In posting this year’s log, I noticed that I never typed up the one from 2009 for our canoeing trip in Algonquin PP, Ontario. After a brief search of my files, I found the log written on the back of the one from Glacier. I’m gonna lose this thing – it’s time to type it up before I do.
8/8/09 6:50 PM EST
After 7+ hours of driving, taken up mostly by computer games, we are in tiny Maynooth, Ontario. Maynooth sits on the junction between routes 62 and 127. It’s a solid hour and a half from anywhere, though there is a cell tower around here somewhere. We’re staying at the Arlington Hotel – a hostel. The room is sufficiently cozy, no complaints here. The goal is to be out on the water by 9:30 AM tomorrow. Long day in front of us – best to get away from people ASAP. Day punctuated by a 1.5 mile portage.
8/9/09 5:56 PM
Steve and I are currently at a beautiful site near the Timberwolf to Misty Lake portage, right on the water, 20 ft from Misty Lake.
We started from Canoe Lake this morning just before 10 AM. Literally 5 minutes later, it started to rain. 10 more minutes and it was pouring, During the next few hours, we paddled amonst ominous rumbles of not so distant thunder. By the time we got to an inconvenient beaver dam near Tom Thompson Lake, we were both cold and fairly miserable. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the mile and a half long portage (pronounced port-age in Canadian). There was, by that point, a few gallons of water in the basin of the canoe, though our packs were helpful in absorbing most of it.
As an aside, I just watched a loon dive into the water and resurface 80 meters away. Impressive animals.
So far, canoeing wasn’t much fun. But it’s a blast compared to portaging. That was hard, hard work. There is a reason why people take two trips to do it – canoe+pack=miserable.
Still, by the time we emerged from the portage, the skies had cleared – completely. The remainder of the trip was a pleasure, as short portages are not terrible.
We’ve been drying out stuff out for the last two hours, and we’ve made good progress. However, as I write there are dark clouds gathering in the west. Distant thunder is rumbling, quietly still. The woman at the diner this morning said “So, I hear there’s hurricanes comin! Err, tornadoes.” The real answer is neither – I’m just hoping not rain, though I would not bet on that outcome.
Rain is fine, as long as stuff can dry in between. Still, we’ve on land now and we can control a lot more on land. The canoe, which earlier collected water, is now flipped over, ready to protect our packs instead of saturate them.
At least it’s warm. Probably 68 degrees right now. Water is a very comfortable 64, we swam earlier.
8/10/09 ~6 PM EST
After another cloud day – which was welcome given our long haul on the water, the sun as finally arrived, blazing brightly. I’m sitting on a rock on our island camp site on the east end of Big Trout Lake, wearing tiny running shorts and crocs. I just finished pumping water, before that swimming, bathing for the second time in as many hours. The tent is set up and once Steve gets back from his fishing trip, we’ll be all ready to cook. Rice tonight, probably with some BBQ salami.
Today featured somewhere in the vicinity of 14 miles of paddling. Most everything is sore by now, not the least our bruised butts. The canoe took a beating as we skipped two portages on the river, one accidentally, but we made it through unscathed. Then followed three intense hours of open water canoeing across White Trout, then Big Trout. We continued to alternate between strong side (me to my left, Steve to his right) and weak side (opposite) every so often, originally switching every 8 minutes though today switching, on timer of course, every 10 minutes.
We were greeted, upon arriving at the island, by two little brown squirrels. They came right up to us and cackled like velociraptors in Jurassic Park. They were keenly interested in our food.
We threw rocks at them and tried to whip them away with my belt. Some people think that squirrels are nature’s version of their cat – they feed them, thus making them semi-domesticated and fully annoying.
Steve and I hatched a plan to capture them and transport them to the mainland, where we needed to go to get firewood anyway. Unfortunately, we had no bag that we thought would hold them – we’d have to paddle them into the lake if they escaped on the voyage. We’ll see how cute and cuddly they are trapped on a boat!
Alas, 10 minutes later, I found Steve 30 feet up in a tree, pulling down dead branches. On an island, wood is hard to come by. When the squirrels saw Steve’s haul, they seemed to realize he was not one to trifle with. Though I won’t leave them alone with the food, they at least respect our space now.
After about 5 fitful hours of sleep last night, I had enough energy to make it through the day. There has been a veritable cacophony of rodent and duck/loon noise at dusk, though nary a large mammal (or trace of them) in sight.
I’ll need another respectable night’s sleep tonight as tomorrow features 3 portages, 2 of them over a mile. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that portages are hard, miserable work. We have a 1.5 trip concept that is probably our best bet – still, any time one lugs one of those damn boats overhead for more than a few hundred meters, it’s downright crappy work. It won’t be fun. But look at that blue sky!
8/11/09 4:50 PM EST
It’s just a minor shower – we knew it was coming and I began readying camp for its arrival while Steve sat on a rock. Somewhere in there, he decided to take the canoe, the same canoe that shelters our stuff when it rains, out to the middle of the lake.
5:21 PM EST
Yes, that rustling in the birches and firs WAS rain. Having already closed up the tent, I hurriedly put the sacks in to the original plan – giant plastic bags. Despite my threat when Steve took the canoe, I covered his bag as well. My job, lacking the skills to actually do anything scout-like on camping trips is to do every little thing. Steve does the laissez-faire approach, though he won’t hesitate to complain about wet gear. Steve’s the adventurer, and yes, I’m the wet blanket, but with dry clothes.
5:40 PM EST
As for the rest of the day…last night was a good night for sleeping. After watching the distant lightning flash dimly in the northern sky, I drifted off fairly quickly. I only woke up because my arm was literally about to fall off – I was so tired I slept through depriving it of blood for God knows how long. I literally [literally for real this time] had to move it with my other arm. When I awoke, I noticed the moon was out. No more than 5 seconds later, I heard a wolf how. I did not hear another for the remainder of the night.
Today was a day of portages. While we figured it out somewhat, I am glad to be done with it – lugging that thing is miserable work.
We set camp on a south facing rockface in the North Arm of Lake Opeongo. With time to kill, Steve decided to swim to the small island 800 meters away. I followed in the canoe and gave him a ride back. With no gear in the canoe, we were alarmingly fast. We normally go 6 km an hour – this was easily 10. Tomorrow we’ll put our skills to good us – 13 km in open water, now with the added challenge of motor boat wakes.
For whatever it’s worth, it would be easy to take twice the food when you only need to lug it for a mile at a time. This sort of trip would be sustainable for a full week.
Though it looks like more rain on the horizon. Steve, of course, is back out on the lake.