Sunday, October 3, 2010

Algonquin Park Canoe Trip

On September 23, the grade 11's, headed to Algonquin Park for a 4-day canoe trip. It was a trip where we really didn't know what to expect, especially when it came to the weather. When we started at Achray on Thursday afternoon, the predictions were that it should start raining at any moment and that we would get 30 - 50 mm in the next 48 hours. All we could do was hope that it wouldn't be as bad as it sounded.

Things started out great, with little wind, we easily made our way across Grand Lake and Stratton Lake. With a few drops falling, we checked out a few campsites, before settling on a nice point on Stratton Lake. The rains held off until we had our tents set up, the cooking tarps in place and firewood collected. This allowed us to make our 1st dinner, Chicken Stir Fry, under a nice shelter protected from the rains, which did start to pick up as predicted. With the intensity of the rain and the fact that it lasted all night, we quickly found out which tents were made to endure and which were not. By morning, a number of tent groups were quite wet to say the least. A bit worrisome, considering the predictions were for an entire day of similar rains.

As so often happens when in the outdoors, the predictions are worse than reality. By 6 am the rain stopped and by 9 am we were hanging our wet gear in the sun to dry. With the luxury of time, we decided to stay put at our great campsite to dry out people's sleeping bags and clothes. The day was spent gathering enough firewood to last the winter, baking panzerotti's, learning about predicting weather without technology, and a trip to High Falls to enjoy the natural waterslide. With the sun providing a nice temperature, most students spent quite a bit of time enjoying themselves. The evening was topped off with spaghetti and chocolate cake.

The next day we travelled via St. Andrew's Lake, High Falls Lake and Ooze Lake to our last campsite on Opalescent Lake. It was our 1st real taste of portaging and the group didn't disappoint, although most found it quite challenging. This was especially true on the last portage, as we saved the longest for last. We also used this portage to collect plenty of firewood, which allowed us to relax on the beautiful benches on this great campsite. With the tarps providing a shelter from the wind and the odd sprinkle, we enjoyed soup with freshly baked croissants for lunch. Dinner also didn't disappoint, as we stuffed ourselves with taco's. This was followed by a wonderful display of stars, as the sky was completely clear when we headed to bed.

Expecting to have an amazing day to finish our trip, this was the only predicted sunny day, we woke up early in the rain. Altough it drizzled pretty much the entire time, the group made easy work of our biggest portage day of the trip. We were scheduled to meet the bus by noon and we managed to get there pretty close to the expected time, and this while still enjoying the 100-metre high cliffs of the Barron Canyon. All in all, a great trip, especially when it came to the weather..

11 comments:

MKFitz said...

As someone who goes camping quite frequently, I thought I would be quite prepared for what was to come. I was wrong. I was still prepared after what we went over in class, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come.

The first day started off very well in my opinion, especially since we didn’t do any big portages. I wish, however, that we had gotten the worst out of the way first, because I was nowhere near expecting what was to come a couple days later.

The rest of the evening went smoothly, although I wasn’t impressed when I saw the thunder box… Our cooking group, which I thought worked very well together, was the first to prepare a meal. We cooked up some chicken stir-fry, which already had its ingredients set up thanks to Jesse, who prepared it the night before. It was nice only having to throw everything into a pot to cook it.

That night was the worst of them all. We made the mistake of not putting a tarp under our tent, and so we got pretty wet. I ended up putting on my rain jacket and splash pants and sleeping on top of my sleeping bag. I was in for a rough, cold night.

The next morning brought a little more happiness as the sun came out and I was able to dry my sleeping bag for the next night. I definitely learnt an important lesson: always put a tarp under your tent! I was also happy to have Mr. Brouwer help put up a tarp over our tent, ensuring a drier night. Friday was probably my favourite day because there was no portaging as we didn't have to move campsites. Instead, we headed over to High Falls to check out the waterslide! This was my favourite activity of the trip. Even though it was extremely cold, I had a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the beautiful view from the top of the waterfall. The next best part was to come after our dinner of spaghetti: the greatest chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

The following day was probably the hardest of them all. With both of the first days not requiring much hard work, the intensity of the third day was extremely overwhelming. I found the portages difficult as I don’t really have much upper body strength, but I tried to carry as much as I could. Having the hardest and longest portage of the day at the end was pretty brutal as well. I was ready to break down and just lay on the ground and sleep. Thankfully, a lot of the guys had my back and helped me out when I needed it. After we finally arrived at our new campsite, I was starting to wonder if it was all worth it. I never wanted to carry another pack or canoe ever again. Portaging was my least favourite part of the trip by far.

The next day was of course rainy again. We were in for our longest portage, and had a time limit. We inhaled some English muffins, packed everything up and set off for Squirrel Rapids. For whatever reason, I was in a really good mood… Maybe it was because I had a good night’s sleep and some great food.

Our longest portage of the trip was the first one, and after that, everything else just seemed a lot easier. It was really too bad we didn’t have more time to spare, there was a lot of really nice scenery I wish I could have gotten a better look at.

The bus ride home was probably one of the most relieving times of the whole trip. I knew I could just sit and relax for a while and not have to worry about getting wet or carrying something. Then finally getting home and getting clean was nice too.

While I was on the trip, I found myself questioning whether or not I would want to do it again, and looking forward to coming home, but as soon as we got back, I was wishing we were still out there. Of course I enjoyed the luxuries of being back in a civilized area, but while we were in Algonquin Park, I found it extremely peaceful and relaxing to be away from the rush of my everyday life. There is no doubt I would do it again, as long as I can sleep in a tent instead of a puddle!

CWXflames said...

the trip was scheduled earlier that i would have thought, i didn't know what to think or what to expect.
the canoeing was tiring at first but it was the 7 k and all the portaging that really took their toll, when i arrived home i collapsed on my lawn and didn't have the will to get up.

the portaging was a silent killer that left many tired, it was time consuming and dangerous, s few packages were very hard to pick up and i myself required help to get things on my back.
the canoeing was filled with distracting,photo worthy scenery
many times i wished that i could stop rowing and take a few pictures, but i kept going. the hardest part about canoeing was the jams that many pairs got into: rocks were almost unavoidable at many points during the trip. i fell that i get the short end of the stick when it came to getting jammed in rocky situations.

by the last day i really didn't care what went into my stomach, i think i can speak for the whole group when i say that: we just wanted food!!!!
when we arrived at the "famous" water-slide i dived right in. the water was freezing but i really didn't care. Mr. Brouwer decided to try and climb up the slide (and succeed) despite the powerful current. many tried to follow suit but couldn't even get half way without letting go. near the water-slide was a (so many) foot drop into water, we watched in awe as groups decided to take the plunge in stride. i'm still kicking myself over the backflip that i should have done into the water, it would have been awesome.

being in a tent with three other smelly guys (water dripping in, mud in the tent, the constant complaining about the MUD.) was probably my least favorite part of the trip, next time I'm bringing my own tent.

the trip overall was a blast, next year i will be sure to leave an open slot for grade twelve outdoor ed.

Forrest said...

I thought the Algonquin canoe trip was a great fun and an awesome learning experience . I learned the hardships and pains of an all out canoe/camping trip(ex: portaging, watching others eat the food you made before you do). I also had the experiences that made me enjoy the trip like the bonding with others, eating great food and all the natural wonders we saw.
The first day consisted of a four hour bus ride with the kids from Colonel By, and then a three hour paddling trip through the first two lakes where we came to our first camping spot which was a rather nice spot. It started to rain as soon as we finished setting up camp which was a lucky thing for us. We had chicken stir fry and s'mores for super and dessert.
On the second day we woke up and had some pancakes with scrambled muffins which was good but messy. That day turned out to be a rather nice and sunny day (for the most part) and Mr. Brouwer taught us some tricks to tell the weather and such while we enjoyed calzones. We also took a short paddling trip to the natural water slide which was a fun but cold experience. That night we had a delicious meal of spaghetti and chocolate cake.
The third day started off with bagels and a quick camp clean up. We then had our first portaging experiences and some more canoing, to our next campsite and by the time we got there we were all exhausted from our exertion that day. For lunch we had soup and a tone of croissants at our nice but windy new campsite. We didn't do much but socialize for the rest of the day which was nice and relaxing. For super that night we stuffed ourselves with tacos.
On the fourth and final day of our canoe trip we woke to an early start of 6 o'clock were we had to tear down camp and eat breakfast as fast as we could to catch the bus. It wasn't a great start to the day with our longest portage with a damp and drizzling morning which never really stopped. We then got to see the baron canyon with its 150 meter high walls which was a sight to see. We finale arrived at our destination a little behind schedule but that was ok, since Colonel By students were too exhausted to care.
I learned how to make an organized system for the meals, how to tell the weather from the cloud forms, and how to portage and canoe(better then what I already knew). The thing I enjoyed the most about the canoe trip was probably when we went to the water-slide and saw the falls. The thing I disliked was definitely the portaging and even more when you see the same people caring nothing while you make two trips on the same portage to take THERE canoe and your own. The thing I would do differently would be to bring a better sleeping bag. I would do it again, but only if I could leave certain people behind.

EBacks said...

I enjoyed the camping trip, it provided a fun look at the outdoors that we in the burbs. may not get to see very often. The portaging was not really the most enjoyable experience, but it seemed to pass quickly. Setting up the tent proved to be an experience that I would not like to repeat. The meals were delicious (especially the stir fry ;]). The swimming was absolutely amazingly fun, by far my favorite part of the trip. The cleanup of my person afterwards was hilarious but hey thats nature.

Cole said...

In my opinion the outdoor ed trip was one of the most fun events ive experienced through the 4 years ive been at cairine. for many reasons.

The first day started well cuz everybody was excited to get started so everybody was in a good mood, and a big plus was the first day was the most relaxing day because of the fact we did not have to portage.

My group was the first to cook a meal, and we started with a great choice by cooking stir fry, with thanks to jesse for bringing in the suplies to do it, it was a great succese.
The nightt wass Hellllll, it was pooring out and we were unaware at the time that we forgot to close apart of are tent, sooo we were getin wet, plus my group kicked me out of the tent for about an hour so i got soaked in the rain.. not fun.
The morning was better, breakfast wassss fantasic with mr brouwer making his euro cakes. Later that day eric, ryan and i went cannoeing on are own, big mistake, eric endeed up tipping the canoe and i was neck deep in water.. and soomeehow those two knuckle heads stayed dry.anyways later on that day we went to the wateer slid witch was amazing.and i did a maaasive bellyflop into the water, it was awsome.but later on that day i ended up breaking my toe, which was suprisingly painfull and i had to endure mr brouwer trying to fx my toe which was really painfull. The next few days were hard on me because of my broken toe, portaging was hard, but on the final day, mr brouwer pumped me full of advil and i was running with a pack a barrle and a canoe on my shoulders.
All and all this trip was amazing and id love to come back and help out or do it again.

NWH said...

Things started out great on the camping trip. We got to our starting position and we were told it was going to rain a lot. I had hoped that it wouldn't rain as much as we were told. We had gotten into our canoes which were loaded with our gear and began our way to a campsite on Stratton Lake. We made our way to a dam where we had to stop and portage the canoes 30m, then make our way through some shallow water with rocks in it. I was in the middle of the canoe so I did my best to help manoeuvre the canoe but its not as easy when you have a long paddle and you're low to the water.

We had paddled around the lake looking for a camping site and finally we had found one. We all got out tents set up. My tent was simple but i had never setup a tent before. I just recall helping put the pegs of the tent into the ground. The cooking crew and others had gotten the cooking tarps up and began cooking their dinner which was Chicken Stir Fry. After dinner I had helped clean a bit then I went to bed. It was raining at this point and it was very dark. In the morning when i woke up, people with wet gear (sleeping bags, tents, ect...) hanged their stuff up while me and a few of the other campers went out to get wood. We were on a tree hunter looking for the best tree without rotten wood and that wasn't still alive. We had found our tree and had cut it down then chopped it up into a bunch of logs to carry back to camp.

We had our delicious lunch of panzerotti's and got learned about predicting weather conditions on our dirt board. After that we had got time to spend and to enjoy the out doors. Later that night we had enjoyed another delicious and filling meal of spaghetti and chocolate cake. The next day we ventured to the High Falls and we all got to see what was essentially a natural water park. After all that relaxation we went on our first real portage which felt like a workout. When i arrived at our second camp site, my cooking group was in charge for lunch. It was no problem to start making the soup for my group members but we later realized it was difficult to bake all the croissants together so people ended up waiting in sort of line. After lunch myself and a few others went exploring around in the forest. When we got back, people were preparing dinner which was taco's. The night had come so fast that it was nearly pitch black dark for me so it was difficult to make the taco but it was ultimately delicious.

The final day we had gotten up and were in a rush to leave and begin our biggest portage and get to the bus on time. I personally found it less difficult to portage all the equipment that I did to our bus than rowing the seven kilometre river to our boat.

Kris S said...

I personally have not gone camping before and was sort of nervous for our four day trip to Algonquin Park, but soon got quite into it after seeing the breath taking sights offered.
On the first day the weather was nice and we paddled to our first campsite. After a few portages and a long distance paddled, we eventually got there and started setting up camp. After that we sat down and the first group responsible for cooking cooked dinner for everyone. Finally we all put the final touches to our tents and sat down and enjoyed a nice fire. Sitting down and hanging out by the fire was my favourite part about the whole camping trip because it was a great time to get to know each other and bond. And lastly we went to bed to find out that our tent wasn’t exactly water proof. (Thank you Mr. Brouwer for fixing it)
Since everyone’s equipment was all soaked, because of the storm the previous night, and the weather wasn’t looking good, we decided to stay put for the second day of camping to give us a chance to dry out everything. I enjoyed this day because, well, we didn’t have to do much and we got to venture around the area a bit and see beautiful sights that Algonquin Park had to offer. After that we modified the tarp over our tent to save some rope and then sat by the campfire once again and eventually went to our tents to get some rest.
On our third day we were up early, as usual, and started packing up to get ready to go to our second campsite. We had breakfast and loaded the canoes. After a few deathly portages and a lot of canoeing we got to our second campsite. We set up camp and relaxed for a bit. We then decided to go to a place I like to call “nature’s amusement park”. I didn’t go swimming but it looked like a ton of fun to go down the waterfall slide. After that we went back to camp and relaxed a little more, Sat by the fire, and went to bed.
On our fourth and last day we got up super early and packed up our things, had breakfast, and set out to our final destination. This was the worst day because we had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of long portages. After a few hours of continuous paddling and portaging, we got back! We were a little late but the Colonel By students can wait. We hopped on the bus and went back to school.
In conclusion, the canoe trip was extremely fun and breathe taking. It definitely opened my eyes to the amazing aspects of nature.

JRLaurin said...

Is there anything positive about being in a tent with three other guys for a couple days? Well aside from being in a tent with three other guys, yes.

Day one started off pretty leisurely, considering there was a lack of portaging. It was a relaxing drive, mostly, and a peaceful paddling to our first campsite. Mildly long and kidn of tiring, but ultimately nothing compared to what was to come in the later days.

We set up camp smoothly, and everyone dashed around to set up their tents. Ours was easier said then done considering the size, four guys and we couldn't even figure out how to properly enter the tent. Yeah, sad day. With the help of another guy, so five in total now, we finally set up the tent. And it was time to start cooking, night one was on us. A stir-fry, that we literally just had to toss into the pot to heat it up.

And so began the first night, and the realization that our wonderfully huge tent...didn't stop the rain from coming in. Half of my sleeping bag was soaked, but I guess its part of the experience. Luckily though, the following day was beautiful, and everyone started hanging their wet clothes and other things up to dry. Again, another leisure day of relaxing and havign fun. As we didn't have to move campsites.

Instead, we headed to High Falls. A beautiful place with a natural waterslide, however freezing cold water was what we met when we got there. Despite the cold, everyone had a lot of fun. Sliding down, or jumping off. Even attempting to climb up the slide, of which only Mr. Brouwer successfully accomplished. After a good time at the falls, we headed back to camp, and had an amazing dinner;Spaghetti. And when there was half a pot left of spaghetti, when the thought was to just toss it in the fire. Blasphemy! Ben and I attacked that pot with vigor, not caring for utensils and just using the spatula and the large spoon that were already in the pot. Good times.

And so the torture begins with the following day, and the change of pace and scenery. We packed up quickly and headed out onto the water. Portaging isn't bad to begin with, when you start you have the energy. It was pack after pack after canoes. There was people dashing back and forth, and it went mildly smoothly. When we continued to portage, it became apparent who was made to do it and who wasn't. Oh and these were the easy ones too.

The longest and hardest one was to come up, but conveniently we did it first, so that we got it out of the way. It was clear that we were on a time limit, as we inhaled breakfast and set out again the morning after setting up camp.

Canoeing the Barron river was the most beautiful and peaceful part about the entire trip, I wish I had brought my camera for it. I wish we had more time to enjoy it, and just bask in its beauty, but once again we were short on time. And making it up was essential to getting home, as anyone could tell by the speed at which most people were moving.

We were a little late for the bus, but we made quick work of the canoes and the packs, and while on the bus we had our lunch of sandwiches and snacks. We shared some of the snacks with the other school as well. Best part about it, was it was all relaxing, and a good social time, not to mention loud most of the time.

It wouldn't take me a second thought to do something like that again, but its clear that I would do it with different people.

KBuehrle said...

The canoe trip was a great experience. It was lots of fun and taught me lots of rowing techniques, shelter techniques, portaging, weather knowledge and much more. On the first day we set out to our first camp site. It took us near an hour to get there. The canoeing was difficult with the slight wind and with a few drops of rain, but when we finally got there the rain picked up. After, we set up a fire pit and put tarps over for the rain. That night our tent got pretty wet but thankfully Mr. Brouwer came to the rescue and put tarps over our tent to stop the rain from getting in.

The next day we relaxed and just found firewood. We had breakfast around 7. I was dehydrated from having a soar throat and got sick. It sucked but now I know to keep hydrated. We had panzerotti’s for lunch but Mr. Brouwer prepared soup for me since I was sick. We learned about predicting weather and we had a trip to High Falls and we went on a natural waterslide. I did not partake in the waterslide but it was a very interesting thing to see. That evening we prepared spaghetti and chocolate cake.

The next day we traveled via St. Andrew's Lake, High Falls Lake and Ooze Lake to our last campsite on Opalescent Lake. It was our first time portaging. I found it really difficult especially since the bags and canoes weigh as much as me. We prepared soup for lunch with croissants for lunch. Dinner we enjoyed taco’s where there was more than enough to eat. Just before dinner, Sasha, Cory and I went for a little swim in the lake. It was very cold but was fun while it lasted. That night I went to sleep early and had a good nights rest.

The final day we had our largest trip. We had lots of portaging to do and a 7 km straight canoe trip. We saw the 100 meter high cliffs of the Barron Canyon. That day was rough with blisters on my feet but when we got on the bus it was alright.

I found the trip to be a great experience since I have been camping very few times and I may not do it again but it was a great trip.

brianna allen said...

My reflection on the Algonquin park canoe trip:
I really enjoyed this trip. Id never been too Algonquin park before and I found the sights to be extraordinary, I especially liked seeing the high cliffs of the Barron canyon. When it came to the weather I had expected it to rain a lot more and for longer periods of time than it actually had but I was happy that it hadn’t in the end. I hadn’t really had much previous experience when it came to portaging, id done it a couple of times but never for those distances and for that many people with a time restriction. I found it to be challenging physically on the last day because we had left our longest portage to the last day. I had a couple of moments where Id gotten really mad at others for slacking off or not pulling their pants up but I managed to keep my temper under control so we could finish the things that needed to be done.

I liked the natural waterslide even though the water was freezing cold, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if the sun was out and it was summer. The food we had was amazing while on the trip, I especially liked the dried mangos we had on the last morning, it was two of us that were sitting there just eating them, the female teacher and me because nobody else liked mangos. I remember dropping my flashlight in the dish water when I went to pour it out because I was holding it in my mouth. Then I broke Coles toe and dropping a pot on it and then Mr. Brower tried to touch it and he had to bite something because it hurt so much from him just touching it. You could tell that we had thought about it and had put time into making the food. I learnt about the different types of clouds and what they ment and what each one did. Mr. Brower even went further to draw diagrams in the dirt with a stick of these clouds on our campsite, which I found to be very funny.

Our tent was fairly good and our tent group was amazing it was just me and marlie and I found out that we worked well together. We had one fairly wet night but this was because we didn’t put a tarp underneath our tent. Since both of us didn’t want that to happen again we both made sure that we put a tarp over top of us and underneath us. We didn’t have a drop of water in our tent after that, but we learned from our mistakes. I remember one of the guys groups that was near us, they were soaked because they hadn’t put up a tarp on one of the wettest nights but nobody wanted to get out to put one on their tent, so they called Mr. Brower to go outside in the rain and do it for them which he wasn’t too pleased with them because he ended up being the wet one and he only did it because he didn’t want to hear them complaining anymore.

I found this experience to be a fun one. I wouldn’t mind doing it again, although I might wish to do it with a different group of people. I think that even though it was such a far drive that it was worth it, I remember once I got fascinated with the color of the rocks and how they had a sparkly red tint to them and we almost crashed our canoe because of me staring at them. It would probably be hard to find natural sights like that in Ottawa because we live on a valley. I loved the experience it gave me and the things I learnt from the experience.

ianE said...

The canoe trip was fun for me. It reminded me of my old scout days when I would go on canoe trips with them. Except that I didn’t need to carry as much stuff on portaging sections not like the canoe trip. Some packs were really heavy and hard to carry and portaging a canoe gets really tiring and un fun really fast. But everyone pitched in and we got it done very smoothly sometimes and got moving along on the very tiring kilometers we have to paddle from camp site to camp site. The food on the camping trip was amazing I wish I could eat as well as that every night the food was delicious. The camp fires and the sleeps were very nice and I think everyone on the trip enjoyed it.