Sunday, September 18

Don't you need water to canoe?
(Chris Lawson Photo)

We had done Ishpatina Ridge ahead of our planned schedule to take advantage of the good weather. Now we had a whole spare day, and the weather was still good, at least so far.

After the usual breakfast of instant oatmeal and hot chocolate (everyone had brought instant oatmeal) we put the boats into the water to explore further south. First, we looked at a private cottage on the south shore where we had seen a float plane docked on the previous day, then we went through the passage into Woods Lake. This was full of rocks, and gave about three inches of clearance on all sides of the canoe if navigated perfectly, which the experienced canoeists did with aplomb. Lisa and I bumped our way through badly, with much trepidation on my part about rental surcharges for canoe damage.

The passage into Little Scarecrow Lake was worse, a creek section several hundred metres long where there was not enough water to float a canoe at all. In the end, the only thing that would do was to unload the canoe and float/drag it over the creek bottom.

Beautiful sunset between rain episodes
At the far end of the lake, we saw an ATV crossing the creek. This was our first sign of motorized civilization in two days. In this particular type of provincial park, motorized traffic is permitted. Where the ATV had crossed was the wreck of a wooden bridge, submerged in the water, another fairly unreliable looking wooden bridge going over that, and 10 metres beyond, a gravel bottom where (with this water level) even a Honda Civic could have forded. We had to get out of the canoes to thread them through all this. The road where the ATV had gone looked very good. It occurred to me that with a suitable vehicle, one could bring a canoe to this point and do Ishpatina Ridge as a daytrip.

We now found ourselves in Hamlow Lake, which has a complex shape and islands as well, and matched my previous mental stereotype of canoe touring, where you navigate through twisting, turning, connected waterways. Since it was lunchtime we looked for a nice place to land and sit, and when we found it, it was right on an overgrown logging road that turned out to be a portage into Stull Creek. It did not appear to be much used.

After lunch, with the weather turning worse but providing, for once, a tailwind, we headed back. By the time we got into Woods Lake, it started to rain. I thought with dismay of Lisas's and my hiking boots, sitting out in the open at the campsite, but that was nothing to Michael and Chris's distress, as they had left their tent uncovered! So they paddled extra fast and left us behind.

By the time Lisa and I arrived at the island, the rain had stopped, and the hiking boots, which had only gotten a little damp, rescued. I was wet and cold by this time from wind and rain, and decided it would probably not be much worse if I just went into the lake to wash off. This I did, with my biodegradable soap. I was later admonished that biodegradable soap is not for use in open water, only for dumping your soap suds well back in the woods.

The weather turned nice again, and we had a great dinner (cooked by Ken: Fettucine Alfredo with tuna, and a carrot salad) and campfire. However, after dark, a thunderstorm drew up, and I discovered to my dismay that my tent floor was no longer watertight, and the tent, set up on one of the island's few suitable flat spots, had water running underneath. Thus it got wet inside, and we had to sleep on plastic garbage bags spread out on the floor. In the night, even after the rain had stopped, it was windy and I was not able to record the loon calls with my little audio recorder, as I had hoped.

Map of today's route (also available without annotation). All pictures for this day.

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