November 9 - Day 1
Snowy solitude - Solitude interrupted

This was a late season weekend canoe trip to Little Doe Lake through access#5 Canoe Lake. This was only my second time paddling and camping in November. Personally, I think the month of November as being the most horrible month of the year; It is cold, dreary and I really cannot stand that 1°C rain, as it just soaks through the most dense of clothing. On top of all this, the water is typically ready for freeze-up and is lethally cold. It isn't all bad news though; no bugs and certainly no people. If you time it right, you can squeeze out a few nice days that might resemble late April weather.

Canoe Lake access
Mike readies his canoe for our trip amid the light dusting of snow

My partner for this trip was my friend Mike B and our canoe for the journey was his trusty Swift Kipawa. We arrived shortly after 10:10 am to a cold and desolate landing at Canoe Lake next to the closed permit office. The office had closed up for the season a month earlier. The weather was cloudy and the temperature hovered around zero Celsius. As we were loading the canoe, it began to snow.

Around 10:45am we were loaded up (The snow had stopped) and began our paddle up Canoe Lake. Not a soul was to be found as we paddled Canoe Lake. All the cottages had long ago closed up for the season. At 11:35am we arrived at the foot of the dam at Joe Lake. The water was deep enough for us to paddle most of the way, with us in our boots dragging the canoe the last few meters upstream to shore and to an unofficial landing. This saved us nearly 200m, shortening our carry-over to just 90m.

By 11:52 am we were ready to launch onto Joe Lake amid a snow squall. The snow had started to accumulate and I was beginning to wonder if I could build a snowman this trip? The snow squall quickly dissipated as we passed under the old railroad bridge. Once onto Joe Lake proper, a feeling of total solitude fell over us.

Nothing stirred. No people, no wind, no bugs, no sound. No birds or animals could be heard. It was eerie, almost as if we weren't supposed to be there. The land and water were slowly going to sleep and here we were sneaking in for a quick peek. It was a pleasing if somewhat unsettling feeling. We truly were alone, if something were to happen; it might be spring before we might be found. We continued to paddle, crossing Teepee Lake, noticing that Camp Arowhon was immersed in the same solitude of slumber, which was suddenly shattered with the approach of a red motorboat as it emerged from Fawn Lake onto Teepee Lake.

Downstream from Joe Lake
Skipping the official portage landing, we landed near the dam

We exchanged nods of greeting as the motorboat passed by. Mutterings of disappoint then anger escaped my lips. Then a sigh, of all the times…I left my thoughts unfinished. Within a few moments the sound of the motorboat was gone and we were returned to our solitude.

By 1:00 pm, we paddled onto Little Doe Lake. This was our destination. We were to camp on the lake for two nights then return the way we came. We hoped others would be joining us as we had an open invitation to several folks who might brave a November weekend in Algonquin Park. We paddled over to a few campsites, noting the position of each with respects to the North. On one site there was a large open area that extended to a rocky point, however there was a northeast breeze blowing through the campsite, we would've froze camping there, we moved on.

Joe Lake put-in
Mike poses with his canoe as we prepare to launch onto Joe Lake

Little Doe Lake is basically made up of three bays and it was into the second bay that we found a campsite along the Southeast shore. The landing was a semi-steep rock slope that one walked up to a flat campsite, with a fire-pit that over-looked the lake. There was a rocky ridge that was behind the campsite and afforded protection from the North and East winds.

It was decided to make camp there and we went about the process of pitching our tent on the dusty snow covered ground. In doing so, we noticed that the ground was pretty much frozen hard, it wouldn't be long before the water started to ice-up.

Fawn Lake
Snowy Solitude: Paddling our way to Little Doe Lake

By 2:30pm we were settled in and had a campfire going. As we went about the business of collecting more firewood, both "Swede" and "Tomek" had arrived. Tomek in his kayak and Swede soloing in his canoe. Swede was doing the hardcore thing, sleeping in a sleeping bag under an overturned canoe, which he raised under the support of a food barrel. Tomek and Swede gathered much firewood and added to the supply needed to keep us warm during the evening hours which were fast approaching. By 5:30pm it had become dark. The sky was overcast but no snow had fallen the rest of that day or evening. Dinner was cooked over the fire and the rest of the evening was spent around the campfire as it grew chilly with the temperature dropping below 0°C.


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