North Tea Lake - Mike Burr
(Aug. 18-23, 2014)
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We had a great trip to North Tea Lake with my 4 kids, my brother and his daughter.
We left Paris, ON at 3am on Monday the 18th and arrived at Access Point #1 right around 7am. We picked up our permit and then proceeded to Northern Wilderness Outfitters (super nice folks there by the way) to launch into K'Mog L. It was a beautiful sunny morning, light breeze, hardly a ripple on the water. We were off and paddling at about 8:45am.
After a nice paddle and a couple small portages down river, we arrived at North Tea around 10:20am. We stopped for a small snack and a photo OP at the memorial to Tom Wattie and Frank Robichaud. My 9 year old is a HUGE Kevin Callan fan so we took a photo of him with the memorial just like the one in “A Paddlers guide to Algonquin Park”.
We headed out into a slight headwind on North Tea. L little did we know at the time that the wind would be coming from the east the entire week. I have never seen anything like that in all my travels to the park.
After checking out a few different campsites on the East arm we settled on this one.
It was perfect for our group, lots of room for the kids to roam, fish, swim etc.
The rest of the day was spent setting up, exploring the site and fishing. We had marinated chicken breasts on the fire with Spanish rice for dinner. WOW it was good.
Tuesday morning I woke up bright and early before everyone else. I threw out a couple casts and caught a small smallmouth. About an hour later I caught this beauty ...
Once everyone was up and fed we headed out on a day trip to Manitou L. It was another beautiful day. We stopped for photo ops at the falls on the eastern most portage into Manitou. What a beautiful spot.
We then paddled out into a calm Manitou L. and found a nice beach about a third of the way up the Lake (as my son pointed out again…another spot mentioned in Kevin Callan’s book). We swam for a bit and ate lunch. We then headed back down Manitou to the western most Portage back to North Tea. The wind was picking up slightly but nothing major.
The portage is fairly easy, mostly uphill back to North Tea, but short enough. We got back to the campsite at about 3pm and got a fire going, so I had some good hot coals to cook our dinner (sirloin steak and penne with a basil pesto). Nothing beats a good cut of beef done over a campfire. (OK maybe fresh caught trout, but we didn’t have any of that).
After dinner we fished for a bit from shore and I went out for a Solo paddle (my first solo paddle in my brand new Kipawa). What a beautiful evening it was! I LOVE that boat!
We had a bit of a fire that night and then went to bed. I woke up about 4am to the sound of rain on the tent. We decided to hang out at the campsite for the day as it was quite overcast and was raining off and on. It actually turned out to be quite the eventful day.
While we were taking photos, measurements etc. my brother got, what he thought was, snagged until he started reeling in. He thought maybe it was a log until this fella started to come up from the depths ...
He had actually snagged this snapper on the arm pit while reeling in. We weren’t quite sure how we were going to remove the hook when his line broke.The snapper
We spent the rest of the day fishing, playing cards and my son made this checkers board. I was the rocks, he was the pine cones. The kid’s ingenuity on these trips always amazes me ...
We had Spaghetti with dehydrated sauce and ground beef for dinner. We managed to get out for an evening paddle as the sun poked through for about an hour and then we called it a night.
I awoke at 4am on Thursday to a steady downpour. It poured rain until about noon and then off and on the rest of the day. We spent most of the day hunkered under tarps or in tents playing cards, telling stories etc. We did go for a walk in the woods around the island…lots of mushrooms and small critters. Even the slugs took shelter that day ...
We had Cheeseburger Macaroni for dinner (one of the kids’ favorites). I did manage to catch this nice looking smallie that evening ...
Friday morning we woke up to overcast skies but the threat of rain seemed to have dissipated and the water was quite calm (still a bit of an east wind though). So we decided to take a day trip down to the eastern end of North Tea into Hornbeam to see the twin falls. On the way across North Tea we had these three gorgeous loons swim up beside us ...
We took the easy portage over to Hornbeam and took some photos of the falls there ...
We had a snack there and then headed back towards North Tea. This overgrown site is located on the portage ...
The rapids along that section are quite pretty so we explored a bit along that portage before heading back toward North Tea. Once back on the water, we rounded one of the bends and spotted a moose feeding in the shallows ...
We stayed for about 20 minutes watching her feed until she wondered back into the woods…what a great experience for the kids and adults alike to see such a tremendous animal in its natural habitat.
What can I say but 'another cherished memory made in Algonquin'.
We arrived back at the site, after some unsuccessful fishing along the way and had Mr. Noodles and Bannock for dinner. Surprising how good Mr. Noodles tastes when you are on day 5 in Algonquin.
Saturday was our out day. It was overcast again when we got up but not raining. We packed up and were on the water by 8:45am. I was thinking the whole week that the wind would shift for our last day….as luck would have it the wind was still coming from the east and it was a brisk one too. We made it to the west end of North Tea in a little over an hour. We stopped for a brief chat with our friends at their cabin on the western shore of North Tea and then made our way out. We passed several groups coming in including a few youth groups who were a little low on the paddling skills. In fact we had to use some evasive maneuvers a few times. Oh well, everyone was a rookie at some point!
Although the weather was not the greatest, it wasn’t a complete washout. We stayed warm and dry…I cannot stress enough on the importance of having the right equipment. The no-see-ums were quite bad and the mosquitos were a nuisance at dusk. We all had several bites. North Tea is a big, beautiful lake but I couldn’t imagine paddling out if the wind had been coming as hard as it was from the west. I would like to make Manitou a stopover on a future trip.
The kids had a wonderful time and made some more great lasting memories. They had the maps out a few times during downtime planning future trips. There is nothing better than spending quality time with my kids and seeing how much they look forward to these trips and how much they enjoy every little or big experience that comes our way in this wonderful place called Algonquin!