Thursday, May 7, 2009

Algonquin Provincial Park Jul 25 to Aug 2 08 - Day 1

Preface: Canoeing in Algonquin during the busiest time of year is not something I do, as most of you are probably aware. So to understand this self-contradicting decision without getting into too much detail, I decided to touch on this subject briefly. I had originally planned a trip with Marylou far up north near Geralton (N of Lake Superior) for 16 days. By the second day, we were confronted with an insurmountable problem which couldn't be resolved, thus prematurely ending the trip. So after a long drive home, we managed to salvage the remaining vacation time by putting together a substitute trip in Algonquin, of which the following trip report is about.

A typical shot that is "part & parcel" of the
Algonquin experience

Tripping in Algonquin during its peak season is not something I would dare fathom, but a major fiasco on a previous trip had unfortunately precipitated this radical decision. The one side benefit was the opportunity to finally paddle the yellow Nova Craft Pal for the first time and take her on its maiden voyage.

On the drive up, we hastily decided to paddle three separate loops in the NW corner of the park. We arrived at the familiar Kawawaymog Lake Access point, but not before stopping and visiting our good friends (the Thornborrows) at the Swift Trac Outfitters. (see South River trip post)

After purchasing the permits, we quickly unloaded and "gently" laid the Pal on the surface of the lake. This process was certainly going to take some getting used to. (my equipment/canoes usually take a lot of abuse) After making some minor adjustments to the canoe, we set off across the lake.

The yellow NC Pal on the shores of Kawawaymog Lk, ready
for her maiden voyage. "Marylou, where's the
Champagne bottle?!!"

It didn't take long getting used to how she paddles, but there was some significant differences. (in comparison to the Prospector) The narrower beam along the length of the canoe meant a lot less space for paddler and gear. The lower depth also meant our barrel/pack sat higher above the gunwales, including us. However, the Pal tracked well and moved smartly through the mildly choppy waters. We immediately noticed how fast the canoe moved and soon found ourselves across the lake at the opening to the Amble Du Fond river. This was a good opportunity to see how well she turned in the twisty narrow watercourse. It was soon obvious due to the negligible rocker she didn't spin very well, but its light weight and its experienced paddlers made up for this shortcoming. Here's a link to the Pal on the Nova Craft website if you want more info:

A healthy moose grazing on Pickerel weed on the Amble
Du Fond river - see the video below.

As with all new things including canoes, people attempt to keep it pristine as much as possible and as long as possible. Well after our first portage, Marylou failed to notice a mischievous rock hidden under the surface as we set off from shore. The resounding scrape not only shattered the silence but sent shivers down both our spines. It was heartbreaking for the Pal to be scarred so soon, but once she got her first battle scar, it just went downhill from there!

Even with a privy in sight, little white flowers abound!!
Its beyond comprehension!!

The amusing thing about tripping in Algonquin was the opportunity to witness some unusual things. Of course everyone trips differently depending on purpose and goal, but it still was quite an eye opener of sorts throughout our trip. I've heard of people tripping with coolers, but I had to see it to believe it. On the last portage to Kawawaymog Lake we ran across a bunch of guys obviously burdened by the loads they had brought - which included huge coolers that had to be carried by 2 guys! Of course, there were lawn chairs, duffel bags and who knows what else, but it filled every nook and cranny in the canoe! Briefly talking to them, it was acknowledged that they were staying put on this lake, otherwise I could see a mutiny!

Trying out the new Littlbug Stove - a fabulous invention!

We headed east across North Tea Lake and camped 3/4's of the way down at the narrows. We decided to stop early as we were tired and lethargic in the muggy heat, so after setting up camp we relaxed for the remainder of the day. We also got the opportunity to finally try out our new compact wood stove, the Littlbug Stove which I wrote a review in an earlier post, ( ) We instantly fell in love with it as it was so simple and easy to use. No moving parts, compact, portable, and effective for channeling the flame and heat where its needed, - and most of all, no need to carry fuel with you! We ended up boiling water in a kettle and enjoyed hot drinks that evening, compliments of an innovative inventor and Mother Nature for fuel!

Next: Day 2 - "The boardwalk disappeared!"
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