Did I Say – Ice is Out?

I was contemplating where my next paddle might be, and my first thought was the McCarthy Lake system. Then I reconsidered that choice because I know that there is a river that runs between the lakes there and, even in summer, there is a flow going downstream. Since there is a lot of runoff right now, and water levels are high everywhere, I decided to put that paddle off until later in the spring, or early summer.

I don’t mind paddling upstream, as I just did going from Esten Lake to Quimby Lake because, if the going gets too rough, I can always just turn around and glide back downstream. However, if I paddle down a fast flow, there’s a possibility that I won’t be able to make the paddle back up.

Instead I chose to go over to Quirke Lake to do some more exploring. Last time I was at Quirke Lake, I said that I probably wouldn’t be coming back there too soon. I don’t like all the cottages(McMansions) on that lake, and it’s a bigger lake so it does tend to get quite rough at times, and I just don’t enjoy that kind of paddling.

Little did I know that Quirke had another surprise in store for me this time. Join me and find out exactly what that surprise was.

A got off to a little bit later start than I would have liked. I usually like to get to the lake around sunrise, but I was about a half an hour later arriving at Quirke Lake. Still, it was very calm and the sun was just coming over the trees.

There is a fairly small section of shoreline in Quirke Lake that is populated with, what might be called, cottages. Many of them are more like mansions, all squeezed together on a relatively short section of the perimeter of Quirke Lake.

I don’t like paddling in these types of areas. They are usually noisy and, as far as I’m concerned, a perfect example of people taking more than they need.

Anyway, it doesn’t take long to get into the more wilderness sections of Quirke Lake and I can reach them by paddling on the side of the lake with no cottages, so all is well.

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When taking pictures, lighting is everything, and today was going to prove to be a challenge. If the sun is behind me, I can be assured that pictures I take ahead will turn out just fine. However, this wasn’t the case today. For the most part I had side light, and the sun was still fairly low in the sky, so the pictures I took suffered from that somewhat.

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I made my way along the unpopulated side of Quirke Lake, heading for a point where I would turn and leave all the noise behind.

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I had never seen Quirke Lake this calm, although I’m sure it has been. This was only the second time I had paddle on Quirke Lake.

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That point ahead is where I’m heading for.

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Once I rounded the point, and headed in to the wilderness section of Quirke Lake, which is most of the lake, I could see the tip of Rooster Rock in the distance.

I’ve hiked up on top of Rooster Rock a number of times, and it’s always thrilling to be so high up. It looks just as massive from the bottom.

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I had considered wearing shorts and a tee shirt for this paddle but I’m glad that sanity prevailed. It turned out to be quite cool, and my hands took the brunt of the punishment.

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Closing in on the beast of the wilderness.

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Last year I found a ladies ring up on top of that monolith, and I had to wonder if her remains were somewhere below.

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That’s pretty high, but I often wonder how far down below the water it goes.

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It’s pretty neat paddling underneath Rooster Rock but, I have to admit, I’m always a little bit concerned that someone is going to throw a piece of the rooster off the top while I’m down there.

Just as I was at the bottom of Rooster Rock, I heard a boat motor start up back at the McMansions. Sound travels very far over the calm lake, and I could also hear a loud voice. This idiot, comes racing over to the bottom of Rooster Rock, as if he was missing something, and stops. As he was approaching, I started paddling away, and didn’t even acknowledge his presence. As soon as he determined that he wasn’t missing something, he left.

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Another side of Rooster Rock.

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A small cedar tree at the bottom of Rooster Rock. It’s amazing the places some trees will grow.

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Another view as I pass by the massive rock.

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Looking back.

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I continue on down the shoreline enjoying the fantastic scenery. As is usual, I don’t have a predetermined destination, I just go with the flow and see where it takes me.

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I was heading into an area where there are some islands, but I wouldn’t be stopping on any of these islands because they are very rocky and uninviting.

At this point I made a rather surprising discovery.

I made the decision to turn back after I had paddled into the ice and determined that it was thick enough to do damage to my kayak. It’s not exactly reassuring to be paddling out in the middle of a freezing cold lake with sharp ice cutting away at the side of an inflatable kayak.

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You can see the ice glistening in the sun just ahead in this picture.

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There were some gaps in the ice that I might have been able to paddle through, but I was concerned that, if the wind picked up a bit, those gaps might close and cut off my passage back. I can’t stress enough, to people who do travel in wilderness areas, you have to be ‘aware’ at all times. There is no one there to save you if something should go wrong, so you need to be extra careful in doing things that, at first glance, may seem harmless.

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Well, this was certainly a first for me, paddling in ice. But, the day wasn’t over yet, so I started to head back the way I had come.

The air was alive with the sounds of woodpeckers, geese, and other birds.

Again, I came to Rooster Rock, on the way back, and I wanted to do some more picture taking, since my last pass was interrupted by an interloper.

It was here that I was to find another surprise. I was just moving along close to the bottom of Rooster Rock when something caught my eye, high up on the rock face. I wasn’t exactly sure, but it looked like some type of bird sitting on a branch coming out from the rock face.

It was too high to make a definite identification, but I did hear it screech and the first thing that came to my mind was Peregrine Falcon.

I got my big camera out and extended the lens to full power, which is the equivalent of an 840mm SLR lens. It’s very difficult to find a small subject with the lens at such high power and, even if I do, it is also very difficult to hold the camera steady enough to take a clear picture, especially while sitting in a kayak and looking straight up.

If this was what I though it was, then I really wanted to get some pictures, so I started taking pictures, even though I didn’t know if they were in focus or not. I couldn’t see the screen on the back of the camera because of the sunshine.

Just as I was taking the pictures, unbelievably, I heard another boat engine starting over at the McMansions. Again, the boat came racing over to the bottom of Rooster Rock, where I was sitting in my kayak, and stopped. Again, I started paddling away, not acknowledging the presence of this moron. I just kept going and didn’t even look back.

I had no idea if I had gotten any good pictures of that bird on the rock face, and I wasn’t even sure what it was. I would have to wait until I got home to download the pictures onto my computer, and enlarge them to make a definite identification, if that was even possible.

Well, it was, and I did.

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Here you have it, a Peregrine Falcon sitting high up on the face of Rooster Rock, overlooking Quirke Lake. I would never have gotten this picture without my Olympus SP800UZ. It’s not the sharpest of pictures but, under the circumstances it’s pretty good.

Between running into the ice, and this picture of the Peregrine Falcon, the paddle to Quirke Lake was certainly worthwhile today.

Still, I did want to do some more paddling but I was getting a bit hungry, so I started to look for a place to land and have lunch, even though it was only about 10am.

After I had eaten, I mounted up again and headed off down the shoreline.

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I had never been down his end of the lake, so I just wanted to check it out, since my paddle to the other side of the lake had been cut short by ice.

This was as far as I could go in this part of the lake, so I slowly headed back towards the boat launch.

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As I headed back, you can see that the water was still like glass.

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This moth, or butterfly kept landing on me, as if to say take my picture, so I did.

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There are so many beautiful places up here to explore, either by hiking, or by paddling.

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And so ends my paddle to Quirke Lake today, full of surprises. But wait! The surprises are not quite over just yet. As I was taking my kayak out at the boat launch, I glanced at the floating docks, which were still stacked up onshore after the winter, and I saw this;

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Anyone in my family will understand the significance. Small world.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jan on May 10, 2013 at 2:25 am

    I love your pictures! My Mother-in-law lives on Quirke lake.There was a pair of Peregrine falcons 2 years ago for sure, on Rooster Rock. Neighbours took many pictures of them. We have a pontoon boat and have puttered many an hour away on that lake. The most prized site is what we call Seagull Isand. Just off the north coast. If you would like to know – email me at, janetlackie@hotmail.com. I have to have a hip replacement soon, I am so envious of your travels. Love to see the transitions of Elliot Lake through your eyes. Great shot of the Moose. I have one from last year, on the way to Blind River

    Reply

    • Hello Jan, and welcome to my blog. I’m glad that you find enjoyment in reading about my explorations of this area. I know that, when I wasn’t able to explore myself, I also enjoyed reading about other peoples experiences. I’m also a very visual person, and I do like to see as many pictures as possible, that’s why I post so many pictures and videos on my blog. I try to compose my blog posts as flowing stories, with pictures to support the stories as I go. I like to feel that I’m giving the reader a chance to come along on my explorations.

      I haven’t been over to the north side of Quirke Lake yet, but I did hear a large group of seagulls over that way when I was paddling on this last trip. I might have made it that far, but the ice on the lake prevented me from going any farther.

      You can be sure that I will keep exploring and posting on my blog for as long as I can. There’s nothing else that gives me more enjoyment. Please feel free to visit my blog anytime you like and share my adventures through words and pictures.

      Reply

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