Day 4 and 5
Portages: 895m, 165m (Jeff’s Map) or 130m (Ottertooth Map), 225m (Jeff’s Map) or 270m (Ottertooth Map), plus MORE.
We all knew Jeff’s Map said this portage between McConnell Bay and Laura Lake was “very muddy,” but I think it’s much more than that. I had high hopes that it would be somewhat dried up because of the drought much of Ontario has had this summer, but when we reached the muddy section, it was muddy. I know it has probably been worse during wet summers. We could see the logs we needed to step on so that was good, and someone recommended on My Canadian Canoe Routes that I use a paddle or two to balance on the logs. First Trip and I left our packs at the muddy section and went back for the kayak.
From the take-out on McConnell Bay to the “very muddy” section of this portage, it is exactly 55 bottles of beer on the wall, 55 bottles of beer. Cook Pot just ploughed through it. It probably helped that he was wearing Chota Paddling Mukluks, while the rest of us were either wearing our water shoes or hikers. I had thought about my hikers but knew they’d get wet, so I wore Crocs. I needed the 2 paddles to help feel my way through the muck. It was fun though and didn’t end up being too bad.
With that portage now behind us, and rounding the top of our trip we were southbound from now on. We left behind the turquoise water and rusty orange rocks and it was now a familiar looking lake in Ontario’s shield country. We also left behind the decent condition of portage trails.
Jeff’s Map shows a 5m portage at the end of Laura Lake near a campsite, but there is no portage. You can paddle on through.
The next portage was 165m and you cross over a dirt road. The landing is terrible. You have to balance over rocks and boulders and eventually walk your way through a good patch of mature poison ivy. When you do eventually reach the road, there is a bridge. This whole portage sucked! Could have been the worst.
Next, Jeff’s Map says there is a liftover, but it was much more than that. The water was very low, so we had to use a portage trail before the liftover to take us out to the creek. There was no way you could paddle the creek after lifting over the beaver dam as suggested on the map. I would say this was a good 200m + that isn’t marked on Jeff’s Map or Ottertooth’s Map. The portage was in good condition, but a bit tricky not sinking up to your knees in mud to get back in the canoe.
We could see the next portage of 225m (on Jeff’s Map), but it was definitely more like the 260m as indicated on Ottertooth’s map. This portage was good, but looking at the low water in the creek at the put-in to Evelyn Lake, I wasn’t sure that we’d even make it out to the lake. There was just enough water for us to float, and almost not enough water to paddle. But, with determination after a long day we went for it and made it through the thick patch of lily pads to the open lake.
After 4 full days of canoe tripping, the group decided to take a day off on Evelyn Lake. We camped on the island at the south end of the lake and I think this could have been everyone’s favourite site. No thunderbox so more digging cat holes, but the island was huge.
The old growth red and white pines were really amazing on this site. Great swim spots, and amazing views of the lake. Spirits were high again when we set foot on this site.
On our day off we decided that “Exploring Evelyn” was in order. It’s a thing we do as a group if we’re camping on an island to see if we can walk along the shore around the whole thing.
We found lots of beauty! Dead wood, small plant and moss life, and a single fireweed plant (my favourite wildflower).
We even found a few pieces to put together an offering for this island and Evelyn that we would burn later. Sometimes when we really love a place and feel so fortunate to be there, we create an offering. It’s this beautiful land that is inspiring and makes my heart feel so full that it could burst.
We had a neat sunset on our second night on Evelyn and watched the moon almost full, blaze in the sky.
I woke up at 4am to get this shot. I didn’t bring my tripod, so I was lucky enough to get this!
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Want to keep reading? Check out the FINAL PART