Burntroot Triplog 2007 - by Joe Zaleski

"Hey, Jon, I think I’ve got a lake nailed down that should get us some fish next spring".

"How long are the portages?" was the immediate response with a wisp of sarcasm tossed in on the last word of the question. But before I had time to feel any disappointment that he was wise to the demands of portaging after only one trip through the Dickson-Bonfield, he interrupted enthusiastically, "it doesn’t matter - as long as we’re base camping!" He was satisfied that our long conversations during the eleven hour drive home after last year’s trip weren’t forgotten and he even sounded genuinely excited to be getting back into the interior of Algonquin.

We had done the classic Big Crow/Lavieille/Dickson loop the previous year and learned several lessons:

    1 - Aluminum canoes, well, at least my 85 pound aluminum canoe, should never see Lake Lavieille again without being airdropped into it by a C-130 transport.

    2 - Broken bones in the foot eight weeks before departure complicate matters for both of us and cause heavy lifting for one of us, unfortunately that was me.

    3 - Base camping in one spot for a couple nights will free up more time for fishing and exploration and cause less time packing and unpacking at a different campsite.

    4 - If the airdrop from lesson #1 should ever actually occur, an airlift would be required for removal of said 85 pound beast because it’s not going to see that portage ever again!

Arriving at these conclusions may seem simple to a casual observer but any seasoned canoe tripper will likely agree that these lessons are really at the end of a long list of "teachable moments". Some of those can be salted away as "hey, that’s a good idea for next time", others are mildly embarrassing errors yet truly educational and finally there are those undeniably stupid moves that won’t ever make it to the printed page for fear of the impact on future generations.

This trip will be better. Not that the last one wasn’t tremendous fun, but we can have even more fun and not assault our aging frames with a 3.3 mile portage with what feels like aluminum railroad spikes being driven into my neck and shoulders.

If it isn’t in or on this car, we don’t need it!

To this end, the phone conversations started about six to nine months ahead of our mid-May journey and would begin as weekly affairs of perhaps ten or twenty minutes and usually dealt with "big picture" issues of what campsites we would stay at and just what route would allow as much time as possible to fishing and just wasting time without interruption.

There was a great deal of analysis that went into the route timing with estimates for travel speed on land and in the water but little of that information was shared with Jon. Not that he wouldn’t appreciate the details of the calculations, but merely because he might have given one quick look and said "weather dependent" and be painfully correct. But I couldn’t let that stop me from running through the options over and over in my head. I knew he was right but I still feel a need to frame our trip with time to ensure we make it back at the finish. I can leave the house Tuesday morning and have to be back by next Monday, other than that I guess there’s quite a bit of leeway.

Studying other triplogs on the Algonquin Adventures website and elsewhere on the internet was the first step and has long been a favorite past-time of mine. This year I had my mind set on Burntroot Lake. Fairly remote and a bit of a challenge to get to should limit the number of people we’ll see. Also, the prospect of fishing streams, lakes and maybe even some easy bushwhacking tossed in makes it a clear choice. The subsequent conversations over the phone or at holiday get-togethers became more and more detailed regarding menu selection and packing lists to make certain that all essential items were included and accounted for. When the day finally arrived, we had those goofy smiles splashed on our faces like two schoolboys daydreaming of homeruns or chocolate bars.

The many hours in the car are passed easily with small talk and small chores. Weather patterns, forecast low temperatures, wind speed and direction, pinching the barbs on all the new lures, a stop for dinner and gas then the next thing you know, we’re at the border. It’s a transition that Canadian visitors to Algonquin don’t get to enjoy. When the windows get rolled down and, despite a little diesel exhaust from the semi trailers we’ve been steadily passing in our eagerness to arrive, there is an undeniable scent of pine trees and freshwater. We have officially left the country and arrived in a new state of mind. Nicholson’s lunacy repeated "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Well, we will spend the next five nights honing a laser fine edge on our personalities with the majority of responsibilities and decisions being relegated to "which side of the canoe should I paddle on?" or "where should cast my lure next?"

Jon carrying the canoe on the Opeongo/Happy Isle portage. The first  
time his canoe came to Algonquin and he wanted to do the first carry.
We traded loads halfway.

The water taxi flew us up through Opeongo in no time at all. Twenty minutes, tops, and we were unloading at the portage landing to Happy Isle Lake. I’ve paddled the "Ope" before and have little desire to tempt fate with the bone chilling waters and fickle weather of a May crossing, especially after a gratifying four hours of fitful sleep and 15 miles of canoeing/portaging ahead to reach today’s destination. This portage is like some star trek transporter beam. My load can barely be felt and my feet don’t even seem to hit the ground. My eyes take in the beauty of the forest and the delightful workmanship of the few boardwalks built over the swampier sections. Many tracks dot the trail but we’re undoubtedly the first today with our arrival here at 6:30am. We are rewarded with fresh tracks of a cow and calf moose overtop of yesterday’s boot prints but the elusive creatures are not yet seen.

When the sparkling blue waters of Happy Isle are seen through the bare tree branches my fast pace only quickens. We arrive on the sandy landing and are both nearly giddy with excitement but I manage to remind myself to check my watch: 40 minutes from the time of drop-off and 35 from the time I picked up the canoe. With one brief stop in the middle this was a quick and easy portage, but the first one usually is. Another five minutes and a few adolescent posed photos later and our paddles are cutting the clear water. I run down my mental checklist. Not of items in pockets or packs for, if it is not here now, we certainly won’t need it. But instead the checklist is one of informational inventory. The lay of the land, the wind light and quartering from the south, the way the canoe is loaded, the way she responds quickly to minor adjustments with the paddle, possible escape routes should the weather suddenly turn, Jon’s solid and repetitive strokes in the front providing the motor…everything is in great order.

Looking out across Merchant Lake to spot next portage sign to Big Trout.

All continues well through Merchant Lake with the wind picking up slightly and we run into a group of trippers at the end of the one mile portage to Big Trout. They seem to dodge my questions on the quality of the fishing but my Penguins hat elicits questions about the Red Wings’ playoff status. I inform them that the Wings had taken a three games to none lead in their series against Dallas but wasn’t sure if they had finished them off yet but told them the wings had looked very strong. I also politely informed them it wouldn’t matter as Pittsburgh would win the Stanley Cup anyways but they didn’t seem to be amused. Hindsight being 20-20 I should’ve stuffed my hat into my pocket and merely nodded hello as Detroit would finish Pittsburgh in six. A little hopeful bragging never hurt anyone, right? I would get my just desserts the following spring and force the wings fans to watch Geno and The Kid hoist the cup over their head in "The Joe". But I digress…

Just downstream of the small beaver dam above Big Trout Lake.

We jumped into the canoe and paddled down the small stream, over a single beaver dam and into the swampy bay that leads into Big Trout Lake. It became immediately obvious that the wind was picking up significantly and would be working against us as we tried to maintain our forward momentum. Whitecaps were lapping at the gunwales even in this somewhat protected water. It was going on 11:30 in the morning and we ended up fighting our way into the lee of the first small island in the lake and decided to take our lunch break here after startling a black duck from its protected little bay. We didn’t waste much time and were back in the canoe after a quick bite and a few minutes to relax. We pulled out the rods and decided to troll across the lake and Jon was rewarded to the first laker of the trip. He fought like a boot but was a pretty specimen about 23" and maybe 3 pounds in weight. Since we had steaks thawing in the packs he was returned to his watery abode.

Get that laker in the canoe! It doesn’t count as caught unless it is measured and weighed.

As we approached the first island with a single campsite it became obvious we were in for a challenge with the waves. The wind was blowing hard from roughly due south and sending breaking rollers of 2’ – 3’ across the bay in front of us. We first worked our way into the lee of the peninsula then easily paddled out to the point and nosed the canoe into the waves and wind. After only ten or twenty yards we had waves breaking into the boat and difficulty in controlling the direction of the canoe without heading directly into the waves. This would have forced us to make an upwind run into the wind and waves for over a mile of open water that was nearly 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I hollered to Jon to switch sides and we’ll work back into the lee of the peninsula. Once in the safe abode of the calm lee we talked it over and the consensus was we’d wait out the wind on the island campsite. I like the park but it’s not worth dying for. In 20 minutes and we had a pack out and were reclining on two nice benches around the fire pit of the island site resigned to wait for the wind to blow itself out. We both closed our eyes and dozed off for 45 minutes of well deserved sleep but I was too antsy to get much more.

OK, it’s legit. Our first fish of the trip and only about 5 minutes into the troll.

I hopped up to survey the situation and did some basic figuring over the map to conclude we had to leave this site by 4pm in order to make it to a campsite in Redpine bay with time to cook dinner. It was already 2:30 and the wind showed no signs of waning. I enjoy the idea of letting everything go and just rolling with the punches but I couldn’t help but think that a good chunk of the next day will be spent tearing down camp, paddling and portaging to our destination and setting up camp again…all without much time for fishing. I rousted Jon from his sleep and tossed out an idea…if we were to start a fire now and cook our steaks and potatoes while the wind was howling, that would give us an extra hour or so of time with which to work with later in the day should wind let up and give us a chance to continue. We agreed it was a good plan and neither one of us would dare complain about a belly full of marinated delmonico steaks and baked potatoes!

While the steaks were sizzling I chanced to look out over the lake as I had been doing every five minutes and spotted a canoe crossing towards us! They were managing to cross and even taking the waves nearly broadside without apparent difficulty. Jon looked at me as if we had really goofed up but I wouldn’t budge. I reinforced my position that, for our canoe, with our load, I wasn’t comfortable making that crossing. Worse yet, should these lads skip a beat and begin to take on water or capsize I told Jon I wouldn’t be willing to try to go out and save them. That would only leave four dead instead of two. It made a good enough impact and we trust one another’s judgment enough that we were both satisfied with the decision and sat back down for some dinner. Spits of rain began and we hastily strung a tarp over the loose gear and it got around to about 4:30 when we looked at one another excitedly…was the wind backing off?

The nasty waves that kept us off the waters of Big Trout until the wind abated.
A more suitable canoe could have handled these waves.

When we concluded it was and what little front had pushed through was done, we packed up in record time and were on the water making fast headway across the lake. Only a few stray whitecaps in the two foot rollers were splashing in now and then and it was a very manageable crossing. In a little over an hour we were facing the short portage into Longer Lake and were impressed with the river of weeds we were traversing. The long tendrils were reaching up as if to touch the paddles but being swayed by the slow but constant current through the lake. A little more rain fell from some of the darker gray clouds but the wind had settled and we were off of the big water in safer surroundings.

We lined the canoe down through the 40 meter portage and ran the 70 meter easily and were turning the corner into Redpine Bay as our light was fading. Another 45 minutes and we were pulling into a protected site in the narrows recommended to me by BoKnows. This was the site they had stayed on some years before and experienced some odd goings-on but it was a protected site for spring and gives us access to Burntroot or Redpine regardless of how bad the weather might be. Within an hour we had the tent up; our gear was unloaded, tarps strung, food bag hung and a fire burning with a little time to rest our weary bones and chase off the evening chill. Sleep would come easily this night as the haunting calls of the loons drifted through the night air.

Day 2 – Redpine Tour and Bushwhack

Fantastic island campsite in Redpine Bay…one of the nicest I’ve ever seen.

Thunderbox too close, in my opinion, to the water’s edge.

We rose early the next morning and warmed up with coffee, tea and oatmeal then packed a daypack for some exploring. We did a slow trolling tour of Redpine Bay fishing good looking points and drop-offs pretty hard to no avail. The morning’s paddle was broken up with tours of the empty campsites (that would be all of them except the tall island site) and revealed a gnarled mess at the easternmost site in the bay. This site had been ravaged by some hard straight-line winds in the past month or two and hadn’t been used since. It appeared to be a nice site prior to the tumbling timber with one glaring weakness: the thunderbox was only a few meters from the lakeshore and less than a meter above the lake water level. I could envision the bacteria being carried like a conveyor belt in the groundwater after a rain and right into the lake. I was glad we have two treatment methods, the steripen and backup tablets in the emergency/first aid kit.

A stop at the rapids concluded the morning’s tour and finished on a high note as we put three panfry sized specks on the stringer and let a nicer 15" one go back from whence he came. We popped back into our site, cooked up the fish with some jambalaya then headed back out for a little more challenging trip.

Jon returning from Gormire bushwhack.
I had to tell a couple jokes to actually get him to smile for this picture as he wasn’t very happy!

We had hoped to bushwhack into Gormire Lake to give it a try for some lonely specks that haven’t seen a lure in a coon’s age. It was difficult, as bushwhacking usually is. But we decided to bring the canoe through the brush so as to make access to this little green lake a little easier. Sure, access to the lake was easier but the bushwhack is exponentially harder with a 65 pound red royalex hat and I was just dumb enough to volunteer to carry it!

Two strangely related items stick in my memory from this forty-five minute journey through the brush. The first was that I decided to remove my sunglasses as the shade of the woods made it difficult to see quite as clearly as I wished. I even thought to myself that the bit of protection they offered from flying twigs and branches wasn’t worth not being able to see where I was going to put my foot on each step. Not thirty seconds later I caught a branch on the canoe and it released and slapped back across my face and right in my eye! Of course, any eye injury feels much worse than it really is and I wasn’t really worried until we got to the lake and Jon peered into my eye to remove the chunks of wood that must be in there irritating my eye but none were to be found. I felt the effects of that for the next two days with a sensation of having some object stuck in my eye and much greater sensitivity to light as well.

To add insult to injury, when we were fruitlessly paddling around Gormire I realized I no longer had my sunglasses! Upon returning to shore I hunted high and low with no result. Rats. Well, at least they were free…I had gotten them on a business trip as a gift to the sales force. Only upon returning did I look them up on the internet to see what a replacement pair would cost…$200.00 for Maui Jim Sunglasses??? Holy crap! I never would’ve dreamed of taking them into the interior had I known what they were worth! Should you be in the vicinity of Gormire Lake please look for my lost shades (don’t bother taking your fishing rods…the lake didn’t show signs of large fish life). I trust that if you should find them you’ll look me up and return them, right? Jon was nice enough to carry the canoe back out…after I had cut the trail in for him!

The long island near the south end of Burntroot. The anchor is visible on the island. Its another beautiful site.

The Cormorant on the left of this photo is actually ejecting his stomach contents to ward off intruders.

We returned to Burntroot and did and evening troll and casting session with a visit to the long island with a campsite on each end (the southwestern one is the anchor site). The small island just north of it appears to be a rookery for the Cormorants and is already visibly damaged from their acidic expulsions. We didn’t quite have time for a trip into the Barnet Depot corner as the light was fading but we’ll save that for another visit in the future. After dark we returned to our site and enjoyed a fire under the stars with very light winds and comfortable temperatures. We slept heavily again with no interruptions except the welcome loon calls. They barely wake you and are so fluid that they seem to hold you in a dreamy state where you’re almost aware that you are in a distant land and extremely satisfied about it.

Day 3 – Tour of Burntroot to Portal Rapids

Morning mist rising in the narrows between Burntroot and Redpine Bay.

The following morning we were up early and fished our way north through Burntroot to Portal Rapids without even a bite. The fish are most definitely "off" on this trip and we were hoping to include one in our dinner plan this afternoon! We beached the canoe on the island between the rapids and fished each side with little luck then both met on the upstream end of the northern rapid. Jon hooked a nice speck that looked to be about two pounds. Without a net (we never take one, just use leather gloves to handle the jaw of the fish) and with my gloves back in the boat, I volunteered to land it for him. I hopped down off the tall boulder and onto some smaller rocks below and he skillfully directed the fish to me. I managed the grab him behind the gill but wasn’t happy with my grip and how easy it would be for him to wriggle loose so I thought for a moment how I might improve my lot.

Historic structure near Portal Rapids. It has a chimney so it may not be a root cellar.

The fish must have seen the indecision in my eye and knew this was his opportunity. He let loose a mighty muscular spasm that freed him from my grip but as gravity pulled him towards the water the trailing hook of the rapala sunk deep into the palm of my left hand at the base of my thumb. I winced for a moment as the fish now hung from one end of the lure and the other was securely fastened to the meat of my hand. Not more than a second went by and I realized I needed to unhook myself before I unhook this fish. As I reached for the hook he shook furiously once again. His aim was truly "spec"tacular as he deftly lodged the forward treble hook into the thumb of my right hand! I was now effectively handcuffed by this dastardly trout with a hook stuck in each hand. He lingered long enough to inspect his handiwork then, satisfied that I was secure, shuddered one last time to free himself from the hook.

Jon looked down in disbelief, jaw hanging limply, torn between admonishing me for the clumsy series of errors that led to our dinner escaping, yet somewhat pitying my pathetic, bound plight. He muttered "are you OK?" still somewhat stunned from the series of events that just transpired in front of him. I assessed my situation and was able to remove first one hook then the other and produced a good trickle of blood from each extremity. I dared not allow it to get in the water and give that fish the satisfaction of tasting his victory over me…I will plot revenge for another day!

Fortunately, we use barbless hooks, otherwise this could have been an introduction to surgical procedures with a filet knife for Jon and I would have been the unwilling patient. Also, I always carry my first aid kit wherever we go so I quickly got the wounds cleaned with antiseptic wipes, applied an antibacterial agent and then a band aid on each. Other than some mild discomfort from having a hook temporarily buried in my hand, they healed quickly and cleanly without interruption to the rest of the trip. We retired to the campsite alongside the portage, enjoyed a quick exploration of the structure there and built a surefire birch bark fire starter with which we cooked up some black beans and rice. That terrible trout turned us into vegetarians for this meal. Ah well, live to fight another day!

The “Birchbomb” fire starter. It’s amazing what one can do with resources and too much time on one’s hands!

The "Birchbomb" was a brainchild of mine to start a fire in a firepit without a grate. We adjusted the rocks of the round pit to form a smaller rectangle…almost like a mini canyon about as wide at the top as our pot for boiling water. This unique fireplace would call for a long and slender fire to heat the cooking vessel so I found a piece of birch tree that the interior wood had rotted away but left the exterior bark as a complete hollow cylinder. I stuffed it with dry pine needles and tinder and was able to light a small corner and it took off like it was soaked in kerosene. In no time we were cooking up our meat free meal and I was just as proud as a peacock having constructed such a cool incendiary device!

Two dudes in a canoe enjoying summer-like weather in mid May.

A leisurely paddle back up through Burntroot brought us back to our campsite around five or six in the evening with no further fish but we enjoyed some truly beautiful weather and camaraderie between Jon and I. We decided this trip would be known as the "Blame boat" sung to the tune of the "Love Boat" theme. Jon insisted I didn’t want to lose the bet for largest fish, most fish, etc. and effectively blamed me for him never getting to land his fish. There was much blame to go around for the variety of injuries, ailments and fishing failures and we playfully hammered each other at every opportunity. The canoe would drift slightly to the left and I would ask, "Whose fault is that?" Smoke would drift in Jon’s eyes around the fire and immediately I was the guilty party to cause the wind shift. Obviously I wouldn’t have ever hooked myself in both hands just to win a bet though. Well, probably not. I guess it depends on just how badly I wanted to win that bet.

Jon and his 17” spec – caught and released.

That evening our luck turned as we either found the right spot or the fish finally gave up on their three day fast and we landed a half dozen specks in a ninety minute time span. I had the enviable position of catching the two largest ones, a 23" 3.25 pound beauty and a 19" 2 pounder but Jon also managed to haul in a couple respectable 17" specs. All were returned to the water unharmed after being measured, weighed and photographed.

Joe with my 23” spec – caught on a rapala X-rap and released.

We were all smiles that evening around the fire and were treated to a first for us both – the sound of a wolf howl from the ridge towards Lake la Muir. At first we were uncertain if it was just some odd distant loon call but upon hearing it several more times it was unmistakably different. A cocktail was enjoyed that evening but again sleep called us to our tent before all of the stars were even visible and we knew an early start was required for the long haul back to Happy Isle.

Day 4 – Working Our Way Out

Two moose in the rain on Redpine Bay shoreline.

The following morning we broke camp and headed out into the rain to begin the trek homeward. Paddling up through Redpine Bay, Jon got to see his first moose in the interior with a cow and a calf making a brief appearance along the shoreline. They were in a hurry and didn’t allow a close approach of more than 100 meters and we had a destination in mind anyways, so we parted ways quickly.

We made short work of the 735 meter portage, single carrying as always and picking up some garbage left by careless trippers, then launched into Lake LaMuir. We trolled across as the rain continued but yesterday’s fish wake-up must have been a fleeting moment as we didn’t have even a bite but enjoyed the relatively calm, cool and damp crossing. After la Muir, we made our way over the four low maintenance portages through to Merchant Lake. These portages were in good shape with a few blow downs that were easily hurdled or circumnavigated and just a ton of moose sign along the portage to Deer Yard Lake.

We came across one of the finest and most picturesque interior portage landings that I’ve ever seen at the north end of Hemlock Lake. The setting was serene, the trees dripping large drops all around us as if politely applauding their own beauty. We had to stop about half way through the last portage and give our legs a rest as these short paddles of five minutes across a lake don’t give time enough to rest the more weary portaging muscles. One advantage of these multiple short portages is that it hones your skills at unloading and loading quickly. As long as you don’t have a lot of gear spread out all over the place, you usually can get on and off a portage very quickly. If you’ve been removing items from the pack and not replacing them, your loose items and time spent finding a home for those will be higher. We took a couple minutes to munch down some trail mix, drink plenty of water and finish a granola bar then restarted on our way.

We’re actually two very nice and friendly guys. It just doesn’t look like it in this picture!
Note that you don’t need a horizontal canoe rest – any two trees close together will do just fine.

This was the finest boardwalk and canoe landing I’ve ever seen…the curvature of the cut logs
made for a visually gorgeous scene. Near Deer Yard Lake or Hemlock, I forget which!

Once on Merchant Lake the skies brightened somewhat and it yielded a single small laker to one of Jon’s lures. There was a lot of activity with a variety of canoeists out enjoying the temporary respite from the precipitation, either fishing or just bouncing around from one end to the other. The break wouldn’t last long as the skies darkened while finishing the portage back over to Happy Isle.

We pushed off and tossed our lures out and I got snagged almost immediately…until my snag started fighting hard! With the aggressive, pulsed tugging I thought it certainly felt like a big speck but it was fighting deep and slow as it approached the boat. A turn of its side maybe 15 feet below us made it look like the gray of a lake trout but when it came up a little closer to the surface it turned out to be a smallmouth bass! I was tremendously surprised, as I wasn’t aware that there were even smallies in Happy Isle and it was a substantial one at that. It was also 23" and weighed in at 4 pounds even – although that same fish would have to weigh between 5 and 6 pounds in July or August as it looked as if it had just made it through a long and difficult winter living on the fat reserves of last year. I slid him back into the water and his dark back disappeared with one powerful swoosh of his tail. I now had caught the largest smallmouth and speckled trout of my life within 24 hours of one another!

It was cold, wet and windy when we got to this site on Happy Isle.
On another day it might have been a more appealing campsite.

Shortly after releasing the fish, the skies released a barrage on us of pea sized hail. As the suspicious "ker-plunks" began around us we made a mad dash for the cover of trees at shore that was only 50 yards away but by the time we got there the assault diminished into just a cold blowing rain. We wrapped up the poles and started digging hard for our last site of the trip and ended up taking one of the sites close to the portage to Redrock Lake. This was an awful site with a pathetic landing, steep bank to haul our gear up and heavily trodden down all around the fire pit and tenting area. But we were cold, wet and tired by this point so…beggars can’t be choosers!

We had the tent up in no time and a smoky smoldering fire was started but just wouldn’t grow hot enough to satisfy our desires. We pulled out all of the contents of the food bag and boiled a couple pots of water rehydrating a variety of foods from mashed potatoes to freeze dried chicken teriyaki entrees and downed them all relentlessly. The wind continued to blow in off the lake and we took one tarp and made a shield but it only served to hold the smoke around us like a cloud. We found that keeping the bottom of the tarp about a foot off the ground allowed enough wind to get through to clear the air but not so much so that it was chilling. We dried out what clothing we could and Jon managed to mildly melt the soles of his boots, while, of course, blaming me for it in some circuitous line of reasoning that I cared not to follow. At that point, I was willing to take the blame for all careless behaviors! We ended up getting into the tent around 9 or 9:15 while it was still light but we were just spent from a long day after a series of long days.

Day 5 – Homeward Bound

Happy Isle in the morning. What a difference a day makes!

We rose early and had to pack and get on the move as our shuttle was scheduled for an 8 am pick up at the other end of the portage to Opeongo. While crossing our final portage we ran across three trippers coming in…one guy carrying the canoe, another guy carrying a small pack and a few hand held loose items and then, about five minutes later, a young lady who was carrying two backpacks! I don’t know how those guys finagled that maneuver, but kudos to them! I carried the canoe the length of the portage without stopping or resting as my stamina was now at its peak and arrived at the landing just as the taxi was motoring to a stop.

It was one of those days where even the big water was barely rippled by light and fitful breezes. We easily could have paddled down through the lake to the landing today but when we made the reservations we had no idea what the weather would prove to have in store for us so we’re better safe than sorry. I’ve ridden large rollers down a deserted Opeongo at 6:30 in the morning in a loaded canoe where the passage became a combination of canoeing and surfing but it is very un-nerving.

That was me paddling to make the boat go this fast!

To be able to kick back and let the wind rip through your hair, er, what’s left of it, is a fitting topper on another fantastic trip. However, it is always a bittersweet sight and sound when the taxi pulls up…the sounds, sights and smells of the rest of the world will begin to creep back into the forefront and force the memories of loons, pines, fish and friends deeper into the recesses of one’s mind. All I have to do now is find someone to blame for that process…

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