2012 Shall - Shirley - Shall

Thursday, July 12 – Day 1

Left the house around 7:30am.  After a couple of quick stops for gas and coffee we arrived at the Shall Lake access point just after 9:30am.  I’m not sure why it’s called Shall Lake access point as it’s never been on Shall Lake.  The old office was at the south end of Crotch Lake and the present day one is on the narrows between Crotch and Farm lakes.

We got our permit, loaded up and were on our way just after 10am.  There was no one camped on the south section of Crotch and only one party camped on the north section.

We arrived at the portage to Shirley Lake around 10:30am.  Another party was coming off the portage just as we arrived.  They mentioned the second site past the Ryan Lake portage was a good one which was exactly the one I wanted.

We loaded up and headed off down the 1050m portage with the first load.  Thirteen minutes later we were at Shirley Lake.  The portage definitely didn’t feel like it was a kilometre and so I measured it with the GPS and it came out at 850m.
Coming off the Crotch Lake to Shirley Lake Portage.
 Leaving Jo at Shirley Lake I headed back to get the canoe and small pack.  We were loaded up and on our way by 11:30.

All the sites from the one just north of the Ryan Lake portage south were vacant.  We headed up the lake in hopes of getting the second site north of the Ryan portage.  We were in luck as it was available.  It’s a great site on a point with a small beach on the south side and a nice long beach on the north.  The site itself was good and flat with a nice big fire pit and a pile of softwood and hardwood that the last party had left.  We quickly set up camp then got a small fire going to grill our hamburgers for lunch.

North side of Shirley Lake campsite.
Shirley Lake Campsite.
 After lunch we went for a swim and then relaxed and read for a bit.  Jo decided to go for a bit of a nap around 3pm for about an hour.  While she slept I read some more, had a couple more swims and explored the beach and gathered up some driftwood for the night’s campfire.

Shirley Lake campsite beach.
 Once Jo got up we continued to relax and had a couple of glasses of wine.  It had been a quiet day on the lake with no sign of any other parties until early evening when around 7pm the group of camp kids that were camped on Crotch Lake headed towards the Ryan Lake portage.

Around 7:30pm we decided to prepare dinner of a green curry coconut chicken stir fry.  After a late dinner we sat and enjoyed the sunset with a glass of wine.  We then got a good fire going after the sun went down.  With the sun gone the mosquitoes decided to make an appearance.  The bug dope kept them from biting but the constant buzzing in our ears was quite annoying.

Around 10pm we heard a lone wolf howl from the north east end of the lake followed very faintly by pups howling from east of our camp.  Shortly after that we decided to turn in for the night as it had been a long day for both of us.

Friday, July 13 – Day 2

Awoke to a sunny, warm day.  Cooked up a good egg and bacon breakfast and relaxed with a coffee on the beach.  Cleaned up the camp and packed up for a day trip to Mudville Lake.

The 515m portage from Shirley to Ryan Lake was flat and wide.  There are lots of sited on Ryan for its size but there was no one camped there.

The 230m portage into Big Red Lake had a few small trees down along it but nothing that couldn’t be easily stepped over.  A short paddle across Big Red brought us to the 545m portage to Shrew Lake.  The group of camp kids were just starting to unload at the portage when we arrived.  We chatted with them while we waited to unload and they seemed to have quite the trip ahead of them, heading up through Dickson, Lavieille, Big Crow and Opeongo.
Start of portage from Big Red Lake to Shrew Lake.
 Once they were well on land they let us go ahead of them.  We were quickly over the portage and into Shrew Lake.  It’s a nice little lake with only one site on it.

Heading to the north end of the lake we started up a little creek to Mudville but it quickly became choked with logs so much that it obviously wasn’t the way.  Heading up the shore a bit we found a spot with a beaver dam that lead to a little pond.  From the pond another pull over a beaver dam lead us to a shallow, muddy creek that took us into Mudville.  Fortunately the creek had enough water to float the canoe as the mud would have been up to thigh level if we had to get out at all.

Mudville is a shallow little lake that has its eastern half covered with water lilies and other aquatic plants.  There is suppose to be one site on the north east side of the lake but we couldn’t locate it or even see any signs that there ever was a site on the lake.

Having our fill of Mudville we headed back.  Approaching the portage to Big Red the camp crew had just gotten to the end and was having lunch.  At the rate they were travelling it would probably be 7 or 8pm when they pulled into camp again tonight.

Back through Big Red and into Ryan where we decided to stop for a snack and a swim as it was well past lunch and it was another hot day.  Although none of the sites were occupied they weren’t overly appealing for swimming.  We stopped then on the island where there wasn’t a site but obviously where people had camped in the past.  After a bit to eat and a good swim we headed back to Shirley.  We arrived back at the site around 3pm making our excursion about five hours.
Ryan Lake Island.
Taking a swim in Ryan Lake.
 Back at the site I got a small fire going and cooked up some Cheddarwurst sausages.  We had lunch on the beach and relaxed and swam for the rest of the afternoon.  There were still no other parties came through the lake or were camped on the lake.

After a late dinner we got a good campfire going as we had stopped to gather a canoe load of firewood on the way back to the site earlier in the day.
Evening campfire, Shirley Lake.
 Once again the mosquitoes came out in force as the evening progressed.  Close to midnight we decided to call it a night after another good day.

Saturday, July 14 – Day 3

Awoke to another beautiful day.  Cooked up a hearty breakfast and ate down on the beach again.  Had a couple of coffees and relaxed awhile before cleaning up. 

Made up lunch and packed up other supplies for our day trip and headed out just after 10am.  We encountered a group of loons just off our site as we headed north up Shirley.  Came across a couple of guys in a rowboat fishing.  Not sure if they are camped on the lake as we can’t see any of the northern sites from our campsite.

As we approached the portage to Bridle Lake we came across a loon with a chick.  The portage to Bridle is a 1600m low maintenance.  It was in excellent condition but felt shorter than the indicated length.

Bridle is a nice lake with one half decent site which was occupied.  We saw a Merlin perched on a pine tree on the little island at the south end of the lake.  From Bridle we took the 730m low maintenance portage into the north end of Farm Lake.  The portage was good and relatively flat.
Looking up Bridle Lake.
 We paddled across the bay over to the Kitty Lake cabin.  To my surprise there was no one staying there.  We got out and explored the site and took some photos.

Kitty Lake Cabin.
 We then headed back to Shirley.  I measured the 1600m with the GPS and the length came out to 1080m which seemed more in line with the amount of time it took to do it. 

As it was getting to be early afternoon we headed up to the north end of Shirley to look for a spot to have a swim and some lunch.  We found a nice spot on a little rocky, pine covered island and had a good swim before lunch.

After lunch we headed off to check out the two sites at the top of the lake before heading back to our site.  Both sites are elevated, flat and have long, pebbly beaches.  The eastern site had a picnic table on it.
We continued down the lake cutting behind the big island and passing by the site at the north east end of the lake.  It’s a large, flat elevated site with a small beach.  Just down from the site the fishermen had pulled their rowboat up on a beach near a trail through the bush.  They must be aboriginals in fishing gaining access from the Shirley Lake road as there was no evidence they were camped on the lake and we never saw them again.

We arrived back on the site again just after three.  We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, reading and relaxing.

As evening settled in we prepared dinner and dined at the beach and watched the sun set.  Afterwards we had a good roaring fire, burning up most of the wood that was left.  We turned in in good time as tomorrow we would be packing up and heading home.

Sunday, July 15 – Day 4

We awoke yet again to another beautiful day.  Made our last breakfast and enjoyed one last coffee on the beach before breaking camp.  We were on our way by 10am, leaving the lake that we had all to ourselves for four days.

Being I still hadn’t explored the Fog Lake portage we made a pit stop on our way out.  The 300m portage is low maintenance and it definitely was.  The sign was faded and ripped and tacked to an old stump in the water that was obscured by some branches.  The trail itself was pretty much straight up and choked with vegetation and fallen trees.  Jo decided she would stay behind so I pushed on up the trail as quickly as possible.  Fog Lake is nothing special to look at and there are no sites so the fishing must be good otherwise why the portage?

On our way again we reached the portage back into Crotch Lake.  As we were a little lighter than when we came in we decided to do the carry in one lift.  Once onto Crotch we passed another party heading towards Shirley who looked like they had everything including the kitchen sink loaded into two canoes.  The only other parties we came across were leaving Crotch and heading for the access point.

We landed at the access point just before 11:30am and quickly loaded up the truck.

It was great to get away with just Jo after so many years and just relax for a few days.  Already looking forward to next year’s trip.

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