Jul 23, 2012

SUP and solo canoe Trip Report: Algonquin Park- Opeongo Lake -Lake Lavielle Loop

Our route through Algonquin Park Opeongo-Lake Lavielle-Dickson-Opeongo Loop

Here is a trip report form the view point of a stand up paddleboarder. The shop guys at Algonquin Park Outfitters believe I might have been the first to SUP this loop through Algonquin Park. I encourage others to try it out. It was beautiful, and a wonderful experience on a SUP. 

We were not heading out to break records (although maybe got a first timer on this one without even trying...but who's counting:)), we were aiming for a relaxing, immersed in nature, paddling through new surroundings kind of trip. 

I flew from Vancouver with the inflatable SUP board, the pump, the safety kit and the paddle. The SUP essentials, along with some clothes all managed to weigh under the allowance of 23kg for the plane ride over. I had a small packback for my carry on with my labtop and other small electronic things. No extra fees and I got to bring a board:)

My dad being an amazing dad drove us down to Algonquin. We left Port Credit Sunday morning. It took about 4 hours to get to Opeongo Lake Outfitters. The South tip of the south arm of Opeongo Lake is entrance point 11 in Algonquin Park terms. I had the inflatable Starboard Astro (11'2x32") board, the 3 piece Nitro Werner Paddle, and the Mustang Survivor Inflatable PFD belt. I wore my Ryders Duchess Polarized sunglasses, Starboard boardies, and mostly just some two piece bathing suits. Andrew rented a solo Swift canoe (which he really enjoyed!)

Andrew carried most of the gear in the canoe. I started off with the sleeping bags, my repair kit, pump and some water on the board but by the end of the 5 days Andrew was carrying it all:)

The vessels!
Pumping up the inflatable
Opeongo Point to the squaw Bay (West shore of Opeongo Lake).
5.14km, 1h26m moving time

We left Opeongo Outfitters about 3:15pm and arrived at our campsite at about 5pm. There was a strong headwind when we left so we stuck to the eastshore of the lake as far as Bates island and then crossed to the West Shore. The waves were totally manageable and I felt good on the board. I had the sleeping bags, my water, the SUP bag with the pump and repair kit on my board which I attached on the front bungees. The gear was light and I had no issues with it on the board. I kept the board inflated while we camped but did pull it up the cliff. 

Heading out on the South Arm of Opeongo Lake

Squaw Bay to Proulx Lake
15.0km, 3h24m moving time.
175m and 965m portages. We took two trips for each, carrying the board on top of the canoe.
Camped on a rocky headland on the west shore of the lake.

We woke up early in hopes of calm waters. We had read and heard that Opeongo Lake can get pretty rough and windy. We did infact awake to calm waters and so ate and packed up quickly and got on the water by 8am. We paddled through to the North Arm Portage with no problems, stopping to take pictures and for a swim. For the portage we tried two methods. First we kept the board inflated and put it on top of the canoe and carried the bags on our backs. This was okay but slow and a little heavy to carry.  For the last part of the portage we decided to leave the canoe and carried the board and bags and doubled back for the canoe. There was only about 400m left on the portage so no problems AND we were in no rush as we were very close to our destination and it was only noon! We paddled to a rocky point on the west shore of the lake, we landed at about 1:30pm. The campsite had a drying line set up, with bbq racks and a nice campfire pit. We lounged around and read. In the early evening Andrew headed out on the SUP and I went for a swim along side... A nice campsite with sunset and sunrise spots on the point. 

North Arm Opeongo Lake

Relaxing at the Proulx Lake Campsite
Campsite on Proulx
Yoga on the rocks
Frog on Proulx Lake
Proulx  Lake to Big Crow Lake
14.4km, 3h30m moving time.
We left Proulx Lake campsite at a reasonable hour. Had a little morning swim and took our time to the beginning of Crow river. We paddled Crow River into Little Crow Lake which was weedy, but passable. There was moderate headwind towards the end of the day. We had lunch on Little Crow Lake on the first campsite you reach. This campsite looked great and we ate on some rocks in the sun! Following lunch we headed towards Big Crow Lake. The winds were starting to really pick up but I really wanted to check out this island campsite on the opposite side of the lake. We were moving through some strong headwinds but managed to reach the campsite only to find it filled with lots of wind-damaged trees. After some discussions we decided to head downwind to check out the other campsites. I loved this one for its private beach but the damaged trees and site made it less comfortable. We headed downwind (managed to get some rides). I saw groups coming from Little Crow so pushed hard to get to the campsite before they arrived (campsites are first come first serve on the reserved lake). We managed to get a beach site at the south-east end near the mouth of the Crow River. It was a great campsite with all ammenities and a huge beach!

Note: On Small Crow River between Proulx and little Crow Lake it would be a good idea to take off your middle fin if you can. I did not do this but had to constantly stop and get Andrew to pull off the long mush of weeds... it was slow and weedy. We stopped for lunch at 1st campsiteon little croa lake (really nice!). We went to the island campsite on Big Crow Lake but a storm that hit 

Heading into Crow River
Heading into Crow River
Beach on Big Crow Lake
Big Crow Lake to Lake Lavielle
23.7km, 6h15m moving time.
Shallow and weedy river was slow going. Seven short portages plus some sections of wading and lifting the boat over rocks and beaver dams.
Frustrating and slow progress, but a beautiful campsite on a rocky outcrop at the entrance of Lake Lavielle.

We left Big Crow Lake at a reasonable hour. We found the little hike off of Crow River and decided to park the boats and check it out. There had been numerous storms through the area in the winter and spring so there were some deadfall still hanging about... The trail suddenly seemed to end and we weren't sure if it was in fact the end or not... the bugs were a little annoying and we felt we had seen enough so we decided to head back. On the return trip Andrew remembered to check the GPS and it turned out that we did have about 300m or so left to go...oh well. We returned to the boats and continued pass the portage and along the river. The portage wasn't too bad but longer than I would have liked:) But the most difficult aspects came next. The river was slow, shallow, rocky, had tree debris and leeches... Sometimes we had to carry the canoe/SUP over the rocks and there was certainly alot of jumping on and off the board. I had the fin off my board which was a great plan and would recommend this to anyone paddling this river. I was a little cautious with my board as I really didn't want to poke a whole through it... I am sure I could have paddled over more of the rocks etc without tearing up the board. There were 4 other short (about 1-2km) portages that we ended up doubling back for gear. The bugs were worse on the portages which did make me move faster:)  It was slow progress through the river but I definitely enjoyed most of it. When we finally did reach the Lake I was a happy camper! We found a great campsite at the entrance of Lake Laveille and enjoyed the quiet evening with the lake to ourselves!
Crow River
Crow River
Lake Lavielle
Swimming on Lake Lavielle
Lake Lavielle to Opeongo East Arm
23.7km, 5h50m moving time.
Long Portage (Dickson-Bonfield - 5.3km) was tough going, but worked well with Lina carrying all the gear in two packs while I carried the canoe on the yoke and paddleboard deflated in the pack.
We camped at the end of the last portage on the end of Opeongo East Arm.

We woke up and departed our beautiful camp spot on Lake Lavielle by 9am. We enjoyed a morning swim out in the middle of the Lake and finally had a small tail wind to help us get to the end of the Lake. We were in no rush as this Lake was very pretty with islands, rocks, trees, and quietness that we appreciated! The portage to Dickson Lake was nice, short, and easy. On Dickson we once again experienced some nice headwind:) we had lunch at a campsite across the bay form the long portage. When we finally arrived to the beginning of the portage, we took our time arranging our gear in hopes of a successful and not too uncomfortable 5.3 km portage. We deflated the SUP and packed it in the backpack along with the 3 piece paddle. We fit the rest of the gear in the two remaining back packs. I took all the gear and Andrew took the canoe and board:) It took us about 2 hours to walk the 5.3km portage. We then re-inflated the SUP and managed the next two short paddles and portages to the East Shore of Opeongo Lake with smiles on our faces. We camped by the end of the last portage. Long hard day but enjoyable nonetheless. 

Hard Core!
Loaded and ready for the portage

YES! The Portage is OVER!
Opeongo East Arm to Opeongo Point
15.7km, 2h 52m moving time.
6.30am start to beat the winds with mist rising off the water. A fast paddle back to our starting point on Opeongo Point.

We woke up at 5:40am, ate, packed up and we were on the water around 6:30am. It took us 3 hours to get back to Opeongo Outfitters. We stopped for two swim breaks (it was hot out). Mostly calm waters with slight headwind at times. We finished our trip off with ice cream and left over coffee while waiting for my dad to come pick us up! TOTAL SUCCESS!

6:30am start with the mist rising from the water

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!


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