Back to Back- Part One

Usually I do my explorations into the bush solo, but occasionally I might have company in the form of a family member.  My son and I had been talking about doing a backpacking trip into the bush for some time now, and one of my brothers is also keen on doing some paddling on the lakes up here.  I really enjoy having them up here to explore with me.

Recently, my brother contacted me to do a paddling trip into some islands that I had visited in my latest travels, and I was also eager to do some camping on those islands, so I didn’t hesitate to agree to a long weekend of camping.  After agreeing to this, my son contacted me to inform me that his vacation time had been moved up one week and that he would be available for a trip starting on the same long weekend that I had already agreed to do a trip with my brother.

Well, this was a conundrum, but I knew that a solution could be worked out.  So, I ended up doing back to back trips into the bush.  This first one, paddling with my brother, and the second one, driving into the bush roads with my son.

My brother came for the long weekend and left on the Monday.  My son arrived on Tuesday and left on Friday of the same week.  This would be a quick turnaround for me, but I felt I was up to the challenge.

This first part of the back to back will be the paddling trip with my brother.

As I mentioned already, this trip was to take us in to a group of islands that I had scouted out a while back.  I knew that there were campsites on the islands, but I had no idea if they would be occupied, since this was a long holiday weekend.  There were a number of island camping possibilities, so I felt our chances were good that at least one of them was available.

My brother drove all Friday night to get here on Saturday morning and, soon after he arrived, we set out for the launching point on Esten Lake.  My brother had just purchased a new 16 foot canoe with two seats, so I assumed that we would both be paddling in that, since it’s easier to paddle with two paddlers.  However, once we arrived at the launch point and loaded everything up, it was clear that this wasn’t going to work.

We then agreed that I would go back and get my kayak while he waited at the launch point, so that’s what I did.  When I returned, we got everything packed into the boats and we were off.

The weather was in our favor and the water was calm, so paddling was very enjoyable.  The one and a half hour paddle to the area of the islands went by quickly and, as the islands came into sight, I could see the the first one was indeed occupied, as was a small beach area across from this island.  I became a bit more pessimistic as to our chances of finding an island campsite.  We continued on towards the second island which, I felt, was the nicest of all the island camping possibilities and found it unoccupied.  We quickly made it our own.

There were three possible areas on this island to pitch a tent, so I pitched mine high up on a rock overlooking the main part of the lake, and my brother put his tent up on a neatly prepared, level, sand filled pad that was constructed down by the water.  This worked out pretty good and we went back an forth between campsites, according to which one was providing the most suitable conditions at the time.

Here’s my tent setup;

This area had it’s advantages and disadvantages.  The view was spectacular but it was very open, with no shade and difficult access to the waters edge, as you can see;

This was my brothers setup;

It was sheltered by the surrounding forest, with a nice grated fire pit, and right close to the waters edge, where our boats were parked;

This worked out really well, since we could each get up whenever we felt the urge, without disturbing the other.  If the bugs were bad at one site, we just went down to the other to escape those pesky insects.  And while I’m on the subject of bugs, we certainly did have our share of black flies and mosquitoes during our stay on the island.  However, while out paddling, the bugs were not bad at all, and we did do a lot of paddling.

In the evenings, we would relax on the island and, as you can see, the view was not disappointing;

That chair was already on the island, as was a large foam seat, so we did have some unexpected comforts.

Being a long weekend, there were other people around, but no one was all that close to our island.  We could see the first island from where we were,  but it was difficult to make out the people from that distance.  We could also see that there were people on the beaches on the far side of the lake, but again, it was far enough away that it was very difficult to make out individuals or movements.

I was quite surprised that there were not more people in, what seemed to me to be, an idyllic location.  Keep in mind that all these camping areas are completely free of charge, being that this is all Crown Land.  Here are some more views from our island;

As a matter of fact, out of five or six island camping possibilities, only one island was occupied besides ours over the whole weekend.  Here were some other available islands;

On the first day of our arrival, we set up our camps and then did some exploring around the immediate area.  We visited the other unoccupied islands and explored some other areas that I hadn’t covered on my initial scouting trip.  Here’s some short videos of us out in our boats;

You can’t see the dog in the canoe, but it is lying down near the front.  The added weight up front makes it easier to control the canoe when paddling it solo.  Due to the design of this canoe, it was not possible to paddle it in, what would normally be, the correct solo paddling position, which would be closer to the mid-point of the canoe.  So the dog, which I would estimate to be over 100lbs. was actually benefiting the control of the canoe.   I’ve paddled canoes solo in windy conditions and it’s not easy.

On the second day, we decided to do some more extensive exploring by heading up one of the rivers connecting to other lakes in the area.  This particular river connected with a lake named Quimby Lake, which in turn, connected to Elliot Lake.  In between Elliot Lake and Quimby Lake is Elliot Lake Falls.

Paddling up the river turned out to be quite interesting, since there were several areas that required us to exit our boats and pull them over obstacles, usually beaver dams.  The river would narrow and widen at various points and, near the end, it widened so far that I felt we had surely reached Quimby Lake.  However, we had not, it was just a wide section of the river, and Quimby was still a bit further on.

We did eventually find the entrance into Quimby Lake and we stopped on the shore, where the river entered into the lake;

You won’t see any motor boats in Quimby Lake because there really is no easy way to get them in there.  This makes for a nice quiet lake to paddle on.  There are, however, many ATV trails that access various points around most of the lakes in the area, so the sound of ATV’s can be heard now and then, but we didn’t find it all that disturbing.

Here are some more shots of Quimby Lake;

The dog enjoyed the water;

While the master was locating our exact position;

After we determined the direction in which we needed to travel, we headed out across Quimby Lake to find Elliot Lake Falls.

Here is the landing point on the far side of Quimby Lake;

And here are the intrepid travellers coming ashore;

We parked the boats and walked in a bit to an ATV trail with a bridge over the river, which led to the falls.

And here is Elliot Lake Falls;

And here’s some video footage of the falls;

We picked our way through the forest to reach the top of the falls and to see Elliot Lake, but I didn’t take any pictures up there, probably because I was more preoccupied with not falling in as we walked across the dam at the top of the falls.

Anyway, we had a great paddle that day and we returned to our little island in the evening to relax, and our favorite spot was waiting for us;

Early the next morning, we set out for our return trip to the launching point.  I took these pictures along the way;

Heading home.

A cormorant sitting in a dead tree.

We did see other forms of wildlife on this trip too, including a couple of very large snapping turtles, a pair of Sandhill Cranes, a falcon, and some rather large Speckled Trout, which my brother jokingly referred to as a school of dolphins because they were so huge.  He also did some fishing and caught a couple of nice sized Smallmouth Bass.

After doing some calculating when I returned home, I figured that we covered approximately 30kms. of paddling on the long weekend.  It was a great trip and we both agreed that more of these types of expeditions would be something that we would like to enjoy.  I will certainly be doing more scouting trips on my own, to find likely places where we can camp and explore the area.

Stay tuned for the second part of Back to Back, which I will post in the next few days.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Avril Frame on May 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Great to see my two brothers out in the wilderness together ………… looks like you really enjoyed the trip. These are the first pictures I’ve seen of Paul in many years. Say Hi to him for me. Look forward to your next trip with Dan …….. I haven’t seen him for a long while too …… so take lots of photos. Remember to pace yourself.



  2. Hey Av;

    Yes, it’s good to get together with Wally and Dan in this way. We had a great time and I will be posting the second installment of my trip with Dan in the next few days.


  3. Posted by Janny Janny Bobanny on July 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Oh, you boys are so rugged. Would you have guessed that Lindsey and I donned our sparkly flip flops and sundresses and paddled around Lake Philip in Gatineau National Park? Lol, the paddling gene is alive and well in the female side of the family. (btw, love, love your blog!)


    • Well, well, well, who have we here? Janny Janny Bobanny……Hmmmm, Yes, I do believe I know this person. Thanks for dropping by for a look at my blog Jan. I’ve been to the Gatineau area once, while riding my motorcycle and I remember that it was a very scenic area. I’m having a great time up here exploring in my kayak, and I would recommend these kayaks to anyone, especially those who may not be too experienced in a canoe, or a hard shell kayak. They are very stable, once you get in, which is the hardest part.


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