September 26 - 29, 2011
We did the traditional Achray to Squirrel Rapids trip in Algonquin Park in the opposite direction last week. This was due to the fact that another school had booked Opalescent Lake on the dates that we wanted it. This meant that there was no easing into the trip, the toughest day would be right off the start and lucky for us this set the standard for the trip.
At 12:00 pm, we set off at Squirrel Rapids on our adventure through the Barron Canyon. The sky was blue, the sun was hot and everyone was excited to get going. This was obvious on our first portage, as everyone was working hard and it was done in no time at all. We followed this with a beautiful paddle through the Barron Canyon. It was at the end of the canyon that our most challenging day would really begin.
Three portages back (440 m) to back (100m) to back (740 m). The entire team worked hard through all of them and although on the long one people were hurting, we finished it in excellent time, putting us on Opalescent Lake by 5:00 pm. While half the group went to camp to set up, the other half went for firewood. The beautiful benches at the campsite provided for a well deserved break while we waited for a dinner of hamburgers (lots) and salad. This was capped off with an amazing display of stars and Northern Lights.
After a good night's sleep, we awoke to bacon and eggs. Which was a good thing as our day would start with a 660 m portage. Nice thing about that was that from here on in it only would get easier. We made quick work of all our portages and short paddles this day, even opting to go a little further to Stratton Lake, as someone was occupying the two nice campsites on St. Andrew Lake where we had planned to stay. This meant that we would spend two nights at the same campsite. We enjoyed our hot dog/left-over hamburger lunch, before we headed to High Falls for a slide down the Otter Slide and some impressive jumping from the jump rock.
The spaghetti dinner, with caesar salad and garlic bread, was truly enjoyed before the festivities of the evening. Some people headed off to bed early (these were the smart people), while others stayed up late to enjoy a solid game of 'Mafia'. You could tell by the tiny eyes the next morning (and we slept in, breakfast at 10:00 am) who was up late. Not having to pack up and move made for a real relaxing start, something we deserved as we really worked hard the previous two days. We talked about clouds, knots, hanging food and spent the morning solo canoeing. This was followed with a make-shift grilled cheese lunch (we forgot the margarine) and another afternoon playing at High Falls. That night the entire group joined in for 'Mafia' under the tarps, while the rain came down.
It rained pretty hard for most of the night, but as we finished cleaning up camp and were ready to get in to our canoes, the clouds opened up to provide us with a beautiful blue sky. A great way to end a fantastic trip.
I will let the students explain what happened 100 m from the end of our trip.