Three weeks ago we (my dad; his partner, Jane, and her daughter, Melissa) made it out of inner Algonquin unscathed (minus the 30 + mosquito bites I managed to earn), if not a little damp and shoulder sore.
We got a late start to the day on Friday and only managed to enter the park close to 6:00 PM. Once we went through the process of checking in and informed the Park what colour our tents and canoes were (in the horrible scenario something were to go way wrong), we were able to pick up Melissa’s and my beast of an aluminium canoe.We unpacked our vehicles and set about breaking eggs (by accident!), squeezing our food into the bear barrel, and transporting our stuff to our waiting canoes. We set off at 7:00 PM, and paddled into the last of the afternoon sun – pretty, but a little disconcerting. We decided to set up camp just after 9:00 PM, even though we still had another 30-40 minutes to go to where we were supposed to be. We figured a lot of campers cancelled their camping plans because the forecast wasn’t so great. Lucky for us! And boy was I glad to have bought a headlamp – pitching a tent in the dark without one, or with a flashlight, would have likely proved very trying.
Saturday morning we were greeted with the morning wake-up call from the neighbouring Camp Arowhon camp: a whole lotta cowbell. The campers yelling and cheering proved to be a source of mild annoyance too.
We spent the day chilling: fishing and reading mostly, and even went for a small paddle to explore the area. We did get caught up in a cold downpour which added a certain level of character building. Even had to scramble to a nearby bit of land for lightening protection. Being cold, wet and hungry, the sausages we cooked over the fire for a late lunch were the best sausages I’ve ever tasted (not true, but in that moment?)
After coming to the realization that it was 5:20 and not close to 8:00 PM as we had guessed, we dried off and disbanded. Jane and Melissa in search of fish. My dad and I in search of sun (across the lake from our site) for some reading.
Sunday was spent:
- Bathing in a lake
- Packing up
- Paddling and portaging
- Setting up camp
- Falling asleep to the sound of (cold) rain on nylon
Ode to a marshmallow – Saving the last bit of a sugar fix in the form of a marshmallow on our last night.
With full bellies from a variety of dehydrated meals (Pad Thai! Kathmandu Chicken! Sweet and Sour Chicken!) it’s time for dessert. We have five marshmallows left. Melissa and I each graciously decline the fifth. The group goes about consuming their marshmallow dessert. Sticky fingers are all around. It’s my turn and with tender care, I gingerly roast mine. I am cautious. I am methodical: a few seconds before rotating my stick – such a great marshmallow roasting stick! I start to see the ‘mallow pull away from its tether. I am quick to bring it to my mouth, but alas! Not swift enough… The damn thing falls into a mix of ash and pine needles. Without hesitation, I snatch it up and bite into the warm gooeyness that is this dirty marshmallow and pull a pine needle out between my teeth. I am a camper and no marshmallow will go to waste!
It wasn’t very good.
On our last day, we break camp and spend the day paddling and portaging the whole distance we accumulated over two days. The wind had picked up since the day before, and we had to paddle both with and against the waves. It was a little arduous. Lucky for us, there were some small waterways we got to travel to get from one lake to the next. This was my ideal. Much more to see, and easier to paddle.
We learned from a number of people in canoes passing us by that there was a moose up ahead. We weren’t disappointed.
Time. It’s a funny thing. Upon site of the Portage Store (where we set off from on the Friday) in the near distance, I feel immediately pulled back to reality. All knowledge of the work I left pending in the office the Thursday prior, and all that I have to do to prepare for the next work day comes flooding into my brain. It’s as if we paddled across some kind of invisible barrier – one that kept the day-to-day minutiae outside of our paddling trip… and once crossed, exiting the park, reality downloaded with a slow, murky consistency, and I, at least, was left with a pang of anxiety and questioning if whether or not the past 4.5 days even occurred. Oh, reality.
Next stop? Burgers and milkshakes at the longstanding Webers before being taken back to the city.