Scorch Lake Loop
Total Distance: 28 km (shuttle required if doing the York River section)
Duration: 3 days
Number of Portages: 9
Total Portage Distance: 5600 m
Level of Difficulty: Experienced Novice (3 portages over 1000m, and portages only partially maintained along York River section)
Within minutes the lightning was almost immediately followed by the accompanying thunderclap which told me that it was striking nearby. I heard a tree fall in the not-too-far distance and felt that I needed to get out of my tent and away from trees.
With my Therm-a-rest in hand, I ran down to the canoe just as the marble-sized hail started raining down and biting my skin. The temperature had dropped about 10 degrees and in my hurry, I had forgotten my jacket and hoodie in the tent. I turned the canoe upside down, threw my Therm-a-rest under it, and climbed in, careful to not have any part of my body touching the ground in case of a nearby lightning strike. If a tree were to fall, I'd rather be under a kevlar canoe than in a polyester tent. The hail started coming down harder and I was grateful for the invention of kevlar -- after all, if it is strong enough to stop bullets in a vest, it should be able to withstand some hail.
Thankfully this only lasted for about 10 minutes when the thunder started moving away. The hail went with it but the rain lasted most of the night. My tent (MEC Camper 2 - highly recommended! ) withstood the onslaught and I climbed in, changed my clothes, and slept for the night. I later found out that this is what I was dealing with!
Day 3 - Scorch Lake to Benoir Lake
I slept in longer than usual. The rain had woken me up a few times during the night. When I got up I had to put on the bug suit again. The dampness from the rain seemed to bring out the mosquitoes in droves.
The day was cloudy and it looked like the sun would not emerge. It looked as it might rain most of the day. Sitting there trying to sip my morning coffee through my bug mesh, I decided to head out a day earlier, but instead of coming out the way I had come in, I would take the York River back to Pine Grove on Benoir and get a shuttle back to my car.
The bugs and the weather were just not cooperating and I was excited to see the High Falls area of the York. I reasoned that I would rather be on the move and exploring rather than sitting at my site in the rain and getting eaten alive. So, taking my time after I loaded the canoe, I fished a bit of Scorch and had a nice, fun fight with a 2.5 lb largemouth, which eventually became my lunch. I have to say, with a little lemon and spice it wasn't too bad, but I prefer smallmouth if I am going to eat bass.
Leaving the park and then heading into cottage country, I left the wilderness behind and encountered kids jumping off the bridge and cottagers sipping drinks on their docks in preparation for the beautiful sundown we were about to experience. Getting back to Pine Grove just before dark, I arranged my shuttle back to the Kingscote put-in and ordered a cheeseburger and fries. I let them know about the group coming in and they also seemed concerned. By the time I got shuttled to Kingscote, drove back to Pine Grove, and started loading my canoe on my vehicle, the sun had gone down and the group meandered in with their flashlights strapped to their heads -- no search party was necessary.
Driving home, I reflected on the trip and what a beautiful area it was. I would love to do this trip again sometime and spend more time on Scorch, hiking the Bruton Farm Trail (overlooking the beach pictured below) and of course, catching more fish!