While I was out relaxing on the rocks, bartender Ty was hanging out in the main part of the site relaxing by the fire with a drink. I didn’t even realize he got a fire going – but I should have known, it’s the first thing he does when he gets to camp. I joined him with a whiskey and we relaxed by the fire for an hour or so. There was still a decent breeze which kept the bugs at bay, so that was nice. Around 8pm we were both getting hungry so I started the dinner making process. Tonight, we had a simple meal – Lou’s Pot Roast and mashed potato. Ty laughed when I told him about the mashed potato because we have an inside joke about me eating mashed potatoes in strange places… don’t ask. I told him the forest is as good as any place to enjoy mashed potatoes! The meal didn’t take long to prepare and by 8:30pm we moved out to the rocks to eat dinner. The wind was still pretty strong considering it was getting late – I figured we are in for a storm tonight.

Time to leave Big Crow and head to Lake Lavieille - to a hopefully pollen-free campsite

The hole in the forest - just off center to the right - is where Mr. Stink Eye made an appearance yesterday

Looking down at the Crow River from the Jack Pine campsite

Looks like we'll be getting a full moon tonight

tr 73: Opeongo - Big Crow - Lavieille

Day 2: Big Crow Lake to Lake Lavieille

I woke up just after 8am and was greeted with another beautiful day. A bright blue sky with only a few small clouds here and there. I lowered the food from the tree and brought it back to the campsite – I really needed a coffee. I set up the stove down by the beach because it’s kind of loud when on full-blast and Ty was still sleeping. There was no wind and I enjoyed a cup of coffee in my chair on the beach. I was happy to be in the shade because it was already pretty warm – something tells me today will be a scorcher. I hung out for a half hour or so before Ty made his way out of the tent.

Packed up & ready to go

Then we ran into his friend up ahead

At 1:15pm we got back in the canoe and continued down the Crow River. This really is a gorgeous river and I would recommend it to anyone looking for scenic river travel with an abundance of wildlife. By 2pm we landed at our next portage – a quick 385m trail around some rapids. The take out here was a little tricky due to rocks, but we managed to get out and across the trail in no time. We had three portages left and they were all pretty much back to back so it wasn’t long before we hit the next trail – P170 around another short set of rapids. I supposed we could have river walked some of these trails, but I didn’t feel like boulder-bashing my canoe down a rapid. We relaunched on the river and hit P205 in minutes. Another tricky landing but manageable. When we finally reached our last of four portages we decided to make really quick work of it so it would be done and over with. The landing on the downstream end of P110 is a little tricky – it’s a very small landing crowded by bushes and large rocks, in deep water – no wet-footing here. We had to get in one at a time, turning the canoe around for the other person to get in.

Swifty's Site as it appeared from our campsite

With seven portages behind us we were both happy at the idea of no more walking until the day after tomorrow. We still had a very long paddle to our destination on Lavieille, but the worst of it was behind us. As we made our way down the rest of the Crow River we emerged out onto Crow Bay with a decent tail wind. The further we got across the bay the more we could feel the wind at our backs and at one point, the GPS indicated we were travelling at a steady 8km/hour – which actually worked out well because we had slightly over 8km to go. Once passed Crow Bay we entered another large bay before reaching Lavieille proper. There is a beautiful rock campsite on the east shore of this bay and I will definitely make camp there some day. As we approached the narrows leading out to Lavieille we checked out a few campsites. Some looked okay, others not so much. We wanted a really good site because we had two nights booked here. We stopped and seriously considered the site on the peninsula facing east looking out over Lavieille – but I suggested we take a chance and aim for the best campsite on the lake – Swifty’s site.

We would be taking a real chance trying to score Swifty’s site because the reservation system indicated that 5 out of 12 sites on Lavieille we already booked. I was hoping it was just a group of five people who all obtained separate permits – but that was unlikely. We decided to try for it anyway and I told Ty there would be a decent back-up site on a near-by island if Swifty’s site was occupied. We made our way across Lavieille keeping to the south-west shore before making the big crossing across Thomas Bay. The wind was really blowing and if we were travelling in the opposite direction we’d be having a really shitty day. Shortly before 5pm we were within view of Swifty’s site and it was clearly vacant. As we got closer to the site I couldn’t help but notice that yes it was beautiful – but it was also heavily exposed (great for bug season) and with how hard the wind was blowing – we might not enjoy our stay there. The waves were crashing hard against the only canoe landing - I pointed this out to Ty then he looked at the site and agreed. I showed him the other island campsite nearby and we both agreed to head over that way. I had spent a couple nights here back in 2012 (See TR 22) and I really enjoyed this campsite. It’s a massive slab of rock leading into the water and the site itself is tucked away on the island in a Hemlock grove. There are trails all over the island so you can get a good view of any part of Lavieille that you want to see!

Swifty's Site, Lake Lavieille

Barely down the Crow River we run into a moose

Another section of Crow River between the Jack Pine campsite and P385

Moose number two along the Crow River

With dinner finished I went behind the site to hang the food rope while Ty took care of the dishes – teamwork! We strung the food bag and kitchen kit to each other then hoisted it up in a tree. A few more big logs on the fire and we spent the next few hours chatting and downing whiskey sours. By midnight we were both pretty tired and decided to call it a night.

He doesn't like our presence, so off into the shady forest he goes!

Beautiful view up Lake Lavieille

By 10am we were fully packed and ready to hit the water. A bit of a late start but we had a relatively easy day ahead of us – about 75% of our travel was downstream on the Crow River. As we travelled south down the eastern shoreline, we passed two guys on the beach at the campsite we targeted yesterday – they were packing up and getting ready to leave as well. I hoped they were travelling to Little Crow or Hogan, as I didn’t want to have a group of canoes following us the entire day. As we entered the mouth of the Crow River, we spotted a moose near the southern shore eating aquatic plants. We kept our approach and passing as quiet as possible, but eventually the moose moved off into the shade of the forest. Pretty cool! We continued around the corner and not three minutes later we spotted another two moose eating in the river – I said to Ty, ‘I told you this was a moose hot spot!’. We had to be patient while passing the second bull moose as the river was very rocky and narrow here, limiting our ability to get by at a safe distance. I attached my zoom lens for a few pics as we silently paddled past and I was happy we made it by without agitating the beast.

Full moon over Lake Lavieille

Hey Ty - pose with the moose!

South-East view - you can see the wind blasting through on the right

Giant slab of rock forms the landing of our island campsite

Moose number three on the Crow River

We landed at the site and unloaded the canoe. Ty took on the task of setting up camp while I unpacked my personal gear and took a quick shower – I was so sweaty from the last two days I desperately needed to bathe. I jumped in the lake to cool and rinse off before taking a bucket of water and some soap into the bush. I tell you there is nothing better than the feeling you get after a good bath in the forest and putting on fresh clothing. I felt like a million bucks! I set up my chair out on the rock in the breeze and sat there for a while taking in the view. Lavieille is a very beautiful lake and I’m sure anyone who has been here would agree. 

Looking up at the Jack Pine campsite on the Crow River - looks kind of spooky

Crow River between the Jack Pine campsite and P385

Ty took on the task of gathering more wood for a morning fire so I put a bit more water on the stove for his coffee. I was becoming hungry so I also took on the prep work for breakfast – nothing too intense as breakfast today was BLT’s on bagels. I sliced some fresh tomato & lettuce, then put the grill over the fire to toast the bagels & heat the bacon. I love mayo on BLT’s but it’s really hard to find those little packs anywhere, so I always end up resorting to using ‘mayo’ from McDonalds. It does the job, but tastes slightly different from legit mayonnaise. I made two sandwiches each and sat on the bench in the shade with a second cup of coffee to enjoy breakfast. I wolfed down my sandwiches pretty fast and decided to begin the process of breaking camp while Ty was still eating.

P1220 is a very flat and wide trail – it didn’t take longer than 20 minutes to reach the other end. We took a short break here for some snacks before moving on. I was surprised we hadn’t seen any moose since the first group earlier today – this river is primo moose habitat. At precisely noon we left P1220 and I was happy we wouldn’t have any more portages for at least a couple hours. We snaked our way through the ever-winding Crow River and when we finally reached the lone campsite in the Jack Pine stand, we decided to get out to stretch our legs and have lunch. I had stayed at this campsite previously (See TR 22) and found several moose feeding in the marsh each morning – but they weren’t around right now – probably way to hot in the blazing sun. We had the same lunch as yesterday – a couple of salami sandwiches on bagels with mustard and relaxed at the campsite for about 45 minutes.

End of Day 2 - Go To Day 3

|  Day 1  |  day 2 |  day 3  |  day 4 |

Arriving at our first of seven portages for the day - Note the Algae-bloom advisory under the portage sign

Looking like a beautiful start to the day!

We landed at our first portage of the day and both remarked how we just seen 3 moose in under 10 minutes – I wonder what the next few hours on the river will be like! We loaded up for the quick carry over the 240m portage. This trail circumvents an old logging dam but given that it was high bug season, I didn’t feel like exploring the forest any more than I had to while on a portage. The water levels on the Crow River we good and despite many swifts before the next portage, we managed to navigate them all without scraping the bottom. I mentioned to Ty that I would be here again in a month, only I’d be travelling in the other direction and surely I would have to river walk this section. At 11:15pm we landed at P155 around a small swift and made quick work of the short trail. Between here and P1220 is only about 400 meters so it didn’t take long to land at portage number three.

Big Crow Lake to Lake Lavieille via the Crow River