We spent days 5, 6 and 7 on Harry(‘s) Lake in Killarney Provincial Park. Before going on this trip B did a little research on My Canadian Canoe Routes about the route we planned to take. A couple of years ago there was a bear encounter on one of the sites (closest one to ours on the island). A camper tells his story below:
“Before the light of day, at 4:15 am, I was awoken to a noise of some sort and when I looked to the roof of my tent, I noticed the tent was tilted to the one side. In a sleepy state I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening until I looked out my screen door to see a black bear standing on the end of my tent vestibule, just feet from my head. I slowly say up, and clapped my hands (in fear of course). The bear took off and tripping over the vestibule, took it out of the ground with him. After scrambling for my whistle in the gear loft of the tent, I made my way outside to make sure the bear had not just feasted on our food (that was secured.). Once out of the tent, I realized the bear had not run far. He was now 10 meters in front of me standing in a gulley facing my direction. I blew my whistle and did what we have always been told. I backed up slowly, facing the bears direction (it was still to dark to make him out completely), and continued to blow my whistle. The bear let out a grumbling roar, stomped the ground and then turned to run away. By now my heart was in my throat, and I began to wonder why I’m not hearing the sound of my canoe partners tent zippers opening. Well within seconds, everyone was out confused and a little nervous of what had just transpired. The food was safe and all was good.”
Knowing this, B purchased bear spray just in case. I certainly felt better sleeping in our tent next to my husband, our dog who let out a periodic bark, and and myself snuggled up to the bear spray. It was all of our intention to get the only island site on the lake. Although upon arrival, it was only a few short meters from main land. I spent most nights thinking I’ve heard a bear jump in the water and swim to the island. Your mind can play such tricks on you!
Harry(‘s) Lake has quite a lot of history to it. Upon arrival, we seen a plaque displayed on the main land next to our island. Family names carved underneath date back to 1906. There was definitely a feeling to this place.
We set up camp and B made a much needed lunch after our day of paddling and portaging (Part Two here).
I have to rant here. Much like Kevin Callan’s rant on canned food left behind on a site in Killarney, we also experienced some bothersome no-no’s. Upon arrival, we noticed 2 corona beer cans in the fire pit, a towel, socks and later Banjo got a hold of a huge rubber fishing worm that was hard to get away from her. Last thing I wanted was my dog to eat one of those and it get stuck in her innards and have to paddle a long way back and drive even longer to take her to a vet. Nick found a whole package of these worms, a Gander Mountain (American outdoors store) brand. Included inside was a barbed hook. I was furious. I came to the wildness interior to not have to worry about my dog being safe or not having to pick up others’ garbage.
We ate very well the day we arrived. B made vegetarian shepherd’s pie in his dutch oven and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset. When the sun was almost set, we heard a lot of commotion between the loon families on the lake and then listened harder to hear a lone wolf howling on the south shore. Shivers were sent down my spine and I never felt so minimal in all my life. It was incredible and such an honour to be able to listen and experience nature take its course. I heard this wolf (or another) many times during my time on Harry(‘s) Lake.
Our second day was spent exploring and having curious visitors stop by our site.
Later in the afternoon we went fishing and explored the other sites on the lake. We arrived on site 132 and discovered a lot of animal activity. A lot of moose scat, turned over rocks and moss accompanied by a really strange feeling. Almost like this was this site that the bear encounter happened on but it wasn’t. There was a wooden bench and some wood we loaded up in the canoe to take back to our site when I seen a very eerie drawing on a rock by the water. It explained the bad vibes we all picked up from this site and made me think twice about bringing anything back with us. We all got in our canoes but Banjo wouldn’t leave the site; even she was acting weird! With much coaxing, she finally climbed aboard.
We explored another part of the lake and make inukshuks. We felt better about being here.
It was getting late so we headed back and I threw a few lines in… I caught a monster small mouth bass, biggest one yet!
During our last day and night on Harry(‘s) Lake we took a day trip into Frank Lake with a 290 meter portage over an elevation of 238 meters. Frank Lake was stunning.
From there we did a 480 meter portage over an elevation of 243 meters into Lake Panache where we waited at the end of the trail for the rain to let up. We paddled down to the end of the bay and did another portage of 120 meters, but by this time we decided to turn around because the wind had picked up substantially and it was raining pretty hard. It was nice to explore at least. When we arrived back on Harry(‘s) Lake B and I were both pretty sure we smelled a bear.
Andrew was on for dinner and made us an incredible vegetarian chilli while B made some bushcraft to hang the dutch oven over the fire while we all went fishing.
The guys’ big catch!
We enjoyed our last sunset before we had to pack up the next morning to paddle back to Three Mile Lake for our final night in Killarney.
Stay tuned for Part Four.