Sunday, August 30, 2015

Trip log - Cedar Lake to Catfish Lake: July 30 to Aug. 3, 2014 - Day 5

Day 1               Day 2               Day 3               Day 4

Breakfast today was oatmeal.  I didn’t like the last version of oatmeal from a previous trip, so I added more to today’s breakfast.  I mixed in milk powder, some crushed walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Today’s big treat was cinnamon buns.  Instead of making individual buns, I just folded the circle of dough over and made a big cinnamon bun quesadilla.  LT flipped it over halfway during baking and it was delicious.

We packed up and were on the water shortly afterwards  It only took 15 minutes to cross the lake, which was thankfully very quiet. We packed the car, drove out the dirt road and were eating poutine in Deep River by 1:30, home by 4:30. It was nice to come home a day ahead of the big traffic. There were two accidents on highway 17, one just after Deep River that had just happened, a vehicle went off the road and was upside down in a swamp. One police car was there.  We passed two ambulances on their way to that crash. The highway was closed with a detour shortly after that as well. 

The canoe was returned well in time, I enjoy doing business with Algonquin Portage. I had noticed a couple of canoes on their way into Catfish Lake on Saturday that had their insignia.

Obviously I was able to get all my pictures off my SD card, woo hoo! And, believe it or not, the camera eventually dried out, I put the recharged battery back in and presto, it worked! We have taken it on other trips since.

I'm going to cheat here and show you some pictures we took on Day 1, but hey the location is the same for today!

There were a lot more cars when we landed on Sunday

And the weather was sunnier

I know this is before we started, but I came back all in one piece!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Trip log - Cedar Lake to Catfish Lake: July 30 to Aug. 3, 2014 - Day 4

Day 1               Day 2               Day 3               Day 5

Today would be a complete reverse of Day 2.

Portage 1: 80 m 
Portage 2: 170m
Portage 3: 2345m
Portage 4: 300m
Portage 5: 715m

Alas, still no pictures to share! It was a gorgeous day. We had dehydrated eggs and ham for breakfast. I had found a recipe where you bake them first with polenta in the oven, dehydrate them and add a bit of milk powder when rehydrating.  To help the flavour, I added a can of ham that I had also dehydrated.  They were yummy and perfect fuel for our day.  We were packed up and on the water by 10 a.m. (I have a full post just on the eggs here.)

We took a bit of a false start out of Catfish Lake and had to double back. Near the top of the lake we could hear singing. Girls singing. Several canoes were coming out of the top of the lake towards where we were going. They were all girls and all singing loudly. Motivational I'm sure.

We met a couple of older men just coming out our first portage. One guy looked well traveled, the other was quite red in the face and it looked like he was already suffering. Red-faced guy warned us that the long portage was really, really tough. We tried to figure out where those guys had started their day, I assumed not at Cedar Lake it was still so early in the morning.

Portage 1 was tricky to land at. The flow is going in the same direction as we were with the take-out on our left just a smidge above the old, broken log dam. I found it a bit nerve-wracking. I'm at the front of the canoe and can be a bit of a nervous nelly in the water. I'm also a really bad steerer.

While in Narrowbag Lake we passed two parties going into Catfish. One canoe held a couple of younger men. Their canoe was sitting very low in the water. I joked to LT that it was the case of 24 beers weighing them down - not that I could see it, I was just making a guess. Shortly after they went by the next canoe passed with a young couple and dog. I pointed out to LT that when guys travel in canoes they don't wear life jackets, unless they're with women. LOL

Portage 2 wasn't too bad and was over quickly. At the beginning of this portage, LT decided to carry the canoe first while I carried my backpack. It worked out so well, that he changed his strategy to continue doing that the rest of the day. I walk pretty slowly with 50 pounds on my back. He’s also a foot taller than me, but he insists leg length makes no difference in speed. The canoe weighs less than his backpack, but it is clumsier to carry and that slows him down a bit more. We figured out that he’s just about at my speed with the canoe, where he is much faster with his backpack.

Portage 3 was the big one. Today we were at an advantage. First it wasn't raining on and off, it was a gorgeous day. And we were basically going downhill. We made sure to stop at Unicorn Hill and take advantage of the canoe rest. I think this portage was the first one where we'd seen a canoe rest. I stopped at a campsite near the end to make some KD for lunch. I thought it would take LT longer to go back and get his pack, but he was back just as I was stirring the bright orange cheese powder into the pot. This would be a good place to camp if you were not expecting any more traffic for the day. There aren't a lot of places to pitch your tent, but the noise of the water flowing by would be very soothing to sleep by. 

Today this portage took me 45 minutes to walk. On the way in it was 55 minutes.

Landing at the top of portage 4 was the scariest. It was hard to tell where the landing was. We were above the huge waterfall I have pictures of on Day 2. The roar of the water falling down these falls was twinging on my nerves. We couldn’t see the portage sign as we hugged the left bank.  We had to veer out into the river above the falls to finally see it, phew! And even though the end of the portage is a steep down almost directly into the water, at least it was down and not up.

Portage 5, last one of the day. We were passing more people en route today. It was Saturday and everyone was making their way into the interior for the long weekend, Monday was a holiday. When we landed at the top of it and were unloading the canoe out of the woods walked two older couples. The women had on bikinis, the men in bathing trunks with tank tops. Everyone was carrying a beer. They were wearing Crocs or flip flops. I think one of the men was smoking a cigar. It was kind of a "Huh?" moment. They were staying at the car camping facilities across Cedar Lake and had a boat with a 25 HP motor. They had come up looking for the trail to the waterfall (that we still didn't take today).

I made a joke about getting them to help carry our stuff. I was honestly kidding, but both women were game. The guys were making excuses, one of them claimed he'd just had both knees replaced in the spring. They turned and went back into the woods from where they had come. LT and I stopped for a break to give them some time to make it to the trail turnoff so we would not have to pass them when he was loaded with the canoe.

On the portage we ended up having to pass them going down the trail anyways, they weren't walking too fast. I guess the new knees still needed to be coddled. We passed a young couple making their way up the portage. The guy came first. He had his lifejacket on, it wasn't fastened up, he was carrying bags in either hand, he might have had a small backpack on. Behind him, his female partner had a huge canoe backpack on, and was carrying the canoe. Wow. She’s a tougher girl than me, and I told her so.  I was hoping LT wasn’t getting any ideas seeing her!

Finally we made it to the bottom. We quickly loaded the canoe and just went back to the campsite we had the first night here. We definitely made better time that the trip in, but we were still pretty beat. We shaved a full hour off our travel time. Nice weather and coming downhill along a now familiar path certainly helped.

The lake was a lot busier.  It was Saturday of a long weekend.  The campground across the lake was probably full.  People passed by on a regular basis, both in canoes and in motorboats.  We did get our original campsite and set up quickly.  Dinner was spaghetti, but I forgot the tomato sauce.  Fortunately we had skipped a lunch that had a salsa I could substitute and it was delicious.  There were two squirrels that were having quite the chase with each other at our campsite – it was very entertaining.

That night was quiet.  There was no repeat of the disturbance we had the last time at this site.  It is very surprising how quiet it gets at night.  We could sometimes hear the river coming into the lake if the wind was blowing the right direction.  We were able to sleep with the fly off again tonight - it helps keep the tent cool.  It was even a bit cold in the early morning hours.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Trip log - Cedar Lake to Catfish Lake: July 30 to Aug. 3, 2014 - Day 3

Day 1               Day 2               Day 4               Day 5

We took it easy today, no rush to get up, no rush to make any meals, no rush to break camp. And I have no pictures to show you! 

It was a gorgeous, perfect, sunny day with great temperatures. We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast with bacon.

Late morning we decided to go on an exploratory paddle. Here's the route we took:

We went down the lake making our way to the peninsula across from Shangri La. We landed at it and took a look around. It's a popular site, lots of "furniture". We got back into the canoe and went around the Shangri La island, but didn't land there.

We went over into the bay, following the shoreline and here is where we saw a momma loon swimming with her chick on her back. We checked out Turtle Rock (very small). It was more like bird poop rock. Then back to the campsite for a nap in the hammock.

One of the nice features of this campsite is the thunderbox. It's the best view I've had so far. It's set up high on the rock, trees behind you, and facing the lake. Anyone going by could see you if you waved at them to grab their attention. Fortunately there's not much traffic.

We did see a fair bit of traffic on this lake while relaxing at our site today. I'm sure there were a couple of disappointed travelers. We would not be paying attention then a voice would ring out, "Nope, there's someone on it." That happened a couple of times.

Dinner was soft tacos with fruit crisp for dessert.

About 7 p.m. a group of 5 canoes went by with some boys and one adult male. Thank goodness it wasn't a party group. As they landed in the fading light at the next spot past us, the leader was calling out orders to people for setting up camp, getting firewood and preparing food. We could hear him pretty clearly. They were pretty quiet after their initial set-up.

The only other significant thing that happened on the island was that as the daylight faded, the mice got braver and braver. They were taking runs at the bug tent and throwing themselves against it. I'm not sure if they were trying to get in or trying to climb over it. All I know is that it freaked me out and LT thought it was pretty funny. The mice were grey so very hard to discern in the light we did have. I was startled so badly, I tipped my tripod chair over and fell, landing on the fuel bottle for my stove and breaking the pump.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trip log - Cedar Lake to Catfish Lake: July 30 to Aug. 3, 2014 - Day 2

Day 1               Day 3               Day 4               Day 5

We were up early, eating breakfast (fresh eggs, reheated bacon) and off on the day's travels. Well, right after I cleaned up from the squirrel hissy fit in the bug tent the night before. 

The morning dawned cloudy. The advantage was that we wouldn’t get overheated on our portaging.  The disadvantage was that it would rain a bit on and off all day. I was glad to have my new shirt and pants from the Columbia outlet in Kingston. The fabric is amazing and dried very quickly.

After breakfast we were on the lake by 10 a.m. It would take us 7 hours to travel to our campsite on Catfish Lake today.

I brought my hiking poles for this trip, they make a big difference for portaging for me. Here were the day's portages:

Portage 1: 715m
Portage 2: 300m
Portage 3: 2345m
Portage 4: 170m
Portage 5: 80m

Today's route
Portage 1: We always start the day in fine form. 715 meters?  Piece of cake! Um, not so much. This portage is up, up, then up a bit more. We climbed from 308m to 336m, huffing and puffing. There is a trail to go off and see the waterfall you are portaging around. We had a big day so we would not be taking any side trails today. However I did notice how the vegetation on the side of the portage trail was trimmed back.  After all the unmaintained portages on our last trip, I could really appreciate this effort!

Muddy put-in into the Petawawa River
The put-in was a bit mucky, but the exciting part is that this was my first time on the Petawawa River.  It was a calm paddle on flat water, there is a distinct current, but it is not hard to work against.  I took a few pictures of the put-in area waiting for LT to return with the canoe, I even found the wooden cross for A. Corbeil and took a picture of that.

Portage 2: This is a short portage, however, it hasn't got a great landing site and you need to carry the canoe up a very, very steep hill to get started on the portage. You are rewarded though with the view of a gorgeous waterfall as you arrive at the beginning of the portage.
I think this might be Stacks Falls

Rocky put-kn above the big falls
Above the falls, we put in and were back in the Petawawa River for another 10-15 minute paddle to the longest portage of the day.

Portage 3: This is the killer portage of the day. We started at 339m, went up to a peak of 408m and back down to 384m. It's a long one: 2345 meters long. There are a few boardwalks on this trail. Our day was giving us a bit of challenge by raining off and on as we traveled. We were rained on during this portage, not heavily, but enough to make it a more painful journey. It made the boardwalks slippery and the slightly muddy spots of the trail even muddier. The bugs were bad, so stopping to rest was needed, but the bugs were awful when we did stop. There is a canoe rest at the peak of the trail, but we took a rest shortly before then and didn't stop when we got there. We would use it on the way back though. Our first trip through took us 55 minutes including the 2 breaks we took.

The end of this portage is at a very pretty spot. Similar to our last trip, I was not walking the portages more than once. I sat at the end of this portage very happily. I had on Columbia long pants that I could unzip the lower legs to convert into shorts. Not because I wanted to tan, but because I wanted to wash the mud off them. I did and they dried on a rock in the sun before LT made it back.

On this trip I was carrying my small Canon PowerShot camera. At this portage end, while I was playing around with washing pant legs, taking pictures, just being fidgety, I took off my hoodie that had the camera in the pocket and I lay it on a sloping rock into the water to dry out. When I picked up the hoodie off the rock a short time later, it was like slow motion. The camera fell out of the pocket and slid down the slanted rock into about a foot of water. "Noooooooooo!" I reached in, grabbed the camera, and immediately removed the SD card and the battery. No more pictures on this trip!

Another new looking bridge

End of portage 3 - and it's not raining!

Above the waterfalls/rapids we were portaging around

See that darned slanted rock???
It only took a few minutes to paddle across the pond to the next portage.

Portage 4: This small portage of 170 meters took us into Narrowbag Lake. While on the lake, it looked like it was going to really storm on us. LT took us to the opposite side of the lake (it's not overly wide) out of the wind and it poured. This was the second time we had been soaked in the canoe today. We also had a storm hit us on the Petawawa River right after the first portage.

Portage 5: This portage was even shorter, 80 meters. It is a short hop around an old log chute and then we were into the upper part of Catfish Lake.

Initially we were in a narrow section with a lot of sharp rocks looming out of the water, many coming close to the surface. Then as we came out of that, around the corner, the lake was opening up to us. The first campsite we passed was occupied. There was a tent and the food bag was hug. We were going to try to go a bit further down anyways. We hit gold! The island campsite was empty. I'm pretty sure someone had just left. I think the fire was still smoldering in the firepit. This is a gorgeous campsite, but you'll have to take my word for it as I have NO pictures! :-(

We didn’t see anyone on our whole trip this day.  Granted it was a Thursday before a long weekend.

It was a gorgeous site, a long island, with a great rocky point, majestic pine trees, a lovely breeze and the sun was out.  We were home!  We set up camp, got some water filtering and I set up the hammock.  We had decided to not have a specific lunch on travel days, but to snack more.  It was 5 p.m. when we arrived, so dinner was the next meal.  We had shepherd’s pie.  I haven’t figured out a suitable dehydrated mashed potato mix.  I make regular mashed potatoes and freeze them in a Ziploc baggie – they thaw out in time for day 2 dinner. We skipped dessert.

We went to bed and even though it was pretty dark, there was still enough light for us to see a mouse scuttle up and over the tent fly. We could make out his silhouette, holy crap! Up and over he went. A couple of times.  Later that night we heard some pretty loud kerplunks in the water – it sounded like someone was dropping a very heavy rock into the lake.   We surmised it must be a loon getting in and out of its nest on the shore by the tent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trip log - Cedar Lake to Catfish Lake: July 30 to Aug. 3, 2014 - Day 1

Day 2               Day 3               Day 4               Day 5

As we were progressing through the summer, the trips were becoming longer. This would be our longest trip so far.  Five days and four nights. But instead of making this a tough trip like our last foray into this area (read here), we would start and end the trip easier and take a rest day in the middle.

Here was the route:

Day 1: travel to Cedar Lake, launch and find a camping spot near where the Petawawa River flows into the lake, fairly close to the first portage out of the lake.

Day 2: travel from Cedar Lake all the way to Catfish Lake

Day 3: rest day at Catfish Lake, do some exploring of the lake

Day 4: travel out of Catfish Lake all the way back to Cedar Lake

Day 5: paddle back to the access point and go home.

Campsite marked with purple triangle
We didn't rush, but did leave as early as we could. We got to the access point at Cedar close to 11 a.m. after picking up our rental canoe at Algonquin Portage on the road to Achray near Petawawa. All the canoes at Algonquin Outfitters at the Brent Store were reserved for the upcoming long weekend. It was raining slightly, so we waited it out in the car. We sat and watched another couple with a pickup truck unload and launch in the rain. We waited a bit more. It started to clear a bit so we pulled the car up to the shore and unloaded everything.

Cedar Lake can be tough if the wind and waves start up. Our first trip here on Canada Day gave us a lot of respect for this lake. Our route was planned specifically around the possibility of being wind-bound here. Today's effort was to basically just get ourselves across the lake. Today the lake seemed pretty calm.

We set out and the weather looked like it was going to get worse, but it didn't really. It spit on us a bit, but nothing very serious. There was a bit of a thunder roll, but it didn't develop into anything. We went to the campsite almost directly across from the access point, it was just okay. We had a lot of time, so we went to the next one closer to the portage. It's a nice spot, but a bit tough to unload and load the canoe.

We unloaded and set up camp. We waited a bit before going out to get water in the lake for filtering. This spot has a couple of windbreaks, we put the tent behind one and the bug shelter behind the other one. The view was spectacular, you can look up the lake and you can hear the Petawawa River roaring into the lake if the wind is blowing from that direction.

Hidden tent

Rest of the setup from the other side of the windbreak
LT made a fresh lunch of ciabatta buns with cold meat. I ate most of my sandwich. We broke up some pieces of the leftover bun and were feeding them to the resident chipmunk and squirrel. There are probably more than just those two, but they have a deal where only one begs at a time so we don’t realize we’re feeding half a dozen of them.

After a bit of a rest and waiting until the weather was much nicer, we went out to explore the area near the portage and the river.  The roar of the water is pretty intense and can be a bit frightening, but LT reminds me it is coming into the lake, we're not going to be swept over any ledges here. Just for fun we checked out a couple of campsites to the right of the river, we would be coming back through here in a few more days and staying here again. We found they were very closed off with thick growth along the waterline. The breeze would probably not get through to help keep the bugs off.  

View up the lake

A bit more to the left of the view above as the sun came out

Cedar Lake rainbow, looking around the point down the lake
 Before dinner paddling pictures of the Petawawa River:

For dinner we had pizza, yum, with the banana nut bread pudding for dessert.

We did not have a campfire at all during this trip. One of the disadvantages of travelling popular routes is that the campsites are often picked clean of deadwood. It is usually more comfortable sitting in the bug shelter than sitting around the fire anyways. We can’t put the bug shelter too close to the fire pit either. However, with no campfire, bedtime is earlier.

After dinner sunset pictures:

We went to bed fairly early. We had a big day planned the following day. The food bag was hung. I left the camping pots inside the bug shelter. 

LT is a very soft spoken person. Around 11 he woke me up because he was clearing his throat very loudly. Huh??? This was not like him at all. He was telling me that there was some very noisy crashing through the brush near our camp. It sounded like a VERY large animal was in the vicinity. We talked loudly for about 20 minutes after the initial crashing subsided. LT got up and flashed light around the campsite to ensure there were no visitors and none were seen. He had brought a hatchet with him on this trip. He went and fished that out of his bag and brought it back to spend the night with us in the tent. 

Whatever creature it was, we never knew. But it made us wary for the rest of this trip. Later that night I think some squirrels paid us a visit. The camping pots were tossed around inside the bug tent and something chewed its way through the collapsible silicone measuring cup I use to portion water into the dehydrated food. The loud camp visitor was part of our conversation for the rest of this trip. Skunk? Raccoon? Porcupine? Bear!!!?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Making Dehydrated Eggs

My only experience with powdered eggs is the $1.99 breakfast at Ikea's. I used to work right next door to the Ottawa Ikea years ago and the only way they could keep the price that low is powdered eggs. I'm assuming. Also, they only serve it for about an hour in the morning, open at 10, breakfast until 11. I tried it once with my co-workers, then just switched to their massive cinnamon buns. (Shhhh, I didn't really say that!)

I hear that powdered eggs are almost always gross. Chef Glenn has a solution. It takes a bit of work in the kitchen, but it produces palatable scrambled eggs in camp. He doesn't give the recipe for free on his web site, so I'm going to be respectful and not give you the proportions of ingredients. But I'll explain the process.

Having eggs for breakfast while canoe camping is great. We need protein, especially if it's going to be a travel day, something that's going to give us energy and strength to push through the morning.

This egg recipe is not just eggs, it's a hybrid version. The eggs are mixed with polenta. The first step is to make a batch of polenta. Once it has cooled slightly it is mixed into some eggs that have been beaten so the yolk and whites are completely mixed. The whole batch is put into the oven to bake, you need to stir it a couple of times during baking. I don't even add salt or pepper. I bring those along and much like my cooking at home, I salt when I'm going to eat it, except for baking when it's in a recipe.

Ready for the oven
Once it is baked, you take it out of the oven and put it on the dehydrator trays. His recipe says it takes about 4 hours to dehydrate. I have a less expensive dehydrator, so I often find that it takes a bit longer to dry for me. 
Out of the oven

Here's a picture of the tray ready to go into the dehydrator.

And this is what the 5 trays of eggs look like when they are finished drying:

I also dehydrate some canned ham to add to these eggs when we're going to eat them. I got these cans, 4 for $5, at Food Basics yesterday.

As I mentioned, I'm not a powder egg connoissuer. However, LT is and the first time he tasted these he really liked them. This batch I am making above is coming along with us for a 7 day trip we're taking in September.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Making Lunch at Breakfast

Are you trying to figure out what the heck that title means? It's supposed to hook your interest!

While reading Chef Glenn's website recently, he had an idea that I decided to try out. When we have a travel day we often don't want to stop to make a hot lunch. Getting out the stove, having clean water to boil, dirtying pots and dishes and utensils - none of that really works when we just want to keep going.

Today I purchased a wide-mouthed Thermos bottle at Canadian Tire. When my son was young he refused to eat sandwiches for lunch at school. School lunches were often burritos or Jamaican patties that were heated up in the microwave and popped into a plastic wide-mouthed thermos that had been pre-heated with boiling water.

I did choose 3 different bottles at Canadian Tire and took them over to the kitchen scales section, but I didn't have enough nerve to set up any of the packaged scales to see which bottle was the lightest. I had to trust my own ability to see which one was lightest. I selected the following bottle:

It weighs 8.3 ounces (when empty) and holds 12 fluid ounces
Tonight I tested it out. I put in a single serving of rice, corn, peas, red peppers and canned ham - all dehydrated. I boiled water, added a cup, gave it a quick stir, closed the lid and let it sit for several hours. Okay, I'm not very patient, 2 1/2 hours. I opened it up and ta-dah! I had a meal ready to eat and it was warm. Steam came off of it when I put it in a bowl.

So at camp, when I'm boiling water for my tea at breakfast, I'm going to add a single serving meal to this baby, add the boiling water, carry it and have a hot lunch at the ready on the route! I just need to figure out how to keep a fork handy, I have a tendency to lose utensils on the trip.

It was yummy!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Keen on Keens!

This post has a long back story. Several years ago I bought a present for someone, a book about a golf trip the author took, he golfed and walked the perimeter of Ireland. We went off to Cuba on vacation, we were staying in Old Havana at a bed and breakfast. We forgot to bring the usual travel Scrabble game for evening entertainment (I know, sounds like we're party animals - not!). So we entertained ourselves by reading the golf book out loud to each other.

It was "A Course Called Ireland" by Tom Coyne, and it was a hilarious read! We enjoyed it so much, I lent the book to both of my brothers, my father and my boss. My boss enjoyed it so much he bought 4 copies, one for each of his golfing foursome including himself.

Which all sounds very completely off track. But one of the things the author mentions is the brand of the boots he wore on the trip. Keen. This was the first time I'd heard about the brand but the next time I was in Trailhead I noticed they carried Keen shoes. The next trip after Cuba was a trip to San Francisco where there was going to be lots and lots of walking. I wanted to buy a shoe that would be comfortable, practical, durable and allow me to keep up with my walking partner. I bought a pair of the Presidio casual shoes and they were perfect for what I needed. However, it took a bit to get over the fact that they are not "pretty, girly" shoes.  

After a couple of years the Presidio shoes started to creak when I was walking in them. I know from running shoes that often the shoes break down inside but the outside still looks fine. I bought a second pair of the exact same style. Honestly when I put the two pairs beside each other, you could hardly tell which ones were the older pair. 

A very handsome Winston is modelling this pair
Since then I have added to my Keen collection. After the first hike that LT took me through Algonquin Park (20 km) and my hiking boots treated me so poorly, I bought a pair of hiking shoes.

I added a pair of the Whisper sandals because they looked like a perfect canoeing shoe (ah, but the bugs bite through the holes) and my feet currently have a very funny set of tan lines I wear these so much.

All trips start by taking that first step....

I am happy with all my Keen purchases! I even have a teeny Keen sandal that LT caught from Kevin Callan when he was tossing them out at a talk he was giving at last spring's Outdoor Show. It's just so darn cute!

I would highly recommend any of their footwear. And Keen is not aware of my existence so they are not sponsoring this post. (HA!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trip log - Rainy weekend on Grand Lake: July 19 to 21, 2014

This trip was meant to celebrate the beginning of two weeks of vacation for LT. After having a very adventurous trip over the Canada Day long weekend, we were just looking to chill somewhere with very little portaging and travel.

The plan was to launch from Achray, paddle on Grand Lake halfway up to the top, find a campsite there for the first night.  The second day we would paddle down the lake and portage, eventually getting to St. Andrews Lake.

I was excited to try my brand new hammock for the first time.

I had picked it up at Costco and after thinking about it a bit, I went back to buy the bug netting that went with the hammock.  

We didn't rush getting out the door for this trip, it was going to be a bit more leisurely. We rented a canoe from the Algonquin Portage store on the way into the park. We launched from Achray and headed up the lake.

We checked out what we thought would be the best sites around where we were hoping to camp and all the good ones seemed to be taken. Hmmmm. We backtracked a bit and checked out a campsite that was near some swampier looking water. It wasn't bad, but there was another one around the corner. We got back into the canoe and went around to see if it was better. It wasn't. So we went back to the first site we had stopped at and decided to camp there. It's marked on the map with a triangle, near the top.
Jeff's Maps
The site was surprisingly spacious, flat and quite nice. It was also very private, which was great as all the campsites (except one) around us were occupied. We still had a feeling like we were the only ones there.

We set up camp, including the new hammock and after lunch we both fit into it for a nap. I was very surprised that I actually fell asleep. It must have been the early hour I got up at to start the trip.  

The following was the meal plan for this trip:
DAY 1:

Breakfast (in the car)
Egg wraps with bacon
Fresh sandwiches
Granola with dried fruit
Banana nut pudding
After Dinner:
Hot chocolate
DAY 2:

Bannock - sweet
Soft tacos with meat/cheese
Granola with dried fruit
Shepherd's Pie
Trail angelfood cake
After Dinner:
Hot chocolate
DAY 3:

Blueberry Pancakes
Fruit roll-ups

Because we weren't travelling there's not much to really report on the weekend's adventures.  But as previously mentioned, after the amount of effort expended on the last trip, we needed a weekend to just chill.

Once supper was served it started to rain lightly. It rained off and on for the night and into the next morning.  

The next morning as we sat in the bug shelter having a late breakfast (meaning after 8), we made a call.  We decided to just stay put for our second night. We validated it by noticing that no one had come late yesterday to the site next to us and it was Sunday night, so people would be leaving instead of arriving. We just didn't want to pack up a soaking wet camp only to unpack it soaking wet on St. Andrews.

In the meantime, there was a slugfest going on.  No, LT and I were getting along just fine.  But slugs were appearing in huge numbers and they were attracted to our structures. They were crawling into the bug shelter and were all over the tent. We watched one huge slug completely devour a dead deer fly. This is what becomes entertainment when there's no cell reception, LOL.

The view from our site towards Grand Lake

On Sunday we went out for a little paddle when the sun broke through. We cruised close to the cabin on the peninsula near us to peek at it.  We were respectful and did not get out of our canoe though. I somehow managed to drop my sunglasses into the shallow bay we were on. LT heroically fished them out of the water for me.

Monday morning after a leisurely breakfast we packed up and slowly made our way back. We stopped at the beach for the car campers. I went in for a swim and afterwards we made some KD for lunch.

It was great to spend a weekend in the park just relaxing. We were really pleased with our campsite, it gave us tons of privacy and made us feel like we were the only ones in the park that weekend!