Friday, May 25, 2012

PAD3O Algonquin Canoe Trip #2

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.

4 comments:

Jspice said...

The Algonquin Park canoe trip was an amazing four day experience that I am grateful to have had the chance to participate in. We were very lucky with the weather, as it only drizzled slightly overnight on one of the nights (hardly even noticeable). Though the first two days were challenging, it was an enjoyable challenge that ended up being worth it at the end of each day.

Although we had a late start on the first day, everyone managed to get on the bus. When we arrived and met the students from the first trip, I was very glad to hear that they were all raving about how fun their trip was. This comforted me, as I haven't portaged long distances before and I was slightly nervous.

As we were canoeing our first stretch, I quickly realized that wearing long black pants and a long sleeve black shirt was not the smartest idea. This was very annoying for me, until Ian and I tipped our canoe near the small rapids. Thankfully, none of the pack got wet, and I was very refreshed from the short swim.

When we arrived at the first campsite, I was happy knowing that our tent was already set up from the first trip; but it was unfortunate for some others that their tent had somehow flipped into the water. Most people were a little tired and frustrated (especially with the bugs- which Omar solved with his pine tree protection), but after dinner everyone seemed to relax. The sun went down, the lake was calm, and the view was absolutely gorgeous.

In the morning, we had to move quickly so that we could get the canoeing and portaging finished as early as possible: to avoid struggling in the heat of the afternoon, and getting as much time at the apparently amazing waterfall. I did get very frustrated with some situations that morning, but I just kept reminding myself that it was mostly the heat that was making me this way, and that it's important to stay positive so that you don't bring down the whole group. I was also very thankful for the grade twelves (and the others that helped of course), because they never stopped working and they always offered to help even when they didn't want to. Without them, I think the trip would have moved a lot slower.

As anticipated, the waterfall was the best thing we could have done after a hard morning. At first, I wasn't going to go in, but I am very glad that I changed my mind. It's definitely true that I forgot all about how frustrated I was earlier in the day. When we found an empty campsite to stay at for the next two nights, I was happy to know that the hardest part of the trip was over. Again, when the sun went down; KJ, Nick, John, and I went out on a rock by the lake to look at the stars. The water was so calm that there was a perfect reflection of the sky on the lake. It didn't even look like water anymore, and it was so beautiful to just sit out there and stare for a while. It was also relaxing to know that we were able to sleep in a little bit the next morning.

On our day off, it was pretty windy, so some people went 'sailing' in the canoes. I regret not going, because it actually looked pretty fun. I did enjoy my day though, and even managed to take a nap. I slept long enough to miss lunch, but thankfully John saved me a sandwich.

On that final evening, we sat around the campfire listening to Kyle's scary stories. He was completely making them up as he went along, and they were still so creative and actually scary! I was impressed. Even as it began to rain, we wanted to hear more, so we all went into one tent to hear more. Nick decided to share a story, but half way through he just stopped and ran out into the dark forest. It was probably the most entertaining story that I've ever heard.

At the end, I was sad to leave. I really wish that the trip had been a bit longer, even though I was glad to come home and see my family. I enjoyed this trip so much, and I count myself lucky that we had great weather along with some really great people. I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

KJ said...

The Algonquin canoe trip was the most fun I have had with the outdoor ed course. It was four days of hard work, crazy activities, good friends and I learned a lot. The weather held out for us and was nothing but gorgeous until the last day where it rained only a little. Mr. Brower was prepared and showed us how to sheild the fire from the rain with tarps, however the drizzle only lasted around 30 minutes. The first day was tough, and the second day was that much tougher but I managed to pull through and ended up having an unforgetable trip. Easily becoming one of the highlights of my grade 11 year.

I won't lie, the first day would have been perfect if it wasn't for me missing the bus. I had not heard what time it was picking us up and by the time I had figured out it had already left, the bus was near St. Laurant. A very genourus teacher offered me a ride to the bus and in the end I arrived with the only consequence of being the dish washer for the trip. When we finnaly arrived at the park we packed our canoes and headed for the first campsite. A huge frustration for most people the first day was the amount of mosquitos. I came prepared with a bug jacket and had no worries what so ever.

I was partnered with Nick and we both where strong enough to maintain a steady pace near the front of the group. Some groups really struggled, and we even had one canoe tip when we tried to wade through rapids! That was definatly a learning experience and the next time I have to wade through anything ill just think back to this moment, and hopefully not tip myself! Another thing is the next time I go on a canoe trip I will definatly pack lots of snacks and eat a huge hardy breakfast because by the end of our first stretch I was starving. When we finally arrived at our gorgeous campsite with tents waiting for us, it was time to cook. We made hambergurs which I had grilled over the fire, and theres no doubt those where the best hambergurs I have ever had!

The next morning was an early one, we packed our things quickly so we could get to the next campsite and relax. The heat was a monster and paddling was much harder the second day. I tried to help out as much people as I could so that nobody would get too frustrated at the chaos of the morning. After a couple long portages and a day of hard paddling, we found ourselves at the highlight of the trip which was the natural waterslide. It was so much fun and a perfect way to cool off, as the water was almost frigid. We also saw a wicked dead deer floating in the water, it was radical.

After the waterslide we made our way to the campsite where we would spend the next two nights. I was rediculously relieved that we wouldm't have to paddle until we where going home. That night had no clouds and the stars where unreal, nothing like you would see in the light polluted Ottawa. Jessie, John, Nick and I found a rock at the edge of the lake that reflected the stars perfectly, so it felt like you could jump into never ending space. We talked about life and a lot of things. For me this was vacation.

The next morning we slept in and relaxed all day. Mr. Brower being the genious he is built a catamarin out of wood and two canoes. He brought us on tours and the sail made it so we tarvelled really fast. The day was spent mostly gathering wood and sitting around the fire, not so bad for a summative mark if you ask me!

We woke up early the last day and packed everything up leaving no trace behind us except great memories. We paddled against the wind for the entire strech and everyone was just ready to go home. When we hit the shore and got out of our canoes for the last time, people where cheering and the smiles on peoples faces where that of relief and excitement. “WE MADE IT!!” I yelled, and soon after the bus came and we headed home. I was sad to leave because I had such an incredible time.

kyle.clermont said...

The Algonquin canoe trip was an amazing four day trip. the first two days were hard and had a lot of heavy lifting and portaging, my favourite part of the trip was the third day when we just relaxed all day and didn't relay do much, it was fun to just kick back and get to know the people that you didn't really talk to before. the beautifull senery compleated this perfect trip. our group were very well prepaid and we never had any inter-group arguments and got along pretty well with others.

shawn sernoski said...

I had never been camping in such an isolated place before and was curious as to what it was going to be like. The first day was difficult because of the heat, I was not properly dressed for such hot weather at the time and found myself overheating quite quickly during the portaging. The canoeing however was fine because I was able to splash water on my face when I got to hot and I saw all sorts of animals such as turtles, fish, and even water snakes. I caught water snakes a couple times during the trip which was neat for me because at my camp site there almost impossible to find because people kill them. The second day was even harder then the first, more canoeing and even longer portages, this time however I had the proper clothing and brought extra water so I didn't overheat as quickly and was able to handle it much better. When we got to the falls I couldn't wait to jump in because the weather was perfect for swimming, it was really fun while it lasted. Shortly after arriving at our final campsite I realized a mistake I had made, I brought a metal plate which had been crushed in my pack. I improvised by using a cup for soup and simply using my hands for everything else. This was the highlight of the trip for me because aside from gathering firewood and preparing meals, I spent the whole time fishing, roasting marshmallows, playing cards and chatting. Then the final day came around, the weather was horrible but I was ready because I was well rested well feed and I really wanted to go home and shower. Despite the rough start I enjoyed the trip and will remember it for a long time