Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A.P.P. Fork Lake May 2014 first trip with the new canoe.

The story goes that when I first started combining canoeing and camping my destination for that first trip was Fork Lake in Algonquin Park.
For a number of reasons, one of which was rather low water levels that year, I never did make it. That first trip did happen but the location changed first to Big Crow Lake and then eventually the French River System and I have never looked back.
Years later I found myself sitting there with a shiny new canoe in the garage that had yet to get wet and a free weekend so it only seemed fitting that I finally make that long aborted trip into Fork.

Friday finally came and I left work and headed North, stopping in Huntsville to top off the gas tank and crab a coffee (coffee was probably a bad idea) before continuing with the plan of driving through to the West Gate and sleeping  in the car until the office opened.
Well I found out that I do not sleep in a car as well as I used to, but did manage to get a couple hours sleep over the night, waking on and off to look for the foretasted meteor showers and around 1:30, watching  a couple pull in, pull on the locked office doors and then get back in their car and leave the way they came.
After an early drive through Whitney and a stop at the local dump to look for Bears, I remembered that the Opeongo office opens at 7 and headed that way to find out they had been open for an hour.
Permit finally in hand, I headed back across the Highway and found a pull off on the North side between Sunday Creek and the Spruce Bog parking lot, allowing me to unload and cut off 75% of the hike from the parking lot to the Creek.
With the car moved to the parking lot I headed back to the Creek and slipped the canoe into the water for the first time, loading in my pack and fishing gear.
Well the one thing I forgot about an Osprey is the initial stability is not quite what I am used to and as I slipped into the canoe, I almost went out the other side as fast as I was getting in. As I caught myself I was looking around to check for witnesses before the canoe settled down.
Pushing off from shore, it was a quick pivot to the right I lined myself up for ride over the beaver dam at the North side of the culvert under the highway. With that out of the way I headed down the creek,

floating over at least 2 more beaver dams, winding my way down towards Norway.

Passing through Norway I came across the only dam that was an inconvenience, requiring a slide over and the result of the first scratch.

Looking towards Fork Lake form the beaver dam

I should mention that like every trip I forgot something and this time it was the memory card for the camera, so I worked with what I had and slid my phone into the pocket on my pfd.
Taking my time paddling down Fork I entered the South Bay, exploring the shoreline a bit and just enjoying the feeling of the canoe under me and I might add, feeling much more stable than when I first stepped into it.
The mainland site is pretty much what I expected and a little small and rough but there was a small cache of firewood left and plenty to be found near the site.
Heading back out, I circled the Island and decided that would be home for the weekend, landing on the South West side. In all, I think it was about an hour and forty-five minute relaxed paddle from the time I passed under the Highway to landing on the Island.

The trees are coming back and the South side offered a break from the winds that were great for the temperature but not so great for the bugs. I was either sitting there to hot in a bug jacket or sitting in the North rock face with a jacket on.

Looking North from the point of the Island.

As I sent Bev an OK message from my S.P.O.T., letting her know I had arrived, I glanced at my phone and thought how close I was to the Visitors Centre and may have broken one of the cardinal rules of interior camping, but yes I sent her a text letting her know where I was. Well one thing led to another and the next thing you know I was laying in the tent on an unmaintained campsite chatting with my Wife by text. Both very wrong and sort of cool at the same time. I will even admit to posting 1 picture to social media that afternoon.
With an early night I crawled into the tend around dusk and said good night to Bev before sleeping like a log.

Her first night in the bush.

The South side of the Island may have some decent cover but the North side is still a little lacking, and the thunderbox is a little exposed.

Sometime after Noon I had packed up and checked the weather to find out that there was 30KMH winds from the North increasing as the afternoon progressed.
Thinking there was no better way to get used to the new canoe I pushed off and headed up Fork, passing through the North bay annd arriving back at the beaver dam.

A couple of pictures of the Creek heading back.

The Visitors Centre from along the Creek.

Arriving back at the Highway the current was slow enough that I was able to paddle back through the culvert, and with a bit of a run at it, slide over the beaver dam.

In Summery
The Black flies were annoying, but nothing that a little DEET or a bug jacket didn't take care of.
 I never did go for a wood run and ended up spending a lot of time sitting on the North shore where there was a breeze just looking over the Lake.

The canoe is everything that I expected it to be and look forward to spending a lot of quality time with her over the years, exploring both old and new places. I paddled most of the solo canoes I could including Swift’s Pack Boats (found them to mall for all my stuff) and just feel more comfortable in the Osprey. I did the Happy Isle BT Hogan Crow loop a few years ago in what I found out later was the prototype for the Osprey combi and by the time I made it across BT I was sold. Last summer I tried a Kewedian and never felt comfortable in it.
In Expedition Kevlar, skid plates and Kevlar integral gunnels it tips the scales right at 42lbs with the yoke and solo seat.

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