Saturday, July 25, 2015

Trip Log - Day 4: Wendigo to Cedar Lake, Canada Day 2014

go to Prologue     go to Day 1     go to Day 2    go to Day 3   Day 4

We woke in the morning on Canada Day, I opened the door on my side (our tent has two doors, which is a really nice feature – Camper II from MEC).  Then I opened the fly and the breeze that came in was refreshing.  I closed the door again, we were hating bugs at this point and I didn’t want to take a chance that a single one would make its way into the tent.  We had gotten into a routine at night once we were both settled in the tent.  We would turn on the hanging lamp for a bit to attract the mosquitoes to the top of the tent.  Then we would kill as many as we could.  Often they had already been successful in filing up on our blood.  I joked that it looked like a maniac had murdered someone inside the tent with the blood streaked all over.  LT had to wash the tent when he got home later and didn’t get all the blood out.

I still had anxiety.  I was afraid of this lake.  The waves could be big and we could be wind bound here at this site.  I made breakfast, oatmeal.  I didn’t like it and would improve the recipe for the next time.  I baked cinnamon buns, even rolling and cutting them.  They were a treat.  The wind died down, the rain died down and we made a mad dash to pack up and leave.
Cinnamon buns - they taste better than they look!
We got into the canoe and started our trip into the wind.  Our campsite had been facing an island, named, of all names, Acanthus Island.  A name that was haunting us, LOL.  We had a bit of protection from it as we moved into the protection of another couple of islands.  So far we were doing okay, hitting the waves at about a 45 degree angle.  We were watching other boaters on the lake, mostly motorboats, a couple of canoes.  LT had the map out and was trying to get our bearings.  It was a bit different to see the real buildings, a lot of them didn’t seem to be on the map.  We decided where we thought the store might be and had to do a U-turn to get closer to shore and not tip over.  There were whitecaps.

We could see a parking lot of sorts, we thought.  Car windshields were shining in the sun.  As we got closer, the cars were moving into a line, getting ready to leave.  This parking lot was further than the store from where we were coming.

As we got closer, it was obvious we’d picked the right spot, you could see the canoes stacked up on the lawn.  We put ashore and I approached a young man that was tending to the canoes.  I think he was washing them down.  I explained that we’d had a plan, but had gotten off course and we were going to need some advice as to how to get back to our car.  He said he’d get Jake and I could ask him.

I had heard of Jake and had seen him in a couple of Youtube videos, specifically when Kevin Callan was doing the Meanest Link trip.  Jake has very long roots in the park, is a knowledgeable source of information and he runs the Algonquin Outfitters Brent Store.  The young guy walked me up to the back door of Jake’s home.  What I didn’t realize was that the store was on the other side, facing the road.  If I had known that, I would have walked around and talked to whoever was in the store.  Again, hindsight is 20-20.

Brent Store - the bench says so
To lighten up the previous day, I kept saying “I can’t wait to get a Coke when I get to the Brent Store tomorrow!”  Well I was now here on Jake’s back door talking to him.  I explained how we’d gotten slowed down by the black portages on the route we had and did not make it to Radiant Lake where we’d planned to be the previous day.  I asked for a suggestion as to what we could do and Jake held up his hand as though he were hitchhiking.  Okay.  I asked him where the road was.  He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder.  Okay.  He did relent and he offered to drive us.  For $150.  Okay.  Then he softened and said the ranger would be going out later in the day, but he had no idea when.  Finally I asked if he had anything to drink.  “Lake water” was his answer.  Okay.

I went back to LT with a sick stomach.  We pulled our bags up higher on the soggy lawn and started to walk toward the direction Jake had pointed in.  It wasn’t a road but the abandoned train track.  We headed in the direction we thought we should be going to find a large road sign saying “Road Closed”.  This was confusing.  LT took out the map.  We decided to go past the sign.  Shortly after we could see two vehicles leaving the parking lot we had seen, crossing the "Road Closed" path.  I waved at the people in the first car.  They waved back, but didn’t look like they were going to stop and I broke out into a run to stop them.  They stopped.  They were our saving grace.  We explained what we needed and they took LT to the car.  Not just to the turn off to Wendigo Lake, but right to the car. 

Meanwhile, I walked back to my bag, dragged it up to a bench that had “B R E N T * S T O R E” on it.  I took everything out of it, had a snack, drank some water, repacked my bag.  I walked to the dock, took pictures.   I took off my shoes and soaked my feet in the lake water.  I lay on the bench, tried to nap.  In less than an hour LT was back.  We put our backpacks on and carried the canoe up the sloping lawn.  As a last insult on the property of the Brent Store I slammed my head into one of the protruding canoes as we were cutting the corner around them.  I often have my head down when my pack is on my back.  Ouch.  As LT was fastening the canoe onto the car a couple walked by with frosty pop cans that they were drinking.  By now I would wait until we hit the highway before getting a cold Coke.

We stopped at the first gas station/store we came upon and got some cold drinks.  In Deep River we stopped at a chip stand.  I got a pogo and a small fries.  I ate the hot dog, but could barely eat the fries.  LT had poutine.
We got home to LT’s place and locked the canoe in his backyard.  I had to take the morning off the next day as we couldn’t return the canoe to Trailhead until 10 a.m.  


I went over to his place on Wednesday morning and he loaded the canoe on my car for me before he went off to work.  I drove to Britannia Park with a couple of newspapers and sat there until it was close to 10.  We had scratched and dinged the canoe in a few places.  It definitely looked used now.  My anxiety hadn’t completely disappeared.  I was worried it wouldn’t pass inspection at Trailhead.

I wasn’t the only person waiting in the parking lot with rental equipment to return that day.  The guy next to me had a stand-up paddleboard.  I asked him for help, I couldn’t undo the straps on the canoe.  I was telling him about some of the trip.  The swimming chipmunks, the moose and the Swamp with No Bridge.  I had him laughing, which was good, because when most of it was happening, it wasn’t funny.  The girl from Trailhead inspected the canoe and it passed.  Phew!  I drove to my office, picked up my laptop and went to work from home that afternoon.

We learned some very valuable lessons on this trip.  We've got a deep respect for being out in nature.  It might be a while before we tackle any more of those black portages again!  We bought some of the water purification tablets and they come along on all trips even though we never use them.  We both continue to carry a map, just in case.  And in 2015 we would start doing single carries over the portages.  Oh, and we would make sure to drink even when we're not thirsty!

Our next trip was a lazy weekend on Grand Lake.

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