Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Water Taxi Adventure

OK, at some point we'll stop talking about the ice on Opeongo Lake. These days, however, it is an item of great interest to outfitters, trout anglers and canoe trippers using Opeongo Lake as an access point for the Algonquin Park interior.

Current conditions on Opeongo Lake: the South Arm is open but there is a big sheet of ice floating arond in the channel leading to the North Arm. The narrows leading to the East Arm is blocked but there appears to be open water beyond. Jerry Schmanda, the Opeongo Store manager, speculated that there would still be ice at the east end of the East Arm. We anticipate that Opeongo Lake wil be completely open by Thursday or Friday. We have no reports on interior lakes like Hogan, Lavielle or Big Trout.

One of our water taxis was able to take some canoe trippers to the Happy Isle portage, in the North Arm, this morning. On the return trip he was almost trapped by a huge floating, wind-blown ice floe, which was threatening to push the boat up on shore! The driver had to jump out of the boat at the shore and push it along the shrinking stretch of open water, with the ice pushing on the opposite side! This would have been no small feat, considering that the boat is an 18-foot welded aluminum work boat with a 90 HP outboard motor and that he was wading along a rocky shore in ice-cold water. Anybody who has ever envied the job of a water taxi driver's job of piloting boats up a big northern lake on a warm summer day might think twice when considering that those boats run from late April to mid-October, in all conditions. There are days when it is a cold, wet and very challenging occupation!

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