Afternoon Walk Around Tar Vat Bay and the East Killarney Lighthouse

After we’d done our morning hike of The Crack I dropped Tom off at the campsite and headed a few miles to Tar Vat Bay located on the eastern side of the peninsula. The trail was a recommendation from our camp hosts. After returning from our hike on the Chikanishing Trail the previous day I had mentioned how much we’d enjoyed the pink granite and windswept pine; they were quick to point out that Tar Vat Bay was equally beautiful – and that there was a lighthouse on the point. Speaking of my camp hosts, I need to digress to show you this note of caution posted by the check in desk:

Anyway, after parking at the end of the road across the water from the lighthouse, Abby and I started following the shoreline along the bare rock of the bay. The granite was definitely similar in color and appearance to that of the Collins Inet but the shallower water here seemed more transparent allowing me to see the outlines of the smooth pink rock formations as they slid below the surface of the lake. Beneath the waterline there were also plenty of rounded grapefruit-sized rocks of other colors scattered about making it very pretty indeed.

We didn’t have to walk far before I began noticing the granite appeared fractured in some places, I’d bet from frost action wedging into the granite and causing breaks into rectangular blocks. Though clearly the ancient igneous rock had been scoured by glaciers at some point in the previous millennia, I don’t know enough to say for certain whether or not these particular angular joints were created from glacial meltwater freezing and thawing or some other freeze-thaw action, but I’m pretty certain the more organic-shaped depressions were caused by glacial plucking of some kind. In any case, I found these cavities not only fascinating but beautiful as many were filled with water or framed with evaporated minerals.

I followed the shore around a point – and then another point – before the granite became swallowed up by topsoil. I knew the trail continued but seeing as I’d be walking into the tree cover I opted to turn around and walk back with the hopes of spending more time exploring the granite and seeing the lighthouse up close. On our way to the other side of the bay we crossed a graveled causeway that separated the bay from a boggy lake, the surface of which was largely carpeted in multicolored lily pads. I attempted to capture the vibrance of the rainbow quilt of floating water lilies but my photos didn’t quite do it justice.

Approaching the lighthouse Abby and I circumnavigated the wooden tower by climbing the rocks on which it was perched; interestingly the granite here was mostly a darker gray with none of the flair of the rock on the other side of the bay. Once I’d seen enough of the old lightstation we returned back towards the other side of the bay where I changed into my suit and took a quick dip on the clear water. It was not any warmer than the previous day’s swim.

On a final note, I Googled the name of the bay afterwords and found out it originates from it being the location where fishermen used to prepare their nets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by boiling them in cauldrons of tar. This apparently worked quite well in preventing decay from water. It’s likely I even saw spatters of the asphalt on the rock but I hadn’t known to look for them so I don’t recall noticing anything of the sort.