Opeongo Backcountry Camping by Water Taxi- w Maryann & Randy

Since my Level 1 and Level 2 Sea Kayaking courses, I’ve been wanting to do a trip with my friends,  Maryann and Randy, that I met through the courses at OSKC.

This weekend was finally it and I was so excited to be camping with them after all this time!

They had advised me of a cool way they sometimes camp in the backcountry, or should I say glamp?  And that is to go by water taxi on Lake Opeongo directly to a site.  I had heard of this but had never done it and didn’t know much about it, but it sounded interesting and as I’d had a very busy schedule of late, I thought it would be a great way to do a backcountry trip and also get some relaxing in, and boy was I right!

Even Ralphie seems to be enjoying the ride.

We met at Lake Opeongo, Access #11 and the water taxi that was booked, Opeongo Outfitters, was there and waiting for us.  The gentleman’s name was Brandon and him and his family had run this service for a very very long time. In fact, Opeongo Outfitters has been running a water taxi service here for over 80 years and currently has 4 boats in their fleet, all 19 foot cedar boats.  Algonquin Outfitters also runs water taxi’s out of Lake Opeongo and I hear they also do a great job.

We chatted with Brandon for a bit about where we’d like to go in the North Arm as that is where the site was booked for, and after my kayak, my friends canoe and all our gear was loaded up, we sped off to find a great site for the weekend! We ended up with this gem below and set up fairly quickly.  It was around 8pm when we got to site, Randy and Maryann had gotten stuck in a bit of traffic but Brandon just waited for them patiently and still took us out to the site.  Pretty amazing service!

The site was gorgeous, although there wasn’t a lot of wind to blow the bugs away, otherwise it was perfect!  After we set up we poured a cocktail and had a snack and relaxed by the fire.  I was definitely glamping this weekend and happy about it.  I’d never glamped in the backcountry and I had to admit, it was pretty awesome.  We just came in to our site, approximately 15 kms from the access point and in less than a half hour were situated on a remote campsite that did not take us 3-6 hours to paddle to! Pretty cool indeed!

We spent the night by the fire chatting and catching up. I was anxious to explore the area tomorrow and do some fishing, so we headed to bed around midnight to get some rest for the next day.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day that promised to be warm and summery.  The best kind!  I made up an egg sandwich and Maryann and Randy had egg wraps full of a whole bunch of yummy stuff. After we ate, we cleaned up and packed our boats to go do some fishing. But first, Maryann showed me how to tie a different knot for my lures and helped me add a few weights to my line.

We headed out and were fishing using jigs and salted minnows that Maryann had purchased from Opeongo Outfitters.  We would basically just sit in our boats and drop the line until it hit the bottom (went slack) and then turn the reel a few rounds to bring it up slightly and sit and wait for a bite or a nimble.  This was my first time fishing in my kayak so I had tied down everything just in case I got a big fish on my line and went for a swim!

We spent a few hours fishing and I did get a few bites, but that was about it.  We headed back to site for some lunch and ended up taking a nap for a bit afterwards.  This was definitely a relaxing trip!

After our naps we decided to head to the little beach by our site and go for a swim. The water was much colder than other lakes I have swam in this summer so far, but it was still refreshing and enjoyable.

After our swim, it was time to make some dinner.  Seems like all we were doing was relaxing and eating and eating some more! hahaha.

I had enjoyed the pizzas I made on my trip with The Happy Camper so much I’d decided to make them again.  This time the toppings were rehydrated marinated artichoke hearts and tomatoes, and prosciutto with pesto base and mozzarella cheese! It was soooo good.

After dinner we headed out for a sunset paddle and got a pretty nice show.  The bugs also received a good feast, but sometimes these things are worth it.  LOL

photo by Maryann Kearney Bolton

We headed to bed fairly early in hopes of getting an early start tomorrow and getting out to explore on the water for  a few hours before heading out and back to reality.

I hit the water just before 6:30 and headed to the opposite side of the sunrise.  I did this for a few reasons. The sunrise was always nice but generally I find a lot of the colour is in the sky opposite to it. Also, I wanted to get into the actual sunbeam which I could see in that direction, in order to actually see the sun rising from behind the trees. And, I wanted to paddle into a few bays at that end of the lake that I was hoping I’d get some mirror in, and possibly see some wildlife as it’s very swampy at that end.  I was granted all of it and I was truly grateful!

The closer to the marshy swamp area I came to the better I could see the loons.  I got my zoom lens on in hopes of getting a close up and when I looked through it, I was pretty excited.  There were 2 loons and 2 babies!!!

(sorry for the shakiness of the video)

I sat and watched them for quite a while keeping as much distance as possible.  I think I am going to have to learn how to speak loon, or at least understand it.  I’m guessing they are saying something like “why is this crazy lady following us, hey seagulls, come poop on her head!!!”  LOL

After the loon show I figured I should get back to camp. It was after 7a and I needed to eat, pack up my stuff and get ready for the day. The water taxi was scheduled to pick us up at 2pm, so if we wanted to get out and do some exploring, we would have to get a move on.

Breakfast today was basically the same as yesterday. Yesterday it was ham, cheese and egg on an english muffin, today it was bacon and egg on an english muffin. I know, not super creative but sometimes, it’s nice just to do something easy.

I got busy tearing down the site and packing all my stuff. It didn’t take very long and soon we were ready to go fishing.  My friend Maryann suggested I change the line on my fishing rod as it was really old and would probably snap if I got a big fish. I wasn’t sure how to do it, so she gave me a little lesson and we fixed it all up.  Thanks for the help lady!

With our site all packed and ready for pick up (lol) we headed out to do some exploring and a bit more fishing on the way.

The water was incredibly smooth and calm for the time of day it was.  I was totally amazed.

It was almost mirror in a lot of places in the big open water area and total glass in the bays.   I would never have expected a lake this big to be so calm and still.

Check out this cool mirror shot that Maryann took of me! Amazing!  (thank you Maryann)

The time soon came for us to head back to the site, have some lunch and wait for our ride back to the put in, now the take out. LOL.  I had some turkey kielbasa and cheese and Randy pulled out his stick stove to make some lamb kebobs.  (see the full youtube video for more info).  Shortly after we finished eating, Matt from Opeongo Outfitters arrived with the boat to pick us up.

With everything and everyone loaded onto the boat, we sped off towards Access #11 and our return to reality.  It started to rain on the way, and then pour. It was quite a wet ride to say the least, but none of us seemed to mind.

Shortly after that, we were tying our boats up onto our vehicles and saying our goodbyes.

What a fun weekend and a cool experience.  If you haven’t yet tried water taxi backcountry camping, I would highly suggest giving it a chance.

Big thanks to Maryann, Randy and Ralphie for putting up with me all weekend, for waiting for me to retake videos and take photos and for providing me with a few as well.  I had a wonderful time and I hope we can all go out again sometime soon!

If you have any questions, concerns or just want to say hi, please leave a comment.

Happy Camping!

Camper Christina

 

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9 thoughts on “Opeongo Backcountry Camping by Water Taxi- w Maryann & Randy

  1. Oh, I so want to do the water taxi thing now! You had the best of the lake by skipping the long difficult grind to get to your beautiful site! Smart cookie, Christina!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Avery Brothers (Opeongo Outfitters) are a classy bunch of guys. They organized my trip for me when I flew in from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, and my canoe was waiting for me at Crotch Lake. 17 days later I came out at Opeongo Lake and one of the Avery Brothers (Matt I believe) gave me a tour of entire Opeongo. Since then (2001), I have always used this outfitter for all my needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Ken! Yes Matt and his brother Brandon both assisted us, one on the way in and one on the way out. Seem like great guys. My friends drove in from Toronto and were late and they stayed until 7:30 waiting for them. When they arrived they had their bags of wood and minnows and were happy, helpful and didn’t seem bothered in the least for having to work late on a friday night. You don’t seem that type of dedication these days. It was really refreshing and greatly appreciated.

      Like

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