the trip, we were very happy to revisit the area and experience a few new things. Well, hope everyone is enjoying the hot weather and have found time to paddle. Stay in touch and take care! Remember, I may not be able to go out and handle a drink with you, but I will certainly paddle with you any day! Hope you enjoy the pics!
David & Marylou

- Marylou enjoying a beautiful day on Wolf Lake. This was what the Chiniguichi trip was all about. Beautiful weather, white rocks and cliffs, clear aquamarine waters, azure skies, and total solitude.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Massassauga Provincial Park May 26-29 07

- Looking out on one of the many countless bays Spider Lake is known for

Well, we were able to squeeze in another trip before the end of May. This time we headed to Massasauga Provincial Park - a place we haven't been to before, but heard about many times. Its apparently a busy place due to its popularity and proximity to the city. Therefore to avoid the crowds, we took the opportunity to go during prime bug season! (At least that's what all
the reports coming in stated.)

- Inclement weather on Georgian Bay highlights the dramatic shoreline colours

A new thing we experienced was the registration system, where we had to pick individual campsites. Hell, I didn't know which ones to pick!? I asked the park staff for advice but she hadn't been there herself, so she couldn't help. I might as well have chosen sites by throwing darts at the map! We picked campsite #201, 319, and 34, if that means anything to anyone. We registered at Oastler Provincial Park as they administer camp registration for Massasauga, which may explain why the the park lady couldn't help.

- These beautiful Lady Slippers were prevalent around our campsites

My next challenge was the Massasauga PP map. It isn't at 1:50,000 scale that I'm used to on regular topo maps. I believe it was 1:25,000 scale which for some reason really messed my head around. I thought it would be easier to read, but in the end let's just say I got my fair share of sarcasm from Marylou by the time we ended the trip. (5 screw ups in 4 days isn't that bad, is it?!)

- The watery grave of this unfortunate canoe's demise

The one bonus was that the bugs weren't so bad. Certainly there were blackflies and mosquitoes around, some times more than others, some places worse then others, but generally, it certainly wouldn't have deterred us from staying longer. I generally gauge that by how many bites you get while visiting the box - certainly one bite in the nether region on this trip doesn't count as much! Especially when compared to our Chapleau trip last year when any exposed flesh meant "blood donations"!

- Heading into a dense low wall of fog on Georgian Bay

Our trip was an easy loop around the upper part of the park. We started at Three-Legged Lake access point and stayed in Spider Bay, then Georgian Bay, then to Clear Lake and back. Georgian Bay was good to us, a little windy and choppy but not too bad. Although we experienced a wall of fog out on the Bay which was kind of freaky as we approached it thinking we would lose all sense of direction, but it didn't stick around too long. Phew!

- Paddling down the shoreline of the aptly named Clear Lake

The park is definitely a nice place to paddle. Many pretty cliffs, outcrops, points, and sandy coves. The downside was all the cottages with boat noise and traffic. It certainly wasn't too bad (we are just used to more isolation) but I couldn't imagine what it would be like in peak season. Maybe that is why there is only a 15 min limit at the access point to unload/load your gear!

- Not all shortcuts are what they are cut out to be. Do you see any water?!!!

One of the highlights of the trip was being able to witness a protected/endangered species not once, but twice - Ontario's only lizard called a Five Lined Skink. I really wanted to see a Massasauga rattler, but I only lucked out with a Smooth Green and a Northern Water snake. Oh, I almost forgot, the eerie canoe under water. Looked like a shipwreck, - don't know the story behind it, but it gave Marylou the creeps! Actually this was the second canoe wreck we saw, the first being a smashed aluminum canoe against the rocks out on the Bay.

- A canoe trip is not only about the place, but the experience

We had a great time paddling at Massasauga and I know we will head back as there are some prime campsites that we would love to go back and experience. Our next trip won't be for another couple weeks so stay safe, paddle hard, and stay tuned! Ciao!

David and Marylou

Friday, November 9, 2007

Restoule-Upper French River Loop May 3-8 07

- Dramatic sunrise on Satchels Bay

We're back! We recently came back from 6 days on the Restoule/Upper French river with a side trip around Okikendawt Island. We basically did a figure 8 loop starting from Restoule Provincial Park.

- Sailing down the French - we covered approx. 20kms with wind power on our 3rd day

At times you think you're lucky, but sometimes you're real lucky! We were REALLY lucky! From May 3 to 8 all we had was sun, +20 degree temperatures, and not a drop of rain! This early in the season anything can happen to the weather, and trust me, we went prepared, but totally lucked out. We only saw one other canoe. I couldn't believe no one else was taking advantage of the beautiful weather!

- Jawbone was about 4cm long. Not sure what animal it was - weasel, mink??

Although I wear a hat, I'm not keen on sunscreen on my face. That all changed pretty quick on this trip. I have to say as much as the sun was nice, the reflection off the water roasted my face! Marylou is a fanatic when it comes to sunscreen as she applies, reapplies, and then reapplies again! (with all the thick applications, I secretly think she is trying to look like a Geisha!) Let me say, I was almost keeping up with her multiple applications and still my face felt it!

- Paddling down the Little French river was one of my favourite. We took the opportunity to climb ontop of a cliff to view the scenery. (our little canoe is to the left of the pic)
One memorable day (the 2nd), as we travelled up to Lake Nipissing, we saw a multitude of animals paddling down two different creeks. We saw 5 deer, 8 muskrats, 2 huge turtles, mother bear and cub, eagle, herons, possibly a sand hill crane, and tons of other birds. Of course, we also saw beavers, otter, ospreys (nesting + catching a fish), groudhog, water snakes, etc throughout the rest of the trip. I don't know if I can remember them all! It was so heartening to see life all around. As to bugs, we got out just in time. The black flies were just starting to bite in the late afternoon of the second last day so we were pretty itch free!
- Yes its just a tree, but look at the base. The beaver has a long way to go as the girth of the tree is very thick. I would barely be able to wrap my arms around it!

Nothing "unusual" happened on this trip (phew!)....well, except the ticket we got on the vehicle for failing to have a permit. We would have purchased permits for the trip but the park was still closed and the self-serve stations were boarded up, therefore there was no way to purchase permits. Long story short, the park superintendent took the ticket back and agreed that we shouldn't have been ticketed! Now how's that for a lucky trip! See, I told you, "a real lucky trip!"

- Paddling upriver on the Restoule river meant some tough slogs, and some linning!

Happy Mother's Day to all you deserving women! Be in touch soon! Hope you enjoy the pics!
David & Marylou

- At the base of Five Finger Rapids - a very beautiful place! One of our favourite campsites!

- A serene peaceful morning on Sand Lake

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lake Louisa Loop - Algonquin Provincial Park Apr 21-25 07

- The view of Smoke Lake from the dock

Just want to extend greetings to all our friends for the 2007 paddling season!

Another winter has passed and the ice has finally given up its icy grip (for the most part) on our liquid highways. And of course, I wouldn't be writing if we hadn't taken our inaugural trip for the year! Initially, we didn't think we would be able to make it out as early since the long cold spell quickly halted the melt that started during the brief warm period at the beginning of April. However, the consecutive 20C+ days at the beginning of last week quickly got things melting again and gave us hope. So yes, we got out our gear, packed and prepared for our questionable trip.

- Getting up and personal with the ice on Smoke Lake

We had 5 days to enjoy, so we decided to go to Algonquin. Since we don't go there during the regular season, we decided to take advantage of the time of year when we would see the least amount of people and headed off this past Saturday. What's that saying, "the early bird catches the worm". Well here's one for us paddlers, "the early canoeist gets the ice!"When we got to the main office, the (crusty) staff lady wouldn't give us a permit to canoe! We relayed our plan to do the Lake Louisa loop from Smoke Lake, which she promptly stated that ice still covered Smoke Lake and no one could pass. Despite the fact that all the lakes up to that office, (including the ones we passed in the park getting there) were all ice free, she stuck to her guns and stated there was ice on Smoke. I didn't doubt her, but outside, it was a sunny hot 21 degrees and it was probably getting hotter. She stated she saw the lake while coming to work this morning; therefore, could it possibly not have gone out since then?! (It was one o'clock at this point) Finally with some smooth talking, I convinced her to let us go and if we couldn't cross the lake, we would return defeated. She relented and gave us our permit. Of course, once I left
that office, I was hell bent on not returning if my life depended on it!!! Honestly, she had every right to think we were crazy! (can't really disagree!)

- Following a lead in the ice which allowed us to bypass a big bay (sw side of Smoke)

Before we got to the access point on Hwy 60, we briefly saw Smoke Lk from an elevated point on the road. The lake was completely covered by dark ice. Getting to the shoreline confirmed our previous view. Now it would be too easy just to turn around and head back, but what did we do? (or should I say, "what did I do?") I parked the vehicle, inspected the icy situation, deemed it plausible to pass (I'm not a betting man) and concurred with my partner. (don't know if she totally believed me or the possibility of success, but she had faith in me - ha! Now that sounds corny!) Marylou's usual response to me is, "What are you now getting into!?!" I have to love her for that!

- Follow the ice crumbs! We went from left to right before hitting ice that wouldn't part. We then backed up and curved to the left. At this point we were not going through the ice, rather sliding on top of the ice!

Now I'm sure some of you paddled the length of Smoke Lake. An hour or so? I think its 7kms. When Marylou and I paddled back on Wednesday, we covered the lake in 50 mins. The first day, due to the ice, we had to paddle basically the perimeter of the west side of the lake through open patches of water, slurry of ice particles, soft thick slush, ice blocks/pans, and even solid ice! At one point, we even paddled on top of the soft ice! It was thick enough not to break through (approx 3"), but soft enough to bend so that the canoe actually slid above it!) Anyways, I'm going off track. It took us about 4 hours! And that was because we were able to bypass the large south west bay and paddle the open south end. If not, it would have taken probably another 2 hours! Phew!

- A quiet morning on Ragged Lake (Archer Bay)

Needless to say, we had quite the experience and adventure. (positive, really!) Of course, we didn't get through the incident scot-free. (what are you kidding?!!) Marylou broke through the shallows and got both her feet soaked in the boots (really, I tried not to laugh), we both got nicks and scratches from all the tree branches we tried to avoid, and mainly, our boat sports scars from the ordeal. Good thing we have a Royalex canoe with skid plates! Oh yeah, we have also perfected the "dock lift-overs". (I think 6 in total)

- Resting on the portage to Lake Louisa (first day the peepers started singing)

Well, I would write forever if I keep rambling about the trip. In conclusion, we had a great time. Great weather, lots of wildlife (the mosquitoes are out! I got bit 3x on the first day!!!!), nice campsites, total solitude, and most importantly, rest and relaxation for the body (a little sore), mind, and soul. I hope all of you have or will get a chance to get out on the water soon.

- Lovely morning to paddle on Lake Louisa

We miss all of you we haven't seen for awhile and look forward to seeing you all. Take care, be safe on the water and highways, and make this another great paddling year! Feel free to call, email, or meet up with us. We'll keep in touch and continue sending the trip reports! Enjoy the pics! Cheers!

- The heavens regaled us with clouds and colour

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kawarthas Highland Park Dec 16-17 2006

- Weather anyone would expect from a mid-December paddle!

After a wonderful canoe trip in Killarney in mid-November, I was eager to push the limit a little further. By now, most lakes would normally be frozen over, but the continuing warm weather trend had me hopeful. Call it global warming or the Chinook, either way, the weather was unseasonably warm and the possibility for a paddle was good.

I had four days off and had originally intentioned to trip for 3 days. However, an unexpected situation needed my presence on the third of the four days, therefore either I had to cancel altogether or just go for 2 days (don't like 2 day trips - too much work for just a short paddle). I also had to attend to our property up north and close it down for the season, so in any case, I was going up north. So do I take advantage of it, or just call it a season? The paddle and canoe was calling, so two days it was - up in the Kawarthas Highland Park.

I packed the car with gear and canoe the Friday eveing after work, so I was off first thing next morning. By 10:00 I was at the property closing it up. I finished by 11:30 and I was off again to the put-in. I reached the access point to Catchacoma Narrows at around 13:15. Once unloaded, I pushed off shore and started the trip.

Up until this point, I had wondered about the lakes freezing over. I purposely chose an area closer south, and on top of that, I figured while I drove to our property, if all the lakes were frozen I would just high-tail it home. Of course, most were ice free. Only the really small lakes or ponds were frozen. Therefore I felt confident about continuing on. My trip was basically paddling up Catchacoma lake, continuing along Bottle creek to Bottle lake and then finally to Sucker Lake. Then of course the reverse the next day.

Paddling up Catchacoma Narrows was surreal. Here I was paddling in mid-December on a calm lake, ice and snow free. It was sunny and warm enough that was I paddling in a long sleeve T-shirt! I really felt fortunate and lucky to be experiencing all this.

- Paddling north on Catchacoma lake on a beautiful day

Midway up Catchacoma lake, I turned west towards Bottle Dam. It was a quick 60m portage on the left to the start of Bottle creek. Bottle creek water levels were high as it was pouring out the dam. Another reassuring sign that despite the narrow creek, the moving water should keep it from freezing.

200 meters up the creek, there were signs of some ice along the shoreline. The creek was swollen and fairly wide so even the little ice wasn't a problem,....yet. At about a kilometer in, the creek widened considerably and all I could see was ICE! Oh shit!!! Now I had a situation! First I decided to see if I could "paddle" through the ice if it was thin enough. As I drove the bow up and onto the ice, the weight of the canoe and the 2 barrels upfront broke the outer thinner ice, but as I continued, the bow ended up resting on top of the ice! The ice at this point was over an inch thick! Plan B: I stood up in the canoe to survey the scenery ahead. I could see open water way ahead to the left. I checked along the left shoreline and saw a thin trail of open water. I figured I could follow the left shoreline to the open water and then continue on. For the first time in my life, I would now be using the canoe as an icebreaker! (Thanks James! - My brother unwittingly offered his Royalex canoe for my trip, since the Red Helmet was at my girlfriend's home! Oops!)

- Yikes! Ice covering Bottle creek!

The paddle/poling/breaking ice slog was painful. It was exhausting work and I was sweating. I finally got to the point where the open patch of water was 20 feet infront of me. Although I had to angle 45 degrees from shore to get to it. I knew this was not thin ice, but once I got to the open water, I hoped it would get better. The next 10 minutes consisted of driving the bow up on the ice, bringing myself to the center of the canoe, breaking the ice and continuing on. Good thing I brought a spare aluminum paddle! I didn't feel as bad using it to break ice!

- Angling away from shore to reach open water (looking back)

As I felt a sense of freedom reaching water, I prayed that the madness (or my madness!) would end. Of course, coming around the bend, my heart, head, and spirit sunk. Ice as far as I could see! Not wanting to give up, and at the same time laughing at the situation, I decided to forge ahead. Why not! Unique experience, not my canoe being scrapped up, and at the same time,
once I stopped and breathed, the scenery was actually very beautiful. It was silent; no sound of water. Just me and and a frozen creek. Here's another one to go with the saying - "Up shit's creek!"

The decision to move on was one, my stubborness, second, my stubborness, and third it was getting late in the day and I had to get to a campsite. The closest one was on Bottle lake near the mouth of the creek. So I continued on pushing, breaking, poling/paddling. Some areas around shoreline was better than others. Such as rivulets running into the creek, or overhanging
branches that seemed to keep the area under it ice free - to steep rock faces where the ice welded itself right to the rock.

By now, it was 16:30, the sun had dropped below the trees and the ice just stretched on. I decided to get out, bushwhack along the shore and see what the situation was around the next bend. I left the canoe exactly where it was - in the water alongside the ice. (Now when can you say you've left a canoe in the water untied, not pulled up and expect to find it exactly in the same place you left it!)

The reconaissance was disheartening. All I could see was solid ice with no open water. However, while bushwhacking, I did find an old fire ring and some slightly flat ground for a tent. The shoreline was sloped so finding this was a welcoming surprise as I now had less then half an hour to get set up before dark. I quickly got back to the canoe, continued on crashing through ice and got close enough to lug my barrels up to the "site".

- Ice, ice, and more ice. No end in sight!

Camp was quickly set up, some firewood gathered and I got cooking supper just as the light was disappearing. Despite the ice and the failed attempt to get to the lake, I was now totally relaxed and enjoying the moment. Here I was, hot chocolate in one hand, a pot of Thai Ginger noodles in the other, a fire infront of me and the beauiful frozen scenery displayed below me. It was just serene.

The warm temperatures continued through to sundown as the evening was not cold at all. Even without the fire I would have been fine. I sat out for a couple of hours reading before finally turning in around 19:30. Once tucked deep in my down bag, I continued reading, but the relaxed state and the exhertion from all the ice-breaking soon had me nodding and then to a early sleep. Besides, I needed all the rest I could get since when I had gone down in the evening to get water, all the ice I had worked so hard to break, seamlessly froze back together as if I had never passed that way!

Through the night, I woke up several times. Once, while it rained, and the other times by a nighttime visitor. Something small (mouse or squirrel) starting digging right by the tent at my head. As it dug, I could hear the dirt sprinkle on the tent wall. As I shifted in my bag, it stopped, then resumed after some time. This played out on and off again with less and less time between me shifting and it waiting, until finally it got fed up with me and just continued unabated. At that point, I should have just stuck my head out and introduced myself.

I finally arose around 07:00 and took a peek outside. It was unseasonably warm as there was a fine mist coming down. The rain during the night had put a thin layer of water on top of the ice. The forecast today was supposed to be rain so I proceeded to get packed and have breakfast before it got worse. After breakfast, the mist stopped and a nice warm breeze picked up and
funneled its way down the valley. Great, now I not only had the ice to deal with, but a headwind. At least it was warm.

Due to the early departure and short distance to the car, I decided to extend the day by paddling across to Beaver Lake, down to Gold Lake, back across to Mississagua Lake and then back up the Catchacoma Narrows to where my car was located. As much as I was enjoying my severely shorten trip, I felt I needed a little more before ending the trip altogether.

Before leaving "camp", I took the liberty to remove garbage from the site since I was so close to the take-out. When I got there yesterday afternoon, I was furious to find cans and beer bottles in the fire pit. I pulled out 2 cans, and 4-5 beer bottles (2 which were broken)! I initially didn't know what to do with them but stack then in a pile outside the firepit, but when I walked further back, I found a cooler bag and 2 more beer bottles strewn about. I then made the decision to put all the thrash in the cooler bag and pack it out. It is not often you find a container to carry thrash out (especially broken glass), so I took advantage of it. Of course, it filled quickly as I found other things to put in it - beer caps, plastic bread tabs, plastic water bottle, plastic wrapping, etc, etc. I know Nancy is organizing the clean-up in the spring and she is heading out with Kevin Callan to the Kawarthas, so lets just say I'm getting a head start for the Kawartha's group!

- Ridiculous!!! Just senseless!

The paddle back to Catchacoma lake wasn't as bad. I was taking my time down the creek as the warmer weather seemed to be slowly melting the ice and made the ordeal a little easier. The next problem wasn't ice but the wind. By the time I reached the portage, the winds had strengthen to a point where the waves were now pushing back the water spewing forth from the dam. I knew it was going to be challenging, but all I had to do was get around the far left bend at which point the wind would then help push me along down the lake.

Yes, the paddle was excruciating! At times it seemed as if the canoe stood still. With a partner, I wouldn't even had a second thought, but going solo into a headwind/waves is a total different beast. I commited so I just beared down and pushed forward. I couldn't even stop and rest as the shoreline was littered with big rocks and the waves were slamming into them. It helped that I trimmed the canoe bow heavy, but my arms still burned like hell! All sweaty and hot, I certainly could have used a quick dip!

- The morning of the second day. A trip I will never forget!

I finally rounded the bend and then it was smooth sailing from there. Due to the wind, I then decided not to chance fate and continued on to the take-out. Coming down the Narrows, the sun broke from the clouds and warmed me inside and out. Paddling the last few strokes to the take-out, I felt a deep thanks and reverence to Mother Nature for providing yet another lasting
experience and memories to cherish and share. Cheers!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Killarney Nov 11-13 2006

Would it be correct to say we are all pretty much ensconced in our job/work/career/studies etc etc. Let's face it, once the daylight shortens and precipitation increases with the corresponding drop in temperature, its easy to get into the routine; I did. However, occassionally we fight back. That little stubborness and resistance to relent sometimes get the best of you. I know it happens to all of us. Now you know I wouldn't be bloggling you all if there wasn't some fight in me. Yes!,...I relented. Back to the CANOE! I just couldn't let the season die away. So off we went!

Every year we try to go to Killarney at least once. Usually during the off season. Well, it certainly was "off"! First, the looks we got. (Okay, it is a little late in the season, but...) Even the park ranger and the group of people at the park we passed - their heads turned when we pulled in. Secondly, we were expecting cold temperatures and some snow, but not as much as we expected! About 2 hrs north on Hwy 69 we started seeing some snow, no big deal. As we drove further north, it became evident to us that the amount of snow was increasing in a corresponding way. (Marylou, did you bring the shovel?!!!!)

- On Hwy 647 on the way to Killarney

Lastly, when we got there, it was obvious that no one in their normal state of mind was canoeing in the interior, let alonecamping in the park! (actually there was a girl that was just leaving the George Lake campground when we arrived) Okay, well, there is always a first time! (Even the OPP officer was stunned when we told what we were doing) So, how did it go?

Surprisingly, fabulous! We had a great time. When we started, we were a little apprehensive, but once we got going, we never looked back. We started the 3 day trip at the Carlyle Lake Access point, but since we got to a very late start (had only about an hour of sunlight), we decided to camp on the same lake (beside Terry lake).

The next day we headed to Ruth-Roy and then back the last day. The scenery was out of this world. It was like a magical place, a fairy tale land which was just surreal.

- Paddling through a magical lake

There must have been a heavy wet snowfall as all the tree branches were heavily ladden with snow and ice. The discomforting part was at night when there was the constant falling of clumps of snow/ice, or branches, or both! Obviously we are alive to tell the tale, but our tent did get hit several times by snow. Being outside isn't safer as yours truly got nailed once in the face! We didn't see too much wildlife - squirrels, otters, ducks, owl, (its hunting season so I gather 'they' are all hiding out!)- but interestingly we saw wolf prints that followed along our footprints on the portage we doubled back on when we left. It snowed on us once, but then it was just part of the experience. Other than that, we left the park just in time as it started to rain once we were in the vehicle.

- On the summit looking down on Ruth-Roy

I have to say that with this trip, I was willing to put the paddle away for good. I figured the 'cold and wet' would finally put out the flame, but unfortunately it hasn't! It only seems to have stoked it! (Hmmmmm. Maybe a weekend in December. Will let you know!) Enjoy the pics. Hope everyone is happy and healthy! Let me know how you are all doing! Cheers!

The view from our tent