The 1st trip started at Achray on Grand Lake On Sept. 29. It was a chilly day that promised a bit of everything, sunshine, rain, wind and even some snow. The cross-wind on Grand Lake provided for a challenging and wavy start, but once in the shelter of the peninsula, on the Barron River connecting Grand Lake to Stratton Lake, things went much easier. After a quick lift over of the 1st portage it was smooth sailing, literally, as we put up the tarps and sailed all the way down Stratton Lake to our campsite.
The campsite was a nice one, with the fire on a bit of a point. The wind was chilly and we erected an amazing shelter around the campfire using many tarps and canoes. This provided for a very comfortable spot to eat our fajitas, although it was a bit smokey at times. The evening was very quiet as everyone jumped into bed fairly early to be nice and warm.
The 2nd day, the wind was still there, but we knew that with a short paddle and portage we would find our next campsite that would be protected from the wind. The easiest paddling day went by in a flash and we found ourselves on two beach campsites on St. Andrew Lake. As the lunch crew prepared the grilled cheese, another crew paddled across the lake for some firewood. The climb up the cliffs was worth the effort, both for the view and the firewood. This is also when Jeff decided to dump himself and the canoe at the campsite.
The afternoon was spent with a side trip to High Falls and the natural water slides. The group did a great job using a compass to bushwhack to High Falls, there were only a couple of wet feet as we crossed some beaver dams on the way. Only four braved the chilly temperatures and went down the slides. The water was warm, it was just getting out that was chilly. Back at camp, the wonderful stir fry ensured that everyone was warm.
The third day was our 1st day of real portaging, with 3 portages totaling 1400 m. Considering most had to complete the portages twice with gear on their back, this was a great feat. The day took us through the beautiful High Falls Lake with its many little islands and fun route choices, as well as, little Ooze Lake and to our final campsite on Opalescent Lake. We gathered all our wood on the final portage and arrived at this beautiful campsite that had benches and seats for all. We set up an even more extravagant tarp system and enjoyed a wonderful pasta dinner with chocolate cake for dessert.
The final day started brilliant, with a very misty lake and a beautiful blue sky. We were on the water early, as we had quite a day ahead of us and we had to do it all before noon. The longest portage of the trip was first, 760 m, which was followed by two quick ones. After this we loaded up with lots of candy and proceeded to paddle down the Barron Canyon. After a short final portage, we were greeted by an excited 2nd group at the bus. A wonderful trip for all.