First official Canoe trip of the season! It happened! I had been very sick all week and was nervous about guiding it, but it ended up being a perfect trip! Here’s the story:
- Dates: May 21-23, 2016
- Location: Lake Opeongo and Hailstorm Creek in Algonquin Provincial Park
- Kilometers traveled: Total of 44km; 12km on day 1, 20km on day 2, 12km on day 3
- Animal sightings: 1 beaver, many beaver dams; 3 types of frogs, 1 type of toad; 3 large turtles, many loons, geese, and ducks, and their babies; moose tracks; island full of cormorants; 2 field mice.
- Toughest aspect: No showers
- Favourite moments: Paddling through narrow creeks, going over beaver dams, getting to see a lot of stars from a canoe on the water, learning a wide variety of camp skills.
- Bug levels: Very low
- Stoke level: Very high
- Awesome Points Earned: 65 points
When I arrived at Algonquin Park on May 21st, I was very excited for the first canoe trip of the season! I arranged the gear, grabbed the canoe, and popped myself down to wait for the girls. A few minutes later, the Parkbus pulled up and out came 2 sisters – Charlotte and Emma – visiting from Holland. Little did I know at the time exactly how awesome these two girls were (and I assume still are). After going through the safety stuff, and teaching them a bit about paddling, we loaded the canoe and went on our way.
The lake was calm and we had a slight wind to our face. Enough to keep us nice and cool while paddling, but not enough to impede us in any way. The sun was warm.
After a bit of tweaking their technique, the girls were starting to become proficient paddlers! They were starting to really feel the movement of paddling a canoe and not just the mechanics of paddling a canoe (earned 10 awesome points).
After a few hours of paddling, we reached our campsite. It had a stunning view of the sunset. I mean, take a look at the picture at the top of the article. Seriously, scroll up and check it out. It was gorgeous! We also lucked out pretty incredibly in terms of bugs. Although we’d been told that the bugs were out and that they were fierce, we didn’t see a single mosquito, black fly, deer fly, horse fly or any other kind of biting insect. We did have some non-biting midges flying around, but as their name implies, they don’t bite and didn’t bother us.
After setting up camp, we divided tasks – I made dinner while Emma and Charlotte, with a bit of guidance, took on the firewood gathering task (another 5 awesome points) and built a beautiful fire, even though they had never really done it before (15 awesome points for that!). We enjoyed a delicious bowl of gnocchi with mushrooms in an Alfredo sauce with a side of salad topped with pumpkin seeds. After dinner, we hung out for a bit, but we were all a little tired and opted for an early bedtime.
The next morning, the girls woke up before me. When I awoke and left my tent, I found them quietly sitting in a little sunbeam peeking through the trees (that’s worth a lot of awesome points).
For breakfast, we had breakfast burritos. We then packed our stuff for the day and headed on our way to Hailstorm Creek. On the way, we passed the coolest island. It was covered in cormorants and had been entirely destroyed because of them. It was a very interesting contrast to the lush green of all the other islands and land masses around. A few minutes and pictures later, we carried on towards Hailstorm Creek.
As soon as we entered the creek, we all knew it was going to be a cool experience. The expansive Opeongo Lake narrows down to a creek and we felt so surrounded by the forest. Almost as soon as we turned the first corner, we saw a giant turtle sitting on a log. Not expecting it, I didn’t have my camera out, and by the time I did, the turtle had plopped into the water. I would have been disappointed, if the creek wasn’t filled with wildlife. We saw beavers, turtles, frogs, toads, beaver dams (more like entire beaver cities), all kinds of birds and waterfowls, and their newly born hatchlings. This was definitely one of the highlights.
That night, after another amazing fire (prepared by the sisters) and great meal, we decided to head onto the water and watch the stars from a canoe before the moon came out. Ma.Gi.Cal! Never having seen so many stars and not having anything block their view, this was a truly memorable experience for the girls.
The following morning, we woke up early to packed up camp. We had to get back to the put-in by 1pm to make sure we were there for the bus, so we left the campsite at 8:45am (just in case). Remember how I mentioned these two girls were awesome? Well, on this last day, as we were paddling back, the two sisters started paddling like they were on the national team. Their technique was flawless, their rhythm was in-sync with one another, and their cadence was just damn impressive. Without any assistance from the wind, and without talking about it, these two girls made it to pretty much the destination in 1h 30min! They were traveling at about 7km/h! (Trust me, that’s impressive! The average proficient paddler goes somewhere between 4-6km/h!). They were going so quickly, I had to pull off onto an unused campsite and stall for a bit or we’d end up sitting at the dock for 2-3 hours with nothing to do. So, we put up a bug shelter, learned some more knots, and devoured an entire watermelon (p.s – we also brought a watermelon).
All-in-all, it was such an amazing trip and I felt so fortunate to have met and gotten to spend the weekend with these two amazing sisters! Thank you so much Emma and Charlotte for such a great trip!
Sincerely, your guide,