Saturday, June 04, 2022

May Long Weekend Bumped Out 2022 - Day 3

After a relatively sleepless night, we were up and LT retrieved a completely unscarred food barrel. I guess the bear was playing the bongos on someone else's food barrel. LT said it was just probably a raccoon. Yeah, a monster-sized one!

Next up was boiling water for tea and to rehydrate scrambled eggs and ham (plus peppers and onions). We also had bacon to reheat. This year I tried a different method of cooking the eggs by pulverizing the cornmeal before baking the eggs in the oven and then dehydrating them. I use a cookbook I bought online for most of my recipes and I love it. Chef Glenn. Here's a link to his site:

The eggs came out pretty good. Again I poured boiling water over the dehydrated eggs and left them for 45 minutes before cooking them up a bit on the stove. 

I don't have a lot of pictures for this trip as I was using my Canon camera and it just wasn't handy while in the canoe, it was stored in my canoe pack. 

There was no rush to pack up and move just yet. We only had about 2.5 hours of paddling to do before packing up and heading home. 

The weather was excellent for the weekend. The only rain was a few sprinkles around midnight the night before that didn't last long. The night before had been warmer. 

It didn't take much to pack up. One positive thing about the canoe pack is that it has a lot of room, it's not so much of putting a puzzle back together. Especially as it didn't matter so much as I wouldn't have the pack on my back any further than from the site to the canoe. 

On the way back the wind was hitting us at a 45 degree angle from the front right side. No such luck that we would get it from behind for a slight push. We navigated through the narrows of the train bridge without any problem. I had to keep an eye out for rocks on the way down the lake as there are a couple of spots where they are hidden just below the surface.

When we were on the way to our site a couple of days earlier, I refused an offer to stretch my legs as it felt like we'd only been in the canoe about half an hour. On the way back today I suggested a leg stretch at about the same point, one where there would only be about 30 minutes left to paddle. We stopped at a camp site and had a drink and a snack. 

Back in the water and as we neared the access point the wind was picking up. Before the access point is a lovely beach that is for the car camping sites. I suggested to LT that if he wanted we could dock there and just skip the fight to get back to the access point. He teased me by steering straight for it. He's in the back and does all the steering. I struggle with steering when he takes a break from paddling. But it was just a tease as he then tacked out towards the middle of the lake again. It was just a strategy to prevent us from being parallel to the waves. 

When we got to the access point we put in on the opposite side of the dock. There was quite a crowd landed already. Three canoes, six guys, three pickup trucks, all crowding the access point. We managed to load up and head out ahead of all three trucks even though LT had to go get his vehicle. 

We stopped at Cobden at the Chip Pit. It's the first time we have stopped there and I would recommend it. I had a poutine which had cheese curds all the way through it. And a cold Coke. Nothing beats it.

We're looking forward to our next trip. It's in Killarney. I have never been there, but LT has had a solo trip there when I was across the pond in the UK.

I did have a major fail on this trip. Everything in my canoe pack was put into its own bag. I had a bag of miscellaneous stuff like my dishes. I tossed in a bottle of spray sunscreen. Oh, and it didn't have a cap. Yup, everything in that bag got completely sprayed. It was like being sprayed by a skunk, none of the smell seems to wash off, although the scent was more pleasant than a skunk, just slightly though. Lesson learned.

Day 1                                         Day 2

May Long Weekend Bumped Out 2022 - Day 2

There wasn't much happening today. It was a rest day to be spent relaxing and just enjoying being out in nature. 

Even though I'd gone with LT when he initially set up the bear hang of the new barrel, I hadn't gone back when he actually hung it. And I wasn't wandering back into the bush to get it down on my own. So I just stayed in my hammock for as long as I could before having to get up to use the facilities. And speaking of facilities, our campsite had a brand, spanking new thunderbox. A nice bonus. The only issue was that the shiny new chain seemed to be a bit tangled and it was a struggle to get the lid to stay in the fully upright position. But hey, I'm not complaining.

Here are some random pictures as I didn't take out my camera to document any of our meals.

Highlights of the day - FOOD!

Breakfast was eggs with ready cooked bacon. There were supposed to be English muffins, but someone forgot them. However, they remembered to bring the jam I was going to put on such muffins. Speaking of forgotten items, I have a little list: my canoe seat (only requested when no portaging is happening), a head lamp (even though there were 4 to choose from), a Thermos (as we were going to test out a Thermos lunch) and last but not least, a cup to drink out of, predominantly for tea. None of these items were essential. The most used item is the cup, but one Thermos had been packed so it was put into use as the teacup.

Lunch was skipped as we hadn't eaten any of our snack the previous day. So snacks it was for lunch. 

Supper was dehydrated lasagna. I tried something different this year. LT has mentioned that he finds the rehydration of the pasta sauce a bit annoying. I used my Blendtec blender to pulverize the dehydrated pasta sauce into powder. A 500 mL jar dehydrated and pulverized weighed only 95 grams. I had put a third of the jar into the supper, however I will use more next time. As well as the pasta sauce, the meal had (all cooked and dehydrated separately) mini lasagna noodles I get at Bulk Barn, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, and minced beef.

I put the contents in a pot and poured boiling water on it. I set it in a pot cozy with a lid and left it for 45 minutes. After that I cooked it for 10-15 minutes. I had brought parmesan cheese, however LT had also packed some cheese strings, so I added a few of those on top of the pot as it finished cooking and the meal was delicious. I had also made some garlic bread wrapped in foil that we heated up in the frying pan over the stove.

I did not pack any desserts that needed to be constructed from a dehydrated state for this trip. I baked some two-bite brownies. They were a bit dry, but edible. I also packed a couple of large chocolate bars. We split one on the first night. My stomach was upset from the garlic bread, so I was done eating for the day.

On the Friday before we left I made the mistake of watching a camping video on Youtube from a couple of campers that had taken a trip last summer out of Canoe Lake. On their first night they had hung their food barrel high away from their site. At 3 a.m. a bear came into the site, tore it down, and ran off with it. They got out of bed to see if it was still there and no, it wasn't. The bear was back for more at 5 a.m. in total darkness. Huffing and pawing the ground at their campsite. They packed up and left shortly after. On their way out they passed a spot on the shoreline where yellow tape was strung out and a bear trap was set out. When they brought their canoe back to the rental place, the guy said that someone else had had their food barrel taken. He went to look for it the next day and found it with six other barrels. 

As dusk was falling at our site, there was a loud crashing noise coming from behind the campsite. At this site it's not a far distance to get to the train track. I'm sure that track is used as an animal highway. As it was dusk, I assume it was a deer just trying to come down to the lake for a drink of water. I wasn't taking any chances. I was alone in the bug shelter, LT was doing something by his hammock. I grabbed the kettle and a metal mug and clanged them together to make a lot of noise. Whatever animal it was, it turned back and did not come into camp. 

Everything with scent goes into the food barrel to be hung. Everything. Lip balm, toothpaste and my antacid tablets. I had chewed a few to calm my roiling belly, but had not left enough in my pocket. Off they went into the bear hang.

I was struggling to fall asleep. My stomach was giving me grief. I lay in my hammock listening to every single thing I could hear. The woods were noisy tonight. We went to bed earlier tonight than the previous night. I struggled to get comfortable. I had the not-so-brilliant idea of putting my new mattress inside my new bivvy bag to help keep it in place. It was a disaster. I twisted and turned in my hammock, having an even harder time to control where my mattress would end up. Finally I managed to take it out of the bivy bag and in frustration I tossed the bivvy bag out of the hammock. 

At about 11:30 there was a loud noise coming from the area where the barrel was hung. To my ears it sounded like a large animal pounding with two strong paws on an item that was not found in nature. I pictured a bear playing pinata with the barrel. I called out to LT and he heard it too. That was it for me. My nerves kicked into full gear. As a result of the nerves and the horrible indigestion, I had to get out of my hammock and make my way to the thunderbox at midnight. I sang all the way back to it making my presence known to any critters. There was a large spider taking refuge under the top as I opened it. The kinky chain was giving me a hard time, which didn't help. I managed to sleep from 2 to 3 a.m. then again from 4 to 5. I was glad to see the daylight finally dawn.

Oh, I forgot to mention. There was fresh bear scat next to where my hammock was hung. By fresh I mean it was maybe 3 days old when we got there. Here's a picture on probably day 5.

Day 1                                      Day 3

May Long Weekend Bumped Out 2022 - Day 1

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

Sandy landing
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.

Fire pit

Two delicious steaks, two veggie packs

I'm usually an early-to-bed camper. Tonight I hung out with LT in the bug shelter until after 11. I dragged him down to the shoreline to ogle the stars. It's a pretty dark zone and there were no clouds so lots were visible. We think we saw a satellite cross the sky as well. 

It was a cool night. I think it might have gone down to 10 degrees Celsius, that's the magic number when the flying insects go to sleep. The new mattress was tricky to keep on top of. It has a predisposition to curl slightly, so it was escaping from under me in the hammock. It felt very narrow and in the hammock I sleep on my side. I immediately would know that I had a body part not on the mattress as I would feel the cold. I slept okay and LT was snoring up a storm.

Day 2                                       Day 3