There's a lot more to Hay Lake than reading on the porch! Melanie and John are kayakers and canoeists extraordinaire and they love to share their skills with others. They brought their friends up for an "Intro to Canoe Camping 101" using our cabin as a base (hey, it's an Intro course!) and Melanie wrote about their day trip for us. Thanks for the blog post Melanie!
When you think of the Canadian wild, maybe more specifically Algonquin Park, most people think of canoes, beavers, and especially moose. My friend John and I were able to provide almost all of that for our friends Kat and Bella by visiting Hay Lake.
Sunday morning, we woke up early and breakfast was cheerfully delivered with a lovely spread. My favourites (as always) were the warm croissants and blueberry muffins with homemade jam.
We packed up a traditional canoe pack with a tent, a tarp , lunch and all of our incidentals. As we were organizing the two canoes I literally stopped mid-sentence to alert the ladies to two young fox that were watching us with great curiosity. Erin had told us that the resident Vixen had been around lately, but to see the youngsters frolicking around was a great experience and they put on quite a show for us. You just have to stay still and try to contain your excitement, and they become so overwhelmed with curiosity rather than concern that you have an amazing opportunity for a photographic fox encounter.
The ladies were impressive as we were on the water by 10am sharp even with the visit from the fox to see us off. We did a couple of open lake crossings and made it to mid marsh in about an hour. It was a leisurely pace because the sun was shining and the sky was a magnificent blue.
Paddling down to the Little Hay Lake portage was only about another 20 minutes. Of course we stopped to check out some lovely water flowers and three old beaver lodges.
For their first time portage, we decided to take the pack and walk the 985m path without the boats. It was a nice way to see some of the forest and check out the frogs and toads on the path, and the ever so colourful damsel and dragon files. They eat mosquitos, so they are a welcome sign.
The end of the portage meets up with a logging road, but of course it was Sunday, so we didn’t have to worry about any logging going on. The bridge was a great open space to pull out the surprise folding table and create a bit of a lunch buffet for sandwich wrap assembly. We are talking about a full sandwich bar selection: spinach wraps and turkey, with the choice of toppings - old cheddar cheese, mustard, mayo, cucumber, baby carrots, a fancy English chutney. I didn’t know that our ladies were new to folding wraps. It was another great skill to pass along, but the bigger lesson is that just because you are camping doesn’t mean you cannot eat in style.
The portage path was a bit over grown and there were a few trees down, so we decided to not worry too much about bringing the boats through. We went back through the forest to the canoes.
Our timing could not have been better. On the way to the portage to Cauliflower Lake, we watched a Great Blue for a while bobbing among the lily pads and then, the most amazing moment. As if on cue, there was a young female moose swimming in the water up ahead (insert gasps of pure joy and excitement here). We watched her swim from one side of the marsh to the other, stop about six feet from the bank and step up on what was probably a mud pile, to check us out. She didn’t looked concerned, just perhaps perplexed as to what we were and why were we looking at her, and what was all of the beeping and clicking. Why in the world would she know what a camera was, never mind what one would sound like? After a few beats, she continued up the bank on the other side.
We also continued on and investigated the much shorter portage to Cauliflower Lake. This one was lovely, open and flat and a much more manageable distance, so much so that Kat shouldered a solo carry of a canoe both directions. Cauliflower Lake itself was rather over grown and we couldn’t get very far, but again, another lovely space.
It was now getting on to about 3:30 in the afternoon, so it was a good time to head back to the comfort of the cabins. When we got back to the cabins, we celebrated with homemade burgers on the BBQ, followed by fancy S’Mores at the fire at night. Once the stars started coming out, it was almost impossible to go back into the cabin, but there was a very happy "tired" that took over each of us one by one, until we had to extinguish the fire and go to bed with huge smiles on our faces. It had been another amazing adventure at Hay Lake.