Getting Wet in Algonquin.

24 Sep

Kay and I last week figured with a free weekend ahead of us, the fall weather beginning to present itself and the thirst to do some real adventuring, we had better book a camping trip. The only problem was figuring out where….being newly located in Ajax, we had a bunch of Provincial Parks to explore that were relativity close in proximity. After searching online for a couple hours, checking travel times, weather and availability, it hit us! Algonquin Park! We had spent the last 3 years driving through the park, back and forth from Ottawa and Huntsville, always talking about how we NEED to take a real trip through the park. When booking backcountry spots you need to be a bit more cautious and plan accordingly but we aren’t new to the game so we picked Tom Thomson lake which seemed far enough out to give us a good day of paddling and not too long of a portage. I personally have ever only paddled around some of the lakes, and Kay had not explored the area in awhile, so we were both quite stoked.

We set out to Huntsville early afternoon Thursday to go get the canoe from Kay’s mom’s place, grab a short visit with her family along with giving us a closer distance to the park so we could get a jump-start on the day, hoping to snag a solid spot!

6:15am rolled around Friday, feeling rested, we jumped in the Jeep, went to McDonalds for some morning fuel (Kayley was craving her Egg McMuffin Special per usual ;)) and made our way to the put-in. By 9am, we were signed in, canoe packed to the brim, map out (If you are exploring Algonquin Park I strongly recommend you buy http://jeffsmap.com/, the best map I’ve ever purchased), paddles in-hand and away we went!

The weather was stellar, with rain not being called till around 2pm, we knew we had time to enjoy the paddle, and giving us enough time to get to the spot and set up before the wet stuff started rolling in. The map gave us some estimated times, knowing we are pretty decent paddlers, and a short portage ahead of us, we gave ourselves a 3 and half hour timespan.

Couldn't ask for better weather

Couldn’t ask for better weather.


Portage complete!

Portage complete!


With the portage passed us, with the wind at our backs, the paddle was super enjoyable through all the different lakes, and the surrounding views were very rad.

As we turned the corner into the beautiful Tom Thomson lake, we crossed our fingers hoping we didn’t get up early for nothing. We had known from scoping out a map of the lake earlier in the week that there was two island spots, we wanted one of them! The closer to the spot we paddled, the more it looked that it was vacant, and would you know it, it was! I guess that saying ‘The Early Bird Gets The Worm’ can hold up from time to time. You could say we we’re happy! Also, it only took us 2 hours and 40mins for the whole trip, almost an hour under our estimated time, you could call us record breakers 😉 haha

A trusty piece of transportation!

A trusty piece of transportation!


The site was awesome, it had a huge grassy front section, rocky point (good for shore-fishing), tucked in tree cover for the tent, tall rock ledge lookout, and a proper fire-pit! But, first things first, we got our tent ready, tarp strung up (preparing for the coming rain), and did a little island exploration/fire wood hunt.

She walk...I follow...

She walk…I follow…


She start fire...I take picture

She start fire…I take picture


Kayley did what she does best, that being getting the fire started, and I decided to do what I do best…fish haha. I tied on a trust woolly-bugger and threw a couple casts off the point. With little luck at first, the only guy I snagged was a mini perch.

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The rain rolled in before long, the rain gear was worn and by the fire we sat. Although, I then realized fish bite more frequently during rain storms, so back to the point I went hoping for a fish more satisfying than the one before it. Within the first five casts, I snagged what seemed to be pretty big dude…but after a good 5 minute fight he spit it. Determined, I casted back towards the area he let it go…..GOT HIM! Feeling stoked to get this fairly fat Smallmouth.

These guys put out some of the best fights for their size.

These guys put out some of the best fights for their size.


The rest of the afternoon was spent making food, collecting fire wood, trying to stay relatively dry, shooting the shit and just enjoying the sound of the rain on the flat lake water.

The only protection from the cool rain.

The only protection from the cool rain.


Fried onions and beans for dinner!!

Fried onions and beans for dinner!!


 

The evening sun sky poking out.

The evening sun sky poking out.


Feeling tired from the day, along with being cold from the consistent rain, it was time to hit the hay.

Sorry bears, no free food for you!

Sorry bears, no free food for you!


The morning rise came, and would you know it, more rain! But it wasn’t going to keep us from enjoying the day.

Porridge and bacon...that' ll get you hyped on the day ahead.

Porridge, tea and bacon…that’ll get you hyped on the day ahead.


The morning was filled with scouring the island for more dry wood, cleaning up from breakfast and figuring out the plan for the day.

Once Noon appeared, the wind had died a bit, we decided to take a paddle around the lake, check out the other sites and do a little casting off the canoe.

Kayley the Elf Guide.

Kayley the Elf Guide.


I almost hit this gracious bird with my paddle. Sorry buddie.

I almost hit this gracious bird with my paddle. Sorry buddie.


The river entrance to Barrlett Lake.

The river entrance to Barrlett Lake.


We we’re soaked, the wind started to pick up and with no fish luck, it was time to head back to camp and chill out for a little while, and recharge the batteries.

Kay refilling the water supply.

Kay refilling the water supply.


Typical campsite picture

Typical campsite picture.


Before dinner, I said to Kayley, “Hey, let’s go out paddling again, I want to fish that bay we saw coming into the lake”. So out we went, the wind at this point was pretty mellow, but just as we reached the bay, the wind picked right up, I mean it was blowing fucking hard, we both look behind us towards the mouth of the big open section of the lake and there were whitecaps and probably 3-4 foot swells….shit. As we turn into the open section, our site looked as if we were never going to reach it, paddling hard, it felt we were going absolutely nowhere, gnarly would be the appropriate word to explain the situation. Luckily half way through the lake the wind died down just enough for us to make it before our arms gave out…..fuck we were beat, and now extremely hungry!…Dinner time.

Smart planning, we saved our feast for this night….pasta with fried yellow peppers, onion and cheesy spinach tomato sauce! Damn did it ever taste and smell good.

New campstove! Thanks Pops!

New campstove! Thanks Pops!


Food heaven.

Food heaven.


After dinner, we sat on the rock ledge, watched the rain roll by, sipped on some Tequila, and kept each other warm.

Cold, rainy selfie.

Cold, rainy selfie.


We we’re in the tent by 8pm, read for an hour or so, hoping for some sun the following morning. And that is exactly what we got!! My eyes opened as the tent began to illuminate from the sunrise. Out I jumped to one of the raddest views I’ve ever witnessed. The fog encompassed most of the lake, with the dark tree line in the background, it was so quiet and still out, you’d swear it was a painting you were staring at.

This is why you come out to the backcountry.

This is why you come out to the backcountry.


It was that moment where both of us understood that the couple days of rain we’re worth it for this morning view.

Damnnnnnnnnn....

Damnnnnnnnnn….


One of the many resident Tom Thomson Lake Loons.

One of the many resident Tom Thomson Lake Loons.


I might frame this.

I might frame this.


Kay and I admired the view for a good hour or two before the fog eventually dissipated, then realizing we should probably pack everything up. Thankful for the warm sun, since packing your gear in the rain is a brutal endeavour, it didn’t take us long to get everything read to go!

The trusty water vehicle.

The trusty water vehicle.


Saying good-bye to the island that housed us for a couple days.

Saying good-bye to the island that housed us for a couple days.


The paddle back was just as mellow as the paddle there. Being Sunday, there were many other travellers on the water, hellos were exchanged, and we soaked up that warm sun the whole way back to the Put In. We arrived back to the Portage Store at the 3hr mark, happy to see civilization and ready for lunch.

My very awesome adventure partner!

My very awesome adventure partner!


 

I urge anyone who has the chance to check out Algonquin Park to do so, the park is huge, beautiful and peaceful, offering a variety of adventures for the newbies to the professionals. There is always something refreshing about leaving cell service, the comforts of the real world and putting yourself out in the middle of the bush with nature, makes all the stress you hold seem irrelevant. Now….back to the job search….Ugh.

-Chris

 

 

Big City Vibing

4 Sep

It has been a long week for both Kayley and I, moving is one of those things that wears you to the bone (If you weren’t aware, we have moved to my parents place in Ajax for the next little while to aid in saving up for our Van Expedition). Boxes have been packed, unpacked, packed, moved, dropped, drove hundreds of kilometres, our stuff brought down and up multiple stairs, a million errands have been run, it is fair to say stress levels were mighty high. I believe a night to ourselves in the big city was deserved.

One of my favourite bands, La Luz (An all female Surf Punk-Rock group from Seattle) was playing at Adelaide Hall, so it gave us an excuse to head downtown.

Luckily both my parents are highly experienced Toronto explorers, meaning they were able to help find us some central and thankfully cheap parking. Off we went down the gnarly 401, arriving at the parking garage around 5pm, having the doors to the concert not opening till 8pm, some city adventuring was needed to kill the time. Since Kayley is a newbie to TO, and all the restaurant and pubs were packed full due to the Blue Jays game happening that night (the team is good now, so people actually care about baseball again), I took her down to the Harbour Front to take in some of the awesome views the city has to offer.

Not the usual landscape I take pictures of but still cool!

Not the usual landscape I take pictures of but still cool!


We sat down at the water-side, people watched, witnessed planes take off from Toronto Island and saw ships come in and out of the harbour, leaving Kayley amazed and confused in a multitude of different ways. Toronto is one of those places where so many things are going on at once and it’s hard for us outdoor folk to take it all in with a perfect understanding, I always find it crazy how people can become content with such a lifestyle.

I want to ride on a Pirate SHIP! - Kayley

I want to ride on a Pirate SHIP! – Kayley

Planes over water frighten me...

Planes over water frighten me…

Had to take the classic CN photo.

Had to take the classic CN tower photo.


I forgot to mention that is was possibly 1000’C that day, being sweaty was accepted pretty quickly. We walked around different sections of the water-front for a while trying to kill some more time, waiting for all the Jay’s fans to head to the Rogers Centre for gametime. As 6:15pm rolled around, the nasty smell of lake water, the hunger for food and the thirst for beer forced us to head back towards Front Street. Kayley really wanted to go to the Loose Moose, an amazing bar we had previously been at last summer with some friends (I’ll explain why she wanted to go there so bad in just a second). Once we arrived on Front Street, walking the opposite way of the Rogers Centre, I have personally never seen this many people walking on either sides of the sidewalk in my life, there had to of been tens of thousands of fans heading towards the Stadium, with Kay and I being the only ones walking the other way, I wish I had snapped some pictures, as a hip person would say, That Shit Was Cray.

We were seated at the Moose just as all the fans were leaving, the placed turned into a ghost town in matters of minutes….better for us haha. I ordered a growler of this Hawaiian Style Ale which was rad and she went with her go to Caesar, and munched on the cheesiest bean dip I’ve ever had. But we were stoked!

A happy lady!

A happy lady!


Before heading to the venue, I had to order the one thing Kay had been talking about the moment we arrived in the city, that being these desert donuts they make in-house at the bar, covered in brown sugar, bacon bits, and caramel, fuck are they good!

An even happy lady!

An even happy lady!


I paid the bill, it was 8pm and we were hyped for the music ahead. We walked the minimal blocks to Adelaide Hall, waited for the sound check to finish up (while waiting outside, Kayley is convinced she saw a couple dispose of human remains, but that’s a story for another time). In we went, being one of the first people to arrive we snagged a solid spot and hung out till the opening band took the stage.

Vallens started off the night, a female led band, having this rough new-age punk sound, slashy guitar, quick drum beat, they for sure had everyone wanting more as they finished their set. At this point, the venue had begin to pack in with a variety of people, I sometimes forget Toronto holds a wide group of styles. Next up was Michael Rault, a cool group of dudes with this old school, very The Kinks-esque sound, they are one of those bands that you would want to open for your band because they get everyone so pumped with their energy. I would easily pay to see these dudes on their own!

Michael Rault given er.

Michael Rault given er.


Finally, the band I had been waiting for, La Luz. I had originally found out about this rad group of girls while watching a snowboard edit (Usually where I discover all new music), their surf inspired sound really attracted me and I never looked back. I’ve listen to them every day since, and with the introduction of their new album, Weirdo Shrine, last month, which offers songs that are more punk influenced, I was amped to hear the songs live! They took the stage and owned it, their sound was crisp, they were active, got Kayley and I dancing, singing along, and a perma-smile from cheek to cheek. I was even luckily enough to hear all my favourite songs (It’s Alive, With Davey, Sure As Spring and Sleep Till They Die). It felt like their set flew by and I didn’t want it to end, but we will for sure be paying to see them again, easily one of the best acts I’ve witnessed.

IMG_1446

These ladies had chemistry.


With our ears ringing, feet sore, but very satisfied, it was time to head home. We’re both currently not working so getting home late was no issue, and I did get us lost a couple times trying to find the correct streets (Isn’t getting lost part of the fun?!?!), finally finding the right route, down the 401 I drove, and the minute our heads hit the pillow we were asleep, awesome nights will do that to ya.

-Chris