Thursday, August 22, 2013

Four Generations to Grey Owl's Cabin

Recently I joined Shelley's family for a trip to Grey Owl's cabin. The group included four generations and ranged from 2 years old to 85 years old. Five of us started Friday afternoon and moved our two kayaks and a canoe over the portage to Kingsmere Lake where we stayed at the south end campground. The water was beautifully calm and I went out in my kayak after supper to enjoy it.

(click to view 21 photos)
sunset on Kingsmere Lake

The next morning the other three joined us with a rented motor boat, which turned out to be a lot bigger than we expected. But we got it across the portage with the help of the winches and a couple of other guys who showed up. (The portage has rail carts.)

It was a little rough for the paddle down Kingsmere Lake, but manageable. It's a big lake and it doesn't take much wind to stir up the waves. Thankfully it was reasonably warm since we regularly got splashed by the waves. It took us about four hours (including a quick lunch break) to get to the north end campground where we stayed Saturday night.

I forget how minimalist Shelley and I have become on our hiking and paddling trips. We don't usually take a stove or make fires. Our kayaks and their storage space are quite small. It would not even occur to me to take a large picnic cooler on a backcountry trip. So it was a bit of a contrast to travel with a considerably less minimal group! On the positive side, the food was good!

From the north end campground it's a 3 km hike to Grey Owl's cabin. (Or you can portage 500m to Ajawaan Lake, but it's hardly worth it.) We checked out the cabin and Grey Owl's grave. Ajuwaan Lake is a pretty little lake.

I've been on Kingsmere Lake a couple of times before (Paddling the Bagwa Loop and Paddling into Autumn) but it's been late in the fall when there's almost no one around. This time there were more people, mostly at the north end campground. Most people seemed to be hiking in rather than paddling. There were only a few other boats and canoes.

Sunday we headed home. Shelley and I were quite impressed that the group only took an hour and a half to pack and have breakfast.

We were lucky and the lake was very calm for our paddle back. The rest of the group took the shortest path straight across the lake. I chose to follow the shore - longer, but a lot more interesting. There were grebes, loons, gulls, great blue herons, and kingfishers.


My favorite sighting was three river otters coming down the shore into the water. (At first I thought it was beavers.) They swam around a bit and then headed back into the trees. Actually, only two of them went back in the trees. The third spotted me just as he was about to get out of the water and immediately dove back under. He surfaced off shore and kept bobbing up to see if I was still there. I was happy to see them since I haven't seen otters in Saskatchewan before. A bit later when I stopped beside a small creek I found lots of otter tracks in the sand.

river otter

The belted kingfishers were also taking advantage of the calm clear water to go fishing, something I haven't seen before. I was too far away to tell if they were catching anything but there were quite a few schools of little fish around. Sometimes they seemed to be fleeing something. At one point a large (2 feet?) pike went by that could certainly have been a source of fear for small fish!

See also Shelley's post about the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Love the photos and what a great idea - taking 4 generations to Grey Owl's Cabin. It's one of my favourite places in SK