Variety is the spice of life?

It is said that variety is the spice of life. But sometimes, I just want good ol’ reliable black pepper. If you’ve followed along with us from the beginning, you’ll see that during this summer we’ve spent a lot of our time in the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. Well, this past weekend was no exception. I believe that we’ve come to the point where we can officially label this ‘The summer of the Kawarthas’. Although we continue to adventure here, we change it up by visiting different areas of the park and setting up camp on different lakes each time. So maybe there isn’t a lot of spice, but each trip tastes a little different from the last.

Our humble home for the weekend was Copper Lake, a new destination to each of us at TwoCanoe. It is a part of the Serpentine Loop in the North-eastern area of the park.

To get here, we put in at access point 5 on Anstruther Lake. This is a relatively large lake, lined with cottages and heavy on the motor boats. For a beginner paddler, this lake can be a bit of a challenge. The winds can be strong due to its size, and the heavy boat traffic can be annoying. The shore line is littered with cottages and their primary access is by boat. I don’t know if other canoeists feel the same way, but I always dislike paddling a lake full of cottages and boaters. The pleasure of self propelling yourself along the length of a lake is lost when you watch motor boats full of passengers fly by and end up next to the portage as you struggle through the wind or turn into their wake. The fight against nature is much more rewarding than the fight against wakeboarders and speedsters.

Luckily the paddle through Anstruther is a short one. When you reach the first portage into Rathbun Lake, you’ll come upon a short distance of 162m, but it is all uphill and in spots quite steep. This can be said for the next two portages into Anstruther creek (216m) and then into Copper lake (370m). The difference in altitude from Anstruther Lake  to Copper lake is quite apparent. The first two portages have great waterfalls, which make for a nice distraction and for us lazy folk, a nice place to take a break.

The paddle through Anstruther creek was slow and peaceful. The creek is a meandering path amongst the water lilies and a purple flower of which I am not sure of the name. We spotted the occasional beaver hut along the way too. The direct distance from portage to portage was not far, but the meandering made this portion of our trek run longer than expected. I imagine the route is much more direct in early spring when there is less growth, but it was picturesque nonetheless.

The final portage is the longest and Ellen and I struggled with this one the most. The weight of our canoe, while it may very well be less as we scrape and chip away at the outer layer on rocks, seems to be increasing with each trip we take. As the mileage on this canoe rises this summer, our desire to purchase a lighter more portage friendly vessel rises with it.

Our stay on Copper lake was short at only one night. We were pleased with our campsite (Site 236) and the travel distance to get here is perfect for a weekend trip. Along with the copper-y color of the lake, there was a very noticeable smell. We were very aware of it’s aroma when we paddled across to our campsite. When we dove for the water to cool off and our heads bobbed up for a breath or air, we couldn’t help but laugh at the pungent scent. Smell or no smell, this was our home for the night!

Michelle and André were experimental with their food choice for the evening. Backcountry Pizza was on their menu and a first for them. As I looked down at my boring pasta meal, I had wished I was experimenting with pizza as well. Our upcoming video will show them whipping up their delicious meal in our kitchen, the park provided picnic table. Be sure to check it out as it is a great meal idea for the backcountry and we will definitely be making it on future trips.

Our trip out of the park was the reverse of our trip in. This was great because it was all downhill. We were able to stop at the waterfalls and take in the scenery without dreading an uphill battle. There were many other people exiting the park with us, so we were held up a the portages and this meant longer rest periods too. We were not eager to leave so our final trek out was full of laughing, swimming, and exploring.

We are becoming very familiar with each creek and corner of KHSS, but still have so much more to explore. If you haven’t been, be sure to visit and see why we like going back again and again.

3 thoughts on “Variety is the spice of life?

  1. Sounds like a great trip (great summer!) I also have favorite places I return to time and time again, I think it must be human nature. A group of us went canoeing on the S Fork of the Shenandoah River for a 7 hr day trip, unfortunately it was at the height of the heat wave the east coast was having, It was “africa hot!!”, but the river was low and it was great to keep jumping out and going for swims!

    • Thanks Phil! This summer has definitely required a lot of heat relief here in Ontario! I just looked up some pics of the South Fork, looks like a great paddle!!

  2. The purple flower we saw growing in the shallow muddy sections of the lake is called Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria L. (Lythraceae)). Although it looks nice when it blankets the lake, it’s actually an invasive species that chokes out the resident plant community. You can find an article on it in the Kawartha Highlands Park Newsletter.

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