Monday, May 24, 2010

Algonquin Park Canoe Trip - Spring 2010

The Spring 2010 Algonquin Canoe Trip was an amazing 4 days in the Canadian Wilderness with absolutely perfect weather. It was blue skies and smooth sailing (well, mostly smooth sailing). Apart from a few bugs, a missed lunch, no salsa for the fajitas, lost pair of glasses and, oh ya I almost forgot, an extreme game of manhunt (literally), the trip was amazing.

This time of year is always great to travel in Algonquin Park, as it is quiet because most people don't like the unpredictability of the weather (only 7 days earlier it snowed all weekend) and the blackflies can be challenging. On the other hand, this time of year can also surprise you with 25 C degrees and only moments of bugs. We were fortunate enough on this trip to have the latter.

Our trip started Saturday morning as all the students gathered at the school around 8:00 AM to do the final packing and loading the bus. After a 3 hour bus ride, we arrived at Achray on Grand Lake, it was surprisingly cool, as the weather forecast was predicting very warm temperatures all week. We were not complaining, as there were no bugs. We made our way across Grand Lake to our very 1st portage, which was a quick carry around a dam. This led us to Stratton Lake and our 1st campsite, which was on a beautiful point near the end of the lake.

I would like to say that we set up our tents had a wonderful dinner and then had a peaceful night, but I would be missing one of the biggest adventures of our trip. The set up was good, our fajita dinner was wonderful (especially the apple crisp dessert), but the evening entertainment got a little out of hand. Some of the boys decided to play manhunt, the extreme version. After spending about an hour chasing each other into the dark wilderness, they realized on of their own, Braden, was missing. A quick search was done of the camp and surrounding trails without success. This forced us to quickly mobilize a search party and with 10 of us armed with flashlights, compass, GPS and our voices we went to find Braden. Using a grid search pattern, we headed into the dark wilderness and it took about an hour and about 500 m deep into the wilderness Braden was found. It seems he was running so hard from his enemy in the game that he got turned around and couldn't figure out which way camp was.

I am glad to say that we did manage to get a good night of sleep after that and we awoke to perfect blue skies and a sun that warmed things up very quickly. After a scrambled egg breakfast we had a leisurely departure (11:00 AM) to our next campsite on St. Andrew's Lake. This being a very short distance to travel, it set things up nicely for us to have a great pizza lunch and an afternoon of swimming at the water slides at High Falls. The slides didn't disappoint, a little chilly, but when you get this kind of beauty to yourself, it is always special (and fun). The day finished with hamburgers and hot dogs, and a perfect calm evening of paddling with beavers and many stars.

Our first real day of portaging began like the last one started, perfect skies with a wonderful pancake breakfast. We were on the water by 9:30 AM, ready to tackle 3 portages, which would take us through High Falls Lake, Ooze Lake, and finishing on Opalescent Lake. The group was very efficient through the portages and made it to our campsite by lunch with our wood collected on the last portage (this was also the buggiest spot on the trip). This made for a very relaxed afternoon of snoozing, swimming, gunnel bobbing, and playing cards (Sakiko showing Ryan how it is done). Our lunch this day was grilled cheese, which was followed by a spaghetti dinner with muffins made in orange peels as dessert.

The relaxation of the last afternoon was well needed, as our last morning required a very early start as we had to complete the trip by 11:30 AM. The morning would see us complete the most portages in a day yet, with 4, including our longest portage of 740 m. The plan was to be on the water and moving by 7:30 AM and we were moving by 7:29 AM, pretty impressive for a group of teenagers. The portages all went smoothly and quick and we were able to enjoy the cliffs of the Barron Canyon. We arrived at our take out at 11:30 AM, just in time for the bus to pick us up. All in all, great weather, not too many bugs, good food and a wonderful group to share this adventure with.


Taylor said...

This trip was my second canoe trip, and my second time ever camping. This round I knew what to expect and was a bit more prepared, knowing what was ahead of me. I packed lighter and had everything that I needed with me to handle the weather.

Though I went on a canoe trip last year, I was not prepared for the amount of bugs. Last trip I went during the fall when the weather was cold and all I had to do was worry about staying warm. This trip turned out to be a challenge as I tried to stay cool, while also covering as much skin as possible from the bugs. The bugs were the most irritating and the least enjoyable part of the trip.

The food for the most part was enjoyable, and my cooking group worked as a good team to prepare things quickly and easily. Lauren and I also did our dutch oven assignment the first night, making apple crisp. It turned out to be great considering we orginally forgot to add butter and had to add it in half way through the cooking.

I had the joy of being in a three person canoe, and had the chance to take a day off. The second day, my day off was my favourite day of the trip as I could relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Algonquin Park. As a team of three, Lauren, Nicole and I all took our turns sitting, and our turns in the front and back of the canoe. Also as a tent group, and cooking group, the three of us worked together to set up our tent, prepare meals, and get across portages. Both were easy to work with and made the trip an enjoyable experience.

At some points the portages were challenging, as I carried a canoe the majority of the time, switching off with Lauren when either of us got tired. There were some scares on two of the portages though. On one portage I managed to fall twice with the canoe of my shoulders, after tripping over an insolate pad and hitting the back end of the canoe on a rock and having it bounce off my shoulders. Another scare was while the canoe slipped off my shoulders and was laying on my back all the while I was standing close to the edge of a drop off. Thanks to Akeem for saving me.

Overall the trip was fun, enjoyable, and yet another great experience. I'm glad I did it again and made it though with mild wounds. Being sick was a downer, but I showed myself that I could pull through otherwise. I miss the smell of the outdoors, and I plan to go back to Algonquin Park again some day.

AlexW said...

I had been to Algonquin many times before but this trip was my first time doing a canoe trip so I was pretty excited. Our first day was pretty short and most people took things pretty easy. My canoe had three people in it so after our little portage we rotated and I got the opportunity to sit in the middle and relax. We got to the campsite and set up and then had a delicious dinner of fajitas and apple crisp. That nights entertainment was lick the stick which I had never played before, but I quickly got into the game and ended up licking the stick a couple times. Not long after going to bed I heard people calling for Braden but I was too tired to find out what was going on. In the morning I learned that while playing manhunt Braden had gotten lost and it had taken about an hour to find him.

That morning we got off to a slow start and did not leave until about 11am so it was a good thing that we had another short day. We got to our second campsite around lunch time and my group made pizzas, I was really happy with how the group worked together making and then cleaning up our meal. After that we made our way to High Falls and the water slide. It was really chilly in the water but I still went down a couple times and had a lot of fun. We had hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner and then had a relaxing evening around the campfire.

The third day was one the first one we had a lot of portaging and we got off to a much earlier start than the previous day. The portages were pretty good and people did well with going back to make sure everything was brought across and we managed to do it pretty quickly as well. We got to our campsite pretty early and had a nice lunch of grilled cheese. The campsite was the nicest on that we stayed at and had some rock chairs that were much more comfortable than sitting on logs. We spent the afternoon swimming and playing cards, and slaps. That night me, James and Ahmad decided to sleep right on the beach since it was rock and there were a lot of stars out. I was a little worried about the bugs but they went away pretty much when the sun went down and I was really glad I decided to stay out.

The last day we had a very early morning leaving at 7:30, I was very surprised that everyone managed to get up and get ready to go that early. We had a couple long portages but everyone worked well and even with a stop to look for a lost pair of glasses and a geochache we still managed to make it to the take out at 11:30.

Overall I had a very good experience on the trip, the weather was fantastic and even the bugs weren't that bad although at the time they seemed horrible. I really hope to do another canoe trip sometime and I will definitely go camping again.

BuckShot said...

Usually I would describe any weekend that caused me to return smelling like smoke, looking like garbage and tasting only bark as a disaster, but in this case it was the best trip yet.

This was my second canoe trip in the last two years, so i knew what to expect going in. I felt confident because we had spent the previous weeks canoeing on the Ottawa River, planning out our route, menu and sleeping arangements. We were set to leave on Saturday morning at 8 meaning I had to wake up at 630, a time which I previously had believed to be only a myth.

When I arrived at school the gear needed to be packed aswell as the food barrels and loaded onto the bus, the canoes also had to be loaded and secured, needless to say everyone was busy. I decided to load the canoes and was instructed to use the truckers hitch a knot which I have used many times since. We finally departed right on schedule.

Arriving at Algonquin I was determined to be much more helpful than I had been on the previous trip and focus more on helping others rather than just taking care of myself. The trip got off to a flawless start with a gentle first day of paddling along with a great campsite and some tasty fajitas. Night 1 involved a great game of lick the stick that was quickly interupted by a quick search for Braden, but back to lick the stick I won....

Many of the nights proceeded just like the first, minus the manhunt, with the usual collecting of fire wood, campsite setup and food preperation. This trip was much more enjoyable because of a better group dynamic and better planning. Work was done when work needed to be done which left much more free time to whittle spears and rescue handicapped newts.

My favourite part of the trip was once again the trip to the Otter Slide at High Falls where a real life rescue of Ahmad and a high stakes game of Japaneese Hand Hitting composed the highlight reel. Another new highlight for me was the paddle through the Baron Canyon which was peaceful and impressive and demonstrated the natural features of the area.

Thank you to our helpers Hannah and Katie aswell as Mr Brouwer and Mr Vezina who helped this be the best Canoe Trip to date and as Mr Brouwer himself said a "10/10".

birchy14 said...

Camping is something everyone should get to experince. It has so many things that you just dont get in your everyday life and it provides that nice well deserved break. I remember camping when I was maybe 10 and loveing every moment of it. So I knew that this trip would be nothing less than what I experinced as a child.
The day of the trip we had to be at the school around 8, and that night was also realy for life, which ended at 12 but I didnt get to bed by 12 40 and having to wake up at 6, it didnt provide me with much rest. So, tired and hungry we packed up the trailer and loaded the bus. A few hours later we were all on the water and headed to our campsite for the night.
Through 3 nights and 4 days there I had some of the best times ever. I was really surprised that the food was as good as it was and that there was enough for everyone. The portages were not to hard and if anything they were good excersie, although I think I could have gone without doing a 1km portage for no reason at all. The water was absoultely freezing and I am not a fan of cold water, but I still went done the slide and jumpped of the rocks.
In the end, it was a great escape from my ordinary life. I will definetly try and go camping more often and if I get a chance to do this again, I would even think twice.

kiko said...

This 4 days canoe trip became my unforgettable memory. I am sure none of my friends in Japan can image how wonderful it was. Weather, members, foods, nature… everything was amazing.

On Saturday, I was on water with a little concern because of my paddle skill. Needless to say, it was the first time to try canoeing; besides I often sat in the middle of the canoe and did nothing when we had practiced paddling on Ottawa River before. However, it was not as bad as I had worried, so I was relieved. Honestly speaking, I did not know what fajita is until that evening, but I found it is a nice meal. After supper, I joined the entertainment “liar dice” and ended up licking the stick, which also my first experience.

Next day, I sat in the middle most of time and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Algonquin Park including High Fall. My group made pizza for lunch and pancake for next morning. We worked together from preparing to clean up, and the foods turned out good.

The third day and last day, I paddled with Mr. Brouwer. He was absolutely a great paddler! Portages were challenge for me. Knowing my poor strength, I packed my back very light, but mine was gone somewhere so I carried backpacks at random. Some of them were so heavy for me, but I managed to carry all way thanks to cheer of many people. I was surprised to see some people carry a backpack and a canoe at the same time. We got to the last campsite with a lot of wire woods and had relaxed afternoon. I learned solo canoeing, which was peaceful and went with my easygoing character. After a spaghetti dinner, I played card with Ryan. The rule was a little different from what I knew, but I enjoyed and beat him! Later, I played other games in the darkness with a flashlight and had a good time. The Barron Canyon I went through last day overwhelmed me. I was moved the large scale of Canadian nature and wondered how long it took to make that shape.

Overall, I had a great experience on the trip (except mosquito bites which still itch). I will try to ask somebody the real name of Japanese Hand Hitting after I come back. This game will keep reminding me of this trip whenever I play. I want to say thank you for everyone who made this trip enjoyable.

AllieDee. said...

Although I was sadly unable to attend the Algonquin park canoe trip I was informed by many friends that it was an incredible time. I truly wish I could have shared the experience. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to go on a canoe trip similar to the one our class has done.

After talking to some of the students in our class I discovered that the bugs were definitely a major downside the trip, but not unbearable. I knew that the weather was fantastic, and even though the water was freezing almost everyone swam and enjoyed flipping their canoes as well as sliding down the rocks. I was also told, by Taylor, that those who didn’t get in the water took advantage of the sun by tanning on the warm rocks by the shore. She also told me that her favourite parts of the trip were relaxing in the canoe on her day off, enjoying the nature, and of course the food.

One of the things I was most jealous of for their trip was the food, as I was there the day before helping to organize it. Cara said her favourite meal was the pancakes and many people told me that Taylor and Laurens Dutch oven apple crisp was to die for. I was happy that I was at least able to contribute to the trip by baking four loafs of banana bread for everyone to snack on.

Some of the stories from the trip that I found the most entertaining were the giant game of man hunt where Braden got lost and the ridiculous game of “lick the stick”. Personally I would have a very hard time with licking a stick that everyone else’s saliva is on and would probably not have been able to play! I also laughed when I was told that Sakiko had carried more weight on the trip then some of the men. Although her strength was not a surprise, the image of her carrying all the bags beside a guy carrying nothing was pretty funny.

I wish that I could have been there to enjoy every moment with each person on the trip and I’m very upset that I missed out on such an amazing experience, it was what I had been looking forward to all year. I will definitely go camping again soon and will try to organize a trip of my own with my friends. I’m glad everyone had a fantastic time and I hope you all enjoyed the banana bread!

sparkling salamander said...

I had been looking forward to going on the canoe trip for a long time, but when I found out it was on the same weekend as the Perth triathlon, I was a little upset. I was signed up for the triathlon with my mom and heather and we had been training for a while. I decided that I could do the triathlon the next year, and the canoe trip was more important.

We left the Saturday morning after Relay for life, so most of us were pretty tired already. The first day of paddling was relaxing, and we only had one short little portage around a dam. Our group was the cooking that night and Taylor and I also made apple crisp in the Dutch oven for dessert. It was really good except we forgot salsa for the fajitas and didn’t remember to add butter to the apple crisp until half way through. After supper, we played lick the stick, which was a game I had heard about but never knew how to play. It was a fun game even though I had to lick the stick a lot, and I didn’t really completely understand the rules until the last night.

Some of the best parts of the trip I thought were the swimming, even though the water was a little chilly. The high falls were a hoot, and even though I had been there before I never saw the other beautiful waterfalls close by which were amazing. Swimming at our campsite the last day was a lot of fun catching tadpoles, flipping the canoes, and finding the jumping rocks with Hannah and Katie. That was also the day I beat Mr. Brouwer in a swimming race, even thought I don’t think he knew we were racing.

Me, Nicole and Taylor went out in a canoe most nights after supper, and one night we even saw a beaver and we tried to follow him for a about half an hour, but he didn’t really like us because he kept smacking his tail on the water. We were lucky to be in a three person canoe, because each day one of us got a break and sat in the middle. The three of us worked well together and they are both fun, easy going people to be around so we got along great.

Overall, the food was amazing, the portages weren’t as painful as I thought they would be and we all got along great and worked well as a team. Thankfully we also came back with same number of people we left with! I had an amazing time and I would have loved to stay out in the wilderness for longer. I was also definitely exhausted after the trip because I ended up falling asleep at 5 and not waking up until 7 the next morning!

CODEMAN said...

The weekend of the Outdoor Ed. canoe trip was one I had been really looking forward to. I was highly anticipating all the fun I'd have because I've heard nothing but good stories from my friends who had participated in previous trips. Needless to say it was worth the wait and everything I thought it would be.

This was my first canoe trip and first time camping so intensely. Other camping trips I had been on included driving to Applebees for dinner, but that wasn't the case this time.

I came prepared but really underestimated the number of bugs, I've never been so itchy in my life. But overall it was an amazing time, the first day I quickly got into the groove of paddling and portaging with Ryan. The scenery was amazing, I was blown away by the Canadian surroundings. The second and third days were very fun but challenging in some areas as portaging on rocky terrain can be a pain. My favorite part of the trip, however, was swimming at Otter Falls, that was so sick; the natural water slide was really awesome.

The food during the entire trip was delicious too, I think I ate better out in the wild then I do at home on a daily basis. The meals provided more than enough energy to conquer the paddles and portages.

The weather was gorgeous, the company was awesome and witnessing the beauty of Algonquin Park was a great experience. Even though I had to lick the stick a couple times the trip was still a blast.

Yoboyjc said...

This was my first ever canoe trip at cw and my first time camping. I really didn't know what to expect on this trip. I packed pretty lightly hoping for good weather.

The weather was great as I hoped but it was also springtime therefore there was a lot of bugs. Apart from the bugs the trip was a great success.

I loved the food maybe it tasted so good because I'd been working hard all day or maybe it really just tasted that great. My team cooked burgers and a pretty delicious breakfast consisting of eggs hash browns and bacon.

Canoeing was a great experience it was pretty slow going at first but by the second day I had the hang of it. I partnered up with Braden for most of the trip and was in the back most of the time> I found sterring a lot easier then paddling.

The best part of the day was definitely once it got dark I stayed up pretty late every night and it was definitely worth it. Getting up wasn't as hard as I expected although I think the effects of lost sleep caught up with me on day four.

All in all i had a great time but ive decided I'm not really the camping type thanks for a great trip Mr. B!

captain brown said...

The canoe trip was a great experience especially because I didn't attend last year’s canoe trip. Although I wasn't able to bring my DVD player I found other alternative methods to have fun on this trip. The most memorable part for me was when I said "The fire is bigger then Joe."

Paddling on the water was pretty challenging for the most part. I was able to keep control when I was in the front of the canoe but when I decided to go in the back the canoe didn't move at all so that was a good learning experience.

I strongly believe that the food that we made was quiet phenomenal and we worked pretty well as a group to prepare the food for everyone.

Overall I enjoyed the canoe trip for the most part I strongly believe that everyone has to experience this as well.