Things have been busy at the house and I still have a list of things I want to get done as soon as possible. However, I do have a big 5 day solo trip planned for the August long weekend and I have yet to do one portage this year. The 5 day trip has 13 in total and one of them is almost 3 km’s long! I’m a bit scared to say the least.
On Monday, Backcountry Custom Canoes dropped off a loaner canoe for me to use until my custom canoe is ready. As a brand ambassador, I get to try a variety of boats, and the boat that Jon is building for me incorporates a few new features not available in the current line up. I am excited but also very anxious to get my canoe, but in the meantime, I have one to use so I can stay on schedule.
As it’s been a while since I canoed in a skin on frame and have not portaged in ages, I thought I should get out to do a trip and do a few just to get back into the swing of things. I booked a great looking site on Upper Crane Lake in the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails, but just booked one night so I could head back home Saturday afternoon and also get some work done on the house, and get started on packing for my trip next weekend.
In the commotion of the hurry scurry of life, planning and booking my trips, working, making videos, blogging and doing all the things, it seems I forgot one important thing. I was driving along the 118, about 45 minutes to the put in, which is only an hour from my work, when I stared repeating “shit! ” “shit!” “SHIT” over and over again.
I forgot my paddle. DOH!!!!! It was 45 minutes back to work but I lived 10 minutes past that, so basically I would need to drive 55 minutes each way to get back to where I was now, with a paddle. I pulled over on the side of the highway to think. I knew there was an Algonquin Outfitters in Minden which I thought I drove past on the way to the put in. I called them and they said they would be happy to rent me a kayak paddle until tomorrow. Okay, problem solved. But when I mapped it out, AO Boatwerks in Minden was 25 minutes past the put in, meaning almost an extra hour today to get the paddle, then an extra hour Saturday to drop it back off.
As I drove I realized there was also a Canadian Tire right by the AO Boatwerks in Minden. I could, I suppose, buy a paddle there for cheap and use it for the weekend. Obviously, I would have to purchase a canoe paddle as kayak paddles, even cheap ones are about $100. I was pretty sure I could get a canoe paddle for at least half, then I wouldn’t have to drive back the next day to return the paddle.
I went to AO Boatwerks to take a peek as I was right there and would rather give them the business, but the cheapest paddles the had, either canoe or kayak, started at $95. I went to CT and the cheapest paddle there was $25, but I saw one I liked a bit more for $35, so I got that one. I don’t even own a canoe paddle after all this time so I figured might as well spend the extra $10 and get one I liked a little. I measured it out and off I went. I was both happy and scared. I had never done a solo trip with only a canoe paddle and I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off, but I would give it a good go!
I finally arrived at the put in, canoe paddle in hand, around 5:30. I had gotten off work at 3 but with all the running around and thinking and going an hour out of my way to get the paddle, well, that’s where I ended up. Not a big deal and nothing I could do. Things happen. Shit happens. I was good now and had lots of time to get to my site, so there really wasn’t an issue.
Canoeing, as far as tripping, is so much easier than kayaking. It really is and I can totally admit that, being a kayak lover. I put the canoe down at the share, walked my pack down, put my pack in the canoe and paddled off. There was no packing and unpacking and jamming things into the hatches. Figuring out what fit where, it was just done and done, easy peasy. One of my favorite things about canoeing other than how much easier it is to carry the vessel and portage.
I paddled off taking my time as I had no real choice. The one thing I found with canoeing with a canoe paddle was that it was a slow process. With my kayak paddle, I was off and running, zoom. With the canoe paddle, I had to stroke, then hold and twist to set myself straight, then repeat. I found it frustrating to have to go so slowly but I hoped it would get faster as I got better at it.
I got to the portage from Bentshoe Lake into Lower Crane without a hitch. I went crooked a few times, I paddled on both sides a few times, but eventually, I got the hang of the canoe paddle and continued getting more and more practice as I paddled through Lower Crane Lake into Upper Crane Lake.
I saw a loon who seemed to be laughing at me but I was out there all alone and didn’t care much. I didn’t have to drive all the way home to get my paddle and I was out, so I was happy regardless. I would get there.
I found my site fairly easily as there is only one on Upper Crane. I banked the canoe, unloaded it again, by just taking my pack out of it and put the boat up on the shore. I explored the site and began unpacking, anxious to eat dinner as I was pretty hungry.
I set up my tent and filled my water filter, and I was done more or less. I got my Ursack out, which I used today as I was portaging and only had a tiny amount of food to protect and didn’t need the bear vault for that.
Todays dinner was a special treat. Since moving to Mactier, I had discovered the delicious cooking of Chef H’enrie. He makes lots of good things and his schnitzel is to die for.
Match it with some homemade german potato salad and I was in heaven.
When planning this trip, last minute, I thought, hey, instead of lugging around food and pots and pans etc, why not bring something precooked in and just eat it. Seemed so easy and I knew next trip I’d be eating a lot of freeze dried meals so figured why not splurge. I got a schnitzel dinner from the Cafe and Henrie made me potato wedges and potato salad to go with it.
I grabbed a fresh bun from my place, took the schnitzel, a lemon wedge and half of the potato salad (there was way too much food for one meal for me!) and repacked them in ziplocks and off I went. Now I got to enjoy it sitting beside the lake listening to loons. Pretty good deal. No muss, no fuss, no prep, no clean up, just yummy food and boy was it yummy! I ate up every bit and was feeling super satisfied when I was done. Chef Henrie can be found at 339 High Street in Mactier. High street is the road you take into and out of Pete’s Place access point in the Masasauga provincial park so if you’re passing through, stop in and say hi.
The sun started to go down and the bugs were pretty bad. I did not bring my Eureka backpacker meshroom this trip due to keeping things light and compact but regretted not having it now.
I took some sunset photos as it was absolutely gorgeous. After that I did a bit of fishing. I forgot to bring my favorite Mepps lure and only had a larger one. I saw the fish trying to bite the lure, but it was too big for it and couldn’t seem to manage. Oh well, the bugs were driving me nuts anyways.
As soon as the sun disappeared and the colours of the sky started to fade, I headed into my tent. I was getting eaten up and was so itchy, I took an allergy pill, edited some pictures and videos on my phone inside my tent and headed to bed super early.
I woke up around 5:45 to use the privy. It had rained a few times overnight which was odd as it wasn’t forecast until 11am this morning. It was gloomy and overcast out and I was still tired.
I had been putting in long days the last few weeks with the house and decided I should be allowed to sleep more so I went back to bed for another hour, then got up and got my day started.
I made hot chocolate and enjoyed it while I got breakfast going. My breakfast today was fairly simple, a fried egg on an english muffin. One of my quick breakfast go to’s.
After breakfast I finished packing up my gear. It didn’t take me very long at all and by 8:30 I was on my way to Poker Lake.
The plan for the day would be to do a 300m portage into Poker Lake, then a 400m portage from Poker lake back into Bentshoe, then head out from there, instead of just doing the 200m portage back into Bentshoe directly from Lower Crane. I thought it would be a good idea to get some practice in, also, I had never paddled on Poker Lake so figured it would be good to check it out, while I was here.
The portages were super buggy and I needed my bug shirt and head net to avoid loosing my mind.
Poker Lake looked nice, but shortly after I hit the water, the clouds started to take over The rain in the forecast had been moved back to 9am from 11am. It had been going back and forth the last few days but now it looked like 9am would be more accurate.
Just as I arrived at the portage from Poker into Bentshoe, the rain began to fall, lightly at first, and much harder once I got up on shore and under some tree cover. Nice!
I took the canoe over first as my back/neck were starting to get a bit sore. I certainly wasn’t used to portaging and I was seriously worried about my trip next weekend. I would have 13 portages in total, over 7000m and one of the portages is 2810m. I believe i already mentioned that, but to me, it’s worth mentioning again. It is all I have planned to do that day, but it will most likely take me quite a while to complete it.
The rain came down pretty good while I was on the portage, and just as I got to Bentshoe, it started to slow a bit, which as perfect.
It still looked super gloomy out but it almost made me happy, as I was heading home to work on the house. It was always harder to leave a trip when the weather is lovely and all you want to do is stay and play in the sunshine and go swimming. This way, not so much. LOL
I took my time paddling across Bentshoe, as I had no choice with the canoe paddle. I was definitely much better at paddling with the canoe paddle now, than when I arrived yesterday and really felt like I was getting the hang of it. It was still a bit tricky in the wind, and slower than I would like, but there was also a calming effect from it and I was happy I’d been forced to do the trip without my kayak paddle. I had never done a solo trip entirely paddling with a canoe paddle, so this was a first, and I think I am safe to say, a successful one.
A cute duck said farewell just before I hit the take out. I got a few pics and a short video of it before it ducked under the water. Haha, see what I did there, ducked… LOL.
I got to the take out, grabbed my pack and my canoe, so easily and off I went to the parking lot. No hatches to unpack, yes, it was nice to be canoeing again. So simple.
I got my canoe back up on the car, just as the rain began to fall again. It rained most of the way to town and while I ran my errands so I wasn’t too bummed about heading home. I was excited to start packing for my trip next weekend also. I would be going as light as possible as I am going to once again attempt to do some single carries if all works out the way I hope.
I hope you enjoyed coming along with me to Upper Crane Lake and you come back again soon. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message.