Prince Albert National Park (2020): Day 3

30 July 2020

My first day of packrafting!

I woke up early and left camp by 7:00 AM, skipping breakfast to maximize the early morning time frame when Kingsmere Lake is beautifully still. Packrafts don’t track nicely like a canoe or kayak does, but adding weight to the front of the boat helps, and with my backpack positioned there I could steer more easily than in my practice runs on the tragic city pond.

Preparing to leave
The water may be calm, but my general principle is ‘paddle like you’ll die if you move more than 20 metres from shore’.

Despite paddling leisurely, I arrived at my next campsite, Bladebone Bay, in only 2-2.5 hours. Coming from a thru-hiking background, I’m used to walking from breakfast until supper, so the thought of just lounging around for the rest of the day seemed egregious. I decided to investigate the decommissioned Bladebone Canoe Route, which leaves from a trail behind the outhouse, and to potentially camp up there if I found a nice location.

I don’t know why the decision to decommission the canoe route was made, but possibly it was when the other access point by road became inaccessible, because the portage from Kingsmere Lake is longish (2 km, according to a random website), partially uphill, boggy, and would be utterly brutal with a canoe. With the amount of deadfall across the trail now, I’m not sure that it would even be possible with a canoe, but I try never to underestimate the power of human perseverance.

$10 to anyone who does this with a canoe. Pics or it didn’t happen.

The nice thing about the trail was that it was still distinct the entire way.

Perfectly visible!

Bad things: deadfall, heat, bugs, bog. I was up to my ankles in water a few times, and it was a delight to be wearing shiny (relatively) new hiking boots that were still waterproof.

Wet and muddy.
They just love this elbow.

After what seemed like a long time, I reached the first lake. A Parks Canada canoe was chained to a tree nearby, filled with water. The place for entering the lake looked sharp and pokey with submerged logs, and reeds impeded access elsewhere. There was nowhere obvious to camp and I didn’t feel very inspired to search for another launching place, so I decided to just have lunch and then return to Bladebone Bay Campground.

Lucky Parks Canada staff.
Pokey.

The trip down was miserable, and by the bottom I was thinking to myself, ‘this was a good experience, because it taught me that I won’t want to return and do the entire Bladebone Canoe Route’. I’m already doubting that decision though, because I hate leaving things unfinished. Nothing learned after all?

I saw more wildlife in Bladebone Bay than at the other campsites: a loon, a pelican, a beaver and dozens of shorebirds. The campground has three sites and is as nice as the others, except for how the path to the outhouse/Bladebone Canoe Route passes through one of the campsites. The people in the campsite had escalated the situation by setting up camp chairs on either side of the path. They were nice people, but by the fifth time passing through their conversations, I had run out of small-camping-talk-with-strangers topics and had to just smile awkwardly and scuttle past quickly.

Bladebone Bay

One of the pros of the general bugginess (yes, there are pros!) is that it supports great spider biodiversity. When I returned to my tent for the night, I found that a spider had built a beautiful web between my rolled up tent doors, with three bugs already captured and one wrapped in silk (I felt bad for taking it down). Then when I had settled in to sleep, a different type of spider came to lurk in the fold of fabric beneath one of the doors, and I saw it pounce on and kill multiple mosquitoes. ❤

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