Looking for the the Tarn Lake Fire
2018 July 30
Algonquin Park forest fire APK011 was started by lightning on 2018 July 19. According to the fire map it was located on the hills south of Stratton Lake somewhere between McDonald Lake and Tarn Lake. We wanted to get in there to see what the situation was.
On July 30, I (Bob) paddled up McDonald Creek. At that time the fire was in excess of 30ha and had just recently been downgraded to "being held" from "out of control".
In brief, I paddled well up McDonald Creek and saw no signs of the fire -- no visible scars, no smoke -- not even any fire smell. The only clue was the occasional helicopter overflight, but these were at quite high altitude and not focussed on any particular area that I could discern.
I was surprised to encounter another canoe in McDoanald Creek. It was in the wide shallow area -- three guys headed that night for Guthrie Lake. They were quite pleased to see me as they had spent the last hour looking for a way out and were hoping I could show them the way. I got lucky and found the way upstream fairly quickly. While my mental map had helped, the key was realizing that pickerel weed favours flowing water and being solo, I could hear water flowing over a low head beaver dam on the upstream side of the pickerel weed.
I met up with these guys again at the start of the Turcotte Lake portage. We discussed the upcoming difficulty of their trip from there to St. Andrews Lake, especially at these water levels. I am curious as to how they made out.