It’s been a few years since I’ve had the opportunity to string more than a long weekend into a canoe trip, and by a few years, I think I was fourteen years old on a 10-day trip through Algonquin Park. When my long time friends from Camp Huronda asked if we wanted to join in on a five day adventure in Killarney Provincial Park, I jumped at the chance. In the end, we had four guys, two canoes, a few litres of libations for this adventure into the wilderness just south of Sudbury on the eastern sections of Killarney Forest Reserve and the provincial park.
Map graphic courtesy of Jeff’s Map – the best there is for Killarney. Available at: thekillarneymap.com
An early start to the morning and a three hour drive up from Gravenhurst, we arrived at Killarney Kanoes to pickup our permits, load up the canoes and hit the water by 11:30am. The 40m marine railway made for an easy portage. A wrong turn on Balsam Lake, due to an extra campsite and 600m portage not marked on the map, lead us into Deacon Lake. Fortunately high water levels made an easy back-track without the need to do the portage again, and we were on the right route. Winds picked up as we paddled past Big Mary Island, and the local cottager warned us of storms heading our way. We made it to our site, set up camp, and the rains managed to hold off for the night. Campfire chicken pot pie with biscuit toppings over the fire for dinner.
Slow start, but only three portages for the day, including a whopper at 2,196m. It turns out my neighbour in Toronto owns the noisy campsite referenced by Jeff in Sawmill Bay. Stopped by to say hello, but no one home. As we finished the High Lake to Bear Lake portage, the sound of rushing water along the portage was too tempting to ignore. A worthy side trail adventure. The winds started to pickup as we left the portage, creating a fierce tailwind with some sizeable whitecaps. After setting up camp, the skies began to drizzle, but not enough to force us into the tents. The fish weren’t biting, so a bit of campsite Bocce Ball was in order. Burritos for dinner and a stunning sunset to cap the day off.
Five portages on Day 3 through some interesting landscapes. A collapsed beaver dam created a huge washout of the lower river system, killing the trees on both sides of the river. A neat old log cabin on the portage from Fish Lake to Great Mountain Lake. On first look, the campsite choices didn’t seem great, but our minds quickly changed after discovering the site near Little Mountain Lake. An afternoon swim in the bay across from the site and an evening paddle on Little Mountain Lake. A dead lake with no canoe campsites (only a hiking trail site), Little Mountain Lake offers incredibly clear water, easy to see down a good 20 feet. Indian curry for dinner with a great sunset lighting up the rich white granite cliffs across the bay.
A whopping 2,775m portage to start the day, but the only portage for the day. We had hopes of skipping sections of the portage, but it wasn’t to be based on the water levels and steep access in certain sections. A short paddle and we managed to snag a campsite close to the portage. With camp setup and lunch consumed, it was a short paddle to the portage that joins up with the La Cloche Trail. As we climbed, I wondered if anyone had made a wrong turn from the canoe trail to the hiking trail with a canoe on their head. Turns out, it has been done, only as a challenge and not by accident. After a fairly intensive 4km uphill battle, we were treated to breathtaking views on the summit of Silver Peak. From Silver Peak, you can see Sudbury, spin around, and see all the way to Georgian Bay.An hour and twenty minutes to the top, and an hour back down – I’d recommend a litre of water at the bare minimum, and two litres on a hot day. After a short break and some snacks with a view, the weather quickly moved in and we could see the rain clouds coming our way. We passed a family around the half way point on our descent, and I hope for their sake they made the right choice and turned around. A light drizzle quickly became a solid 45 minutes of complete downpour just as we returned to camp and gathered enough wood to cook up a pesto pasta for dinner. While polishing off the last of our red wine, we were treated to a legendary sunset that only a summer storm can provide.
Just a short paddle out. No photos. On the road south by 10am.
- Sony a6300
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