Canoe-camping on a remote lake island in northern Nova Scotia.
May 25th, 2019
Took a last minute solo canoe-camping trip yesterday down Masons River into Belfry Lake in eastern Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.
After concocting a system involving several fleece blankets, I managed to unload my new 80lb beast of a canoe off the top of my car on my own. Pushing off at about 1pm, I paddled down Masons River from Gabarus Lake South. Battled a 40km/hr head wind coming off the nearby ocean once hitting the open lake. After a 2km paddle down Masons River into Belfry Lake, I paddled two more kms, making my way to the northern edge of the lake and on to the last of three large islands in the lake named Rams Head Island.
While I was launching my canoe, a man told me one of the three islands has a Scottish pioneers cemetery located on it.
abandoned home along Masons Riverpaddling across Belfry Lake towards Rams HeadMacLeods Island, MacIsaacs Island and Rams Head Island in Belfry Lake
After exploring the western side of the island, I searched for a suitably flat site for my Six Moons Design Lunar Solo in the dense entanglement of paper birch, yellow birch, stunted black spruce and balsam firs. I found a hummocky, but level, patch of moss covered forest floor. A very tricky place to find a spot for a non-freestanding tent. “Maybe I could use those hummocks as a lumbar support if I laid juuuust the right way.”
Rams Head Island, campsite location.
I was forced to break a cardinal rule of mine by pitching my tent near several widow makers. By that time, the wind had completely ceased and the forecast looked calm so I made the determination that it was safe. I was correct.
campsite spreadblinded by the light
After pitching my tent, inflating my pad and unfurling my sleeping bag it was time for dinner; creamy pasta with chicken and veggies that was slightly bland but pleased my hungering body. Afterwards, I made a coffee and took a short paddle around the island to watch the sunset. By that time all wind had ceased. The symphony of frogs, loons and birds were soundtracking my sunset paddle. I welcomed their sounds as I thought about my dogs back home. It’s incredibly rare I am without them while camping or backpacking. They both love water but are terrified of the canoe.
Sunset paddle w/ coffee
Laying in my tent now listening to the loons do their loon things well into the early morning hours, writing these things down. Thinking about that Yellow-Rumped Warbler who followed me around the island while I was exploring. I watched him swooping to catch wayward black flies in between perching on nearby branches, no doubt curious as to where this weird creature on his little island came from.
There was a frost warning but temperatures only dipped to about 4°C. Cool, refreshing and a deep restorative sleep. There’s nothing quite like sleeping in the wilderness alone.
The next morning I made my blueberry cinnamon oatmeal and coffee then set off in an unsuccessful attempt to locate that pioneers cemetery on one of the neighbouring islands. My next trip to Rams Head I will find the cemetery.
Bedhead and bed beard; a happy dirtbag. *gear used on this trip that was purchased through Drop: Snow Peak Trek 900, Marmot Hydrogen 30° 800fp, Z-Packs food bag, Advanced Elements waterproof stuff sacks, Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow, Drop x Fizan hiking poles, Timolabs I S Bluetooth speaker, Luci Solar string lights, Snow Peak spork, Snow Peak single wall 600 mug, MSR pocket rocket (original version).(Edited)