Galeairy Lake, Rock Lake, Penn Lake and Back. - August 2006
by - Julian Andean (aka "Karior")
This trip took place over a weekend in August 2006, with the YCCC, a canoe camping club out of Ottawa, Ontario.
What a way to start a trip! Mind you, I got to the campsite, where the rest of the group had set up, in one piece…and that’s saying something!
The trip started 3 hours late. My paddling partner had a nasty day: First his boss had forced him to stay late at work, then when he got home, found that his tent had vanished from his storage space under the stairs and had to go buy a new one.
So we hit the road to Whitney. Life got even more interesting right at about Golden Lake. As we rounded a bend beside the lake, the car started going straight (as in straight for the lake!), instead of following the bend. A quick look left pinpointed the cause: my paddling partner had fallen asleep at the wheel! OI!!! After pulling the car back on the road and switching drivers, we made Whitney at about 11 pm. The lake was flat as a pond, and it WAS august, so the water was nice and warm, but I was leaning towards camping at the put in and getting up early the next morning to catch the rest of the group (Family Motto: Better a chicken than a dead duck). My paddling partner was feeling adventurous. Having already arranged with the trip leader to have a lantern left on a rock by the campsite, I agreed to paddle off to see if we could find them.
The night had a new moon. We had a GREAT time trying to make out the shoreline of the lake. As we headed out of the bay and swung west, we spotted a point of light 1-2km away, and made for it. After nearly paddling bow first into a rock face that jutted out into the lake, we made it to camp at about midnight.
Our first night's site on Galeairy Lake
My first night in my new solo tent…it’s a tad tight for space, but wow is it light and compact, well worth it in my books. The gang chose a nice campsite. Out on a peninsula, with lots of trees, the view was quite nice.
The gang making breakfast
After a breakfast of eggs and turkey bacon (turkey bacon??? never heard of that before…), we headed out towards the Galeairy-Rock portage. Galeairy is an interesting lake. You only need to paddle a couple of km from the access point to reach areas that feel nice and secluded from the outside world. We crossed the 100 m portage into Rock Lake.
The dam separating Galeairy from Penn
To all those who would like a nice, quiet section of river to camp out on without a lot of back breaking paddling and portaging, I would recommend this place. Head south east from the Rock Lake put in, just past the bay, and there are some terrific places to set up camp.
We ate lunch by the cascades between Rock and Penn Lake. The cascades and mini-falls made good water slides and showers.
The cascades between Rock and Penn Lake
Swimming time at the cascades
After lunch, we headed out onto Penn Lake. We had hoped to set up camp right near the portage and hike up to a vista on the nearby hills, but all the campsites were taken for long…long way. We wound up almost at the portage into Clydegale Lake before we found a site we could all camp out on.
Our second night's site on Penn
My teeny solo tent
After dinner, we spotted a moose out in the marsh, chowing down on the plants there. Myself and another guy hopped into a Scott canoe and paddled over. Scott canoes, they just don’t like me. We were both kneeling in that boat and we STILL nearly went for a swim at least a half dozen times. That was one tippy boat.
The photos didn’t turn out too well. I had purchased a digital camera with no manual focus. Autofocus doesn’t work so well in the dark.
It poured cats and dogs last night. Thunder announced the coming rain and I was able to get up and set up the guy lines before the rain came down. Of course, I’d left my shoes (and some other wet clothes) out on a rock shelf by the lake to dry during the night. *sighs* I was surveying the soggy wreckage (my shoes were filled to the brim with water) when one of the gang came over…a very nice guy, from Mexico I think. He stood there solemnly looking over my soaked stuff and said "Your shoes…..they are very clean." And gave this huge grin. Every one’s a comedian.
Needing to get from the end of Penn lake all the way back to the access point at Whitney, and no one wanting to do the 1680 m portage to Night Lake, we wolfed down breakfast quickly, packed up and headed out. We had a long way to go, and a drive home immediately to follow.
Heading out onto the lake, the lady I was paddling with that day remarked on the rock that was out in the middle of the lake. I thought this was odd, Penn Lake isn’t particularly shallow. I thought it was even odder that this rock appeared to be moving. Paddling over, it turned out to be the largest snapping turtle I have ever seen. He dove to the bottom of the lake before I could get my camera out.
At the start of the Penn-Rock portage
It was quite the windy day, with the prevailing winds coming out of the north. The slight bend of Penn Lake offered some protection as we paddled back to the portage to Rock Lake. After another lunch by the cascades (did I mention how nice they are?), we headed out onto Rock Lake. Oh! Wind baby! A LOTTA WIND! We angled into the wind as we came out of the inlet that led to the Penn portage and angled around into the river leading to the Rock-Galeairy portage.
We got to the portage, crossed it, and paddled….and paddled…and paddled. The river/lake going from west to east, was well shielded from the north winds. After meeting up at the access point, we packed up and headed into Wilno. Not only does Wilno have some great restaurants, but there are some very good art stores as well. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, most of the stores were all closed. But we did get in a very nice dinner at the Wilno Tavern before driving home.
Julian Andean (aka "Karior")