Quirke – The Last Leg

Today was the day I chose to do the last leg of the exploration of Quirke Lake. I had been waiting for an acceptable weather day for quite some time now and, after checking the forecast, when I arose at around 4:30am this morning, I decided that it was a go. Again, the weather guru’s had changed the forecast overnight, but this time it was to my advantage.

It is imperative that I do these paddles on Quirke Lake in the calmest conditions that I can get. Quirke gets angry real easy, and paddling an angry lake is not all that enjoyable. The last time, when I did the west side of Quirke, I was so lucky to get a perfectly calm day, all day. This time, I wasn’t so lucky but, even though the lake did growl at me a few times, it was still pretty enjoyable.

For this last leg, I wanted to explore the north to northeast side of the lake, part of which I had hiked along in my recent post titled “Hike to Rochester Creek”. I knew that this was going to be a long one, and that’s another reason I wanted the calmest possible conditions. As it turned out, the paddle was just about 25kms, a pretty decent paddle in my books. It took me a total of 7 hours to complete.

So, here we go on the last leg of the exploration of Quirke Lake. Put on your PFD’s and come along for the ride.

The day started off well, since I didn’t have to fight off the mosquitoes while I was setting up the kayak. What a relief!

Well, maybe you couldn’t see the sunrise through the Olympus cameras video, but I also took some pictures with the Canon SX120IS that I had with me, and you can definitely see the sunrise in those.

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There wasn’t going to be any spectacular sunrise today, it was a hazy morning, with that hot and humid weather we’ve been having lately.

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Another shot of the sun breaking over the treetops.

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I approach the massive Rooster Rock, in the hazy dimness of the early morning.

In fact, after I got home and calculate the distance, after changing the route to the actual path I took, it was almost 25kms total distance today.

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After passing Rooster Rock, I headed out, toward a gap between two islands, in order to cross the lake to the northeast side. I, naturally, try to keep the open water crossings as short as possible, even if it is as calm as this. It’s just more interesting being close to land, instead of way out in the middle of the lake, and you never know when the wind might come up and catch you off guard.

Even though this Olympus camera doesn’t do a very good job at anything, it was very hazy this morning, and I don’t think that any camera would have done much better.

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I stopped paddling for a bit in a calm spot, between the islands, so that I could check my GPS and see which side of the island I had to come out, in order to head across to the Panel Mine peninsula. In this picture there is quite a reflection off the waterproof case that I have my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 inside. Still, if you look for the blue dot, with the red circle around it, which is beside the smaller island, you can see where I am right now.

In this next video, you can’t see the GPS as well, again, because the Olympus camera is just not as good as the Canon.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it deserves mentioning again, when boating on Quirke Lake, it’s always a good idea to keep one eye down, on the water. There are many places where the bottom will come up to greet you, without warning. Huge boulders, some of them resembling the shape of the Matterhorn, will rise up from the depths to, just below, the surface of the water. Even in a kayak, or canoe, if you hit these demons at a bit of speed, you may find yourself, let’s say, upset, in more than one way. 🙂

So, continuing on, through the islands, I started to make my way across some open water, towards the Panel Mine peninsula.

After Seagull Island, I made my way to the Panel Mine bay, which is just around the other side of the Panel Mine peninsula.

This year, many of the mine sites have had closures, for one reason or another. I guess it’s an upgrade year, or something like that. Maybe some money became available. Oh ya, it’s a local election year too. 🙂

Once I got into Panel Mine bay, I paddled right down to the shoreline and, since my legs needed some stretching, I decided to get out for a bit.

It’s always nice to be able to pull in to a quiet beach for a break. There are many, many beaches, just like this one, on the many lakes in this area. The ones I especially like, are the ones that the ATV’s can’t get to, because they are usually pristine, and see very little use.

Off I went, again, down the shoreline towards Rochester Creek.

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It was still pretty early, as you can see by the sun, and I had made good time getting across here, mostly because of the calm conditions.

The next stop would be at the big beach, which I had discovered during my hike to Rochester Creek not long ago. I wasn’t sure that it would be unoccupied but, when I arrived, all was quiet.

I had made such good time paddling that it turned out that I got here too early for lunch, so I just made a quick stop and continued on. I mentioned in this video that I had heard a motorboat, and that was confirmed very soon.

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As I left this idyllic spot, a motorboat came into view, coming at full tilt, right towards me.

But, there was more to this story than I first thought. When I returned to the launch point, after my day of paddling, I read a notice that was posted by the dock. It was notifying lake users that the MNR was doing a fish survey on this lake, and that they would be putting nets in various places on the lake, to trap fish. The nets would be marked with special buoys, and they would be moving these nets every day.

I remembered seeing a couple of these buoys, just off that beach I was at, and now, putting two and two together, I believe that this motorboat that came racing over to the beach, as I was leaving, was actually MNR workers, checking the nets.

I still think that it was not proper boat etiquette to fly past a much smaller boat like that, but it is what it is.

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Just after I made that last video, I saw a bunch of bubbles coming up out of the water, so I looked down, as I passed that spot, to see this big Snapping Turtle hiding out on the bottom.

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I made a few passes, trying to get the best picture I could, and then I continued on to Rochester Creek.

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If you’ve read the recent post titled “Hike to Rochester Creek” you will remember this old car, in the bush, that I came across, just before I reached the creek. It can also be seen from the water, so it certainly makes a good landmark.

As I came up to the creek, itself, I decided to take a video at this point and, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the perspective, this will be the last video you will ever see from this camera.

Nope, I didn’t drop it in the water :-), which is something that always concerns me when I’m taking pictures and videos. One day. Anyway, I had not put an SD card in this camera, since it was up for sale, and the camera, itself, has 2gigs of memory built in, so I figured that this would be enough memory for today. Obviously I figured wrong, so I ran out of memory. Thus, the sudden stop to that video.

So, from here on, it’s pictures only, for the rest of this trip.

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Looking back out from Rochester Creek, near the end of that point is where I saw the Snapping Turtle.

I left the Rochester Creek bay, heading further along the shoreline towards the exit of the Serpent River. I know, from reading this story, that it’s hard to get a sense of time, or how long it is between all these events but remember, this trip was a total of 7 hours, so time is passing, and I was now getting hungry.

There wasn’t a beach in sight, but I did find a fairly nice, scenic spot to open the lunch basket.

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Ya, that’s a likely looking lunch spot, isn’t it? No McDonalds, or Timmies, but those natural looking tables, and the amazing view, make up for a few inconveniences.

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I mean, really, can you think of a better place than this to have lunch?

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I broke out the lunch basket which, in fact, was a cooler I keep behind the seat in my kayak, and I enjoyed this quiet beautiful spot for about 15 minutes, and then I was on my way again.

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A natural flower pot……the wonders of nature.

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Check out the different water levels. The lake is pretty low right now.

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I have arrived at the exit of the Serpent River from Quirke Lake.

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And there it is. The Serpent River is very long, and it runs through many lakes, as it winds its way through this rugged terrain. The next lake it will reach is Nook Lake, which is about 3kms to the south east. There are a couple of smaller, no name lakes in between though.

I do believe that this is a paddling route, but I didn’t see any portage signs at this location, or any obvious paths along the river. However, I know from experience that these paths are sometimes very difficult to see, since they become grown-over by little use.

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Looking back out to Quirke Lake.

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Once again, I hit the water, heading back out this long bay that leads into the Serpent River.

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A large beaver lodge along the shoreline.

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It wouldn’t be long until I was back in familiar territory, since I had paddled as far as the portage to Teasdale Lake on another exploration.

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This is the portage to Teasdale Lake, which was the end of one of my other explorations on Quirke Lake. I haven’t yet gone into Teasdale Lake, and I have no intention of doing that today. I have already paddled a long way, and I have much more paddling to do, in order to make it back to the boat launch.

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This small rocky protrusion is not far from the infamous portage to Ouellette Lake, where I encountered a bear last year. I’ve stopped here before, and I did so again today, just to have a snack, and a break. By this time, the wave action had picked up a bit, but it was not all that rough. There were a few times when the chop got up close to the one foot mark but, for the most part, it was still enjoyable paddling.

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There are a lot of signs of the mining era on this spit, including an old box of core samples, which I took a picture of the last time I was here. There are also some miscellaneous steel parts lying around.

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I headed out again, crossing between two islands, in order to paddle in the calmest waters, and to keep the open water paddling to a minimum.

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Take a look out there, in the middle of this channel, between the two islands. That’s a real widowmaker, and if the water level was just a bit higher, someone flying down the center of this channel in a motorboat might have a rude awakening. In the picture, it looks like it’s close to the other shoreline, but it’s actually quite near the middle of the channel between the two islands.

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I’m heading for that gap, and then I will be bearing left, towards The Rooster.

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The Rooster’s Hen comes back into view. If you look, in the distance, there is a light colored spot, right in the gap between the mainland, and another island. That’s the Rooster’s Hen.

I need to head directly to that, and then, again, bear left, to pass underneath The Rooster, towards the boat launch.

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Here, along the mainland, you can see one of those familiar candy-cane shaped pipes coming up out of the ground. I believe this to be the CanMet Mine, which I have never visited yet. There were a lot of mines around Quirke Lake.

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Again, you can see The Rooster’s Hen, straight off the tip of my bow. I will be turning left shortly.

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Passing another small island. There are many islands on Quirke Lake but very few are suitable for camping, this area is just too rugged.

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Good luck on putting your tent pegs into something like this. You’ll need a jackhammer, and you’ll have to peg your sleeping bag down too, so you don’t go rolling into the water at night.

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And there it is again, the mighty Rooster.

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All of The Rooster in one shot. Pictures just don’t do it justice, you really have to experience it first hand to be able to appreciate its massive size.

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Looking into the face of The Rooster, again, you can’t really appreciate the size factor from these pictures.

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I tried to get the sun behind me for a better shot.

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About another twenty minutes, or so, paddling, I arrive back at the boat launch. I didn’t feel totally drained, but I’m not going to say that it was not a welcome sight. 🙂

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jan on August 11, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Wow, I really liked your tour of the lake, we miss it a lot this year (no boat). I see you found the Island AND the car, from land as well, impressive. I am having my hip replaced this week, so kayaking may be in my future. Thanks again for posting your adventures, Jan

    Reply

    • Ahhh, nice to see you again Jan. Yes indeed, I found Seagull Island. Even a blind man could find it, all you have to do is listen. 🙂 I really enjoyed my paddles on Quirke Lake, you just have to wait for the right day, when the lake is being cooperative. I’m sure that you would really enjoy kayaking. You need to get one that is something like the one I use. Many of those hard-shell kayaks are very tippy, especially for those who have never paddled a kayak before. The kayak would be the perfect workout for that new hip too. 🙂

      Reply

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