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Catchacoma Lake to Bottle Lake and Sucker Lake, Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park (October 29 - 31, 2000)
I liked this route because it is so close to Toronto and in the late Fall it was absolutely deserted. I took Hwy 507, and turned East on Beaver Lake Road and proceed about 4 kilometres to a bridge. The put in is just to the right of the bridge. It is public access so there are no parking or docking fees. I arrived here just after 3 PM and was in the water by 3:30. After about a 15 minute paddle Catchacoma Lake opened up, where I passed between a couple of islands and the East shore. I paddled past the first passage to Beaver Lake and proceeded a few hundred metres north to the Bottle Creek Dam. The 60 metre portage on the left of the dam was no problem. Though I wouldnít want to go much further with my bad hip. It made me dream of the lightweight cedarstrip canoe I want to build.
Bottle Creek was a nice leisurely paddle with a pretty sunset at my back. The "creek" looks more like a river than what I would call a creek. On the north shore of the "creek" there are some good campsites as you get closer to Bottle Lake and some as you enter Bottle Lake on its West shore near the island. It was getting dark and I saw a campfire further down the lake so I decided to camp here across from the island. The campsites further down the lake have some nice beaches, which would make them prime choices during July and August.
Back at my campsite I gathered wood by the light of dusk. By the time I started to set up camp it was already dark. It was a beautiful starry night with only a sliver of moon. It was chilly out but I had a good hot fire and didnít even need a jacket over my heavy cotton shirt. I let the fire die down and turned in early just after 9 PM.
I woke up at around 3 PM after a heavenly deep sleep of almost 18 hours! It was so relaxing and while I lost most of a nice sunny day, I didnít feel the slightest bit guilty. I think my body was crying out for a good rest. It was a cool night but my -7C synthetic mummy bag kept me warm.
After a granola bar brunch, I paddled back down the river to admire the sunset. I had a feeling it would be a good one because there were a few thin clouds in the sky. I intended to snap a few photos but the sunset kept changing and became even more spectacular every few minutes and a better picture kept presenting itself until I had taken 16 shots!
The pictures do not translate how beautiful it really was. While I was enjoying the sunset near a beaver lodge, a nervous beaver slapped his tail against the waterís surface and dove under a number of times. Aside from the beaver, the forest seemed surprisingly silent. I wondered if it was the time of year or the lack of wildlife here in the middle of cottage country. There was no bird song - most having probably flown south.
At 11 AM I awoke to a warm sunny day with very light cool breeze. I slept well again but it seemed colder last night and I had to double up with my second sleeping bag. Once I did that I was toasty warm. I havenít been very hungry these past couple of days. Aside from a submarine sandwich on Sunday, I havenít eaten a proper meal since I arrived. I just havenít felt like eating - aside from granola bars that is. Though I am maintaining my regular intake of tea!
I started to break camp around 1:30 PM and then headed toward the portage to Sucker Lake. I had intended to camp on Sucker Lake for my two nights in the park but I got lazy.
As I walked down to the other end of the portage, I found at least a dozen or so aluminum row boats upturned at the end of portage. I guess some of the locals didnít want to bother portaging their heavy boats back and forth. I thought it looked terrible. Especially since I was under the impression that Sucker Lake was the more remote and wild of the two lakes in the Park. I was disappointed by the sight of this makeshift marina.
My paddle out to the car was slow and leisurely. The sun was in my face and the water was like glass.
Later I had my third beautiful sunset in as many days.
This was the perfect time of year to visit this park. I saw only one campfire on Bottle Lake during my three days there. It was so peaceful. Though I am sure that the Parkís proximity to Toronto and being situated right in the middle of cottage country must mean that it must get very crowded here during peak season. And I canít imagine that it would be very peaceful with all the motorboat traffic, especially on Catchacoma Lake, but also on Bottle and Sucker Lakes if people are using motors on all those small aluminum boats. I must have picked the best time of year and I was lucky with the sunny weather, beautiful sunsets, and clear starry nights.