Day 3

5:36pm, Sunday, Sept 18, Killarney Lake

Whew. That was a day. My route vs reality graph was 20.2km (route) 21km (reality), including more than 8km of portages. But I was expecting that.

We were up a bit late – 6:50am – but still managed to get on the water by 8:30. After about half a click of paddling, we hit the 2945m between David and Great Mountain Lake. It mostly follows an old river bed but at a couple of points it has you heading into the hills. But it’s in good shape.

As you head toward the 950m out of the south end of Great Mountain, you’ll see how the lake got its name. The campsite at the south end of the lake (157) looks stunning.

A 60m portage gets you into Little Mountain Lake, which is that beautiful Killarney blue colour.

And from there we descended into portage and mud puddle shuttle until the early afternoon. Two 950m portages separated by a gondola shove across 20m of muddy pond, and then a meandering, unnamed creek including several short (130m or less) portages, liftovers and beaver dams takes you into Three Narrows Lake.

I’m always a bit nervous doing these stream routes, generally because the route map provides so little detail and the GPS route is a less detailed version of the route map. And while the GPS can tell you you’re going the wrong way, generally speaking, sometimes the creek’s route is so meandering it can literally turn you around.

To make things wierder, creeks and rivers evolve between map printings. The beavers see to that. Creeks can become ponds, can grow new channels, can become lift-overs where once there was a swift and so on.

But bless them they do keep the water in the creek, which keeps it navigable for people like us.

We paused for lunch at the start of a portage of indeterminate length from an unnamed creek to an unamed poind near Three Narrows.

We were at Three Narrows Lake by around 1:30pm. It’s a lovely lake, even by Killarney standards. But we were just passing through. I must definitely put together a route where I camp there and see the other narrows.

Today we just travelled down the east arm to the portages into Killarney Lake. The first is marked as 395m and it leads you to a small, unnamed lake. Then it’s 3160m into Killarney Lake. And it’s mostly okay.

There’s one steep hill you must ascend if you’re going toward Killarney Lake. So steep in fact that the park staff have put a yellow directional marker at the base of the hill as if to say, ‘no, we’re not kidding, you really do have to climb this thing. No bushwhacking off to the right, please.’

But large chunks of this portage are over flat or gently undulating terrain. Also you can’t get around the three kilometreness of it.

When you’re done, it lands you across the lake from the nicest campsites on Killarney Lake, one of the nicest in the park. When we got through the portage, at around 3:30, we saw one of them was free. A 900m paddle across the lake and we grabbed it.

We basked in the sun. Martin swam and we put the campsite together. Chilli for dinner went well. We had our last tetrapak of our dear friend French Rabbit. The Cab-Sauv again. We sat by the fire and counted our blessings:


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