First Algonquin Trip
**This article was written and submitted by Rob Delduca. Rob is a first time contributor to Quick Escapes**
It all began after hearing Joe and Darren talk about their travels and adventures. Constantly hearing about how much fun it was, or how good the fishing was, or simply how beautiful the landscapes were, its how it led to an idea, an idea to go for a camping trip in Algonquin.
Joe had brought forth the suggestion, knowing full well that I am not a camper but wanting me to experience what I was always so envious of hearing. After some thought, convincing and conversation we settled on the idea of a one-night trip to break me in. I was excited about the idea but nervous as well.
So after talking to my resident experts, Darren and Joe, who I am very grateful and lucky to have such amazing resources a text or call away, we decided to start at Source Lake, portage to Bruce and then portage to Raven. I started looking at Jeff’s maps(which are amazing, even if you have no interest in actually going to the park, just the amount of info on the maps http://quickescapes.ca/trips/jeffs-maps-invaluable-resource), which I was introduced to by Joe and Darren, I saw some short portages and small lakes. Piece of cake, right? Wrong.
We had our plan. I ran over what I needed to bring, over and over again with Joe. He assured me he had mostly everything we need. I just need to pack some extra dry clothes, just in case, and water bottle and snacks. I had gone to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) to prepare some protein bars and a dehydrated mashed potato pack as well as pad thai for our lunch. I also packed my fishing gear, for obvious reasons.
Our plan was to head out from a meeting location at 5:45a.m., Joe was right on time, canoe ready on the roof and off we go to out launch point at Source Lake, just off highway 60. It was roughly a 2 hour drive from where we met but it was a truly beautiful drive. The granite and forest was endless, as was the water. So much water! We made it to the entrance of Algonquin, and we stopped to get our daily park permit, which cost 17 dollars and was simply putting money in an envelope and taking a little slip. At that point is when it felt real.
So, we arrive at our launch spot, and I will admit, I am a little nervous at this point, even anxious. I have a little canoe experience, only in Lake Eugenia and generally alone on calm days, so a real lake, in the real wild, that was a different experience. I cannot swim so going overboard was a real concern, but again, Joe to the rescue with life jackets, since I forgot mine at home. We get the canoe in the water, load up our gear and I took that step into the canoe and my initial fear is gone and all of a sudden, I feel like it had become a real adventure.
We started a short trip paddling across Source Lake to our first portage. The wind felt strong, but as a beginner, I wouldn’t have any comparison. All the while, Joe was keeping me calm by telling me about different points of interest, and throughout the entire day, I learned more than I have in the past 6 months about the park and camping/canoeing. I would like to think I was a capable partner to what is an experienced paddler behind me, ensuring we were always heading in the right direction. Not only ensuring a safe and efficient direction but keeping the beginner at the front of the canoe calm and confident. Our first portage was very interesting, it was roughly 500 meters, and I did not realize one person could carry the canoe on their shoulders, and also that the balance point was so perfect. We took turns between carrying the canoe and the gear as we made it to our second lake. We were fishing all along the way as well. We paddled across Bruce Lake to our second portage, again stopping to fish, unsuccessfully, to which was a roughly 900 meter portage which was much more challenging than the first.
We reached Raven Lake, we toured the lake, and fished for a few hours before stopping for lunch. We found one of two campsites on the lake to use for homebase for lunch. Our pad thai was much better than I expected! We sat and ate, fished from shore and just enjoyed the beauty this park has to offer. We landed one brook trout, which was our only catch of the day, from this campsite as well. We fished the lake for a few more hours and discussed future plans to return for a one night trip as the spot we stopped for lunch was perfect. After some more fishing, we headed back to our launch point, stopping once along the way to examine some ruins of what appeared to be an old logging camp perhaps.
Coming out, I did not expect to see such beauty. We did not see much wildlife aside from a loon but the beauty of the park is unbelievable, and I only experience 1/100th of it. I can only imagine what the rest is like. The ruins, ancient sites, historical relics and somber reminders of the parks history are all something that make me want to go back. I feel as though I can’t get back soon enough and am planning an overnight trip now. I can see how addictive this can be and I look forward to many more adventures with good friends. For someone who had no interest in camping, I really can’t wait to do it now, seeing what the park has to offer.
If you ever see yourself wondering what the point to this is, or if perhaps you were like me and don’t care for camping, give this a try, I can assure you’ll be in awe, just as I was.
**Rob grew up in the Niagara Region. Since he was old enough to walk, he would be out fishing with his father, mostly in Lake Erie and the Kawarthas usually targeting bass, pickerel and perch and most recently, trout. Rob is a firearms enthusiast and enjoys target and skeet shooting, as well as deer hunting. A husband and father of two, he has begun to take his oldest daughter along on his fishing trips.**