Triplog: Kawartha Highlands – Oct 4-6

This trip could very likely be my last of the year, so we wanted to make the most out of what we had.  Unfortunately, all we had was a weekend, and it looked like it was going to be a soggy one.

View from the site

View from the site

We decided to head to the Kawartha Highlands again, getting into Bottle Lake, then taking a short 80m portage into Sucker Lake.  It was an easy paddle, less than 4 kms, and this was just perfect.  I planned this trip to maximize our time camping, and avoid getting our boots wet with early October coldness.

Fall colours

We decided, regardless of work or setting suns, to get our site on the north side of Sucker Lake by Friday so that we had all of Saturday to relax.  I was paddling in solo, and my friends in the other canoe were about an hour ahead of me.  I managed to fight the good fight against traffic, but I was still pushing off shore after 7 o’clock in October, well after twilight had set in.  It was an interesting experience to be sure.  My eyes fully dialated, allowing me to use every little scrap of light that was in the air.  A few people were on Bottle Lake, and that gave me some campfire beacons to navigate with.  Everything was going well until I hit the portage.

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Only 80m long, I could have fallen up this portage, and I made very short work of it.  Coming out the other side, I saw a blinking light in the general direction of my site/friends, and I was overjoyed to see them so close!  I packed the canoe up and hopped to getting to them.  Unfortunately for me, they weren’t signaling me from shore, but had rather come to see if I needed help.  It was a welcome sight, don’t get me wrong, but paddling to the site afterwards resulted in a very deep darkness.  It was cloudy out, and had been drizzling as I put in from the parking lot, this meant no stars.  There was no moon.  I could barely differentiate between the trees, the sky, and the lake.  It was very disorientating!

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But we got to site 120 easily enough, and set about putting up camp.  The boys had already strung up a tarp and put up the tents, so there was little to do aside from comfort stuff, but none of us had eatten yet and I had all the food in my canoe.  Dehydrated turkey, pasta sauce, red pepper, and eggplant solved that problem!  We spent  the rest of the night catching up, tending the fire as best we could, and thinking about what we’d do on Saturday.

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We slept in a bit, rousing around 9AM, and got the morning chores out of the way.  Coffee, breakfast, looking at the lake which night had hidden before…it was a lazy start to the day.  But as is prone to happen, we went fishing just before noon.  The waters were warming up, and we didn’t want to miss any activity!  A couple friendly bass and sunfish later, we decided to check out some sites around the lake, see what we were missing.  The island site (#127) seemed nice enough, but it was site 125 that blew us away.  It had enough space to house an army, a lovely privy location, and some really neat features (there was a tree that grew all sorts of wierd ways).  If I could reserve that site, I would have.  According to the wardens that came by (first time I’ve had one look in KH), someone was booked on that site, but they never showed.

The root I'm standing on is still alive and well!

The root I’m standing on is still alive and well!

We headed back to the site for a quick bite of lunch and to stoke the fire.  By this point, we’d found some perfect logs for cutting up and chopping, and we made a point of cutting one or two pieces up when we had a chance.  It was a very tough log, so going was slow, but we were in no rush.  By the time night would come around, we had a tremendous stack of wood to keep us warm.

Plenty of firewood, even left some for the next folks

Plenty of firewood, even left some for the next folks

We had a quick lunch, and were soon out fishing again, this time in a part of the lake the wardens had pointed out.  I was solo again, and was getting no luck trolling, but the other crew was having some luck.  I headed back towards the site, as it was clouding over again (although we’d had lovely fall weather until then!) and tried my luck in the shallower side of the lake.  When the other canoe started back, I’d given up to take a bathroom break and stoke the fire up again.

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Dinner that night was pizza on the Outback Oven.  I adore that thing.  I can’t think of a more decadent and delicious meal when you’re 10 miles from nobody.  The others were impressed as well I think.  The coup de gras was some lake trout the other canoe had run into, cooked to perfection over the fire.  We cajoled about the year long into the night, and went to bed happy as clams.

Shane cleans up around the firepit with a paddle we all hate.

Shane cleans up around the firepit with a paddle we all hate.

Over the course of the night though, we heard the unmistakable noise of wind picking up.  The flap of a tarp and the creek of trees and leaves made us all tense when we woke up around 7:30.  It actually wasn’t that bad, there were no white-caps and the wind was going with us!  The weather networks were calling for lightning around noon, and the wind seemed to be getting worse by the minute, so we forwent breakfast in exchange for a quick coffee as we packed things up while we were dry.  Luckily we got the tents down before the drizzle started (ain’t nothin’ worse than a wet tent in your bag!), and got going around 8:30.

Bryan, with no luck from the site, but plenty in the canoe.

Bryan, with no luck from the site, but plenty in the canoe.

Not much else to say about this trip, it was a great one.  We lucked out on weather, brought all our toys to play with, and had some luck fishing.  I just hope I can get one more trip in before the ice starts up.

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