Friday, April 20, 2012

Trip Log: Long Lake to Shark Lake (day trip)

Chris and I have an odd way of planning for a canoe trip. We don't plan. Usually, the night before we'll say "Hey, lets go for a paddle tomorrow..." then in the morning, we strap the canoe to the car, toss the paddles etc into the back seat and head out armed with a few Kevin Callan books. After a quick stop at a grocery store for lunch supplies, we head in the general direction of where we think we might want to go.

On July 10, 2010, we headed toward the Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Provincial Park and decided to check out Shark Lake. Our decision was based entirely on a picture in the first edition of Cottage Country Canoe Routes by Kevin Callan.

Here were my thoughts on the trip:

The put in for Long Lake is just north of Woodview, up Highway 28. Turn left onto Long Lake Road, and drive to the end where you’ll find Long Lake Lodge. It costs $7 to park your car there for the day.

I got that feeling in my stomach as soon as we got there, that, oh wow, this is gonna be great feeling, (not the queasy, where’s the nearest thunderbox feeling) It was bright, sunny day, so we slathered on sunscreen and headed onto the water. I should point out that I forgot to cover the bit of skin between my low cut shorts and my slightly cropped t-shirt, and so ended up with a “tramp-stamp” sunburn which hurt like hell.

Long Lake is exactly as the name implies, long and narrow. It’s also very pretty, with mostly cliffs rising out of the water on both sides. there are half a dozen or so cottages on the lake, but they are fairly unobtrusive. I was so jealous of those people! Such a pretty lake to have a cottage on, and now that it’s part of a Provincial Park, there won’t be anymore going up. (which is good, cause it’s nicer that way, but sad cause I’d love to build one there!)

This is the last year the park is a non-operating park, and so the last year the campsites are free to stay at. As of 2011, they’ll be charging for their use, at least according to the sign at the lodge. I’m hoping someone also fixes the portage signs. They were all visible but the distances didn’t match up at all to what the map at the lodge said, nor what Kevin Callan’s book said. Also, it was odd that at one end, the sign would say 450m and on the other end, say 200m or something. One would think, they’d at least match up the lengths on both ends of the same portage.

The portage from Long into Buzzard Lake was easy to spot, there was a dock there with a pontoon boat. The portage itself was wide and a little hilly but nothing too daunting. Buzzard Lake was nice, but not as pretty as Long Lake.

We paddled to the far end of Buzzard and took the portage into Vixen Lake. According to the book, the portage was 113m. I think the map said differently, as did the signs. Either way, when we got to the portage, we came across a group of three young men heading in with a huge load of gear. One was in a kayak, and the other two in a very weighted down canoe. We lost sight of them quickly, and figured they must have set up camp on Vixen. It was a sort of weedy lake, not one I’d want to swim in if I were camping there, but then I have a very strong fear of weeds and deadheads (submerged, slimy logs) that I’m sure most young men don’t have.

The portage out of Vixen into Shark Lake was sort of hard to find, and we had to paddle around a bit until we saw the sign. According to Callan’s book it’s a 765m portage. I think the sign on the tree said 990. Either way, it wasn’t pleasant. It went up and down and through a lot of ferns so it was buggy. It just seemed to go on forever, and for a while we thought we’d missed something, but eventually, after a steep and not very stable decent, we put into Shark Lake and paddled to the campsite with the beach.

Chris jumped in right away and cooled off. I, seeing the weeds, flopped into the shallow water and managed to cool off as well. We had lunch at the site, tuna sandwiches, and I can’t remember what else. We explored a bit, then had another quick swim before heading out. I do remember we ran out of water here, not having expected the Vixen-Shark portage to be as long as it was. I’m not a big water drinker, I sip, even when I’m super thirsty. I think it’s because when I was pregnant the first time, water made me vomit. Chris can slug back a bottle in less than five seconds. For that reason, the trip back seemed very long.

Rather than doing the full trip described in the book, where you portage from Shark into some small lakes, paddle through Coon lake and come out at a different location, we headed back the way we came. We only have one car, and couldn’t organize a pickup.

When we got back to the lodge, at about 6pm, their little store had closed, but the man offered to let me in to buy some cans of pop. I can’t remember a can of Coke being enjoyed more.

We had a quick swim at the put in and headed back home. I’d like to do that one again sometime, over night, so we don’t have to do the long portage twice in such a short span of time. I imagine, experienced trippers would laugh at that, and I know there are portages out there that are MUCH harder, but up until then, we’d only done a few short ones. I guess we need to develop more stamina and strength.

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