Elliot Lake Circumnavigation

This has been on my to do list for quite some time now, but winter was fast approaching and I knew that there weren’t many days left that might allow for this trip. Since Elliot Lake is a fairly big lake, I wanted to wait for a calm forecast, or at least a reasonable facsimile of. Today looked like a winner, with light winds and sunshine, although it was going to be real cold early in the morning.

I loaded up my gear at about 7am and it was still pitch black outside. There had been a very heavy frost, in fact, it looked more like a layer of snow. When I got down to the boat launch on Elliot Lake, the docks were all covered in the same heavy frost, which meant that I had to be careful not to go off the deep end. Unfortunately, the sunglasses I had on my head did just that but I was able to fish them out, even though it was still dark outside.

One thing that I’m quickly learning is, I don’t like setting this kayak up in freezing conditions. It’s made of PVC and it gets very hard to handle when it’s cold, hard being the operative word there. Even when I do manage to get it pumped up, it’s usually not as good a job as I can do when it’s warm outside and the result is that it doesn’t track straight. This means that I have to constantly paddle harder on one side to keep the kayak going straight. It’s not a deal breaker but it is annoying.

Anyway, I got everything set up and headed out on the lake, just as it started to get a bit bright out. The sun wasn’t up yet, but it wouldn’t be all that long until it was. I headed for the south shoreline, which I intended to follow all the way down to the end of Elliot Lake, and then I would follow the north shoreline all the way back up. This would be the longest one day paddle that I’ve ever done at 20kms.

I didn’t take any pictures or videos right away because I knew it was too dark, so I waited until the sun was almost over the tree tops. Here’s the introduction video;

There are a few islands on Elliot Lake, but they are all fairly close to the city and noise. I did have a look at them when I paddle by and they were all very rocky and uninviting.

The early morning mist was lifting rapidly and a bit of a breeze came up for a while, but then it died down again and that was to be the rule for the rest of the trip.

I passed by this tree that had obviously been struck by lightning. You can see where the lightning travelled down the trunk, and exploded close to the base. It’s still standing but, my guess is, the wind will eventually bring it down.

Looking back at the sunrise, you can just see the sun behind the tops of the trees.

I had dressed perfectly for this trip and I never really felt uncomfortable for as long as I was out there.

The loons are still here and they will be as long as they have open water. This loon was probably about a hundred yards away from me, so it’s an extremely long shot using full zoom.

The north shore of Elliot Lake is mostly hardwood bush, with birch being the dominant species. The south shore is mostly evergreens of different varieties.

Here you can see what I mean. Look at the farther away north shore, and the closer south shore.

I continued along the south shoreline until I came to a spot called Sandy Point, where I had already decided to stop for a break.

There’s a little sand hook that sticks out at the end of Sandy Point and I tried to walk out there but it was like quick sand, so I made a hasty retreat.

After a short break, I hopped back in the kayak and continued my journey along the south shoreline.

As I mention in the video, this was my longest, in distance, one day paddle, but I have done 19kms before, which took me 7 hours at a leisurely pace. This time, since it was so cold, I was paddling faster for the extra warmth, so this trip only took me 5 hours to complete. Of course, it’s never my intention to race through these trips. It just so happened that paddling faster on this one had definite advantages that I couldn’t ignore.

That rock face you see ahead is known as The High Rocks. It’s very close to the end of Elliot Lake, so I knew that the Elliot Lake Falls was not far past that.

As I rounded a corner, I could then see where I had to go to find Elliot Lake Falls.

I paddled down towards where I thought the falls should be and I was right;

My brother and my son will both recognize these pictures, since I’ve been here twice before. Once, by water, with my brother and , once by bush road, with my son. This is the first time that I’ve visited the falls by water, from the Elliot Lake side.

Looking back at Elliot Lake from the falls.

Part of the upper falls, near the dam, on the Elliot Lake side.

The trail leading down to the lower falls and Quimby Lake.

Some of the water from the falls comes down this river and under a wooden bridge into Quimby Lake. There are two wooden bridges here. The other one is just a bit down the trail and it passes over the main river from the falls. Both bridges were covered in frost.

A look into Quimby Lake as I walk down the trail towards the lower falls area.

And here we are.

Another look at the Quimby Lake side from the second wooden bridge.

At this point, I headed back to where I had left the kayak, on the Elliot Lake side. There was food in my kayak and I’m sure that there are a lot of hungry bears around trying to fatten up just before the harsh winter hits. In my mind, I could picture a bear trying to get at the food and, in the process, puncturing my only means of escape.

Not to worry, my kayak was still sitting there safely when I returned, but I had decided that I wasn’t going to stay here for lunch. It was much too cold, since this whole area was in the shade. I would continue on a bit and find a sunnier spot where I could relax and enjoy.

Looking back at the falls area as I leave.

Now, looking ahead. As you can see, there’s not a cloud in the sky, and the sun is very welcome on this cold day. I would guess that it was just around the freezing mark at this time.

I wanted to pass under The High Rocks on the way back, so that’s where I headed.

A small evergreen tree, growing on a ledge, half way up The High Rocks.

A bush growing out of a crack in the rocks. It always amazes me how anything can grow in solid rock.

A great natural diving platform, but I think I’ll pass on that one.

I continued on, down the shoreline.

I finally came to a spot where I thought that I could enjoy my lunch.

This was still right down at the end of Elliot Lake. It was a nice sandy beach area, not all that long, but a welcome lunch spot.

As you can see, the wave action was still very low, so I was confident that my trip back down the north side of Elliot Lake would be an enjoyable one.

This kayak has taken me to many places that I would have never seen otherwise. It has proven to be a very worthwhile investment and I can definitely add it to my very lengthy list of no regrets.

Looks like I haven’t been the only one walking on this beach recently….raccoon tracks.

Time to float my boat and head back out on the high seas.

Heading along the shoreline again, you can see all the leafless hardwoods on this north side of Elliot Lake.

It wasn’t flat calm now, but it was still pretty good paddling weather, and I was moving along nicely.

Here you can see the abundance of white birch trees on this side of the lake. They must be the first species to repopulate after a clear cut.

I saw an area where, it looked like, there was a river coming into the lake, so I went to investigate.

I found this heron waiting for me there.

I went up the river a ways, but it didn’t go too far before I ran into a beaver dam. My arms were definitely starting to feel the strain of the long paddle, so I wasn’t up for any portaging at this point. I turned around and headed back out to the lake.

I came across another river too, as I paddled my way back to the launch point, but it didn’t go all that far inland either. Civilization started to reappear and the launch point came into view, so I slowly but surely made my way back to where I had parked the truck, got my gear loaded up, and headed to Timmies for a well-deserved coffee and muffin.

This will, more than likely, be my last kayaking trip this year. However, there are many trails that await exploring, so nothing is over.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ken Hickey on November 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Nice spot. Can you swim at the falls and/or jump from the rocks in the summer? Have you tried it??


    • There are lots of places to jump from the rocks, some of them, it would be your one and only jump. I only climb the rocks, no jumping for me. However, I have come across many real nice places for swimming in my travels around here. Secluded beaches that can only be reached by boat. I’m not much of a swimmer myself and, fortunately, I haven’t taken any forced swims either, so usually the only way I will get wet is if it rains while I’m out.


      • Posted by Ken Hickey on November 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

        Ever consider putting a depth finder in your kayak? They’re cheap used, small and don’t use much d/c power. Might give you an interesting perspective.

      • Hey Ken;

        Well, honestly, I haven’t really had the need to know how deep the water is. That’s one of the beauties of paddling a kayak, water depth doesn’t really matter. It would, probably, if I did a lot of fishing, which I don’t. However, I do have Bluecharts by Garmin, which does show depth on the larger bodies of water. There is another product by Garmin called Inland Lakes, that shows the same for the smaller lakes, but I don’t have that one. I carry a GPS enabled ipod with me for navigating.

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