Ishpatina Ridge

September 16 – 20, 2005

Day 1

Friday, September 16, 2005, 8:00pm, Smoothwater Lake

Well we’re doing just fine. We’re where we were supposed to be (actually half a lake ahead of schedule, but shhh!) and we’ve eaten well, and we’re having a blast. So far.

I slept over at Michael and Sayuri’s last night to make our getaway that much more expedient. We got up at 4:30, had breakfast and bundled downstairs to meet Ken and the canoes. Ken showed up spot on time and we were rolling by 5:30am. Ugh. But we needed to get up that early to get to where we needed to be. Or, where we thought we needed to be.

By 10:30 we were in the village of Temagami. We decided to do the honourable thing and pay for a park permit. We went to Temagami Outfitters (who’re selling permits these days) and decided to wait for Markus and Lisa there. They were picking up their canoe from Temagami Outfitters for noon.

They got there at the appointed time and emerged with this beautiful, weightless canoe, a Souris River Quetico.

We bought sandwiches at the Subway and got rolling again by around 1pm.

Two hours later, we arrived at the boat launch where Beauty Lake Road crosses the Montréal River. We were on the water just around 3:30. The put-in is quite civilized. There’s parking there for eight or so cars, an outhouse, and a reasonable place to put in your canoe.

The river was shallow in a couple of places and we had to get out and walk. But the current was negligible, and there were no rapids or swifts to speak of. The late afternoon sun shone on us, with temperatures in the high teens or low 20s, and the gentlest of breezes.

We paddled into Lady Dufferin Lake and onto a calm, windless Smoothwater Lake. We continued about halfway down the lake along the east shore and stopped at the David Kirsch memorial campsite. It’s gorgeous.

It’s easy to see why Kirsch, who died in 1997, liked this site. Some of his friends, in addition to nailing a small metal plaque to a tree, have also made some heavy duty camp furniture. Normally I frown upon such things and dismantle them, but this stuff was so thoughtfully and solidly put together that I think it would have been a real shame to take it apart, especially since it was put there to honour the memory of one who clearly loved wilderness.

The site itself is in a large bay, rimmed with a sandy beach. A creek flows into the lake at one end of the site. It’s definitely the place to park on Smoothwater.

Dinner was rice, veg, salad and meat or TVP. A learning experience and very healthy for all.

Questions of the day:

Heading down Lady Dufferin Lake. Lisa leans into it. (Markus Wandel photo)

Heading down Lady Dufferin Lake Lisa leans into it. (Markus Wandel photo)

Smoothwater Lake: sunset.

Smoothwater Lake Sunset.

David Kirsch’s dedication plaque. Someone can do this for me when I die. I wouldn’t mind. Smoothwater Lake.

David Kirsch’s dedication plaque Someone can do this for me when I die. I wouldn’t mind. Smoothwater Lake.