Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paddling Out Of Crotch Lake

For those wishing to paddle out of Crotch Lake to new destinations, there are three options which I had a look at while there last week. The first I had a look at was the creek leading to Big Gull Lake. The photo above shows the nice portage trail from the Gull Lake end. Below is the little pond at the end of the portage.

I was tempted to continue from here, but the low water level in the pond gave me the distinct feeling it would have been a long, slow slog up-stream to Big Gull Lake. A bit more water and it's possible it might have been an interesting paddle.

The next option takes one up the Mississippi River which flows into the northern end of Crotch Lake. Not quite as big as the other better known Mississippi River, it nonetheless presents some challenges to the paddler, the first one seen in the photo, is a series of three rapids.

I was able to line up the lowest one, but the cascades of the middle set required a portage.

Fortunately a road parallels the river at this point and could be used easily to get above the drop. I could see another small set of rapids further upstream which looked easy to line past, but I didn't proceed that far up-stream for a better look. The river had lots of water and looked inviting to paddle.

The last option is the outlet into King Lake on the northwest side of the lake. Here is a dam composed of caged stone. At high water water will flow over this and I suspect some care must be required not to get caught. There is a road on the left bank which can be used to portage to the river below.

The chute to control the Crotch Lake water level is on the right bank against the rock cliffs as seen in the photo above.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Return To Crotch Lake

Finally getting back out on the water after a winter of non-paddling felt good. I went to Crotch Lake with some Ontario friends and we continued to explore the lake we had first visited last year. After arriving on a Friday afternoon, we set up camp on a small island site.

The following morning, we paddled into Fawn Lake. This area had been too shallow to paddle last fall as the water level had been drawn down for the winter, but was easily accessible this spring when the water levels were several meters higher. We discovered an area of rocky cliffs and narrow channels.

Very warm temperatures in the mid 30°C's put us back at the campsite later in the day. Some went swimming in the warm water, others, like me, dozed the time away. There were hordes of dragonflies hatching out of their nymph stage, flying away to eat many of the bugs we feared would eat us during the night. You gotta love dragons!

Sunday, we headed into another branch lake called Twin Island Lake, once again gaining access thanks to the high water levels. A couple of oddities we discovered were a flock of turkey vultures pretending to be cormorants, spreading their winds to dry and

an old tree stump bravely lifting two rocks in its arms suggesting that weight lifters may never die!