February 25 - Day 2
The trek to Opeongo Island (East arm)

It had been a warm night and I didn't sleep the greatest, my foam pad ended up half off the cot all curled up into a roll, thus my back felt cold in the latter part of the night. I tossed and turned a lot on my cot and so did Mike but his pad always stayed in place. I had to figure something out.

It was my turn to make breakfast and I went outside to fire up the stove for I would be cooking hash browns and pork sausages with raisin toast for breakfast. It was a good idea for breakfast but in practise it was a problem: It took too long to cook. The frozen hash browns were one thing but the pork sausages took forever and once breakfast was finally served, the hash browns lacked flavour. I did not bring along any salt & pepper and I forgot the ketchup. This made for bland hash browns, filling but still bland. There was mustard for lunchtime sausages available, but the idea of putting mustard on hash browns seemed gross.

After breakfast, It was decided we would walk up to the East arm, possibly to Opeongo Island, to a campsite where I had once camped. Mike & Scott agreed and we headed out with Mike hauling a sled loaded with our snowshoes and two day-packs. It was grey with an overcast sky.

Mike & Scott

Mike & Scott head up the lake towards the East Arm

 

ice heave
Near Squaw Bay the ice cracked and heaved near the shoreline


It was just before 9:30am that we hit the ice and headed up the lake. The walk was uneventful and as we neared one campsite along the West shore we saw old wolf tracks and ice that had cracked & heaved along the shoreline. By 10:10am we reached a campsite outside the Northeast end of Squaw Bay. I have paddled by this campsite during the summer months before and mentioned a plaque could be seen if we approached close enough to the campsite's south facing rock-face. Just before the rock-face was a pool of open water. We gave the pool of water a wide berth as we walked around it. There the ice had cracked and heaved so much that fresh water had flooded onto the ice surface. We climbed onshore and took some pictures of the memorial plaque located there then continued north across the vast expanse on open ice.

dangerous ice
Dangerous sections of ice, such as this area where it cracked and heaved forming a pool of water on top of the ice

 

good dark ice
Dark, thick ice was encountered next to a campsite outside Squaw Bay


The distance was a lot longer then it seemed on a map and it took us just over 45 minutes of non-stop walking to reach the narrows into the East arm. It was speculated beforehand that we might see open water at the narrows, it was both shallow and well...narrow. We suspected there might be a current there as well.

memorial plaque
The memorial plaque, two campsites south of “Windy Point"

 

Lake Opeongo
Mike departs a windswept campsite outside Squaw Bay heading for the East Arm


Sure enough, there was a vast area of open water and we kept our distance from it, preferring to cross at the campsite on the point along the West shore. As we crossed into the East arm, the sun made a brief pale appearance in the sky and as we crossed the open ice a wind picked up from the North.

campsite at the narrows
The point campsite (West shore) at the narrows to the East Arm

 

Lake Opeongo narrows
Looking to the East shore at the narrows - Open water!


Twelve noon and we arrived at the appointed campsite on Opeongo Island. After collecting some wood from the surrounding bush we had a nice fire going within 15 minutes. While scouting around for firewood I came across many snowshoe hare tracks and it was my secret hope to come across these hares so that I could photograph them. No luck though as no hares appeared.

Opeongo Island
Scott & Mike arrive at Opeongo Island in the East arm

 

winter campfire
Mike builds-up the fire-pit which was torn apart


Mike produced some sausages and roasted them on the fire and we served up a few drinks and toasted our trek to Opeongo Island. A bowl each of instant soup was also consumed. The funny thing is that there was an onshore breeze that chilled us as we stood around the fire. I had hoped the island would offer us protection from the North wind; It certainly did, but just like my eight night stay at the campsite years earlier, a south wind was blowing and there was no getting away from it. The soups had warmed us well.

East arm campsite
The narrows as seen from the Opeongo Island campsite (just below the pine tree branch from the right of the image)

 

sausage over campfire
Roasting tasty sausages over the fire


By 1:35pm Mike extinguished the fire and we headed back out onto the ice, it was time to head home. By 2:30pm we had crossed the narrows and were back in the South arm. The wind had switched and was coming from the Northwest accompanied by damp air. I looked behind us and was surprised to see mist covered hills in the distance..snow was coming.

Snowshoe hare tracks
Some large snowshoe hare tracks on Opeongo Island

 

opeongo island
Leaving Opeongo Island behind, we followed our tracks back to the South arm

As we trekked across the open ice, snow squalls overtook us as horizontal snow blew through us. By 3:45pm we had reached the safety of a campsite on the North side of the bay we were camped on and ten minutes after that we were back at our camp. The snow squalls had subsided and by 5pm there were breaks in the cloud cover and even the sun came out, the weather seemed to be breaking!

wolf tracks
Old wolf tracks next to an ice fissure near the narrows on the South arm

 

ice fissure lake opeongo
The ice fissure extended out as far as the eye could see

Dinner that night was provided by Mike; a tasty beef stew along with dinner rolls, very delicious and warming which was needed for the temperature was dropping fast that night and it felt like a cold night was coming on. I later went out and howled for wolves and again no answer was received.

Lake Opeongo
Scott walks on some strong ice next to a campsite on the South arm

 

Lake Opeongo
Late afternoon: The sun emerged bringing the colours alive

 


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