Quietly and without fanfare, we launched from Flack Lake in Canada and paddled west towards Old Baldy, a quartzite mountain peak jutting above the Canadian Shield. A modest headwind impeded our progress but felt fresh in our faces. We portaged into the next small lake and floated right up to Old Baldy’s feet. Quite a sight.
The portages on this loop are not easy. The small inland lakes in the interior are about 150 meters above Flack Lake. Once you get into those lakes, however, the travel becomes relatively level. There are 6000 meters of portaging and double carrys make a total of 18000 meters of hiking along with the paddling. But the the paddling is superlatively easy without a wind…
First camp on Astonish Lake allowed us to set up and cook before the expected rains came. They were gentle and carressing in their dampness and the lack of wind made for a subtle sound. Dawn brought fog and gradually clearing skies until the sun burst forth in late afternoon as if to forget there had ever been a rain.
Second camp found articles hanging on the line to dry in the sun and us baking on the rocks. The heat wave lasted until sunset and then it just grew still. It is always a little unnerving when it gets soundless in the woods. Usually there is always something. A brief howl from coyote/wolf and it was still silent. And then about 4:00 in the morning the little birds started their twitter and it was much more comforting after that.
We paddled out on the third day. We didn’t even try to but we ended up nailing the route. It was an athletic effort but we responded to what the woods was offering us and as we were driving home the expected rain hit our windshield before we crossed back into the U.S.