Day 3 - Smoothrock Lake to Outlet Bay 

(26 km)

Day 3 - Smoothrock Lake to Outlet Bay (26 km)

On Day 3 we finally awoke to clear, sunny skies, and it was hot! 

We started the morning off with a cool swim in the lake to wake us up and then began collecting blueberries. Apparently, we had entered into some sort of wonderful alternate universe in which delicious wild blueberries were plentiful on every portage and island. It was amazing! 

So, after filling a mug or two with the delicious treats, we mixed them in with some batter and made some fantastic blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I always bring a small vial of maple syrup on these northern trips for just such an occasion. 

An odd thing occurred while we munched on our breakfast. A shadow flitted overhead and we looked up to see a seagull in hot pursuit of a massive eagle, easily three times its size.  It was comical. The eagle could have destroyed the gull, yet it evaded pursuit and didn't seem to have the inclination to fight back as the chase continued across the lake and out of sight. 

All maps shown on this page are provided courtesy of Toporama which contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada. I have made additional markings to show route information

We were back on the water and continuing our way north on Smoothrock Lake by 10 AM. I turned back to get a departing shot of our lovely island home. 

There was a stiff wind from the southwest which was a helpful tailwind when the lake narrowed. However, when we had to make the crossings across the larger bays, the wind came at us sideways and the waves hit us broadside. This forced us to tack into the wind at these locations and prolong our progress north. We didn't mind all that much; the forest on either side of the lake was thick and the polished rocky outcrops made for a scenic paddle. 

We passed a couple of fellow canoe trippers heading south. They were on Day 6 of their trip and were working their way back to Armstrong from western areas of the park. They, too, were American. It seemed the park was more popular with Americans than Canadians, understandable given the proximity to Minnesota. 

The temperature was high, and by the time we approached the large northwestern bay where we had to veer to the northeast to get to Outlet Bay, we needed a break to swim and eat. There was a fairly recent burn on the large island and western shore at the southern part of that bay. 

Surprisingly, the wind wasn't too nasty out in the big bay, and we finally found a great little spot on an island in the middle of the bay to eat a couple of wraps and cool ourselves off with a swim. 

After lunch the wind got stronger.  We were very grateful that we weren't on the wrong side of it.

We made our way northeast through the channels and narrows. We noticed a couple of nice campsites on this part of the lake. 

At the spot where we were heading due east, we heard a very peculiar sound behind us. At first, it sounded like a loon, but it was more of a  high-pitched wail, unlike any loon I'd heard before. Could it be the sound of the elusive woodland caribou? Well, subsequently I learned that caribou make more of a snorting and huffing sound. I still don't know what that sound might have been; it certainly wasn't a loon. 

As we veered north again into the wide-open expanse at the bottom of Outlet Bay, the wind really whipped up. There were swells coming up behind us that were half a meter high and it got a little dicey --  a tailwind, yes, but not a helpful one! We were relieved when we were able to duck behind some islands at the narrow part about halfway up the bay. 

All maps shown on this page are provided courtesy of Toporama which contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada. I have made additional markings to show route information

It calmed again somewhat when we reached the northern end of Outlet Bay. It was about 3:30 PM when we arrived at an island in the middle of the bay that had a lovely campsite on its western tip. We decided to call it a day there. 

We enjoyed swimming off of our rock porch to cool off from the relentless heat, cleaned and dried a few items of clothing, made a nice bannock to go with a rehydrated stew, and watched the sun hide behind some clouds as it bid us adieu for the evening across the bay to the west. 

At around 9 PM, the wind changed directions suddenly. It was as if someone flipped a switch and a cool wind visited from the north. The temperature dropped significantly and we had a feeling that we were in for some weather. The nice thing about that cool wind was that it was helpful in blowing away the mossies.