We spent two full days hanging around Matagamasi before moving on to Donald Lake and I have to say that the idea of "hanging around" took a bit of getting used to for me. So many of my trips before Kyla was born were made up of traveling from A to B as fast as possible, mostly because I was always writing a guide book and always found myself trying to get as much mileage in before the season ended. With that said, however, I think traveling slower can definitely make you far more connected to your environment, and the relaxed pace is far more addictive then trying to paddle as fast as humanly possible.
Alana and I visited areas neighboring Matagamasi Lake we've never knew existed. Apart from favorite haunts like Wessel Lake and the native paintings further west on Matagamasi, we also bush-whacked our way into Big Valley Lake and ridge-climbed to the northeast.
Our relaxed pace continued while tripping into Donald Lake. We left Matagamasi mid-morning and reached Donald a couple hours later.
To reach Donald we paddled to the southeast corner of the eastern bay of Matagamasi and took a 255 meter portage leading into Gold Lake. The take-out was tucked away in a patch of weeds and the trail, which went directly up hill, ended in a shallow, rock-strewn bay. But it wasn't a bad trail overall. The only thing that delayed us actually was when we posed at the take-out for pictures with our "Paddle-Post-Pass It On" paddle. The paddle was part of an initiative formed by the Canadian Canoe Museum and myself during the National Canoe Day Celebrations. It all stated the previous year when I had left (forgotten) my spare paddle on this particular portage. It's a long story but it has something to do with a nuisance bear following us on the portage and a thunder storm quickly approaching. In haste, I left my spare paddle behind and ended up posting its loss on a canoe web site. The paddle was found by the owners of the Sportman's Lodge, who were then handing it out to other paddlers to use for the rest of the season. When I did eventually get the paddle back I asked for all the stories of where it had gone by the paddlers who had borrowed it; and I got some incredible tales. So, when the Canoe Museum and I were trying to come up with ideas to spread the National Canoe Day program, we abused the "lost paddle" idea and had 12 paddles made, all to be handed out by paddlers, used by them and then past on by them after they had shared their tale. Alana and I were given paddle #2 and took it with us to pose with on the original "lost" portage. Very cool idea.
Gold Lake was small and lacked any true place to camp but it had a charm all to itself. Even better was Colin Scott Lake. The color of the water was turquoise and the surrounding landscape was identical to the quartzite mountain-side of Killarney Provincial Park.
There's two portages choices to go from Colin Scott into Donald. The original trail was hidden back behind a rough campsite, found up on a rock slab in a small bay to the southwest. It measured only 60 meters but the route itself disappears near the end and you end up walking through brush to reach the lakeshore. The second option is better; a 200 meter portage going up and over a knob of granite and found to the right of the most southern bay of Colin Scott.
We were pleased to find that the campsite on the first point along the south shore wasn't taken (actually, we had the lake to ourselves). It's the best site on the entire lake. And once situated, we all went in for a refreshing dip and had a nap before setting up camp for two more full days of "hanging around."
…to be continued.