This trip was a chance to try the backcountry in a new month for us. We tried for an April start and April proved to be cold! We headed to Huntsville on April 26th, Thursday night in order to get a good rest before our long first leg of this trip. That nite the temperature dipped down to a very cold -12 with a heavy frost. We were up early and out the door of the hotel to head to Canoe Lake Access. This was the coldest I can remember ever heading out in a canoe which made it interesting.
From our island site on Otterslide
Grant's Joe lake tent location
A handy tool we made on Burnt Island site for gathering fire wood
As we headed out up Canoe lake we were faced with a pretty strong head wind and we noticed that the water dripping of the paddle was freezing to the gunwales. The first portage was not eventful and before we knew it we were away from cottages and lodges and finally crossing lakes with no signs of man.
One portage which stuck out was the one from Little Joe to Baby Joe, we discovered that the woods were considerably colder within the shadows of the trees, and there were still areas with several inches of snow on the ground even though ice out was almost a record early date this year.
We portaged into Burnt Island and stopped at end of portage for some lunch and to review the map to get an idea of possible 1st night sites. We headed out and managed to make it about 1/3 of the way up the North shore before settling for a site for the night.
We broke camp the next morning and the wind was strong out of the North as we headed to the portage to Little Otterslide, we approaced the vast expanse at the East end of the lake and the North wind was howling as we rounded the corner, the whitecaps filled us with fear of dumping into the ice cold water. We both got as low as we could in the canoe and braced ourselves as we paddled hard across the open water to the 780m portage to Little Otterslide. We made it safely across, however Blake did a little wet from a few waves that splashed over the bow.
The portage was covered with downed trees but other than a few detures it was a nice hike and before we knew it we were coming down the rocky slope to Little Otterslide.
We paddled against the wind up the lake through the narrows into Otterslide lake. Mike and Mike put-in ahead of us and thought they knew better so they left us behind at the put-in and headed around the corner out of site. As Blake and I reached the narrows we realized that they were nowhere to be found. We backtracked to locate our friends and low a behold there they were at the East end of the lake pretending they weren't lost.
We regrouped and headed up the remainder of the lake to find a site for the next two nights. We chose the island site with a South facing site and we set camp. That night was even colder than the night before.
Morning of Day 3 after a delicious hunk of peameal bacon that Mike C roasted over the morning fire, we decided to go on a day trip to Big Trout, down the Otterslide creek. Along the way we decided to run a beaver dam and almost dumped the canoe on an open stretch of Otterslide creek. Grant just wanted to put his conoe in on Big Trout so he could say he did. Upon the return to camp we had some food and then Grant set off on a solo hike to the top of a large outcroppping due south of our site on the mainlind.
Grant also spent some time fishing around the large island on Otterslide, with no luck as usual.
That evening, just before dark we were stading around the fire when Mike D noticed something land in the tree directly over our heads. We looked up to find a fullgrown Great Grey Owl staring down at us from a branch no more than 10 feet above out heads.
Though numerous attemps were made to grab a pictue of the large bird we had no success. After a few more minutes we watched it fly away without a sound back to the mainland to the North of the island.
Day 4 was a long travel day, 18 km in total as we went to Joe lake. The weather was calm and slightly warmer around 7 degrees as we crossed Burnt Island
By the time we reached Little Joe we were jacket less. As we made our way across the East arm of Joe lake we started looking for our 4th night site. We chose the large site at the base of Gibralter rock. We spread out on this vast site and set up camp. The two Mike's setup back near the woods, Grant setup on top of a rock and some moss close to the lake and I set up about 10 feet from the lake in a low landing between two good hammock trees.
That afternoon we had a competition to see who could start fire with nothing but rubbing sticks. Surprisingly we had some good smoke going but we lacked really dry tinder and failed to start a fire this way. (Video)
Later that afternoon we hiked to the top of Gibralter rock to watch the sun set.
On the way back from Gibralter rock we observed a grouse on the trail to the privy.
That night was much warmer, the warmest of the trip. You can see how I have enclosed my hammock within my nylon tarp. This tends to keep the heat in and also the wind out.
Day 5 we broke camp at 6:30 am. we pushed off from our site at 7:30 and headed back to Canoe lake. The sun was shining and the lake was calm the entire paddle back to the car.
Various pictures taken throughout this trip.