Thursday, August 28, 2008


Well, we made it.

In our family, we call it "The Gruel" but we used to go every year. It's the annual family camping trip. We canoe in the backcountry, camping and portaging. One year, I hurt my back and stopped going. Slowly, people started dropping out.

Finally, this year, the trip was resurrected and I was able to go, given assurances that I wouldn't be expected to carry a canoe. But I did have to meet the group part-way through due to a lack of vacation time.

This was MY trip:

7am Leave my parents' house - thankfully, they let me borrow their car, their tent, their water jug, their baja bag, mug, and batteries. I was also able to borrow a pack and sandals from Kendra. Goodness, do I own ANY camping equipment? I bring my own utensil set and underwear, finding that I've been storing all my other sporty clothes at their house anyway.

Takeout breakfast at the Starbucks near Molson Park. Mm. That'll be it for a couple of days. Enjoy it while it lasts. Especially the too-cheerful window service.

Drive past the exit to Highway 60 without noticing. Make it all the way to North Bay before stopping at a gas station to look at the map. Tanking up. Driving back to Huntsville. Take Highway 60. Don't stop at DQ.

12pm Algonquin Outfitters for rentals. Continue on into the park to Rock Lake access point. Unload the car, lock it up, hop in the canoe.

1pm Paddle to Whitefish Lake. With a minor disagreement about which way to go. Oops.

2pm Check out all the campsites on Whitefish: all full except the one facing west. Take it. Set up the tent, thermarest, sleeping bags and wait. And wait. Eat some pepperoni sticks to stave off hunger, remembering that we didn't eat lunch.

4:30pm Finally, the crew arrives. Welcome, introductions, stories. Swimming ensues. I help make dinner: tacos... on a camping trip? Yes. And they are yummy.

9pm Sneak into the forest to the other side where we hear bongo drums and chanting. Laugh quietly in the dark, snooping on someone's camp. We are bad people. Go back so Will and Ian can play glow-in-the-pitch-black frisbee. Fun game until they are so far apart they can't see each other and the frisbee goes in the water.

10pm Bed.

6am Awake with the sun. Stay in bed, pretending to sleep.

9am Get up. No one woke me up! Have instant coffee with real cream (on a camping trip!?) and french vanilla coffee mix. Pretty good. And instant oatmeal.

10am Pack up. Kids from the camp on the other side of the forest swarm our campsite, unexplained. They get water and stick around, talking and laughing loudly and banging a large stick on our picnic table (yes, we had a picnic table there, on a camping trip!). We finally get into our canoes and leave, hating the obnoxious children. I canoe with Matt.

11am Stop at the bridge to Rock Lake narrows. Get out for that much-needed wimp-trip break. I go swimming. Of course the guys decide to jump off the bridge. So of course, we all do it. Except Josee, who is busy taking our photos. I think I swallowed some water. Scary -- the jump and the water swallowing, but nothing untoward results.

12pm? Stop at Rock Lake access point to go to the bathroom and get water from the tap and eat snacks.

1pm Stop at Barclay Estate ruins on Rock Lake for lunch (pepperoni sticks, cheddar, pears, rice crispy squares). Check out the ruins. Back in the canoe, Matt and I get beached on a rock in the middle of the lake while looking at a dog in another canoe.

2pm Portage 375m around a dam and waterfall. Go back and take a look at the falls. Put our feet in the water, jump subsequently further and further between risky, slippery rocks. Well, not all of us. Mostly just Will.

3pm Land on our camp site - beautiful camp site facing south on Pen Lake. Set up tents and blah blah blah. Swimming ensues. Dry out on the warm, flat rocks. Filter water for the next day. Ian fishes. Will and Matt look for firewood. This place even has an outhouse.

5pm I make Kraft Dinner (with no milk or margarine!) and sausages for dinner. It's super yummy and LOTS of it. Almost too much for everyone to eat.

8pm Josee makes white pine needle tea. Yummy new taste sensation. While we sit around the fire and chat.

10pm Bed.

6am Up with the sun. Stay in bed.

9:15am Get up. No one woke me up. Will's alarm had gone off at 7am. He turned it off and woke up at 9. Josee is boiling water for coffee. More instant coffee with french vanilla and cream for me! Gordon pours his and then drops the whole pot. Oops. He goes to get more water. He drops that too.

10am More water is finally ready for oatmeal and coffees.

11am We're all packed up an in our canoes. Today I'm with Ron. We totally win every race. We cross the lake to our big portage of the day: 1680m. Thankfully, it's flat and well maintained. We get to the other side, Night Lake, and play paddles, a game organized by Josee. Yep, wimp trip!

Cross Night Lake in about two seconds and do another 80m portage to Galeairy Lake.

1pm Stop at a basically vertical rock on Galeairy for lunch of cookies, granola bars, and more cookies.

1:30pm Back in the canoes and Ron and I are at the front of the pack, chatting about relationships.

3pm Arrive in Whitney. Some swimming and lollygagging and a trip to the other outfitters.

5pm Dinner at the Mad Musher and some lollygagging. Ian drives us back to Rock Lake, Matt drives our canoe back to the Outfitters. We get in the car, and on the way to the Outfitters, we finally see a moose!

7:30pm Outfitters is closed so we leave our crap there, outside. Continue on to Huntsville where we fill up on gas and DQ and then push on for home.

Not bad for our first couple's camping trip!


Unknown said...

Cathy sounds like you had a good trip into Algonquin. Hope it can once again be an annual event for your family, it's a great thing to bring people together.

Looks like you guys just missed us at "the outfitters" we closed at 7pm, just 30 minutes earlier.

Hope to see everyone back next year.

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