Exploration gone awry, Wallace Lake strikes again

Another beautiful summer weekend. Another trip to Wallace Lake. And another carefully laid plan gone all to hell. Such is my all too common experience with this lake, and this time, my brother Tyler got to share it with me.

You can tell he doesn’t get outside much…

Carefully laid plans

The whole point of this trip was to explore and find a nice remote spot to set up a camp site. I had my eye on a small river coming off the main lake. On satellite pictures with Google Earth, the river went in a short way and turned into a small creek. The creek in turn twisted its way back and forth for a few kilometers and ended in a separate small lake surrounded by rock.

I brought my chainsaw and machete with me, so that if we found a nice remote spot I could clear a campsite and cut a stack of firewood to come back to in the future.  In particular, I wanted a spot that would be challenging if not impossible to get to with anything other than a kayak, and this creek looked like the right spot for that. Looking at the map, it seemed about the same size as similar waterways I had taken the kayak down before.

Obviously there was a good chance we would come to a point where the creek was impassable even for the kayak. My backup plan in that case was to come back to the lake and just camp on the west side of it near the Wanipigow river.

 

Starting the day off right

Driving out to Wallace lake, everything was looking good. Tyler met me at my house (on time even), and the temperature was climbing fast. The sky was clear and sunny, there was no wind, and overall it seemed like it would be just a great day to be on the water.

Add a couple cold beers and some silliness and you have a great time on the water

We got ourselves launched and started out across the lake. All around us, the water was like glass, and we made excellent time paddling. We stopped and fished for a few minutes here and there but mostly just headed towards the river.

Hitting the river around noon, we headed upstream. The water quickly turned from clear to muddy brown, and got progressively more scummy looking as we went forward. This was merely the first sign of unpleasantness to come.

Yuck

 

Water shouldn’t itch…

As we paddled further upstream, the water got darker and started to smell pretty nasty. We came to a beaver dam where the river narrowed down to creek size. Climbing over it was fairly simple, it wasn’t a large dam. In no time we had climbed up and over and were paddling away on the other side.

He’s a natural

Not long after, we came to another dam, and not long after that, another. On the 4th dam, I made a wrong step and went into water and soft mud up to my chest. Going into the water is not usually a problem for me, but this water was nasty! Once I was back in my kayak my whole body started itching like crazy where it was wet. Talk about gross.

Amazingly, he stayed relatively dry throughout

Finally, we crossed a dam and came up to a pool of water with no streams leading off from it. This was as far as we would be going down this particular route. It was disappointing, but not completely unexpected. That’s why I had a plan B after all. Luckily we were only a couple km in, and it didn’t take us too long to make our way back out to the lake.

At least we tried

Wallace Lake strikes again

Crossing Wallace lake and heading west, I saw it. A whopper of a storm front racing across the lake towards us. I am not exaggerating when I say it took less than 5 minutes to go from clear sunny skies and water like glass, to thunder, lightning, whitecaps, and driving rain. We paddled hard for the nearest shore, pulled our kayaks up onto the rock, and took some shelter under the trees.

The rain turned to hail at one point, the wind kept going, the sky stayed dark, and we were getting pretty cold. After about an hour of standing around, I went to shore and sat in the water, because the lake was a pleasantly warm temperature. It kept me a lot warmer than standing in the freezing rain, so I sat in water up to my neck while we waited another 40 minutes or so.

 

Wrapping it up

After being stuck on shore for around 2 hours, it was pretty clear that the storm was not going away. We gave up on camping for the night, and took advantage of a lull in the wind. We started paddling back to the boat launch.

Wallace lake

Paddling back to the launch was harder and more tiring than paddling out, since we were now going into wind and rain. We made it though, cold, wet, tired, and miserable. I had worked the night shift the previous night, and so had been awake for around 30 hours straight by this point. Tyler had never gone out on a kayak before, and was new to paddling. The extra unplanned miles we had to put in to get back to the launch were quite wearing on both of us.

Wallace lake

He looked like a drowned rat

We quickly loaded everything back up into the truck, pulled out some towels and cranked the heat. It was a long drive back home.

Wallace Lake has done this to me many times, so this was really no surprise. However this was easily the fastest I have seen one of these storms roll in across the water and being caught out in the middle of something like that can be scary.

I felt bad for Tyler. He doesn’t get many days off to go out camping, and it’s too bad this trip didn’t pan out. At least we both had a good time for the first half of the day exploring the river. Even climbing over beaver dams can be fun when the weather is nice and the beer is cold.

I’m sure I will be back to Wallace Lake again in the near future. My parent’s cabin is there and the fishing can be some of the best around. I’m equally sure that the lake will continue to have it out for me and I will be writing similar stories of misadventure on this lake before long.

 

-Adam

 

1 Comment

  • Rabbit River route to Cole Lake, June 2018 | True North Wilds May 27, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    […] This last week, I took my friend Riley and my two fishing kayaks and headed into Nopiming Provincial Park. Our destination was Cole Lake, and our path was the Rabbit River route.  The plan was to spend a day paddling in, then two full days of fishing, and a day paddling out. Naturally, as with most of my plans, this one didn’t quite work out. […]

Leave a Comment