Fall 2015 – Sucker Lake

September 18-20
Sucker, Bottle Lakes
Total km: 8km
Number of portages: 4
Total Portage distance: 518m

I headed north after work on Friday well aware that it was late in the season and I might have an issue with the light falling, but was undeterred. I knew the area very well having been there twice already and there was rain in the forecast for Saturday. I wanted to get on the site and set up before the rain came down, so that no matter what we’d at least have some dry spots and a bit of firewood. I had two tarps with me, a large green Canadian Tire tarp I use for car camping, and a smaller MEC-brand Scout tarp. I was missing all my ropes though, as they were in the back of Shane’s truck and he wasn’t going to be coming in until early Saturday morning.

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As I pulled into the put-in I was a bit nervous. The sun was already down, and dusk was on it’s way into night. I unpacked the car and headed down the familiar path to the water, and pushed out into a clear and calm night. Knowing which bay to dip east into was a huge help on this trip, and unlike last time there were few campfires to alert me to where I was. Luckily there were few clouds, and the moonlight was wonderful. The portage was quick and painless, even though I was double portaging (it’s only a 90m portage, why not bring all my toys?). Within an hour, it was night, and I was just pulling into site #125.

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Tarp city, Ontario. We used every rope I have.

Lighting my lantern cast a warm, calm light on the site. It looked very much like I remembered, large and roomy without being open. I chose to pitch my tent at the highest point on the site, with the idea being no water would run under it when the rain came and not river would form underneathe. I threw the tarp up over the picnic table knowing very well that it would be moved (using some rope I used to fix a chainsaw pullcord at home), and got a fire going so I could conserve lantern gas. I went to bed early, knowing that Shane would be coming in early, and if there was rain he’d probably want coffee.

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Shane inspects previous storm damage for mineral-rich earth.

I actually set an alarm, a rare occurance for sure. But I got up to a gloriously warm and calm morning and set about surveying my little fiefdom. There was some trash that needed burning (sad), and firewood that needed cutting (happy), but the site I stayed at a year prior was intact. I like that there is a small wall of trees blocking wind from the west, and enough trees to retard it from the north/east, a very cozy place in the shoulder seasons, yet the wate frontage allows for great vistas of what’s around. I had barely put the kettle on to boil when I saw a familiar yellow flash round the island which site #127 is on.

Shane had left his cabin early in the morning choosing to paddle in as the sun rose rather than set, definitely a more agreeable strategy (to be fair, I toyed with the idea of sleeping in my car). I was glad to see him, a fact punctuated when he brought out my carabinered-together collection of paracord. At last we could set about properly tarping the crap out of the place. But first, coffee. We also wound up making a paddle holder out of an ill-concieved attempt at a table. Bushcraft is usually born of trying to make life at least a little easier.

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A multi-purpose holder of things that need holding.

Once we had set up our three tarps (two large ones over the picnic/living area, a smaller one over the tent as a covered ‘porch’), we decided to try out fishing. The past two times we had come the lake yielded great trout, and we were fresh from our trip to McIntosh so we were set up for it. A few passes in our favorite spot only produced one nice bass, and the wind picked up, so we headed back to the site. I was warm and went for a little dip in the cooling waters of Sucker Lake, relishing the late-season novelty of swimming. As I mucked around on the rocks, we saw a duo paddle to the island site we stayed at last year. That was when the clouds rolled in.

To this day, me and Shane have never seen rain in the bush like we did that afternoon. Even though our site was protected and we had set up bullet-proof tarps, we got soaked. It wasn’t unpleasant by any means, but we were glad we had invested money into supremely water-proof gear like our packs and the tent. As we stood under the tent pushing against it to keep water from pooling and to take some strain off the grommets we came to a realization. “Those people on the island barely had enough time to erect a tent, let alone a tarp before this rain came down.” I’m almost ashamed to admit that we laughed hysterically at this thought. There was no aid we could have offered to those poor people at the time, and we were half-drowned ourselves, but the idea of huddling in a wet tent justified our over-preparation for the rain.

As is the way of things, the rain stopped its assault against our tarps in an hour, and soon we were able to walk around the site without having to avoid pools (the ground was remarkably quick to drain actually). By this time, the sun was starting its retreat and we settled down to dinner and a fire. Another couple canoes came into our lake, including reinforcements on the island (who had come down and started a drying rack). It would have been idyllic, but the wind was still up and blowing cold in the September night. Even with a roaring fire and many layers we couldn’t get warm and decided to turn in early after a full day. Once out of the wind and in our respective sleeping bags, we warmed quickly and slept soundly as the tarp fluttered outside.

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The last morning I would have in the bush for 2015

Our morning motto was “up and at them”, we needed to be on the road early unfortunately. As we paddled back across the calm and familiar waterways, we smirked as people put whole tents out to dry in the morning sun, rivulets of water streaming out of the flies. We were glad that out tent had held fast against the onslaught of the rain. The morning was beautiful, too beautiful. I was emotional, reflecting on all the great times I had this year both solo and with friends, old and new. I didn’t want to admit this might be the last time I was out in the trees, floating on my fibreglass magic carpet. But alas, all great things must end eh?  We packed up the car and wished each other well as we finished our last trip of 2015.

It took me 2 days until I had planned the first few trips of 2016.

Labour Day 2015 – McIntosh Lake, Day 2 & 3

September 05-07
Canoe/Joe/Tepee/Little Oxtongue River, Tom Thomson, Ink,
McIntosh Lakes
Total km: 38.4km
Number of portages: 4
Total Portage distance: 5300m
Video log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag5V0aSU2yM

The next morning we slept in a bit, knowing that this was our vacation day. We had logged many hours yesterday so that today there was nothing to do. It was unusually hot for September, and we wanted to take full advantage of summer’s late exit.

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A misty morning gave way to a beautiful day

But first, our site, at first I wasn’t sold on it. It has easy water access and a wonderful view, but the tent pads are a little closed in by the woods. There is also a large amount of rocks and roots waiting to be tripped over. But by gum if I didn’t grow to love that site! Any more than four people would find it cramped, but for us it was luxuriously expansive.

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Our site as per Jeff’s map

With breakfast and more importantly coffee in our gullets, we set about getting geared up for trout as we enjoyed the morning. Just before noon, we paddled westwardly into the wind and used the wind as a trolling motor. We were set up to go deep, bouncing off the bottom as close as we dared and were rewarded quickly. In an hour, both Shane and I had fish up to the boat, but in a twist of fate both trout spat the hook out just as we could see how big they were (2-3lbs, I swear!). Heartbroken, we headed in for lunch.

Shane is an industrious guy, he likes to build or improve things he sees are lacking. I’ve seen him fashion drying racks, tables, fishing rods, and many other useful things out of sticks, rocks, and twine. This time though, he decided we needed…a chimney? To this day I look at it with a cocked eyebrow and a shake of my head (see below).

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This…didn’t really work.

The day was spent in a wonderfully pointless manner. We went back out fishing, actually getting one IN the boat this time. I went for a refreshing swim in McIntoshs’ clean blue waters, and our fire was a roaring/crackling mess when the “chimney” caught fire. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

It was with heavy hearts that we packed up the next morning, both of us agreeing that we could easily spend 4-5 days at that site without becoming bored. We had looked at other sites, and even the northern island we adored from 2 years ago couldn’t keep up with the charm of our site this time. We hopped out early to try and beat the rush from the easy-access sites with clear heads and bellies full of oatmeal and GORP.

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Did not want to leave.

Coming back, the portage was a breeze. We basically jogged it, stopping only 3 times to rest our shoulders (last time we didn’t even take the packs off). It’s amazing what not having a hangover can do to your energy levels! The wind was in our faces, making some parts of the return trip a bit less leisurely than we had enjoyed two days earlier, but nothing we will remember too well.

It wasn’t until “The 401” portage that we realized it was a long weekend in a popular holiday spot. Up until then, besides a few small groups and the occasional soloist there was nobody to be seen on the waterways. Now there was a backup of coolers and Coleman branded gear to contend with. We just blew through the portage ASAP, getting out boots wet for the first time on the trip and got out of there quick as can be.

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Last morning, done all artsy-like.

Canoe lake was a zoo, an absolute gong-show. In my trip video I caught 11 other boats on the water from the Potter/Joe fork and that was just the tip of the iceberg. As we rounded into Portage Bay, we had to dodge motorboats, kayaks, inexperienced daytrippers in rentals, and long distance trippers trying to get to Smoke lake. Oh, and the wind was picking up.

But we had made it, aboput 20km before lunch and ready to go another 20 (maybe not). I was just about the best trip I could have hoped for, and renewed my enthusiasm for long portaging as a means to find great camping spots.

Labour Day 2015 – McIntosh Lake, Day 1

September 05-07
Canoe/Joe/Tepee/Little Oxtongue River, Tom Thomson, Ink,
McIntosh Lakes
Total km: 38.4km
Number of portages: 4
Total Portage distance: 5300m
Video log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag5V0aSU2yM

Labour Day means one thing, fishing trip! Shane and I decided to buckle down and take a paddle back to McIntosh lake, which we had quickly poked our heads into during a May
24th trip a few years back. It meant about 20km of paddling and a 2.4km portage, but we were more than game for the long haul.

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Getting ready for a long paddle.

Spending the night at Shane’s cabin in Kearney meant we were on the lake early, but it also encouraged certain amounts of beer to be consumed. We shipped onto Canoe lake at 8:30, and I was VERY hung over. Don’t drink kids, it’ll make you feel like crap. We were very lucky to see a congregation of loons on Canoe Lake, about 20 or so of them just shipping around. As far as researchers can tell, this is usually a social interaction to re-inforce cooperative feeding habits and to show off their little spot in the world. It was really neat!

We got to the first portage to discover we were the only ones there, a first for the Canoe-Joe portage which I affectionately call “the 401”. It was warm and calm on the water, so we made haste to get into Joe. As we made a left at the fork and into Tepee Lake, we started to explore a part of the park we had never been to while still nursing some nausea from the night before. The sites along the Little Oxtongue seemed geared towards first timers, party-seekers, and families with young children. These are usually spots with bear issues and bad litter strewn around them, but such is the plight of easy-access sites.

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Oxtongue River, about to turn north into Tom Thompson.

After filling up on water, we turned north from Littledoe (really it felt like part of the river still) and into the creek providing water from Tom Thomson lake. A very well-used pull-over and we were basically there. T.T. Lake is quite large, and has tonnes of sites on it. We marveled at the rolling hills and picturesque islands that dotted the site, no doubt inspiring at least some of the famous painters work. The sites here were well used, but seemed mostly in good condition. A lot were fairly steep with tough water access, but all seemed comfortable at the very least.

We paddled into the northern bay and stuck a bit to the left (behind the western campsite on the point) to find a shallow takeout to the long walk of our trip, a 2390m portage to Ink Lake. We had a bit of a break here, having completed most of the paddling for the day and made final preparations for the single carry. The first third of this portage was the hardest as it follows a creek and goes up and down a bit. In my hungover state I nearly wept at the sight of a large hill after a small boardwalk. Little did I know that this hill was the end on our hardships. We had decided that no matter how many breaks we took, every step forwards was a good one. At the top of the hill, everything flattened out and the going was easy.

We started to get our legs beneath us and even began passing people who were having a VERY hard go of it. One poor group must have been on the trail for at least an hour by the time me and Shane passed them about 2/3rds of the way down the path. We didn’t see them emerge from Ink lake until well after we had set up camp (~3 hours later). The end of the portage dumps you down a nice set of stairs and onto the sandy shores of Ink Lake, a small pond which gets its name from the tannin-rich colour of the water. We refueled and set out as quick as we could to secure a site in front of the other people resting on the beach.

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Home at last!

Ink creek feeds into McIntosh, and it was a great paddle after the portage. The water pushed us along and the technical turns were a welcome change from the long slog of the morning. My hangover was even gone! We soaked in McIntosh as we rounded the last turn and headed east in search of a site. We didn’t have a particular site in mind, but a west-facing one would give a nice sunset, and who knew if an island site might be nice for a change? Eventually we settled on the third site from the south on the eastern side.

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The main reason we searched for a site on the east side of the lake.

Tired but with a feeling of accomplishment we set up camp at a leisurely pace, taking time to put up things we normally wouldn’t, such as a clothesline, preemptively.  We fished a bit from shore, but were in no mood to paddle around the large blue lake any more that day. I was a teetotaler that night, and we turned in fairly early.

Vixen Lake – August 2015

August 15-16
Long/Buzzard/Vixen Lakes
Total km: 15km
Number of portages: 4
Total Portage distance: 1098m
Video log: FORTHCOMING I PROMISE!

Having missed out on a trip farther south than Buzzard Lake, I decided to throw out an easy one amongst my friends and see if anyone was interested in going to Vixen Lake in the Kawartha Highlands. Unfortunately I didn’t sell it well enough and decided I would just make this a short August jaunt to re-charge my batteries with a solo trip. I set out from Long Lake at a leisurely pace, confident in my gear and genuinely happy simply to be outside.

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The portage from Long Lake to Buzzard, easy as pie.

I found the portage south where I had left it, about four kilometers from the Long Lake access point, and loaded up for the easy carry. This path is nice and wide, having seen many feet and a few wheels over the years. It’s easy to see how people with an ATV or just good ol’ fashion elbow grease manage to get their pontoon boats over the 342m trail and to the small dock on Buzzard Lake. The blue, clear water beckoned as I set out in the mid-morning sun.

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Grabbing lumber for later that night.

The northern section of Buzzard Lake is largely open and wind can make paddling it a bit of a hassle when you’re solo so I headed south after taking just enough time to appreciate the view and wave to little kids camping with their parents on the northern sites. I took my time to fish the northern bottleneck where I had been successful in June, not being disappointed with a few small bass. Just enough to wet my appetite for things to come! As I passed the site I had occupied for two days earlier this year I gave the usual courteous hello to a lovely lady in a fishing kayak. Her reply floored me.

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The rounded hilltop on my island.

“Your voice sounds familiar, do you have a Youtube channel?” she asked after replying to my hail. I swear they could see my smile from the International Space Station! Genuinely I was astonished that someone had taken the time. Tina, if you’re out there I STILL tell people about meeting you! We talked for almost an hour (seemed only a few minutes) as the wind pushed us around, trading fishing tips around the lake, discussing the new routes around Kawartha Highlands, and admiring her new-fangled fishing kayak (a Hobie Pro Angler kayak for those who are interested, its catamaran triple hull provided stability and pedal propulsion meant you could pretty much fish all day without taking hands off our rod). It was one of the (read “only”) high points in my life as a internet entertainment producer. Once again, Tina, you made my 2015.

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All day these guys will jump into your boat.

But life had to go on, and I left Tina to try for some trout while I headed down a little path next to the creek which feeds Vixen Lake. It was a little rough actually, but well trodden and short. I put the canoe down by a beaver dam and took some time to gather up some of the abundant lumber around the end of the portage. I was staying on an island, and knowing that this was a well-used part of the park figured it would be better to gather wood while it was just lying around. Pushing out through the weeds down the creek into the lake, I looked at the sheltered bay awaiting me and though “Hey, that looks like prime bass territory.” I had cut my chops fishing just on the edge of weeds like these and was hopeful. One cast was all it took before I was rewarded with a fishy compatriot. Pleased with myself, I headed straight for my site to set up camp.

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A beautiful evening.

The little archipelago upon which site #440 is located is scenic, if not a little busy. My neighbors to the east were there in a motorboat, but effectively hidden from view unless we were both in boats or exploring the proper parts of our respective islands at the same time. I found next to no lumber on my site, which I had expected. The site itself is wonderful though, with tonnes of living space, no fewer than three separate places to drag up a boat, and two great swimming areas. I had a little rock to the western side of the picnic table that I called “The Dock”. It was about a 3 foot deep pool next to a point of rock which was wonderful for fishing, swimming, and reading. As I was about to dive off though, I spotted one of the bigger snapping turtles I’ve ever seen meandering the waters, which put a damper on that activity.

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An idyllic morning.

The most wonderful part of the trip was the mid-afternoon weather and fishing. It was one of those lazy afternoons that only Mark Twain could properly describe. Also, if you’re looking for 1-2lb bass without even trying, the northern islands of Vixen lake in August are your jam. There was a good smattering of rain at dusk, but other than that this was as great a one-night trip as one could ask for.

Proule Lake – July 2015

June 18-19
Proule/Sunday Lakes
Total km: 4.8km
Number of portages: 2
Total Portage distance: 960m

Video Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyP28Wc3ru0

I had the very distinct pleasure of introducing my future wife to canoe camping this year. Earlier in the winter, I had broached the subject to map-maker supreme Lord-High-on-the-Mountain Jeff McMurtie, without whom I would be at the mercy of *shudder* MNR based map production. I asked our map-making deity if he knew any places within the park that felt secluded, had at least one notable portage, and yet was relatively close to tarmac in case of rain or wind. Luckily, this cartographic savant was the right person to ask, and he laid out a perfect plan.

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Looking at Sunday Lake from the portage to Proule

 

We were to use access point #A43 just off Highway 60 at KM 40, and portage down to Sunday Lake. The road to the portage is just off to the side of the Big Pines Trail, it says logging trucks only, but there’s a little spot for you to park up top before a gate by a recognizable yellow sign. The bugs were brutal so we basically ran down the steep rocky trail to the bug-free safety of the lake. Sunday Lake is a small but pretty lake, resplendent with all the key features of a Algonquin waterway. There’s some bogs, rocks, pines, and even a homily island site. This lake looked like it was relatively untouched considering how close it is to the highway, or at least used by people who aren’t trucking in coolers and barbecues.

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My fiancee enjoys the afternoon sun

We took our time paddling across the lake, meandering eastward to the portage towards Proule lake. The sign for it was pretty far back, a bit hard to see from the water at a distance. Once found though, there was a nice log in the water which served perfectly as a dock for getting out and unloaded. I took the requisite pictures of my fiancee’s first portage and then we set out down the trail. This one is easy peasy, if not a bit undermaintained. There was a lot of canopy to avoid, but all the blowdown was a great source of birchbark to get a fire going.

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Proule Lake

Proule lake is a more open lake than Sunday, but is still a smallish one. We had the lake to ourselves though, and took our time to find the perfect site. The first two westerly sites were a bit closed in by the forest, and not open to the wind which we wanted to keep the bugs off. The site just before the lake dives south in a shallow bay actually had an outhouse too, I’ve never seen one in the park before! We eventually settled on the northernmost site, next to the giant portage towards Opeongo, which is the crowned jewel of the lake. It’s wide open, with plenty of tent pads, tarping points, firewood aplenty, and although rocky the water access is great. This was an ideal warm weather site.

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One of many, many, photos taken this evening of the setting sun.

We spent the day relaxing and having fun around the site. We swam, fished, explored the other sites (the other two were great by the way) and we had a very picturesque sunset. A highlight was seeing a youth group head through on the way to Sunday lake. It reminded me of when I was young and with a camp trip covering many miles a day regardless of the portages. The next day we got out early, but in no particular rush. I hope my fiancee had fun and wasn’t just humoring me, but I had a great time exploring a new part of the park which I don’t think many people give two thoughts to.

Solo Trip through Southern Kawartha Highlands – Day 3

June 24-27
Triangle/Buzzard Lakes
Total km: 22
Number of portages: 8
Total Portage distance: 3571m

Video Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7I_c7p1DRE

Day three was a bittersweet one for me, as it was the last one of my trip. I had planned for another two days, but I was told there would be 20mm of rain the next day and my fiancee was really pushing to go to a late screening of “The Princess Bride”, which is one of our favorite movies. So I’ll preface this whole article by saying that Rob Reiner is directly responsible for me cutting the trip short.

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Looking north from my site, centered is site #424

*Meanwhile, at Buzzard Lake* I woke up to my best morning yet. It was a “rest day”. where I’m not supposed to do anything but relax. I slept in, well past dawn and sleepily got around to starting coffee on my stove. The site has a large strip of sheet metal bent over some logs to give you a nice prep table away from the picnic table, and I took full advantage of it. Breakfast was oatmeal, which is what I usually eat. It’s light and easy to cook, while providing many great health benefits such as regularity at the thunder box. I decided to spend the morning tooting around the lake and plying my trades.

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Honestly, this is my largest fish I landed this trip

I headed north first, fishing every bay and trying not to get snagged. Buzzard was where I had my best luck, particularly around the northern bottleneck, grabbing some bass around 1lb. They were in season the next day, so I was “hoping for some trout officers”, but was pleased with what I got. I also hopped onto some sites just to see what they were all about. Site #423 was wide open near the fire pit, with no good tarp possibilities, but was nice and sheltered in the back where you could set up tents. A good site for warm June or early September to be sure, as long as the weather was good.

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A beauty day, I was in heaven

I also scoped out sites #424 and #425. Both seemed like prime spots. They had plenty of room to bring your boats up and great views of the sunrise (if you’re into that). I’d say those were the best sites on the lake no that I can think about it. Around noon I paddled back into my site and had a little lunch, wrapped pepperettes with tomato and cheese. I spent the rest of the afternoon chopping wood I gathered and reading “The Hobbit.” It wasn’t until about 4 o’clock that a series of calls and texts to learned weather people (i.e a pilot friend who knows more about weather than most meteorologists) convinced me that tomorrow would be miserable at best and dangerous at worst.

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Just before packing up, looking south

Begrudgingly I set about packing up. Literally everything I had brought was out and deployed, so this took longer than I had expected. I also shot some movies showing my displeasure (see the Youtube link above). It wasn’t something I did lightly, and it wasn’t because I was scared, I have promised myself. But I have seen storms like that in the area, especially in the woods. They are damned scary. They can crush cars. They can paralyse kids. It’s not a manly thing to get out of their way, but I think I made the right choice to run to my fiancees waiting arms.

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Car is mostly packed up, heading out with fond memories.

So drew to a close one of the best solo trips I’ve ever had. I portaged great distances without tire, I saw wildlife, and I ate food fit for the gods in my eyes. I regret nothing about the trip and can not wait to get back to that part of the world.

Solo Trip through Southern Kawartha Highlands – Day 2

June 24-27
Triangle/Buzzard Lakes
Total km: 22
Number of portages: 8
Total Portage distance: 3571m

Video Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7jWhQchfzk

I awoke to find the same idyllic scene I had fallen asleep to, not a ripple on the water or cloud in the sky. I eagerly got some food on the go, knowing I’d need some calories to burn. I had decided to go as light as I could comfortably go this trip, so I didn’t have a frying pan to cook my eggs opting to hard boil them. I did however splurge by bringing along my new plastic french press coffee maker (from MRI). It’s now my go-to means of making proper coffee out in the woods, and I didn’t want to bring instant. With breakfast in my belly, I packed up what I hadn’t been able to the night before (food, tent, etc.) and kicked off as early as I could.

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Morning on Triangle Lake

For this trip I brought two paddles. One was a large “voyageur” style paddle that I could j-stroke with and just cruise, while confident that I could push off the bottom with it. The other was a bent-shaft paddle, famous for being great at pushing a lot of water efficiently, while being garbage at j-stroking or steering in general. The reason I brought this duo is so that if I dropped one, I wouldn’t be up the creek and if the wind got rough I’d be able to at least move forwards right into it. Seems to have worked so far!

The portage through Cherry to Turtle was easy, a bit weedy at the Cherry end, but as long as there’s no traffic I don’t see too much cause for getting muddy. Turtle lake is amongst the most remote lakes in Kawartha Highlands, and to be honest, it’s not really worth the trip. It’s reedy and a mosquito breeding ground from what I saw, and there are prettier lakes which at least seem more remote. Bass fishing was great though, and I managed to pick a couple bigger ones out of the channel leading to the longest portage of the trip, a 993m walk to Stoplog Lake.

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My favorite portage in the whole wide world!

I have to say, I love this portage. Everything was clicking for me that morning, and after a short bout of video-taking at the portage head I was off. This path didn’t seem as well used as others this trip, and while there were a few branches slapping me in the face, I made short work of it. I am genuinely proud of the fact that I made it in one trip, no stopping (see the attached video for my jubilation). I took a bit of time to rest my shoulders before being pushed onto the lake by industrious mosquitos, and I headed across Stoplog.

Stoplog reminded me of Smoke Lake in Algonquin for no other reason than it looks vaguely like it on a map. I’ve never even been to Smoke Lake, and I kept calling it that in both my head and the outakes of my videos. It is a pretty lake for sure, with large stone structure in the south. I took the time to admire it as I saw a canoe take off towards Mountain lake down the portage and didn’t want to run into traffic with a canoe on my head. After a lazy 5 minute paddle I was on the hard ground again, using a new portage. It was so new I had to mark it on my map in pink, and was the first to use a newly built bridge over a creek (more on this later). This portage was a bastard, genuinely tough. A lot of ups and downs, including one big up. The path is exposed on top, making it very hot as you bake in the sun. I was tired from the previous journey and 1.5 carried, dropping the canoe about halfway through.

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At the end of Mt Bastard. As it’s marked on my map (Stoplog-Mountain).

At the end I took a bit of time to rest and refuel with some GORP and water. Mountain lake is relatively new as a signed canoe route, with only one site on it. Being new, it’s a bit more overgrown than most people would like, and it seemed a bit buggy in June. It was isolated though, worth it to get to if you’re in a pinch for privacy. The lake itself is very lovely, with large cliffs adorning the northern side. These speak very well of the trout fishing I’ve heard to happen here.

I caught up to the people in front of me at the eastern portage from Mountain to Buzzard lake, lo and behold it was the friendly MNR rangers again. They had been working tirelessly for the past 24 hours trying to clean up more sites. It was they who told me I was the very first person to use their bridge between Stoplog and Mountain, and I gave a lavish review of its sturdiness and elegance. A quick conversation was more than enough human interaction for the day though, as it started raining at the end of the flat and easy portage just as I set out to find my site.

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My site at Buzzard Lake, nice and big!

Site #426 on Buzzard lake is a very “used” site. The whole lake is always popular as I’ve learned in subsequent trips, and I can see why. It’s very close to the put in and the portage is very easy. It’s a perfect lake to introduce people people to canoeing and the basics of camping. That being said, I was at a loss for firewood. I gathered a little bit at the end of the portage, but only managed a quick little bit more before calling it quits. The rain was heavy enough to merit a tarp, and I knew that the next day was a rest day, so I set about making the camp as comfy as I could.

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One of many gorgeous sunset photos I took this night.

With the tarp hung, I spent the day fishing from shore, putting up the tent, reading, and just busying myself. Dinner was rehydrated spaghetti (one of my favorites!) and life was as good as a lazy camper can have. A quick/small fire was all I could afford that night, and I went to bed wary of a beaver munching on a large downed pine not far from my camp.