Killarney Park
Credit: Kevin Callan

A wasp welcomed me on the first portage of day three.

Wasps are my nemesis. Each year I get stung once or twice — and each time I seem to swell up more. I took a couple of Benadryl, kept my EpiPen handy just in case things got out of hand and continued on the portage.

A beaver pond marked the entrance to Killarney Provincial Park. It was totally choked with white lily plants, which have grown to near-mythical proportions. I’ve never seen this floating aquatic plant grow so large. My daughter could have taken one of the leaves and made a dress out of it.

Finding the short portage leading out of the pond and into Low Lake was a challenge. It was to the right of a small creek. But there was no sign of an opening through the lily pads that lay across the entire lake. We guessed at a narrow inlet on the northeast corner and managed to find our way to the take-out.

A quick carry brought us to a shallow creek coming out of Low Lake. The water levels were high enough for us to paddle over a couple of logjams that probably require a lift-over most summers.

Helen Lake was next, and a short but steep portage took us into this beautiful waterbody. The scenery surrounding Helen Lake truly represents Killarney, and it was here that we felt like the Killarney Park adventure had really begun.

Of course, as luck would have it, the Benadryl kicked in the moment I started one of the toughest portages of our route. The trail is just under three kilometres and goes uphill most of the way. Thankfully, the small pond along the first section had enough water to paddle, cutting off about 400 metres. By the time we reached Nellie Lake, however, I was drugged up and walking like comedian Tim Conway did in one of his famous sketches on the Carol Burnett Show.

We met two park wardens on Nellie and invited them over for tea later in the day. They were brothers from some southern Ontario hamlet and joined us just after an early evening storm moved in. We enjoyed their company and how excited they were to share stories of paddling and maintaining the park’s interior. It was a good feeling having the park staff pay us a friendly visit. It was obvious the brothers were enjoying their summer job in the park.

The boys finished their tea, I popped a couple more Benadryl, and they paddled back over to the neighbouring campsite. It was a good evening had by all.

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