The big highlight in August was mine and Nyssa’s expedition to Algonquin! We’d managed to get a long weekend off from work, and aimed to spend as much of it as possible in the wilderness. Having learned a few lessons from my trip with Joe and Soph, I planned things a little differently this time. Here’s our route bellow:
We’d opted to head up to the park in the evening of the day before, so we could make an early start the next day. I would highly recommend doing this if you’re able to, either with the park bus or a rental car. Rather than getting fully outfitted, this time we had chosen to sort out all of our own gear/food, and just rent a canoe. So we picked up that on the morning of our first day, and then jumped on the water taxi to head up to Redrock Lake, our first campsite.
The water taxi is a slightly costly thing to do, mainly due to it being high season, but it gets you much further out into the wilderness if you have limited time. This was made all the more worth it when it became apparent that Redrock Lake was completely empty! Having completed an 1800m portage, and a long-ish paddle to get there the first order of business was to cool off, so we took advantage of our seclusion and went for a skinny dip.
Our first camp was a little island campsite and after setting everything up we took to our unladen canoe and went off in search of firewood, we didn’t find all that much mainly because we were distracted with the beauty of Redrock Lake, super picturesque and wild.
After a night of hotdogs and whisky, we set out on Day 2, the longest day of our trip. Our route would take us along a 1300m portage, through Happy Isle lake, and across another 300m to Merchants Lake. Initially I’d targeted a campsite at the top of the lake, but as we began to tire from a very windy paddle, we found ourselves just looking for the nearest. Here we encountered the usual problem with the parks booking system – You can’t book specific sites in advance. This is the only problem I have with the park management, on a large lake it can affect your day, and it’s what caught me out with Joe and Soph last time. By the time we’d passed the other sites we were at the top of the lake and fortunately the sure I had in mind hadn’t been taken. We were rewarded for our efforts with a private beach!
As we approached the campsite the waters became warm, shallow, and sandy, and we found ourselves on a sandy beach with loads of evening sun and shelter from the wind. It was an amazing find. We stoked up a huge fire and chucked in some potatoes to bake and enjoy with a tin of tuna.
Our 3rd day was the shortest of the trip. We only had to go from Merchants into Happy Isle across a 300m portage, so with the extra time we took a look at some falls that I’d spotted on the map. They turned out to be rubbish! But it was a nice excursion to another picturesque pond on the other side, and nice to to a bit of exploration beyond just going too and from our campsites.
We reached our island campsite on Happy Isle before lunch and spent the afternoon hunting for firewood, swimming, and eating (Probably the 3 main pastimes on a canoe trip!) Here’s a little timelapse of us setting up camp.
By this point we’d realised that most sites don’t have super easy supplies of wood (especially if they’re busy) so we went off for a canoe to comb the coastline on the otherside of the lake, and came back with a huge haul, ready to diligently sort by size for easy burning.
Algonquin is well know for it’s lack of light pollution, so after dark I tried a bit of star photography. It turns out my camera does quite well in low light. Pitty it operator can’t get the focus right!
The next day was our last in the park. After a lazy start we were a little bit pushed for time to make our water taxi, but having gobbled up all of our food, our packs were light, and we smashed out the final 2k portage, arriving at 1029 for a 1030 pick up!
It had been an amazing trip, and I was pleased that the route I’d planned had been just the right length to make it an adventure, but a relaxed and enjoyable one. We’d had some great luck with our campsites too, and mostly great weather. As usual Algonquin did not disappoint.