October 16 - Day 2
Day-trip around the south arm

It was a beautiful morning! Some cloud with lots of blue sky and sunshine. To top it off, there was almost no wind. The paddling conditions looked ideal. Checking the temperature at 10:00am it was 9.6°C, with the overnight low being 4.4°C, not bad at all. Joan made an amazing breakfast of eggs with bangers and beans with a bagel on the side and coffee. After the morning meal was finished we geared up for a day-trip and hopped into the canoe and were on the water by 11:10am. Too much of the morning had already passed, so we headed up the lake, paddling straight for Bates Island.

breakfast

Joan prepared a tasty and filling breakfast, enough food to make you want to paddle!


We passed close to several campsites on the way up, taking a few pictures, but not stopping to investigate. I'd never consider camping anywhere along that route in the summer, it is just not my cup of tea, still there were some nice sites worthy of inspection but we resisted temptation and paddled on, the days were getting short.

By 11:42am we arrived at the easternmost campsite on the south shore of Bates Island. This was the site I had wanted to scout. I was impressed, the campsite was worthy of awards. The site was open to the water which had a nice sandy landing, with sandy shallow waters. I could imagine in the summer how nice the campsite really was along the shoreline.

The site itself was vast, covering a large expanse of open pine forest, that slowly swept upwards away from the fire-pit. There was also plenty of tree coverage behind the campsite and enough fallen trees for firewood. I changed my mind about pursuing the area as a winter camping destination; I was not yet comfortable with ice travel enough to rely on it for destination camping, If anything should go wrong there's no tent set-up beforehand to run into to get warmed up, we'd be in serious trouble. I would rather trek overland to a destination campsite then day-trip over ice at my leisure.

Bates Island
Arrival at a sandy looking Bates Island

 

fire-pit
Fire-pit with comfortable bench and a stack of firewood left behind by a caring camper


I walked over to the neighbouring campsite via a lightly used path and had to push my way through some over grown bush to get to it. Here, the site was much smaller and higher up from the water than the other campsite. This second campsite had a much more secluded and closed-in feeling. I traced my way back to Joan and found her filming with her iPod. I looked for the thunderbox and found it to be about 50 or 60m back of the fire-pit, uphill all the way. It might be a good idea to plan to go before you actually have to go, as it is a long walk up to the thunderbox!

Bates Island
Exploring Bates Island and its shoreline


We each explored the immediate area some more and found very little trace of garbage, we were impressed, still if you dug around deep enough; we did find minor bits of trash here and there, but nothing recent though, the site had not been vandalized.

By 12:20pm we were back on the water paddling east to the tip of the island, we paddled over an extensive sandy shallow area that looked like you could almost swim if not walk to the mainland in the summer. It was quite shallow and jutted out from the island for quite a distance. We reached the tip and turned northwards into some wind and waves. We took a few pictures and snuck back in behind the island for shelter. Our course decided for us, we paddled the southern shore of the island to the western tip, noting a steep looking campsite located there.

Strange Contrail
Strangest contrail I've ever seen , near Bates island on Lake Opeongo


We paddled across a small gulf of open water to the West shore noticing along the way, a motorboat doing doughnuts in the water near Squaw Island, north of our position. I had thought perhaps the boat had got away from someone(or possibly fell out), but after a minute or two we saw the pilot of the craft stop circling and ease the boat into shore, he was just goofing around. We paddled away from the noise pollution and rounded a bend and came upon a campsite that we had stayed at back in 2006. Water levels looked a little higher then I remembered as we paddled by.

Bates Island

Bates Island and some of its tall pines


For the next 2.5 hrs we followed the western shoreline down in a southerly manner paddling by many campsites, occasionally stopping and getting out to further investigate the ones that appeared to be interesting. The afternoon was just spectacular; sun, warmth, no people, no noise.

The one campsite that sits on a point, the one with a sandy outwash, directly across from Wolf Island (You know the one I'm talking about, we've all gone by it), is huge!

You have to climb about 20m though to get to the campsite proper and the fire-pit area is perfect for a large group. I followed a path behind the campsite that seemed to go on forever and the view back down the lake is pretty good. Long walk back to the canoe though!

Opeongo campsite

A lovely fall campsite on Sproule Bay

 

Opeongo campsite
The 'Point' campsite, high above Lake Opeongo


We paddled to a few more sites, the last one being on a medium sized island. Walking around it we discovered the mossiest campsite we had ever seen and it was loaded with fungi as well. Quite a sight it was. Again, this last campsite we visited was suitable for large groups and the campsite itself was in very good shape.

moss and fungi
Moss and fungi galore populate an island campsite on Sproule Bay


Just after 3pm we landed back at our campsite and as we were unloading, we saw a canoe pass by our site heading to the access point. The couple had no gear, so they were obviously returning from a day-trip. I think both Joan and I had a little bit of sunburn, we had a very good day.

Harkness Labs
The compound of the Harkness Fisheries Laboratories on Lake Opeongo


It stayed clear that night and we had another beautiful and quiet sunset on the lake and there was no wind. No one else was around, although the odd time we could hear folks at the Harkness lab coming and going (Gotta fix that screen door). I went to bed before 11pm with Joan staying up for a few hours more.


Sunset on Opeongo
Sunset Saturday night on Lake Opeongo

 

Moon over Opeongo
The moon, high above us on Sproule Bay

 

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