Day 2

Saturday, September 15, 6pm, Turner Island, Turner Lake

Miserable morning. Dark, rainy, windy, cold. Maybe 8C? Yuk. And to top it all off I didn't boil enough water for two bowls of oatmeal and two cups of coffee.

We got up at 6:30, choked back the oatmeal with granola and raisins (extra crunchy version) and were on the water by 8:10. A short paddle from our site to a 600m portage onto a creek that empties out at Camp Wanapitei, then across Ferguson Bay to the Mount Napoleon portage. I decided to do this route, rather than the round-the-peninsula paddling route because the wind was quite stiff and we needed to warm our feet too.

By the time we hit the portage, the sky had cleared and the sun was suggesting warmth. The first bit of this portage is steep, but you don't need to use your hands or anything like that. We didn't climb up Mount Napoleon. Some day. Not today. The portage is in good shape, though, well used as it is.

After that we headed north into Whitefish Bay, part of Lake Temagami's North Arm. The wind was blowing from the north, right into our faces, which made paddling a bit like a bouncy castle, but the waves were manageable. We got a splash over the side once, but it was just hard work. Eventually we found ourselves at the portage to Aston Lake. From what I could read from the Chrismar map, the put-in is supposed to be beside a creek. But Hap's narrative is more accurate. The portage is up the creek a few dozen metres. And yes, it's swampy.

So north again we paddled on Aston Lake. Again straight into the wind. Aston seems about as wide as Whitefish Bay but its north-south fetch is shorter and waves weren't as much of a factor. Still I was pleased to reach the end and the portage which is where, Hap?

Paddle to the north end of the lake, where you will find a beaver dam at the grassy mouth of a small creek. Lift over the dam and paddle across the creek to the portage landing.

We saw a grassy mouth of a small creek, but no beaver dam. The portage is a few dozen metres up the creek, like Hap implies. The Chrismar map more or less puts the portage at the shore. The map also says the trail into Lynx is bisected by a small pond which you're supposed to paddle across. Hap? What do you say?

This trail is separated by a creek that bisects the trail. Paddle 50 m across this flooded section and continue about 275 m to Lynx Lake.

Whitefish Bay to Aston - where is it

In our case, the trail was bisected by a trickle of water no more than three feet across at the bottom of a two-ish foot gully just a bit too broad to step across. We didn't even put our gear down. It had been a dry summer and with the disappearance of the beaver dam at the creek mouth, it seems the whole water system has transformed. Full of surprises, this. Apart from the muddy put-in the trail is fine. Again, overgrown and with deadfall, but no major obstacles.

The 1km ish portage trail into Aston was overgrown and had a bit of deadfall on it but was quite manageable and never ambiguous.

We headed north into Lynx Lake, the wind abating somewhat on the smaller lakes. We ran into another party, headed the opposite direction. They'd stayed on Turner Lake the night before. We were quite relieved. There's only one site marked on Turner Lake and I reckoned we were not going to be in the mood to push on if we found it booked.

But there it was - Turner Island. All free and clear and looking lovely when we approached it near 3:30pm, the early fall sun already turning everything an orange shade of yellow. We made camp and gave thanks for a day of good weather and all round good luck. We'd lost the sponge - plucked from its perch wedged into the stern of the canoe on some overgrown portage, the bungee cord (in the parking lot while doing a last minute wardrobe change) but hadn't gotten lost.

It had taken us a bit of extra time to find the portages into Aston and Lynx but all in all, we'd done well.

What a perfect time to try an experimental supper. Laurie Ann March has written two wilderness cook books which I quite like. The second one especially since I'm a vegetarian (Another Fork in the Trail). The recipes are written for me because she assumes that you're cooking at home then dehydrating and that you also want guidance preparing the food on the trail. I also have Carol Hodgson's Wanapitei books but she's quite old school: all burlap sacks full of potatoes, wannigans and getting up before dawn to bake bread.

My experiment was the Lentil Apple Stew, from March's second book. And it worked. A good meal, for sure. But not a repeat performer.

Also I couldn't bring myself to start rehydrating at noon in a "trustworthy nalgene" as she instructs. I brought what I thought would work for the quantity involved but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The leaking would be insult to injury of having to carry another litre of liquid across the portages. I'm going to go back to her book for another recipe next year.

The evening was warm - though I still had a fleece and a down vest on - and we managed to mostly dry our shoes and socks. Sort of.

After washing up the dishes, washing down the rest of the wine and staring up at the stars, we went to bed around 9:30. I was a bit anxious about our route tomorrow, mostly because of the portages.


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