Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PAD3O Algonquin Canoe Trip

With a small group of 7 we headed to Algonquin Park on May 14 for our canoe trip, which was a wonderful treat, as usually the groups are closer to 20 students. This gave us more freedom, as we only required one campsite per night. This was a good thing as the weather forecasts were all over the place, with major rain in the forecast for Ottawa and an inconsistent forecast for our part of Algonquin Park.

We started our trip on the beach at Achray as we headed on a very quiet and smooth Grand Lake. It is rare for Grand Lake to not have any winds on it and it was for this reason we decided to head in the opposite direction to check out a few campsites on the Eastern part of the lake. I guess this was the calm before the storm, because about 10 minutes into our paddle it began to rain. By the time we reached the campsites it was raining heavily, which was made worse by the fact that the campsites were not very nice and we decided to go back to the other side of the lake for a nicer spot. Although we were quite wet by the time we arrived, it was a very good choice as the campsite had a good wind block and many large trees to keep the rain to a minimum. A nice satay stir fry helped warm us up as we got ready for the night.

The next day Brenna joined us in the morning as we enjoyed a sunny breakfast. On our second day we paddled across Stratton Lake (our largest lake) to a small swift that lead us into St. Andrews Lake, the location of our next campsite. After setting up camp, getting some firewood, eating some soup and sandwiches for lunch and searched for that elusive bear that had stolen Ryan's walking stick, we headed to High Falls. The weather at this point was perfect for a chilly swim. High Falls had more water coming down it then I have ever seen before, promising for a fun and pushy Otter Slide. Only about half the group decided to brave the chilly waters and try the slide, which definitely didn't disappoint. The evening was topped off with Taco's and plenty of marshmallows.

Our third day was our first real exposure to portaging. We got going fairly early and flew through all the portages. We collected plenty of firewood on the last portage and were still at camp by 12:30 PM. This gave us plenty of time to relax and explore at our campsite on Opalescent Lake, which is arguably the most beautiful campsite on the trip. The only downfall this time around was that CFB Petawawa was busy training and it sounded like the entire world outside of Algonquin Park was getting blown up. This went on all day and seemed to be even more intense in the evening. OK, who is kidding who, they were still shooting of artillery at 1:15 AM.

This made for a bit of a groggy morning, as we had to be on the water by 7:30 AM (which we managed), so that people could be back in time for rugby games and job interviews. The last morning was also our biggest day of paddling and portaging. We knocked of the longest portage (740 m) in record time and then got rewarded as we were able to skip the next portage, as the water was high and it was just a simple swift. This also gave us a bit of extra time to really enjoy the Barron Canyon with it's 100m high cliffs.

All in all, a great trip. The students worked hard, had fun, the weather was perfect and the bugs stayed away.


survivorbest said...

Canoe Trip Reflection

This year’s canoe trip was outstanding! I learned so many new things while taking part, as well as being able to incorporate many of the skills I had learned in class, as well as what I had learned over the many years of watching Man Vs. Wild and Survivorman. Our class consisted of 8 people so the trip was quite enjoyable, as we were able to cover a lot of ground with only minor setbacks. We kept the same paddling buddies throughout the trip and I have to say that that made things a lot easier, as we could figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and adjust ourselves accordingly.

As this was my first camping trip I’d ever been on I’d have to say I learned many things while on this trip, from being able to start a fire to the many different paddling strokes that kept me and Kevin afloat. I would also say that I found out that I have a real knack for communicating with wild animals, as I kept a conversation going with a group of loons while getting quite frightened by what I believed to be a bear. There were many things I enjoyed while on the trip, but above all else I enjoyed the meals. There’s just something that keeps you going all day long knowing that at the end of all that hard labour, there’s a hot meal just waiting for you. It was sort of my “light at the end of the tunnel” so to speak. The most frustrating part of my trip would defiantly have been the portages. Although we trained many days for them at school, nothing can quite compare to hauling a 500 lb unbalanced canoe 500+ metres on your shoulders at least 3 times a day. I would say I was very well prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw at me while on the trip but the only thing I forgot to bring was gloves (and maybe some headphones to block out Kevin’s snoring). But seriously. Waking up at 6am at what felt like -10°C, wearing only your pyjamas and a t-shirt, isn’t a very pleasant experience.

Above all else, this was definitely a trip I’d consider doing a second time, and being with the same group of people wouldn’t be the worst idea either.

KaitlynG said...

I was personally looking forward to this canoe trip as I love spending time in the outdoors. I have been camping several times with my family but never with such rules and restrictions but at the same time they did not seem like rules they just made common sense. Some of the rules or laws at Algonquin Park were glass bottles and cans like pop cans are banned in the park. Drinks have to be packaged in containers, they have to be poured into a re-usable plastic bottle. The hard part was not being able to drink water when you wanted to. After paddling and being very thirsty it was very tempting to just drink the water from the lake.It is highly recommended that you not drink straight out of the lakes. Bacteria and parasites are present. Before you drink the water I had to add chemicals and boil the water to decontaminate and then wait fifteen minutes before drinking the water.

Something I also felt challenging was NO washrooms that most campgrounds have. We were in the wilderness with no real washrooms in sight. We had to locate where the thunderbox was, the thunderbox is a small portable toilet, if we could not find the thunderbox we would have to dig a hole and bury it, yuck. Thankfully I did not have to dig a hole.

I feel I contributed to the campsite by helping with the cleanup and meals. Everyone worked as a team. I was able to also help putting the tent and taking down the tent as I have done this many times before. During our four day canoe trip we all had a lot of fun together. Our group was small which made it easier to all get along. I felt we had a great group.

One of my favourite parts of the canoe trip was going down the water slide at High Falls on the Barron River. The water slide is a natural water slide formed over time by the flowing water. Even though the water was freezing it was well worth it. Another part I enjoyed was feeding the birds. I learned a lot on this trip and would do it again anytime.

Brenna said...

The semester 2 canoe trip was perfect in so many ways. We had a small class which was very nice. This required not as much food or supplies to bring along on the trip. The weather was perfect, many laughs, and the meals were very good.
The first day when the others went to Algonquin park, I was unable to attend due to a dance recital. The next morning my mom drove me up to meet Mr.Brouwer at squirrel rapids where we picked him up and went back to the start at Achray. We paddled across the lake to meet up with the others. We packed up all the gear and paddled across Stratton lake which lead to our next campsite at St.Andrews lake. This is where I would spend the first night of the canoe trip, while this was the second night for the others. After the campsite was set up, we had lunch and looked for Ryans new bear friend that he believed to encountered hile searching for a stick. Later in the day we went over to highfalls for the rock water slide. All of us went down it except felicia and kaitlyn. The water was very cold but it was a great adreneline rush. That night the girls made tacos for diner. They were very tasty although I think we could have added another piece to the meal, like soup or chili.
The next day was filled with many portages, some short and some very long. This day was cloudy with a few drops of water, mainly because felicia had killed a spider. When we got to the last campsite, it was definetly the most beautiful one! We were ahead of schedule so we all decided to do some exploring. For diner Kevin made speghetti, garlic bread and ceasar salad. This was very tasty. That night all we could hear was the sound of bombs. We were so close to the CFB Petawawa base that we could hear the training they were performing.
The next morning we faced our largest portage yet. The Barron canyon and the river were as amazing as I was told. When we finished at squirrel rapids, I think we were all glad to be done for one trip. I enjoyed this trip very much, it was fun and full of memorable moments (ie: Ryan and his many adventures.) I would definetly want to do this trip again, although maybe at a nicer time when the water would be warmer.

Anonymous said...

Canoe Trip Reflection

Mr. Brouwer, before I start I just wanted to let you know that I remember you saying that we tell you things that we learnt and to not tell you things you already know. This is how I will be making my reflection.

We started off with a very long 3 hour car ride listening to nothing but metal the whole way (including the song "KILL") Which deffinately woke us all up. On the first day it was a beautiful day so I decided to wear capris, but then a storm decided to welcome us as soon as we started to canoe and I was very cold and learnt soon enough that I should have worn splash pants (should have been more prepared).

As we were setting up our tent we learnt that some grade 10s decided to put a 3 person fly with a 4 person tent and we were left with a squished tent and had to put a tarp to cover the rest of the tent. Our own tent would have been more trustworthy.

I helped somewhat with the firewood but not enough that i should have. There was a lot of things that I could have helped with that I didn't so next time, that is something I would deffinately do.

I learnt about the different Leave No Trace policies that they have at Algonquin park. I learnt how to purify my water to avoid getting Bever Fever. I learnt how to properly cook meals and build and keep a perfect on-going fire.

The small group that we had deffinately made everything a lot easier and it was easier for everyone to get along. There were deffinately a lot of funny memories including Ryan's bear call, making fun of Ryan but overall this was a very fun and eventful trip.

Athough Kaitlyn and I were really slow and I did not steer perfectly I learnt that you cannot put your head down for 2 seconds when steering or else you loose control completely and that you can still have fun way in the back of everyone else when speaking in british Accents.

If I were to do it again I would bring my own tent, be prepared for the weather or go when the weather is much better, help out more, and go when they are not training at the CFB Petawawa training camp (which I found out later that they are not bombs they are a kind of gun that is really loud and sounds like a bomb). I would also go down the natural waterslide at High falls because I regret not going down it.

Dr.No said...

This canoe trip was, extraordinary. Loads and loads of fun, and a constant workout that left you exhausted, but in the end content. This canoe trip was my first camping trip and far from my last. I enjoyed thoroughly the few days we spent at Algonquin Park with our small group of seven.

I personally believe that learning can’t truly happen inside a classroom at a desk with a pencil. Learning is experiencing and this gave me the opportunity to do that. I learned many things about outdoor survival, being prepared for the worst, packing light, leaving no trace, and respecting the environment. What I enjoyed the most about this canoe trip was the relaxing atmosphere constantly around us, all these literally breathtaking sights that just make you stop in your tracks and say… “Wow that’s siiick!”

The thing I didn’t like the most about the trip was sleeping. Don’t get me wrong I love to sleep, but I didn’t want to waste my time out there sleeping. We only had four days to do so much and I just wish we wouldn’t get tired and could do whatever we wanted day and night! So what I liked the least was that four days didn’t last long enough. I would absolutely do this again in a flash, one of the best trips I’ve been on, and the only thing I would do differently would be to stay for longer.

All the food made and brought tasted fantastic and was even better because we were so hungry. The weather held out for most of the time and overall was very good, not too hot and not too cold. Portaging I would have to say was one of the most challenging things to do, very tough to carry that canoe for so long on such rough terrain. Although when you finish though you feel so accomplished, I took it as a challenge and kind of enjoyed it.

I enjoyed everything on this trip from the waterslides, to the paddling, to portaging, to exploring into the forest, to making our own fire and to be spending time with friends. Either way this trip was fantastic and Thank You Mr. Brouwer for taking us. :)