Six hearty campers set out to explore Killarney and discovered beautiful scenary, great food and comraderie!
Kristin Miller - finances and water filter Queen
Tony Lovink - swamp scout
Alain Lanoix - chef extraordinarie
Shannon Haggerty - camp nurse
Graham Haggerty - carrier of heavy things
Judy Olmstead-O’Regan - trip leader
It wasn't a typical "first night out" meal, but we certainly enjoyed the scenery overlooking the bay in Killarney, Ontario, as we dined on pasta and salmon at the Sportsman Inn.
After the long trek from the shed to Killarney Provincial Park, tents were put up for the night, before heading into town for a last easy meal in advance of five days of cooking outside.
The paddling part of our trip started the next morning, after a breakfast of scrambled egg tortillas and two cups of Alain's wake-up coffee. Destination - Kakakise Lake, giving us easy access to the hiking trail for The Crack.
Killarney Park is found along the south ridge of the LaCloche Mountains, just inland from Georgian Bay. This mountain range is "white quartzite intermixed with ancient, blackened volcanic sediment," according to Kevin Callan.
OSA Lake (named for the Ontario Society of Artists) is the centerpiece of the park, and the first lake to be protected from logging after lobbying by A Y Jackson.(1933).
That "First day" feeling of anticipation and excitement, not to mention clean hair and clothes, was with us during our paddle through George Lake. A short, but busy, portage led us into Freeland Lake, one of the last living lakes in the park.
Most paddlers turned left - we turned right towards the end of Freeland and into our first decision of the trip - to portage the 1975 M through to Kakakise or to navigate the creek instead. I had heard that this was possible, but hadn't found anyone from the park to confirm the water levels for that week. The decision was made to send a scouting party to check it out, while the rest of us searched for the portage sign. Tony and Alain graciously offered to be scouts, so off they went through the tall grass. A few minutes later, their whistle pierced the air and so off we went to try our luck. The grass got taller, the stream narrower, and I hoped that I wasn't leading my group down the garden path. After five beaver dams, one bridge and way too much laughing, Kakakise Lake opened up before us. Tents and tarps went up, and down came the rain, accompanied by bursts of thunder and streaks of lightening. Good timing! That seemed to set the tone for our trip... everything fell nicely into place.
The next day was "Hike the Crack " day for some, while others enjoyed a relaxing day at camp. The crack is a large split in the rock on top of Blue Ridge, giving one a spectacular view of Killarney Lake, OSA, and some of Georgian Bay. It is a fairly steep hike, taking just over an hour to reach the top. A great lunch spot. A relaxing dinner and swim followed by an evening paddle capped off a perfect day.
Day 4 and on the move again, heading to Killarney Lake for the next two nights. By the end of this day, we would have slogged through 9 km of portaging, crossed paths with a deer and her fawn, and passed momma bear and her 3 cubs feeding in the marsh alongside the portage. We were greeted at our campsite by a turtle the size of a guard dog that followed whomever was at the waters’ edge for the rest of the day.
The next day dawned sunny and warm, so picnics and bathing suits were packed in boats and off to explore and swim in the clear, turquoise waters of OSA. A last dinner of perfectly cooked risotto with white wine sauce, a last evening paddle, and a last golden sunset capped off our final full day in Killarney Park.
Our departure day dawned bright and clear with not a ripple on the lake in front of us. Group pictures were taken, last check for left-behind gear done, and off we paddled towards home.