McKaskill Lake – Site 3

McCaskill Lake
Map Courtesy of Jeff’s Maps

This is McKaskill’s only island site, located about halfway up the lake towards the portage to Hidden Lake. I stayed on this site about a week after ice out in the spring of 2017. The weather we had on that trip was miserable, but the site itself was actually pretty decent. The site faces west and the sign isn’t all that obvious when approaching from the south. Regardless, the site is there, about a quarter of the way down the eastern side of the island, and well worth the visit.

Canoe Landing: Not bad. Water levels were tremendously high on this trip, so it’s tough to say what it would be like under normal conditions, but I don’t think it would too different. The landing easily accommodated our canoe, and would have room to unload a couple boats if necessary.

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Flat ground + pine needle bed + hastily erected tarp = sweet dreams

Tent Sites: There are multiple, good, flat spots to pitch a tent. The trees that dot the site mean that there are also multiple anchor spots to rig up a tarp if, like me, you’re terrified that the cheap AF one person tent you just bought is going to leak in the monsoon conditions in which you are currently tripping. The flat ground is nice, but, my favourite part about this site is that the entire place is covered in about an inch thick layer of pine needles that feel like you’re lying on a mattress. A really shitty mattress, but a mattress nonetheless. (For comparison, I would have traded the actual foam mattresses we had the next night in the McKaskill Ranger Cabin for the pine needle bed in a heartbeat).

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A bunch of rocks in a circle, so technically a fire pit.

Firepit: You know where it isn’t great having an inch thick layer of dead pine needles? Surrounding your fire pit, that’s where. Fortunately the ground was soaked from the aforementioned monsoon conditions and we managed to avoid burning the forest down while not during our steak. The fire pit itself is fine. It isn’t going to win any Fire Pit of the Month awards, but it’s serviceable. The small grill was a 3/5 on the “I wouldn’t put something that’s going in my stomach on that” scale. Fine for balancing your frying pan or pot over the fire, but maybe not something you want to put food on directly. There’s also a large, stand up grill that worked great as a prep table, we didn’t try it over the fire.

Site Accessories: Not much to speak of. There are a couple of half rotted logs around the fire pit that I guess are meant to serve as benches. We found they worked best as back rests while sitting directly on the ground. Someone has nailed a couple of boards between two trees that you can use as a counter, but for the most part not much has been changed about the site.

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The only sun we saw all trip

Views: The site is western facing so, theoretically, you should get a decent sunset. That’s assuming the clouds part long enough to let a few rays through (which they did for us, hooray!). The site is fairly enclosed by trees, so there really isn’t a lot to see aside from right beside the fire pit. Even there, the far shore isn’t really that far away, so you won’t be getting the same type of wide angle view you’d get from some of the other sites on McKaskill.

Swimability: It was May 4. We weren’t swimming. However, if we were, the canoe landing would also double as a nice little beach to go in from. The lake bottom is sandy from what we could see.

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View looking south from the canoe landing/swim area.

Thunderbox: Not disgusting. Also not out of sight from the site, but at least it’s facing the other direction.

Drawbacks: There aren’t really that many. The site is pretty basic. The fire pit could be rebuilt and a non-disintegrating log to sit on beside the rebuilt fire pit would be nice, but apart from that not much to complain about. Oh, and a less visible thunderbox wouldn’t be terrible.

Notes: I liked this site. I’d definitely stay there again if I was on McKaskill. Which is an opinion I’ve apparently already shared, based on this excerpt from my write up of that trip (at least I’m consistent)

After collecting some firewood from along the shoreline, we found ourselves headed to the island campsite about halfway up McKaskill. This is a pretty decent site; I’d definitely stay there again. The landing is easy, there’s a nice little sandy area that would be good to swim from (we’re not talking a huge beach, just a nice spot to walk in from). Lots of spots to pitch a tent, the fire pit is in good shape and the thunder box isn’t disgusting.

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