navigation icon

Bob & Diana McElroy / News / archive / Looking for the the Tarn Lake Fire

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.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Carcajou Falls (High Falls) at the top of Carcajou Bay on Grand Lake in Algonquin Park.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Carcajou Creek from the end of the portage from Carcajou Bay.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Looking back at Carcajou Creek from the start of the portage to McDonald Creek.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Looking up McDonald Creek from the end of the portage from Carcajou Creek. I have since concluded that the fire must be (have been) behind the large hill in the distance but close to the notch.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Sundews, bladderwort, and lily pads.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

My lunch spot on McDonald Creek (between Scott's Rock and the entrance to McDonald Lake).

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

In the first bloop of the wide shallow area on McDonald Creek. I took a panoramic series of photos of the hills from here looking for evidence of the fire; I found none. This photo is from that series.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Well up McDonald Creek - a little beyond the Turcotte Lake portage. Looking upstream. Still no sign of the fire.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

At the time, I interpreted this - I didn't have a map (a bad habit of mine) - as the confluence of Guthrie Creek. It wasn't. (This view is upstream on this small unamed creek).

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Another view upstream from just a little bit farther.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

This beaver dam was as far as I got. I could have gotten over but not without getting wet and already I was running quite late for getting home in time for supper. It turns out that the real confluence with Guthrie Creek was just a little bit farther.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

I dropped back from the beaver dam a little to get a less obstructed view upstream. Still no fire signs.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Heading back downstream

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

McDonald Creek vegetation.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Emerging through the pickerel weed back to the shallow section.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

This is what the route upstream looks like from the downstream end. And this is after three canoes (me twice and the other guys once) have passed through here recently.

Solo day trip up McDonald Creek looking for evidence of the Tarn Lake Fire

(photo by Bob: 2018-07-30 - map - explore

Looking back at my route through the lily pads at the downstream end of the wide shallow section. It was hard sledding through there.

forest fire

Algonquin Park Carcajou  Creek Carcajou Bay Carcajou Creek Carcajou Falls Grand Lake McDonald Creek portage to McDonald Creek (Carcajou Creek)