Canoeing in Woodland Caribou Park

A Garner Lake Entry
Woodland Caribou
Provincial Park
July, 2002
Martin Kehoe

Part 2
Garner Lake

Once on the lake Ken threw out a line and was soon releasing Northerns. There is a border agreement and you can fish all of Garner Lake with either a Manitoba or Ontario Fishing license. The wind was still pushing us along very nicely. We paddled by the numerous islands on Garner. Today we enjoyed their beauty but on windier days they could be used to work your way across the lake. As we neared the large sandy beach on the Eastern shore we could see that others were camping there. Another spot on the end of a point became our alternate camp for the night. It was after six by then so we pulled up on the beach and unloaded our gear and got our camp set up while the three youth with us got their first swims of many out of the way. Everyone was pretty tired and the camp was quiet well before dark.

Cooking breakfastIt was 7:30 in the morning before anyone left their tent to enjoy the morning view of the lake. The pace stayed on the slow side as we fixed french toast for breakfast. With no portages the previous day the eggs and bread had survived in their original forms. Turkey sausage links provided another treat. Three hours later we headed over to the 300 meter portage to begin a more arduous segment of our travels. It is one of the better marked portages of the park. There is this huge sign welcoming you to Woodland Caribou on the Northern end of the big sandy beach. The portage sees a lot of use but not by canoeist. A lot of people hike up the trail from Garner Lake but do not venture beyond its end above a rapids.

The portage is a good climb for the first 150 meters before flattening out. We carried our packs through first to scout it out. The saw was gotten out of the pack to cut a tree that would have made getting the canoes through pretty tough. I will always try to carry my pack through first on the portages to assess the terrain and make sure that I stay on the proper trail. With a canoe over your head it is too easy to wander off on an animal trail or worse yet, walk full speed into a tree hanging across the trail just above your head.

Ryan Portaging - Woodland Caribou ParkAfter the first portage you are back to paddling up the Garner River but it is now a smaller stream. There was enough water and we only had to pull our canoes over a few rock piles on our passage. The 225 meter portage was much flatter than the first one. The portages get light use but were in really good shape. The day was getting hot and by the time we got to the start of the 825 meter portage we were ready for a swim and there was an ideal swimming hole right at the portage. Ken cut another tree that made the portage landing difficult and after a good rest we started to leapfrog our gear over the portage. The first carry is for seven minutes and then you carry your second load for 12 minutes before setting it down and walking back for five minutes to retrieve the first. Leapfrog this ahead and soon all your gear is over the long portage and you still have energy to go on.

Jester Lake camp - Woodland Caribou Provincial ParkThat is the way it is supposed to work anyway. The sun was really hot and the portage had a very long climb. When we had all our gear on the other side it was swim time again. After the swim everyone was still done in so we decided to look for a campsite on Jester Lake. A short paddle up the wide channel put us on the lake. The boys wanted a good spot to swim and jump into the water so we went by some flat camping ground on the south end of the lake and explored the not so inviting shore on the north end. A big rounded rock area looked appealing to me but did it have a place to put our tents. Upon further inspection it was found to fit the bill very well. Deep water and rocks to launch off from, a fantastic view of the lake and some bluffs, nice kitchen area and with a little trimming a few spots for our tents back in the trees.

The camp was laid out while some put the swimming hole to good use. At home I had put the fuel cans and Crisco container in the freezer along with some steaks for tonight’s meal. By keeping them wrapped in a tarp the cold cans had kept our steaks plenty cold the last two days. They added a little flair to an already great camp. We made plans to stay at this campsite again tomorrow. It would give us a chance to enjoy this little hidden jewel of a lake. The campsite is at 15 U 350200 5633700.

There had been a nice breeze blowing all day but as the evening came on the lake turned calm. I put my solo canoe back in the water for a paddle around the lake. It was a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of camp and enjoy the serenity in the hidden bays of the lake. When I arrived back at camp after sundown others were enjoying the calm of the lake. A small campfire was adding to their enjoyment. When the full moon rose in the East it just got better. There had been no mosquitoes but as darkness set in they arrived in good quantity.

Go to Part:
1 2 3 4
Canoe Stories Index
More Canoe Stories

Park Information
Park Information

Meet Martin Kehoe
About the author

Map for this trip
Maps for this trip
Part 3
Part 3

Copyright 2002 by Martin Kehoe -