Hot on the heels of my exit from Edgewalk was the arrival of 3 of my closest friends from the UK. Tom, Tim, and Soph were coming over to see Toronto and see one of my favorite places on earth; Algonquin Park! After some prep the 5 of us made our way up to the park, and made an early morning start the next day from Rock Lake.
Our first day was an easy one, we were all getting used to canoeing together, especially in our 3 person canoe, which we’d only had a couple of hours in before the trip, so I’d planned a route which was fairly short. We wound our way down the river into the lake and set out for Pen Falls and our first portage.
Our first portage was a short one to give the guys a taste of what was to come, we’d spread our kit well amongst our bags, were able to divide up the canoes and paddles nicely, and dispatched the portage without too much trouble. After that we were heading for our first campsite and made great progress down the lake, shaving some distance off our next day! We got to our campsite before lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and enjoying the camping. Me and Nyssa were in a tent, but Soph, Tim and Tom had decided to go with hammocks for their accommodation! I was quite interested to see how they got on with them, especially as a thunderstorm started to roll in that night!
We awoke the next day to rain. Mine and Nyssa’s tent was showing it’s age a little and the common consensus from the hammock club was that they’re not insulated and they don’t offer much protection from sideways rain! I was a little nervous, we were quite soggy and I was hoping that the rain wasn’t going to set in for the entire weekend and spoil the holiday. Fortunately the rain cleared up as we were getting ready to go and the sun came out just as we were leaving. Our route for the second day would take us up the Galipo River through Welcome Lake and Harry’s Lake.
The route made for a decent workout, as we were paddling against the flow of the river in places, and the wind was annoyingly against us the whole way, but we were rewarded with a great lunch spot at the end of our longest portage of the trip, 2170m!!
We reached our campsite in the early afternoon, which had a huge exposed rock outcrop for us to swim and fish off of, hang out on, and dry things on. We also enjoyed the last of our fresh dinners. From here on out tea would be boil in the bag! We still had plenty of fresh cheese and cucumbers for lunch though, and whisky. The weather continued to hold out for us and we enjoyed a warm evening around the fire.
Our third day was the longest of the trip, 4 portages totaling 3000m, and we had to cross a wide stretch of Lake Louisa. The conditions were also much more muddy and buggy than usual… We made good progress however, and had worked out a good system for each portage by now, with everyone playing their part to spread the weight around.
Lake Louisa proved easy to cross and we took lunch at a rocky island in the middle of Rod and Gun Lake (in order to escape the mosquitoes). I was really pleased at the progress we’d been making during the trip. We had plenty of time to stop for a lazy lunch, or wake up, pretty much whenever we liked and we were never really under any pressure to get to our campsite, miles away. This day was our longest day of travelling, and we were doing very well, taking a steady pace but not busting a gut. We dispatched the final portage to arrive at our campsite for the night, and enjoy our hard earned boil in the bag dinners!
Our forth day was pretty short one. This trip was a holiday after all, so I’d planned a short amount of travelling that we could bang out before lunch and have the afternoon to laze about and enjoy the lake.
It was a great lazy afternoon with 95% of the hard work for the trip done. We all took time to swim and wash, and me and Tom tried our hand at some fishing. Me and Nyssa made sure to finish off our bottle of whisky of course! The whisky of choice for this trip was the Ledaig 10 year old! A wonderfully peated dram that goes well with the act of burning anything you can get your hands on, and chop down to size! We stayed up fairly late that night listening to music and watching the fire go down, and we all took time to savor the moment in the wilderness before we returned to civilization the next day.
Our final leg was very short. One average length portage, and a half hour paddle back to the access point and our pick up. We weaved our way around the islands of Cache Lake, and just had time for a quick photo before we headed back to give back our canoes, and drive back to T.O.
It was a really great trip. I really loved taking some of my closest friends out to one of my favorite places in the whole world, and introduce them to Nyssa before she comes over to the UK in September. I was also pleased that I’d struck a good balance between actually going on a journey and still having time stop and smell the roses. It was another great highlight of the last 3 years, and one I will never forget.