Here is where I left off in Part 1, on a non site on Great Mountain Lake in 39 km wind gusts…….
As I sat listening to the wind howling, I looked up and once again noticed the brightly lit up globe in the sky in front of me. I didn’t make the effort to go to the waterfront to take a photo but just snapped one from where I was sitting inside my tent. I was honestly way too tired to move. I checked the forecast again and at that moment it said we were experiencing 39km wind gusts. I honestly believe it was much higher at the time but that’s just me. The forecast for the morning said we were expecting 56km wind gusts. I guess I didn’t have to move from the spot I was on, as technically, I wasn’t even on a site, so not to much worry about there. I guess we would see what would happen when I woke up, but for now, I had to try and rest my overworked body.
Eventually, I laid down and closed my eyes in an effort to get some sleep, the sound of the wind so loud I almost put my earplugs in, but was too tired to reach for them. That night I dreamt of howling winds and slept with anticipation of the next morning and what would follow. Finally sleep came which led me to what would happen next on Sunday morning…..
ON TO PART 2…..
I woke up just before 6am. I was so tired. I hadn’t gone to sleep until around 2am and had dreams of the wind howling all night long, as it was in reality. I got up to use the non facilities and checked the weather and fell back asleep. I was just exhausted and needed a bit more at least.
When I woke up an hour later, it wasn’t too windy at all. The water wasn’t mirror but it was pretty close and the sun was doing it’s best to come out and say hello.
According to the forecast, the high wind gusts would remain until mid afternoon. According to my eyeballs and what I was seeing, it was time to get off Great Mountain and get moving!
I made some breakfast, today’s meal being oatmeal with dehydrated strawberries. It was good and I was still hungry from last night, even though I had eaten almost an entire package of chocolate mudslide. LOL. I ate quickly and packed up as fast as I could. I didn’t want the wind to pick up before I got off this lake. I was not getting blown around again like I had last night, no way, no how!
I untied my canoe from the 3 places I’d tied it to trees last night, afraid it would go flying off into the air and brought it down to the shore, which now looked so happy and inviting and calm. I packed up the canoe and headed off towards the log cemetery and mud swamp I’d been dreading since coming through it last night in reverse.
It looked stunning in the sunlight with the fall colors, but I knew it was just a facade to cover up the shallow mucky water beneath.
I did my best to capture some of the logs and stumps and obstacles keeping me from paddling last night, but they all looked so pretty in the sunlight.
I made it much farther into the shore than I had hoped and was elated, only having to push myself through about 20 feet this time instead of the 40-50 I’d had to get myself through last night. I guess everything is much better in the daylight and sunshine?
I’d had to separate my paddle once more and push myself through, but somehow, even on 5 hours sleep, it was far easier than at the end of the day yesterday, and I was at the shore in no time. Here is a view of the end of the portage from that morning.
Once I arrived on land I got myself through the 375 meters to Fish Lake fairly quickly. I didn’t want to be in this area anymore and was so over it. LOL. When I got to Fish I had a new challenge to battle anyways, more wind. Somehow it was windier on Fish than it had been on Great Mountain and I would have to paddle hard again to get through the lake.
I only have 2 pictures from my travels on Fish on Sunday as I couldn’t stop to take a photo as the wind would just blow me backwards. I did make good time though, paddling only an extra 15 minutes that it would normally take me without the winds so that made me happy.
I was excited to be back at the portage into Gem Lake and the little creek that had taken me forever to get through yesterday. I knew it would be a beautiful site in the sunshine today and had been looking forward to this part of my day today since I’d first set eyes on it yesterday in the rain.
It was a stunning paddle, beaverdams and all, and I honestly would’ve been happy staying in this area all day. I didn’t have a long day of travelling today and I was grateful for that. With the little amount of rest I’d had last night and the ambitious past 2 days of travel, I was ready for an easy day full of rest and relaxation.
I arrived at the portage from Gem Lake into Howry and completed it fairly quickly. When I got to the other side, however, I was disappointed to see that the winds on Howry were terrible. There were very strong gusts, most likely the 46km gusts that were forecast this morning and I was not looking forward to paddling on Howry Lake at all.
Fortunately, I had less than 2km’s to paddle to get to the site I was aiming for today. Unfortunately, paddling that short distance, which should’ve taken me about 15 minutes, took me almost an hour to paddle. That’s how strong the winds were! I paddled as hard as I possibly could, non stop, and by the time I reached the site, which was thankfully empty, I could barely move my arms. Paddling in 20-30km winds gusts (my estimation, although the forecast said it was about 45) is not something I recommend doing EVER! LOL
Once I arrived at the site, I brought the canoe up away from the shore and tied it up for the day/night. I was not paddling again today, even though it was only 2pm. It had taken me 4 hours today to paddle 8km’s, just to put into perspective the wind conditions. Normally, that distance, considering the winding creek and the 2 portages wouldn’t have taken me more than a few hours.
I was rewarded greatly for my efforts today, however, with a stunning campsite, complete with a view of the La Cloche Mountains.
I ate my lunch and then set up my tent and my site. I was ridiculously tired and every movement was an effort. Once I had completed setting everything up, I found my book and went over to sit on the rocks by the water, where the wind, mind you, had now suddenly died. I didn’t move for 2 hours and just sat in the sunshine, enjoying the beautiful day!
I also was loving these rocks on the site. Killarney is truly beautiful and I love rocks, making it more so to me personally. It amazes me how all of these different types of rocks have all smashed together over the years to make one and I honestly could just sit and stare at them for hours in wonder.
The other thing I had been staring at was the weather forecast. Amazingly, once again, I had cell service and even though the screenshots I’d saved on my phone from Friday were quite similar, I was able to pull up the weather and see what was currently happening and what was to come. The to come was worrying me a great deal and after the time I’d spent here so far, I was getting quite tired of battling the wind.
Tomorrow,the wind was to die down quite a bit from today with only 7-9km winds and 11-14km gusts. Tuesday, the wind was expected to return again with winds ranging from 14-18km’s and up to 27km gusts. Having just paddled, of my estimation, in 20-30km gusts, I did not have any interest in paddling the 19 km distance to get back to the take out in any wind at all. I had a very big decision to make.
My original route had me heading to stay on Murray Lake tomorrow, which wasn’t too far from here. I was then to take a day trip to Nellie and portage the Notch, spend a few hours there and come back to sleep on Murray Monday night, and then would head out to the Hwy 6 Access Tuesday, from where I’d began at the Widgawa Lodge.
I put a post up on my facebook page to inquire of others of what amount of wind gusts, they would and would not paddle in and was quite surprised at the replies.
Most said 15 km gusts were their max and a few went up a bit higher depending on what type of boat they were paddling and if they were solo or not. This led me to believe I was not being a sissy or a woosy and my contemplation about heading out a day early to avoid paddling in 27 km wind gusts was not irrational at all, but instead, very smart and logical. I knew it, but this really helped me to confirm it. Thank you to all of you who posted comments and sent me private messages and helped me with the decision I knew I needed to make. It is greatly appreciated!
It took me a few hours to continue to convince myself, but I knew the best thing to do, the safest thing to do, for me, was to head out tomorrow when the winds were down and paddle the 19 kms out and skip my day trip to Nellie. (revised route above) I was disappointed and I kept checking the forecast the entire night but it didn’t change and therefore neither did my decision.
As the sun started to go down, I got a small fire going and made my dinner. I had planned to have Beef Stroganoff, a meal that was actually sent to me by someone who reads my blog named Colette. She was done camping for the season and to avoid the items she’d purchased from expiring without use, had sent them to me. I was incredibly grateful and this was one of the meals she’d sent to me.
As I had eaten lunch late, I wasn’t incredibly hungry. In fact, I’d not been feeling my best pretty much the entire trip and my appetite was not the size it should be, but I still needed to eat. I also wanted to go to bed, really really early so I just made up half the meal instead of the whole package and that made the perfect amount for my appetite. It was pretty tasty and I enjoyed it quite a bit, but was also very happy I’d only made half. I would never have been able to eat all of it and that would be another half of a meal I’d had to pack out with the others. The food on this trip wasn’t the best, or maybe it was me, not quite sure?
After dinner, I cleaned up and put everything away and sat by the fire listening to a podcast for about an hour. Then at 815, I headed to my tent and went to bed, knowing I had a very long day of paddling ahead of me, but happy I had finally come to terms with me bailing on my trip and leaving a day early. I mean, technically, I was still completing the 60km’s of paddling and my 14 portages, but I was just doing it a day early. That was something to be proud of , no?
I woke up around midnight to use the privy and was amazed by the moon and the bright stars in the sky. There were shadows and it was simply gorgeous. I took a few photos and then went right back to sleep.
I woke up to a gorgeous day. The water was like glass and I was amazed at how calm it was. There was no wind at all. It was just after 7am and I knew a sign when I saw it. I got my breakfast going and started packing up as quickly as I could.
If I was going, I’d go when the going was good. Even though the forecast today was massively better than the one tomorrow, there were still up to 15km wind gusts forecast so the sooner I got on the water, in my opinion, the better. Once again, however, mother nature had other plans…..
I took these 2 photos as I packed up my canoe. It was just after 8 am. In the next 20 minutes, the entire lake was blanketed in deep fog.
And by 8:25, this is what I was paddling in.
I could barely see 5 feet in front of me!! HAHAHAHAHA! Oh the irony just made me laugh so hard and I laughed and laughed all the way through Howry Lake. Thank god for my gps and that I’d been through half of Howry a few days before or I would’ve had to wait out the fog.
The sun came out about a half hour later and eventually the fog began to clear, but very very slowly. It was eerie but beautiful and incredibly peaceful and I honestly would take the fog over the winds any day, lucky for me, that was what I’d been given.
I went over some beaver dams and eventually arrived at my first of two portages for the day.
It was absolutely beautiful and the more the fog lifted, the prettier my views became.
As with most of my days journeys, however, the trek was incredibly slow going. I found myself paddling in creek after creek, winding in every direction but straight. I also had many beaver dams to get out and go around, or over and some of them…. right through. LOL.
Every lake and waterway was prettier than the last, but they were also more shallow. With each new body of water I landed on, I prayed it would be deeper or have more water in it than the previous one, but they just continued to get more and more shallow and it was honestly very stressful. In almost every picture above, I am paddling in water that is about 6-12″ deep.
And although incredibly stunning, I was anxious and afraid with every stroke of my paddle that I would ground the canoe and just get stuck in the middle of the lake or creek, or stream, and not be able to get out.
I had checked with the park warden and the people at the lodge and they both assured me this route was passable, but that didn’t keep me from worrying.
My eyes were delighted and enjoyed every second, drunk with the most amazing views, I almost wanted to cry. And at the same time, I was battling the fear and possible reality that I would get stuck at some point along the way out and have to go all the way back from where I came and take another entire day to get out via another route that actually contained paddleable water.
When I arrived at my second portage, I was actually very excited as there was a waterfall with lots of rushing water heading towards the direction I was going in. Finally some water to paddle in that I wouldn’t get stuck in. Or would there be?
Hahaha, I found this at the other end and instead of the waterways getting fuller and bigger and containing more water, they were getting smaller and drier and more shallow, if that was even possible. The knots in my stomach were overwhelming, but I just continued moving forward as it was really my only option at this point and as long as I could continue to try to get out this way, I really had no other choice.
My GPS wasn’t helping me in any way either, it was making things worse. The blue dot above is where I am paddling below. The GPS actually thinks I am on land and shows no water for a very large portion of the section I was on. My route was to connect to the water at the green point, but for now, I had no idea where the water was that would join the two areas of water on the map on the GPS. GULP!!!! Please let me get out of here today!
I entered a very pretty creek and continued on, once again paddling from left to right and back and forth and not in a straight line. I didn’t even care, as long as there was water in front of me to continue paddling in, I was somewhat calmer, but not much. I just felt like at any moment, the water would be gone and I would be stuck without a way out and it was a very unsettling feeling.
I felt a bit better temporarily when I came across a very large beaver dam with a steep drop off. Beside it, I saw a portage, complete with a lovely little yellow portage sign. I was elated to see it and knew then, that at the very least, I was on the right route and that others possibly have come this way and made it through. (insert very small sigh of relief)
I kept paddling and paddling and paddling, anxious still the entire time. Each lake I would come to would be as shallow or more than the last and I was amazed that I was still moving, but incredibly grateful.
Finally, I was getting close to Charlton Lake and the last 8 km’s or so of my journey for the day. I had actually made it though to the real water, more than a few inches deep! I was in total disbelief that I’d actually made it through the area I’d just come from. I felt the wind start playing with the canoe as I got closer to the open water.
I had been going all morning and it was way past lunchtime. I reached around the back of the canoe and got my bear vault out and made up a quick prosciutto wrap and ate it as I paddled the last bit of calm water before hitting the wind on Charlton Lake.
The wind was strong but not too bad and I pushed through the last part of my journey in an hour and a half. Before I knew it, I was in the narrow creek which would take me to Widgawa Lodge.
I was anxious to get back as my butt was really sore. Honestly, I’m not sure how canoeists sit so long on these unpadded seats? I was seriously missing my kayak seat right now and was excited to get out of the canoe! I was both sad and happy as I usually am when I complete a trip and as I paddled my last few strokes, I became a bit emotional.
This would be my last adventure in this beautiful canoe. It would be going back to it’s owner at Backcountry Custom Canoes next weekend and I was incredibly surprised at how sad I was thinking about that. We had shared a lot together in the 4 short months I had her. I had put about 100 km’s on this canoe, and I would be forever grateful to Jon for letting me take his own personal solo canoe home and letting me use it like my own for the season.
I soon arrived at the lodge and my takeout. I had completed my loop, 60 kms of paddling and 14 portages and in only 4 days. I was quite proud of myself but also sad the journey was over. I unloaded the boat, took it to my car and put it up on the roof, grateful I’d made it back safely and without issues. Another adventure over and I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing about it. I hope you enjoyed following along on my trip to Killarney and will take a few moments to check out the video series that accompanies these 2 blog posts and subscribe to my youtube channel if you like what you see.
Thank you for all your support and comments and for following along, I am grateful.
If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please send a message and I will get back to you as soon as I am able to.
For a sneak peak of the 3rd video in the series of 4 on this adventure, click here! (just a note that part 4, the final video, will be published on Friday)