The second trip did not have as smooth a start as the first group. One student almost didn't make the trip, some very generous teachers did some quick manouvring to get him to the bus which had already departed. This meant we got a bit af a late start, as the students also had to pack their gear in the parking lot as they got their packs from the students on the first trip. The one advantage that we had was that things like kitchen gear and tents were left behind at the campsite, leaving us a little lighter during the first day.
The first day would be our longest day, with most of our portages and a very long paddle. It was also extremely hot, with not a lot of shade. This first day was also very eventful. It started with a couple of students that missed a few key lessons on how to steer the canoe, but they got the hang of it fairly quickly. After our second portage of the day, everyone was very hot, so we decide to try and bypass the next portage by walking though the water with our canoes on the side of the rapid. This worked great until Ian and Jessie tried to paddle away from the rapid and had a bit of dunk, although they were very quick to save the gear and actually found it nice and refreshing. The last portage, and the longest, introduced us to the masses of mosquitos that had awoken during this day (they were not there the day before). They also welcomed us to our campsite, it really was challenging for some of our inexperienced students. The fun had not yet finished, as one of the tents was missing when we got to the campsite. We found it in the water, because the last trip had not pegged it down and the wind had blown it in the water. The last surprise of the day was that we had forgotten some key ingredients to our menu.
Now the nice thing about being on a canoe trip, once you commit, all you have to do is deal with what you have. The tent was dried out in the late afternoon sun and was dry for the night, meals were adjusted to ensure we all ate well and had enough, and the second day we found a campsite with some wind to keep the bugs at bay. Things always seem worse than what they really are. Which is something we had to keep in mind as we had another tough day of portaging on the second day. It wasn't so much the portages, it was the intensity of the sun and the heat. This made us a bit slower, but we knew all the tough times would be quickly forgotten when we would get to the waterslides in the afternoon.
When we got to Stratton Lake, our campsites we were hoping for was already taken, so we adjusted our plans and headed to High Falls for a quick lunch and a great afternoon of swimming. Oh, how quickly our challenging morning was forgotten. Especially with the knowledge that we could sleep in the next morning and had completed almost all of our portages for the trip.
The next day was one of relaxation and well deserved. Unfortunately the winds were too strong to teach solo canoeing, but the were perfect for some sailing. We build ourselves a catamaran using two canoes, build an A-frame on it and then had a sail that we could hoist when we were ready. The morning and afternoon were spent giving sailing tours down the lake at some great speeds. The evening was saw an amazing dinner of nachos, salad, spaghetti and garlic bread, which was followed up with a great game of president and some scary stories.
The winds on the final day didn't settle down and provided the group with it's last challenge as we headed straight into it. This time the students were ready and finished off the trip in style.