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:

Our daily view:

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


Twenty-nine years and counting

My husband knows how much I love camping and the outdoors, so this past weekend we camped in our backyard.  We dug out the 4-season tent, the goose down sleeping bag with its wool lining, and our quilt from the bedroom for extra warmth. Now since your head gets cold while sleeping I wore my hat. Yep, I looked pretty darn funny, in my pajama’s & hat. I can’t show you the picture of me in my pajama’s or my husband in his blue long johns and blue shirt (imagine a tall smurf), but here is the tent:

Eureka Tent
Inside of tent_2

It sounds silly, but just being outdoors seems to revitalize me and I am very lucky to have a husband who will pretty much do anything to please me. This October we will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, but what I found even more impressive is that we have been together for 29 years this summer. My exact words to him were: “I have been sleeping with the same guy for 29 years!” Okay, that sounds pretty crude, but truth be told, it was the first thing that popped into my head.

Where does the time go? Our eldest will be 23 this year but I still remember the day she was born, all twenty-four hours of a very painful labour.  Middle child will be 20, another twelve hours of labour etched into my mind. Lastly, the teenage boy will be 18 this summer, and again, twelve hours of painful labour. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat, but this is where the time went, three children who I gave an enormous amount of time too and still do.

So what does all this have to do with camping in my backyard? Well sometimes you just have to get away from it all, you need a change, and I am very easy to please (well sometimes). I will choose camping in the bush over a 5-star hotel any day of the week, and right now we are unable to go away, thus the backyard. By the way, here is a picture of the toilet when we go camping:

Toilet in the woods

It was very cold Saturday night, –10 Celsius but the tent was warm and cozy and then there was the cuddling. You can never pass on a good cuddle! Now, of course, the dog was not too impressed with the tent that night. We eventually put him back in the house but he kept howling and barking, so hubby went and got him again, and this time he settled down. The second night was warmer, only –3 and the dog stayed in the house because the teenage boy was home (Cocoa, the dog doesn’t like being alone). Back to us: the night was perfect! More cuddling and I only woke up once to go pee!

Where’s your getaway? Backyard camping or 5-star hotel?