Heading for Hackford

Today I headed down to the McCarthy Lake system for a nice long paddle. I call it a system, because there are a number of lakes joined together by short sections of river, and there are also a number of large arms to this lake system. Total distance travelled today was 20kms, and it took 5 1/2 hours.

I should mention again, as I did the last time I came into the McCarthy Lake boat launch, the ‘so called’ road, that comes into the boat launch is a nightmare, and is not maintained, in any way, by the town of Elliot Lake. Use at your own risk!

As I arrived at the launch, I could hear someone running a generator in the bush. This is Crown Land, and there are quite often a few trailers parked in the bush on the continuation of this road. I really don’t understand that. You come out to get some quiet wilderness time, and you run a noisy, smelly generator all night. I paddled out of range as fast as I could.

It didn’t take long before I was back to the peace and quiet that I love so much.

With the sun right in my face all the way in, it does get a bit frustrating taking pictures and videos. Even seeing where I’m going was a challenge, when the sun was just on the horizon.

This is my favorite time to paddle, when the water is just like glass. The only ripples you see in this video where ones created by my kayak.

As I moved along the lake, I could hardly recognize it from last year. The water levels were tremendously high, making it look very different.


There was a mist rising off the water, and there was a fair bit of coolness in the air. My hands were a bit cold, and I did have my paddling gloves with me, but I can’t take pictures with my gloves on.


Here you can see what I mean about paddling into the sun.

One thing you will see in some of these videos is black flies. They became an increasing problem throughout the day. I took quite a few bites to my head and my hands. A small price to pay for such peaceful beauty.


I really love getting out here early in the morning. There’s usually no other human interference in the natural order of things, except me, of course.


There are other paddlers lurking in the mist though.


A couple of islands in the morning light. I didn’t land on these island, but I know, from last year, that the bigger one does have a campsite on it.


As is most often the case, I didn’t really have a destination for today’s paddle, but I do know this area, and so I just started paddling down an arm of the lake that leads to another small lake called Hackford Lake.

With the water levels so high, I knew that there would be no beaches above water to land on today. I landed on this island for a while for a break.

I did already know that there was a campsite on this island, from my explorations last year. It’s a nice enough campsite, although motorboats can get into this lake, so the quiet may be interrupted now and then.



I continued my paddle east towards Hackford Lake.


This is the Red Cap Cabin, on an island in McCarthy Lake. Anytime I’ve come here, there has never been anyone at the cabin.


The narrow gap ahead, leads to another small lake with no name, and then another gap leads to Hackford Lake.

By this time, the air was starting to warm up a bit from the sun.


Wow, the rising sun on the shoreline sure makes some scenes pop right out!


You can actually see some ripple on the water now, as I head towards the gap that leads to Hackford Lake. One of the reasons I was heading for Hackford, was that I knew there is a portage there that leads over to a section of McCarthy Lake called Dollar Bay. This wasn’t my destination, in fact, I wasn’t even sure I would paddle this far but, nevertheless, here I was.

I was thankful that this was just a very short portage, because I was all portaged out from my recent trip with my son and my brother.

Finally, I had changed direction, and the sun was no longer in my eyes. All the paddling now will be in a westerly direction.


Down Dollar Bay.


Nice to have backlight for a change.

Heading back towards, where I know, there is a large beach area, but I was pretty sure that it was under water.


The great White Pine, a classic symbol of the wild north.


Look at that sky! Fantastic!


It doesn’t get much better than this.

One of the reasons I like coming to the McCarthy system is the beaches. Usually there are quite a few of them to choose from, but not today. Even the biggest, and highest beaches were completely covered with water. Oh well, you still can’t beat the scenery around here.



Back out onto the water I went. I don’t know where the ripple on the water was coming from, because the air was dead still. A slight breeze would have been welcomed, because the black flies were having me for lunch, and they wouldn’t give me a chance to have my own lunch, so I just skipped it.


I will now be heading back through a chain of small lakes and rivers to where I parked the truck.


The flow is against me going back up these rivers, and I was a bit concerned about how strong that flow would be, with the high water levels.


The flow turned out to be nothing that I couldn’t handle, but I could see some very strong currents, creating whirlpools in the deep water.


Making my way back through a few narrow gaps, into the lake where I started from.


And here it is, the lake where the boat launch is located. So, the end to another fantastic paddling adventure. I think I’ll take a bit of a break now, since I just did two, back to back, long paddles. I see some rain in the forecast for later this week, so maybe I’ll just let these weary bones take a day or two off. The beautiful wilderness will be here when I am ready to explore it once again.


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