I had been go go go and I needed a bit of a break. I,  of course, didn’t want to stay home though, so I planned a quick trip to one of my favorite areas, the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails.  I found a site on a lake called East Paint Lake that was all by itself.  To get there I just needed to do a short paddle and an 823m portage. Easy peasy!  Booked it and packed my stuff up!

I would bring my little Perception Tribute kayak. It was 12 feet and weighed 40 lbs and was fairly easy to portage.  I had not done many trips with it this year and thought she would enjoy a little outing.  I had a bit of an issue on my way to the put in. I put in (LOL) the name of the lake into my gps and not the access point and ended up on the wrong side of the lake. I called the park office and Dylan gave me the exact coordinates and found out I’d lost a half hour each way getting me onto the water just after 6pm. This was going to be a race and not relaxing at all. I was very anxious and felt rushed but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

The put in was beside a dam which was pretty cool. I took a few pictures and then took off to get to the portage as soon as possible.

I paddled across Red Pine Lake as the sun was quickly dropping down from the sky.

I got the portage at 7 and unpacked my kayak.

I had packed a few big items (sleeping bag, tent) in my backpack already, so I took the items from the hatch out and put them in there as well.  By 7:10 i was on the move.

I took the kayak first as far as I could go. I think I almost made it to the end but not quite. I literally ran back to where my pack was and booked it through the portage to the other side of the lake.  It was getting dark and the last place I wanted to be at night was on a portage.

Somehow I made it in exactly an hour with a double carry doing a piggy back.  I was so relieved as it was starting to get dark in the forest and I was getting panicked.  I still had lots to do though, so I packed up my boat quickly and got onto the water to find my site, the only one on the lake.

Seems like I’d just missed the sunset and it was pretty. Hopefully, I’d see one tomorrow night, but for now, I was still in a rush.

I found my site quickly, with it being the only one on the lake. I found a good spot to dock the kayak and got out and walked up on shore. I checked out the site quickly, seeing a firepit in the front but no flat spot to put my tent anywhere. The site was also overgrown but not to the point of not being able to find the trails.  There was one that led to the back of the island and following it, I discovered a large open flat area with a 2nd firepit and a nice place for my tent. It was almost dark in there and I’d prefer to be out by the water, but with no flat spots near the front of the site, I quickly decided I’d have to just stay in this area tonight and have a fire here.  I didn’t have time to do both and my daylight was quickly disappearing.

I had set up my Marmot tent many times and it was a fairly easy task so doing it in the dark wasn’t too difficult.  While I was walking around putting things in this place and that, I picked up dead fall all around and put it in a pile for the fire pit. Being on a site that isn’t used very much has its benefits for sure.  By the time I set up my tent, Thermarest and sleeping bag and put all my clothes etc inside, I had enough wood for a small fire.

I was really grateful for the fire because I was feeling a bit unnerved. I did not like to arrive on a site in the dark and not have time to get comfortable with the area I was in and I found myself, for the first time in many solo trips, a bit scared. Not hugely, but a bit.  The fire gave me light and a place I was familiar with and something to focus on  and helped a great deal. I dried my wet cold feet as the temperatures started to fall with the arrival of the darkness and sat listening to one of my downloaded podcasts from Paddling Adventures Radio, heading to sleep not long afterwards.

I woke up to a brisk morning with the temperature sitting at 6 degrees, but feeling like 5.

I actually wasn’t cold in the least and was surprised about that. I grabbed my fishing rod and tackle and jumped in the kayak to find the morning sun, paddle in the fog and try and catch a few fish.

It was so pretty out I barely noticed the temperatures. I was enjoying the scenery too much.

The sun came up fairly soon after I set out on the water and I was amazed at how beautiful it looked in the morning fog. I took some photos and then headed off into the back corner of the lake where I thought I would find some fish.


I was right, but only wee little fish. I caught 3 baby perch and nothing more.  They were each a bit bigger than the last, but none were big enough for me to keep, so I let them go and after a while, headed back to site to have some breakfast.

This mornings breakfast was an english muffin with an egg on it and some prosciutto. Nothing fancy. I actually had packed my food for the weekend in about a half hour in a rush so just basic staples were mostly on the agenda. I was happy I’d picked up Subway last night on my way to the park, otherwise I would’ve been trying to make dinner at 930 in the dark.

Because it was so chilly out, I decided to make a morning fire. I had so much wood just from collecting it off the paths on the site and it was dry and easy to start.  It had warmed up but paddling in the fog got my clothes a bit damp and put a chill on me, which was quickly removed with the fire and a nice hot cup of hot chocolate.

After breakfast I cleaned up and headed to the sunny side of the site, the front. I hung my hammock and actually laid in it and enjoyed the view. After a bit I had a nap and continued to lounge.  That’s when I saw the snakes.

At first I saw one, then two, then three.  At one point I had counted six from my hammock, sunning themselves all around the rocks around me. Wow! Good thing I wasn’t afraid of snakes and good thing I was up in the air in a hammock.

I watched the snakes for a bit and then got up to go have some lunch.  Today’s lunch was prosciutto form Morley’s Butcher Shop and a laughing cow cheese.  It was quite tasty and I sat by the front fire pit eating wondering what I could find to do next.

After lunch I had a little photo shoot on the rocks, a few away from the snakes. LOL.  I came up with a few good ones that I really liked but taking times selfies on rocks, near a bunch of snakes, is a bit tricky. I took about 17  photos to get just one good one, but I had nothing else to do.  LOL. I was starting to get a bit bored with this ‘relaxing’ trip.

I went out for a little paddle after my photo shoot and tried to catch some fish but had no luck.  After that I headed back to site and collected some wood for the front fire pit and even actually contemplated going home early.  I was that bored. I really do suck at relaxing.

I brought a book so I read for a bit. The sun came out fully then. It had been in and out most of the day so it was warm but not hot. Once the clouds were fully gone it became hot so I figured I might as well go for a swim.  LOL. I watched a few snakes swimming by and almost lost my nerve but then said, what the heck and went in anyways. I knew they were harmless and chances were they were more afraid of me than I was of them. In the end I didn’t get bitten or have anything slithering around me and I came out refreshed so it was all good.

I read a bit more and then got dinner started. Dinner was pretty boring, just some pasta with some green onions and mushrooms. I thought it was asparagus but dehydrated the green onions looked similar. Oh well, no biggie.  I actually didn’t end up liking it at all so I packed it up to take out and made some emergency oatmeal I had and a hot chocolate.  I ate that while I watched the sun go down and got my fire going in the front pit and enjoyed my view.

I sat out on the front of the site for quite some time. The sun went down, the stars came out and a lovely crescent moon was directly in front of me reflecting into the water. It was so pretty and so peaceful.  I even had a bunch of loons serenading me and it doesn’t get much better than that.

After a few hours, I went to the back area where my tent was and got a fire going there. I sat and listened to a few Paddling Adventures Radio shows and then called it a day.

I woke up to another chilly morning, but again, didn’t really feel it much. I was busy packing up my tent and sleeping stuff and getting ready to be on my way. I had come to the realization last night that I wanted to go home.  The site I was on was beautiful and peaceful and serene, but I loved exploring and there wasn’t anywhere for me to do that here.  I just suck at relaxing, plain and simple and I knew it and I was okay with it.  I was also anxious to get the portage done so figured I might as well just go get it over with.

I made another egg sandwich for breakfast, this time without the prosciutto because I ate it for lunch yesterday, but it was still pretty tasty. Then I cleaned up my kitchen set and packed it up. I was ready to go and it was just after 8am.

I said goodbye to my beautiful site and took my time getting to the portage. It wasn’t a far distance but what I did this time was pack my backpack for the portage with everything in it and laid it on the back of the kayak and strapped it on top. It was fairly secure but a bit tippy. I figured since I was just going a short distance and then would have to do the portage, I might as well just pack for the portage and it made it so much easier this time around.

I ended up carrying the kayak almost the entire way.   I finally had to put it down and then found out when I brought my pack through that I was only 4 minutes from the end.   Oh well!  I managed a time of 45 minutes for the double carry which I was pretty impressed with.  Now it was almost 930 and I had about an hour to paddle to get to the take out.

I took my time and enjoyed the beautiful calm mirror water everywhere I went. Even Red Pine was still calm and mirror like. Such a great time to paddle!

Once I’d paddled through Red Pine I decided to do a bit of fishing.  I didn’t even get one bite and quickly put the rod back in my boat.  I did a bit of exploring into a creek on my way towards the take out and eventually made it back to the dam and where my car was parked.

Although I did greatly enjoy the area, and the peace and quiet of the site on East Paint Lake,  I am not the best at relaxing, but I did give it a good effort!

Thanks for coming on my trip with me. I hope you enjoyed it.  If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message.  Stay tuned, lots of awesome trips to come!

Happy Camping!

Camper Christina