Sunday, June 30, 2013

My first ever canoe trip

I've decided to re-enter the blogging scene to talk about a canoe trip I went on last weekend. I've never been on one before so didn't quite know what to expect. Well, I had a blast! It was so much fun and so nice to be out in the wilderness of Algonquin Park.

I went with my husband Cliff and our friend Ron and his sister and niece. All of them had been on a canoe trip before. I was the only newbie. I thought I was going to have a hard time learning the ropes, but they were all so nice and helpful and relaxed about things, that it was super easy for me to stop worrying and start enjoying myself.

We took Parkbus from Ottawa on its inaugural run from the Nation's Capital. What an amazing service these guys provide; it's a wonder no one has ever thought of it before! Parkbus has been taking people to Algonquin Park and a few other parks from Toronto for the last three years and they have finally decided to expand to another city - and Ottawa happens to be that lucky city.

We took the bus to Canoe Lake and rented our canoes from The Portage Store, where we saw this awesome canoe planter:

 After a quick lunch and loading our supplies and equipment, we pushed off at Canoe Lake, which was a smooth as glass, though I was told that it's usually pretty rough and that I should enjoy it while it lasts.

On our first day, we did three fairly short portages. But even with them being short, I was not used to carrying a big pack, and it got pretty heavy towards the end of each one. Here is me unloading my awesome Cross Country Ontario daypack (I got it from the Ontario team at last Ski Nationals) at our first portage:

The portages also had pretty bad mosquitoes, which I was expecting, so they didn't bother me too much. The mosquitoes were practically non-existent on the water though, and it was so nice to be paddling on these calm deserted lakes with the beautiful Algonquin landscape all around us and the wonderful forest smells in the air.

 After the first two portages, we came across a mama moose with her baby, and that was quite a sight to see. We got close enough that even I could see them!

We got to our first campsite around 6:30 p.m. and, after unloading the gear and setting up camp, we had a wonderful dinner that took a little while to cook on the fire. But we had quite a bit of wine with us to keep us entertained while it was cooking. We stayed up late making s'mores, drinking wine, telling stories and laughing - just the way camping in the woods should be. :)

The next morning was pretty rainy so it took us a while to get out of bed and get going. But after breakfast, consisting mostly of delicious bacon, we finally got going again. We were originially going to have a really hard day with 8 portages and a lot of paddling, but because Cliff had hurt his ankle the week before, we actually ended up doing only 2 portages, but a longer paddle. That was really nice, because I think if I had to do 8 portages, I may not have enjoyed my trip half as much. The weather was a tad drizzly that day, but it was nice and refreshing and major rain stayed away.

We camped on Tom Thompson Lake our second and last night of the trip. We found an awesome campsite on a point overlooking the lake. It had the coolest firepit surrounded by a semi-circle of rock. We had a heck of a time finding the kybo though, it was hidden way back in the woods! Here's a pic of the firepit. Some nice person even left us a bunch of wood, which was in short supply on this site because all the trees were pine.

And here is a picture of Cliff and I at our rockin' site.

Our second night was pretty much a repeat of the first - lots of fun and laughter - except Ron's niece Amanda decided to go to bed early as she was tired.

The next day, we had to get up early to make it back to the Parkbus for 1:45 p.m. It was a gorgeous sunny warm day, but it was also more windy so we had to work pretty hard paddling back across Canoe Lake, which did get rough that day, which I was told was more normal for it.

When we finally made it back to The Portage Store, I was definitely wiped and ended up sleeping on the bus all the way to Renfrew.

So all in all, I really really loved our trip, and we're already planning another one in August. Hopefully, the bugs won't be quite as bad at that time!

Good night from Ottawa!