We're Back in Algonquin Park!
It's 2022 and it's time to get back on the water. Weather was looking pretty wet for the May Victoria Day weekend, so we deferred the trip by a week. It was a smart decision. On Saturday of the long weekend, the big storm hit Ottawa. It was identified as a derecho, we're hearing more new terms for weather these days. There was a lot of damage in the city and outlying areas. I have no idea how much Algonquin Park was hit, but I was glad I wasn't sitting in the bug shelter for it when it rolled through.
LT bought a new canoe last year and put his first canoe in for repairs. COVID, the eternal excuse for things not happening, has brought more people out in local nature, so canoe purchases and repairs have backed up considerably. The location where he bought his canoe in March 2021, delivered it in late September 2021, so he didn't get to use it at all last year. He's taken it out for a maiden voyage up Barron Canyon on his own earlier in May 2022. The new canoe is a 16 foot Novacraft blue steel Prospector.
Besides the new canoe, there's lots of new kit this year. First up is a new bug shelter, the No Bug Zone. It's much larger than our original bug shelter and is all in one piece (pictured below). I bought LT an early birthday present. With his birthday in mid-June, there's a great danger that he will buy whatever camping gear idea I can come up with before his birthday happens. This year I bought him a 60L food barrel and harness at MEC. Our first trip of the year would not have any portaging so we would be bringing it even though it was only a two-night trip.
I treated myself to a new pair of camp shoes...they're lightweight and easy to get on my feet when climbing out of the hammock.
|New Dollarama faux crocs|
LT had gifted me a few new items as well. A bivvy bag, a new mattress that inflates very easily with a dry bag with a special attachment, a special clothes dry bag, a new pair of water shoes, and a new canoe pack
He asked me if I wanted one and I vehemently said no. He switched over to a canoe pack several years ago. Here's the thing, he's got an underseat canoe bag that we've designed and made, a hip bag, a belt that he puts things on like his Leatherman, and multiple pockets. So he never needs to go into his canoe pack during travel. I LOVE my backpack. It has a top separate portion that I keep essentials in (like a rain jacket), small side pockets on the belt for an emergency kit, two side stretchy pockets for 1 litre Nalgene bottles, a dry bag attached to the front I can put dirty shoes in. It suits my needs. The canoe pack is about 4 feet tall so it's difficult for me to reach into it to place items or remove items. Did I mention that LT is a full foot taller than me?
I had to just suck it up and try it this trip. I realized that it was just my anxiety that was making the canoe pack a bugaboo for me. I'm currently nursing a sore knee. And by currently I mean it's been over a year now. I was worried how I'd manage in the back country. But enough of my whining.
The planned trip was similar to other season openers: launch at Achray on Grand Lake, paddle to the top, and aim for the uppermost campsite on the lake.
|Access 22 up the lake to the very top campsite|
Back to the canoe. LT felt that his new canoe could handle the two canoe packs and the new 60L barrel (the harness can adapt to a 30L barrel as well). However, he got a call on Friday that the repairs to his old canoe were done and it was ready for pickup, so plans changed to pick that up on the way to Algonquin Park on Saturday morning. It pushed out the departure time a bit as the business only opened at 10 a.m. I was glad to be using the old canoe, again anxiety played a bit of a role here. Last year the business loaned LT a canoe from their old stock for each of his trips and the one they were giving him felt very tippy compared to our Old Faithful.
|Selfie while waiting to be picked up|
It took about half an hour to drive from my place to the canoe pickup. Fortunately LT remembered that he needed to bring the seats and yoke from home with the screws and tools to put them back in, which he did before mounting it on the car to get back on the road.
|Old Faithful all ready to go|
|Sand Lake Gate|
A couple of hours later we were taking the canoe off the car and getting ready to get out on the water. We launched shortly after 1 p.m. on a relatively calm Grand Lake. The launch point was busy, 4 other canoes were setting off, although only one went ahead of us in the direction we were going.
Paddling up the lake we noticed the water was a bit higher than usual. There's a small swift 2/3rds of the way up the lake where the old train track crosses the lake and the opening underneath it is fairly narrow. It took two tries, but we managed to get up it without too much trouble, just a lot of heavy duty digging with the paddles.
It was breezy at times, we were heading into the wind. But nothing major. We made it all the way up to the top in about 2 1/2 hours of paddling. The site is tucked around several small points and you can't see it until you're on top of it. We never saw the one canoe that paddled up the lake ahead of us. I'm not sure if they went into Clemow, portaged into Rowan, or had some other more ambitious plan. But our chosen site was unoccupied and we claimed it. We had the lake to ourselves, it seemed. At least that end of it. We did not see a single occupied campsite all the way up the lake.
|Top of the lake|
|Home for two nights|
It's May, it's bug season. First order of business, set up the bug tent. Then hammocks. LT got busy chopping up the wood he bought at the entrance gate. We needed the wood to cook the fresh dinner he packed of steak and veggies (potatoes/carrots).
|New bug shelter|
|View from inside|
|Hammock set up|
Before supper there was lunch, a much later lunch than originally scheduled. Cheese, grapes, cold meat, yum. Then supper.
|Two delicious steaks, two veggie packs|