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PostPosted: June 29th, 2019, 4:32 pm 
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Joined: September 25th, 2006, 2:56 pm
Posts: 161
Location: Gravenhurst
A solo trip today. The smoke which had drifted south over Muskoka late Wednesday seemed to be gone this morning. Hot, humid, and windy weather was in store for the area today, and with southwest winds, I assumed the smoke would remain north of the area I was exploring. Just east of Pointe au Baril, I would be approximately 50 km from the fire area.

I parked at Shawanaga Lodge, on the north side of Rock Island Lake, and was in the water a bit after 9 AM. The wind was already starting to blow, pushing me down the lake. I had to make a decision now, as to which direction to make the loop. I decided, that with some extensive wetlands, and lots of bushcrashing, maybe it would be best to get all of that over with, and have the long lake paddle through Black Oak and Rock Island lakes to finish off the route. If I was late the lake route would be feasible even in the dark. The wind direction, like with a previous trip with Harold would allow for a bit of protection along the south shore. Now, if only the thunderstorms forecasted to possible occur late day would hold off …

Markus and I took a route through this area early in May with copious amounts of water, today, however, water levels were low. The creek up towards Granite Lake was dry, resulting in a longer portage to the lake. I came across a weak trail which made the route a bit easier. My portage out of Granite, into Twin Lake, was also pretty good, with easy bush to walk through. I portaged a bit south of the previous trip, and being pinched between two marshes, there was no chance of meandering. A pair of sandhill cranes flew over my head as I paddled out into Twin Lake, however, no erie calls from this pair as they silently flew off into the distance.

The portage out of Twin, and into Turtle was a tough one (20 minutes) with dense bush and old logging roads. Unlike our May trip where we followed the logging road towards the lake, today the road was choked with thorne bushes making it almost impossible to trudge through. A more extensive bush crash was the only viable option.

As on recent trips, the deerflies were thick, buzzing relentlessly around me. Unlike Harold, I didn’t have any sticky tape to capture some of them, so I would just have to put up with the clouds of them. Being solo today, I was their only choice to feed on! Fortunately most of them disappeared each time I got out on the water. Paddling up Turtle Lake was easy, with a strong tailwind pushing me along.

I portaged out of Turtle Lake with the plan now to explore the numerous ponds and wetlands between here and Trout Lake. A small narrow lake/pond became my choice of a lunch spot. Eating in the canoe allowed me to enjoy lunch, while the wind pushed me down the lake in the direction I entended to continue.

After lunch I continued further east towards Trout. While preparing to drag the canoe over a beaverdam to a creek below, I heard a twig snap, and then a trotting sound. A peek around the corner put me within 50 feet of a moose. A large rock had kept us hidden from each other. I didn’t want to have a bad encounter and talked softly with it while taking some pictures, and then slowly dragging the canoe down into the water. It took a few steps away from me, then just stood there watching as I paddled off into the next wetland.

My plan now was to head south, through a large wetland, then bushcrash further south, hopefully picking up the ATV trail that goes from the Shawanaga RIver, up into Trout Lake. I had to first take a peek towards a small lake further east. There was a good depth of water in the creek leading out to this lake, and with still having lots of time, I decided to head this way instead. The pond to the east of this lake had good water as well so I continued on. New plan now, continue on into Trout Lake.

My day now took on a bit of urgency, as I noticed what looked like a line of thunderheads developing far off to the west. Geez, I hope they stay away as I still had a kilometre or so paddle on Trout Lake to do, then a 4 kilometre portage along the ATV trail down to the Shawanaga, and finally a 6 km paddle up Black Oak and Rock Island Lakes (likely with a headwind) to get back to my car. If need by, I might have to spend some time under the canoe waiting out a storm, it wouldn’t be the first time!

Trout Lake is a beautiful lake, although not totally wild, as there are a few cottages/cabins scattered about. People either come up the ATV trail, or fly in. A group in a loaded motor boat waved as they passed me on their way to a cottage, having most likely come from the portage. It was just before 2 PM as I headed off down the lake. The clouds off to the west were definately building, but so far seemed to be travelling towards the northeast, leaving me alone for the time being.

The ATV trail was well used, and an ‘easy' walk, taking me about an hour to portage across. Two boats were pulled up at the other end, likely the people I saw on the lake. Next, the 6 km battle against the wind. I always paddle the canoe backwards when solo travelling, being closer to the centre being more stable. In these windy conditions I would be better off kneeling close to the middle, however, my knnes are not up to it. I pulled over to the shore, and found a good size rock to lay in the ‘front’ end of the canoe. This made the world of difference as I headed out into the lake. The big challenge was to struggle past this narrow part of the lake where I was experiencing the “funnel effect” where the gusty winds get pinched in by the narrowing waterway and blow relentlessly.

Once out on the wider part of the lake, I moved over to the south shore where I had a much better paddle. The clouds to the west had inched closer, now blocking the sun. They looked non-threatening at this point, so I eased up on the pace. Once in Rock Island Lake I found a spot by the island, where I removed my ballast rock from the canoe. From here I had an easy paddle (almost with the wind) back to the lodge and my car. It was a bit after 4:30 PM as I secured the canoe to the car and prepared for the hour and a quarter drive back home. The sky looked dark to the south, and just below Parry Sound the rain started. It was spotty, but seeing puddles everywhere, must have been more intense earlier.

A good workout today!

A link to pictures, videos, and a map of the route:

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