2013 Shall - Shirley - Shall

Thursday, July 11 – Day 1
This year’s canoe trip with Will and Jake saw Mom, Grandma and the two dogs come along with myself and Grandpa.  This year we headed out of the Shall Lake access point again but this time we were going to do a portage as both boys were bigger.  We were heading into Shirley Lake for four days and I was hoping to get the nice site on the east side of the lake that Jo and I stayed at last year.

We got away from the house just after 8:30 and arrived at the access point just before 11am.  We obtained our permits and were loaded up and away by 11:30.  This was Sam’s second time in a canoe and his first camping trip and he seemed quite content to sit in front of Jo and look around.  Will was in our canoe and Jake went with Grandma, Grandpa and Tanner.
Loaded up and ready to go!

Checking things out.
 It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the paddle up Crotch Lake.  The lake was quiet with no one at all camped on it.  We reached the 1050m portage to Shirley Lake around 12:30pm.  We unloaded the canoes and had lunch.  Once lunch was done we got ready for the portage.  Mom took a small pack with clothes and a sleeping bag, Jo took a larger pack on her back, a medium pack on front and Sam, who had his own doggy pack.  The boys each had their own small packs with some clothes, teddy bears and books.  Dad took a large pack with more clothes, sleeping bags and equipment and I took the big equipment pack and the small food barrel on front.  Knowing what the portage was like I had brought the canoe cart so we attached the canoe and then loaded it up with paddles, life jackets, camp chairs and sleeping pads.  Dad took the bow and me the stern and off we all went along the trail.
Ready to head off down the trail.
About twenty-five minutes later we were all on the other side.  Dad and I returned to Crotch to get the second canoe, which he carried, and the large food barrel, which I carried.  In no time we were back at Shirley Lake and loaded up and once again on our way.

The wind was coming from the northwest so we had a pretty good headwind as we paddled up the lake.  Once I had the site I was hoping to stay at in view I grabbed the binoculars to see if it was occupied.  It looked vacant and as we got closer it became evident that it was available.  A half hour paddle from the portage brought us to our site and we quickly went about setting up camp.  Just like last year there was a good supply of firewood already there.  Despite that, once camp was set up, Grandma, Grandpa and Will went down the lake a bit to get some more firewood.  A short while later they returned with a canoe load of wood which the boys helped unload while Grandpa and I cut it up.
Yea, the site is available!
A good stash of fire wood.
Once the chores were done the boys played at the beach and swam a bit, the dogs slept in the shade and the rest of us went for a swim and relaxed on the beach and read a bit.  Pretty soon it was time to get dinner started.  The boys had found a couple of big sticks and decided to go off bear hunting and took Grandpa along with them.  I got a fire going and placed the corn, husks on, around the edge to slowly cook.  With a good bed of coals on went the steaks and the pan of green beans.  Soon dinner was ready and we loaded up our plates and headed down to the beach to enjoy the evening sun while we ate.
Nothing like steak on an open fire.
Dinner on the north beach.
With dinner done and everything cleaned up and put away the boys continued to explore and play and we enjoyed a glass of wine down at the beach.  As the sun set we got the boys ready for bed then started up the fire.  They toasted a couple of marshmallows each and then both said they were tired and wanted to go to bed.  It had been a long, busy day for them and it was just past their bed time.  We tucked them in, stories were read and they were quickly asleep.

The rest of us enjoyed the fire for a couple of more hours before calling it a night.
Shirley Lake sunset.
Friday, July 12 – Day 2

Everyone had a good sleep last night.  Sam barked for a bit at the loons calling as he hadn’t heard them before.  We were all up just after 8am.  Grandpa and I got the food barrels down and I fired up a stove to get some water on for coffee.  The other was started up and hashbrowns were started for the farmer’s breakfast.  We got the boys set up with cereal and fruit cups until the rest of breakfast was ready.  The chairs were moved to the south beach so we could enjoy t morning sun while we ate.  The boys fished while the rest of us at breakfast and enjoyed the morning sunshine with a coffee.
Breakfast on the south beach.
While dishes were being done Jo got the boys ready for the day trip and I organized the food and equipment we needed for lunch.  We were quickly packed up and ready to head off on our day trip to Ryan Lake.  Jake went with Grandma and Grandpa and did a really good job at paddling.  Will went with us and did an equally good job.

Twenty minutes brought us to the Ryan Lake portage and we were over it in no time.  As we headed up Ryan Lake I noticed that several of the screws on the right gunnel by the bow seat had popped and the inner gunnel was sagging.  I was afraid that it would snap with the weight of Jo on the bow seat.  This really bothered me as I just had the canoe re-trimmed last fall and this was only the second time I had used it since then. 
I shoved the day pack under the seat to keep it from sagging but this meant Jo wasn’t able to kneel and had to sit instead.    This was fine for the time being as with no gear Sam was able to hang out in the middle of the canoe instead of the front thus giving Jo room for her legs.
We paddled up Ryan along the shoreline and then back down the lake to the very end.  We saw a mother Black Duck and her ducklings and a basking Snapping Turtle but that was about it for wildlife except for a solitary loon.
Exploring Ryan Lake.
The boys were getting restless and wanted to fish so we headed back up the lake to the island near the portage.  The island is a nice spot but unfortunately there’s no camping allowed.  Even though you can’t camp there it’s a great spot to stop for lunch and to have a swim.  There the boys fished while lunch was prepared.  Sam was exploring the water’s edge at a steep rocky section and slipped in and unexpectantly went for his very first swim which was quite humorous.
Cooking up lunch on Ryan Lake.
The boys fished a bit more and played around with the camera while we cleaned up from lunch and packed away.  Once everything was cleaned up we headed back to the portage to Shirley Lake.  A few minutes brought us back to Shirley and we headed south as I wanted to check out the sites at the end of the lake.  The two to the south of the Ryan portage were pretty good and the one at the south end of the lake was half decent.  After checking out the sites we headed back up the lake to our site to relax for the rest of the day.

Back at the site gear and food were unpacked and the boys headed off to the beach to fish and explore.  Sam did some fishing of his own spending the rest of the afternoon in the water watching all the little minnows swim around him.  Grandma and Grandpa and Jo sat in the shade and I sat in the sun and read for a while before heading in for a swim.  I grabbed the camera and spent about an hour doing some underwater videos of minnows, crayfish, dragonfly nymphs and whatever else I could find.

Pretty soon it was time for dinner.  Tonight we had marinated pork chops, fried rice and butter peas.  Having had enough sun for the day we ate around the fire pit.  They boys grabbed the camera and took silly pictures while the dishes were done and things cleaned up.  Once camp was cleaned Grandma and Grandpa too the boys for an evening paddle while Jo and I relaxed on the beach with a glass of wine.
Enjoying an evening paddle.
When they got back from the paddle we got a good fire going and the boys roasted some marshmallows.  Will said he was tired and wanted to go to bed and didn’t want to stay up for some popcorn.  We tucked him in, read a story and he was soon fast asleep. 
Back at the fire I started up the stove and cooked up some popcorn.  After Jake had his fill it was off to bed for him after another busy day.  We enjoyed the fire for a while longer and headed to bed just after 10pm.

Saturday, July 13 – Day 3

We awoke to another beautiful day.  Everyone slept well and I was up first getting water ready for coffee and dishes.  Soon everyone was awake and the French toast was cooking and the backbacon was frying.  The boys ate their breakfast at their little bench and when ours was ready we headed down to the beach to enjoy it.  While we had breakfast and coffee the boys and Sam got down to some fishing.
Breakfast of champions!
Mom and Dad cleaned up the dishes and Jo got the boys ready while they let me enjoy a coffee at the beach.  Once I was done I got things organized for our day trip up the lake.

We headed out just after 10am.  We got a couple hundred metres from camp when Grandpa had to turn back as he forgot his sunglasses.  Jo and I headed into a small bay and Jake fished from the canoe until Grandma and Grandpa returned.  On our way again we paddled the shoreline up the lake.  We came across a Garter Snake swimming across the lake which was odd.  A little further up we saw a big Snapping Turtle basking on a rock but it didn’t stick around long.  Moving on we made our way to a little finger bay at the north end of the lake.  We paddle as far into it as we could then headed into the next one.   

At the end of the second bay there was a little stream flowing out so we followed that up until we hit a small set of rapids and couldn’t go any further.  We got out to explore and have a snack.  I walked up the rapids to a very small waterfall and took a dip in the shallow pool beneath it.  The boys wanted to go for a dip as well so Grandpa and I took them up to the pool.  After their brief swim we headed back to the canoes and headed back out onto the lake.  We paddled around the big island and headed back towards camp for a late lunch.
Taking a break by a set of rapids, Shirley Lake.
Going for a dip.
Back at camp I got a small fire going and we cooked up hot dogs and the rest of the sausages.  After lunch the boys spent the rest of the afternoon fishing, swimming and exploring.  I explored, swam, read and took photos and read for the afternoon.  Everyone else swam and relaxed in the shade.

As we had a late lunch we had a late dinner.  We cooked up pasta and did some garlic bread over the fire.  While cleaning up from dinner a Bald Eagle flew in low towards the camp and tried to snag a fish out of the shallows but with no success.

After things were cleaned up and put away we got the evening fire going.  Both boys were exhausted and had their marshmallows and then wanted to go to bed.  Once they were down I cooked up the last package of popcorn and we relaxed and finished off the wine as we enjoyed our last fire of the trip.
Just enough energy left to roast marshmallows.
Sunday, July 14 – Day 4

I was up in good time to get breakfast going.  Soon everyone was up and we all sat down at the beach and had a good breakfast of pancakes and sausage.  We relaxed with a coffee afterwards and then went about cleaning up and packing up camp.  It took a couple of hours to pack up everything but we were on our way before noon.
Ready to head home.
At the Shirley Lake portage we repeated the trip as we did coming over.  For some reason every time I do that portage the trip to Crotch seems longer than going to Shirley.  On the Crotch Lake side of the portage we stopped and had a bite to eat.  We then continued on and we were soon back at the access point.

It was a great family trip.  The boys did well with portaging and being in the canoe for a while and Sam was good on his fir ever canoe trip.  Next year’s trip may be a bit more adventurous and take us elsewhere other than Algonquin.
A great family trip!

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