1985 Silver Anniversary Canoe Trip <)))

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t85a-00 85-08-27 - Silver Anniversary Canoe Trip, 1985
In August, 1985, Merle and I paddle from George Lake to Baie Fine, round the coast to Killarney village and back again to Killarney Provincial Park.

t85a-01a 85-08-27 - George Lake - looking west.
Our first morning on the water, paddling conditions are ideal. Here we're looking west on George Lake back toward the starting point. The hills on either side have been the scene of many hikes and climbs on former vacation trips.

t85a-01b 85-08-27 - George Lake - Freeland L. portage.
At the east end of George Lake is the first portage into Freeland Lake. We're still looking westward toward George Lake, back the way we've just come.

t85a-02a 85-08-27 - Freeland Lake - water lilies.
Freeland Lake is a paradise of water lilies. Oh to cruise along in these cool depths like some glistening trout and see how the flowers look from beneath the water surface.

t85a-02b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake.
Furious paddling in the teeth of a brisk wind brings us to campsite 29 on O.S.A. Lake. We first climbed those white rocks over on the shore back in 1977.

t85a-03a 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake.
Our own island with not a soul in sight -- sheltered by pine trees and surrounded by blue water. Or is that a speck of red nylon, over in those trees on the left, near the tip of that other island?

t85a-03b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake.
More cliffs on the north side of the Lake. Nathan and I climbed these back in '77. At the top we found a stream flowing over the rocks and in the damp soil nearby a fine collection of mushrooms and fungi.

t85a-04a 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake - Merle on mat.
The first thing the canoist needs after battling the wind is a rest. We lie on sleeping mats and inhale the scent of pine needles. As usual, the neighbourhood chipmunk nags us to get lunch ready.

t85a-04b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake - Merle launches our canoe.
By midafternoon, after a bite to eat, energy reserves are brimming again and those hills on the south side of the lake are calling. We paddle across and pull up the canoe on a handy log.

t85a-05a 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake - Derek and view.
A hike through the pine trees along the shore and a scramble up the cliff takes us to this vantage point. That's our island down there with the tent hidden in the trees near the tip. Its a good place to sit and fantasize about being ruler of the lake.

t85a-05b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake - view.
Nearing the top, polished slabs of quartzite -- nearly sheer in places -- invite risk-taking. The pleasure of clambering on these smooth, clean ledges takes hold.

t85a-06a 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake - Merle climbing.
Try and hook your chin up over the edge, Merle.

t85a-06p - OSA Lake

t85a-06b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake.
The sight of blue water dotted with islands and surrounded by rocky hills confirms O.S.A. Lake as one of the province's great beauty spots. You are now standing on the very top of the cliff and looking toward the west end of the lake. In 1977 we camped on that last island just off the left bank.

t85a-07a 85-08-27 - O.S.A. lake.
The eye sweeps round to the right. Looking north, you can see today's island campsite again, this time from a higher altitude.

t85a-07b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. lake.
Turning toward the east end of the lake, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Killarney Lake in the far distance.

t85a-08a 85-08-27 - O.S.A. lake.
The neck of land between Killarney Lake and O.S.A. Lake has a fairly level path. Altogether, 3 easy portages join George Lake to O.S.A. Lake -- a morning's trip from the park's boat dock.

t85a-08b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. lake.
These are the white cliffs that were visible from our island campsite below. We climbed them with Nathan and Miriam back in '77.

t85a-09a 85-08-27 - Teardrop Lake.
Stumbling through the woods back of the lookout, we finally locate Teardrop Lake. On the far side, a low spot in the margin of trees marks the point where it drains down into O.S.A. Lake. It was here that the beauteous Mrs. Maidstone seduced young James Fielding in my novel, The Scarlet Thread. The fictional pond is a composite of this location and Heaven Lake, further east in the park.

t85a-09b 85-08-27 - Teardrop Lake - Merle resting.
Here's the beauteous Mrs. M. now, resting after her exertions. The camera is held by Ensign James Fielding of the 49th Regiment of Foot. Bet you didn't know they had colour photography back in 1816?

t85a-10a 85-08-27 - Teardrop Lake - red leaves.
On the way back down to the canoe, a sign of approaching autumn makes us think of September.

t85a-10b 85-08-27 - O.S.A. Lake - Merle and moonrise.
That evening we explore every inch of our island campsite and then sit watching the moon rise over familiar scenes.

t85a-11a 85-08-28 - Muriel Lake - osprey nest.
The next day, the portage westward into Muriel Lake lead us to an osprey sitting on her nest. No sign of young ones. Her mate appears briefly, circles the nest and flies off.

t85a-11b 85-08-28 - Muriel Lake - water weeds.
The channel is almost choked with water weeds. This could be some jungle river full of water hyacinths.

t85a-12a 85-08-28 - Muriel Lake - beaver lodge.
A beaver lodge with a lookout tree -- for a beaver with climbing ability. A few peeled sticks in the water suggest there may be a family in residence.

t85a-12b 85-08-28 - Artist Lake - beaver dam.
This huge beaver dam keeps up the level of Artist Lake. It's about 5 feet high with a continuous spill of water coming over the edge in wet weather. You have to lower the canoe from the top level down into the creek below without either damaging the beavers' engineering works or flipping the canoe and spilling the cargo.

t85a-13a 85-08-28 - The Pool - the yacht Chanticleer.
The chain of lakes and ponds in the outflow of O.S.A. Lake eventually leads to The Pool, an easterly extension of Baie Fine which is also connected to Georgian Bay. The yacht Chanticleer has come all the way from Florida.

t85a-13b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - Campsite.
We paddle down the bay to a peninsula on the south side. As usual, our campsite is a work of art with striped rocks and heroic scenery.

t85a-14a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - Merle in tent.
Here she sits, in her little housie. Nobody comes to see her but a little mousie.

t85a-14b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - Merle in tent.
The blessed sunshine pours down.

t85a-15a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - tufts of grass.
All around the campsite, rocks bake in the heat.

t85a-15b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - tufts of grass.
While strolling near the tent, these tufts of grass appear to suggest a route.

t85a-16a 85-08-26 - Baie Fine - tuft of grass.
What sort of insect odysseys or fieldmouse sagas might be going on down there?

t85a-16b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - silhouetted grass.
You might even want to lie down and peer curiously between the grass stems, like some campsite chipmunk ...

t85a-17a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - grasses & rocks.
And scuttle forward to spy out a route along that rocky ridge.

t85a-17b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - backlit grasses.
The grass is everywhere -- a jungle of rustling bamboo.

t85a-18a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - tuft of grass against water.
Out in the open again, you scamper toward the bay ...

t85a-18b 85-08-26 - Baie Fine - pine needles in cleft.
And slide down this sheer cliff to the water's edge.

t85a-19a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - puddle in groove.
Wetting your whiskers in this pool, you would probably conclude, as I did, that a 48 year old, 165 pound chipmunk is not built to run around on all fours. It's time to get the fire started and put the kettle on.

t85a-19b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - Merle by campfire.
At sundown we sit and stare into the flames. A yacht bearing a mysterious stranger lies anchored in the cove on the far side.

t85a-20a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - canoe and sunset.
Our own yacht, a 17-foot Grumman aluminum canoe -- veteran of many encounters with rocks, submerged timbers and iron spikes left over from the days of logging -- waits for more of the same treatment tomorrow.

t85a-20b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - Turtle Creek.
After a day of rain and a wet night on a beach at the mouth of Baie Fine, we set off in better weather down Fraser Bay. Here we dry out clothes at a place we call Turtle Creek. It offers a sheltered harbour for the canoe, a creek with a turtle in it, and a lovely campsite. A perfect place to stay, but it's only noon.

t85a-21a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - Merle washing dishes.
We compromise and make lunch. It's Merle's turn to do the dishes.

t85a-21b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - M. on beach rocks.
After cleaning up, she tries to get a little rest before we resume paddling.

t85a-22a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - M. on beach rocks.
I try not to miss this colourful photo opportunity.

t85a-22b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - M. on beach rocks.
Will this rip-stop nylon princess awaken to a kiss from prince charming?

t85a-23a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - M. on beach rocks.
Apparently so.

t85a-23b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - striped rocks.
We decide to waste time explore the rocks behind the campsite. Clearly marked dotted lines lead us onward.

t85a-24a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - striped rocks.
It's like walking on a masterpiece: exploring on a natural piece of abstract art.

t85a-24b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - crack with root.
Across the path lies a deep crack.

t85a-25a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - crack with moss.
It's only a few inches wide, but from up close the sides are like sheer canyon walls. The depths are slowly filling up with pine needles ...

t85a-25b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - pine needles.
Steadily falling from this branch above.

t85a-26a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - tree root.
It feels like something is watching from concealment. When you meditate long enough in a place like this, rocks and old tree roots begin to take on a portentous quality, to seem haunted by spirits. You stare and stare until finally you begin to see into a thing, and through it ...

t85a-26b 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - M. & campfire.
And beyond it ... like watching the flames of the campfire the other night.

t85a-27a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - driftwood root.
This could almost be the antlered head of some fabulous stag of the north woods, felled in mid-stride ...

t85a-27b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - jagged crack.
By an ancient bolt of lightening ...

t85a-28a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - jagged crack.
Splitting the rocks.

t85a-28b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - sloping rocks.
The sky darkens ... You look over your shoulder ...

t85a-29a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - sloping rocks.
But it's only a passing cloud ...

t85a-29b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - sloping rocks, blue water.
And you reach the end of the trail at Turtle Bay.

t85a-30a 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - island cliffs.
Heading from Fraser Bay for the portage into Killarney Bay, we pass the rocky cliffs of an island ...

t85a-30b 85-08-30 - Fraser Bay - water and horizon.
And have our last view down Fraser Bay toward the mouth of Baie Fine.

t85a-31a 85-08-30 - Killarney Bay - canoe on beach.
In Killarney Bay, within a couple of miles of the village of Killarney, we find a campsite even better than the one we've just left behind at Turtle Bay. Our canoe grates on fine pebbly sand and we step ashore to stretch our legs.

t85a-31b 85-08-30 - Killarney Bay - Merle on log.
It's too tempting to pass up.

t85a-32a 85-08-30 - Killarney Bay - Merle on log.
Our luck is phenomenal; we sit around baking in the sun, doing nothing and trying to make up our minds to go in swimming.

t85a-32b 85-08-31 - Portage Cove - yacht anchored.
The next day takes us to the village of Killarney. But first, a visit to Portage Cove where this yacht has found a picturesque overnight anchorage.

t85a-33a 85-08-31 - Killarney - boathouse.
Paddling up the channel into the village, it's a novelty to look at the buildings from the water.

t85a-33b 85-08-31 - Killarney - historic marker.
Strolling around hunting for the post office, we find this historic marker commemorating Etienne Augustin de la Morandiere, a fur trader who founded Killarney in 1820. In 1975 we put up our own tents in a campsite owned and operated by one of de la Morandieres's descendants.

t85a-34a 85-08-31 - Killarney - Pittfield's Gen. Store.
This is Pittfield's General Store where we bought supplies and did our banking back in '75 and '77.

t85a-34b 85-08-31 - Georgian Bay - lighthouse.
Leaving town, we enter Georgian Bay opposite the Killarney lighthouse. The waves are high, making for a splashy trip ahead of us. But part of the way, a screen of small island protects canoists from the full force of the open water.

t85a-35a 85-08-31 - Georgian Bay Island (GBI).
Tonight's camp is on an island with pink rocks, statuesque pine trees ...

t85a-35b 85-08-31 - GBI - waves on rocks.
And waves beating on the rocky shore.

t85a-36a 85-08-31 - GBI.
We set up the tent and lay out our things.

t85a-36b 85-08-31 - GBI - tent.
It's the coziest campsite imaginable, beside a fallen pine tree, looking out across the water at the mainland.

t85a-37a 85-08-31 - GBI - Merle & grass.
On the last night out, a million dollar island all to ourselves. A garden of earthly delights ...

t85a-37b 85-08-31 - GBI - Merle & grass.
To be shared with the woman of the ...

t85a-38a 85-08-31 - GBI - Merle & grass.
Enigmatic, pussycat smile.

t85a-38b 85-08-31 - GBI - Merle & red jellies.
She savours the sweet life wearing red jellies.

t85a-39a 85-08-31 - GBI - pool in rock.
It even has a swimming pool the right size for a chipmunk, but this is the only campsite without a mascot.

t85a-39b 85-08-31 - GBI - vein of quartz.
Everything about the place seems sculpted or painted:

t85a-40a 85-08-31 - GBI - rockscape.
Cliffs fit for a sprite-sized mountain climber ...

t85a-40b 85-08-31 - GBI - lichens.
Lichen appliques on the rocks in case you want to rest your cup of tea ...

t85a-41a 85-08-31 - GBI - vein of quartz.
A vein of quartz making an "L" ...

t85a-41b 85-08-31 - GBI - vein of quartz.
And the hanging gardens of Babylon in miniature.

t85a-42a 85-08-28 - Baie Fine - Merle & campfire.
That night we build another campfire and sit staring into the flames as we always do. One campfire blends into another -- a familiar experience forever becoming fresh and new.

t85a-42b 85-08-31 - GBI - overhanging pine trees.
We leave our million-dollar island early next morning. It's on the edge of Killarney Park and within half-an-hour of the parking lot at the boat-launching ramp. We've been out 5 days, paddled a modest 68 kilometres, and hauled our canoe over 10 portages. The weather has an autumnal look; we head for home.

t85a-43a - The End.

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