Before the end of my trip I had just enough time to sneak in one more canoe trip with Nyssa, Kathleen (Nyssa’s sister), and her boyfriend Kurt. This trip was a much more holiday orientated affair, a couple of simple in/out days, with a couple of days of relaxation in between. Our lake of choice was Ragged Lake, about 3 hours journey from the Portage Store down Smoke Lake.
We loaded up our canoes and set out in good weather onto Smoke Lake, heading down towards our only portage for the trip, a short 240m that we would also have to do on the way back. Being back in a canoe felt very familiar, it was almost as if we’d never left Algonquin!
We dispatched the portage without too much trouble, although we realized after that the canoe that me and Nyssa had picked was significantly lighter than Kurt and Kathleen’s! I offered to take theirs on the way back! Once we were into Ragged Lake we set about searching for a campsite to settle into. I knew that all the campsites on the lake were booked up over the weekend, so it was important for us to pick one we liked on day one. This would avoid us having to waste time moving the next day. The lake had a cluster of sites altogether, with a few more isolated ones scattered around it’s various bays. I aimed us for South Bay and we found a nice site on the peninsula with only one other campsite visible on the other side of the bay.
Peninsula campsites are what you want when you’re in Algonquin. The added exposure means they’re a bit more windy, and that helps to reduce the bugs that are around to bite you when you’re trying to do other things. Despite it only being a week after our last trip, the bugs were waaaay less this time, requiring only occasional re-applications of bug spray, and something long sleeved in “Mosquito hour” just around sunset. Sunset on our first night was particularly pretty.
We spent our first chill day sleeping in, swimming and generally relaxing around the campsite. Me and Nyssa ventured out onto the lake for a mosey around, and to find a little bit of firewood. Burning wood from the park itself is sometimes frowned upon, but it’s one of those things that everybody does, and is generally accepted as OK provided you use your head. Our strategy is to use only dead drift wood, it burns best anyway, and a lot of its nutritional value has already returned to the park, via rotting, or the beavers (who chew off the bark and dump the rest). Just remember when you do hit on a “gold mine” make sure it’s not a beaver dam you’re taking wood from!
It was really still on the lake that day and Nyssa got some nice pictures of the scenery reflecting off the lake as we paddled back into the campsite.
Because we weren’t travelling as much, we’d brought considerably more fresh food on the trip and ate like kings for most of it, baked potatoes went down very well that evening!
The next day we awoke to rain. It had been raining for most of the night and everything was rather damp and not especially warm. We weren’t really in the mood to swim, so instead we decided to try to resurrect our fire from the night before with the small amount of dry wood that we could find lying around. Me and Kathleen made a trip across the bay, and came back with a decent haul that we could chop up and dry off around our fledgling fire.
Fortunately the rain stopped, and we were able to enjoy a steadily dryer day hanging out around the site, mostly drinking. Our tipple of choice was the 200th Anniversary Laguvelan 8 Year Old, peated of course, and “exceptionally fine”. Kurt and Kathleen went for some rum.
Our evening was cut a tiny bit short that night by the arrival of more rain, and the next day we beat a hasty retreat out of the park, back across a choppy Smoke Lake. Despite the slightly sub-par weather we’d had a really great time, and it was great for me to spend some quality time with Kathleen and Kurt before I made my way back to the UK. It’ll be a while before I see them again. I only had 1 day left in Toronto after, so I felt good that we’d crammed in one last adventure, despite having to do lots of admin when we got back!