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Day 9

Tuesday August 5th, 2pm. Killarney Lake, Site 16

It is a busy lake, but the good news is, no yachts.

Lesson 5: all canoeists are comrades.

We're at our home for the last night of our adventure. It's not the best site on Killarney Lake. That's been got by some homesteaders.

Tomorrow we head home. And not a moment too soon. Irene is telling me that the gear is speaking to her. She's named her dromedary Miguel Ruiz because she says that's what it says when you pour water from it.

The water filter, she claims, is writing the lyrics for a punk rock tune:

Smarty pants
Whaddya want! Whaddya want
I wanna hickey

I haven't ruled out an air ambulance.

But back to today. We were on the water for 9:20 this morning, low-hanging clouds, windless. We made our way into the pool proper to encounter our biggest yacht yet. More like a small ocean liner. The campsite in the Pool has absolutely no chance of being anything but another roadside attraction for the yacht set.

Past The Pool, we paddled up (I think it's called Artist Creek) a creek a ways. A tree blocks the creek a few dozen metres before the put-in but bushwhackers and the hiking trail have extended the trail. It's muddy and there is a tricky bit of footwork for canoe carriers but at 370m, you barely notice.

That took us into Artist Lake. A pretty lake, full of wind-tortured trees, poised precariously on rocky outcroppings, with a backdrop of white, tree-spotted cliffs rising out of the forest lining the lake's shore.

You can picture the Group of Seven hanging out here for days, painting away. Hope they had lots of bug dope.

We paddled to the end of Artist Lake and found the marker for what we thought would be a 900m portage into Muriel, that skirted the edge of an impassable bog.

But this is where the map and reality part company.

It is actually a short carry up a steep, short hill, past a falls, and down the other side to a put-in, just upstream of a beaver dam. You then paddle through a windy channel that the creek's current has cut through the bog, bullrushes and lily pads. You then arrive at another short portage, back across the creek, over a slight incline and into Muriel Lake.

All in all, a pleasant bit of paddling. If that's what you're expecting. If you're relying on the 2001 map on the other hand, you'll be thinking, "where the fuck are we?" a lot.

Well, Irene found the channel through the reeds that led us to the portage. So we were fine. It was just a short, mild moment.

If you do this route, stay on Muriel. Don't stay on Baie Fine. Paddle through Baie Fine. Appreciate its beauty, turn into the boat wakes and keep moving.

Muriel is beautiful and has a couple of sites. One looked, better than the other but there are no yachts and it's only an hour past the Pool.

From Muriel we portaged 595m into OSA Lake.

OSA is gorgeous. Wide, long, lined by Killarney's highest ridges, and peppered with islands and possibly too few campsites. All of which are booked. All summer long. Try as you may, nothing is available.

But we oogled as we paddled east. This is one of the park's biggest lakes and wind can be a factor. We had a headwind but the water was still calm. The sun also started to emerge from what had seemed an impenetrable mantle of cloud.

Through the 455m to Killarney, we got into the lake just about noon. Just past the portage we saw a loon carrying a gosling on its back. It can't dive so it just floated there and let us photograph it and ooh-ahh a bit (the loon and us) before we moved on.

We were on Killarney a little ahead of the campsite-claiming hour, so we had a good look around. Though I was feeling a little pressure. We landed on the third vacant site we saw. It's a little ways past the bay that leads to Freeland Lake, but it's got a great view of the Blue Ridge part of the La Cloche Range. It's a tad close to site #17 (booked if you have to ask), but it meets many of our other criteria.

We have a pest chipmunk on this site. It's so tame, it will come right up to you and sit on your shoe while foraging for your food. It's a pain because it means you have to be extra anal about putting all food away at all times.

Dinner was chili with corn fritters. Another untried Carol Hodgins special. Tasty but we can only make one fritter at a time. This drags out dinner to great lengths and ensures that something will be cold. Not sure how to deal with it. Because the fresh bread-like thing is a treat.

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