Algonquin: Rain, Painted Trilliums, shelter, Expectations and Realities, ‘seagulls’ & a Swift, eversion, curry, Experiencing & Remembering & Connecting, Respect & Connections

2022 Monday May 16: Jubilee Lake to Misty Lake


So there was minor spitting during the night and through the morning, settling into continuous light rain during the afternoon, skies clearing somewhat after supper with cooler drier temperatures by bedtime. The portages between the small lakes were almost all short and remarkably dry. We anticipated the last 1080 metre carry would be more daunting — based mostly on our fears. There was discussion about doing it in stages, and much worry that we would finally hit one of Algonquin’s infamous muddy carries. But there was only one nasty 25 metre section, and that only for Dave carrying his awkward kayak on his shoulder — and he was OK, despite his ‘entertainment value’. Ron was the other portage hero of the day, triple-carrying the first whole distance and then shouldering the awkward kayak for the remainder of the distance.

There were spectacular clumps of Painted Trilliums along the portage, dripping in the rain, with their much darker green leaves than either the White or Red species. I’m almost ashamed that I’ve never knowingly seen Painted Trilliums before. My excuse is that they are scarce in the areas I know best, where White Trilliums are by far the most prominent, especially in the recently-grazed forests so common in Southern Ontario farmlands.

Spectacular Painted Trilliums, Trillium undulatum. Far more of these than Red Trilliums — and I saw no White Trilliums.
Painted Trillium

Especially in the rich deciduous woods of the last portage, there were some spectacularly bright blue-green clumps of foliage of both Squirrel Corn and also of Dutchman’s Breeches. Some of these clumps were as large as several square metres, and seemed to glow in the damp forests.

Dutchman’s Breeches with its wide-spreading nectar spurs. Dicentra cuccularia.
Squirrel Corn, Dicentra canadensis, with more rounded and shorter nectar spurs. Stunning colour of the leaves!

There were several ‘seagulls’ (to tweak the noses of our three good birders) flying about on Misty, one possibly sitting on a nest out on a tiny islet, with a Caspian Tern watching carefully from the adjoining islet. (Possibly Herring Gulls, though we weren’t able to identify them as the winds were picking up on the open lake.).

We had seen several Tree Swallows out over other of the tiny lakes this morning, so that’s what we thought were were seeing again on Misty, but I clearly saw that it was a Chimney Swift — perhaps heading to the North Bay colony? (I monitor the sharply declining Chimney Swifts in my home town of Orangeville.)

We were all wet and cold by time we landed on the west end of the big island on Misty Lake that is one of Kevin Callan’s favourite campsites. There had been considerable blowing rain as we finished the long portage into Misty and made our way to the big island. Some of us learned from our last trip of the importance of getting dry and warm as soon as possible after this kind of exposure. So there was a flurry of getting tents & hammocks up, and getting into dry clothes. By then the rain had stopped, so we had extended conversations about equipment as we dried out and warmed up.

My hammock was curiously somehow tangled and I spent quite a long time figuring that it required an eversion to fix the mess, turning one end inside-out to correct the mess.

Over his delicious Caledon curry supper, Ross led a discussion as to whether this was a day of leisure or a day of work? Was this a day of evanescence experience? Or a day to remember long-term? I posited that it was a day of connection with nature, with ourselves, and with each other, something more multi-layered and complex than the binary choice offered.

Gathered around the fire, drying socks and shoes, and telling stories.

Ron and Josh stayed up to tend the fire that Dave and Josh had coaxed out of the abysmally wet wood, sharing and respecting and connecting. Lovely to hear that murmur, watching the firefight dance on the netting of my hammock.

Writing this blog post inside my hammock, and listening to the quiet sharing between Ron and Josh.