McCarthy-Southeast Arm

As usual, I really hadn’t planned to be back to McCarthy Lake so soon after the last visit. But, as usual also, I just decided, on the spur of the moment, to finish off my explorations of that area today.

I was up at 5am to get an early launch at the official McCarthy Lake boat launch area. This is the first boat launch you come to on the bush road that goes into McCarthy Lake. Last time I was here, I continued along that bush road to a second launch point, but I found out that the road, as bad as it already is, does deteriorate even further as you continue on towards the second launch point.

So, the decision was, do I want to risk the poor road conditions, or do I launch from the first point, which is a fair bit farther from where I wanted to paddle to, and also involves a small portage around a beaver dam? I chose the latter, since time was not of the essence, and I enjoy paddling more than I enjoy trying to not get stuck on a lonely bush road.

When I reached the first launch point, there was no one there, so all was quiet for the beginning of the days trip. I had timed my arrival perfectly. Daylight was just breaking as I unloaded my equipment and set up the kayak. It was forecast to be a sunny morning and for once the very poor forecasting happened to be in my favor. Instead of bright sunny skies, there were some foreboding clouds moving across the sky to intercept the rise of the blinding sun on the horizon.

Although there was some sun getting through, the clouds blocked out much of it and also made for a very interesting sky. I really like days like this because they are perfect for photography.

Anyway, lets get underway. Here we go;

Because I was out so early, there were still a lot of beavers on the water, just finishing up their nights work. I saw one beaver heading towards its den and decided to follow it, to see if I could get some pictures. As I approached, the beaver dove under and entered its lodge of sticks and mud. It was so quiet outside that I could hear the beavers inside the lodge. It sounded like they were discussing who got the most work done over a breakfast of tree bark, which you can hear them scraping off the branches with their big teeth.

As you can see from this next video, the sun did make an appearance, but it was partially blocked by some clouds on the horizon, and the clouds on the left of the screen were quickly moving across to intercept, what may have been, another blinding morning paddling into the sun.

It took the camera a little while to focus in on this swimming beaver and it ended in focus, rather abruptly.

In this next shot, you can see how the clouds have moved across to partially shade the sun, making for an interesting sky, and some better viewing conditions for me.

When I left this morning, the temperature was only about 10 degrees, so there was lots of mist on the lakes.

As I continued to paddle towards the entrance to the southeast arm of McCarthy Lake, the mist started to clear and it got a bit brighter.

Eventually, I arrived at the entrance to the area that I had not explored yet.

As I entered the undiscovered country, the mist had all but cleared and the cloud cover became more threatening.

Once you get to a certain point paddling in this way, you can see right down to the end of the lake.

As I got closer to the end of the lake, I could see a bit more detail.

As I continued paddling towards the beach that I saw from a distance that people might be camping on, I was in for a surprise.

One thing that I’d like to point out here is, even though I’m finding these cabins, which are built, on what I believe is, Crown Land, I haven’t seen any No Trespassing signs on any of them. There were no people at any of these locations when I arrived either. The only cabin location I landed on was the Red Cap Cabin island. Still, I would be interested to know the disposition of these properties. Are they, in fact, Crown Land, or have these areas been privatized? You would think that, if they were privatized, they would have No trespassing signs on them.

Anyway, I continued on to locate the rushing water that I could hear.

I continued on from the waterfall area down the shoreline, where I had seen some more beaches.

It’s always sad to see ATV tracks on beaches. From the experience I’ve had so far, ATV’ers destroy beach areas. Of course, you can’t paint all ATV’ers with the same brush, but if the majority of the damage is done by ATV’ers then I have no problem pointing that out.

I continued on my way back down the shoreline.

In fact, it got quite windy as I left this beach and before I knew it I was facing white caps as I struggled to paddle towards the narrow gap to leave this section of McCarthy Lake. But, before I left, I had a look around on the beach.

Since the wind had picked up considerably, my main concern now was getting back to calmer waters. It’s not that I felt at risk at all, the kayak is very stable in rough waters, but I just don’t find it as enjoyable having to struggle to paddle in rough waters.

You might have noticed, what’s referred to as, a deadhead in that video. Anyone coming into these waters should take note that these deadheads are numerous, with some being just under the surface just waiting to capsize an unsuspecting boat. Motorboats are at more risk, since they usually move faster that canoes or kayaks, but even an unwary paddler might find themselves suddenly swimming, with all their belongings either floating or at the bottom of the lake. Here’s a better shot of a deadhead;

So, I paddled back up the same way that I had come in. That beaver dam area was a bit trickier on this trip. I think that the beavers had done a better job at stopping the water flow since I was last here and, on one side of the dam, the water seemed shallower than last time, which caused the kayak to bottom out and I had to struggle to push myself along until the water got deep enough to paddle again.

Anyway, I made it back to where I had parked the truck without incident. Just as I reached the boat launch, I noticed an aluminum motor boat close by. It looked like a couple of older guys doing some fishing. This was the only encounter I had with any other people all day.

The trip totaled around 19kms and I was out paddling for about seven hours. A pretty good workout and a very enjoyable trip. Now I have explored all of the McCarthy system.


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