September 16, 2007 - Day 1
Frosty start to the day

This was a two week solo trip to Algonquin Park’s largest lake - Lake Opeongo. I had planned to spend my time base camping in the South arm then moving up to the East arm and eventually paddling back out to access#11. This is really more of a vacation log than a “trip-log”.

I hit the highway at around 5:45am, late by my standards as I’m usually on the highway around 4:00am. It was fall though and it was a Sunday, traffic would be at a minimum. As predicted there was no traffic and just over an hour into my journey I caught up to a rainbow and thought this was a good sign. As I drove along highway#60 in The Park I encountered heavy morning mist, which eventually the sun burned through and the sight that morning was fantastic and still there was no traffic.

7:00am: Driving up highway#11, a rainbow appeared in the west
I arrived to a quiet and sunny access#11 at 9:00am. I got out and walked over to the permit office to acquire my permit. It was very cool, with the temperature near 5°C. Talking with the woman in the office, I learned there had been some frost the night before. Excellent! This is just what I wanted to hear; warm sunny September days with cool frosty nights. My hope was that before the end of my trip, the fall colours would peak. By 9:35am I climbed into my fully loaded canoe and paddled up a near calm lake. There was a slight headwind as I rounded the first bend and Wolf Island came into view.

Highway#60 Algonquin Park
East of Kearney campground as the morning mist cleared along highway#60

I paddled onwards, eventually reaching the infamous Bates Island and skirted it's southern shore using it as a wind-block. I planned to paddle along the East shore heading up to the South shore of Jones Bay. It was 10:45am as I left Bates Island behind and paddled up the more exposed areas of the South arm. The wind and waves continued to be favourable as I settled back and enjoyed my solo paddle. I had been apprehensive about paddling such a big lake solo. I had done it before, a month earlier but with Lake Opeongo one never knows, your luck can change in an instant.

Lake Opeongo permit office
Ahead: The permit office on Lake Opeongo
Lake Opeongo access#11
9:35am: I was loaded up and ready to go on a friendly looking Lake Opeongo

My luck held. The water was perfect and as I passed by both Englehart Islands, I saw empty campsite after empty campsite. This is exactly what I wanted to see...nobody. I paddled into Jones Bay and the feeling of total solitude fell upon me, there was no one around, no canoes, no motorboats. A loon called and my solitude was complete, I couldn’t believe my luck!

Lake Opeongo
There was just a hint of autumn colour, look for a similar image on day 14

At 11:30am I passed by a campsite I had camped at in 2003. A smoky smell reached my nostrils as I passed by the campsite, but saw no signs of inhabitants. My destination was the next campsite, the last one on this part of the lake. I would be left all alone and by 12 noon I arrived. I then began the process of setting up camp, this would be my home for the next five nights.

Wolf Island, Lake Opeongo
Ahead: Wolf Island, beyond and to the right - Bates Island

Once my camp had been established, I spent the afternoon improving my tarp set-up, gathering and chopping firewood and eating hot dogs for lunch. I managed to catch an afternoon nap in my tent and also spent time watching the water move. Around 6:30pm, I made dinner which was chicken cooked over the fire served with rice. The winds never picked up this day and by 7:00pm the water was near calm. It had been a really nice day to be in a canoe on Lake Opeongo. The temperature that day never went above 14°C.

South Arm - Lake Opeongo
Passing Bates Island, the Englehart Islands lay before me

Camp on Jones Bay

The campsite was small but had a cozy feeling to it

I was totally alone on the largest lake in Algonquin Park. You would think that it isn’t possible to find such solitude on Lake Opeongo, but you can. The timing has to be perfect; Weeks after everyone has gone back to school and work, selecting a campsite out of the way, away from the boating traffic and shuttles and of course good weather. I finished my meal and sat by the water’s edge, enjoying the sunset. I retired to my tent by 10:00pm

September sunset on Lake Opeongo
A beautiful, quiet sunset on my first night on Lake Opeongo


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