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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Feeling tired from the day, along with being cold from the consistent rain, it was time to hit the hay.
The morning rise came, and would you know it, more rain! But it wasn’t going to keep us from enjoying the day.
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.
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.
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.
After dinner, we sat on the rock ledge, watched the rain roll by, sipped on some Tequila, and kept each other warm.
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.
It was that moment where both of us understood that the couple days of rain we’re worth it for this morning view.
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 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.
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.