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The first portage to Hidden Lake is a hop, skip and a jump. The second is a little bit longer and a little steeper. The third starts with two steep staircases and continues with rocks and boardwalks, ledges and little forest paths. It’s long enough to work up a good sweat. But then you’re there. It’s only a 45 minute drive down the Ingraham Trail from Yellowknife and a leisurely two hours of portaging to get to one of the most beautiful lakes in an area that has many.

In 2014, we went there for Thanksgiving in October. It was rainy, windy and chilly, but we dressed well and were the only people on our island—and probably the whole lake. The trout were biting and there was plenty of deadwood for fires. It’s a short trip out, so we brought a turkey (already cooked) and pies, and then we tarped off a kitchen area to prepare the food, and we ate well. The next day it was sunny, albeit a bit frosty, and we went for a hike before cleaning up and heading back to town. It snowed as we paddled back.

The paddling season ain’t over till it’s over. And if you head out in October, what you lose in sunshine you can make up for with solitude and good fishing.