The Yates Group's Booth Lake Trip - August 1996

There were nine of us in the group for this trip. It was a father and son trip (4 Fathers, 5 sons). We had decided to enter at access point #17 at Crotch Lake and get to a site on Booth Lake. We would then make this our home for a few days and day trip from there.

Day 1

We made the long drive from South Western Ontario (7 from the Sarnia area, two from Toronto) to the access road. We learned the hard way that having the latest version of the Algonquin map is quite important. Apparently there had been some work done on the access road recently and the road had been MOVED! This becomes quite important in your orientation for the start of the trip! Because of the long drive, and afternoon arrival, our original plan was to stay at the Crotch Lake camp, which contains numerous sites. On our map it was indicated that it was west of the access point, but because of the access road change it was now actually east of where we put in. We soon realized our mistake but had paddled too far to go back. We found a site on Farm Lake and settled in for the night.

Day 2

Now that we knew where we were, at least we were closer to the ultimate destination. An early morning start took us to the first portage at Kitty Lake. 25 meters! What a hardship! We looked at running the stretch of fast water but decided to be cautious. I have never dumped a full canoe in Algonquin, and donít want to either!

A quick paddle through Kitty Lake took us to a 550m portage around a dam and into Booth Lake. It was an easy portage, and we spent some time exploring the dam area.

We found a campsite on Booth Lake's north shore about ľ of the way up the lake. We quickly set up camp and started the preparation of our home for the next three days.

Day 3

After breakfast we did some early morning explorations to get to know the area. We decided that a good day trip would be to go to the McCarthy Creek area to see if we could spot some wildlife. Another trip would be to venture up Booth Lake to the Opeongo River.

At about 11:30 a.m. we could tell that a big storm was moving in. All of us watched it move across the lake, a magnificent sight! When the storm really hit we headed for the tents! The storm was just about over when CRACK (although we don't remember hearing it) lightning hit our camp. One young boy who was closest to the tree was blown off his feet and into his tent; the two boys lying down in their tent were paralyzed for at least 45 minutes. They couldn't move!

Needless to say, we were a little worried. Five of us, including me, had burns of some sort. After a while we took stock and realized how lucky we were. We treated the burns with our first aid kit and found that we were generally in good shape. It took quite some time for the boys to begin to get movement back. As we inspected the tents we found burn holes up through the bottom of the tent, thorough the sleeping pad and the sleeping bag into the area where it entered the boys. The extent of the damage was to have some young boys (and Dads) praying that we didnít have another storm to deal with this trip. As it turned out we had absolutely magnificent weather the rest of the way.

Photo: One of the young fellow's burns from the lightning.

"We have learned that in the same situation again, we will NOT lay down in the tents! The more exposure to the ground the worse off you are. We will try to only have our feet (close together) on the ground. We will also avoid camping beside shallow rooted trees. The tree on our campsite had a 40-foot strip of no bark from top to bottom and our tents were covered in exploded bark! A memorable moment to be sure!"

We took the rest of the day to relax and count our lucky stars (literally!)

Photo: This is the tree that took the lightning strike and distributed the shock along the ground to all of us. The bark was ripped from the tree for 40 feet. This picture shows us the evening of that day. We are much more relaxed than we were earlier.

Day 4

The next day we ran into a ranger and he took one of the boys, who was still a little shaky, out of the park to see a doctor and brought him back later (logging roads!). It took most of the day.

They also told us that two people on Booth were hit and at camp on Shirley Lake a young man died!

When our young canoeist arrived back, we kidded him when all he brought us was a newspaper! We wanted Pizza!

Only four of us decide to take the day trip to the McCarthy Creek area. We had decided to do a circle route from Booth to Ryegrass to Rumley to Godda to Mole to McCarthy Creek and home. With near empty canoes it was a breeze. The portages were marked as not maintained but they were fine. We were certainly glad we chose the direction that we did because a lot of the portages were downhill. I wish I could say it was because of extensive study of a topo, but it was dumb luck!

We ate lunch of hot soup and cold cuts on buns on a deserted Godda Lake campsite. On this whole trip there are only two campsites. We all commented on how much fun it would have been to stay in this isolated environment as opposed to the relatively busy Booth Lake.

Photo: The group .. the evening after the "strike".

It was a fun day, but we didnít meet our goal of seeing a moose. Lots of beavers, loons, and the regular occupants, but no big stuff.

Day 5

This was our day to head to the west end of Booth Lake and to the Opeongo River. A great sunny warm day greeted us. Except for the flies at my ankles in the canoe all the way, everything was perfect. We came to the end of Booth Lake where it narrows into a river and started horsing around in the canoes and sure enough my partner and I dumped ourselves into the lake! This doesnít count! I said I have never dumped a FULL canoe! As we were splashing and swimming a camper came from a nearby site and yelled out at us. You would think they would have said, "Are you OK?" or "Do you need help?" But NO! They said, "Hey. Keep it down. You're scaring the moose!" I guess we know where we stand in their order of priorities.

We continued to what the map calls Tattler Lake but is no more than a river as far as I could see. Around a bend and we were at Tattler Lake Ranger cabin. It was fun to explore. It contained some rough beds (Beds! MMMMM) and an exchange table where you could take a food item and leave one of your own.

There was also a logbook to sign, which we did. It might be fun staying at this place sometime, in a lightning storm it would be a lot safer .. but what are the chances of being hit by lightning? We had lunch before continuing onward.

We continued to the Opeongo River. The current against us was getting stronger. Some of us went one portage up (600m) so that we could paddle back downstream. We decided that this was as far as we could go and headed back to our Booth Lake home, swatting flies all the way.

Day 6

Early morning breakfast and break camp for the paddle home. Back thorough the same trip to Farm and Crotch Lakes and a waiting car and a long road trip home.


Submitted on December 5th, 2000 by Tom Yates . . . tom.yates@freedom55financial.com