- distance: 27.5 km
- time: start – 8:00 a.m. ; finish – 2:20 p.m.
- portages: none – just one long lake
- weather: sunny and hot; no wind in the morning and a gentle SW wind in the aft
- campsite: SC04 at the start of portage trail at end of the lake; room for a couple of two-person tents; site maintenance required before pitching the tent (deadfall removal); good access to water; evening work on the portage trail
The previous evening the wind had blown strong from the SW and we were hoping for a repeat of that as we got up a bit earlier than usual for our day of Steel Lake paddling. The pic above shows what we found – i.e. an almost ripple free lake. Shortly after 8:00, we were off, having postponed breakfast until we put in a few hundred paddle strokes in the early morning coolness. By 9:15 we were down the lake about seven kilometers sitting in the shade, coffee mugs in hand, enjoying the stillness.
There is a bit of a treadmill effect that kicks in when you get to stare at the same horizon for an hour or more. The island in the pic below was just one of many upcoming points we paddled towards in the course of our twenty-seven kilometers down the river to the campsite. Paddling on the east side of the lake across from the island was a nice stretch of vertical rock face that is always a pleasure to glide past.
Shortly after 2:00 p.m., we approached our campsite at the bottom (i.e.north end) of Steel Lake. We found there a campsite just meters from the take-out spot and after a bit of site rehab put up the tent. We also put up the silnylon tarp as a precaution as it clouded over in the early evening. Not only does the tarp take the brunt of any rain and keep the tent itself much drier, but it also makes taking down the tent in the rain the next morning that much easier.
Given our early finish, we had time this day to trim back some of the new alder growth on the portage trail. Something we can’t comment on – but which is clearly a real attraction for some canoe trippers – is the chance to drop a hook into some A+ fishing spots. It was a point made by more than one of the trip reports I read through.
The upper Steel loop portion almost done, we were looking forward to heading south and feeling the pull of the river as we paddled down to Rainbow Falls.