www.AlgonquinAdventures.com Opeongo / Happy Isle            by: Thomas Christian


From Algonquin Outfitters, we took the water taxi to the north arm of Opeongo Lake. From dropoff, we paddled to a site near Hailstorm Creek.

First, we set up our tent and tarp. Later, I (Tom Sr.) am up in the woods gathering firewood and Tom jr. is taking it down to camp. Suddenly, he comes charging up the hill looking like he saw a ghost. He tells me that on his way down he heard something snorting loudly not too far off the trail. He's convinced it's a bear and he's super nervous. We check the area and don't see anything but the mood is set.

11:30am we paddle up hailstorm to fish and scout. No fish or wildlife. Back at camp we make a fire. Tom finally goes back up into the woods with me but is carrying the axe and looking around like a psycho. Hot dogs for lunch. 3:pm we canoe up lake away from Hailstorm and catch some nice smallmouth bass.

Photo: Tom Sr. on Opeongo Lake with smallmouth bass ...

Back at camp I fillet the keeper and find it has some sort of parasite .. small yellow worms in the meat. Never saw that before, so I toss it and make chicken patties and rice. We clean up camp, filter water for our canteens and eat space ice cream. Then we hoist our food pack up a tree and turn in around 9:30pm. Loons are singing and I hope we sleep through the bears.


A restless night. Tom jr. snores like a grizzley bear. Lots of animal noises. Up at 5:30am.

We paddle to Hailstorm Creek. We go about an hour up the creek but no moose. We do get to meet 2 otters and see many beaver houses. Then a cool surprise! The silence of the foggy morning is broken when a pack of wolves started howling and barking. Loudly! They were right nearby. We could even make out the yelps of the pups. They howled full blast for about 45 seconds then stopped as suddenly as they started.

Back at camp .. breakfast of pancakes, porkroll and hot chocolate. A woodpecker is working on a tree. Red squirrels are yapping and running around and Tom jr. is feeding the resident chipmunk scraps. Break down camp and do dishes. Booooo! Uneventful paddle to the Happy Isle portage.

Photo: Tom jr. on the Happy Isle Portage 2180m ...

I definitely don't know my limitations. Portage is brutal. Who would have thought 2180m was so far. Couldn't manage the canoe and my pack so we had to make 2 trips. We decided to forget about Merchant Lake and camp on Happy Isle Lake. Oh well.

Ramen noodle soup for lunch at the end of the portage. Saw alot of moose tracks but still no sightings. We stop for firewood on the way out. See lots of loons (besides us) and take pictures at the memorial plaque. We settle on a nice site that's not on the map,set up camp and wade out to fish. No bites except for the flies. We share the island with a couple from Halburton.


Awake 5:45am. Good nights sleep. Tom jr still sleeping. I'm making beakfast and getting ready to head back. Portage looms. We keep our eyes peeled for moose but we will have to wait until we're on the highway to finally see one.(actually 2).

Photo: ... Happy Isle memorial to a father and son lost in a hurricane in 1931 ...

We take the water taxi back with the couple from Halburton and a group from Michigan. Back at Algonquin Outfitters my daughters are waiting for us on the dock.

After a few days at Pog lake we head back to Bayville, NJ USA.

Happy Paddling!

Thomas Christian