Once back in the boat we came around the point and once again were faced very high winds. My arms were exhausted and we still had about 10kms to go. I was pleading with the wind in my mind, ‘just slow down for an hour’ I’d think. It was really bull work getting to the narrows leading to the south arm but we finally reached it and took another break – it was now 1:30pm and it had taken us 2 hours to cross the East Arm – now on to the South Arm. After a 20-minute break on the sand bar at the narrows we decided to get moving. We were making pretty good time, but the wind wasn’t giving up anytime soon and now that we were headed in a southern direction, the westerly wind became less of a headwind and more of a cross wind. This made travel more difficult but just as quickly as we reached the south arm, the wind died down a little bit. ‘Figures.’ I said to Ty, and he agreed. It took us another hour to get from the narrows to the western point of Bates Island where we once again took a break and sought refuge from the intense wind. After a ten-minute break, we spent the next 45 minutes paddling from Bates Island to the dock at the south end of Lake Opeongo. Our arms were numb from battling the wind but at least we did our 100km trip – or did we? While fighting the wind, I didn’t bother to look at the GPS and when I finally did check – you’ve got to be kidding me – 98.1km total. Buzz kill! In retrospect, although we may not have hit 100kms, I think 98.1km was close enough – we know we could have easily done 110km had it not been for the wind preventing daytrips yesterday. We loaded the gear in the car, the boat of the roof and took off down highway 60 to Wendy’s in Huntsville. Spicy chicken in my gut then down highways 11 & 400 to head home. Overall another successful ‘summer solstice trip’ in the books – next year we’re aiming for 150 km in 5 nights – to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday of course!

At 8am we landed at the small dock for the 90m portage to Dickson Lake and we were literally eaten alive. The bugs were unimaginable – I couldn’t believe that the shortest portage of the trip was also the absolute worst for bugs! When we got to the Dickson landing we booth frantically tossed the gear in the boat and jump in to get away from these buggers – I’ve never seen so many mosquitoes in one place before! We both dug the paddles in deep to get some good speed so we could lose the hoard of bugs behind us. As I looked down at the Dickson Lake water it was obvious something was wrong with this lake – perhaps if I hadn’t stayed here before and knew how clear the water was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have suspected anything – but there was a murky greenish tinge to the lake and it didn’t look good.

A different angle of the same island campsite

We stopped paddling so I could get out the zoom lens and check it out – was it a bear? A wolf? It was too small and quick to be a moose – but when I snapped the photos and reviewed them, nothing was there. It was a really strange encounter. We landed at our final portage of the trip – a 285m trail taking us to the East Arm of Lake Opeongo. Ty had the canoe for this portage so I walked ahead, scouting out for the animal we thought we saw. No animals but five minutes later we came through the pines and were presented with a very windy Lake Opeongo – I mean so windy we debated waiting for a water taxi. It was 11:20am and we were both a little hungry – but also antsy to get going before the wind got any worse (as if that were possible – it was pretty bad). We ate a quick lunch of salami sandwiches then decided to make a run for it.

No bullshit!  5,470 meters in 76 minutes, 6 seconds (Including a 2 minute break) - thank you mosquitos!

The small creek P90 circumnavigates

Headed South on Lake Lavieille

Pretty windy for 7am

Ready to launch on Bonfield Lake

Opeongo East Arm to Opeongo Docks

The shoreline we both swear we saw a large animal rapidly pacing back and forth

We arrived at this sign at 10:17am

Looking south-west across Hardy Bay

Day 4: Lake Lavieille to Opeongo Docks

We both set our alarms for 6am this morning and like clockwork, they went off within seconds of each other. Today is June 21st – the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Though it was only 6am, it was already bright out and before exiting the tent we packed up the entire interior. We were both a little apprehensive about today’s travels because the wind was howling all throughout the night – and still is as of wake-up time. In the 10 minutes it took to pack the tent I swear the wind became stronger so before Ty could even return from his morning thunderbox visit, I had the tent down, rolled and packed. One good thing about having wind all night is the tent was 100% dry – saving me the hassle of having to hang it up when I get home.

It was 6:45 by the time we hit the water and began our journey. The wind was awake, but it was nowhere near as bad as yesterday or the day before – I just hoped it would stay that way for our travel across Opeongo. We went around the leeward side of the two islands and stuck close to the eastern shore as we made our way down the lake. The wind was half cross-wind and half at our back – so with a bit of effort we managed to make the wind work for us as often as we could. As we approached the narrows leading into Hardy Bay I had a sudden realization – a couple days ago when I thought there were five parties booked on the lake I was wrong – there were five closed campsites at the south end of the lake due to the Dickson Lake Algae bloom. It made total sense now – I was wondering why there was 5 bookings made but absolutely nobody on the lake – in fact, Ty and I hadn’t seen anyone since passing the guys on the beach 3 days ago.

Here is a TL:DR for this sign: Don't drink the water!! In fact, don't camp here.

Still headed South on Lake Lavieille - at least there are no clouds!

Small dock at P90 to Dickson Lake

We launched among some 2 and 3 foot waves – no joke, it was borderline stupid to think we could get across this lake. The only thing we had going for us was it was a direct headwind so the waves were coming straight at us. If it was a side wind and this strong, there is a very high change we would be swimming with an overturned canoe at some point. We struggled to make any forward progress – sometimes bursting out in laughter at the insanity of the task ahead of us. The first 2 kms were the worst because we were trying to make our way to the south shore, in an effort to take advantage of little bays that might be wind free. We eventually made it to the shore but the little bays proved to be very little help – they were almost as windy as the main body of the lake. It took us a little over an hour to reach a campsite on a point, about half way across the East Arm. We stopped here to rest our arms for a few minutes before continuing on.

Looking East across Wright Lake

The open space allowed the breeze to travel right through the site, keeping many of the bugs away

A quick break on Wright Lake

We had everything packed and decided to save breakfast for a bit later in the day – we both really wanted to get on the water before the wind picked up and made the waves even worse. Despite the urgency to leave, we decided to at least enjoy a 5-minute cup of coffee before getting in the boat and making our way down the lake.

Lake Lavieille to Lake Opeongo

The last few hundred meters of P5470

You can see a funny tinge to the water on Dickson Lake

As we paddled down the west shore of Dickson Lake we spotted several motorboats all over the lake. I assumed it was MNR or researchers looking into the algae bloom. We counted four different boats all in different sections of the lake. As we passed a campsite on the west shore near the bay to the Dickson-Bonfield portage we spied a ton of equipment, shelters, water jugs and a whole bunch of other stuff – you know you’ve got an awesome job when it involves you camping on a backcountry lake with gear that has clearly been flown in – how awesome! We moved on and landed at the giant 5470m portage by 8:40am. We decided to have breakfast and a couple snacks before tackling this beast of a portage. I pulled out the stove and boiled a bit of water from our Nalgene’s for oatmeal. We both ate the oatmeal in seconds and opted to have our last coffee as a boost before crossing this trail – we needed all the help we could get. We drank our coffee just as fast as we ate the oatmeal and at exactly 9:01am we started down the trail.

Looking South down Dickson Lake

We took a short rest before launching onto Bonfield Lake. There was only a slight breeze and it appeared as though the wind had died down. We launched but only paddled a short distance before needing to stop and filter water. The last place we were able to filter water was the north end of Lavieille – the rest of the water between there and here was contaminated by the algae bloom. We pumped two Nalgene’s full of Bonfield water then continued the very short crossing to the P260 leading to Wright Lake. P260 is probably the flattest trail in Algonquin Park – a very nice stroll through the woods. In just a few minutes we were on the other side and launching on Wright Lake. The wind was a bit stronger here than it was on Bonfield Lake – I suspect the small size of Bonfield Lake was hiding how fierce the wind would be on larger lakes. I really hoped I was wrong and Opeongo would be favorable. We paddled across Wright Lake and as we came through the narrows we could see something running across the far shoreline. I asked Ty if he could see what I could see and he confirmed – there was definitely a large, fast moving animal moving across the far shoreline, back and forth.

End of Day 4 - TR Home Page

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We walked away from this sign at 9:01am

tr 73: Opeongo - Big Crow - Lavieille

Dickson Lake as viewed from the landing of P5470

Island campsite hidden behind the Hemlock on Lake Lavieille