Monday, October 8, 2007

Fall Colours in Algonquin Park

On Sunday September 30, we met at 7:30 am at the school to head out on our canoe trip. We selected this date to maximize the opportunity to really experience Algonquin Park at its most beautiful, great weather and vibrant fall colours. We got the great weather, but the trees were only beginning to colour.

After our 3 hour drive, we arrived at Achray Station on Grand Lake in Algonquin Park. After unloading the canoes from the trailer and the gear from the bus, we loaded our canoes on the beach. After a quick group picture, we were keen to get on the water. Once on the water, we attempted to count our gear. Attempted, because a few canoes had problems rafting up as they were getting stuck in the weeds. The first lake crossing proved to be a little challenging as well, the navigators were on track, but some canoes were lacking stamina to keep up. After a quick coffin carry of the canoes around the dam, we headed onto Stratton lake and to our first campsite.

The group split themselves over the various campsites to set up their tents. This was followed by some serious wood hunting and building of the walls for the thunderbox. Dinner was a wonderful satay chicken stir fry cooked over the fire. The evening entertainment included a game of manhunt and marshmallows over the fire.

The next morning started off windy and it was coming directly from where we needed to go. We broke camp and ensured we all ate enough French Toast to take on the challenge. The canoeing against the wind was no problem at all and with the exception of Tony having to do it twice, as he forgot his knife on the beach, it was smooth sailing straight to our second campsite on St. Andrew's lake. Another beautiful group of campsites.

Before the afternoon activities, lunch was served behind the wall of canoes and tarps that protected us from the wind. Lunch was grilled cheese, soup and veggies with dip. This set us up for a great afternoon of swimming at the water slides at High Falls. The sun came out and the water was still pleasantly warm. On our way back we checked out the first portage we would see the next day, just so we could get mentally prepared. To ensure the packs would be a little lighter, dinner was chilly over baked potatoes, followed by a lovely chocolate fondue.

We awoke to yet another wonderful looking day. With 3 portages ahead of us, we got a good early start. The 1st portage flew by with everyone helping out, a promising sign for the day ahead. We enjoyed our paddles across High Falls Lake and Ooze Lake, and we then grunted our way across the 740 m portage into Opalescent Lake. As we sent Mr. MacDougall and Jessie to claim the nicest site on the lake, the rest of us filled two canoes with firewood. After a quick lunch of hot dogs, the afternoon was spent playing cards, napping and gunnel bobbing. The evening started with a lovely spaghetti and caeser salad dinner. This was followed up with a mean game of lick the stick, as liars dice were the means of getting to lick the stick, some individuals got to lick the stick a little more often than others. The game was interrupted by a lovely chocolate cake baked in the dutch oven.

The last day we started even earlier as we had a bus to catch at the take out at noon. Things started off well, as camp was broken quickly and we were in the canoes ready to go. Once on the water, things took a turn for the worse, literally. The entire group decided to paddle the wrong way down the lake. Losing a bit of time, the group figured it out and we headed onto our longest portage of the day. This was followed by a couple of short portages and a beautiful paddle through the Barron Canyon with its 100 m high walls. We paddled the last stretch under threat of some serious dark clouds, but with the exception of a little sprinkle, we kept our perfect weather to complete the trip.

Check out the comments to this post to find out how the students experienced the trip.


Kayaker said...

Reflection by Jordan

When I heard that we were going on a four day canoe trip to Algonquin Park with our Outdoor Education class, I did not know what to expect. To be honest, I thought it was going to be kind of boring and “not my thing”. Before I knew it, we were dipping our paddles into the Ottawa River learning how to canoe. This is when my opinion started to change about our adventure. Portaging our canoes to the boat launch where we started off each class was hard work but once we got there and everyone was in the water, I found canoeing to be a fun challenge. Packing our bags for the canoe trip was not an easy task and we now understand the meaning of the words light and essentials. Brad and I literally spent two full classes attempting to cram our stuff into our dry bags and then trying to ram these dry bags into our backpacks. Eventually we gave in and had to take a separate backpack for our sleeping bags and our tent.

Before we knew it, practice time was over and it was Sunday morning September the 30th and we were leaving for Algonquin Park. When we arrived at school, almost everyone helped to load all of the canoes onto the trailer and the bags on to the busses. I volunteered to pull the canoe trailer with our Dodge Dakota truck, so Mr. Brower and I drove to Algonquin towing our 10 canoes. I really enjoyed the drive and was much happier to be sitting in our truck instead of on the bus. The drive took roughly three hours with everyone anxious to get moving as soon as we arrived. We got the canoes into the water and loaded in no time and we were off. The first day we had a fairly lengthy paddle. When we made it to our first camp site, every one was hungry and anxious to set up. It was my groups turn to cook supper, so as soon as we had our tents set up we got to work in the kitchen. We were creating a chicken stir fry and for the most part, every one pitched in to help prepare it and then cook it. To be perfectly honest, it was rather disgusting but everyone was so hungry after our day of traveling they seemed to enjoy the meal. After we dinner we cleaned up and then started to play some games. Man hunt in the dark was not the best choice of games as numerous people tripped and hurt themselves. We also uncovered an underground wasp nest. Once we settled down after all of the excitement we talked by the fire for a while and then we returned to our campsite. It was very dark as we lost our fire privileges for the night because we got a little carried away with starting the first fire without permission. It was dark and there was nothing to do, so we all went to bed fairly early. I slept better than I thought I would in the middle of the woods sharing a tent with friends.

The next morning, it took us a while to pack all of our gear back up but once we did there was an excellent breakfast waiting for us. We had some of the best French toast that I ever tasted with assorted fruit. We also had some sort of watered down juice mix that was interesting but it did the trick. After breakfast and clean up we loaded all of the canoes and headed off. Day two was a fairly short paddle with one short portage. We made it to our second campsite in time for lunch. We set up all of our tents and then we enjoyed an excellent lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by my group. We were very excited to be heading to some rock waterslides that we had heard about but in our excitement our group forgot to do the clean up and the dishes. This was not the smartest move as the other groups had to pick up the slack and they were not impressed. In order to get to the waterslides we had a short canoe trip and then we put our canoes on the shore and ran through the bush in search of the slides. We ended up finding them before the other groups and sat down and waited for everyone else. The waterslide was really fun, the water was extremely cold but it felt good great to clean up a bit. We also found a small ledge that was safe to jump from and had a great time with jumping competitions. When it was time to head back to camp we took an actual trail back to our canoes. It was quite a bit longer than the way we got their and it turned out that we would use the same trail the next day on a portage. After dinner we went over to our camp site where we had permission to start our fire and sat around talking. I found this fun as I got do know some of the people on the trip who I really didn’t know very well before.

The next morning we got up and got our stuff packed a little quicker. We were getting in the grove of things and were all having a good time. We ate breakfast and then loaded the canoes and took off. During day three we had a lengthy paddle and a few long portages to complete. The paddling was fine but the first two portages proved difficult. The real workers in the group stood as many people had to make several trips in order to make up for the class members that were slacking off. Mr. Brower had a little talk with the class about this and the next portages went very smoothly. When we got to our campsite, we set up quickly. This was the day that I found every one got along well and did what they were supposed to do. After we were set up, we had hot dogs for lunch and then had the afternoon to do what we wanted. I had a lot of fun swimming and playing various games with the canoes. After this fun we were all quite tired. After supper we played a long game of “lick the stick” which was a fun game that we invented on the trip. Some of our class decided to go over to a campsite on another island because they were not in to the game. When they came back we all hid in the bush and scared them, it was hilarious. By this time it was getting late and we all decided to get to bed as we knew that we had our biggest day ahead of us.

The morning of the last day we had to get up extra early as we had to be at the bus by 12 noon. It was my groups turn to make breakfast which was easy as we only had to boil water for the porridge and set out the bagels. It was obvious that everyone wanted to get home and everyone was quite cranky. Once we got everything all packed up and in the canoes, we were in such a hurry to leave that we took off in the wrong direction. Headed in the right direction, we had a long journey ahead of us with quite a few long portages. We did not go as fast as was expected and ended up showing up a little late for the buss.

We loaded all of our gear quickly and were heading back to Cairine in no time. We arrived safely at school and were unloaded by roughly 4:00. The van carrying all of our packs in it was late so we were not able to air out our tents and sleeping bags. We simply went home and we cleaned up the next day.

I had a lot of fun on this canoe trip. It was different from anything I have ever done and it turned out to even better than I had expected. That said, it was extremely nice to get home to a nice hot shower, a real toilet and my own bed. In conclusion, it was a great experience and I would like to thank all of the teachers that made the trip possible. I will definitely recommend this trip to anyone else thinking of taking the Outdoor Education Class.

Kayaker said...

Hey this is Tara from the Outdoor Ed. program at Cairine Wilson.

My experience with this outing was really great. I mean at first i thought that it was going to be absolutely brutal. I didn't relaly like the pople I was going with and I thought it was going to be really terrible. I was going to go in with a negative attitude if it weren't for my friends who kept my spirits up. As the time went on though i realised that it wasn't as bad as i thought it was going to be. No instead it was the most fun I have ever had on a field trip. It was more than just a field trip, it was a lesson on leadership, teamwork and jsut ahving fun. I really enjoyed the activities. We went down the all natural waterslide and jumped off rocks into water that you couldn't even see the bottom. A refreshing experience for anyone. The cooking was fantastic! A lot better than i thought it was goign to be. We got to cook over a fire, had marshmallows and frenchtoast, spaghetti and even a chocolate fondue. It was the most fun experience ever i didn't even mind the protaging or the paddling. The setting up cmap was pretty fun too, I mean your with your friends camping having a good time what more could you want? staying up late at night palying games by the bonfire was crazy i mean you get to laugh and kick, not worrying about waht others think about you. I personally think that this was one of the most amazing experiences ever. I would fully say to everyone that if you are thinking of going into this program then do it. You'll miss out on a lot more if you don't and its a ton of fun.

Nik_S said...

When I woke up on Sunday morning I knew that it would be an eventful four days. Before I left, I gathered a few thing that I forgot to pack and then headed off to the school. When I got to school I finished packing my bag and helped load the canoes onto the racks and helped get everything onto the bus. The bus ride itself was a fun experience, we played word games until we were bored.

When we finally got to our launch site we got all of our canoes loaded and were ready to go on our expedition. Tash and I were trip leaders on the first day and I ha no clue what that really meant. We hit the water and had a long paddle on the first day. We only had one portage on the first day and it wasn't very long. When we got to our campsite, Tony, Tyler and I set up our tent and then we started to gather firewood with Mr. Brouwer. We leaned what kind of wood to look for and what trees are ok to chop down. For dinner we had this chicken stir-fry that wasn't the most appetizing thing but it tasted good because we were all starving. I helped clean up all the pots that night and it was a good time. Everyone started to play manhunt but Tash and I just hung out around the fire and looked up stars and Mr. Brouwer gave us a star map. When we woke up ate French toast and then packed up our stuff and hit the water once again.

Our second paddle wasn’t very long and once again only had one short portage. when we got to our campsite we set up our tent and went into the woods again to get more firewood. Later that afternoon we went on a great adventure. Half of us took a trek through the forest using a bearing and the other half of the class just ran off to find what we were looking for. We went through bushes up hills and finally, reached our destination. It was a place called the Otter Slides, it’s a natural waterslide. We all went down having a very amusing time doing so, until it got a little old. A few of us went on a little venture and found a small cliff to jump off of. We weren’t sure if it was safe to go in there so we looked at it for about ten minutes. When we finally got Mr. Brouwer’s attention to see if we could go in there he just ran right off the cliff and jumped right in. We all followed and had a good time. This was probably my favourite part of the trip. That night was one of the best night’s I have ever spent camping. Half of the students took some food and made a fire over at the other site. At our site we enjoyed chocolate fondue using fruits and wafers cookies. We sat around and played games most of the night. One of the games we ended up playing is called Liar’s Dice. We played for a while making people who lost eat the extra wafer cookies(because we were sick of them) until we ran out. We wanted to keep on playing but there had to be incentive not to lose so Mr. MacDougall found a stick on the ground and hence “Lick the Stick” was created. It was a great game everyone enjoyed played and/or watching it.

Our third day is when the canoeing and portaging got harder. Our group had to cook all the meals on this day but, it wasn’t to bad . We had two good size portages but, we got through them. Before the last paddle we filled two canoes with fire wood and two people had to solo back. Tony and I were up to the challenge and paddled back. It was so different then being by yourself because not only were you steering the canoe you were moving it to. It was a good experience. When we got to our next campsite it was probably the coolest campsite I have ever seen. It had seat made out of rocks, It made you fell like you were a Flintstone. Our group had to cook all the meals on this day but, it wasn’t to bad. The spaghetti dinner got great reviews from all people. That night we had another entertaining night of Lick the Stick but this night people understood how to play and got right down to business.

Our last day was a sad one but also, a happy one. I was sad that it was finishing but, I was happy that I got to go home and take a shower. We didn’t start off on a very good note. I volunteered to navigate on this day. As soon as I got the map people were on the water asking where to go. I took a quick glance and told people to go in the wrong direction! We were paddling and realized that the teachers weren’t with us, they went the right way. On this day we had four very difficult portages. They were long and had very difficult terrain. When we finally got to the end we packed up our things and hopped on the bus then headed home.

All in all I think that it was a good trip. I had a lot of fun because I got to experience it with my girlfriend and some other friends. I realized that you don’t really know a person until you camp with them. I would like to thank Mr. Brouwer, Mr. MacDougall and Suzanne for making this trip possible and putting up with us. If I had the chance to do it all again I would, there were amazing memories on this trip that I know that I will never forget.

Tashers said...

Reflection (finally) by Tash

Well to be perfectly honest when the outdoor-ed trip came close I started to worry, not about canoing or portaging, more like were am I going to go to the bathroom and what am I going to drink, and all the what ifs that could possibly come up in my head. Well the “BIG” day was coming up, and I think I was checking the weather forecast every day hoping that it would not be raining or cold. So on the day , September 30th I head to school , after waking up 30 minutes late because the power was out in my area , so in my eye’s not off to a good start. So when I got to school my mom barded my hair in a French braid, then I finished packing everything up and collected life jackets. We were off , in a nice warm bus , the bus ride was very loud and busy, on the bus we played games, not all very appropriate, but fun none the least. When we got the first stop, to the little store, I ran out off the bus , and found the closest bathroom, or the closest thing to a bathroom. After we all looked around in the store we hopped back on the bus to go the lake were our Trip would start.When we got to our “leaving spot” Susan and I once again looked for a bathroom,then after we all packed our things on our canoe's and took our start of the trip's group shot, we all looked so happy, and excited. With the click of the camera we were off on our adventure.

We canoed for a while as the sun was shinning , the weather was perfected for our first day, when we go to our first portage, which was very short, we coffin carried our canoes then took another group shot of us on a dam, very exciting. As we canoed for another hour or so, we landed on our first campsite.
Everyone jump on land , happy that we had finally gotten there , and that no one a had tipped there canoe.We all headed to our sites , most of the boys one one site and the other students on the other site. Mostly everyone pitched in and set up there tents and looked for fire wood. It was time to make dinner,on our first night we had a stir fry that Derek,Jeff, Scott and Brad were to make, but some how I and two other girls ended up doing most of the work. During this preparation of dinner two students got in bit of an up roar and one of them got injured, so fortunelty i got to used my lifeguarding skills and treat them,fun for me not so much them.Lets just say that is the moment Mr.Brower realized what he got himself into. The dinner was O.K , but kinda watery, after dinner everyone played man hunt, excepted Nik and I , we just decided to eat mores and talk with the teacher about other students.

The second day came with an early morning, and it was very windy.Every one sat by the fire and waited while the val and jess made french toast,after breakfast we packed up our things for our second day on the water , as we coneoed to our next site, but before we new it tony had forgotten his knife on the island so of course they headed back as we waited for them to catch up as we got on our way , we canoed for a while then we got to our first portage of the day, then we connoed again,then got to our second site which was very nice,we again set up our tents and the boys went to there site, we made lunch we had grilled cheese and then we decided that today would be a good day to go the the waterfalls , so we canoed up the river not too far from our site and hiked to the falls, and some people decided to take another way, again testing Mr.Brouwer's temper,Jessica had hurt her ankle before on one of the portage's so helped her get there the hike as well as the student teacher Susan,when we finally made it to the falls we were all ready for a little water, the boy's were so over eager to show there “manliness” going down the falls head frist.After a while i decided to go down me and Allison went for it and it was fun , the water was very refreshing,we all relaxed in the water. After we had all had gotten prunie in the water, we headed back camp.When we got back to camp we started to prepare dinner,Jessica, Allison and I took a very nice nap as every one was getting every thing ready to cook. When i woke up dinner was ready,just my luck. After dinner every one cleaned there dishes and just sat around,when it started to get dark all the boy went to the second camp site, while the rest of us stayed at the first site , we played games, like lick the stick, which i didnt play because well , licking a stick every one else lick dosent really appeal to me. Then we realized that the boys from the other campsite had taken all of the gorp, so Mr.brower decided to make chocolate fondue , just for everyone that was there,so we all enjoy the the fondue as we walked in circle around the fondue so everyone could get a fair share. After that I headed to bed.

The Thrid day, we all woke up,my group had to wake up more early because it was our turn to make breakfast, we made oatmeal and English muffins,with fuirt.After breakfast, we all discussed what we had to do and were we where going , our coneoing was not that long but our portages were longer, so we all had to work together bring over the packs and coneoes when go to the end of our last portage we all collected fire wood to bring to our campsite,while Jess and McDougall headed to the site so that it was not taken, after all the wood was collected we had a snack and then headed to our last and final campsite we got to the campsite we all put up our tents and sat around and took a down day from doing anything , so that tomorrow we had lots of energy to take the long journey home.Some people took naps for the whole afternoon, we ate hot dogs and went swimming went around standing on coneoes and Derk and brad were tipping coneo's after they tipped me and Jessica's i went and tipped theres , after our swim we all sat and warmed up at the fire then next thing we knew it was time to make supper, my group made supper, we made spaghetti with Nik's mom's home made sauce. After dinner we played lick the stick and mr.brouwer made a chocolate cake.The other boys decided to go “make a fire” at another campsite across the lake, we played lick the stick for a while and it got pretty intense some people enjoyed it more than others,When the other boys were coming back from the “other camp fire” we all hide in the bushes quietly and then threw pin cones at them , scaring kelvin and brad a lot. After that we all headed to bed , personally i was not excited for the next day, Val decided to sleep without her sleeping bag our anything, I sleeped very good every night, with my ear plugs and eye mask, plus i cuddled us to Jessica to keep me warm.

We all woke up very early the next morning we ate breakfast very fast and packed up as quickly as we could, but we were still running late, after that we talked about where we were going me and Nik were the navigators and , well we head the wrong way because we were all trying to go in a hurry we did not communicate properly and so after we all finishes yelling at each other , we headed the right direction and we had to move fast so we could make the bus because we were running 30 min late at this point,so we all got to the portage and moved our but i was the first one to go threw the portage , i ran some of it so i could find the teachers so they new we were coming, then we all got the other end. At that point we were all mad at each other , especially Mr.Brouwer's he gave all of us quiet that talk, and i dont blame him because some people in our class were not exscatly helpful. We worked all day portaging and coneoing the last coneoing part was very long but very beautiful, with all the foal colours and the high cliff's when we were done our last portage , it started to rain and lightly rained till we got to the buses, we were all happy to see the bus, even though the trip was very fun, i was just happy to know i was hours a away from home,we ate a quick lunch then took our last group shot, which dosent look so convincing. Then we headed on the bus and look the long bus ride, everyone was talking for a about half an hour , after that everyone one was fast asleep.When we got to the school we realized how bad we smelt, i seriously forgot what clean smelt like, and the school smelt so good, we waited for the bus to come with all of our stuff, then me and Nik headed home.I sleeped so good that night.

The trip was very fun and rewarding, we got to do things that not a lot of other schools can't do. I learnt a lot about the outdoors, and about other people and not all in good ways. Well the trip was really fun , even though i wined a lot, i would still go back any day.