Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Trip Log: Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park: July 8-9, 2015

I'll admit, I was kind of dreading this trip.  The kids and Chris love the site we had before on Fishog Lake but the paddle across Head Lake can be a pain, and the portage is hard on the knees.  We were also terribly disorganized, it being our first canoe trip of the year, and I was already cranky before we left home after having so much trouble finding things.

Head Lake was calm and we made good time.  We didn't even get dive bombed by gulls.  We did, however, have an issue once we got onto the river.  Biscuit was surprisingly calm after the first few minutes, then all of a sudden Chris asks why the dog has a third testicle.  Before I could say what?  he yells that the dog has poop hanging from his butt that he's trying not to release.  Unfortunately, he couldn't quite hold it and ended up pooping a little in the canoe.  I could already tell it was going to be an interesting trip.

Just realized how this could look bad...
We didn't arrive on Fishog until probably 5pm, and saw quickly that the site across the lake from the one we wanted had a tent on it.  I also saw a canoe rounding the point and thought we were going to lose our site.  I was dreading dealing with the others being upset and getting blamed for it because it had taken so long to get ready.   The other canoe had moved on and our site was empty, much to everyone's relief.

As I was unloading the canoe, I heard a big splash and realized Chris had just jumped in the lake.  Squatch quickly followed.

Still kind of grumpy from earlier, I set about getting organized.  We were too late for the lunch I'd planned, we decided to snack and make dinner.   Bubbie and I went out in the canoe to pump water, and paddled to the next point where we saw a father and son setting up.  I  guessed that they were the canoe I saw rounding the point as we first arrived.

 I started cooking while Chris and Squatch set up the tent.  As I was cooking, I couldn't shake my bad mood.  I think it had to do with the fact we had another trip planned for right after we got back and then the kids would be at my parents for a week, while Chris and I stopped on the way home to do another canoe trip.  All I kept thinking about was all the stuff I had to get ready for the second trip, third trip and the kids stay, and Chris mentioning he'd rather work and us skip our night of camping alone.

I mentioned to Bubbie and she agreed us staying 2 nights here was going to mean a huge hassle and as we ate, spaghetti with Italian seasoned bannock, we talked Chris into cutting it to one night.  I felt a bit better after that.

As I was cleaning up, Chris went to hang the rope for the food barrel, and Squatch fished from shore.  He caught a good sized small mouth bass.  I didn't get a picture, unfortunately.  After that he kept snagging on rocks so Bubbie and I would have to go out and rescue his lure.  This happened about every 5 minutes so finally Chris took him and Bubbie and the dog out to fish in the canoe.  They didn't catch anything.

Biscuit doesn't like the water, but he loves the canoe. The kids kept throwing a tennis ball for him, just far enough into the water that he'd have to go to his belly to get it.  He managed it sometimes, but sometimes it went to far and he refused to get it.  But Bubbie took the canoe out once and he ran out to chest depth and jumped in with her.  At some point, Chris tried to toss Biscuit into water a little deeper than his chest and after that, if Chris went near the water, Biscuit hid under the little table where we were cooking.  He also tried to get under the tent fly like he had at Kingscote last year but the fly on the bigger tent wasn't really effective for him to use as cover.

Chris got a fire going, but there wasn't much wood around.  He found a few dead, fallen trees but they were punky and damp from all the rain we'd been getting.  The fire was just enough to roast  a few marshmallows then the bugs came out in swarms so we doused it and headed into the tent.  Squatch and I spent a while playing a game on my phone while we all listened to a loon, some bull frogs and a whipporwhil.

The mosquitoes buzzing around the outside of the tent was overwhelming, and I think we all felt a little trapped knowing if we went out we'd be attacked.  Biscuit wasn't happy at all, and paced most of the night.  After a while the buzzing faded and the night was very quiet.  The frogs, loon and whipporwil only made noise every little while, but there were no other night sounds, no crickets, no small animals rustling in the bushes.  It was a little unnerving.  I occasionally heard voices across the lake, but for the most part it reminded me of a horror movie where there's a terrifying monster and all the natural sounds of the forest stop because nature knows there is a dangerous predator near by.

As usual, the kids talked in their sleep and both managed to get themselves turned around in the tent.  At one point, Bubbie was sideways with her head near my butt.  I was just about to wake her up and get her back on her sleep pad when she nudged me then started punching my bum as hard as she could.  Between that and Squatch flopping around and smacking me with his arms, I didn't get much sleep.

Biscuit got me up shortly before sun rise so he could pee.  Then we all went back to sleep.  I finally got up around 9 and the kids and Chris soon followed.  Bubbie and I paddled out to pump some water and decided to go across the lake to see if there really was someone at the site there.  It had looked like the top of a tent was visible as we arrived the previous day but sometimes shadows can play tricks on you.  There was someone there, and from the other side of the point we could clearly see the tent, screen tent, canoe and a man sitting safe from the bugs drinking his morning coffee.

Sunset on Fishog Lake
We had oatmeal and coffee, cleaned up and went for a paddle to see the next lake in.  Biscuit again made a nuisance of himself, but settled down after a few minutes.  We crossed Fishog and went through a bit of marshy area before coming to the 40m portage into Round Lake.  The plan was to go to the campsite there and have a picnic lunch.  The site was dismal.  It was just a small clearing with a fire pit, I don't even know where you'd put a tent.  There were a half dozen or so fishing boats cached there, and a good pile of fish remains.  We sat at the dock, ate, checked out the waterfall, then headed back to pack up.
The kids enjoying the sunset

Chris started getting all the gear in the tent packed up while I made lunch.  I figured the more food we ate the lighter the barrel would be so the kids had Mr. Noodles with beef jerky and vegetables and I rehydrated some hummus to eat with crackers for Chris and I.  Somehow, the barrel ended up being just as full as it had been and just as heavy.

It was about 4:30 by the time we left and a bit of a breeze had picked up.  We pushed off from shore, hoping we wouldn't be dealing with a rough Head Lake.

Cottagers were out on Fishog, tubing and having a good time.  Its a nice area to have a cottage, the kind of area I'd want for a cottage.  Don't get me wrong, there are a lot more beautiful lakes but most of them are lined with cottage after cottage and the lakes can get noisy with all the boat traffic.  I'd much rather have a cottage on a quiet lake.

The paddle back across Head Lake was a little rough.  Not nearly as bad as last year's trip, but there were still some good sized waves to contend with.  We made it back in decent time and headed home to reorganize our gear for a car camping trip in Algonquin Park.

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