Middle child decided that her dad and I needed to get away, and knowing how much I love camping, she booked a last-minute trip to the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park, Burnt Island Lake. Normally we would not book Burnt Island Lake since it involves four portages and with me not being able to carry anything heavy, it is a lot of work for my husband, but it was the only spot left with available sites. There are three creeks that run along side the portages, and middle child was betting we would be able to take them.
We arrived at Access point 5, Canoe Lake around 12:30 p.m. this past Thursday. While I picked up our interior permits and maps, Matt loaded up the canoe. We made it across Canoe Lake and the first portage (190 metres, this portage is unavoidable) and into Joe Lake in a little over an hour. We then paddled up Joe Lake, making a right into the East Arm, passing by the very first site we had camped on with the kids years ago and then as luck would have it, we saw our first Moose of the trip. After the East Arm, you enter into Little Joe Lake, then the second portage at a length of 120 metres but as luck would have us, we were able to take the creek. It was a beautiful zigzagging creek before we came across the third portage of 430 metres. This time we were only able to canoe part of the creek, the second half I walked and Matt pulled the canoe over the extremely slippery rocks. He said pulling the canoe was still far easier than unloading, carrying, walking back, carrying some more gear, walking back, putting our 17ft canoe on his shoulders and carrying it, then reloading everything!
The second creek led us into Lost Joe Lake, where yes, you could say we became lost. We had accidentally paddled to the end of the lake, just missing the opening to the third creek. Matt had seen something in the corner of his eye, not realizing it was the creek we needed to take. Using the compass on my phone, we reoriented ourselves, just to double-check we hadn’t really screwed up as we doubled back and followed the creek into Baby Joe Lake. We were only able to walk up half of the last creek, it became far too rocky with very little water. As Matt walked ahead to take a better look at the rest of the creek, I waited by the canoe. Being the curious type and thinking he was taking too long, I started walking and of course I fell, regardless of the fact I had two walking sticks for balance, lol. More bruises added! We couldn’t go further up the creek, but there happened to be an opening taking us up to the portage, now we only had half of the 90 metres left. We were finally entering Burnt Island Lake.
Burnt Island Lake is very large and has fifty-one camp sites. I am never worried about finding a camp site since we had reserved one but I certainly didn’t want to have to paddle the entire lake. We paddled along the left side of the lake, and we were lucky to find the sixth site available. It was a lovely site in a small bay, completely isolated. We arrived on the site around 5:30 p.m., it had been a long day of travel, we set up our tent, cooked some food, hoisted the barrel up into a tree (hanging your food is the only way to keep bears away from your site, there was a bear warning out for where we were).
Friday morning. We awoke to a beautiful calm morning and a blazing sun. We spent most of the day resting, exploring our camp site, playing scrabble, then later we went for a swim. Actually, I ran into the water, lost my breath because the water was so cold and high-tailed it as fast as I could out of the water! Around 7 p.m we were preparing out meal, which meant boil water, add two and a quarter cups of water, wait 13 minutes, then eat. (Taking dried food into the bush is easier and can be quite good.) Well we were waiting the 13 minutes, all of a sudden heard there was this very loud sloshing sound. We ran to the edge of the water, just in time to see a cow with her calf climbing up onto the shore behind our site. It was amazing.
On Saturday we saw one mink swim in front of our camp site, then another swim to a tree stump in the lake, crawl all over it, swim to the next tree stump, crawl all over it, then swim to the last tree stump, doing the same thing, crawling all over it. I have no idea what it was looking for, possible food. We spent this day fishing but not catching anything, playing scrabble, and canoeing. We stayed up late Saturday to look at the stars in the sky. We took the canoe out on the lake around 11:30 p.m. making sure we knew exactly where our camp site was (under the big dipper and the largest pine tree). As we looked at the stars, we saw a number of meteors streak by.
Sunday morning. We packed up and started the long trip home. When in the East Arm we saw another moose and a loon with her chicks (once they are able to swim they are also called loons), so we actually saw 3 loons swimming in front of our canoe. I was exhausted by the time we entered Canoe lake, and trusting my husband with my life, I fell asleep in the canoe, leaving him to paddle the lake.