October 9 - Day 2
A visit to the Otterslides

I slept terribly, my nose and sinuses were all stuffed up. Around 4am I woke up to pee and took a pill. The rest of the morning I slept pretty good and wish I had taken a pill earlier. By the time I got up and ate breakfast around 8am it was 5°C and sunny, I was feeling pretty good and was ready for anything. The guys wanted to explore the Otterslide Lakes and after a quick breakfast, we loaded up with snacks and water and by 9:30am headed out, all three of us in our own canoes.

Camp on Burnt Island Lake
Mike enjoys a morning fire on Burnt Island Lake


We took our time passing many campsites. Stopping to chat with the group of six young guys I had met the day before. They were headed to Big Trout and weren't in a hurry, I think they were still eating breakfast. We moved on and headed into a tiny bay looking for a campsite that was supposedly tucked away in the bay. We found nothing but deadheads galore and admired the view of the rising hill line to the West and paddled back out of the bay. The campsite was in fact outside the bay facing east, it was nowhere near where it was indicated on the map.

Mike paddles a shoreline
Mike paddles along the shoreline as we head out for a day-trip


We crossed the open bay and headed to a campsite that looked to be quite nice and at the last moment before arrival realized it was occupied, by a soloist. Sean exchanged greetings wit the fella as we paddled onwards. I knew where the portage was so I led the way and by 11:00am arrived at a gravel lined beach under a blazing sun. It was the most beautiful of fall days. We took a break before heading down the portage. Mike led the way, then came me and lastly Sean.

past peak colours
"Past Peak" colours cover a hill line on Burnt island Lake

 

790m portage landing
Arrival at the 790m portage to Little Otterslide Lake

The portage was just the way I remembered it..the first hundred meters or so was a well groomed trail which gave way to a well trodden trail loaded with tree roots and rocks. About halfway to Little Otterslide Lake the trail follows what seems to me to be an ancient river bed. It is nothing but large ankle busting rocks. A real chore to walk through with a canoe on your head.

By 11:30am we launched onto Little Otterslide Lake and as we did so I spotted a canoe at the East shore heading up the lake towards Otterslide Lake. We paddled along the lake's north shore which in turn gave way to the West shoreline, given the lake's convoluted shape we lost sight of the canoe and never saw it again. I preferred the second part of the lake where there was a large island on it. The first part where we had launched onto from the portage, I never liked and re-visiting it, I realized I still didn't like it. I don't know what it is, I cannot put my finger on it, but I just do not like that part of the lake, it seems plain and boring to me. The upper part of the lake, now that is a different story! I have never camped on that lake but if I ever did it would be on the upper part of the lake.

Colours on Little Otterslide Lake

Mike paddles Little Otterslide Lake


By noon we passed into the narrows that separates the two Otterslide Lakes. The paddle seems longer than what you'd expect looking at it on a map. It was a pleasant paddle though and more then once I bottomed out as it became shallow. The banks are ringed with spruce and tamaracks as the soil must be too acidic for any other species of tree to grow on. It was along that section that I hoped I would spy a Blue Heron or maybe a turtle, but all we saw were a few ducks that flew off at our arrival. As we paddled onto Otterslide Lake we encountered a headwind and the paddle seemed to go on forever as we hugged the Southeast shoreline. Mike had scouted ahead to find a suitable site. Soon, Mike was returning close to us and heading in a new direction to indicate he wasn't happy with what he had found so far.

By 12:45pm we landed at a tiny island campsite next to the North shore. The campsite didn't really have a landing and we had to drag our canoes up onto the campsite. The site itself was cozy but had slopes all around it which made finding a level spot to pitch a tent a bit of a challenge (For future reference). Even with the sun low in the October sky, we could tell that this site was a great site to be on in the summer. There was lots of Southern exposure on the site, yet there was plenty of tree canopy and tarp opportunities to shield oneself from the elements if need be.

snoozing
Sean catches a nap on Otterslide Lake


I had camped on this lake before, much further east, but I was tired, we all were and rested for about an hour on the campsite. It was around 2pm when we decided to head out and make our way back to our campsite on Burnt Island Lake. A mid-afternoon breeze had picked up and I had the worst time of it, paddling back through the narrows was annoyingly slow. The wind was against me the whole way, however the waves were nothing to speak of and I paddled onwards emerging onto a forgiving Little Otterslide Lake minutes after Sean's arrival. I really liked that part of the lake, the view and the feeling of remoteness there struck a chord in me. I wanted to camp there solo one day.

Little Otterslide Lake
Mike & Sean paddle Little Otterslide Lake

By 3pm we were back at the 790m portage back to Burnt Island Lake and by 3:25pm was back on our lake. A group of three people were there at the landing. They were taking a break before heading over to the Otterslides themselves for a day-trip. At 3:30pm on a fall afternoon? Seemed pretty late in the day. Mike in fact met the couple the next day on the portage to Sunbeam Lake and they mentioned that they hiked the portage back during dusk.

portage
Preparing for the carry-over back to Burnt Island Lake

Just shy of 4:30pm Sean arrived back at camp, I followed a few minutes later as I had struggled against a headwind as we paddled up our bay. That was the problem with Burnt Island Lake; Most times there was a headwind on that lake, didn't matter which direction you were going, you had a headwind to deal with sooner or later. Mike followed about 30 minutes later, arriving with a canoe full of firewood. He had foraged his way up the shoreline.

sunset
Sunset colours on my second night on Burnt Island Lake


We had another quiet and uninterrupted evening on our campsite in the empty bay. Mike cooked up a hearty meal of Tornados (Beef wrapped in bacon), served with a heap of roasted small red potatoes and a side of sauteed mushrooms and green peppers. I think I am still digesting the meat…Mike served us each THREE helpings of the tasty meat.

spuds
Mike’s tasty roasted red potatoes

 

Tornados!


I felt pretty good, we all did after that meal and I stayed up with the guys and shared a few drinks around the fire, although our calls for wolves went unanswered, it was a great evening; still, clear (many stars) and cool, perfect sleeping weather.



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