09 Sep A Valiant Effort
One of the reasons we started this whole thing was to get people “Out There”, so you can imagine how great we feel when we hear from someone who did just that, specifically because of the Paddle In The Park Contest. But another thing we really hoped was that even if people didn’t come back with a paddle they’d still be out there having fun trying to find them.
Well, we’ve heard back from quite a few of you out there who have told us stories about your trips searching out exactly where they figured there was a paddle. And without exception, fun was exactly what was had by all. We’re hoping to feature more stories about paddle-searching over the winter, so if you have one check back here in the next couple of weeks to find out more. We love hearing those stories!!!
But first, you’ll read an example of that from Heather, Barb and their canine friend Karma, who used finding a paddle as an excuse for a trip up to Temagami, and how even without coming back with a paddle, there are Rewards to getting “Out There”.
We made a valiant effort, but alas, we were unsuccessful at finding Paddle #1. But I am getting ahead of myself.
We have been avidly following this contest all summer, looking at pictures and watching videos of those fortunate few who have found paddles already, and watching carefully to see if the Temagami paddle had yet been found. When it became increasingly apparent that it had not, we began considering if we could actually make an attempt. With little free time available to us, we decided that the weekend of August 17th would be the only opportunity we might have, so we began to plan how this might become a reality.
We have a cottage on Temagami, so we had to determine how we could shorten the trip into three days. We packed on Thursday night, August 15th, and got an early start on the 16th. We loaded the canoe, several packs, two people, and one golden retriever (“Karma”) into our small motorboat and powered up into Sharp Rock Inlet. We parked the boat, portaged into Diamond Lake, and began our paddle on Diamond with sunny skies and light winds. Many of the campsites on Diamond were occupied, indicating that the summer canoeing season was still in full swing. The lift-over into Lady Evelyn was much easier than it has been in the past, as Lady Evelyn lake levels were higher than usual. We made our way north passing the many islands and bays, rounding the point as the lake opens up heading west towards the portages into Willow Island Lake. After a brief lunch, we crossed the portages, the first portage being longer due to low water levels in the marshy area near the unnamed lake. We continued north through Willow Island Lake, into the lower end of Sucker Gut, around a point and then southwest toward Frank Falls.
Our plan was to camp on the large island just short of the falls, but it was occupied, so we were forced to pitch our tent in a blueberry patch just south of the campsite. Wolves howling in the night truncated our slumber! We got an early start the next morning, leaving our tent and sleeping gear at our site (and the food pack dangling from a tree). With just a daypack and an eager dog, we navigated the five portages (Frank Falls, Center Falls, two sets of rapids, and Helen Falls). At this point we still had some spring in our step in anticipation of the search, even though these portages were quite strenuous. We found Helen Falls to be more difficult than Center Falls, with all of its twists and turns and treacherous footing.
We met several groups of canoeists, some heading upstream, others downstream, two from youth camps, a family of seven (and a Doodle named Cinnamon), and a solo canoeist. We searched briefly along the portages at Helen Falls and the rapids between Katherine Lake and Helen Falls. We left the canoe at the south end of the Katherine Lake portage, and walked the trail to continue our search. Based on the two clues, we were convinced the paddle was hidden near Katherine (Divide) Lake, but along the portage trail to the next “trout pond” to the south. We forded the river to the small island at the confluence of the two small branches of the North Lady Evelyn River, and searched there.
Every large rock formation that suggested a hidden crevice or ledge was a target for our efforts. We then focused our attention to the west shore campsite and trail to the South Channel. We searched the bluffs and other large rocks on this side too, but no luck! We searched for approximately three hours before we decided that we had had enough bushwhacking, and that we had to head back to our campsite. So, somewhat vanquished, we headed back downstream with the daunting task of navigating the same portages once again. I will spare the reader the details of attempting the treacherous North Lady Evelyn River portages with shaky, rubbery legs, extreme fatigue, and little water left to drink.
We were fortunate to make it safely through it all and onto the waters of Sucker Gut by about 4:00 pm. Rather than remain on this tiny site, we decided to pack up and continue back towards our starting point to make the following day a little less taxing. We paddled back into Willow Island Lake, and stayed on the campsite on the west shore, near the portages into Lady Evelyn. The southwest wind had come up, so it was a tough slug through the narrows as the wind tended to funnel through it. Needless to say, we were dead tired and relieved to lay our heads down that night! If we listened carefully, we could hear Center Falls rumbling through the North Lady Evelyn gorge!
The next morning, our stiff bodies screamed at us, but we managed to loosen up enough to pack out in good time before the wind came up again. The two portages back into Lady Evelyn required significant determination, concentration, and perseverance! It is incredible how portages can seem so much longer on the way back! We continued through Lady Evelyn Lake, pulled the canoe through at the lift over to Diamond, and proceeded south towards the southeast corner of Diamond Lake. The portage from Diamond into Sharp Rock Inlet was very busy, with three other canoe groups navigating the rocky path. We assisted one group travelling in the opposite direction as we returned for the rest of our gear. It sure was nice to see our motorboat! Once we got out onto the main lake of Temagami, the wind had reached full strength but we reveled in the feel of the breeze in our faces, ecstatic that we did not have to fight that wind (and the accompanying waves) in a canoe! We arrived back at our cottage about 2:30 in the afternoon of August 18th, exhausted but replete. The disappointment of not finding the paddle was overshadowed by the success of our journey, as inane as it might seem to some!
Thanks for motivating us to push our limits. We look forward to hearing the story of the new owner of Paddle #1!
Thanks so much to Heather for sending us this great story. So sorry you didn’t come back with a paddle, but clearly you guys had a great time trying to find one. Oh, and Happy Birthday – belated as it may be – to both Karma and Barb!