In mid-September, we flew to Burlington, Vermont and then drove across the Canadian border into the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Our destination; the Outdoor Lodge at Glen Sutton, Quebec, hosts for a Road Scholar program “Kayak Day Trips: Quebec and Vermont”. Joining us in Quebec, 15 kayakers of varying experience and four guides with outstanding experience. During our week in Quebec we kayaked four different locations, explored some of the historical and cultural offerings of the Eastern Townships and ate exquisite home cooked meals, prepared by The Outdoor Lodge cooks and shared with our congenial fellow paddlers.
The Outdoor Lodge accommodations include the main house (an old school building), a cottage and the pool house (our unofficial name for a housing unit half a mile down the road on the Missisquoi River). We stayed in the pool house walking the half mile to the main lodge twice a day. Our daily walks in the cool Quebec air provided added exercise and a way to clear our minds. We soon found this short walk a blessing and something we looked forward to sharing each morning and evening as our group walked.
Our first kayaking trip went to Lake Memphremagog. Most of Lake Memphremagog is situated in Quebec with the town of Magog at the northern end. However, at the southern tip of Lake Memphremagog sits the town of Newport in Vermont. A nice beach, at roughly the middle of the lake, near the town of Vale Perkins, served as our first launch site. On this small pebble strewn beach we staged our kayaks and received some initial instructions on paddling geared toward the novices in the group.
Following these instructions and safety tips we launched our kayaks dividing up into four skill groups each matched with a guide. At that exact moment it began to rain continuing for about ten minutes before stopping. That was the first and only rain we experienced on our trip. When the small dark cloud left us for parts North and the sun shone we began paddling across the Lake toward a large while boathouse serving as a landmark.
The sit inside sea kayaks used by The Outdoor Lodge are faster and more nimble than the tried and true sit on top Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160’s that we paddle at home. This is both good and bad. We relished how responsive the boats were but found they tracked better with the use of their rudder. These sit in sides provided some added warmth in a cooler climate, but sit insides are just not as comfortable as sit on tops. Sit insides are also much harder to get back into if you spill. Fortunately, no one in our group spilled during the week (except for getting out of the kayaks at the end when it didn’t matter).
After reaching the boathouse on the far shore we began to circumnavigate Molson Island. Great blue herons, common loons, cormorants, and many gulls and terns kept us company. Rounding the island we came upon the Marina du Grand Boise and beautiful mirrored boat reflections in the waters of the lake.
Once around the island we came upon a nice view of Owl’s Head Ski Resort, one of many such resorts in the Eastern Township region. Our guides informed us that in six weeks snow would be on the ground and the lake would begin to freeze over. Hardly seemed possible on this day when the temperatures approached the 80’s.
Once we were clear of the island we discovered that the wind had picked up and the paddle back was more of a challenge. A fun challenge as it turned out as we tested our boats against the waves. Returning to our launch site we enjoyed homemade sandwiches and snacks furnished by The Outdoor Lodge for lunch. Every meal was a joy.
Launching again from the beach we kayaked south along the shore line admiring some of the homes, and enjoying a beautiful day. At one point a large speedboat flew past and the guide with our group taught us how to use the waves to kayak surf. This was a fun skill used later in the week while paddling Lake Willoughby in Vermont.
As we returned to our starting point, everyone pitched in to help load the kayaks unto the trailers in a great show of teamwork. All through the week our group received compliments from the guides on our teamwork and no-whining nature.
The drive back to the lodge included a stop for ice cream in a small town and returning to the Lodge to find a road construction crew had cut power to all of Glen Sutton. The Lodge’s Cooks loaded up vans with food stuffs and roared off to a nearby town to cook dinner. Our dinner of Vegetarian Lasagna while late was absolutely delicious, as was every meal at The Outdoor Lodge.
Stayed tuned for our second post in this series: Brome Lake Marsh, Knowlton, Louise Penny and the Benedictine Monastery.