Friday, November 25, 2005

Paddling on...

I'm sad to report that Robin Adshead, one of Algonquin Outfitters' most colourful and interesting custumors, passed away recently. We will miss him. Robin and his family first visted Algonquin Outfitters in 1994, and set a record that still stands, for the longest guided trip we have set up. That first trip was 22 days long and we ended up having to split the trip between two guides (the famous Hurley brothers, Alex and Brent). At that time, the Adsheads lived in England, and Robin led the crew with a unique combination of military organizational precision and a cheeerful open-mindedness to new experiences. Our outfitters from that time fondly rememember the unusual preparations required for an Adshead family canoe trip, such as compromise between the Adhead's taste for good wine with dinner and the Algonquin park food container rules. The end result was a trip to the liquor store followed by decanting good wine into Platypus water bags.

That first guided trip was followed by an even longer, 32 day, self-guided trip with his sons and others. Over the years, the family went in different directions. Robin moved to Spain but he and his sons always kept in touch with thier friends in Algonquin Park. His two sons, Darrell and Corrin, returned for several trips of their own and tell me that they will come again, "to raise a dram to Dad around the campfire."

Robin was a very talented (and well-equipped) photographer, and pictures from those trips can be seen on his web site.

Cheers then Robin, and happy paddling.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Paddling in November

Paddling in November in Algonquin Park is a privilege. The water is cold, weather unreliable and days are short. Lakes in Algonquin Park could start freezing any day now and snow will soon blanket portage trails and campsites. The photos, taken today, November 5, show a good example of a "nice" day for paddling in the late fall (or is it early winter?). You'll notice the securely fastened PFD, paddling gloves and soft-shell jacket to ward off the cold. Falling in the water is not an option! I stayed close to shore and didn't try any manoeuvres that could possibly result in a swim.

Calm weather and an unusually mild day suggested to me that it would be a good time to test out the brand new Bell "Prospector" on Oxtongue Lake. This canoe is a modern reworking of the classic Chestnut model by well-known canoe designer David Yost. The one I'm paddling is one of two in Canada right now and is made in Bell's very light KevLight construction. I think it weighs about 39 pounds! It paddles beautifully - solid, stable, predictable and easy to spin around when it's heeled over. It won't be as quick as some of our other favourite canoes but will be a versatile, high volume tripper for those that prefer a traditional looking canoe. We expect to have more of these in our rental fleet and are anticipating that a Royalex version will be coming for whitewater enthusiasts.