(Oastler Lake) - Woods Bay - Wreck Island -
Monday, September 19, 2005
- This short trek was supposed to be a car camping overnight (Sep.19) at the
Oastler Lake Provincial Park campground, and then three nights in the
Massasauga Provincial Park (Sep.20 - Woods Bay, Sep. 21 - Wreck Island and
Sep. 22 - Blackstone Harbour) and return home Sep. 23.
- The short and long term forecast did not look overly promising, although the
temperatures looked reasonable...
- 4:20 PM arrive at Highway 400 at the Horseshoe Valley exit (we went
backroads this time).
- 5:15 PM arrive at
Oastler Lake Provincial Park to find self-serve check-in.
- 5:45 PM toured campground, picked a site and bought some firewood at
a local store.
- 6:45 PM dinner! We varied from the norm, and had sausages on a
bun and beer!
- 9:00 PM retired early as a steady rain began.
- A quick Oastler Park review... not recommended. In the busy
season, it doesn't look like there would be any privacy at all. Luckily,
the park was virtually empty at this point, and it wasn't too bad. Also
there are some nearby railroad tracks with a LOT of rail traffic passing by,
day and night.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
- 5:30 AM wake-up... OK, get up, since we were awake most of the
night anyway (see the railroad comment above).
- 6:00 AM breakfast... bacon and eggs.
- 7:30 AM leave Oastler Lake to run up to Parry Sound for a new road
- 9:00 AM self-register at Pete's Place, and as we round the corner
from the sheltered registration area, we are greeted by 30-50 kph winds
gusting in off of Blackstone Harbour, and a few other guys with a much larger
and stable boat waiting for some calmer weather to launch. Time to
re-think the plans? We ventured over to the marina on Woods Bay, and got
the advice that "I wouldn't go out in a larger boat today, let alone a canoe"
from a local at the marina.
- 10:30 AM after returning to Pete's Place, we decided to launch
- 12:30 PM after checking a nearby portage and a few of the nearby
sites we decided not to venture into Woods Bay as planned and change our site for the first night to
#512 on Blackstone Harbour.
- 1:30 PM it took some heads down hard paddling (with a LOT of water
coming over the bow and sides of the canoe) to cross the lake with our gear,
but we arrived safely at site #512.
- 3:00 PM after setting up camp, we decide to daytrip to the Calhoun
Lodge and the Baker Trail.
Setting up camp on site 512
- 3:40 PM arrive at trail head.
- 6:00 PM finish trail and tour the Calhoun Lodge area.
The typical overcast sky we saw
for most of the first day.
Finally the skies start to clear, but
the wind is still moving pretty good.
- 6:30 PM back at camp.
- 7:00 PM discover our water pump is missing parts, and start boiling
A couple more shots of site 512.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
- 4:30 AM wake up (totally disoriented) to what sounded like a moose sloshing through the
water beside our camp.... which turned out to be a slight increase in windspeed forcing some waves into the shoreline, and we went back to bed.
- 7:30 AM wake up again and have breakfast. Today the lake is
calm and the wind is low.
- 8:30 AM head for the boat launch to modify our site bookings and get
some water. That straight boiled lake water tasted horrible.
- 9:30 AM return to camp.
- 10:35 AM with the canoe loaded we launched for the North Channel.
- 11:00 AM we enter Woods Bay. The water is very calm compared
to the prior day.
- 12:00 PM we stop for lunch at the north end of the east channel
around Francis Island.
- 1:00 PM arrive at site 217.
A great swim (the water was
Site 217... another great site.
- 2:15 PM we left for an afternoon paddle around Miron Island.
The beach of Site 218... also a
Back at our site.
A nice campfire, and the lake
turned into a mirror.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
- 5:00 AM wake up and break camp in the dark. This was NOT a
good trek for sleeping.
- 6:30 AM we're on the water.
The closest we saw to a
sunrise. The sun disappeared again shortly after this.
We took the swampy section of
Woods Bay to avoid the speed boat traffic.
- 8:45 AM arrive at the Woods Island Trailhead.
- 11:00 AM depart Woods Island after hiking the trail. We
ventured out the Captain Allen Strait into Georgian Bay, and were convinced
that opting out of the Wreck Island portion of this trip was a wise decision.
Once out of the channel the water changed from relatively calm to quite wavy
with whitecaps, etc. We checked out most of the sites along this
channel, and for the most part they weren't very good.
Touring the waterfall on the
stream between Little Blackstone Lake and Blackstone
- 2:50 PM trip abandoned. With the weather forecast calling for
rain, three nights of terrible sleep, and the fact that we had an entire
afternoon and evening to kill on this small lake where we had already spent
our first day, we decided to head for home early.
My Massasauga Commentary...
I doubt we'll be heading back anytime soon for various reasons...
- The motor boat traffic in this area is very high (and we were here at the
end of the season) certainly outnumbering the canoes/kayaks easily by 20:1
- The park seems well suited for and popular with the fishing crowd.
- Navigating however, was really easy with the vast number of private
cottage properties dotting through the park. Closer examination of the
park map reveals that virtually every tiny island within the park is actually
private property, with at least one cottage on each island.
- It was a rare moment when you could look around and NOT see a cottage or
motor boat on this trek.
- If you want to "get away from it all", don't go here!
- The saviour of this trip was this web page...
http://www.geocities.com/bluewater/massasauga.html Had it not been
for this web site, and booking all four star (****) sites, this
trip could have been really bad. To avoid disappointment, I would
recommend nothing less than the four star sites.
- Some of the campsites in this park were truly pathetic, Some sites
had no place to dock a canoe or pitch a tent. Some fire pits were
located on terrible angles, making sitting around the campfire virtually
impossible. Others had terrible locations due to channel traffic or
beside swampy areas (these sites would be horrible at the peak of mosquito
My recommendations... for the serenity of a wilderness adventure,
continue further north, or head east to Algonquin.Park.