Mantario Day 5 – Marion Lake to South Trailhead

Today will be a 12.3 km day ending at the south trail head and burgers at Hawk Lake Junction.  We cross 2 railway tracks (CNR and CP) today, and will actually veer into Ontario (the tario part of Mantario) today to get around Caribou Lake.   Without that I guess this would just be the Manitoba trail.

The trail from Marion Lake heading south continues uphill pretty much all the way to the junction of the Marion Lake / Ann Lake portage trail.  Shortly after that we come to the first train track

and a short way south we come to the survey marker buried into the rock

the trail continues through some nice pine woods (that apparently blew down the summer of 2010 and 2011)

pine forest

the walking through the pine forest was a nice break – and we made good time

and then we came to Caribou Lake – the east campsite is quite nice although dirty and even though a bit early we stopped for lunch (soup today) which was quite good even though it is hot out.  There really is no place to stop after this until the Whiteshell River.  The worst thing about this campsite is that it is the closest to the south trail head and people have hauled stuff in and just left it – the bear box is even full.  Not impressed.

caribou lake

caribou lake

so we worked our way around the lake after lunch

and one more

and then we came to the Ontario border – not much of a welcome – first we came to a creek with a swamp on the east side

and then the crossing

the crossing

crossing

and then some interesting rock climbing

a good workout for the legs

followed by some good walking through the pine forest again

which brings us to the junction of Mantario trail and the west Caribou Lake campsite trail

this junciton used to be an old tower (now only the footings exist) alongside the abandoned airstrip and beyond that there is nothing else around.  A good place to sit at least.  So we continue south on the last leg.  The trail is quite windy in many places and in a few spots is hard to keep track of where it actually is.

a view from a high spot over the Whiteshell River valley

a few more rocks to climb over

another set of tracks - CPR this time

and then a bit more rock

and then we come to the Whiteshell River

whiteshell river bridge

which is a good place for a view

a dip

and to fill the water bottles once again

and a view the other way

before we head out on the last short piece of trail.  The next part of the trail is criss-crossed by other trails in the Hawk Lake area so paying attention is a good idea (couldn’t get lost anyway as you can hear the traffic now).   We come out onto an old road

where we find the south trailhead sign

and then the parking lot where a small non-descript sign sits

and with that we take our end of hike photo – all accounted for, no missing parts, no missing gear and no injuries – still smiling – another good hike

and then we went and ate our hamburgers, fries and sodas/milkshakes.  I would show you a picture except we either didn’t take a camera in with us, or we ate it so fast we didn’t have time to get a picture

BUT WAIT – we aren’t done yet – just fed.  We still have to drive all the way back to the North trailhead to get the other vehicle – in fact we need to take 2 vehicles back as we met a couple by Caribou Lake who were trying to decide if they should keep going or go back – they dropped their car at the north trailhead, then came back to the south trailhead to start, and one of them locked the keys in the glovebox for safety, not thinking they needed them to get into the car at the other end.   So we offered to take it up with us and leave it there with the keys in the gas tank cover so they could work their way home when they finished.  That will be out good duty for the day.

And with that, our hike is finished, and we head back to Beausejour to sort the gear out before we all head home.

I would certainly hike this trail again, and maybe next time it won’t be +35 every day.  Never drank so much water in my life, and we were still dehydrated when we finished.

This trail would certainly be a very different trail if it was raining out.  The rocks are quite smooth and would be slippery to navigate at times.

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Mantario Trail – Day 4 – Moosehead Lake to Marion Lake

Today will be another 15km day with a wide variety of terrain to cover.  We continue to follow the system of lakes and the ridges above them.

So after a hot night sleeping, we get up to a calm morning with loons swimming in front of where we pitched our tent last night.   Not a bad way to start the day.

Moosehead Lake campsite

While we heard nothing during the night, when we go to get our food from the bear box, we can see that it is moved from the spot it was at last night.  It has a chain that is wrapped around a tree to keep it from being dragged off, but you can see on the ground where a bear was likely pushing it around, as evidenced by the drag marks.  The box worked though, and our gear was still intact with no issues.

the fancy trail toilets

As we get started we need to skirt around a large swampy area

and then more climbing

across a rather rickety bridge

view of bridge from top of ridge on south side

and scramble up another rock with the aid of a rope.

view from the top end of the rope

The view up Olive lake from the bridge was peaceful with no wind and very calm water

after a short walk across the top of the ridge

it is +35 degrees and mid morning and the rocks are already getting hot

thankfully the trail goes into the trees every once in a while to cool off – at least there are no mosquitos

we ended up at Peggy Lake campsite – where we stopped for a lunch break

after our break we went around the bottom of Peggy Lake and followed the trail towards Marion Lake

along the edge of Peggy Lake

to cross the bottom of Peggy Lake, you walk across a number of flat boulders

rock "bridge" around Peggy Lake with bear cache showing towards left side in between trees

and then up we go to the top again

As we walked along the rocky ridge, we saw a lot of cairns marking the trail

A very high cairn marker

and encountered a very large beaver dam spanning across a sharp V – valley.  These guys have been quite busy

A very large beaver dam

after walking under the power lines, and crossing the dam, we see a sign showing we are on the right trail – that is good news as there are not many signs, just arrows and cairns

shortly after crossing the dam,  we arrive at Marion Lake – this site is quite busy as the long weekend is just getting underway, so we got our site set up

Marion lake campsite

view to the west

view to the south with train passing by

as this was a full site and the bear bins were full, we decided to hang our packs between the trees – hopefully high enough to be out of reach of the bears

packs hanging in trees

with supper done, we sat by the fire and watched the sun set

and along with the sunset we also had the moon

a final picture to end the day

and that brings us to the end of Day 4 – we have now hiked about 50.7 kms of the total 63 km trail.  That leaves 12.3 kms to go.

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Mantario Trail – Day 3 – Ritchey Lake to Moosehead Lake – Sept 4

Today we got off to an early start on our way to Moosehead Lake.  This will be another 15.1 km day and it will be hot again +34 celcius

Leaving Ritchie Lake Campsite, it is about 400 m back to the main trail.  We head south towards Mantario Lake.   Just before we get to One Lake, we cross a swampy area then head uphill and stay on top of the ridge till just before Three Lake, where we have a fairly steep climb back down.   There are lots of bare rocky areas to hike on

and some scenic views

a nice view from the ridge

as well as some shady rest stops


And then we climb again

back up we go

then we follow across the ridge

along the ridge

Follow the side of the hill

A little further down the trail, we climb down onto a beaver dam and cross just below the dam.

Once across the beaver dam, we climb up a steep ravine using a rope

and continue a short way on the trail to Mantario Lake

we arrive at Mantario Lake - lunch time

being a hot, sunny day with no bugs - a jump in the lake was in order

lunch time

After lunch we head out and climb back up onto the ridge.

the trail winds across the ridge with trail cairns in the middle

The section between here and Moosehead has lots of climbing and many rugged, steep valleys.   These are offset by the amazing views from the high ridges.

view of Mantario Lake from ridge

heading down into a valley

and arriving at Moosehead Lake

Moosehead Lake

Ah Mooshead Lake – we were all by ourselves on the lake with no other hikers around – but once it got dark, the mosquitos were rather nasty.   We did have one great spot for a view though

We had our usual fire

a peaceful shoreline with no breeze

and a very pretty sunset to close the day

once we stashed out food in the bear bin, we watched the sunset and listened to the loons from the tent with the ever hungry mosquitos buzzing on the other side of the screen.   It is going to be a very hot night with no breeze at all

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Mantario Trail – Day 2 – start of the hike Sept 3

It is now our first official 1st day to start the hike, as yesterday was a travel day.   The trail is about 63 kms long and for the most part campsites are spread reasonably well along the trail.  There are no fees to get on this trail, you just have to notify Parks Branch that you are going on the trail and when you expect to be out.   We gave ourselves 5 days to do the trail, as we had not been on it before.

We got up early and walked down to the lake.

Big Whiteshell Lake early in morning

We then had bacon and eggs for breakfast, took the tent down and left the Provincial Park campsite to drive to the North Trailhead.

Packs on picnic table in morning

Parking here is a bit of a problem, as there really is just a turnaround where everyone parks along the outside edge, so you find a spot where you can park facing the road.  Once we did that, we put our packs on – stepped in front of the sign and got our usual start-of-hike photo.

Starting photo

It is a nice sunny day and the forecast is for temperatures into the mid 30’s for the week.  That will be hot hiking weather.   So at 9:30 am we head down the trail.

First part of trail - nice walking along narrow beach

In about 15 minutes we come to Bedford Creek – and it is flooded by high lake water.   There is a beaver dam here that we will walk across and just see how wet we might get.  Whenever crossing a dam or water, it is imperative that you undo your waist belt and chest strap, in the event you ever fall in.  It is almost impossible to get them undone if you fall into the water.  By undoing them in advance, if you were to fall in, you can just shrug out of your pack, get up and retrieve it, all without drinking copius amounts of water.

This is where the trail is supposed to be - the lake thought otherwise

Getting across the dam was no problem.

Getting off the dam was a bit more interesting

Getting off the beaver dam

To get off the dam and back to the trail we have to walk across a grassy area to get to the line of trees by the lake – by the 3rd step – depending on whether you stepped in a hole or not – you were either up to your thighs or waist in water (it was warm water at least).  That was a nice introduction to the trail.

On the way across the dam, we saw the Mantario sign buried in the dam itself.  Beavers have a funny way of making a point sometimes.

Mantario sign in beaver dam

We found out afterwards that hikers the week before had to wade across in chest deep water with their packs held over their heads to get past this point.   Guess we got lucky.

We continued down the trail, which was still very wet in places and in no time our pants were dried off.

Our first break of the day was at the docks at Crow Duck Lake Outfitters spot.

Morning break at docks

It was very hot out with no breeze as we headed out again.  The walking got somewhat better with part of the trail along bedrock that continues into the water, as well as bedrock further away from the lake.

Not a ripple as we walk along the trail

Family of ducks on point

Trail moves inland

and back to the water

As we climbed we could get a view of upcoming lakes and terrain

late morning break - packs off sitting in the shade

Lots of the trail covers ground like this

or like this

We were now approaching the lake we would stop at for lunch

Approaching Hemenway Lake

we stopped for lunch at  Hemenway Lake and jumped in the water to cool off.  At this point we have walked about 9.1 kms

some colour along the trail

Once lunch (soup and hot dogs) was done, we filled our water bottles and continued on to Ritchie Lake, which would be our stop for the day.

Lunch time

Cairn marking trail location

This stretch of trail has long areas of rather bare rock, with stunted trees growing in places

with some being a very long hot climb

but once you got to the top – the views were fantastic

filtering water into bottles at One Lake

and with a little more hot afternoon walking,

including crossing the Whitesheel /Crowduck Lake canoe portage trail (about 400m to Ritchie Lake)

we arrived at Ritchie Lake (about 6 kms from Hemenway)  – our stop for the day

so we unpacked, set up the tent and had supper

supper on the rock at Ritchie

had a bit of time for viewing wildlife

flock of geese flying over

chipmunk

watched the sunset

and some well deserved rest

that was it for day 1.  Walked about 15.1 kms today and agreed we needed to get an earlier start in the morning to avoid walking across the very hot rocks on the ridges.

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Mantario Trail – Day 1 – a travel day

Our family has always spent their leisure time outdoors.  Camping, hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing – you name it, we probably like it.  Maybe it is just that we like campfires, well any fire actually, and being outdoors allows for us to feed that need.

My two sons and I started planning to do the Mantario trail some time ago.   We live in Manitoba, so if you want any multi-day hikes, it is either this one, or one of the trails in Riding Mountain National Park.   Beyond that we are driving or driving and flying.

We got together at Josh’s in Beausejour to get our packs sorted out (we all live in different places), made sure they all weighed about the same, said goodbye to our families and headed down Highway 44.  As with most long trails that are not loops, you need 2 vehicles or you have to arrange in advance for someone to pick you up at the spot you will end up at – at the time you are supposed to be there.   We took two vehicles.    When we got to the corner of Hwy 312 just past Rennie we turned into the South Trailhead parking lot just off the north side of the highway.   Parked one vehicle in a large parking lot, made sure we had the keys with us, loaded all the gear into the other and backtracked to Hwy 44, turned towards Rennie and then turned onto Hwy 309 which will take us to the North Trailhead at the top of Big Whiteshell Lake.

So as it was getting late into the day, we planned on staying at the Big Whiteshell Lake Provincial Park campsite, then get up early in the morning and start the hike.   That worked out reasonably well other than there is nobody at the Park late at night, and you can’t get any firewood either – only available for purchase.   So we set up our tent, scrounged around for firewood and cooked steak, fried potatoes with onions and mushrooms for supper.  We sat around the fire for a bit, then packed our bags into the truck in the event any bears were around.

cooking supper - the propane stove stayed in the truck as we had our lightweight stoves

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Mantario Trail – Background and Trail Information

SOME BACKGROUND

Well, this is our first big hike – and it will prove to be a great one – and one which will lead to other hikes of similar nature.

Our family has always spent their leisure time outdoors.  Camping, hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing – you name it, we probably like it.  Maybe it is just that we like campfires, well any fire actually, and being outdoors allows for us to feed that need.

My two sons and I started planning to do the Mantario trail some time ago.   We live in Manitoba, so if you want any multi-day hikes, it is either this one, or one of the trails in Riding Mountain National Park.   Beyond that we are driving or driving and flying to get to our chosen hiking location.

Prior to setting out on our hike, we called one of the local Manitoba Conservation offices to check on the state of the trail, as there had been quite a bit of rain in the area recently.   They said that yes, the trail was wet in spots, and maybe impassable.    We were also told there were no picnic tables at the sites, nor were there any bear boxes (these are locked metal containers usually chained to a tree that food in put in overnight so the bears don’t visit your tent).  Some of the campsites had a rudimentary toilet.  The advice was less than accurate.

TRAIL SPECS & INFO

Sign at North Trailhead

The 63 kilometer Mantario Trail is the longest trail in the Canadian Shield in Western Canada.   It extends through a large area of Precambrian rock and forests.  This trail is in Manitoba’s first designated wilderness zone and was originally built by a wide variety of organizations and funding sources.  The trail is pretty much fully contained within Manitoba, with a small section of trail veering into Ontario in order to pass around the east side of Caribou Lake.  There are 25 lakes within one kilometer of the trail and 32 lakes within 1.5 kms.    If it is a rainy season, this makes for lots of black flies, no-see-ums and of course the Manitoba mosquito.

It is not a trail for beginners, and is one in which advance planning goes a long ways to ensuring a good hiking experience.  In the Guide, they suggest the trail will take about 25 1/2 hours of hiking time.  The trail itself is marked with white arrows on a dark blue background (this is important at the south end and it intersects with some other trails) and along the many rocky areas, cairns of rocks have been piled to signify where the trail is.   Often the only clue is to look and see where the lichen has been worn right off the rocks and this is the trail.

The guide says all designated sites have picnic tables, food storage (bear) boxes, toilets and metal firepits with grills.    All of the campsites except 1 are on the side of a lake.  These lakes for the most part will either have walleye or pike in them, which could be used as a food source – just make sure you have the proper fishing license – and you clean your fish away from where the tent is set up.   Wood is not supplied and so will be found in the vicinity of the campsite.  On the heavier used sites, the wood gets scarce.   All garbage must be packed out, as is the rule with any wilderness trail.  Bears do frequent the area so at all times when hiking or at a campsite, be aware of your surroudings.

Due to the ruggedness of the trail, good solid hiking boots are a must.  A second set of shoes for use around camp is a good idea.

Something that is not in the guide is a discussion of thunderstorms.   This trail for most of its length is on solid bedrock, which at times can attract lighting.  Do not get caught in a severe storm on top of a ridge – essentially being a human lightning rod.

The south access to the trail can be found at Caddy Lake, just on the north side of highway 44.  The north trailhead is at the very northern end of Big Whiteshell Lake and is accessed by highway 309.

Maps for the trail can be found around the Province in outdoor stores or can be ordered from www.canadamapsales.com

They can also be ordered by calling 1-877-627-7226.

The trail is patrolled and maintained by Manitoba Conservation.   Friends of the Mantario Trail is a non-profit, volunteer wildernes organization and also assists with some maintenance with the help of private donations, government grants, and of course volunteers.

With all of that, it is time to start hiking.

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Mens Canoe Retreat – Tobeatic 2011

Almost every year for the last 22 years, the Tatamgouche Center in Nova Scotia tatacent@tatacentre.com has hosted a Mens Canoe Retreat in various areas of Kejimkujik National Park http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik/index.aspx and in the Tobeatic Wilderness http://www.publicland.ca/tobeatic.html  or  http://www.gov.ns.ca/nse/protectedareas/wa_tobeatic.asp .  The Tobeatic consists of 103,789 hectares of protected lands and is adjacent to Kejimkujik National Park.   The Tobeatic contains an unbelievable number of interconnected lakes, streams, rivers, bogs and wild areas to keep any outdoors person quite happy.

The trip this year was a 5 day venture and started in Weymouth at Hinterland Adventures and Gear http://www.kayakingnovascotia.com/ where we met up with Hantford Lewis who owns the company and will once again be our guide.   Hantfords’ place sits on the Sissiboo River just below the dam at the bridge.

Once Tatamagouche has received your registration and payment, they send out an email with a welcome letter, packing list, medical waiver form and directions to where the trip will start.

DAY 1 – Wednesday Sept 28

I had flown into Halifax yesterday and stayed downtown.  I had arranged a ride with Phil who was one of the guys that was on the last trip I was on.   I took a cab in the morning to meet him at a library just off the highway exit near where he lives.   We drove along for a while, stopped to grab a coffee and a bite to eat, then headed on to Hantfords – following the directions we were provided with – these were thorough directions and we had no difficulty finding his place.

Once everyone had arrived (the 12 of us came from all over, although the majority were from the east), we made sure everyone had paddles and lifejackets, and stowed the gear into various vehicles before heading out.  We left Hantfords on Hwy 340 to Southville, then Riverdale then turned onto the JD Irving logging road, we followed this to Third Lake dam and stopped for a bit of a break.  We then turned onto an older, narrower logging road and continued on to Sporting Lake Stream.

Getting ready to leave

We arrived at the put in spot at Sporting Lake Stream close to supper time, and the plan was to unload and stay the night here, then head out in the morning.   Part of the group worked on getting tents and other shelters erected, some got the fire going,  a couple dug a latrine and the rest prepared supper.

Cooking supper

View from tent up Sporting Lake Stream

For this trip we pretty much followed Sporting Lakes Stream through Rush Lake and on to Sporting Lake.

The first trip I was on with Tatamgouche was 2 years ago on their 20th Anniversary 7 day canoe trip.   On that trip I did not know anyone, but on this trip there are 4 people that were on the last trip.   It is always interesting to be on a trip where you meet people for the first time.   Normally in an outdoor setting, everyone gets along well as things just don’t work unless everyone is pulling in the same direction.  Nobody heads down the river or lake after a portage till everyone has their gear across and is loaded back into the canoes.   To do otherwise is just not safe.  Everyone here looks like they will be good to have along on the trip.  3 others have been on previous canoe trips and 2 or 3 have not been on any previous trips.  Besides our guide Hantford, we have Brian Braganza (facilitator) and Jason Blanch (resource staff) who will be leading the trip and the various evening activities.

After everyone introducing themselves with a bit of their background, one of our first activities is conducted with us all standing in a circle and passing (more like throwing) objects back and forth across the circle, while calling out the name of the person you think you are throwing it to.  After a few being mis-named, we all pretty much got a handle on who was who – now lets see if we can remember the names in the morning 🙂  On this trip we have Brian, Hantford, Jason, Pierre, Phil, Wilf, Keith, James, Ed, Curtis, Jim and me.  Should be easy to remember all the names.

Both Phil Moscovich and I are writing in our journals – he noted that last time we were both writing in the same type of book as this time.  It’s a “Rite in the Rain” All-Weather Journal #393 and works in all weather.   We were both writing down by the River – he on a upturned tree stump and me on a rock a bit out in the water.  It sure is quiet.   Where I am sitting, I am facing the setting sun and looking at the mirror-clear water with a faint hint of colour.   A few late day dragonflies and a kingfisher are about all that is moving about.

View from my writing rock

uprooted tree

There are a few bugs out – black flies, no-see-ums and mosquitos – not very many, just enough to pester.  In front of me there is a massive overturned tree with the roots sticking up in the air.   You can see all the stones embedded between the roots – an indication that there is little in the way of soil here.  The only sound other than bugs buzzing are the crickets.

A small fish jumped out of the water in front of me, leaving an ever expanding circular set of ripples spreading across the glassy surface of the bay.   The kingfisher has now flown back across the bay.

The call comes at that point for supper.   Tonight we have chicken fajitas, refried beans, tortilla chips, tomatoes, avocodo spread, lettuce and cheese – and chocolate chip cookies.  By the time we are done eating there is no food left.

Supper time

After supper we had about 45 minutes to do whatever we wished, while some cleaned up dishes and put things away.    Some discussion and guitar playing around the fire completed the evening and then we were off to our tents, shelters, tarps or bivvysacs.   Pierre and I shared a tent.  Others split up among the rest of the accomodations.

Day 2 – Thursday Sept 29

Curtis is having back spasms since he woke up and has decided it might be better if he doesn’t go on the trip. It is easier at this point as we are still at the vehicles, so after a breakfast of bacon and eggs with crumpets, apples/oranges, Hantford takes him back out and returns around noon, so we adjust our plan to spend some time doing canoe safety, proper entry and exit and a few other pointers around types of strokes during the morning.  This is necessary as some do not have as much experience canoeing as some of the others do.

Hantford arrives just as we are having lunch – hot dogs, chili tofu dogs on pitas with oranges and apples.

Just after 1  we get on the water and head for Rush Lake which is along Sporting Lake Stream.   I immediately remember what I liked so much about the Tobeatic 2 years ago – there are erratic rocks all over the place as we paddle – some are just submerged a bit below the surface and if you are not paying attention, you end up leaving a bit of paint behind.  Sporting Lake Stream is a nice wide meandering stream with some beaver dams and a short portage before we get to Rush Lake.   It is nice and peaceful and everyone is chatting as they paddle.  I notice that the colours are not as brilliant as last time and in fact many of the trees have lost most of their leaves already.  Guess that is the type of fall they have had here.

Just starting down Sporting Lake Stream - with rocks everywhere

Navigating through a tight spot

approaching first portage

Pulling canoes out at portage

A very short portage so we just carried the canoes

Loaded up and pushing off

Typical view along river

Our first beaver dam

To navigate over a beaver dam, typically you paddle the canoe right up to the dam, the bow paddler gets out on the dam and pulls the canoe up onto the dam – not so high that water comes into the stern.  The stern paddler then moves forward and gets out on the dam on the other side of the canoe from the bow person.  All the gear stays in and both pull the canoe over the dam.  Once over, the stern paddler holds it steady and the bow paddler climbs in and over the gear to the front.  Once safely seated, the stern paddler steps in and pushes off.  This actually only takes a few minutes.

Both paddlers out and pulling canoe over dam - with one on each side

Stern paddler holding canoe steady as bow paddler gets back in

Heading along river

First real sign of fall colour

We get to Rush Lake and discuss whether to stop at this side for the night or go across the 1000 metre portage.   After some group discussion, we decided to take the food, gear, pots and whatever else we could carry first so some could stay on the other side and start cooking while the rest of us returned for canoes and the remainder of the gear.   If we have to leave anything at this end it will be canoes, and we can come over in the morning to grab them while breakfast is being made.  Supper tonight was pita pizzas with onions, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, pepperoni and mozza cheese, all followed up with coffee, tea and ginger snaps.   The cheese melts way better if you put a pot lid over top of your pizza.  We had pretzels to eat while waiting for our pita pizzas to cook.

Supper served a la canoe

View from 2nd nights campsite

Tents and tarps are up - and it's supper time

Canoe carry on 1 km portage

View from the back on a portage

Our evening discussion was around relationships – good and bad that we have had.  It was a good discussion between all of us, with lots of variety in life experiences.   As we had set up our tents earlier, we headed off to bed, but not until Brian passed around the cookies and leftover pretzels.

DAY 3 – Friday Sept 30

Good morning 🙂

Breakfast today was Oatmeal with berries and sunflower seeds.   Very tasty.   Some of us had tea and the rest made camp coffee.

It was a nice day when we got to Sporting Lake.   We went canoeing up the lake and Hantford bet that nobody could get on top of a big boulder without assistance.   3 of them made it up, but we think there was some shenanigans in the attempt behind the boulder.

This one's self explanatory

We then went on to an ecological reserve,  aptly called Sporting Lake Island, that nobody is allowed to overnight on.

Rafted up while Hantford explains the history of the 3 islands that are ecological reserves

It is a protected ecosystem, so we had time to wander around the island and once everyone was back at the canoes we had lunch – pepperoni, cheese, bagles, various spreads (hummus, cream cheese), tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

where we entered the 1st island

A wanderin we will go

Large erratic on the island

With all the quiet there is plenty of time for reflection

or maybe a nap in a patch of soft moss

View along the shore

Burl on tree

An island off to the side as we headed down lake

We then left the island and stopped at a rock in the middle of the lake with a split going all the way down.  Jason wormed his way into this crack and managed to get all the way through to the other side.   After some additional paddling we headed back to camp to start supper.

Afternoon break - tough place - good for swimming and rock collecting - and eating GORP

Small islands with trees growing on them

Tonight supper was Pasta with textured vegetable protein , sauce, peanuts and cheese.  After cleanup we discussed who some of our mentors were and how they had influenced who we are, what we do, or what we aspire to be.   We also talked about some of the ways in which we mentor others without even realizing it.

This is usually the night where we have an option to do a solo night away from the camp.  Phil was the only one this year who headed off to a spot he had seen earlier that day.   We wished him well, sat around the fire for a while then headed off to our tents.

DAY 4 – Saturday Oct 1

I was up at 7 this morning and as I was first up, I got the fire going.  We had heavy rain during the night so most of the firewood we had gathered was now rather wet.   Well a pyro like me likes a challenge and after a few minutes had a fire going (lots of hissing and smoke – the hissing was the fire not me), put the water on to boil and enjoyed the fire till the rest woke up.

An early morning walk on a leaf littered trail - wet too

After a breakfast of bannock with peanut butter and jam and dry cereal, we discussed whether it made sense to take the tents down to move to another camp site this evening or whether it was better to leave things as they were (everything was dry at this point) and do day trips from this campsite.   After bantering it back and forth, we decided it made more sense to stay put at this campsite and continue with day trips – so first things first – we headed out to gather more firewood to last another day or so.

We spent the morning investigating an old weir dam that was in place back in the day when they did log drives on this river system.

View along river where logs were driven - standing on old weir dam

Root mass over rocks

A beautiful view on a drizzly day

Wooden portion of original dam

Rock portion of dam

One more view from the dam

Curly lichen

After lunch (pita sandiches of tuna/kippers, cheese, cucumber, spreads and soup), we geared up and got into the canoes for our first foray into a side stream that turned out to be for naught as the beaver dam that would normally elevate the water further up was broken open and there was not enough water to get the canoes any further.

Mushrooms growing in floating bog

Pitcher plant growing along edge of bog

Getting out was not an option as it was nothing but floating bog in all directions.   So we turned around and made our way back to the main lake and stopped at the 3rd island (in a group with the ones from yesterday) and walked around for a while.  This island was completely different in tree species, age of trees and types of trees than the other two.  Interesting as they are so close together.

We headed back to camp and it was still raining (rained pretty much all morning and afternoon).  We changed out of any wet clothes, hung them in the tents to maybe dry, kept the fire going and had a snack (cookies & Gorp) with tea in the afternoon.   Supper today was rice and bean curry.  It contained rice, chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, onions and garlic, veggies and cheese.   Very tasty and a bit spicy.  Oatmeal cookies with coffee and tea rounded out the meal.

DAY 5 – Sunday Oct 2

Still wet out this morning.   We have a breakfast of porridge with raisins, sunflower seeds and coconut and began the task of packing our gear and tents.   Everything will be wet but we are on our way out today.  Looks like it will be a dreary paddle – but a good one nonetheless – there is no such thing as a bad day paddling.

Morning view

A wet portage

This trail had no leaves on it 2 days ago

The rain sure brings out the colours of the leaves covering the trail

Heading down the last stretch of Sporting Lakes Stream on our way to the vehicles

And back at the start

And with that, this ends another excellent canoe trip in the Tobeatic.  It is good to have a variety of weather, and rain when you are canoeing doesn’t really cause any problems.  It lets you wear your rain gear for one, rather than take it home unused.  I really dislike packing something and then never using it.

In closing all I can say is:

HAPPY PADDLING

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