Among the countless activities you can take part in when you’re in Lake of Bays, Skeleton Lake or Lake Wasoesa, canoeing and kayaking probably rank high on the list. After all, they’re both a great form of exercise, great for sightseeing and taking in all the nature around you; even a good way to get your line in the water and do some fishing.

The township known as Lake of Bays consists of three different communities; Baysville, Dwight and Dorset, and it is home to the lake called Lake of Bays, which is the second largest in all of Muskoka. The lake has more than 550 km or curved shoreline, countless trails and scenic woods.

The entire area is just begging to be explored, and your canoe or kayak are perfect vehicles for getting it done. To explore the area properly, you may need to carry or “portage” the canoe or kayak at certain points, but if you follow some proven tips that shouldn’t be an issue.

In the Beginning

Before you put your portage work into practice with either canoe or a kayak, it’s wise to do some dry runs first. Canoes and kayaks are slightly different, with kayaks  having the deck and canoes being open. They can also vary in weight, depending on what material they are made of. Canoes are generally heavier and more awkward to maneuver, but not always.

Your best bet is to find someone who has done it before and take a few lessons. Get the basic motion down and then practice, practice, practice! You should also find out when you should portage and when you shouldn’t. Lake of Bays is made up of several kinds of terrain, so you won’t want to haul your canoe or kayak out of the water and heave it into the air any old time.

Watch the Wind

Once you do get out there and start exploring, pay attention to the wind before you portage anything. If you try to flip a canoe and the wind is wrong, it can grab the canoe and basically take it away. Use any wind to your advantage and make sure it is blowing across the canoe before you try to flip it up.

Use Your Legs

“Lift with your legs” is a common mantra among those trying to maintain a healthy back, and it also applies to portaging a canoe or kayak. When lifting your vessel to begin the portage, the motion should resemble a ‘clean and jerk’ type movement from weightlifting.

If you bend over at the waist to try and get the canoe up, you may damage your lower back in the process. The idea is to bend at the knees, cleanly lift the canoe up to rest on your thighs, pause and then flip it the rest of the way up and over your head.

The Lean-to-Style

If you don’t seem to have the required strength to get the canoe or kayak up, you can try the lean-to or “tipi” style. With this method, you leave one end of the canoe or kayak on the ground and push it up so you don’t have to lift it all at once. Just make sure the end on the ground is propped against a sturdy log or rock so it doesn’t slide.

You can certainly explore Lake of Bays, Skeleton Lake, Lake Wasoesa and all of North Muskoka without portaging, but if you ever get the chance, give it a try because it’s really a unique experience.