Day 3: Booth Lake, Sunday September 8, 6:45pm
This is my new favourite lake in the south part of Algonquin. Our site is one of a half dozen lining the north shore of this lake, I’m guessing because also lining the north shore is a lovely, dun-coloured sandy beach interspersed with huge boulders. See, I don’t normally like beach sites because sand gets everywhere and it’s harder to fill up the vinyl sink with lake water for filtering. But here you get the best of both worlds.
Booth is clearly popular with a lot of people. This site is showing signs of use, including many two ply trilliums and some form of museum of or shrine to portable camp grills. There were about six of them piled in a heap beside the fire pit.
We’ve had a bit of luck with the weather, today, and finding this site at the end of it has been a perfect counter melody to yesterday’s slog through the woods.
But I’ll start from the beginning.
We were on the water at 8:20, despite rising a bit late, after our traditional, utilitarian breakfast. And Ibuprophen. I do love me some Ibuprophen to start my stiff body up after days like yesterday.
Strong winds from the north whipped up waves on Annie Bay before we’d even made our coffee. By the time we set out there were white caps. What a difference a few points on the compass make. It made our trip south on Annie Bay a bit more like surfing than paddling. At times, the GPS clocked us at 9km/hr. Our normal cruising speed is 6km/hr.
Annie Bay feeds the Opeongo River by way of a dam. The 90m portage around it was first on today’s light agenda.
When we were on it, this stretch of the Opeongo River was flat and shallow. We tickled the bottom of our canoe a few times over the first stretch. There wasn’t much current to speak of and only the tiniest of swifts, all of which were too shallow to paddle.
The other four portages along this stretch of the Opeongo borrow from some form of road. It’s not marked on the park canoe route map but I’m guessing it’s some form of service road for the dam. In keeping with the notion of never traveling the same river twice, some of the portages aren’t where they say they’re supposed to be on the map. And they start further away from what you or I might term Obvious, portage-requiring obstruction so keep your eyes peeled. Or you could be in for more adventure than you planned.
We did one beaver dam portage just before the river widened out into Tattler Lake. We saw the rental cabin on Tattler Lake, which looks quite cute, although it might be a bit bug prone in high summer. You can rent this one and the one we saw on Kitty Lake for $58 per night for the first person and then $12 per night for each other adult.
I caught our only glimpse of four-footed, non-squirrel wildlife on Tattler. A large beaver who slapped the water’s surface before diving under water. Startling but only the most fleeting of sightings. Oh well. Maybe next trip.
We were on Booth by about 11am, squinting as the sun sparkled on the water. It felt warm. Probably in the mid teens. The moderate winds more or less favoured us, coming abaft of the port beam, to use the argot.
We saw more people on Booth – three parties – than we had in the last two days. It’s easy to see why. The lake is generally booked solid on weekends all summer long, according to the ranger at the access point. Small wonder. It’s within easy reach of the Shall Lake access point, it’s gorgeous and perfect for kids.
We paddled past one group of young men, circled up and doing stretches. They assured us they were not on a yoga retreat. Later that night as they started their (apparently mandatory) young manly bellowing, we rather wished they were.
We put in at our campsite just before noon. I felt a bit sheepish that yesterday had been so long and today had been so short. Perhaps we could have stopped on Dickson and done Dickson Bonfield today instead, I reckoned. However that would have made yesterday into a short day and at least today we could hang around in the sun and warmth.
Which is what we did. After we set up camp. Our site’s tent and kitchen area is obscured from the lake by a row of cedar trees. We decided to defy the rain gods by not putting up the tarp.
Then we collected garbage. The people before us appear to have had a thing for cigarettes and grape Koolaid. But that stuff was corralled around the fire pit. The toilet paper was another matter. Public service announcement: People please – the park staff put a lot of effort into putting thunder boxes on all the campsites. Use them for crying out loud.
We lounged around most of the afternoon. Martin went for a swim. I dipped my body briefly in the water. We dried our clothes, shoes and socks and – get this – had a second cup of coffee.
Dinner will be an experiment. Another Laurie-Ann March recipe. Couscous this time. Wish me luck.
The couscous worked. The quantities were good. A cup of couscous, and vegetables as per March’s recipe. And we even added the left over parmesan to it and it wasn’t disgusting. I think I will work my way through all of Another Fork in the Trail.
Sunset was gorgeous. Stars were stunning. Sleep now.