I've been profiting immensely from a trip log that Frank Boyaner filed on Canadian Canoe Routes. For example today I'm camped at the spiffy island site at the north end of the lake, as they recommend. I'm even typing on a stone table.
Am I ever glad I'm here. This was supposed to be an easy day. Short distance, five short portages. It hasn't felt all that easy.
I woke at 6:30am and had my easy day pancake breakfast. (It's an amusing task cooking pancakes for yourself when there's no oven to warm them).
I got on the water at 9am and noticed the wind was already pronounced, and heading east, blowing from the west (which is the prevailing direction). This worried me, but I was distracted by these three otters playing amid the lilly pads. They were snorting, chasing each other and having fun it seemed. One craned its neck high out of the water to get a better look at me.
I headed west into where the Petawawa flows into Catfish Lake. The 345 across the Catfish Rapids was somewhat easy but for the fact that Ozzy's detatchable yoke was loose.
A short paddle found me at a 320 where once again the yoke pissed me off. One of the tightening knobs caught on my shirt and for a moment I was standing there with the canoe suspended halfway to my head. I managed to unhook it.
I think it was after this portage that I noticed how nasty the wind was. But I thought it was just the combination of shallow, reedy water making it hard to get any blade in the water.
I ran into someone in a sea kayak coming the other way. I remarked that I wished I had one of those today. The tripper sort of grunted acknowledgement but seemed confused. I imagine he wasn't so sure he'd rented the right boat, what with all the portaging and not-so-much paddling. Strange choice of a route for a kayak. The outfitter had given him these wheels which I imagine are pretty much useless on most Algonquin portages.
I saw lots of herons and ducks, but no moose.
I did the 90 and the 420 to get me to Perley Lake and therein the hell began. Perley seems like a nice, narrow lake, but when the easterly wind gets going, I assure you, it's not. I had been expecting to make it to Burntroot by noon. I didn't make it there until 1:30.
Blisters aside, I have been finding the paddling relatively manageable. But I missed the extra muscle today. There were standing still moments on the relatively calm Perley. And then came Burntroot.
The lack of detail on the canoe route map confused me at the end of Perley. What it should actually say is that Portal Rapids flow either side of an island and the portage is to the south of the south channel. Oh well, it was a nice little walk and by then I wasn't too pissed about not-paddling.
On Burntroot the wind was just as strong, but the waves were much higher. Possibly 30 to 45cm? I don't know. Maybe I'm just a wuss. But Ozzie was more than up to the task.
I was instantly grateful for two things: one: today is the day I turn back, maybe even with the wind and two: I decided not to do my first solo trip somewhere like Temagami, where they have real waves.
Ozzie bounced and slapped a bit as we clawed our way toward the island, trying desperately to get to its leeward side. I was worried the site would be taken. I figured anyone else on this lake probably knows about it and has been camping there for days. I figured if it was booked I would at least get a taste of paddling with this wind.
Seeing it vacant, I put in at around 2pm, soaking my feet for the last time today to lift Prince Ozzie from the lake to his throne on shore.
I set up the tent, put up the tarp to ward off the rain spirits, pumped water and had a couple of cheese, pickled eggplant and salsa tortillas. Yum. And I won't have to carry it tomorrow.
The wind hasn't calmed down any and I can see clouds off in the west. I hope they hold off for a day if they're bringing rain. Sun is good.
I am lying in the tent trying to type by the backlight of my Palm Pilot. It's a little silly.
I should say a word about food. I had some lessons in dehydration this trip. The dehydrated tomato-basil-chevre sauce was nummy. The curry tofu with couscous and dried veg was less so. First, I had way too much. Second, dehydrated beans take way more time to rehydrate than I could give them. I tossed them in with the couscous hoping that would help. I ended up adding the veggie stock to the couscous and simmering it. Disaster. Mushy couscous, crunchy veg. The red pepper worked. I ended up building a fire to burn the (considerable) amount of food that I couldn't choke back.
I doused the fire and went to watch the sunset. Twas a good one. Then I went to watch the moonrise. This island is a great spot for both. Not sure where you're supposed to go to watch the stars. It looks quite open over by the shit box...
I have a long day tomorrow so I'm going to try to get to sleep early. No star watching tonight. Last night was great for that. Nice rock point, tons and tons of loons. This lake doesn't have so many loons. I did see a heron fly past me startlingly close -- maybe three metres away earlier.
I should say a bit about solo paddling. The boat is great when it's in the water. It's very easy to manuever and its low profile is a blessing on days like today. The yoke thing is from hell.
Solo entries and exits at portages are interesting. According to the club's rules, the boat must be completely afloat when you load and unload it. But you can't leave it alone in the water lest it float away. I'm mostly getting out in the water, pulling out the pack and dumping it as quickly as I can lest Prince Ozzie's gelcoat be scratched by striking rock, then wheeling back around to grab the boat before it floats away, and then I gingerly haul it out onto land where I put on the yoke, strap my paddle in (nice rig, by the way), bungie the map and PFD to the back of Ché, put Ché on, roll up the canoe and walk.
Paddling was harder today. Keeping a steady rhythm was really difficult. I was definitely not going 6km/h. Yesterday was 5km/h moving speed. Today, I don't want to know. So with this boat I would be able to keep up with a lot of tandems on calm water.
Frosted plants: Most mornings it was cold enough to see your breath. Saturday morning you could see frosted leaves.
Burntroot Lake: Almost no photographing all morning. Too windy to even contemplate a photo op.
Sunset on Burntroot Lake: What a fortunate person I am to be sitting on a lake shore witnessing this spectacle.