13 May 2008

Access 10 Norway>Fork Lakes

In Access Point 10->Norway -> Fork -> Norway->Out

Friday May 9-Sunday May 11, 2008

After being back in the city for two weeks, unable to use my new canoe, I decided it was time to get back into the Algonquin for another quick trip prior to the bugs taking over the park.

I had been e-mailing a fellow Algonquin Adventurer's member, TT a.k.a Tartan Thomas, for several weeks, and decided it was time that we met up. Luckily he was able to get away for the weekend, thanks to, I'm told breakfast in bed for his wife, as well as some good old fashioned wining "but the bugs will be out if I go later...." sort of thing. So before I go any further, Thomas, make sure you thank you wife for "letting" you out for the weekend.

The weather couldn't have been better, as it was sunny from Friday afternoon, when we arrived through till Sunday morning when we left. On Saturday, it was so warm that shorts and a long T-shirt were the clothing of the day.

For this trip we decided to try our luck with access point 10 and travel south along Sunday Creek to Norway and Fork Lakes. We launched our canoe at Sunday Creek, from the north side of the highway, traveling through the highway 60 culvert Sunday Creek passes through where it meets highway 60. We could have launched from the south side of the highway, but the water was high, and the north launch point was a short 200-meter portage from the parking lot at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk hiking trail where we parked, so we chose this as our departing location.

The trip entailed passing over a beaver dam "in the making" at the highway 60 culvert, followed by a meandering paddle along Sunday Creek towards Norway Lake. As we paddled the creek we came across a second, this time fully made beaver dam that we were able to paddle over without any troubles. I must admit I really enjoyed paddling the creek not only because it offered me lots of practice on my J and C strokes but also because I find creeks interesting in general.

At the end of the creek you can see the Algonquin Visitors Centre, which I have visited several times in the past, but seeing the structure from below offers a totally new perspective on the facility. Entering Norway Lake, we spied the eastern site, but gave it a quick pass, as it seemed rocky, small, and in general not very inviting. Seeing as both sites on Fork were booked, this left us with a single remaining site, on the west side of the lake, which as it turned out was absolutely beautiful, offering two nice camping areas, each with a fire pit. We sat and enjoyed a cold beverage as we chose where to set up camp; we ended up going with the upper area of the site, leaving the lower portion for the canoe, and afternoon sunning.

Later that evening I was treated to a Steak dinner by TT (Thanks Thomas, it was great!) and then we canoed out to Fork Lake, where we met up with some other AA members that I had heard might be camping on Fork Lake. To our pleasant surprise we met up with Stainless, Paddlin and their friend Grant, Tomek as well Dave H. and his wife Amy. In all that made for 9 around the campfire that night, which entailed numerous stories, and an attempt at a wolf howl, which unfortunately did not produce a reply.

Later that night Thomas and I returned to our site guided by the quarter moon that was out. Luckily the paddle was not very long, the water was perfectly still and lit by the reflection of a cloudless nights sky. The next morning we leisured by our site, and enjoyed a pancake with OJ breakfast.

By noon we were off again, back to Fork Lake, this time to explore the rapids at the end of the lake by the portage to Jean Lake. While we had initially thought we might explore the portage, its first 50 steps were up a rather damp and steep hill, so we decided to stay put and enjoy the lake we were on. It turned out to be a good call, on our part, for as we paddled the shores around the portage; we were entertained by a young beaver that decided to swim under and around our canoe as we traveled through his territory. I'd never seen a beaver swimming under the water like that before, and only wished I could have captured the moment on film, as it really was a site to be seen.

During that time, the other AAer's were out fishing, to which Stainless was rewarded with a nice Splake. While I could not share in the pleasures of his catch, due to a fish allergy, the smell of it being cooked, and the reaction of everyone else that enjoyed a bit was enough to satisfy me. Jeanine was truly my sole mate that afternoon though, as she treated me and Thomas to some excellent jalapeno flavored cheese and sausage to make up for us not sharing in the catch of the day.

It was an early night for TT and I though, as we knew we wanted to head out early Sunday, as we both had Mother's to celebrate that evening. We packed up camp by 10:00 am and were back in Sunday Creek by 10:30. On route we came across the same beaver dam, and even with three attempts were unable to paddle over it this time, and so out into the water I went to drag the canoe over. That was a first for me, and something that I found an absolute blast to experience. Even though the water was deeper then my boots could protect me from, resulting in wet toes, the water wasn't that bad at all, and I was momentarily tempted to go for a swim in the shallow waters of the creek.

The beaver dam by the highway culvent was no problem to paddle over, ending our journey back to the car. As we unloaded the canoe and packed our cars, I realized that it would be a while till I got to see Thomas again, as we live in different parts of the province. While this initially saddened me, as it isn’t every day that you met a great match, its nice to know that I can look forward to our next adventure, where I can show off my improved paddling, and return the favor of a steak diner.

For the record Thomas is a fantastic paddle partner, especially since he was able to put up with some of my rather unique strokes. He never lost his temper with my creative techniques, but rather offered me some pointers on my canoeing. His even personality, self proclaimed "geekness" (it's not every day you meet someone that understands that parallel lines meet at infinity), love of the outdoors, Algonquin and especially his wife and kids matched my own personality to a tea, making for a wonderful companion to spend a weekend with, and without a doubt a person I'm glad to be able to call a friend.

For those thinking of experiencing Norway or Fork Lakes for themselves, something I highly recommend, note that since Sunday creek is fed primarily by the spring's melt waters, it would be difficult to paddle the creak after July, as I imagine the water levels along the creek would be too low for a canoe to be paddled through. As such, I would recommend a spring trip, if you are thinking of visiting either of these two lake gems.

So with that said, all I have left to ask is "Thomas, when will you be allowed to come out and play again?" My canoe has lots of paddling left in it!

Stumble This Fav This With Technorati Add To Del.icio.us Digg This Add To Reddit Add To Facebook Add To Yahoo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

I don't think the water gets as low as you imagine in Sunday Creek in summer since I've done in August. It's the beaver dams that you already mentioned that you have to take into account and they only add fodder to the challenge. One thing that people have to watch out for is if you take off from the south side of the bridge when water is lower you make sink to your waistline in mud and it'll be a while until you reach Norway Lake before you can wash it off (I speak of 1st hand experience). The north side of the Hwy 60 bridge may have firmer ground. This short weekend trip is a great little getaway that's for sure>