Sunday, June 2, 2013

PAD3O Algonquin Park Canoe Trip

This past week, the grade 11's headed to Achray in Algonquin Park for a 4-day canoe trip. The trip was supposed to cover about 26 km, with about 10 lakes and 10 portages, but the weather forced us to change the plans a little. As soon as we got on the water, we got hit with a thunder storm that ensured we were good and wet. Add with that the chill that showed up on the third day and you could very well have the overview of the trip, but that is only if you are the glass is half full kind of a person. There were some fantastic highlights on this trips that make it stand out as one of the best I have done with students.

It is true that 3 days of rain wears on you, especially when the third day was relentless in the rain and the temperatures dropped to make it bitter cold. That said, on the second day, we started off with a bit of sun trying to peak through the clouds and with a lack of wind, the lake was like glass. We had also decided to hang out for the day, as another 20 mm of rain had been promised to us. So instead of breaking up camp and trying to charge to the next one before the rains started, we made sure tents, tarps and firewood was in place to ensure our comfort.

The students enjoyed a rare opportunity to sleep in, some even made it to 10 am. After a nice breakfast, we headed to the waterslides and were treated to the highest water level that I had ever experienced. This made the waterslide very powerful and a lot of fun. The water was still a bit chilly, but the air was very warm and the sun was trying to peak through. After a good swim, we had chicken caesar salad wraps as we enjoyed the powerful High Falls as our backdrop. That was also the end of our nice weather until the end of the trip. It started to drizzle and by the time we got back to camp the heavy rains had returned.

Expecting the rains to stop overnight, it was a real disappointment when the rains just seemed to get heavier on the 3rd day. The rains were relentless and the wind, with the drop in temperatures, made it seem bitterly cold. It was time to huddle under the tarp with a good fire, lots of food and a good game of liars dice. There was also a battle of crazy eights happening in one of the tents. By lunch time it was obvious that the weather was not going to change anytime soon and we decided to stay put for our last night. Having almost been at camp for 24 hours, some of were getting stir crazy and wanted to go do something.

This is where the trip got really interesting. Five of us headed out to St. Andrews Lake to explore a little creek. It was an area I had never had the opportunity to explore before and the high water levels allowed us to paddle up a tiny creek to hit a couple of lakes. On the way in, it was against the current and we had to make our way up a number of beaver dams. It was hard work, in the pouring rain, but so much fun. We made our way to Rouge Lake and then continued up the next little creek, this is where we had a wolf barking and howling at us. He was very close by and not happy we were in his neck of the woods. The wolf followed us all the way to the other lake, continually howling and barking at us. This is where the wolf came out to an open cliff just long enough to allow us to get a glimpse of him. The way back was much easier, with the exception of some strong headwinds on the more open lakes.

The final day saw the rains end and the sun show up as we finished our paddle. Our paddle across our final lake, Grand Lake, was the hardest paddle of the students' lives. The wind was funnelling directly upon us, creating good size waves and making progress quite challenging. I was glad to have the students face some physical challenge on this trip, the mental one had been won and on this final day, so was the physical one.


Daniel Allen said...

The Outdoor Ed trip was fun despite the rainy weather. The fact that we were able to bake a cake in the dutch oven in the rain was cool.
The highlight was sliding down natural water slides when the weather was getting better.
The water at the slides was still ice cold and we were hoping
for sun to warm us up, but all we got was rain. The trip was a real lesson in survival and the importance of staying positive.
Overall, the trip was long and exhausting because of the rain, but I will always remember what a blast we had at the water slides.

Tonisha said...

I was very nervous for this trip for many reasons; the rainy/cold weather, many portages, a lot of people to feed, very heavy bags, 4 days instead of 3 like in grade10, and much more.

The food on this trip was actually very good. In my cooking group including Jessica, Hannah, Jordan, we really over packed for a couple reasons; first Jordan and I are terrible at estimating how much people will eat, second we planned for 14 people and only 10 showed up, and we thought boys ate a lot more than they actually did. Even though we brought a lot more food than was actually needed, it worked out because than the last day we had a lot of leftovers for options. There were no bad meals on this trip but the best ones for me were the pancakes, grilled cheese, and the chicken ceaser salad wraps.

The weather for this trip wasn't ideal. It was rainy and cold the whole trip. It wasn't so bad during the day because there were things to keep you warm like being active, sitting by the fire or eating/drinking something warm. The night with the cold weather was the worst. I tried many things like the hot rocks, hot water bottle, and even squishing into the same sleeping bag as Jordan, but I still froze and didn't sleep much because of it.

Staying at one site was nice but frustrating at the same time. It was nice because we didn’t have to do many chores like cleaning up every morning but then it got to a point where Jordan and I were so frustrated from not doing anything we got bored of card games and started doing squats and sit-ups in the tent. Then, a few of us went on an adventure that saved my life from boredom. It was so much fun, kept us warm, challenged us to paddle up dams, threw high winds, choppy waters, across marshes, and also allowed us to see some pretty amazing views and animals. That paddle was defiantly my favorite part of the trip.

Even though there were some low moments, there were also some unforgettable memories that I got to create and experience. So happy I got to go!

HannahW said...

The grade 11 canoe trip was a really interesting experience. It was the smallest group I had ever seen go on an outdoor ed trip. It was also the worst weather I've ever experienced on such a trip.

The rain was persistent on the first day, making it rather annoying to set up our campsite. But once it was established,the campsite became our best friend. The little bit of overcast sun on the second day was a nice opportunity to go swimming in the waterslides.

Although I had been looking forward to seeing the entire trail and doing the portages, I really enjoyed the trip. The only thing I would change would be the proportions of our meals. The first night we had spaghetti as our dinner, and we had WAY more than we needed. By the end of the trip we had only used a third of all the spaghetti noodles we had brought; and that was putting extra noodles in our soup and everything.

jared p said...

the canoe trip was a good experience. it was the only time i have been in outdoor ed and it was a good time.

the weather the days before seemed like it was going to be nice so i was not as well prepared as i could have been for rainy weather but it was fine, just had to keep one pair of clothes dry at all times. the weather was the worst part of the trip, it would have been much more fun and easier to do things if it hadnt rained the whole time.

the best time on the trip was when we went to the waterfall and rapids. it was really cold but it was fun anyways because it was an adrenaline rush to jump into the freezing rapids that whipped you under and shot you out. i still have a bruise on my stomach from sliding on the rocks almost a month after.
the meals were accually really good and we were better prepared then i had thought.