Boomerang Lake - Woodland Caribou Park

Creeks and Trails of Woodland Caribou Park
A solo canoe trip into
Woodland Caribou
Provincial Park

by
Martin Kehoe
Part 4
Aegean Lake, Wrist Lake, Jigsaw Lake, Haven Lake, Rostoul Lake
GPS Waypoints Listings at the bottom of the part 8
Go to Part:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
More Canoe Stories
More Canoe Stories


Park Information


About the author


Maps for this trip

Part 5

At first light the winds were picking up so the canoe was quickly loaded and paddled until the 30 and 300 meter portages out of Paull to the NW were completed. Cutting some down trees on the 300-meter portage aroused my appetite so I cooked my breakfast at the end of it. Blueberries by the hand full could be picked on the portage and some went into my 8-grain cereal as it boiled. A west wind is really howling and finding its way into every nook and cranny of the lakes. My food pack is hanging 5 km in that direction and has to be traveled before I can turn and enjoy its push. After fighting the wind and using any protection to gain headway the 450-meter portage to Aegean was a pleasant interlude in the struggle. The trail goes over a lot of smooth rock as it passes through what was once a Jack Pine forest in its prime. Now the wind has taken down a lot of them and allowed the blueberries to thrive. Stalling long enough to get refreshed and filled with blueberries I eventually started the last assault needed to get to my food pack. The bears have all of those berries and as expected the food pack was just as I had left it. The wind then pushed me back to the east and even north up Aegean Lake. An added treat was how the terrain changes from low hills and young trees to old timber on high rock hills. The wind pushed me to the top arm of Aegean where the hardest paddle of the day ensued. Heading west toward Aegean Creek every opportunity to rest in the calm spots was taken. The large blades on the 9-foot Carlyle kayak paddle allowed me to churn ahead in the gale whipping down the channel. During the worst gusts the canoe would come to a halt. Halfway to the creek a bag of berries picked earlier were stoked for fuel. With the energy from the berries the creek was finally achieved. After the two 20 meter portages, which could be pulled through, another bonus awaited, that section of Aegean Creek reminded me of a miniature Norwegian fiord. The wind was doing the work and the passage was thoroughly enjoyed. Drifting with the wind and enjoying the beauty it was still evident the wind was howling so a camp was found in a protected bay on Streak Lake. No one had ever used the spot but it will make a great camp with room for numerous tents. It has a good unloading spot and a gentle walk up to an area providing great views down Streak Lake.

Streak Lake - Woodland Caribou Park Streak Lake - Woodland Caribou Park
Streak Lake Streak Lake

The coolest morning of the trip at 55 F- 12 C. The incessant wind of the last few days expired in the night leaving only a rippling breeze as the bright sun rises over the trees. The sounds of gulls, terns, loons and a rapping woodpecker break the stillness. Gray Jays chatter and a fish jumps as a waning moon hangs overhead. The mosquitoes have been scarce since that first morning on Siderock Lake, which is more of what I am used to in WCPP, few or no bugs. A Bald Eagle flies low past my perch in its search for a morning meal. While paddling across scenic Wrist Lake a squadron of Forsterís Terns gave me a winged escort. Often times only flying 5 meters off each side of my canoe. Many confuse them with gulls; Forsterís Terns are smaller with red bills and a delicate flight. They hunt for small fish and when one is spotted a kamikaze dive with wings folded ensues.

Wrist Lake - Woodland Caribou Park Wrist Lake - Woodland Caribou Park
Wrist Lake Wrist Lake

Nearing the portage to Jigsaw, burned timber looms ahead so a pause is made to spend a little more time enjoying a world of green timber, blue skies and rippling water. Enough time was spent that by the time some bird watching was done on the portage and trees cut off it was time for lunch on a burned over campsite on Jigsaw. Back on the portage time was taken to enjoy about a half-dozen Three-Toed Woodpeckers and three Black-backed woodpeckers working on the trees killed by a crown fire which left the bark on the tree trunks for them to work on. The burned over campsite should be recognized by some as it has very distinctive rock furniture. I headed into the 550-meter portage toward Gulch Lake with my pail in one hand and a saw in the other. Fallen trees blocked the old blazed portage but a freshly blazed route led to high ground and I tossed off wood all the way to the drop to the lake on the other side. I am still not sure what the route was supposed to be but the freshly blazed path is well marked with Cairns and follows high and dry terrain.

A burned island on Jigsaw Lake Jigsaw Lake campsite - Woodland Caribou Park
Burned Island on Jigsaw Lake Jigsaw Lake Campsite

The 275-meter portage to Haven Lake is boggy and soft but upon talking to Claire at WCPP after my trip I found out she was going in the next day to cut a reroute of this boggy portage. The fires did not make it as far north as the narrows on Haven Lake so I was able to get a site that would not leave me covered with charcoal in the morning. It has green trees but the view is mostly of a well-burned hill across the lake. The fire ring appears to be one of Howard Holtmanís creations he mentions in his journal of a 30-day solo venture in WCPP. His journal inspired me to try a trip like it. I had not yet retired at the time and the idea of a 30-day trip slept in the back of my mind during my last years on the assembly line at a Chrysler plant. By the time camp was set up and a fish fry enjoyed on another shore it was time to enjoy my evening pudding as darkness settled over my camp. The last two days had been hard ones and it was decided to take a day off tomorrow.

My sleeping bag had been getting stuffed earlier and earlier as the trip went on so sleeping in until 7:30 seemed decadent. After breakfast I returned to the boggy 275 -meter portage to see if I could find a better solution and made notes and a GPS track of what I felt would be a good replacement. Near lunchtime the thought of fried Walleye prompted me to throw my pink five of diamonds Dardevel out into the waves washing into my camp. On the second throw the Walleye on the menu for supper got bumped up to lunch. A short paddle to a protected bay and the meal was soon prepared and thoroughly enjoyed. Two Herring Gulls were waiting in the wings for the spoils. A sign that Haven Lake has a lot of shore lunches. A female Northern Harrier was soaring over the lake but was probably between landmasses in her search for prey. She needs to clean the Red-backed Voles out of my campsite. Last night there were noises in the night until I realized that a vole had been penned inside my tent when it was zipped up. His buddies have been scurrying around Howardís signature fire pit all day. There have been abundant voles all along my route with a lot of Redtail hawks looking for them but no owl activity at all.

It is Sunday morning and the canoe is loaded at first light after a day off. The waves slapping water into the canoe as the packs are loaded convince me to keep the rear overloaded so that the bow sticking up in air will act as a wind vane and keep the canoe tracking straight as I enjoy another strong tailwind. With the wind assist it does not take long to cross the upper half of Haven Lake and get started on the 600-meter portage to Cyclops Lake. Breakfast had been postponed to get across the lake while I could so the bountiful blueberries on the trail came in handy as a energy snack.

Landing at the Rostol - Gammon portage View from the Rostol - Gammon portage
Landing at the Rostol - Gammon portage View from the Rostol - Gammon portage

At the 100 meter portage water for coffee and the mornings ration of 8 grain cereal was boiled while gear was taken on down to the open creek below the rapids. Water levels in the creek required some walking alongside the canoe between the portages. After the 150-meter portage it was a quick run until a rock garden near Rostoul Lake. The creek should be avoided if you do not want to scratch up your canoe.

Blueberries - Woodland Caribou Park View from the Rostol-Gammon campsite
Blueberries - Rostol - Gammon campsite View from the Rostol-Gammon campsite

In one hour the wind pushed me all the way to the 650-meter portage to Gammon Lake. The wind had been increasing and by the time I came back for my last load the waves were really slamming the rocks at the portage landing. The 650 portage goes through some great country but is a tough one with numerous steep climbs. A quick lunch stop on the long narrow lake between Rostoul and Gammon has turned into an overnight stay. With the howling west wind, travel on Gammon Lake is out of the question. What at first seemed a tight little camp spot has been revealed as a great place to camp. With the cutting of a few fallen trees more possible tent pads were discovered. It also gave access up to a high rock with grand views down the lake while picking blueberries off the nearby plants. A downside is that a lodge uses the lake to shuttle people down to Rostoul Lake using a motorboat. My peace was not disturbed but the boat lies at the next portage for that purpose.

Go to Part:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
More Canoe Stories
More Canoe Stories


Park Information


About the author


Maps for this trip

Part 5

Copyright by Martin Kehoe, March, 2007    http://www.canoestories.com/creeks_trails/creeks_trails.htm