View topic - HHWT Solo - St.Nora/Sherborne/Orley/Summit/No Name/Big Hawk

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PostPosted: April 8th, 2012, 10:55 am 
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Joined: July 26th, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 164
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Short Version:
Day 1 – St. Nora to Sherborne, side-trip to Orley, no fish.
Day 2 – Sherborne to Summit to No Name to Big Hawk to Sherborne loop, no fish.
Day 3 – Sherborne to St. Nora, no fish.

Long Version:
Day 1
With ice out so early, and fishing season not yet open in Algonquin, I thought I’d try fishing some stocked lakes in the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails. I bought an old 2nd-hand fibreglass canoe the week before, my first canoe, and this would be its maiden voyage. The first time driving with a canoe on top of the car was nerve-racking, but this second time, it was less so. Instead, the day seemed full of possibilities, imagining all the places I could go. It was a clear sunny day. I got to St. Nora Lake later than planned, and by the time I got on the water, it was already lunch time. There was a 5-10km brisk cross-wind, but otherwise, the going was easy, and it felt nice to be on the water again. Several cottages lined the shores, and I could imagine the waters being busy during the summer. The portage to Sherborne Lake was not too bad, but it was only later that I realized I could have paddled further up the river to an unmarked take-out, since the waters were high enough. Sherborne Lake reminds me of the eastern section of Lake Louisa, and except for a few cottages on this lake, the setting could have been a route in Algonquin Park. However, there are fishing boats stashed at every portage, so I imagine this lake could also see some motorboat traffic in the summer. For now though, I had the lake to myself. Lake trout season is closed on Sherborne until late April, so the plan was to visit Orley to fish for stocked rainbow trout. Before setting-out, I made camp and had dinner. By the time I got to Orley, the sun was already dipping towards the treeline. The portage to Orley is uphill and rough. With the waning light, I decided against portaging the canoe and settled for a few shore-casts before heading back to camp. There was a good stack of wood for a fire, but I chose not to have a fire this trip. I lay down on a rock and watched the moon rise, and the stars grow brighter. In the background I heard the very faint, almost imperceptible hum of what must be traffic on Highway 35.

Day 2
I rose before the sun was above the treeline, but it was already past dawn. A thin layer of ice had formed in my water bottles, and the day was a mix of sun and cloud, but almost no wind. The water was like a mirror, and it would be like this for most of the morning. The initial plan was to fish for stocked brook trout in Silver Doe and Silver Buck Lakes, and maybe try Orley Lake again, but with paddling conditions so favourable, I decided to venture further and do a loop to Big Hawk Lake. I paddled slowly to the first portage, taking-in all the reflections in the water. A thin layer of ice had formed in the eastern bays of Lake Sherborne. The first 200 steps on the portage to Summit Pond is straight up, and I wouldn’t want to portage a canoe going the opposite way. My glutes were sure getting a workout. I fished a bit on Summit, but with no bites, quickly made way to the next portage, to No Name Pond. This portage was easier going. Surrounded by high cliffs, No Name feels quite secluded, like a hidden grotto. The final short portage to Big Hawk was unremarkable, except for finding a small volleyball at the end of the portage. Once on Big Hawk, I was greeted by 3 men in a motor boat, making their way toward the main lake. I eventually followed them in. Big Hawk, like St. Nora, has numerous cottages lining its shores. I somehow felt silly for having expended so much effort to portage into this lake, considering there is a road and public dock right on this lake. I slowly trolled down Big Hawk to the portage back to Sherborne. Even with just a daypack and some fishing gear, I double-carried all portages this trip. On the first carry, I realized that the river connecting Big Hawk to Sherborne was completely open, so I portaged my paddles back, and was able to paddle the canoe down the river to my waiting gear. Paddling this river reminded me how much I enjoy paddling the winding rivers of Algonquin, and this alone, made this loop worth it. Not sure if this river paddle would be possible in the summer or fall, when the waters are lower. I got back to camp, had an early dinner, watched a couple of Canada geese honk at each other, and called it an early day, with a book in the tent. At night, I think I heard a wolf howling, but it may have been a dog or a goose.

Day 3
The day started out cool like the day before, but there was no ice in the water bottles. Washing the dishes, I appreciated how quickly cold my fingers got, and imagined how quickly cold my body would get if I were to take a dip in the water. A mix of sun and clouds overhead. The initial plan was to stay for 4 days, but I had decided the night before, to head out a day early. Sherborne is a nice lake to basecamp, but paddling St. Nora and Big Hawk, well, it felt like paddling in someone else’s backyard, when they’re not home. Even though I had the lakes virtually to myself, it did not feel like much of a journey. Also, basecamping on a lake where the fishing season is closed is somewhat limiting, especially when the waters are too cold for a swim. Still, with the weather being so favourable, I was tempted to change my mind again, and maybe fish those stocked lakes I missed. In the end, I decided to pack-up and head out, and maybe fish for lake trout on St. Nora. By the time I got to St. Nora, the wind had picked-up, with cross-wind gusts of 10-15km. I trolled a lure, but didn’t dally on the lake, and landed back on shore shortly after lunchtime. On the drive home, there was a little snow and freezing rain.

Epilogue/ Lessons learned
- Duct tape is useful for stopping slow leaks in old 2nd-hand canoes.
- Duct tape is also useful for covering metal hardware on the gunwales, to prevent scratches to the paint on the roof of your car.
- Some portages can be avoided or shortened in the Spring, when the waters are high.
- Need to get a contoured yoke for portaging.
- Best to basecamp on a lake where the fishing season is open.
- Not seeing or hearing any loons this trip made me realize that I’ve taken loons for granted.

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PostPosted: April 8th, 2012, 12:04 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2006, 4:25 pm
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Location: Milton
NIce report! not a word of bugs :thumbup:
For your yoke get a small piece of the blue camping foam and pad where it touches your shoulders and neck.
Works fine but does not come close to the comfort of a formed yoke.
Jeff

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


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PostPosted: April 8th, 2012, 2:30 pm 
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Joined: November 20th, 2011, 7:16 am
Posts: 173
well done! I totally get the loons thing and somehow feel cheated without them but when I`m paddling and come across one, its almost like òh...just another loon... :-?

I think the base camp idea is a good one when there is a specific objective (in your case fishing) in mind. It takes time to get a feel for a place.

But what matters is you went. I enjoyed reading it and thank you for posting.

PS: Duct tape is my friend.
:)


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PostPosted: April 10th, 2012, 12:01 pm 
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Joined: May 17th, 2003, 9:06 am
Posts: 471
Location: Hamilton, Ontario
Great report. I liked your observation of feeling like you are way off the beaten path only to portage to a lake and find a public launch on it. It can be discouraging for some. Now that you have your own canoe I am sure you will be getting out a little more often. Afterall it sounds like you still need to christen it with it's first fish for you. Thanks for posting.

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PostPosted: April 10th, 2012, 12:37 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1003
Location: Burns Lake, BC
Thanks for the TR. :clap:

I know what you mean with coming into developed areas. Just remember how you got there. It's about the trip.
As a whole, not too many people get to experience the satisfaction of using the waterway connectors.

Just one of the reasons why I love portages.

Keep 'em coming.


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PostPosted: April 10th, 2012, 1:02 pm 
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Joined: July 26th, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 164
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Yup, no bugs, but I guess that also means no rising trout :). I did see some underwater bug activity, but don't know what kind of bugs, maybe mosquito larvae? I used a portaging pad that fits a contoured yoke, but this had the tendency to rotate on the thwart. I'll try some foam wraps I got a while ago from the dollar store.

Along with some more duct tape :).

It's nice being able to go some place and not having to make 3 or more phone calls: 1) to check on canoe availability, 2) to reserve campsite, and 3) to reserve canoe, and then having to do it all over again when there's any change of plans due to schedule or weather, but I'll still probably rent, every now and then, depending on logistics and type of trip, e.g. I hope to paddle/ fish Grand River this year. Looking forward to the canoe's christening :).

Yeah, I do like portages for that reason :). The thing about developed areas, I think I would have actually preferred it if there were people out and about. Instead, with all the cottages closed, and almost no one around, it made the lakes feel 'empty', almost like a ghost town.

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PostPosted: April 11th, 2012, 4:25 pm 
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Joined: November 20th, 2011, 7:16 am
Posts: 173
ascetic hermit wrote:
Y

I think I would have actually preferred it if there were people out and about. Instead, with all the cottages closed, and almost no one around, it made the lakes feel 'empty', almost like a ghost town.


I feel that way too in the early spring -not because of a lack of people - but because of a lack of wildlife. There are no leaves on the trees, song bird activity is more limited and the overall feeling is desolation.

I prefer life on the lake - as long as its the wild kind.
:D


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