Category Archives: Camp

Canoeing to Burnt Island Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park

Panorama view of our campsite

For our 30th wedding anniversary this year, the only gift I wanted was for the two of us to spend time together, away from everything. Thus we chose to go camping in the back country of Algonquin Provincial Park Thanksgiving weekend.

After checking with our adult children that they didn’t mind us going away for Thanksgiving, we left Hamilton at 7:15 am. As we were driving towards Algonquin, my husband decided that we should add an extra day to our trip to avoid the traffic coming home.

Once we arrived at Canoe Lake, we then changed our destination from Little Doe Lake to Burnt Island Lake since there were just too many bear warnings for the first area. We are quite prepared with our cans of Bear Spray, plus we keep a clean camp site and make sure our food is always in a barrel tied high up in the trees. (The one exception is my cream, which is in a thermos, in a thermal bag, tied in the water).

Food barrel tied high in trees.

Food barrel tied high in trees.

Keeping my cream cold in the water

Keeping my cream cold in the water

Matt and I ready to embark

Matt and I ready to embark.

We left Canoe Lake at 12:30 p.m., arriving at the first of four portages at 1:45 p.m. Our itinerary went as follows: Canoe Lake to first portage to Joe Lake, then Joe Lake to the East Arm, then to Joe Lake; we avoided the second portage into Lost Joe Lake since the water was high enough to paddle through the river; the next portage was from Lost Joe Lake to Baby Joe Lake, where I proceeded to fall trying to get back into the canoe (the lake was not deep enough for us to sit in and paddle, I walked well hubby pulled the canoe through the river); soaking wet from the waist down and with sore knees since I fell onto rocks, we headed towards the portage to Burnt Island Lake, at this point we had to do the portage since there is a dam between the two lakes.  Once in Burnt Island Lake we found a campsite around 5:15 pm. We had spent approximately five hours in the water.

Day two: We awoke around 7 a.m. with a drizzle of rain. Erect second tarp beside the tent, so we do not get wet from the rain. Our daily was spent lazily by the fire playing scrabble and cribbage. There was quite a violent rain and wind storm Saturday night, apparently the remnant of Hurricane Nate. The tarp over our tent did an excellent job of keeping our tent dry. Once the tarp would fill with water, it poured off each side. Around 5 a.m., there was one last huge wind gust that made one of our ropes snap, but this was easily fixed. Another day of relaxation, until I picked up the bear spray and accidentally sprayed myself in the eye. I had neglected to put the safety back on the can after going to the toilet. It sprayed forward, but then there was a back-wind. Thankfully we always have a jug of water on hand, so Matt quickly jumped up with the water, and flushed my left eye.  The rest of the day was again spent just relaxing and enjoying the view and silence.

Our two cans of bear spray

Our two cans of bear spray

Day three: Was shorts and t-shirts. We did some fishing and took lots of pictures. In the afternoon we went for a canoe ride, where I became so involved with picture-taking I didn’t realized I was moving back in my seat, only to fall backwards into the canoe. It hurt, and I couldn’t right myself back into the seat. Matt paddled back to the campsite so he could remove me from the canoe. (I tend to be the comic relief).

Laying down in the canoe because I fell backwards.

Laying down in the canoe because I fell backwards. Please ignore the rat’s nest of a hairdo I have.

Day four: Monday, another day of tuning out and enjoying nature.

Day five: We packed up our campsite and started the paddle back home.

Over the five days, we snapped, between the two of us, with our Nikon’s and phones over 1000 pictures. Here are a select few:

Tip of the canoe

I couldn’t get enough of the sunsets in Algonquin:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our daily view:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Selfie

Selfie

Red merganser resting on the warmth of the rock

Red merganser resting on the warmth of the rock

 

red breasted merganser having a stretch

Red breasted merganser having a stretch

 

A flying condom wrapper hit me in the head

Last month hubby and I had the opportunity to go away without kids for two weeks, and we took it!  Granted there were only two of our three children at living home and they are 23 and 21, so having mom and dad out of the house for a couple of weeks really isn’t a big deal.

Not a lot gets done in regards to personal grooming when you are on the road for two weeks, camping most of the time. Showers were had, but trying to shave one’s legs in a campground shower stall is next to impossible, if you want to do it with hot water. Plus there were a number of days where it had rained and rained so the comfort stations were not in their best shape.

Picture of us on Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia

Starting to look haggard

So after two weeks away from home, it was time for hubby and I to pretty ourselves up. I was fine with taking care of myself, hubby was able to trim his beard to perfection, but then came time to deal with the back hair. I know, eww, and he required my assistance.

Some woman may like a hairy man, and certainly I like his hairy chest but when it comes to back hair, no thank you, I do not want to sleep with a grizzly bear. Over the years we have tried different methods of hair removal. There was the waxing episode (insert laughter), it did not go over well, sure enough it removed a lot of hair but he couldn’t handle the pain (and he has the nerve to suggest I wax my nether regions, ha!). Then there was the cream removal treatment, it didn’t really work either, I had to keep slathering it on, then showering it off for him, then slathering it on again, showering, and so on. The final and most successful is plain old shaving with the electric beard trimmer, it’s quick, painless, and does the trick. Voila! He’s been beautified.

Now sex on vacation doesn’t really happen when you are driving, and stopping, and driving all day, then trying to find a place to stay, particularly since this was a spur of the moment trip, and nothing was booked. We were exhausted most nights, then we would be camping, having to cook our dinner, set up the tent, the air mattress, sleeping bags, and hubby’s nightly fight to start a fire with soggy wood (he usually won after soaking everything with camp fuel). Don’t get me wrong, I would not trade the camping for anything, I loved every minute of it, and so did my husband, but we were tired, and even if sex was on our mind, we were tired.

So, when we arrived home, we had to make up for lost time. Now, after years of bad timing you would think middle child would have learned by now, that when you knock on your parent’s bedroom door, you do not just walk in. Apparently the poor girl has not learned, and is once again scarred for life!

After slamming our door shut, she yelled she was going to check the mail. About ten minutes later I sent her a text message asking if we received any mail, she sent me this back:

No
Please
I’m tainted
My brain is overloading
I’m about to throw up
WHY
GET A FUCKING HOTEL ROOM
DISGUSTING HUMANS
I WANT TO DIE

The poor girl. Now a few weeks have gone by, and I must say she has gotten her revenge, not on purpose, but she has. This morning as I was driving the dogs to the dog park with the windows open, I was suddenly hit in the head by some sort of plastic wrapping, which then drops down to the floor. I look down, and what do I see but an open condom wrapper, OMFG – is the thought! I’m distracted by the dogs, until I arrive home, and as I am letting the dogs out of the car, I actually find the used condom in the back of the van. She got me. I’m grossed out. I’m happy she’s playing it safe, but in my van, ewww, Get a fucking hotel room daughter.

Hotel Frontenac

Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City

Our annual trip to Algonquin Provincial Park – Ragged Lake, this time in the rain

Hanging our food up highLast Thursday, my husband and I left for our annual spring camping trip to Algonquin Provincial Park. I always pick a route that only involves one portage since it is my husband who has to carry all of our gear and we usually err on the side of caution, bringing far too many supplies. Then again, we will not go without a good air mattress that fits the both of us.

We left home around eight o’clock in the morning and arrived in Algonquin at noon, where it was raining cats and dogs. We unpacked the van, loaded up the canoe and went on our way. With a raincoat under my life-jacket, I believed I would be protected from the rain, but that didn’t work out. As we paddled our way on Smoke Lake, the rain came down harder, the wind picked up, we had foot and a half whitecaps, and waves were pushing water into the back of the canoe (I learned about that later).

Thanks to the blustery wind, we were able to paddle all 5¼ kilometres of Smoke Lake in an hour and a half. We were now at the portage, the rain had eased off to a fine mist/spray. The portage between Smoke Lake and Ragged Lake is only .25 kilometres but the first 100 metres is rocky and uphill, then downhill for the rest. It is not a well maintained portage. It took my husband six trips to bring all of our gear to the other side.

The children at Ragged Lake in 2005Once all our gear was back in the canoe, we set off in Ragged Lake looking for a site. Luckily we were familiar with it, having been there eight years ago with our children (they were aged 14, 11, and 9 years at that time). We actually had the entire lake to ourselves that night, no one else had booked a site, so we had our pick, even so, it still took us about 45 minutes to decide. The site we chose was fabulous, a nice sandy beach to park the canoe, two levels, one where there was the fire-pit, and the second for our tent.

Shoes and boots drying on the fireAfter unpacking and setting our tent up, I am shivering because I’m sopping wet, which is what happens when you buy a cheap $2.00 rain poncho (if you can afford it and will be paddling in rain, buy the expensive waterproof clothing). Hubby started a fire so we could warm up, dry my running shoes and his work boots. We changed into warm clothes, I went for 5 layers! One tank top, one t-shirt, one long-sleeved shirt, one kangaroo sweater (hoodie), and hubby’s fleece sweater since my coat was beyond wet.

It was now time for supper, so we took the very easy route where you have a pre-dried package of something called Teriyaki Beef, add two cups of boiling water, and let sit for 10 minutes. Not very tasty, but warm and filling. After supper, I actually went to bed at 6 p.m., and hubby joined me at 6:30 p.m. I slept in my 5 layers of shirts & sweaters, jogging pants, homemade very warm knitted socks and my winter hat. Naturally I woke twice during the night having to go pee. The second time we got up to do our business, it was lightly snowing outside! Luckily we are in a 4-season tent, and by the middle of the night, were toasty warm. We both slept until 8 a.m. the next morning.

Dinner of pasta and shrimp in a garlic mushroom cream sauceFriday was another blustery day, with the sun finally making an appearance late afternoon. Just before supper, I took a bad tumble. I did a lovely 2 1/2 rotations, while trying desperately to grab the wooden bench, only to fail, and fall down the hill. I twisted my back, lightly sprained my ankle, and scraped my left hand, thankfully though supper made up for my soreness! For dinner, I roasted six cloves of garlic and mushrooms on the fire, then added them to a cream sauce made up of cream, skim milk powder and butter. The cream sauce was then mixed with rotini pasta and lots of shrimp. I will definitely be making this at home. After dinner, while trying to clean my coffee mug, I burnt my hand. Never a dull moment when camping with me!

LoonSaturday was lovely. I was able to peel off numerous layers of clothing, and apply sunblock. For nature excitement, we saw a loon eat a fish. Later, two canoers from Buffalo stopped by asking for directions, otherwise we didn’t see anyone else on the lake. It was very peaceful.

Sunday turned out to be even nicer than Saturday, lots of sun, plus the water was somewhat calm so we went canoeing. We paddled about a kilometre and a half to an island in the West Bay, where we found a group of high school students, and their teachers from Sarnia to be camping. After chatting with the one teacher, we found out that they had started canoeing Thursday night on Canoe Lake (north of highway 60, whereas Ragged is south of the highway) but had to turn back after two of their canoe’s were swamped. After our chat, we started canoeing back to our site, which was now a lot harder, since the wind had reappeared and was against us. Once back on our site, we were visited by four canoers from Pennsylvania, who were also looking for directions to the same bay as the boys from Buffalo.

Canoes in the mist AlgonquinMonday was our last day and we woke to a beautiful sight. The morning fog, the mist coming off the water, then a flotilla of canoes. The group of high-school students were leaving, one canoe after another coming out of the mist. It was breathtaking.