Paddle & Portage... and a Yurt!

By rfaulkner, on Fri, 14 Sep 2012 | 0 Comments

As part of my quest to experience all of the yurt options in Nova Scotia in 2012, I planned a two day paddle & portage expedition through the backcountry of Kejimkujik National Park.

My yurt adventure back in March, made me wanting a return visit. Parks Canada staff had moved the structure we stayed in further down the trail to Peskowesk Landing. By looking at the map, it was clear that the best way to reach this location and to explore the park is via paddle & portage.

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The Tent Dwellers was a book published in 1908 by Albert Bigelow Paine which described a 14 day journey within the area when hunting & fishing lodges were part of the scene at Kejimkujik before it was a National Park.

My hiking buddy would be joining me on this adventure. We planned the outbound Tent Dwellers route until Peskowesk Lake, overnight at the yurt then loop back to our starting point.

We started at Eel Weir and paddled up the Western Run to Kejimkujik Lake. From there a left hand turn into Minards Bay.

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Huge granite boulders pepper the waters, you might find a large granite boulder with a big nail on the top of it. That was used to place a lantern during the log driving days. Many Europeans tried to exploit the resources either from logging, farming & mining. But the rugged terrain made it quite difficult and these operations ceased after a generation.

We arrived at our first Portage; known as the Big Hardwood Carry. This was a 2 km portage, up a hill. Way up!

Being our first time doing this type of travel, we tried several methods to transport our kayaks and eventually took two hours to finish the segment.

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We took advantage of the latest kayak rentals from The Trail Shop in Halifax to outfit us for our journey.

We continued across Mountain Lake and after another portage we made it to Peskowesk Lake. We had spent seven hours traveling the landscape at this stage. The terrain along the portage was very pleasant and made for good hiking without lugging these boats and gear! Huge granite boulders, or erratics were along our path; more evidence of the glacial action that formed this area.

We passed a number of backcountry campsites along the way. Quite honestly, these sites are much nicer than anything you get at the main campground. First of all, you have a big site, woodshed, table, outhouse & firepit. The best part - privacy & tranquility. The downside is hauling everything on your back.

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That's why we wanted to spend the overnight at the yurt. No need for tents, tarps or other gear. We just needed a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, candle lantern and food. Of course, you needed some backcountry necessities like a hatchet, water filter etc..

From our last stay in March, we really wanted to make use of the wood stove inside the yurt to dry our wet clothes and just enjoy the warmth of the fire on a cool September evening. When we finally arrived at the Yurt - a welcomed site -  and entered to find NO STOVE!

But that did not deter us, we made do and enjoyed supper outside by the campfire. We turned in rather early, since we were quite tired. The evening was quiet, a few loons at the lake made sleeping easy.

The next morning, we reviewed our route and ate a large breakfast. The return journey had more portages, but the distances were shorter.

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The sky was clear and the sun was warm, we paddled up Cobrielle, Puzzle & North Cranberry Lake. We took our time, just to enjoy the scenery. The short portages made each launch easy as we got closer to Portage A & Site 24.

We had planned a lunch at site 24 and took time to enjoy the small beach and warm water at Minards Bay.

The final paddle segment was an easy cruise back onto Kejimkujik Lake and down to Eel Weir. The wind died down and the water was calm as we entered the narrow channels from the lake.

A quick pack into the car and we were done, leaving the park behind for the next adventure.

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Check out the Garmin Adventure, you will see our path including waypoints and photos along the way. You can download and load onto your Garmin GPS or view on your desktop computer. 

Check out the yurt options at the park and the geocaching series that is along the route we took.

Check out The Trail Shop if you are looking at boat rentals, however the park does offer boat rentals. A few more pictures can be found via Venturepax.com