Wilderness Canoe Trip
to Mink Lake Region
September 10-16, 2000
Sept 11th We awoke to an
overcast and dreary morning with mist settling over a
calm lake - by 6:30 am, breakfast was prepared consisting
of scrambled eggs and ham, toast and coffee. As we ate,
some loons could be heard calling out to one another near
Gilmour Island offering further incentive for us
to get on with our venture!
Norm R. cooking breakfast.
At 9:30 am, we launched
our canoes for Gilmour Lake with Norm R. and Wayne in one
canoe and Norm H. in the other. The first portage was a
grueling 2190-metre journey through the woods over an
old, rutted logging road. The 3-4 foot tall ferns and
small bushes leaning over the trail were still wet from
the previous nights rain and it didnt take
long before our clothes were drenched. Our trek in the
high humidity became the main attraction for the really BIG
mosquitoes. As they swarmed us, our initial plan to stop
for a rest became impractical. Near the end of our
portage, we came upon some old bear dung on the trail and
approximately ten paces further, we heard a loud crashing
sound in the bushes to our right. Our first thoughts
favoured a bear, but we later concluded that it was a
female moose when we discovered moose tracks in the mud
along the riverbank.
For the next half hour, we meandered
through the bog along a narrow stream that forced us to
climb over two beaver dams before entering a larger, lily
covered waterway. After assisting Wayne with hauling his
canoe over the first beaver dam, Norm R. remained behind
to offer assistance to Norm H. with his canoe; while
Wayne proceeded ahead to the second beaver dam. After
negotiating the second canoe over the first beaver dam,
Norm R., not realizing that the canoe had been reversed
due to the solo trek previously done by Norm H.,
attempted to get his "large frame " into the
bow of the canoe. It was at this moment that we were
provided a little "comic relief" as Norm
Rs weight caused the other end of the canoe to
elevate out of the water, rolling him unceremoniously out
of the canoe and into the beaver pond an expected
result much to the amusement of Norm H. standing on the
embankment. Not to be discouraged and being a good sport,
Norm R. regained his composure, laughed and helped remove
the unwanted pond water from the canoe. We then proceeded
to catch up with Wayne who appeared somewhat bewildered
by our turn of events. On a far shoreline, we spotted a
cow moose and her yearling calf feeding on the marsh
grasses. As we approached, caution outweighed their
curiosity and they sauntered into the woods.
Norm R. and Norm H.
Norm H. in bog stream
Unable to locate the
next portage sign, we verified our map and then took a
chance on a particular narrow straight that zigzagged
through tall, swamp grass to the far corner of the bog.
We finally located our 200-metre portage next to an
impassable stream that led to the next lake. Whenever it
became necessary for us to get out of the canoes, we were
relentlessly subjected to a putrid odour emitted by each
step placed into the silty and mirky lake bottom.
After paddling through a narrow channel
and into Brant Lake, we entered a shallow stream that
would take us to our destination, Gilmour Lake. What we
didnt expect were the slippery, fallen logs and
rocks throughout this course. Many times, we had to walk
our canoes when paddling became impossible. Overall, the
"short distance" from Cedar Lake to Gilmour
Lake was accomplished in three hours.
Historical Brent Crater
Norm and Norm on Gilmour Lake
Gilmour Lake was found
to be oval and surrounded with a ridge of coniferous
trees. Beyond the lake, we could see the outline of
another oval ridge that more than likely encompassed
Tecumseh Lake. We were now in the midst of the Brent Crater Basin,
created over 450 million years ago after the collision of
a giant meteorite. About 200 feet from shore, three large
loons alerted each other of our presence as they fed on
the lake bottom. To our surprise, even swimming in
Gilmour Lake was a challenge, as it required walking for
approximately 500 feet in two feet of water before the
water reached our thighs. It became a matter of just
sitting in the water to cool off from the existing
humidity! The question arose as to why the lake was so
shallow if a meteorite had fallen in this actual area.
Our conclusion was that the lake was much deeper at one
time and filled in with sediment from the melting
glaciers that passed over this region.
Our intention was to paddle into
Tecumseh Lake and beyond, but having reached our allotted
halfway time-point, we decided to cook some soup and then
return to our base camp. Out in the middle of the marshy
bog again, we encountered and surprised the female moose
feeding in deeper water.
our sudden presence, she tried to flee, but had a
difficult task in reaching the shoreline and the
sanctuary of the woods because of the deep, muddy lake
bottom. Occasionally, she would stop and turn her head to
take a long look at us, trying to determine if this was
an actual invasion of her territory. For Norm R., an avid
moose hunter, it was certainly the highlight of the trip.
He stated that the moose would not remain in this region
in about two weeks time because of the aggression
demonstrated by the bulls during the rutting season.
The 2.2-kilometer portage was
accomplished in rapid time and we were back at our camp
by 3:45 pm. Norm H.' neck and shoulder muscles stiffened
from carrying his canoe solo and he suffered the
consequences for the rest of day. To relieve the
discomfort, some muscle liniment was applied and Norm H.
soon became his old self again. Norm R. and Wayne also
felt the effects of the trip, but not as acutely. We had
miscalculated on the amount of water to bring and the
effort it would take to reach Gilmour Lake - this
resulted in our becoming dehydrated from the trip. An
important lesson learnt from now on we would
sacrifice the added weight by carrying our water filter
on future side trips.
Wayne and Norm H.
under the tarp
Norm and Norm
Wayne and Norm R.
That evening, ample
water was substituted for the usual medicinal scotch to
counteract our fluid loss. Supper consisted of BBQ
chicken and rice, left over baked potatoes, apple brown
betty dessert and some wine. By 9 pm, everyone welcomed,
without complaint, the suggestion of going to bed early.
2001 by Norm Hooper