I had plans to head over and visit my kayaking coach for some training in preparation of my Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructor Course, but as sometimes plans do, they were moved to another day during the week. This put me at 8am on a Saturday morning, kayak on car all ready to go, and no plans for the weekend.
Guess I could start my kayak camping season after all? You didn’t have to twist my arm! By 930, I was packed and in the car and on my way to the Algonquin Highlands smiling and happy happy!
I’d finished my 2016 kayak camping season at Big East Lake, right across the street. It was a really nice place and the people at the Halliburton Highlands Water Trails office were so nice to me, I’d decided this would be the perfect place to start my 2017 season.
I portaged my boat down the short trail to Bentshoe Lake, went up to move my car to the parking lot across the street, came back, packed up my boat, put on my drysuit and off I went with a big huge grin on my face!
I took a deep breath and was happy to smell some of the smells of spring. In the winter, you can sort of smell the pine, but not like in the spring, summer and fall. It wasn’t overpowering but it was there and I loved it!
Already many colors were popping out from the slumber of winter and my eyes felt like they were at a feast. It was so nice to see colors, and although winter, snow and I are now friends, I still lived for this time of year!
I picked a site out on the map at home and as there were only 2 cars in the parking lot, I was hoping they were over at Big East or one of the lakes off of it. Upon arrival, I discovered they were and I currently was the only person on the lake. SUCH PEACE!!!
I set up my tent with a view.
It didn’t take long as my new Marmot Tungsten is super easy to put up and at the moment the wind was quiet and the sun was heating up the day!
Once I got set up, I ate a wrap I’d packed for lunch and headed out to explore Bentshoe Lake.
There were 2 portages off of Bentshoe. One was 200m into Lower Crane Lake, the other was a 400m portage into Poker Lake. I walked the 200m to Lower Crane and it seemed more like a 1000m portage to me, maybe because a lot of it was uphill, or maybe because I just wasn’t in portage mode today, but regardless, I decided not to do do it.
I spent a few hours reading my booklet until I got sleepy eyed. Sitting in the warm sun, even if it’s not super warm out, and reading, made me ready for a nap, but instead, I went to gather firewood and wake myself up.
After I finished all my chores, I sat and relaxed for a bit just staring at the scenery. I was delighted I had decided to jump in the car and head here, but it was a little bit surreal still. My last camping trip was in snow with my tipi and a wood stove and this was definitely a big contrast to that. But now, it was Spring and I couldn’t be happier.
I was pretty hungry from my light lunch and long busy day, so I got a fire started and got dinner going. I brought a package of basmati rice from the Dollarama, a can of cocktail shrimp and some oyster sauce and soy sauce. I know, pretty basic, but I did pack in less than 2 hours and having colitis, I liked simple, so simple it was.
I poured a bit of olive oil into the frying pan and then mixed up the shrimp in it and a bit of garlic powder. I added the precooked rice, added the soy and oyster sauce and pretty much mixed it all together to heat it up. Done deal. In minutes I was sitting in the sunshine enjoying my meal. YUM!
I did some more reading after dinner in between stoking the fire and taking pictures and videos of the mirror lake that was forming and of the sun starting to go down. Such magical moments always. Time for a sunset paddle!
Sunrise and sunset are my favorite times to paddle, mostly due to the stillness and mirror like quality of the water. I love paddling on the still lake, listening to the loons, the birds and any creatures in the forest and absolutely nothing else. It is the most magical time of the day for me and I was truly grateful the weather was being so lovely for me this weekend!
I returned back to my beautiful site and hung up my drysuit for the evening. I sat enjoying the fire and listening to the loons. It was the first time I’d heard them this year and I was delighted they had returned and were on the lake, or a nearby one. Too far away to record them, but hopefully, I would get another chance before I went home.
I had not brought a pot, just my solo cook kit from UST, so I decided I’d start heating up water for my nalgene and hot water bottle. I hate the cold, regardless of the season and it was expected to get down to -3 overnight. Yes, I had a -40 extreme Marmot sleeping bag, but I got cold at night and anything to help me stay warm, was welcomed.
I also had my super bright 30 day duro lantern from UST, which lit up my tent more than sufficiently. I figured if I was going to read in my tent, I would need lots of light, so I hung it upside down, one of it’s great features, and it did an amazing job!
Warm and cozy in my heated sleeping bag (thanks to the nalgene bottle and hot water bottle) I read for a bit and then headed to sleep. I listened to an owl hoot hoot hooting away for a long time, then the loons calling. I felt so blessed and lucky to be enjoying such awesome sounds of nature, I didn’t even want to sleep, but eventually I gave in.
I woke up to go to the privy at 5:45 and it was not warm at all outside. I crawled back into my cozy sleeping bag and checked the temperature and the time of sunrise. It wasn’t expected to be up until 6:18am, but having done this more than a few times, I also knew the best pictures usually came from the time before the sun actually rose. I didn’t want to get up, but myself forced myself to get up, lol. I crawled into my drysuit which made me feel so much warmer and headed out to my kayak.
Tangii was frozen!!! LOL. Poor thing. My compass was frosted over and frozen, what looked like solidly and my boat was covered in frost as well. She would survive and thankfully, I did not need the compass where I was, so off I went into the freezing fog, collecting coldness from the air as I paddled, but not caring due to the beauty I saw on the way.
So many pictures, but out of the 40ish I took that morning, I narrowed it down to my favourite 8, lol. I honestly love them all.
I headed over a shallow area I’d discovered yesterday and hoped to find some wildlife and I actually did this time. Just a beaver, or several beavers, I’m still not sure, as they were playing hide and seek with me, but it was kind of fun.
It would let me see it from afar, i would take a few pictures or videos, then paddle a wee bit closer, and just when I got close enough to get a good picture, it would duck under the water and disappear.
I would paddle where I thought it was headed, then wait, and it would pop up somewhere else, I would then paddle to it, and again, it would duck. It certainly felt like a big game of Whack-A-Mole without the bonking on the head and the mole being a beaver, but I was definitely not winning. Regardless, it was fun and I got a few photos, not the greatest, but they make me happy so that’s enough for me.
Then sadly, it popped under the water and didn’t return. I waited patiently, but I was now getting very cold and my right hand was falling asleep (a side effect of the wrist gaskets on the drysuit until I broke it in). I decided it was time to head back to my site. I was still really tired and now damp and cold so crawling into my sleeping bag for a bit sounded heavenly, so I did just that and slept for a wee bit longer.
I woke up to the sound of loons. Nothing like the perfect Sunday morning! They were nearby and I loved hearing them any time day or night. I got up and while I was making breakfast, they landed on the lake right in front of my site, which is where the video above was taken. Welcome back loons. I’ve missed you terribly and am so grateful you came to visit me and sing me a little song! PURE JOY!
I took my time puttering around the site. I shot a few videos for some of my UST products which will be shared on my youtube channel once they are ready, did a bit of packing, and eventually made some breakfast. I heated up some water to make some hot chocolate and then made toast with over easy eggs on top.
After I cleaned up my breakfast dishes, which on day 2 of a 2 day trip, entailed me wiping the dishes with a wet paper towel and putting them away to clean them at home… hahaha, I got my tent and gear all packed up and ready to head out. I was also happy to see my compass had defrosted and was back to normal from what I could tell?
As I had to get back into my drysuit, I thought it would be the perfect place to record a video on how I do that (another video for my youtube channel and for Kokatat who sent the dry suit to me).
Sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Bentshoe Lake.
I hope you enjoyed my first kayak camping trip of 2017 and you come back to check out more of my posts. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I am able to.
I have a really REALLY exciting trip coming up soon, so stay tuned!!!
Check out the video on this trip here.