Quirkaholic

Today I went back to Quirke Lake to continue exploring areas that I have not paddled yet. When I first paddled Quirke, I remember saying that I would probably not be back there too much, because it was a big lake, and tends to get angry very easily. However, I’ve been back to Quirke Lake numerous times since then, and it seems I’m becoming a Quirkaholic.

Since today was supposed to be a very calm day, I figured that I would paddle a different area of Quirke Lake than I had in the past. This time I would go up the west shoreline, to the northwest corner of the lake.

Also, since this was going to be quite a long trip, I decided to get up early for this one. It was still dark outside when I left for Quirke this morning. It was also very foggy, so navigating would be a bit of a challenge.

I ended up taking over 600 pictures and 2 gigs of video on this trip, so I’m going to have to wait until tomorrow to finish this post, so that I can leave the videos to upload overnight.

Okay, after a good night’s sleep, I’m ready to take you along on a trip to Quirke Lake. It’s just north of Elliot Lake, with access being off Stanrock Road at the boat launch.

As I’ve already mentioned, it was very foggy when I arrived at the boat launch. Even though I knew that the sun was just rising, there was no evidence of that where I was. It was pretty cool too.

Anyway, I assembled my equipment and hit the water. Soon I found myself lost in an earthbound cloud.

I do know the first part of the area that I was paddling in, so that helped to guide me, somewhat. However, it’s amazing how quickly you can become disoriented when you can no longer see landmarks that you’re used to seeing.

As I continued to paddle along the east shoreline, I was watching for any known landmarks to come into view through the fog. I knew where the point was, where I needed to cross over to the other side of the lake, and I did find it, eventually. However, I did take at least one wrong turn along the way, just because I couldn’t see where I was going.

Even though the fog did seem to be clearing up in that video, it wasn’t long until I was shrouded in mist once again. But, now I was on the correct shoreline, so following it was no problem at all.

I paddled for a while, until the fog started to lift again, and then I put my video camera on the front deck of the kayak for a while. This is probably the longest video I’ve put up yet.

I did, eventually, get a quick shot of that Bald Eagle, but it wasn’t a very good one. The only reason I was able to get this shot was because the eagle got into an argument with a crow, and that deflected it’s flight path a little closer to where I was, but still not all that close. I was at full zoom when I took this picture, so the detail is lacking, but you can clearly see its white tail.

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That picture was taken much farther ahead in my trip, so I’ll have to back up a bit now.

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This is what I was facing, when trying to navigate my way through the fog. I did have my GPS with me, but I didn’t feel the need to pull it out at this point.

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I knew that, once I reached the west shoreline, all I had to do was follow it to the north end of the lake. However, I did use my GPS to locate where I was on the way back down, through the islands.

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The fog is lifting.

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Getting better, but still some high fog.

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At least I can see under it now.

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There are some bright colours around, but it’s nowhere near full colours yet.

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Quirke Lake is a rugged and rocky lake. Most of the lakes up here are, but Quirke is particularly rocky.

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With the mist still lifting, I made my way along the rugged shoreling, watching, listening, and just feeling the quiet aliveness of it all.

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There are so many scenes along the way that are so vivid and alive, but pictures just can’t capture the reality of it all. These are just lifeless examples of the real thing.

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The Rooster’s Hen. Across the lake from Rooster Rock, there’s another high peak. It’s not actually called The Rooster’s Hen, the name just seemed fitting. I don’t know if this high rock has a name or not.

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It’s very rare that Quirke Lake is this calm, so I’m going to take full advantage of it today.

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People who have paddled a lot will know that, sometimes when you see something across the water, and you paddle towards it, it seems to take forever to get there. Distance across water is a lot longer than it appears to be.

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I like to explore all the bays and inlets along the way, so I tend to hug the shore as I go, instead of jumping across open water, from point to point.

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The last of the fog is now dissipating and the warming sun is very welcome.

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Taking pictures becomes much easier now with the clear air, the calm water, and the blue sky. And, of course, the most important factor, the lighting.

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In a way, I feel a bit sad posting these pictures because they just don’t, and can’t, capture the essence of what it is actually like to be there, and feel it.

I just pulled in here to take a leak, but it was a very scenic spot.

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On the map, I had seen that there were a number of beaches along this shoreline too, so off I went to do some more exploring.

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There are islands in the middle of the lake. I’ll be coming back through those on the return trip. However, I still have a long way north to go yet.

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Now that’s a big rock!

In fact, I didn’t see another person on the whole trip today, that’s 7 hours!

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Moving along the shoreline, past the high rock now.

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More rock. There’s not much soil around here anywhere.

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I grew up in the Rock Era so, of course, I like rock πŸ™‚ However, I never, ever, play music while I’m paddling. That would be a sacrilege. The only reason I play music while I’m hiking is to make any bears aware that I’m in the area. It’s good for them and it’s good for me. This way there are no unnecessary altercations that might be bad for the bear, or ‘gulp’ for me. But, my music is always at a level that I can hear, even small sounds, from the surrounding area.

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It’s always interesting to see what’s around the next point but, at the same time, I’m enjoying what’s right in front of me too.

It’s a small beach, but sometimes there are interesting things to be seen, like tracks of animals.

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Nice dark-coloured sand.

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Looking back from whence I came.

I left that little beach, and continued along the shoreline in a leisurely manner.

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If you look closely at this picture, you will see the moon, right between the trees. It’s been following me all morning, begging me to take it’s picture, so the opportunity presented itself.

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I see another beach ahead.

This video was cut off short. The camera I use for video ran out of memory. I guess I took too many videos. I’ll have to get a bigger memory card for it.

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The same beach. These beaches are all located on the Quirke mine site, so that’s why you don’t see any signs of camping or ATV’s.

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This is Denison House. It’s the only building left standing on the Quirke mine site. Seems like it was once a very posh structure but, as I found it today, it seemed like it needed some repairs. Here’s some more information on Denison House, for anyone interested;

http://www.electricscotland.net/canada/elliot11.htm

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The journey continues.

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The land you see in the distance is the north side of Quirke Lake.

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There are all kinds of rocky points along this section of the shoreline.

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I see another beach there, however, there won’t be any more videos in this post, since that camera ran out of memory. I don’t like the video that camera I use for still shots takes, so I will just be taking stills from here on.

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This will be my lunch beach, since I’m almost up to the north shore, and I’ll be heading back south soon.

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A fine place for lunch, don’t you think?

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Relaxing after lunch.

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A short walk along the beach, where I saw some bear tracks.

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Then it’s time to hit the water again.

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I’ll be heading out to the left side of that island, and then threading my way back south through the islands.

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Getting there.

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I found this seagull standing guard on the island. It didn’t seem too afraid of me. Good guard.

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Around the first island, and heading for the next. With this change in direction, there will be a noticeable darkening of the pictures because of shooting into the sun.

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I did see some wave action, when crossing between islands, even though there is almost no breeze today. Not much, of course, but it doesn’t take much to get Quirke all excited.

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Small island ahead.

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I’ve seen some islands on Quirke Lake already, and most of them have been rocky and uninviting, as is this one.

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There are huge boulders lurking just under the surface of the water around here, so boaters beware. I’ve also seen places right out in the middle of open water where the bottom rises, almost to the the surface.

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This island was not much more than a bunch of rocks with some trees growing on them.

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A great place for birds to land, but that’s about it.

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I headed south, towards another island.

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As I was crossing between islands, I looked west, across the lake at the Rooster’s Hen, which I passed this morning. Doesn’t look all that far does it? I estimate it would take me between 45 minutes to an hour to reach it from here.

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See that gap between the small island and the big island? That’s where I’m headed. The larger island is Roman Island. Yes, some of the islands do have names. You can check where I am on the map above.

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Here I am in the gap. Anyway, as I mentioned, the large island to the right is Roman Island. It is mine site property, so no camping, not that I’d want to anyway. All the mine site islands have signs on them. The island to the far left, however, is not signed and it actually looks like it might be a worthy island for camping, not quite as rocky as most of the other islands.

Still, you have to remember, if you come out to camp on this island, you may face difficult waters the next day if you’re heading home.

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Again, this is the island, just north of Roman Island, that I feel could be camped on.

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This is the point, on the east side, of that same island. I didn’t see any signs of an existing campsite on the island, but I didn’t go ashore to check it out. I would camp on this island, but would do so with caution. It’s a long paddle back to the takeout, and it could very well be a rough one.

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There’s the next gap I’m going to take. Like I said, I’m threading my way through these islands to reach the shore that will take me back to the boat launch.

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That’s still Roman Island on the right. It’s a big island. The smaller island, while it looks nice, is unsuitable for camping because of the steep incline on all sides.

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It looks like it’s just a small round island, but actually it’s not. That’s just the profile from this particular perspective. Once I got a bit past it, I could see that it was longer than I suspected at first.

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Here are a couple of pictures to show you what I mean about ‘shooting into the sun’. In this picture, I’m headed south, so into the sun. But, once I had passed this tree, sticking out over the water, I turned the kayak around and took a picture of the same scene, but with the sun behind me.

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You see what a difference it makes, in both colour and detail? So, now you understand why proper lighting is so essential for good pictures.

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Heading across to another island, ‘into the sun’.

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Once I got around that island, I could see the shadow of the Rooster himself, ‘into the sun’.

I then turned around and shot a picture of the island I had just passed, with the sun at my back.

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The Rooster is still a long ways off though, and there are quite a few paddle strokes between here and there.

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Looking back at Roman Island.

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This is the mainland, on the east side of Quirke Lake. I will follow this shoreline, around Rooster Rock, and all the way back to the boat launch.

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In the shadow of the Rooster. Once I pass Rooster Rock, I will turn around, and take some much better pictures of it.

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The Rooster, with better lighting. I no longer paddle too close to the base of Rooster Rock, since that last time I did that a rock came shooting down, like an asteroid, and hit the water like a bullet, not ten feet from where I was.

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I can tell, from looking at the top of the Rooster, that we have not reached full colours yet, because it gets really red up there when we do. Maybe that’s why they named it Rooster Rock, I don’t know.

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I pull away, farther and farther, from Rooster Rock, but I turn around and take some pictures as I’m going.

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A last look, as I head off on the final leg of my journey today.

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The colours on this section of shoreline are a bit brighter.

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This is the point where I crossed over to the west side of the lake, in the fog this morning. It is the narrowest section for that crossing. The Rooster can be seen in the background.

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I’m now headed into the bay, where the boat launch is located. It’s very calm at about 2pm. I’ve been on the water for a full 7 hours.

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This, without a doubt, has been one of the most fantastic paddles I’ve had to date. To have Quirke Lake be that calm, for 7 hours straight, was a true gift from nature.

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I come ashore, a bit sore in the ass, but very grateful for the experience. I hadn’t seen another person all day, but someone arrived at the boat launch, just as I was packing up.

This was a long post, it took me three days to complete it. However, I do enjoy reliving the experience as I’m creating these posts. Who knows where I’ll be heading next.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lee Johnson on September 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Wonderful – are those rocks part of the Laurentian Shield? If so, they are among the very oldest rocks on the planet. This is an ancient setting.

    Reply

    • Hi Lee;

      Yes, this is the Canadian Shield, also known as the Laurentian Shield. You really do get that feeling that you are in a ancient, yet so much alive place. I can’t think of any better way to get close to who we all are, and where we came from. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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