Any one familiar with this beginning? “Hey, I’ve booked a site on a route none of us have been on. You in?” One came back, “I’m in, for sure.” Another came back as, “The 14th, I don’t know.” Everyone leads a busy lifestyle and I for one, appreciate that and I never compare anybodies definition of busy!
My son, Liam was very interested in going and was packed up quick quickly in comparison with other trips. This one was to include three different lakes and four portages totalling almost one kilometre. Not a formidable trip by comparison but, remember, we’re not comparing, and this style of trip is relatively new to me, especially as the trip planner.
So the night before departure one announces he may just be able to put it together and the other is having a major test around the house and I figured he would be a casualty when it turned out he was just delayed. He still beat me up there proving some things never change.
Haliburton Highlands Water Trails is one area that I’ve already dipped my toes into, thanks to my good friend, Christina Scheuermann, a.k.a. CamperChristina.com. I was invited up for a nights stay back in May and I had a really good feeling about the area. This trip would involve a bit more work ie. the portaging but I wanted to give it a go.
At the Big East access we met up with one of the guys and transferred gear to the put in and made tracks for the first portage. We took our time winding along the shore line and hit the first portage. Well marked at the take out, we pulled gear from the canoes and headed up the hill. Nice gentle slope on this one from Bentshoe Lake to Lower Crane Lake, and well defined! Gear stowed away we headed for the campsite as we reversed the route.
One of was using a topo map with a large scale and the other using a 1:15,000 scale map, offered widely. After a quick tour of the wrong area of the lake we arrived at our site. OK, now picture this if you will. Some bugs were out but this is Ontario, right! We landed and rolled the canoes for the night and started bringing packs up the rock slope which was about 12 feet above the lake surface and on a steep face back to the lake. Did I mention that the rock top was directly in the face of the wind and offered some well received relief from said bugs! First thing of order was to set the tents and determine whether we’d set up the Eureka Bug Zones we brought or just set a guide tarp in case of rain. The clouds were rolling and building and as I’ve found the best way to stay away from rain is to go ahead and set up a tarp. Done! (p.s. No rain).
It was a very hot day and no one was terribly hungry so we kept drinking water and talked about what had happened since the last meeting. Kevin Callan has mentioned about the proximity of some sites on this system being too close to the roadways as it allows for some who may not appreciate what they’re given with the backcountry in Ontario, and we definitely saw signs of that. At the same time credit has to be given to the staff and supportes of the HHWT’s as the sites we passed appeared very clear of garbage.
Enjoying the setting sun and the gentle breeze, Liam turned to us and said, “Here comes Steve.”. Sure enough, he’s made it up for the evening with his daughter.
A mix of the heat, muscles that hadn’t been used for a bit and the onslaught of mosquitoes coming as the breeze died off, we hit the sheets. We had run a very clean campsite and opted to park the barrels with a pan or two on top. It wasn’t an hour by the time one pan was off the barrel followed by that familiar chuckle of the Masked Intruder. This little guy was so brazen as to visit one of the tents and actually press his nose against the secreen. Amazing how quickly a raccoon can travel when his nose gets the finger flick.
Sunday greeted us with a smoky haze of fog over our bay and that heavy air which meant she’d be a hot day slugging. Breakfast bannock on an un-tested pan and yup…she burned a bit, but not enough to back away from all that shredded cheese. Another pan offered a collection of bacon, rehydrated potatoes and onions and some crumbled sausage, while yet another pot offered up some oatmeal, which has been a go to mainsaty throughout time. Liam satyed busy refilling the water bag to filter water for the days trip.
Off we went to new waters and trails and we weren’t disappointed. This is an area of beauty. Close enough to test and not a major test of abilities. The water levels were down considerably and we had to ram our way over some logs but it was a fun trip.
This one made me aware of my sons’ abilities and capabilites. He is a very strong paddler and takes advice and applies it. On the way home I asked him if he’d do it again and he relied, “Sure, but only if it’s a longer trip.”