Trip Reports

Report of July 27 Weekend Trip to Lac Poisson Blanc.

July 27 Weekend Trip to Lac Poisson Blanc 2013

Lac Poisson Blanc. Unusual name for a lake. Unusual lake. Whether or not there actually are whitefish in the lake (and there seems to be some uncertainty about this) the lake is remarkable in many respects. Louis, the trip leader, mentioned at some point during the first day of paddling that the lake is actually a reservoir – it’s man-made – as artificial as a Pillsbury breakfast danish.

But despite concerns about its authenticity, it really did look and feel the part of a canoeing lake.
Human beings may have caused this lake to exist, but nature is what causes it to subsist.

Indeed, having seen the lake, I would say that nature has basically taken over and made the area its own again.

One of the most obvious and noteworthy wonders of the lake were its many islands. Paddlers of the group enjoyed looking upon the many atolls that rise up out of the horizon as one travels the along the water body's blue carpet.

“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen,

Round many western islands have I been,

That bards in fealty to Apollo hold.”

—This would be the place to set a Canadian version of the Odyssey. A lake full of little insulated worlds, each one calling to be explored.

The sirens were here too. The song of the hermit thrush draws you in as you paddle by. These birds summer in the pines and hemlock of the shorelines and islands of the lake, their primordial song heard clearly over the water. They beckon to you from somewhere in the forest dim, as though their call was a reminder of a long forgotten place and time; it stirred something deep inside me. There was something so compelling and sadly-beautiful to hearing the demure, questioning whistle of these birds while gliding along the surface of the lake. Their song casts a serene spell over everything, and time seems to stop as you move into the horizon. The song captivates you and you find yourself wanting to stay, to follow it, to find its source, that perhaps somewhere deep in the forest is a different world.

“That I might drink and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade into the forest dim.”

There were many idyllic spots along the lake that looked suitable to camp on. Although we did not get to set up on an island, our group made its bivouac on a spot on the shoreline just beside a significant cliff face, a cool spot in its own right. From this location we had a clear view of the wide expanse of the lake. A gentle set of bluffs – not nearly as high but far more easy to traverse than the cliffs to the north of us – provided good access to the water. Swimming was, for obvious reasons, a very popular pastime here. Our Saturday-evening meal (an excellent lentil stew provided by Edith) took place around the campfire near the waterfront. There were a number of patches of wild-blueberry plants around our camp, and my meals – evening and morning – were supplemented by berry grazing.

Sunday was the second and final day of our trip. We made an excellent breakfast (provided by Marilyn) around our campfire and then prepared our things for the paddle back to the put-in. Once our gear was packed into the boats we took a group photo.

We set off from our camp in merely-overcast weather, a partial break from the downpour we’d received overnight. It was not long, however, before we encountered rain again, and our lunch break off the water had to be extended when we heard thunder. A second boom of thunder interrupted our paddling a few hours later when we were but a few kilometres from the end of our route. The uncertain weather did not dampen moods, however, and by the time we arrived back at the put-in the group was convivial and relaxed. By the time we’d shored our boats the clouds had dissipated partially and we felt the first touches of the day’s sunshine. Soon the boats were roped onto the cars and we were on our way back to Ottawa. We were back in town by about eight o’clock, the equipment housed and storage shed locked up within a further hour.

A great two-day, weekend trip.

Article by: Christian Joyce.

Photos by: Brano Kusnir.