September 27, 2007 - Day 12
Exploring the East Arm

Opeongo Narrows
Looking through the narrows, I spied the colours of the hills in the South arm

I awoke to a cool and cloudy morning, but the humidity was back. I made pancakes with blueberries and globs of syrup. Racoon's butane stove was perfect for making pancakes! This was the third morning in a row I was making them and the pancakes were delicious.

Loons
Loons had been gathering all week, here 11 loons drifted by me as I breakfasted

While I was making and eating my breakfast a flock of loons swam by. There was perhaps a dozen loons swimming together. It was beginning, a time when the loons start to amass in large groups, in preparation for the migration south. If you love loons, this is a great time to be in The Park.

By 8:45am I was on the water, paddling west. I planned to circumnavigate the island, paddling clockwise. I was glad to be out in the canoe again, the last 4 or 5 days of a near constant Southern breeze, always in your face starts to get to you. The sky looked somewhat threatening, but I felt it was the kind of sky that threatened to break up and give way to sunshine, so I paddled onwards and by 9:05 am I was at the lone campsite at the island's southwestern tip.


Opeongo fall colours
Fall colours shine brilliantly in the morning sunshine


The campsite had a great view of the lake as well as the nearby mainland shoreline, which was fast becoming brilliant with the progression of autumn colours. The campsite had a large open area at the fire-pit and several makeshift tables as well as a left over card table for the kitchen area. The rear of the campsite and beyond towards the campsite privy was treed with hemlocks making the walk through the forest easy and enjoyable. There was also a sort of stone dock on the West side of the campsite, making getting in and out of water craft easy.

I paddled up the West shoreline of the island, passing by a south facing campsite on the mainland, it looked to have a small sandy beach landing with a wide trail leading up to a sheltered campsite. A nearby campsite (as designated on the map), could not be seen from my vantage point. The West shoreline of Opeongo Island had a wild look to it, as there seems to have never been any campsites on that shoreline. As I approached "Cape Breton Island" that occupies the Northwest bay of the East arm, I heard then saw a motorboat move into a spot where the occupants started to fish. As I passed the island and turned northeastwards, the motorboat moved on. The traffic was light that morning, only one motorboat, not bad. The cloud cover was breaking up too, the rest of the coming day looked promising.


Opeongo Island campsite
A shot of my campsite as I departed for my trip around the island


By 10:05am I had landed at the North campsite on the island. The landing was on a shallow gravel beach complete with a half-hollowed out log that provided a walk up to the campsite. Neat! Several large red pines had been uprooted on the site, but otherwise the campsite had an unobstructed view. It had a large, flat open area, that faced north. As with the last campsite, there were makeshift tables and even a few overhead poles for stringing up tarps. The site seemed nice enough, but with the site facing north, it only seemed practical to me for high summer camping…very little sun reached the campsite.

Lake Opeongo campsite
A campsite just outside of Deadman’s Bay


The paddle along the North shore of the island was pleasant and through the zoom lens of my camera I spied a campsite along the North shore of the East arm. It was hard to tell but it looked like it had a gravel beach with an open site that faced the lake. Another site further east looked even more promising, large open areas with sandy beach and with an eroding sandy ridge. I paddled by the third 2nd neighbouring campsite and all I can remember is don't bother camping there, it was a dismal campsite.

Lake Opeongo campsite
A look at the kitchen area of the campsite just outside of Deadman’s Bay

 

Lake Opeongo campsite
The campsite also had a dock on the flip-side, perfect for powerboats


I headed over to Wishbone Island and fished some more to no avail and eventually returned to camp at 1:30pm. A lot of motorboats seemed to be pouring into the East arm that afternoon. One particular tiny motorboat crawled nearby at the most excruciatingly slow speed. The motor gave off the most horrible loud noise, it sounded like a chainsaw and this drove me nuts. I had only been back at camp for 30 minutes and so I headed back out again on the water to get away from the noise. Anyone with a motor that loud should be banned from using it in APP.


Slot Lake
Crossing Slot Lake


This time I headed straight for the campsite that had the eroding sandy bank, it look good from afar, but would it turn out to be far from good? The closer I got to the campsite, the better it looked, the campsite was loaded with red pine trees. By 2:50pm I had arrived at a gravel beach landing, very canoe friendly it was. The campsite itself was very large, with a kitchen complete with a picnic table and poles for tarps. On the backside of the campsite there was a protected bay with a makeshift dock, perfect for motorboats. The campsite was a charmer!

Slot Lake area
Past Slot Lake I ran out of navigable water. Note: Oily film in water

 

Slot Lake area beaver dam
Walking the creek bed, I came to the source of low water...A beaver dam


I paddled onwards into an area known as Deadman's Bay, I passed a nearby campsite that looked back towards the mouth of the bay and I continued onwards. Just before I entered Trap Lake, the water became tangled with grasses and other aquatic plant life. Motorboats would do well to go no further. There was a raft of old timber floating along the North shoreline of Trap Lake, which quickly gave way to a glassy Slot Lake. The short paddle across Slot Lake was pleasant and short, the lake ending in a creek. I began to ascend the creek and quickly ran out of navigable water. It was just too shallow. I got out and walked through the shallow creek bed which was lined with small rocks. Here there was evidence of moose and canoes having come this way before…several different colours painted some of the rock.

After a short walk I arrived at the remnants of an old bridge that had been removed, where there was now a beaver dam. My hopes rose. Beyond the dam was deep water and what looked to be a navigable creek beyond. I was hoping to see if I could make it all the way to Three Island Lake. I had nothing else to do, so why not? I walked around on the old logging road which was overgrown with trees, I found many mushrooms and moose track and while walking back to the dam, I could hear moose calling far away to the North.

Above Slot Lake
An extensive beaver meadow above Slot Lake

 

Slot Lake timber
Timber from the log drives of decades past on Trap Lake


It was 4:20pm when I reached my canoe, I was preparing to portage the canoe up the creek to the dam when I noticed a breeze stirring. I realized that if I headed back now I might make it back to camp in an hour and if the wind picked up, sunlight wouldn't be around much longer after that. It was late in the day and with that I gave the creek a last look then turned around and headed back to Slot Lake. Better to be safe than sorry.

I would like to return to the area one day…see how far I can go off a canoe route. Real solitude could be achieved there I believed. By 4:35pm I arrived back in Deadman's Bay. The wind hadn't picked up as expected so I took the opportunity to visit the campsite there.

Trap Lake
A burned-out tree stump on Trap Lake: Much of the area had a burned-over look to it


The campsite sits high above the water looking across the bay to the mouth, where the expanse of the North section of the East arm lays beyond. The site was flat and open, with scattered red pine. A makeshift table and a fire-pit piled high with rock (to protect against a west wind) complimented the site. Towards the rear of the campsite, the wood gave me a spooky feeling as it had an unfriendly look to me. I did not linger and headed back to my canoe. As I left the campsite a motorboat passed by the mouth of the bay. There just seemed to be no way in getting away from them on the lake that day.

Deadman's Bay
On the lone campsite in Deadman’s Bay, looking West

 

Sleeping mergansers
A couple of mergansers asleep onshore


I paddled over to Sludge Bay, but could not gain entry. The water was too shallow and the terrain very mucky. The lake shoreline here was pleasant though. It was all sandy beach and sandy shallows. It was 5:20pm, time I began to paddle back to my island.

Lake Opeongo
Paddling the East arm, near Sludge Bay


As I started to make my way home, a motorboat approached. It was a fishing boat crammed with 6 guys. The boat looked woefully small for the amount of flesh that was piled into the boat, but the folks on the boat looked comfortable and worry-free. I paddled on trying to ignore the annoying drone of the motor as they continued to fish.

Lake Opeongo sunset
A pair of loons drift by my campsite during another colourful sunset


It had clouded over and by 6:00pm I arrived back at camp. By 7:00pm I was treated to a colourful sunset. The temperature dropped that night to around 5°C and there was no wind, so the sleeping was pleasant.


Hot Apple Cider
Cool evening opportunity: I fired up my stove to make hot apple cider

 


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