Sunday, October 18, 2009

Canoe Trip #2

The 2nd canoe trip started a little late, as the 1st trip took a bit longer than planned to come out from their last campsite. As the saying goes, better late than never and that seemed to be the philosophy of the group. Their goal was to be just as energetic on the final day as they were on this 1st day. That was quite a high standard, as they were flying on the 1st day. The portages went really smooth and quick, even if this was to be their longest day and all uphill.

We came through the Barron Canyon, Brigham Lake and to our campsite on Opalescent Lake in record time. The 1720 m of portaging never bothered the group. This was exemplified on the last portage as I watched 4 ladies work together on the last canoe, they hoped along singing, each with their own corner of the canoe, but the best was when they came upon a bridge and they all moved into the middle as if they had been portaging together for years. It was nice that after this day we came to a camp that was completely set up and stocked with wood by the last crew. We did have to move the tarps around a bit as the wind had shifted since the morning, but the benches and seats were just as comfortable.

The 2nd day seemed went just as smoothly. With a 650 m portage into Ooze Lake and a 300 m into High Falls Lake, the only thing to slow us down was a dubious bag count that left us wondering if we had all our gear with us. It seemed that we did and we enjoyed the great paddle across High Falls Lake. The final portage showed us how not to do a camping trip, as a school from Montreal was travelling in the opposite direction and had a tremendous amount of loose gear, including firewood bought at the gate of the park. I guess this was lucky for us, as we used the end of the portage to fill 3 canoes with firewood for our next campsite.

We had sent the boys cooking group to prep the grilled cheese sandwiches, while we were collecting firewood. Unfortunately, a few very large thunderstorms blew in as we were gathering firewood and as we started to paddle to our campsite, we were forced to get out of our canoes and hide in the bushes as one of these storms unleashed upon us. After convincing Ryan that it would be ok to continue (he had issues about paddling solo in an aluminum canoe with thunderstorms around), we quickly arrived at camp to find the cooking crew looking a bit shell shocked. Eventually we did manage to have some soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

The campsites we had wanted to take on St. Andrew Lake were occupied, which meant that we had to go to a new campsite and luckily for us, we found a beautiful one just around the corner. It was a bit of a peninsula that gave us many beautiful views of the lake. It also had a great open space around the fire, which gave us plenty of room to play a new version of 'lick the stick' during the next thunderstorm. This evening also saw the entire group get a 2nd wind around 10 pm, unusual for a group that has just finished their two toughest days. We figure this was the reason, because they had two days left with 2 portages totalling less than 70 m.

The next day was a very easy day as we hoped, skipped and jumped over to Stratton Lake. The weather was nice as the barometer stayed steady, giving us some sun and cloud with the odd sprinkle. The best was that the temperatures were quite mild, perfect for swimming at the water slides at High Falls. On this trip almost everyone went in. After our swim we explored High Falls and on the canoe trip back we loaded our canoes with wood. The perfect calm waters really showed off the fall colours that Algonquin Park is known for.

The final day was just a beautiful easy paddle across Stratton and Grand Lake back to Achray. The colour of the leaves was amazing and as promised the group finished with as much energy as that it had started with 4 days earlier. I think many wanted to turn around with me and do it all again. That said, we enjoyed our last few minutes at the beach as we waited for the bus to arrive.


R.Yuke said...

If there was one thing I learnt about being on a canoe trip, it would be that the "5 second rule" is completely thrown out the window.

The first day was our longest and hardest portage by far. Being the rookie that I was, it could have turned me off of canoe trips forever. We started with a nice paddle down Squirrel Rapids which wasn't as "rapid" as I expected. Our paddle was followed with a 750 metre portage. Thankfully I was able to hand off my canoe at mid point. A few portages later, we arrived at our campsite. It was a great site with nice spots for tents. It had a sweet dining area made out of rocks. Our first supper was beef tacos. It was my first taste of campfire food and it was fantastic. The sleep was what I expected it to be, cold and uncomfortable. I was used to my bed and not a root under my back. I was still a city slicker.

When morning came I welcomed it with open arms along with the breakfast that came with it. We had scrambled eggs and it was phenominal. A good breakfast set me up beautifully for the day ahead of me. The portages were not as long as the first day which made things much easier. Although that day was supposed to be easy, it was a day that gave me quite a scare. As you might have read, I was given the job of solo canoeing a bunch of wood in a aluminum canoe during a thunderstorm. If lightning hit me or even the water, I would have blown up. I was scared but I wasn't as scared as Mr.Brouwer led to believe in his post. I got off the water as quickly as possible and we took shelter until the storm passed. The campsite we had wasn't as nice as the first one, but this time there wasn't a root directly under my bed. We had grilled cheese and soup for lunch. Directly after lunch it began to pour and we spent our time under the fire tarp holding it up. This was where I had my first experience of "Lick the Stick". The name of the game says it all. That night we had delicious stir fry my group and I made. My sleep was better than before as I had begun to become one with the wilderness.

The next morning a breakfast of pancakes. Apparently the ones we made weren't up to Mr.Brouwer's standards as he yelled at us and made us make them his way. Cleaning up took us longer than we wanted it to so we got on the water a little late. Our group portaged and canoed like champs and made it to our campsite on time. Our third and final campsite was divided into two. My tent was located at the second campsite which was about 75 m from the one with the fire and our canoes. It was a decent campsite with lots of different places to explore. For lunch we had fajitas which we all loved. After lunch we went to High Falls which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. In my life, I had never been in water so cold. We went off a jumping rock and a natural water slide. I really enjoyed the swim and I had no regrets. After drying up and exploring the rest of the falls for a bit, we canoed back to our campsite. By nightime, everyone was pretty tired so many went to bed not long after our spaghetti supper. Despite sleeping on a slant with roots once again beneath me, I fell asleep right away. It was then that I realized I had become one with the wilderness.

On our last morning I was relieved to be going home and finally wash myself, but I was sad to leave the park. Our breakfast was pretty simple because we had a short day ahead of us. If there was one thing I'd miss most, it would be meals cooked over a fire. Our shortest portage was today. The paddle took us an hour and a half which was shorter than Mr.Brouwer anticipated. Our one portage was very short. It was a 35metre coffin carry which we did in no time. When we arrived at our final destination we met up and greeted the third canoe trip. We shared stories and our newly gained canoe trip knowledge. After, we went on to the bus and went home.

All in all I'd say our canoe trip was a real success. I really enjoyed the time I spent in the park. I gained many fond memories of great times and experiences while out canoeing.

Scott Nelson said...

Our canoe trip was better then expected and as the trip progress we truly feel in love with it all.

The views, the sounds, the smells ever thing was great, unless you count the long portages on our 1st and 2ed days, sleeping on hard ground, and the rain, but then again it just added to the effect of our canoe trip and made some great story’s… you had to be there.

Sitting by the fire was always the most fun for me, the stories people would tell, the predictions of the day to come, the joking, the list could go on and on.

I truly didn’t expect the trip to go so well as it did, like how we went in happy and came out happy as well, it was our goal and we did it.

Mallory239 said...

The scenery, the memories and the challenges at Algonquin Park were priceless. Trip #2 was eventful and the laughter never ended. My classmates and I were antsy to get going as we waited for trip #1 to canoe in. Us campers on trip #2, set one simple goal: to have the same energetic spirit throughout the trip.

We had our hardest day the first day. We used this to our advantage as we were so excited to be on the water. In my opinion, the 750 metre portage went very smoothly. I portaged a canoe and about three quarters way done, I had felt muscles I never felt before. Luckily, a friend was right behind me to switch off. This was the most challenging part of the trip. I pushed myself to a new level. I saw so many campers push themselves and have an unlimited amount of determination. When portaging, I found singing a song kept my mind off the pain and my destination point came closer a lot faster. However, once I had finished the portage, it still was not over. Many campers had gone back for another round and to switch off with friends. Barron Canyon was incredible and the campsite on Opalescent Lake was gorgeous. This campsite was not only the first we would stay at, but also my favourite campsite because the setting and structure was comfortable and useful.

After a decent night sleep, morning came fast. Scrambled eggs and oatmeal put everyone in a great mood. Somewhere after a few portages, we decided to take a quick rest. Snacks had never been so satisfying in my life. We collected wood and we hoped to be on the water before the rain poured but that did not happen. After the rain, we went to the next campsite on St. Andrew Lake.

The next day was joyful and the laughs continued. We arrived at the High Falls. The slides were outstanding. The water was extremely cold and after few slides in the water, I was done. My favourite part of the trip was exploring the High Falls. The water fall was so beautiful. Standing there with friends, I thought to myself that I may not ever be here in this spot ever again.

It was sad to see the final day come. We paddled across Stratton and Grand Lake. The colour of the leaves and the calmness of the lake was breathless. I was happy (and partially jealous) to see the new campers ready for trip #3. I wanted to tell them how hard the trip would be at times and how easily campers become cranky or all the memories trip #2 made, but I decided to let them enjoy their trip and to experience it for themselves.

I learned a lot of the canoe trip. I learned that there is no point to complain about the coldness or the wetness. I learned that grasping the memories and the scenery is very important. I learned that going back for another portage may be tough but it is rewarding whether anyone notices you go back or not. One thing I would change on my next trip is to try and be with different people and to have the chance the paddle with different campers. I look forward to my next canoe trip and at least now I will have a little more knowledge as to what to bring and what to expect!

AlexJesso said...

This canoe trip was probably one of the best high school experiences I’ve had yet. How could it not be? This trip had it all: canoeing, water slides, swimming in “hypothermia water”, singing the Shark Song, and of course, a fun-filled game of Lick the Stick. Twenty people get together and lick the same stick is certainly a bonding experience.

When we started the trip, we were so excited. We couldn’t wait to see the first trip come around the bend in the river so we could start our journey. The looks on the faces of those getting out of the canoes were priceless. They looked completely drained of both energy and enthusiasm. This inspired us to make a commitment; we would be just as energetic at the end of the trip as we were then.

Our first day was the most physically demanding day of my life. I don’t think I have ever been so tired and sore. Portaging really takes a lot out of you. The only thing that made those long treks up and down the winding portage trails was the dynamics of the group. Everyone did their part, and remained positive about it. People were laughing and had smiles on their faces no matter how tired they were. No one hesitated to lend a helping hand or provide an encouraging comment. By the time all of the gear was lugged to the end of the trail, there was an atmosphere of accomplishment. Portaging was a team effort, and somehow we managed to make it an enjoyable part of the trip.

The canoe route was absolutely beautiful. Seeing the autumn leaves reflected in the clean, sparkling water, and the massive canyon walls that surrounded the river was unreal. It was nice to be able to take our time paddling to really appreciate the splendor of the Canadian wilderness. We arrived at our first campsite in the knowledge that the worst was behind us, and that both the canoeing and the portages would only get easier from then on. Supper was scrumptious, if I do say so myself. My cooking group did a great job! After an interesting round of Chubby Bunny by the fire, we all turned in for the night. I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I was so tired I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The second day started off great as well. After a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs (again, way to go my cooking group!), we were off. This was the day we canoed on High Falls Lake. The scenery on that water was utterly breathtaking. I had a great time figuring out how to maneuver around the many rocks and logs that made this lake so superb. The portages weren’t as bad as the first day. On the final trail, I realized that we were lucky to have Mr. Brouwer’s tripping experience when I witnessed the other school’s unorthodox portaging technique. Having all of that loose gear would have made portaging unbearable.

After collecting wood at the end of the trail, we encountered a thunderstorm. Just like with the portages, my fellow camper’s turned something that was potentially miserable into something I really enjoyed. There’s no better way to bond with someone than to sit in the woods together in the middle of a thunder storm. Back at camp, a few of us decided to go for a swim. I have no idea what we were thinking. The water was so cold! I think we started losing sanity, but it was enjoyable none the less.

AlexJesso said...

The third day was just as easy as we had hoped. We went to the High Falls slide, which was incredible. I had no idea that natural water slides even existed. The view from the top of the waterfall was spectacular. The final night was my favourite moment of the canoe trip. We were all on two sites, and some of us left the fire to talk. We were joined by people I had never really met before. It was incredible. The group of us sat around the non-existent fire huddled in our sleeping bags and talked late into the night. It was amazing that we were able to form such a connection with such interesting people. I will always keep that night as a fond memory of this trip.

By the final day, I was excited to be going home to sleep on a comfortable bed, take a shower, and get back into my routine. By that time, I had lost the ability to care about dirt. I was also saddened to be leaving the park. The trip had been phenomenal. War paint on our faces, we set out on our last canoe route of the trip. A few renditions of “But there were sharks!” later, we had arrived at Achray. I was so proud of myself, and everyone else on Trip #2. It was amazing to step on the beach and think, “I just finished a four day canoe trip!”

I am so lucky to have gone on this trip. The group was amazing, and we definitely accomplished our goal. We were just as excited and enthusiastic at the end as we were at the beginning. Maybe more excited, since I don’t recall having ashes on my face setting out. I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Well, maybe a little less portaging, but nothing else! I would love to go on another canoe trip; it was the highlight of my Grade 11 year!

Thanks to everyone on Trip #2, you’re all incredible!

AlexJesso said...

My reflection was too long, so I split it in two. Sorry!

Claire said...

The canoe trip was one of the most fun, yet hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It was an amazing experience, I met a lot of great people and got to know people I’ve known for years a lot better.
The first day was very exciting because we still had so much energy but also very hard. There was 1500 meters of portaging that day, two 400 meter portages and the long 750 meter portage. After the first one, there was a long canoe through the Barron Canyon. The paddle through the Barron Canyon was beautiful and fun. Then there was the 750 meter portage, having realized earlier that day that I couldn’t carry canoes very well I grabbed one of the barrels. The barrel felt like it weighed more than I did and after walking 50 meters I tripped and fell. I managed to get up and kept walking for another 100 meters when I fell again. After that Marc took the barrel from me so I went back for a pack. The pack was definitely an improvement because even though it seemed to take an hour I managed to trudge all the way to the other side. All in all it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
The camp site at Opalescent Lake was worth it though. It had a fantastic fire area with luxurious stone benches complete with backrests. Our group cooked tacos for dinner and then we sat around the fire and ate a bag of marshmallows.
After a fitful sleep on the rocks our group got to make breakfast. Then we had another long day. The portages were pretty hard and I started to think of paddling as a time to relax. The last portage was 600 meters and then we got to collect wood. Collecting wood was one of the fun things for me on the trip because we got to walk through the woods and notice all the things we missed when we were portaging. We collected wood alone for while then went to help Mr. Brouwer with some really big branches. Jumping on branches and breaking them is a very self satisfying job. After that we started paddling to the campsite. We heard thunder when we were on the water so we paddled to shore and took cover under some rocks. When it stopped for a while we paddled to the campsite quite quickly and passed within a few feet of a loon. We set up camp and ate lunch, then got some tarps up in time for the downpour. Then we all stood by the fire holding up the tarp, eating chocolate chips, and playing lick the stick. When the rain stopped we ate dinner and then some crazy people went swimming. The next morning we had pancakes, and then got on the water. The portage that day was a 45 meter joke compared to the other ones. We got to the campsite with plenty of time to spare. That afternoon we went to High Falls and the slide. I was one of three people not to go so I watched. The fun part of that for me was seeing the others convince some kids from another school to slide down. We explored the High Falls area then got some fire wood on the way back to camp. That night we had pasta and garlic for dinner then sat around the fire for hours before going to bed. The last day everyone was kind of out of it and there was some yelling but we managed to get on the water in good time. There was some easy paddling across Stratton Lake, then to the dam where we coffin carried the canoes across.
The final paddle across the last lake was hard and we passed some people who I could have sworn were not moving but we all made it eventually. Trip 3 got to the beach a little while after that and we talked to them a bit and got some funny looks before loading up the bus and going home.
The most fun part of the trip for me was sitting around the fire. Whether we were playing chubby bunny, licking a stick, or just telling stories and talking, those were definitely the most enjoyable moments of the trip. The only thing I would have changed would be the weather. Even though we seemed to have the best weather of all three trips it was still cold, so I would like to try the trip during the summer when it is warmer. The whole trip was a fantastic experience and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

bee said...

There was a boy, and a girl, in a canoe, saw a lake, wanted to swim, so they dove in, and we swam out into the freezing water. Okay so there weren’t any sharks on trip two but there was everything else!
We stated out in high spirits which couldn’t be diminished no matter how many games of “I’m going on a picnic” or crossed uncrossed we had to play waiting for trip one to arrive, or by the looks on their fallen faces as they told us how much they wanted a shower and how we were going to hate it. We made it our goal right then and there to be as energetic and enthusiastic at the end of the trip as the start. We took that with us through our 1720m of portaging that day. The day went by extremely quickly and easily considering we had both our longest portage and our longest paddle to go through. I’m so glad we had the hardest day first because we had a good night’s sleep and non-aching bodies to help us. The portages were nowhere near as hard as I expected it to be and our group worked together amazingly even if it meant four of us on one canoe. The scenery was amazing and Renee taught us all about the features of the land. We got to the first campsite which was already set up for us, a nice treat, and my group started supper. After yummy tacos, remember a cheese grater because grating cheese without a cheese grater is extremely difficult, and a game of fluffy bunny I called it a night and went to bed. I fell asleep right away not realizing how tired I was or how the day had been.
The next morning came way too quickly and I felt the effects of the first day’s activities and sleeping on the ground sink in as sleep tried to pull me back in. I’m glad I woke up because the sun rising on the lake is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. My group made breakfast, a scrambled omelette, one of my own creations and we packed up eager to get back on the water. I found day two the hardest because although there were fewer portages which were shorter I was sore and it felt longer. I really pushed myself on the portages on this day taking both our body bag and the wannigan on one portage. Our group did just as well on the second day only losing energy once which a quick jube jube break fixed. A great part of day two was on the last portage as I watch a girl from another school carry a frying pan down the portage trail, nothing but a frying pan. The boys went to site to start grilled cheese for lunch and the rest of us went to find fire wood. On the way back a thunder storm started complete with lightening so we had to go to shore and hide under trees and rocks until it ended. I thought it was a great bonding experience. We made it back to site, set up tarps and stood under them holding sticks to keep the top up and played our version of lick the stick. This is one of my favourite memories of the trip, looking at everyone’s grossed out faces as they licked the same stick as everyone else and ate a huge bag of chocolate chips. After this all sanitization rules went out the window. After the thunder storms stopped four of us decided it was a good idea to go swimming while waiting for supper, it was probably the worst idea ever. We were slowing going crazy and started singing everything from Hannah Montana to “She Thinks My Tractors Sexy” as we watched the sun set and the fog roll in on the lake. I was so cold I couldn’t feel things touching me so when I came out I had giant cuts and bruises, it was so fun! The stir fry we had for supper was the best thing I have ever tasted even though I didn’t like half the things in it. After dinner we sat around the fire then drafted off to bed more tired than I thought possible.

bee said...

The third day promised to be even better then the first two, if that was even possible, with only one short portage and a trip to a natural water slide. The chocolate chip pancakes were fluffy and delicious even if Mr. Brouwer didn’t think so. We made it to the site in no time, set up and made fajitas for lunch. This site had my favourite kitchen site up and I got to try solo canoeing for the first time as I traveled from my sleeping site to the cooking one. After lunch we went to check out High Falls which was like nothing I have ever seen before. Almost our whole group went down the rock water slide and cliff jumping. The water was so cold it shocked your body and I forgot how to breathe and swim. Mr. Brouwer even somehow managed to climb back up the water slide. I have never been at a lower point in my life then when I scaled the rock wall to get a fudgeo. After we explored the water fall and caves in the forest. We had so much fun I didn’t realize it was raining. We went to find some fire wood which had Mr. Brouwer literally climbing trees then back to site for a great supper of spaghetti and garlic bread. A bunch of us went to the other site, curled up in sleeping bags around the fire pit and talked until like three in the morning. It was an amazing day!
The final day came way too soon. We had a quick breakfast of bagels, oatmeal, crescent rolls and fruit loops, which Sam couldn’t seem to keep in his bowl; they taste better off the ground anyway. We packed up for the final time and paddled to our take out place. We made it there with time to spare so we ran around with our war paint and fruit loops waiting for trip three to arrive.
The thing I enjoyed most, which was a really hard decision for me to make, was the bus ride home. I was talking with people who I would have never met if it wasn’t for the canoe trip, eating the leftover food in weird combinations (like salami and graham crackers), laughing and having a really great time. I found the 650 portage on the second day where I carried both the wannigan and the body bag the most challenging. There is nothing I would do to improve my experience the whole trip was incredible and the people were even better. I would definitely do another canoe just like this one!

samoneillmapleleafs#1 said...

The water was calm we were all so excited everyone waited and watched for the first group to arrive. Little did we know group ones struggles would soon be ours. Our bags were packed we hopped in our canoes, we were ready for three days of fun and games. So I thought, I soon realized that portaging, cooking and cleaning was not what my examples of fun and games were. Although those parts of the trip were not the best, I definitely had fun hanging out with everyone and just getting to know people.
A day of fun, a long walk down a narrow trail through the bush arriving at what I thought was paradise. I stepped out on to the top ledge of the slide, my feet already numb. I sat down, already feeling the ice cold water rushing past me. Sliding down the rock was like a blast of adrenaline flowing through my body. As I hit the water my first reaction was to swim as fast as I could out of the water. I had realized everybody else had reacted the same way. I was a floating duck in arctic like temperature water. The slide was by far the most fun I had on the trip. The trip was very well run but if I had to change anything I would have preset menus. Although I thought the meals were delicious too many people had negative comments about them and the people cooking them. If we were told what to make and we weren’t given a choice to make whatever we wanted people would have to understand to live with what was given to them. The trip was exciting and fun for the most part, but the portaging just started to get annoying after a while. It had to get done though, and we all went through that pain.
Land was ahead my eyes had set on a location on the beach; I was ready to go home, tired from exhaustion and filthy my body ached. Waves were crashing from the left a twenty minute paddle felt like hours. The lake was deceivingly large. Finally we had made it ready to go home. A fun game of football with the boys was a great way to end the three day event packed trip.

Anonymous said...

The biggest thing i learnt out in the woods for 4 days was everything tastes 100 xs better!

Driving on the bus to Algonquin all of us were hyped up and ready to go. We ended up being restless when we were waiting for the late first trip students to come in. When they came in they warned us that our hardest day would be our first but that didn’t get our spirits down and we went off with high hopes. I felt that our portages went by very smoothly and everyone did there share. First camp was my favorite set up. The rock couches were extremely comfortable, although our tent being “conveniently” set up for us already turned out to have all the roots in a mile under just our tent.

The next morning the eggs were a great start to a good day. We had some fun maneuvering through some rocky patches. Yes there was an easier way with fewer rocks but what fun is that? One part I found difficult on that day was trying to get up the steep cliff with the canoes, but we all managed to do it in one piece. As some of us stayed to collect wood after our final portage wile the others went back, we were hulled off the water by the intense thunder and lighting ending up huddling under a rock. That night we had a nice game of lick a stick wile Mal and I Multitasked to keeping us dry. My group did cooking that night and might I say we maid a delicious stir fry.

The third day was my favorite with a total of 70m of portaging. This is the day we went to the water slides. The water was absolutely freezing but the air was nice and semi warm so it was in and out as quick as possible. The bum slides were my favorite part. We also explored the waterfall, making our way down to the bottom. Caitlyn and I had an adventure getting back up, finding a secret cave and tunnel. I went to bed fairly early that night because I was exhausted from all the fun things we did. That was my best night sleep.

The last day was quick and easy, arriving quite a bit before the next trippers arrived. We had arrived with just as much energy as we started with which was our initial plan. It was nice seeing the next load of people come and see them all clean. As we watched them leave I wished I could be heading back out with them for another round. All an all, I loved our trip and gained many skills and I defiantly plan do it again.