Monday, January 15, 2018

Trip Log: Algonquin Park: Tanamakoon, August 24-25, 2015

Sometimes I hate the thought of going camping.  I may have mentioned many times, Chris and I are really horrible at planning a trip.  We sort of decided on the weekend we wanted to go camping, just us and the dog, on his days off (Monday and Tuesday.)  We both worked 12 hour days all weekend long and had no opportunity to pack, figure out food, look for gear that had gone missing, or even pick a destination.

After a quick sort through of our gear, which we piled it in the driveway so we could go over it before it all got stuffed into the backpacks, we loaded up, made a quick stop at McDonalds for packets of maple syrup and at work for a few creamers and sugar packets, then headed north.

About halfway to Algonquin (that being as definitive a destination as we had come up with) we decided not to do any portaging since it would be around 4 when we got there and we were both pretty tired from the weekend.  Tanamakoon seemed like an easy option.  No portages, a short paddle and technically, we weren't staying on an access lake, so it didn't feel quite so lame.

While looking at Jeff's Map, I saw a little permit symbol on Canisbay's office, so since it was closest, we went there to get our permit.  Turned out they only issue permits for backcountry if you are doing a paddle in site on Canisbay Lake.  We turned back West and got our permit at Canoe Lake.  The lady who helped us told us it was a bad year for bears so to be extra vigilant with our campsite cleanliness.  Since I'm terrified of bears, I am always very vigilant.  Now I was just even more scared than usual.

My paranoia was made worse by the fact we'd been in such a rush to get up north, we'd skipped having showers.  As we work in a restaurant, I had this horrible fear we'd smell like a feast of rotisserie chicken and french fries, drawing every bear within five kilometres to our site.

We launched from Cache Lake at just after 4pm after wrangling Biscuit into his spot in the canoe.  Usually he sits behind the yoke near Chris, but this time we put all the gear there and gave him the space behind me.  It worked out pretty well.  He attacked the waves through the whole paddle but at least he wasn't leaping around as much.  With more room, he didn't have to spring jump to move so it was far less tippy than with a more loaded canoe.  Though he did pounce at Chris and almost knocked him out of the back of the boat, and he growled at people we passed.

I really like Cache Lake.  It's a really pretty lake with lots of pine covered islands and some cute old cabins.  We really like paddling around lakes looking at cottages, pointing out features we'd like when we get a cottage of our own.

The wind was in our face but the waves were minimal and of no concern.  We made good time and emerged from the river connecting Cache to Tanamakoon at just after 5pm.  The island site straight out from the river was taken, and the people looked to have beaten us there by mere minutes as they were just wandering around planning where to set up their tents.  We opted to turn right and paddled to the site that looks like another Island on Jeff's Map.  In actuality, it's 3/4 surrounded by water, and the remaining bit is backed by marsh.  Either way, it was good enough for us to let Biscuit run wild without  worry he'd take off.  He's never done so on a trip before, but better safe than sorry.  With a high energy dog like a Blue Heeler, you want to let them run a lot before letting them into a tent…unless you don't care about having your tent ruined.

dark clouds moving in over Tanamakoon
The site itself faced south, and the wind was gusting from that direction which made setting up the tent a frustrating ordeal but we managed (once we got the dog off it) and rigged up a tarp as a windbreak.  It wasn't 100% effective but it helped.  That done, we got started on dinner.  And I noticed the first thing I'd forgotten to bring, the instructions for the meal I'd packaged about a month ago.  Dried vegetables with stuffing and Lipton cup a soup packets mixed together, with instant mashed potatoes and gravy.  I had no idea how much water I needed to make the stuffing/veg/soup part so I had to fudge it.  I boiled a big pot of water, poured out a cups worth to make half a package of potatoes and 1 cup in a second bowl to make gravy.  Then I added the vegetables and soup mixes, and simmered it for a few minutes, then added the stuffing pouches.  That got set aside and I used a little frying pan to make the gravy.  Now I have to mention that doing all this, while adding sticks to a Vital Stove, and keeping the dog out of the mashed potatoes was a challenge but all in all the dinner turned out really well.  Too bad our sporks hadn't been in the bag of utensils like they should have been…we ended up having to use a spatula and a serving spoon to eat.  It turned out the sporks were on the kitchen counter, where they had been sitting since our last canoe trip, on a dish towel so they didn't get mixed up with our regular cutlery. We took our plates out on the rock at the site's landing, with our mugs full of wine (in a tetra pack.)  Biscuit got a bit of left overs.  He also knocked my spatula into the lake and spilled my wine a little.

We were enjoying our wine when we realized how dark it was further to the West, and sure enough a few minutes later it started to sprinkle.  We quickly washed the dishes, hid everything under the flipped over canoe, then retreated to the tent to finish our wine.  Probably not the most bear safe idea but we were careful not to spill.

The rain didn't last long so we were able to pack up our food bag and hang it all then Chris started a fire.  Being a sort of island site, there wasn't a lot of firewood available but the fire pit itself had 5 good sized logs that were blackened but hardly burned.  All we needed was some twigs for tinder and that wasn't so hard to find.  With a wad of toilet paper to start it, we got a really good fire going.  Funny how using the park wood you buy, we have so much trouble getting a fire going, but we've never had a problem using found wood on a canoe trip.  Even though the twigs were wet from recent rain, we had a fire going on the first try.

I have to take a moment and comment about the wine.  We sometimes take a few bottles of beer when car camping, but have never taken alcohol on a canoe trip (granted we haven't done many canoe trips yet, darn it) so this was a first.  Also, I hardly ever drink anything anymore and apparently it doesn't take much to make me tipsy now.  One glass of wine and I was stumbling all over the place.  It was kind of embarrassing.

We enjoyed the fire until just before 9.  The moon on the water and with the drifting clouds was really pretty, but we were both chilled and ready for bed.  The wind had died down, but stupid me hadn't packed socks…or shoes.  In our frantic packing chaos, I didn't realize I was wearing flip flops until we were at Canoe Lake getting our permit.  My feet still aren't warm now that I'm home writing up this report.

You can kinda see our attempt at a wind block...
Snuggled into beds, we began what would become a really uncomfortable night.  It didn't start off too bad.  There was no wind, it wasn't too cold (just a little chilly but not unbearable) and the loons put on a really fabulous concert for us.  There must have been a dozen of then, on Cache Lake as well as Tanamakoon, because some sounded a bit far off.  Biscuit wasn't happy though.  He couldn't find a comfy place to sleep and ended up at my feet.  Then the wind picked up again…then it began to rain.  I kept thinking the small backpack we'd used to hang our food and toiletries would get too heavy when wet and snap the branch and I'd be lying there freaking out because it could also be a bear…  With the wind now gusting under the fly, I was getting cold but I snuggled up to Chris and Biscuit took advantage of the space behind my knees to get onto the sleep pad.  I was nice and cosy for a while…until the tent started to leak and the foot of my sleeping bag got wet.

It rained off and on all night, and while my feet weren't bad if I curled up and kept them away from the wet spot, my legs were not happy with me not stretching them out every so often.  By the time the sky lightened my hips and knees were screaming and I was still cold.  Biscuit wanted out, so finally at about 6 I took him to pee and went to check on the food bag.  It was still in place, though maybe a little lower than before as the added weight made the branch sag a bit more.

I crawled back into the tent and tried to warm up but it was pretty much a lost cause.  Other than my feet it wasn't bad, like shivering, teeth chattering cold, but just uncomfortable enough to not be able to get back to sleep.  Oh who am I kidding, I don't think I actually slept.

A half hour later, we got tired of Biscuit trying to claw our sleeping bags off.  He's really the most annoying wake up call ever.  I have a big bruise on my ribs from him jumping on me and it took forever to clean the dog snot off my glasses from all the times he'd bunt me in the face when I had my eyes closed.  I really hope none of the other campers heard us in the night yelling things like "Oh my spleen!" or "Oh my balls!"

Once we were up, we began to discuss what to do.  I had planned to make breakfast of pancakes and hash browns, plus coffee but we were both cold, our clothes were wet and the wind was still gusting straight into the site.  I wanted to just leave, maybe go to Mew Lake for coffee and hot food even if I had to go in wearing my bright pink flannel beaver jammies (my official camping pyjamas)  Chris really wanted coffee right then and there.  With a little toilet paper and a few dry sticks we could find, we got the Vital Stove fired up (pun not intended) and were able to boil water.  I will admit, the coffee helped, but the time we spent making it meant that we ended up leaving just as it was starting to sprinkle again. Luckily we were smart enough to wear our rain jackets so it wasn't an issue.  Actually my rain jacket came in handy for repelling the water Biscuit dribbled all down my arm after each wave he attacked.  Bonus!  The rain didn't last long though, but they did keep the wind from cutting right through our clothes.

Once on the river, we saw a loon pop up.  I was grabbing for my camera when a baby popped up in front of it and the mama loon fed it.  We'd drifted past and so the picture didn't really turn out but it was a nice thing to see.  Biscuit got excited too but didn't bark.  He growls at oncoming canoe traffic but not a peep when he sees wildlife? Not that I'm complaining but this is the same dog that recently attacked a car.

It was a short paddle back to the car, and a quick load up, then we were off to Henriettta's Pine Bakery in Dwight for some sandwiches and treats.

Somehow, I've lost most of the pictures from this trip.  I know I took some because there's two on the computer, and I remember seeing pictures of the meal, but I've gone through all my memory cards and can't find them.  I'll update this with more pictures when I find them.

Wildlife seen on this trip? Lots of loons, a garter snake, and a duck
Things Biscuit destroyed on this trip? He ate the toilet paper, 2 bobbers that we didn't even know were in the pack until we found them chewed up, kept attempting to pull the rocks off the fire pit so we would go to bed…oh and he ruined our sleep.  But he does that at home too.

Things we forgot to pack? Socks and sneakers for me, cutlery, instructions for the food

Best things about the trip? Eating on the rock and enjoying our wine while we watched dark clouds roll in, sitting around the fire, just the two of us, the paddle in and out was really nice, we liked the site even though it wasn't ideal for the weather conditions at the time.

Both Chris and I commented that a trip to Tanamakoon would be an ideal trip to do with the kids where they can paddle their own canoe.  The lakes aren't big, it's not too long of a paddle and there's no portage.  If we came for a multi-night trip, we could explore the surrounding lakes and give them a bit of a feeling of independence without making it into an arduous ordeal by setting them up for frustration and exhaustion.  Plus it's just a pretty area.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trip Log: Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park: August 21-23-2017

It's scary how fast summer can fly by.  At the end of June, when I'd get a shift that fell in the middle of our "weekend" (you don't generally get normal weekends off when you work in a restaurant) I didn't get too upset.  We still had two months worth of time to go camping, biking on trails, exploring in canoes and kayaks etc.

And here we are, almost the end of August and I look back and see just how little of that stuff we actually did, because those shifts come up often, and because car repairs always end up cropping up at the start of a week off, and because other obligations happen.

It's kind of sad because our adventuring is pretty much over for the year.  Since Chris and I work  weekends and the kids can't just skip school like they did when they were younger, we won't get much opportunity until the next long holiday.

I'm thankful though, that when we look back on the summer, the camping trips we did, were all in places we had never been before.  We saw a new Provincial park, saw parts of Algonquin we hadn't been to before, and finally got to explore a bit of the Haliburton Water Trails system, something I've been wanting to do for...well about 20 years.

This trip was kind of two trips back to back.  We had five days off, and after spending our last week of vacation fixing car issues so we could drive our "adventuring car" long distances again, we could actually go camping...the problem was, where to go?  Everywhere I looked, there would be one or two sites left, and they were pretty much all the tiny little site next to an outhouse that never gets booked except maybe on a long weekend.

Our Boler at Samuel de Champlain Park
I was getting bummed, and kind of pissed off.  Keep in mind, this was day one of our five days and we still had no idea where to go. The kids didn't want to go canoe camping, and instead wanted to relax in the Boler, Chris wasn't interested in anything along Highway 60 in Algonquin, and I wasn't keen on going a really long distance because fixed or not, the car is old and unpredictable.

We finally settled on two nights at Samuel de Champlain, then two nights at Kiosk at the North end of Algonquin.

We didn't leave the house until almost 5.  We had nothing ready, no idea what food we were taking.  Chris and I went shopping but I kind of ended up just throwing random cans of things from the pantry at home and hoped it took care of all the meals we would need.

We arrived at the park at 9:07pm and got our permit.  Then we had the fun task of navigating an unknown park in the dark, but we found our site with only one wrong turn.  The site was a pull through, or pull around I guess?  It had a U shaped entry so Chris didn't have to try backing in.  The problem was there was a stump in the entry was that was just high enough to scrape the underside of the Boler.  This wouldn't be a problem for most other trailers but the Boler sits pretty low to the ground and doesn't have a lot of clearance.  We actually broke a little chunk of the fibreglass body off...oops. Once into place though, we set up (moved food from the Boler into the trunk of the car) ate a quick dinner of wraps, then went to bed.

It was humid in the trailer that night, and Biscuit made a nuisance of himself, jumping up and down off our bed.  He was too hot when he was with us, but not comfortable on the floor.  It also started to rain, and continued to rain until just after lunch.

I woke up the next morning to take him out, and got my first look around the campsite.  It was actually quite nice.  We could see the lake, and there was a little spot across the road we could have used to launch a canoe if we'd brought them, but we hadn't since we were in such a rush to leave.  Not that it mattered, since it rained for half the day anyway, and we also didn't bother to bring rain jackets.

Once Chris got up, we set up the screen tent so we could have a dry place to cook and sit.  Rather than making potato, pepper and onion hash like I had planned, we ate dry cereal right out of the box and some other snacks. After cleaning up, we went to check out the visitor's centre.

So many neat mushrooms around our campsite
It's pretty small, but contains some interesting information on the history of the Mattawa River, the fur trade and a replica courier de bois canoe.  Next we headed to the store, hoping to get a patch for the park to add to the kids collection but they either don't sell them or they weren't available at the time, so the kids got popsicles and we headed back to our site.

Lunch was supposed to be wraps made with fresh veggies but since it was still rainy and everything was still wet under the bug shelter, we ended up making Mr. Noodles cups for the kids, and Chris and I shared a carton of green lentil curry soup I'd thrown in the food box at the last minute, with some of the garlic bread.  The soup was surprisingly good, but the carton only holds 500ml which wasn't enough really for two hungry people.

The rest of the day was spent walking around, checking out the park.  The beach in the Jingwakoki campground area was small, but looked pretty decent for swimming.  There were some swings and a few teeter-totters there as well.  You can see the other beach across the lake and it looked very nice, but unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go and check it out.

The kids finally had a chance to pull out the hammocks and the picnic table ping pong set we had bought them for Christmas, then lost before I could wrap it.  (I found it on Boxing Day, which is pretty typical I suppose.)  Bubbie and I also spent some time photographing the last few blueberries on the bushes behind our site, as well as the various interesting fungi nearby.

Sometime in the afternoon, Chris took Biscuit for a little drive out to the park store to get some ice, at which point the catalytic converter fell off the car.  He picked it up and threw it into the trunk, and we spent the whole rest of the trip laughing about it since we were pretty sure something was going to happen to the car.  Any time we attempt to go more than an hour away from home for a camping trip, we have car issues.  Thankfully, this time, it wasn't anything that could potentially strand us somewhere.

Dinner that night was spaghetti and garlic bread.  It's pretty much a camping staple for us, but the clean up always sucks.

The next morning I finally made the potato, onion and pepper hash I'd promised the kids.  It looked like it was going to be a nice day.  As we were cleaning up, we saw a group go by in a replica voyager canoe.  I wish we had been able to try it out.  It would have been a neat experience.  Next time.  The kids really liked this park and we will definitely be back.

Since it was a nice day and we wouldn't be travelling far to get to our next camping spot, we figured there was no point in rushing to pack up.  If there were people on our Kiosk site, they didn't have to leave until 2, so we decided to do a hike.  The Kag hike wasn't too far away, and was only 2.5km long.  The estimated time to do the trail was an hour and 15 minutes but we figured we could do it in less.

one of many steep sections on the Kag Trail
The trail is rated as difficult with some steep climbs on most of the information posted, but the one we happened to look at said it was moderate.  This is not a moderate level trail!  #Legday And those steep climbs?  They really are climbs.  There are sections where you are climbing what is practically a cliff, going back and forth like a goat trail.  Other times, you have to pick your way up almost with whatever tree root or rock you can find.  Chris got dragged up and down these hills, Squatch had nothing to slow him down but Bubbie and I had our cameras and it made it much more awkward to grab little trees for support.  This trip report took a while to get published, and because of that, when I was looking through the pictures, I kept going "why did I take a picture of that cliff face?" Then I realized, that was there trail...

The kids were good natured about it, but didn't hold back complaining about the trail.  Chris kept saying it was a lovely trail and they had nothing to complain about...until Biscuit dragged him down a hill and he ran into a fallen log in a very painful way.

You can barely tell it's a trail...just looks like a cliff
All of our legs were like jelly when we made it back to camp, and we were a little embarrassed that the trail took us a fair bit longer than the hour and 15 minutes estimated.  We had to rush to hook up the trailer so we could be off the site by 2.

This section of the trip was wonderful (not that Kiosk wasn't great too) and we all really liked Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.  Our site was great, it was relatively quiet and there were enough things to do so none of us would have been bored had we been there longer than 2 nights.  It rained a fair bit that second day, and the roads were pretty muddy.  The intersection just behind our site had a huge puddle (or more accurately, a pond?) that many drivers had fun playing in as they went past.

All in all, a great trip.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Trip Log: Big East Lake, July 25-26, 2017

We had planned to do two nights on Big East Lake, but Chris had worked a crazy number of hours on the weekend and was quite content to spend the Monday relaxing.  I wasn't too upset by this.  My own work hours on the weekend had been long, though not as long as his.

Biscuit at the put in to Big East Lake
We had purchased two sit in kayaks the previous week.  After watching several videos of people using kayaks to go interior camping, we thought it might be easier for the kids.  We found two inexpensive ones that were designed with space and access to the front and back, and were pleased to find the kids 55L packs fit into the space behind the seat with a little wiggling.    Getting a canoe and two kayaks on the roof proved to be a bit of a dilemma, but Chris eventually came up with a system that worked.  Unfortunately, since we couldn't afford the higher end kayaks with built in metal loops for securing to a car, we had to improvise.

We arrived around 3pm and began unloading and carrying things down to the lake.  I'd forgotten how steep the trail down to the water was.  I carried the first kayak down, then went back for more.  Chris ended up bringing down 4 loads, including the second kayak, the canoe and the biggest pack.  We got underway, and the kids started out really well in the kayaks, but half way there, Squatch began to struggle.  He was zigzagging all over the place, and lagging behind.  Bubbie had no trouble, though she was tired when we got to the site.

We completely missed the easy spot to land the boats and went around the corner and pulled up on the sloping rock instead.  It wasn't hard to land there, but carrying the packs and stuff up the hill, with wet shoes, was a little sketchy.  After a brief explore, Bubbie and I set off to find the thunder box.  We followed a few trails, all of which led up the steepest part of the hill behind the site, and then petered out into nothing.  We came back, and Squatch points to a trail that went down hill a bit and says "It's right there, you can see it from here."

It was pretty buggy once we got into the thicker forest, but the thunder box was pretty new looking and in good shape.

Next order of business was setting up the tents.  Bubbie insisted on setting up their tent on her own, so we let her be and Chris and I set up ours while Squatch lounged on the stone couch around the fire pit.  She also set up the air mattresses, pillows and sleeping bags.

Bubbie taking a break in the kayak
After getting set up, Chris and Squatch went for a swim, playing with one of the Gopros while Bubbie and I headed out in the kayaks to pump some water and explore a few other sites close by.
Macaroni and tomatoes...I'm so ashamed
Once we got back it was time to start making dinner.  Because the kids are picky (and I'd given up trying to find things they both like that Chris and I aren't sick to death of) I ended up having to make 2 meals.  For the kids, macaroni and tomatoes which I had made at home and dehydrated.  I wasn't sure if it would work out, but it did and now I know I can do that for other trips where Chris and I want a dinner thats more interesting.  Chris and I had a package of Knorr Thai Sweet Chili Noodles with dehydrated stir fry veggies added in.  I'm not going to lie, the veggies look pretty sad when they rehydrate.  The mushrooms especially looked scary, but it tasted okay.  Next time, I might try just adding in broccoli and carrots as those two held up the best.

We ate out on the rock shelf over looking the lake.  It was pretty awesome.   The sun was getting low, the lake was calm and it was just a beautiful night.  The kids spent some time playing with their cameras while I cleaned up and Chris got a fire going.  Squatch got a little saw and we tried to get him to help process firewood but his twiggy little arms need a bit of work.  I also tried and it was not easy.  The wood was a bit punky making it more of a challenge.

Dinner with an awesome view
Bubbie's job was to hang the rope for the food bag.  It took her a few tries, but she got it and was pretty proud of herself.


The next morning, I got up and took some pictures of the fog on the lake.  It was a beautiful morning.   I made oatmeal with all sorts of dried fruits in it and of course the kids had instant oats.  
For the paddle back, I took the kayak and Squatch went in the canoe with Chris.  Bubbie and I got a head start so that Biscuit wouldn't be so crazy for them.  He seems to be a bit calmer in the canoe if he can't see the second canoe or the kayaks.  I also realized the problem Squatch had had the day before.  With the pack behind the seat, it puts a fair bit of weight at the back of the kayak.  Next time we will try dividing the gear in dry bags or putting more weight in the front.  
We all loved this trip, and the site.  Big East Lake used to be really busy before the municipality began charging money to camp there and requiring permits.  I know a lot of people were probably upset but the truth is, we used to go there for day trips and the sites were often pretty messy.  Anything that keeps the area clean and protected for future campers is okay in my books.



Friday, January 5, 2018

Trip Log: Algonquin Provincial Park: Kiosk - August 23-25, 2017

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of Kiosk Campground, to be honest.  The site we had looked okay in the pictures, but it wasn't one of the ones on the water.  I kind of had a feeling we had only gotten a site because it was one of the ones that nobody wants unless, like us, they are booking last minute and will take anything.

We were pleasantly surprised.  Kiosk is a small campground, and is divided into two parts which are divided by a short walk.  The first sites are right at the office and parking area for the canoe launch (glad we didn't take site #1 as it's overlooking the parking lot) and the second group of sites are on the other side of the little bay.  You backtrack down the road you entered on, and then stay to the left.  Our site was up on the hill, under some pines and we loved it.  If we had brought canoes we might have felt different, and maybe if the year hadn't been so rainy, the waterside sites wouldn't have been so muddy, but we were very happy with our site.

you can tell the screen tent has seen better days...the roof is wonky
We quickly backed the Boler in and set about setting up our screen tent.  We weren't so much worried about bugs, but in having a dry spot to sit if it rained. (It didn't rain the whole time) Our screen tent is 10X13, and since the Boler is a 13 foot camper, we are able to set the tent up with one of the openings right against the walls of the trailer.  It probably only works because of the way the zipper opens the top, bottom and one side, but it pretty much makes an add-a-room  Unfortunately, the poor thing has taken a lot of abuse lately and is in pretty sad shape.  Since it's not square, it takes some fiddling to get it set up with the longer side vs shorter side.  The poles aren't marked at all, which makes it very difficult.

After we got set up, we headed back over to the other section to fill our big orange cooler with water. This is the one main drawback to being in the section of sites away from the office.  There is no water taps on that side.  We hadn't realized that (it not being something we pay much attention to when looking at maps on the online booking pages) so we didn't bring other containers.  We had the orange cooler for ice and drinking water, but nothing to store large amounts of water for cleaning dishes, cooking and washing hands.  This was inconvenient, but not a disaster.

Dinner that night was fajitas with some beans from the farmers market and foil wrapped potatoes and carrots.  It was a lot of food, but it was really yummy.

The kids set up their hammocks and chairs and we spent the evening relaxing around the fire.

The next day after breakfast (bagels and handfuls of cold cereal) the kids set up their ping pong set and Chris and I went to explore a bit.  We headed back down the road until we came to a little turn off where there is a bridge over a small water fall.  After exploring a bit, we headed back. Biscuit was driving us nuts and so we spent a good portion of this day taking turns walking him around.

Over the course of the trip, we saw multiple tiny garter snakes that looked like they might have been freshly born (or pretty recent.) Some were squished on the road, but many were slithering around.  I took the kids down to check out the sites that are reserved for canoe campers who arrive late, and we saw a large garter snake.  I went to move the wild flowers and shrubs a bit to see of we could get a better look and ended up with a hand and wrist full of little prickles that burned for the rest of the day, even though I was able to quickly get them out with some scrubbing and water.




New campers arrived over the course of the day.  Many of the people on the water sites were leaving so we got to check them out for a bit while they were empty.  One group of new campers was very loud.  They looked to be a half dozen young women, maybe in their early 20's.  They got out of their van and immediately started swearing and cursing in excitement.  They were a source of entertainment over the day as they went and picked up some rental canoes (then almost let them float away) and as it got dark, I watched them stalk a raccoon up a tree and then loudly holler back to the others at the site that it was okay, "It's just a cat."  Um, I'm not sure how many feral cats there are at Kiosk but I'm pretty sure it was a raccoon.

We had a good fire that night.  Our neighbours left and offered us the rest of their wood.  Sully had picked up a few pieces of the slag rock stuff from the railway track and had set it on the fire grate...then went to pick it up.  Needless to say he got a bit of a burn.  Nothing serious, but enough that it stung for a few hours and kept him from getting much sleep.  It was fine in the morning.

the water sites at the section by the main office
Chris pulled out his grandfathers old coleman propane lantern and fired it up.  We sat in the screen room with that going for a bit before finally calling it a night.

The next morning we packed up with regrets.  We wished we'd brought the canoe.  We wished we didn't have to go home. We wished school wasn't starting so soon so we could come back.

I really liked Kiosk.  The kids found it a bit boring, and I suppose in truth, without the canoes or kayaks, there wasn't much to do.  There were no trails, though we could have gone down the railway a bit except there are signs posted saying it's private property and not to trespass.  We definitely want to return and start a canoe trip from here though, and maybe Chris and I will come back for a few days of quiet, relaxing camping.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Trip Log: Algonquin Provincial Park: Magnetwan to Ralph Bice Lake - July 5-7, 2017

Already exhausted and a little crabby, we pulled out of the Margaret Lake Access for the Frost Centre at just after 1pm.  We were starving and super thirsty.  Luckily, we weren't far down the road from Dorset, so we stopped at Robinsons for snacks and drinks, then continued our journey north to Huntsville where we topped up the car's gas and got onto Highway 11.

Finding the Kearney Community centre, and the permit office was easy, then we soon found ourselves on dirt roads reminiscent of the road into Achray.  To say the kids were less than pleased was an understatement.  I'm sure if they could have, they would have left me on the side of the road and went home.  Every time Chris saw water, he assumed we were there and told the kids this...and I, having the Jeff's Map for Algonquin on an app on my phone, had to tell them, no, we weren't there yet.

After about thirty minutes (I didn't keep super close track, so it might have been more) we arrived at the access point and everyone jumped out to stretch their legs.  Everyone was pleased to not have a lot of bugs swarming us at the parking area and this trend continued for the portages all the way to Ralph Bice.  There were mosquitoes and black flies, but not anywhere near as bad as they had been on the portage into Three Island Lake.

It didn't take us long to haul all our gear down the short trail to the launch.  We made quick use of the compost toilets before setting off and after a brief moment where I doubted my navigating skills, we rounded the corner for the first portage.

It should be noted that we switched up canoe partners for this trip.  Chris and Squatch took the Scott canoe because it's more stable with Biscuit bouncing around in it, and Bubbie and I took the Swift.

The 135m trail into Hambone Lake was a bit mucky, especially at the other end, but it was easy enough and the kids were in good spirits, running back for a second load of small items like paddles and lifejackets.  We didn't met some people but Biscuit barely paid them any attention until they spoke to him, then he got a bit skittish and hid behind Chris's legs.

Soon enough we were pushing off onto Hambone Lake.  Again, I had a few moments of doubt regarding the direction we were to go.    It was a bit windy, and I had a harder time taking a break from paddling to study the map closely without knowing Chris was there to keep us going at a good pace.

We found the next portage and quickly finished that one as well.  Once we got to the end, before we got into the canoes, I made Chris look at the map.  Ralph Bice is a big lake, and the lady at the permit office warned me it was often very windy, so we should stick to the shore.  I explained to everyone about the sites I'd seen pictures of online, and how if we kept to the right after the put in, we'd come to the beach sites, but that they were further away, and could be more likely to be full.

Chris decided we would stay to the left shore, and everything started out great.  The lake wasn't very wavy, there was a bit of wind but nothing major.  The first few sites were taken, and when Bubbie and I went to check out the next one (it was empty but didn't look very appealing) we turned around and Chris and Squatch were heading across the lake to the far shore.  We weren't sure if we should follow them, or keep going.  Also, because they didn't have a map, they were actually heading back towards the portage instead of on an angle that would get them closer to the campsites.

Furious and a little nervous, we kept going, but all the sites were either taken or very small and dark looking (which may have just been because the sun was sinking low behind that side of the lake, casting the sites into shadow.)  We came around the round island which had one site on it (site was taken) and were immediately in trouble.  The waves were crazy, the windy was throwing us around and I couldn't stop paddling long enough to look at the map and come up with a plan.  We couldn't even see the other canoe across the lake, so we had no idea if the dog had caused them to capsize or if they were sitting on an amazing campsite waiting for us to find them.  To make it even more frustrating, Bubbie had four stable flies biting her ankles and her arms and shoulders were cramping up.

We were close to the big island and the narrow channel.  I figured we could get to a site we saw was empty on the island and at least take a break, even though it meant crossing the lake.  I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned that I haven't ever learned how to stern paddle.  Chris knows how and so we jut paddle with him in stern in me in the bow.  Bubbie has taken her level 1 and 2 canoe certification and knows how to stern paddle as well, unfortunately she's had no experience in strong wind and big waves.

We made it halfway across to the island when Chris came around the corner, with just Biscuit in the canoe (my heart stopped for a moment, I'm not afraid to admit) and he told us that Squatch was at a great campsite waiting for us.  The next several minutes were dicy but we eventually made it to our home for two nights.  Bubbie was crying because her shoulders were so cramped, I was furious and somehow, Chris made it sound like us getting separated was because I had misunderstood.

After everyone calmed down, we got the tents set up and set about doing camp chores.  Chris had an incident while trying to hang the bear rope for the food which ended up being an ordeal that lasted a few hours.  I had bought a small dry sack to use for our ropes with the intent that for hanging the food, he would put a rock or something into the bag and use it to through over the tree branch rather than trying to tie a rock or stick to the rope. Since there was a piece of rope already over a perfect branch, he figured he'd use that and didn't take our ropes out of the bag, and instead used them as weight.  The rope fell off the branch, so he tied it to the bag and threw it back over...but the bag got stuck in the fork of a smaller branch and wouldn't come loose.  Now we couldn't even use a different rope because all the rope we had brought had been in the bag and the mosquitoes were out in force.  After an hour or so of trying to shake the bag loose, I was looking for something in the pack and found a brand new rope, still in it's plastic packaging.  We ended up using it to hang the food, and then we could work on retrieving the bag the next day, when the bugs weren't so bad.
playing "rock darts" at Ralph Bice Lake

Dinner had been made while this was happening.  We had set up the Eureka VCS16 bug shelter for the first time and we all sat in there to eat.  The kids had ramen (I'd left the store bought, camping meal Bubbie had picked out on the dining room table) while Chris and I had a greek rice and vegetable pilaf I'd made as an experiment.  It turned out really well, but I have a few changes and additions to make then I'll post the recipe.

We cleaned up and sat around the fire until the bugs got too bad, then headed to bed.

The next morning we all slept in.  I got up at one point (I didn't have my watch and my phone was powered down so I don't know what time it was) to let Biscuit out to pee, then we went back to bed.

The shallow, sandy bay at our site
Once everyone was up, I got out the stove and put on water to boil for coffee and hot chocolate, then started to make oatmeal.  By the time we were finished, it was almost noon.  By  the time we were cleaned up, it was time for lunch, but none of us really wanted the naan bread and peanut butter, so we snacked on granola bars and trail mix.

Chris managed to unstick the bag of rope, and he used two of the pieces to make targets on the ground, then he and Squatch spent the majority of the day playing "rock darts."  We followed the trail along the shore and checked out the beach, and realized the bay at our site was a shallow sandy haven that was perfect for just sitting in the water.  We were also able to wade across and check out the next campsite.  It was a little rough looking, with lots of downed trees but there were a few spots with nice views and they had a more direct access to the beach.

Dinner that night was a chilli recipe I'd made a few times in the Instantpot.  The kids liked it so I made a batch and dehydrated it a week or so before hand.  I also pre-cooked and dried some brown rice and then mixed them together and rehydrated it.  The corn never seems to come back very well, but it was tasty, especially with some hot sauce.

The weather forecast was calling for rain for the following day, and the lake had been so windy all day we hadn't been able to do any paddling.  We decided we would go to bed early so we could get up and get on the water before it got really bad.  Actually, at that point we were just hoping the wind and waves calmed down enough over night that we wouldn't be paddling in conditions like we'd been seeing all day.

rehydrated chilli and rice
I don't know what time we all went to bed, just that it was super early (we were guessing about 7:30.)  We were tired anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.  We had slept the previous night with the vestibule open and just hanging loose against the tent, but since it might rain over night, we zipped it up this time.

We might have been in the tent for ten minutes before we heard a crash.  Thinking it was our food bag, I crawled back out and saw that, no, the food was still high in the air.  There was nothing nearby,  no fallen trees that we could see, or animals.  I went back to the tent and spent the next hour or so hyper aware of every sound.   Truth was, we couldn't hear much other than the wind and the sound of the waves pounding against the rocks on the shore.  Every few minutes we would hear a popping sound, which was the waves and the logs over at the beach doing some crazy stuff.

At about the exact moment the sun dipped below the horizon, the wind stopped and the waves settled into a gentle lapping sound. The night was blissfully quiet and I actually managed to sleep.

Biscuit enjoying a breeze on Ralph Bice Lake
I was up early with Biscuit pawing at my sleeping bag.  It had rained a little bit earlier in the morning, but it seemed to have stopped for a while.  I took Biscuit out then crawled back into the sleeping bag and powered up my phone so I could check the time.  It was 7:15.  The lake was still calm (not glassy by any means) and the wind only picked up every little while for a few seconds at a time.  I wanted to get everyone up and get going, worried the wind would start up and stay gusty, but I also didn't want everyone to be all cranky so I held off for a bit.

Chris got up not long after I went back into the tent, so we got the kids up and started packing up.  It didn't take as long as we'd thought and we were back on the water, all of us hungry but eager to enjoy bagels from Tim Horton's in Huntsville.  The paddle back down Ralph Bice was slow.  The wind and waves were just enough to make it frustrating.  Bubbie and I had left first, hoping to get a head start so Biscuit wouldn't be as much of a bother.  He is at his worst when the canoes are within a close distance.  He barks and paws at the water trying to get closer to the second canoe so he can jump back and forth.  Chris and Squatch caught up easily thought.  Bubbie's shoulders were still sore and at one point she asked if we could switch sides.  I realized then how utterly useless I am paddling on the left.  My arm started cramping in about 5 minutes and I had no power to my strokes at all.  Something to work on.

When we got to the portage to Hambone, we took a few pictures with the portage sign and continued on our way.  We met a couple heading in, and spent a few moments talking to them.  They were heading into Little Trout Lake for the weekend.  They had been there before and enjoyed it a lot.

We made quick work of the portage and then the quick paddle down Hambone.  As we approached the portage to Hambone we saw people at the put in and so decided to hold back until they were finished so we wouldn't have to worry about Biscuit.  As we got closer we saw it was an older couple and their daughter who was probably in her early twenties.  Their canoe was so packed full there was barely room for them to sit.  The daughter sat at the very front, on the floor, facing her mother who was in the bow seat.  The father had a bit of a struggle getting in, but finally they pushed off and we unloaded.

When I got to the other end of the 135m portage, I heard voices.  Since the portage is so close to the launch, I wasn't sure if they were just around the corner, about to land any second, or still at the dock, loading up.  I ran back to let Chris know, totally forgetting to take the dog's leash with me.  Thankfully, the group of canoes wandered off towards the other side of the lake, and didn't head towards the portage until we were loaded up and on the water.  I'm not sure if they were lost, or exploring a bit.

We got back to the car, tired, sore and dirty but in much better spirits than when we had arrived.    It was just after 11, so we made pretty good time.  Other than the little hiccup when we got separated on Ralph Bice, we had a relaxing and successful trip.  The kids enjoyed everything, we had a nice site, the experimental meals I'd brought turned out well.  The only issues we had with food was that I hadn't brought much for lunch (or anything, figuring we would just snack on granola bars and trail mix) but I had also planned for us to explore a bit on the second day, so being kind of wind bound through me off a bit.  Also, I need to come up with a breakfast that is quick and easy, but isn't oatmeal.  For one thing, I can't stand instant oats, the texture of them makes me gag.  Second, oatmeal is kind of a pain to clean up, especially out of the bowls that came with our pot set.

Our order at Timmies might have been a little shocking.  The poor girl on drive thru sounded a little panicked, but we were all hungry and poor Biscuit hadn't had Timbits in a few days!




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trip Log: Algonquin Provincial Park: Mew Lake, April 16-17, 2017

Easter is one of those holidays where it can be tough to get time off work, but it's also an ideal time for us to go camping because the kids get four days off from school.  Originally, I had hoped to take the whole weekend off...then it was how to manage two nights, and by the time we ended up going, we could only get one night off of work.  Sucks, but at least one night is better than not camping at all.

So, since Chris and I had to work Friday and Saturday, the kids ended up going to my parents house.  The plan was that Mum and Dad would drive them up Sunday and meet us at our site, we'd have easter dinner, and then the kids would stay and Mum and Dad would drive home.

Pine Martin - Mew Lake Campground
Since we were only going for one night, we got packed and ready to go in good time.  I think we left the house by 9:25.  We were chased down our street by a big male turkey, one of the flock (is a group of turkey's a flock?) that spent the whole winter in our little neighbourhood.  Of the five that were here, there's only the one male and one female now.  The male spent the whole winter chasing cars up and down our street.

It rained on and off the whole drive up to Algonquin, but it wasn't until we got to the West Gate that it began to get heavy.  I got our of the car to get our permit and was told they'd opened the Mew Lake gate house for the weekend so we were to get our permit there.  Mum and Dad were already there, parked at the start of  the trail by the garbage area waiting for us.  They let us know our site was empty...but it was a huge pond.  While Chris set up the inside of the  trailer for six people to sit, I walked to the bathrooms and to find the others since texts weren't getting through.  When I showed up at the parking area, they were gone, so I ran back to the comfort station, then back to the site.

The first thing the kids tell me is that they don't want to stay.  I thought they were joking. But it was chilly and wet and we couldn't actually find a place to put the trailer that didn't mean stepping out into 2 inches of water, so even though they had boots, they weren't keen on staying.  Mum and Dad weren't big on it either. As we discussed it, I was standing in the rain, getting wetter and wetter, and they all sat in the warm, dry cab of my Dad's truck.  Needless to say I gave in rather than stand there for too long.

As I was talking to them, Chris was trying to reposition the trailer onto a bit of higher ground.  He managed to succeed, sort of, and then when he went to unhook the trailer from the car, the key for the lock that he uses on the hitch snapped off, leaving us with no way to disconnect the trailer from the car.  This left us essentially stuck at the campground unless we wanted to haul the Boler with us, which we didn't.  It wasn't a big deal.  We had planned to run to Whitney and grab a few last minute things for dinner, but since it would be just Chris and I, we didn't really need extra food.  We'd have to make a run there on our way out to gas up but that was a problem for the following day.

flooded section of trail between the bridge and the rail trail
Since we were already soaked, and Biscuit was driving us nuts being cooped up in the trailer, we decided to just go for a walk.  We had our sneakers on still, and there was a good foot or two of snow on the ground in spots.  After snapping a few shots of a pine martin near the garbage area, we headed off down the trail.  The plan was to head across the air field, then cross the river at the bridge, head to the right down the railway tracks and come back via the backpacking trail and track and tower trail.

When we got to the bridge, we saw how high the water was compared to when we had paddled through in August.  We decided to explore further down the rail trail so turned to the left and continued to where the trail runs very close to the shore of Lake of Two Rivers.  Mostly this was to see how thick the ice still was, and it looked pretty solid.  We turned around and continued on to where the Highland Backpacking trail crosses, and turned down it to loop back to Mew Lake.  The solid part of the trail was only about six inches wide.  Anything on either side of that was soft and meant you would sink about 2 feet down into a few inches of icy slush. We didn't make it very far before Biscuit tugged Chris to the side and he went through the soft stuff.  Not long after that and we came to a part of the trail where the river had flooded up over, blocking our way, so we turned around and headed back to the airfield.

Now cold and hungry, we got back to camp and changed into dry socks, pants and warm boots, then Chris set about rigging up a bit of a shelter for the dutch oven.  Our Easter dinner plan had been to make beans and biscuits.  The meal usually feeds 6 with leftovers, so I had to cut back a bit in order to not have a huge pile of food go to waste.  It was yummy and very filling.

Beans and Biscuits - Yum!
Cleaning the dutch oven proved a little challenging as usual, especially since it kept drizzling on and off and I was concerned with the outside of the pot getting wet then rusting.

After dinner, we walked around the campground a bit, then headed back to camp for an early night.  We were both tired after several days of long hours at work, and our earlier hike.  Walking in snow that is solid one minute then collapses under you the next takes a lot out of a person!

Biscuit snuggled himself in between us and we had a great night's sleep.  The fireplace worked very well when it didn't have to try and combat temperatures in the -20s.

Flooded approach to the bridge over Madawaska
The next morning, we made bagels with the toaster oven like we did on our last trip.  This time we didn't have to thaw them first, which was nice.  Since we were in no real rush to get home, we decided to go back out again for another hike, this time going our usual way - head out past the garbage area and turn right onto the track and tower off shoot, then left onto the backpacking trail to the bridge.  The trail was much harder going than it had been a few weeks previous.  A lot of melting had taken place since our last trip and like the day before, we sank through several deceptively solid parts of the trail.  There were a few places where we had to build temporary bridges with downed branches because the whole trail had a creek running through it.

As we got closer to where the two trails cross, I saw that the water level was very high, as high as it had been a few years back when there was so much flooding.  And sure enough, when we turned onto the backpacking trail, we were stopped several meters from the bridge by rushing water.  The two sections of wooden platform were washed into their current position a few years ago, and were never put back into their proper place.  The water there was at least a couple feet deep.

Disappointed we turned around and headed back to camp.  With nothing left to do, we packed up and headed back to my parents house to get the kids and head home.  It was a little disappointing, having the kids back out on the trip, but sometimes it's nice to have some camping time to ourselves as well.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trip Log: Frost Centre: Margaret Lake to Three Island Lake, July 4-5, 2017 (aka The First Hellish Portage We Experienced)

I'm going to get blamed for this trip for years to come, I can tell.  We started out planning to put in at Canoe Lake in Algonquin and go into either Teepee Lake or Little Doe Lake for two nights, but then I got to thinking about how the first portage out of Canoe Lake is so busy.  Biscuit with a lot of strangers?  Hmmm maybe not such a good idea.  So I studied the maps and decided that we could put in at Magnetawan Access and portage in for a few nights on Ralph Bice Lake.  It looked nice, it had good number of available sites still, and I'd seen pictures of some of the sites and they looked like they had actual sand beaches.

I waffled back and forth between doing two nights on one lake or the first on Ralph Bice, then a second night on Little Trout Lake, but in the end, decided to just relax for the day.  When I went to book it, on the day before we intended to go, I was greeted with an error message saying the reservation didn't meet the required window?  I was confused, but a little digging into the regulations revealed that Algonquin's interior requires you book by 9pm two days before your intended arrival.  I'd had no idea!

So I had to regroup again.  We had thought we would go to the Frost Centre on the way back and do an easy night on a little lake, so Chris suggested we just flip it.  Do a night at the Frost centre, then head up to Magnetawan Access.  I went back to the maps, now actually kind of excited because doing it this way meant we were already part way up to the Algonquin Access which should give us a head start for getting to a good site.  Since we would book a Frost Centre site, based on a specific site rather than a lake, there was less rush to get out the door (which turned out to be a good thing, since we were still not fully packed, despite having the whole previous day to find and prepare things.)

I had picked out a few sites that were easy to get to.  No big lakes to cross, no long portages. I had originally thought about a couple of the sites right on St. Nora Lake, but Chris vetoed those, saying he wanted to get at least off the access lake.

The kids tent at Three Island Lake, Frost Centre
I showed him pictures and he really liked the little island site on Three Island Lake.  I warned him the portage was a bit longer than what we had done, but he said he'd be fine.  Since we were taking two canoes, he'd be portaging both while the plan was for me to take both the big packs, while the kids took their packs.

We didn't get much of an early start, but the paddle across Margaret Lake was quick and we pulled up to the portage ready to go.

The first issue was the mud.  After a short but easy climb we got to a section of the trail where the mud was thick, deep and swarming with mosquitoes.  We managed to bushwhack around without much trouble but the bugs followed us along the trail.  After another minute or two, we reached a logging road.  It was at this point that Chris set down the one canoe, in a clearing just off the road and went back to get the yellow pack.  (We quickly realized I couldn't even lift the bigger of our two packs...some rethinking on how we distribute items will have to be done.) Also, we met up with two men who were coming out of Three Island, and Chris wanted to make sure we hadn't blocked off the put in for them.

Shortly after we crossed the road, we came to a stand still.  With mosquitoes and black flies (and deer flies probably) like a cloud around us, the kids and I stared at a whole lot of recently downed trees.  So recent, in fact, the leaves hadn't even started to wilt.   The whole area looked like a tornado had gone through in the past, but there were a lot of really recent, really big trees blocking the trail.  We dropped our packs and scouted around for a sign of where others had went.  Finally, we scooted around a wall made by a trees roots, ducked under a fallen tree, and then climbed over a few...and we were home free...except then the trail went through more mud, a lot of raspberry bushes and a nice big patch of ferns, all of which were havens for even more mosquitoes.  As the lake came into view, the underbrush thinned out and we got a bit of breeze to keep them away but that only thinned them out a little.  Chris came back a minute later with the pack, then headed back for the canoe he'd brought part way in.  We ended up launching it with the kids gear and letting them paddle out onto the lake so they were at least out of the bugs while Chris and I went back for the last items (the second canoe and the food bag)
Biscuit contemplating a swim to escape the bugs

Chris was dripping sweat and blood by the time we got everything into the canoes on Three Island.  He was also cursing a bit.  Nobody was happy, knowing we would be enduring that portage again the next day.  Even the sight of the cute little island site we would be camping on, didn't cheered us up.

Chris and Squatch went for a swim.  Bubbie was going to but then we spotted a leech, so she changed her mind.  I got started on supper.  On a previous trip I had taken a box of Beef Taco hamburger helper and instead of adding hamburger, added peppers, beans, lentils and corn.  This time, I didn't even bother adding the seasoning packet since I'd dried a can of Chili spiced diced tomatoes.  I did add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy texture, but don't tell them!  So basically I bought a box of Hamburger Helper...just for the pasta...might have to rethink that one for future trips...anyway the meal was really good...though there wasn't quite enough since I sort of spilled a little bit on the ground.

Early morning on Three Island Lake
When we arrived at the site, Chris was surprised to see a stack of firewood sitting beside the fire pit.  We got a fire going to help drive off the bugs, though they weren't as bad in the middle of the lake.  Since we hadn't gotten a very early start, the sun was getting low, and once it sank behind the trees, the bugs came out more aggressively, so we doused the fire and settled into bed.  None of us were looking forward to the next day.

I woke early.  I'm not sure what time exactly, but Biscuit figured it was time to get up, so I crawled out of the tent with him, taking along the cameras.  The lake was glass and there was a little bit of wispy fog dancing along it's surface.  I love mornings like this, and it kind of bums be out that everyone else sleeps through this beautiful time of day.  I'm pretty much always alone, waiting for everyone else to pop their heads out of the tents.

I watched a few loons circle the island, and a few birds flit around the trees above me.  It was relaxing, and yet  I was anxious too.  I knew once everyone else got up, we'd be heading back to that portage, and it was already getting hot.

This is the third island, where a campsite used to be
We opted not to make breakfast, though the option of granola bars was there for everyone.  Since we were heading to the Magnetawan Access in Algonquin for two nights, I wanted to get an early start and I knew if we waited until I made breakfast and cleaned up, we would be very late getting there.

So we packed up and headed back onto the water.  The trip back was just as miserable as the trip in had been.  Poor Chris had to make three trips, I made two.  After the first trip, I loaded the kids and a few of the packs into the canoe and told them to paddle out a bit like they had on the way in.  This kept them out of the bugs but it also left them sitting in the hot sun.  Chris had thought it would be a good idea to put one of the rain coats on, since the sleeves are elastic, and bugs wouldn't be crawling up his arms.  It worked, but by the time he got back with his third load, he was sweating so much it literally looked like he'd just poured a bottle of water down his shirt.  It was kind of scary and I was a bit worried about him.   We loaded up quickly and headed for the car where there were two bottles of sports drink (which were miraculously cold...)

We all agreed the site was cool but we wouldn't be coming back again until the portage was cleared and the bugs had died off.

The following week, Chris and I were driving back from Dorset and noticed a great deal of fresh blowdown in the area just north of Margaret Lake.  My parents had told us that a few days after this trip, they got a really bad storm, so we weren't sure when these trees feel, in the same storm that knocked trees across the portage, or the storm a few days later.  Either way, the area got hit pretty good with wind lately, so hopefully the people responsible for maintaining the routes will be out clearing the trails soon.