Thursday, December 21, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
All this mild weather has people thinking about canoe tripping more than skiing and snowshoeing. On one of my periodic scans of the Algonquin Adventures forums, I found two very interesting links. By the way, if you haven't discovered Algonquin Adventures, take a look. It is a very comprehensive and useful site with lots of trip planning information, route ideas, trip logs and more.
The first is a link to NOAA satellite imagery, updated every day or so. The link is here (thanks to "Markus"). Just click on the thumbnail that looks the least cloudy. You can zoom in a bit and pick out major lakes in the area (it may not be Google Earth but at least the images are almost live). It's a good test of your knowledge of Algonquin Park lakes. What a handy tool for ice-out canoe trip planning!
Here's another one of a 1908 Algonquin Park map (thanks to "Bob M"). While not recommended for navigation, it is very interesting to see old cultural features, place names, rail lines and especially different lake names. Algonquin Outfitters is very proud to possess an original version of this map from 1934. It is very similar, though with a few updates. Ours is framed and on display in the outfitting room at the Oxtongue Lake store. If you are interested in seeing this piece of park history, drop by and ask one of our staff to show you the map.
See you on Green Lake next summer!
Friday, December 08, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
The task of selecting the films for our two showings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has begun. Many people do not realize that each tour host gets to pick the films that are shown in their town. To help with this challenge, the organizers of the Banff Mountain Film Festival provide us with descriptons, reviews, audience feedback and short clips on a preview DVD.
At this point, I've made selections with the goal that each night will have a slightly different theme. Each evening may appeal to some more than others but still be enjoyable by anyone with an appreciation for great film-making, adventure and the great outdoors. Then there is the fact that you can't please everyone.
On Tuesday, January 23, the films will have a more action-oriented flavour, featuring skiing, snowboard, iceberg climbing, epic adventure, mountain biking and a fair bit of humour. The next evening, Wednesday, January 24, will feature films with more of an adventure travel and nature focus, with some climbing and snowboarding in the mix.
As of Dec. 20, we have selected seven films for each show. Film selections can change at the last minute. Here are descriptions (courtesy of The Banff Mountain Film Festival) and images from some of the films selected:
Tuesday, January 23:
Will Gadd and Ben Firth are two top Canadian ice climbers. They thought climbing "awesome" bergs would be a lot of fun, so the Aweberg trip was born. The bergs looked great, but the reality was somewhat different.
Roam is a mountain-bike film that follows the travels of the world’s top riders as they explore new places to ride, and visit some of the notorious meccas of mountain biking such as, Moab, UT and Whistler, BC.
Kids Who Rip
Kids Who Rip highlights amazing young athletes in the action sports community. This special edit for the Banff Mountain Film Festival features remarkable kids who love to ski, snowboard, skateboard and surf.
Patagonia - A Travel to the End of the World
Attempting the first unsupported traverse of the Southern Patagonia Icecap, Børge Ousland and Thomas Ulrich start from the small village of Tortel in August 2003. After three days of paddling into the Patagonian fjords with two kayaks each, they reach the bottom of the Jorge Montt Glacier; from here they carry their equipment up and start skiing across the ice cap. This film is most of all about the spirit of adventure. Few expeditions have had to master so many different skills to reach their goal.
The Simplicity Factor
The Simplicity Factor features an all-female cast of athletes. The film looks at bouldering's overall appeal while showcasing ascents of several famous boulder problems.
Buy tickets on-line to this show
Wednesday, January 24
Steep towers of untouched rock jutting out of the ocean. And the best part is, with only the sea below you, there's no rope. Thailand is a dream come true for David Lama, perhaps the best on-site climber in the world, and purportedly the future of the sport. Amidst the exotic beauty of the Andaman Coast, Lama and friends take 60-footers into the drink, and bring deep water soloing to a new level.
In 2005, Olivier Higgins and Mélanie Carrier went on their first cycling expedition - 8000 kilometers across Asia. In six months they pedaled from Mongolia to Calcutta, India, traveling through Xinjiang, the Taklimakan Desert, the high Tibetan plateau and the jungle of Nepal. Why? Not only to discover the world, but also to discover themselves.
Editor's note: Regular festival goers might remember Berserk in the Antarctic and Alone Across Australia from past showings. This film has been compared to those memorable films.
Conversing with Aotearoa
In an age of technological integration and urban life, people turn to the natural world for a wilderness experience. What draws us to the remote corners of land and sea when we realize something in our lives is missing? In this animated documentary, New Zealanders attempt to fathom their deep, personal connection with their land.
Yes to the No
A look into the sport of noboarding, which is snowboarding without the use of bindings. The sport of snowboarding was essentially started by skateboarders and surfers looking for a winter alternative to the two summer sports. Now that snowboarding has reached its peak, there is only one way to change the way snowboarding is done, and that is to take the bindings off the board and really surf the mountain.
Ride of the Mergansers
The hooded merganser is a rare and reclusive duck found only in North America. Every spring, in the Great Lakes region, the wary hen lays and incubates her eggs in a nest high in the trees. Just 24 hours after hatching, the tiny ducklings must make the perilous leap to the ground below. Ride of the Mergansers brings this hidden drama to the screen.
Buy tickets on-line to this show
Friday, December 01, 2006
The photos below show what accumulated in the first hour of today's storm. Driving conditions are treacherous at the moment as the snow is changing to ice pellets.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
We are really excited about the new models, as they feature improved seats, lighter weight hulls (which I noticed right away unloading the truck!) and a few changes to the line-up.
While we do have all these new kayaks, there are still a few 2006 models left over at some great prices. A kayak will fit under a Christmas tree! Last year a customer bought his wife a kayak for Christmas and even wrapped it! If you'd like to find out more about what's available, call Randy at our Huntsville store: 1-705-787-0262, ext. 36.
Friday, November 24, 2006
The photo above highlights two things we haven't seen for a while: blue sky and a frozen lake. Recent cold evening temperatures and daytime highs just above freezing have made for good ice-forming weather. The bay in front of our Oxtongue Lake store has been frozen over for two days, despite the sun. While there have been a few flurries, no snow has stayed on the ground for very long yet.
After a very dreary, wet and cloudy fall, it is a real morale boost to have a few days of sunny weather!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Update from Minister Gary Lunn, our Minister of Natural Resources, October 12, 2006: Federal Government Stays in the Paper Map Business...
Your Letters and Emails did make a difference
On the morning of October 11, 2006 the Map Uses Advisory Committee was contacted by Kathleen Olson, Acting Director of Communications to the Minister of Natural Resources. Ms. Olson wanted to make key stakeholder groups aware of Minister Lunn’s recent decision to keep the Canada Map Office open. According to Ms. Olson, “as soon as this was brought to Minister Lunn’s attention he recognized the need to continue this service to stakeholders and Canadians.”
ACMLA is proud to have played a part in bringing this critical issue to the attention of interested Canadians and to the Government of Canada. We look forward to continuing to work with Minister Lunn and the Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure that Canadians have access to printed topographic maps.
Thank you to all who have supported this and to Minister Gary Lunn for listening.
Chair, Map Users Advisory Committee, Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives (Carleton University Library, Ottawa, Ontario)
Thursday, October 26, 2006
AO presents Warren Miller's Off the Grid
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006
Go "Off the Grid" with Algonquin Outfitters on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8 pm, at the Algonquin Theatre. Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for students. Tickets are available at the Algonquin Theatre box office at 37 Main St. E., on-line or by calling the box office at (705) 789-4975 or 1-888-696-4255, ext. 2352.
Algonquin Outfitters presents the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Tuesday, Jan. 23 & Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007
Yes, you read it right. This year we are showing the popular Banff Mountain Film Festival on two nights! After selling out again last year, we concluded that since we could not find a bigger venue we should offer two showings. Each show will feature a different selection of films. More on that later...
Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for students. Folks buying tickets for both shows can exchange their two ticket stubs for a coupon offering a 15% discount on their next purchase at Algonquin Outfitters.
Tickets will be available soon at the Algonquin Theatre box office at 37 Main St. E., on-line, or by calling the theatre box office at (705) 789-4975, or 1-888-696-4255, ext. 2352.
For more information on the Banff Mountain Film Festival, visit www.banffmountainfestivals.ca
Algonquin Outfitters presents the 13th Annual Winter Assembly
Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007
Winter fun in the great outdoors is once again the theme of the Annual Winter Assembly, hosted by Algonquin Outfitters, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007. This free, family-oriented, event takes place at the Oxtongue Lake location, just west of Algonquin Park, on Hwy. 60, about 30 km east of Huntsville. The Winter Assembly is designed to introduce people to self-propelled (or at least non-motorized) winter activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skate skiing, kick-sledding, winter camping, ice-climbing and dog sledding, as well as provide a host of opportunities to have fun in the snow. Stay tuned for more details!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
My letter to the Hon. Tony Clement, MP for Muskoka-Parry Sound, Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
From: Algonquin Outfitters [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]The prompt reply:
Sent: October 2, 2006 2:10 PM
To: Clement, Tony - M.P.
Dear Mr. Clement:
As a the manager of a major canoe trip outfitting and outdoor adventure operation, outdoor enthusiast and resident of Huntsville, I was shocked to learn that the printing of topographic maps will be discontinued and that the Canada Map Office will be closed.
Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism are particularly important draws for the tourism economy in the Muskoka-Parry Sound area and having a good map is a key factor to having a safe, enjoyable outdoor experience. For many reasons, the digital alternative is not a satisfactory option for outdoor use. For a tourism operator trying to offer maps to visitors and clients, the digital option presents even more problems.
Please urge your colleagues to reconsider this decision.
More information on this issue can be found at:
Dear Mr. Baker,
I have been in touch with the office of the Minister of Natural Resources regarding your map issue. I am advised that the previous Liberal Government decided in 2001 to close down the Canada Map Office and that the Office has been working toward that Liberal goal ever since, with a final date of March 31, 2007.
Your new Conservative Government is looking seriously at this closure and all though it is still awaiting information on which to base a final decision, the Ministry does not think a March 31, 2007 closure is very likely at all. A more firm answer should be available to me in a few weeks but in the meantime, I would not be too concerned about the closure occurring any time soon.
David J. Lowe
Chief Parliamentary Assistant to Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
Monday, October 02, 2006
last year my partner and I went on a canou trip with Algonquin
Outfitters: Pete was our guide. We enjoyed the trip very much although
we weren't lucky and hardly saw any animals.
The arcticle I wrote is published on the website of a large women's
magazine here in Germany. Although you can't read any German I thought it
might be interesting for you to know. Please say hello to Pete - he is
in the pictures of the arcitcle:
Greetings from Hamburg
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Find out more at the Maps for Canadians website. This site contain much more information on the issue and samples of letters you can write to your MP and/or the Federal Minister of Natural Resources
Here is a sample e-mail from the site:
Have you ever used a topographic map for exploration, teaching, or just for fun?
Effective January 2007, Natural Resources Canada will close the Canada Map Office and discontinue the printing of paper topographic maps. Maps will be available in digital format through the Internet. The new policy, however, will not meet Canadians’ needs. Canadians will effectively lose access to their maps.
Canada has a distinguished history in map making. Indeed, Canada was the second country in the world to develop a national atlas in 1906. Our country is currently world renowned for its innovation in mapping grounded in the country's original occupation: land exploration. National topographic maps and the Atlas of Canada promote our country’s sovereignty and educate Canadians by developing geographic literacy.
The Government of Canada’s policies of fiscal responsibility and accountability are important. However, organizations such as yours still need service from their government. Your organization may place a priority on the paper map service the Government currently provides. Natural Resources Canada’s promotion of self-printing from a website is ahead of its time. The Canadian public, especially those located outside of urban centres without access to technological support, will no longer be served.
For more information, and to send a letter to your Member of Parliament and to the Minister of Natural Resources, please see the website http://mapsforcanadians.ca that has been set up by other concerned organizations such as yours. Please also send this message to your members and to other affected associations.Maps are important. They are not only an integral part of our heritage but also of our economy, recreation and way of life. Who we are as Canadians is a product of where we are. If we all speak up, we can make a difference.
Canoe Trippers Unite!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
We work hard to ensure that all our customers have a great experience and it's rewarding to get positive feedback. Here's a nice note from Andrew S., from England. He and his family went on one of our Custom Guided Canoe Trips earlier in August.
I just wanted to thank you for organising a wonderful canoeing trip for us last week. It was an experience that neither I nor my family will ever forget. The canoes and equipment were all first class and we could not have asked for anything better. With hindsight, the only thing I might have changed was the type of food we chose. I think I would have passed on the fresh chicken and bacon & eggs and stuck to lighter, more easy to prepare food -perhaps you could warn people not to be too ambitious. I would particularly like to highlight the fantastic role played by our guide, D....... She was the perfect guide in all respects, knowledgable, helpful but equally happy to leave us to get on with things on our own once we knew what we were doing. She was excellent company and became a firm friend of both us and the kids. Overall she was a credit to your organisation and played a big role in making the trip a success. The only problem is that it has left me hungry for more- I am already studying the map and tracing out possible routes with absolute jealousy for those of you who live in the area!
Thanks again for helping with such a fantastic adventure- we would recommend Algonquin Outfitters to anybody.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Here is their story:
Hi Gord, we're back home "safe and sound" after our eight day canoe trip in the park. It was definitely quite different from any that we have done in the past.After reading the post recounting the adventures of the Baron and crew, Bill sent this note:
We had planned to travel from Canoe Lake to Otterslide the first day to be close to the creek for an early start the next morning. Then we were to go to Burntroot on day two and on to Catfish the third day. We were to have a "day off" on day four to do a little exploring on Catfish, as we really like that lake. We have done this trip, with a few changes, twelve times.
The first day we arrived at Otterslide as planned, set up camp, lazed around a bit, ate supper, watched the loons frolicking and turned in for the night.
The next morning we awoke, ate breakfast, packed up and started down Otterslide Creek where we saw a young moose trotting along beside us before crossing the creek to join its' mother. We started out into Big Trout where we met two canoes heading for the creek, we exchanged good mornings and one of the paddlers in the second canoe said that we were in for a rough ride as the wind would be in our face with two foot waves and whitecaps. We thanked him for the info and said that was what we were expecting. Well, it took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get to the point of land where the portage from Lake La Muir comes out. Normally it might take us half an hour to reach it. We decided that this would be a good spot for lunch. After eating, we decided that we would take the afternoon off, camp here and do a little longer paddle the following day.
We started our third morning with breakfast, packed up and headed for Longer Lake, through Burnt Root and then into Perley. The wind had really picked up again, and even though it was behind us, we decided to stop at one of the camp sites on Perley. We had camped a couple of times on the high site but never on the site further down the lake, we decided to give the further one a look see. Well, that's all we did. That site is overgrown and looked like it hadn't been used in years so we decided to fight the wind and go back to the high site. As we approached the camp, a very large bald eagle lifted off the huge dead tree that marks the path up to the camp. We were quite excited as we had never before seen one in the park. We left the canoe facing into the wind and took our gear up to the camp.
Normally when we reach a camp the first thing that we do is to set up a tarp so that we have a place to cook if there is any rain. We have it down to a five-minute exercise. We string a rope between two trees, hang the tarp over it with the long end down facing into the wind and the short end the other way. We tie the tarp to the rope with short cords at either side. We use four tent pegs at each end and attach the tarp to the pegs with bungee cords. It works great.
After we packed our gear up to the camp we strung our tarp rope, hung the tarp over it and tied the two sides. The wind by this time was so strong, it tore the grommets where we had tied them and we just physically could not put up our tarp. We set up our tent and sat on a log watching the wind come down the lake. It started raining so we took "shelter" inside our tent. We have never experienced wind like we had that day anywhere in our lives. It was "screaming" through the trees and the rain was coming down in torrents. We had to close the top vent on the tent, as the wind was so strong that the rain was pouring into the tent from the vent. Our tent balloned inwards so much that we still don't know how the aluminum poles were okay afterwards. We heard CRAACK-------BOOM. I said," I guess a tree came down." Then CRAACK-----ZAPBOOM. We looked at each other and said, "that was a funny noise." The storm seemed to last about fifteen to twenty minutes and then it let up.
We got out of the tent to survey the situation. The noises that we had heard were easy to figure out. Less than ten feet from the door of our tent a tree about ten inches in diameter had uprooted and crashed to the ground AWAY from our tent. About ten feet from our tent in the other direction, the top of a dead eight-inch pine tree had come down in two ten-foot lengths and had snapped our tarp line. Had we been able to set up the tarp, that is exactly where we would have been sitting.
I said that I was going to go see how the canoe had fared. We walked over to the path that leads down to the water and found a twelve inch cedar tree had been snapped and was down across the path. That wasn't the worst part. Where we had left the canoe and paddling gear were the two paddles and the two life jackets. They hadn't even moved an inch but where was the bright yellow Mattawa that had brought us here? For a second I thought that someone had stolen it. What a dumb thought, who could be out on the water in this? We looked in the bushes, no canoe. We looked down the narrows, and there, about one hundred meters down and across the narrows, full of water, thankfully, was our best friend. I stripped off to my undies, walked down the shore and swam across to retrieve the canoe. I emptied it and paddled back to the beach. We placed it on the beach facing into the wind and put our life jackets on top of it with large rocks on top of the life jackets and headed back up the hill. We just made it into the tent when off in the distance we heard the rumbling of thunder storms. That whole night the thunder storms just kept comimg and coming. The thunder especially, was amazing. Normally, we have both "enjoyed" being in the woods during thunder storms, but after what had just happened to us.... We didn't get much sleep that evening. Thank goodness, we didn't know at the time, but according to Enviornment Canada, the winds in that part of Algonquin Park were considered to be 1 on the Fujita scale which is 120-170 km/h, supposedly able to overturn cars, so our poor little Mattawa certainly was no match for it. It uprooted or snapped off thousands of trees.
Day four, this was supposed to be our "day off". We set out for Catfish Lake. The last portage into Catfish was a "real joy." There were four areas with large trees that the wind had knocked down accross the trail. We trimmed some of the smaller branches and pulled the canoe through, but in two areas the trees were too large and dense so we had to "bushwhack" around them. We made it to Catfish and camped on the island in the second section of the lake near the abondanded "alligator," just where we had hoped to, and stuffed ourselves silly with wild blueberries.
We awoke in the morning to a very dense fog. We wondered what else would happen. The fog burned off as we ate and packed up. We paddled back to Burntroot and were lucky enough to get our favourite island camp site at the far south end of the lake just before it goes into the smaller part of the lake. As we climbed up onto the island, we noticed a strong burnt smell. There had been two root fires. We didn't know if they had been started by careless campers as there were signs of partly burned logs scattered everywhere. The earth was all blasted away from the areas where the fires had been as if someone with a very powerful hose had been there and there seemed to be pink residue at the bottom of the washed out areas and we wondered if this was fire retardant.
Day six had us off to Big Trout and down to a beautiful island camp site at the far end of the lake, near the turn for the portage into the creek. This was our "day off". Finally!!! We didn't do anything except rest and talk about the trip so far.
Our eighth and final day saw the wind gods finally with us. We left our island on Big Trout just after eight in the morning, did the creek and the winds literally blew us down Otterslide and both sections down Burnt Island and even Canoe Lake. We hit the beach just before three-fifteen and headed for the showers before going to spend a beautiful evening with friends that have a cottage on Peninsula Lake.
We spent the following week at a cottage on Oxtongue Lake with our daughter, son-in-law and two grand children planning, God willing, our canoe trip for July 2007.
Hi Gord, Sim & I found your story on the blog very interesting yesterday. Sim says she feels better to hear that someone else lost their canoe. We sort of had a guilty feeling like we should have done something else. They came a LOT closer than we did. Some of the similarities were amazing. They backtracked, a lot farther than we did, because of overgrown camps and trails, they camped on a high campsite and they lost their canoe. Great story!
Monday, August 07, 2006
In the world of adventure activities, flatwater canoe tripping, such as we promote in Algonquin Park, is generally considered fairly low risk. While there are many potential hazards, such as wind, cold water, rugged trails and the like, these are easily manged by being careful, having good equipment, staying within your own confort zone of skill and experience, planning ahead and watching the weather. No amount of care and planning can prepare you for the moment when Mother Nature rears up and takes a swipe at you, such as what happened on July 17. Experience and skill can help you deal with the aftermath, as we'll see here.
Two or three times aseason, we are visited by a group of friends from the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Over their years of canoeing together these fellows always refer to themselves as the King and his Court, and so each season, we look forward to visits by Baron, Jester, King, Czar and the occasional new recruit. Here is their story, as told by Baron:
Thank you for your help in making our trip this year another good one. While it was very eventful, the results were great and we all had a good time.
The first few days through North Tea (west), Biggar, Three Mile and Manitou went as planned. But, as we started in to Fassett Lake on Monday, it was clear that we were probably the first people in from Manitou Lake this year. The trail was overgrown and most portage signs were pulled from the trees. We said to ourselves that there must be some reason that no one takes this route -- like the campsites are bad? The water levels were good. In any case, we decided to turn around and head back to Manitou.
We settled into the high campsite on the south side at the end of the peninsula north of the trail into Fassett. A stiff wind blew all afternoon so we delayed putting up the tents. About dinner time we put up one tent and the Buckley Dry Fly to provide shelter for cooking. Shortly after that the storm came through.
After putting gear under the Dry Fly, two of the group ducked into the tent and two got under the dry fly. A tree over a foot in diameter broke off about 25 feet up and came down on the tent, just missing the guys in the tent. With a bit of panic, they ran over to the Dry Fly to tell us they were just missed. In the middle of this a tree about 8 inches in diameter came down on the Dry Fly. It came from behind the Dry Fly, just missing my head by a couple of feet. Interestingly, the climbing line I use to support the fly held the tree from completely hitting the ground! The storm didn't last long, and we got out to assess the damage. There were about 10 trees down around the campsite. All three poles on the tent were bent, and its' rain fly was badly torn. The holes in the tent itself were able to be covered with duct tape. Duct tape also covered the holes in the Dry Fly, which will be salvaged. Later, we combined the 3 poles to make 2 good ones so that we could use the tent by placing it under the Dry Fly. The key thing is that we were all fine.
As we were assessing the damage, we checked on the canoes which were turned over, well up on the beach. To our surprise, one was missing. We looked up and down the beach with no success. After the wind settled a bit and the water calmed, two of us went searching on the lake. We had the direction, but nothing more to go by for searching. As we went out, we spotted it upside down nearly a half-mile off shore. It was flooded with only a couple inches visible above water. The Bell canoes are so light that we didn't feel we had the stability to clear it in the middle of the lake, so we towed this giant sea anchor to shore to empty it and return to camp. Amazingly, there was not a bit of damage to the canoe! We felt very fortunate to find it in good shape. You might want to advise people to tie down the Bells as they are so light.
Tuesday we stayed put to dry out the gear, and then Wednesday we headed down to North Tea (east). The portage had several large trees down across it. We also hiked the trail from North Tea to Lorne. That told us that we had made a good decision to avoid Fassett. The trail was blocked in many spots with downed trees. We also talked with a ranger on the lake who told us of the widespread damage, injuries, and the death on Three Mile.
Thursday we headed to North Tea (west) planning to camp there Thursday night prior to heading out Friday morning. The weather looked very much like rain, so we decided to head out with the gear dry rather than packing wet on Friday morning. It proved to be a good decision. After a battle crossing the lake to the access, it started to rain as we were tying down the canoes on the car. As we were making our way across the lake we talked with the couple who first came to help the group on Three Mile where the fellow was killed, and then went to get the ranger's help. A very sad and challenging situation. They had about a three hour trip to get help, making it back about 1am. The evacuation flight made it in early in the morning. The fellow who was killed and the fellow in the tent with him (apparently with a serious spinal injury) were the counselors for a group of 16 year olds. One of the kids was related to the fellow killed. They got some other campers to stay with the kids before going for help.
It was a trip with a lot of memories, but all-in-all a very good time. We will be back.
Again, thanks for your help, and I'm sorry we didn't get to see you and others at Oxtongue Lake.
When I wrote and asked permission to post his story, Baron replied:
You are welcome to post the story I sent you on the net. I would suggest that you do a little editing. Attached are photos of the damage. Select those that will work for you.Photos of the campsite after the storm can be seen on Jester's post on the Canadian Canoe Routes site.
That was quite a storm, and I'm sure most people in the park have some stories to tell. It is very interesting how people react, and the strength that comes out in tough circumstances. We thank God for keeping us safe.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
In this year's big storm, tragically, one camper was killed by a falling tree. Several other people were injured and many other stories of close calls are emerging. The road in to our Brent store was closed for almost two days due to fallen trees and canoeists will find that many portages now have trees blocking the way. Damage was worst in the north end of the park and was widespread in north-central Ontario. The town of Mattawa declared a state of emergency after the storm!
Repair crews have been working hard to repair the the damaged cable and interior reservations can be now be made (call 1-888-668-7275). Algonquin roadside campground reservations are not available as of this blogging. Check the Ontario Parks blog for updates.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
They were taken on July 1st & 2nd, Tracey and I were paddling into Hailstorm Creek and we saw Jerry and his friend pass by. We wondered what they were doing, so we paddled toward them. Just then, we saw a young bull standing at the shore eating. As I changed lenses the moose decided to change location. He got into the water and started swimming right towards us. I nearly ...... , so we stayed right where we were and I just started shooting photos. It was awesome. Jerry and his colleague in the canoe made a really nice backdrop for these images.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
If you missed part two, click here.
A strange noise woke up in the morning. My inner tent which is normally yellow was black. I opened both eyes and stared with disbelief at my tent. The noise and black layers were mosquitoes. I jumped out of the tent to spray myself before I did anything else.
I knew I had a long day in front of me. I was still 2 hours behind my plan and the plan assumed to return the canoe at 7 p.m. In addition I had four portages including the 5.3 km one - the longest portage in Algonquin - connecting Dickson Lake with Bonfield Lake. After paddling whole morning I landed at the entrance of this portage at 1:30 p.m., which turned out to lunch time for mosquitoes. The previous portages were mosquitoes promised land. This one was hell for any human being. Swamps and wet land with numerous small ponds make this portage an ideal place for mosquitoes and other bugs. The instructions on the bug sprays advised to use the spray maximum twice for no more than six hours. I must have sprayed myself dozen times. Thinking back I now understand the tag line “SC Johnson - Family Company” - it means the whole mosquito family, even distant relatives, is invited for lunch. And it seemed that Summer Meadow was like gravy for them. The more I sprayed myself I more mosquitoes came. As if they talked to each other “have you tasted this new flavour. Little bit too sweet for me but in combination with fresh blood it is delicious.” I will not go into details but as in the previous portages I had to go through this hell three times. Last time I carried the canoe on my shoulders for seventy minutes with a half minute break. I could not rest longer because otherwise I would have inhaled mosquitoes flying around my head. After16 km, 2/3 with the heavy stuff on my back I was tired and on in autopilot mode “You must get to Outfitter by 9 p.m.” that was the thing that kept me going.
After I finally got to East Arm of Opeongo Lake I met a human being. I did not see and talked to anyone for 49 hours. The man greeted me and his second sentence was how tired I looked. But a typical conversation you have with a complete stranger but I probably looked horrible with blood streaks from killed mosquitoes all over my face and arms. When he saw my paddle he could not believe I paddled from the place I started that day in the morning. He and his buddy did essentially just the portages that day. He offered me to stay with them and to be picked by a water taxi on Monday morning. For a second I thought about this option but I quickly turned it down. I told a couple of friends about my intention to do this trip in three days all by myself and I wanted to stick to the plan. I thanked them and asked if by any chance they did not have a spare paddle. Without hesitation they borrowed me theirs. I thanked them, promised to return it to Outfitters under their name and at 5:30 p.m. I set off for the last part of my trip. I knew if everything goes well I had about 3 hours of paddling in front of me. The normal size paddle made a big difference. My back muscles were still sore and tired but at least I felt the boat moved with every stroke.
When I was somewhere in the middle of Eat Arm of Opeongo Lake it got darker and started to rain. A short 5 minute rain. Unfortunately I did not hide the map print out and after it got wet all colors mixed up and created an interesting piece of abstract art. Unfortunately as a map it was completely useless. I kept paddling east hoping not to get lost among many small and bigger inlands. I felt I was on track to make it. I almost whistled from happiness. But the trip was not over yet. And it happened what I was afraid of - when I felt Outfitters must be just round the corner I entered the bay with no exit - just a tree line on a shore. I felt I was so close and for some time I was just paddling back and forth as if I did not believe my eyes trying to find a hidden connection to Outfitters. But there was none. It got darker and I was quickly running out of the time. I said if I do not find the way in the next quarter an hour I will have to find a camp site and stay there over the night. Miraculously, a fishermen boat appeared. I asked a guy on board for the way and after 45 minutes of intense paddling I reached Outfitters at 8:45 p.m. I felt tired and my body was shaking from exhaustion. But my felt good- despite all obstacles I made 4 day itinerary in 3 days all by myself.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I found a gorgeous place - it was on a tip of an island with a sand beach and crystal clear water of Proulx Lake. Since I left Opeongo Lake I did not see a single person. I lighted the fire, cooked some meal and boiled water for tomorrow. I also worked on the paddle - I was proud of myself as I came up with two solutions. The first one was included a piece of wood inside the hollow shaft with three other pieces tied with a rope to the shaft. The other one was just a wooden shaft.
The following day I set off early to make up for the lost time. Unfortunately my first fix lasted just three stokes and the back up option worked for about an hour just long enough to get me up the river to Little Crow Lake. There the wooded shaft definitely broke leavening the broken part inside the shaft which meant I was not able to replace it with anything else. The only thing I could do was to screw a cork screw on my pocket into this wood inside the shaft and create some form of a T grip on the top of the paddle.
I knew I could not afford any further delays so I paddled as fast as I could. Despite my effort I did not progress very fast - I was more like a little kid paddling on an inflatable boat than the hard core paddler but I did not have any other option. Exhausted I got to Crow river with seven portages. I soon understood that I would not be able to carry all my staff at once. So first I went with my sack and whatever was left from the paddle, and then went back for the canoe. I walked every portage three times. Three times through mosquitoes and black flies paradise. After the one portage more than 1 kilometer long, tired I decided to take my change and instead of portaging to go down the river through the rapids. In the end rapids were the reason why I went canoeing in Europe. It turned out this was not the right decision. My canoe was more a steam boat than a light white water boat. No matter what I did - and it could be just because of the extremely short paddle - she kept the direction. I was her and the river deciding where to go. I jumped twice from the boat to prevent flipping over. Fortunately the river was just waist deep and the rapids were not too strong.
After I got over the last portage I saw something big in the river. At the first moment I thought it was a rock but the rock was moving. As I got closer I realized it was a moose cow bathing and eating river grass. “This is the reason why you came! This is the first hand experience of Canadian wilderness life” half of my mind screamed with excitement. The other half, the more pragmatic was more concerned how I will get around the huge moose cow standing in the middle of the river and not showing any willingness to move even inch aside. As I got closer to her I had to make a choice. I decided to pass her on the left side because the current was faster. When I was passing her just I few meters away we stared into our eyes. “Will she run after me?” went through my mind as I was paddling with my funny paddle as fast I could. She did not move at all. She completely ignored me and kept chewing juice river grass.
Despite 10 hours of paddling and portaging I was still behind my plan. But I was too tired and also had to prepare for the night. Like a night before I found an awesome place on Lake Lavieille. After I cooked some meal I built the tent and tired fell asleep almost instantly.
Tomorrow, I'll post the third and final chapter of Tomas' canoe adventure in Algonquin Park. Check back and you'll read about how Tomas learns the truth about mosquito repellant and accepts the generosity of strangers.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Stories like this capture the flavour and adventure of canoe tripping like no advertising agency script ever could. Experienced canoe-trippers may see Tomas' trip as a bit of a misadventure but the beauty is that he rises above his inexperience by being resourceful and open-minded to solutions. We've all been there at one time or another and I bet we'll see Tomas back for more trips in Algonquin Park.
I would like to thank you for an unforgettable experience from the last weekend. A recapped it from my friends - you may enjoy reading it too.
Paddling in Algonquin (part one of three)
Since my brother with his wife came over for a 14 day visit two years ago and after 2 days in the first week spent the whole second week totally excited paddling on lakes in North Ontario I wanted to try it. My chance came last weekend after my family went over to Europe. After close to 10 hours browsing on internet I finally decided for a trip I wanted to make - Opeongo Lake, Proulx Lake, Little Crow Lake, Big Crow Lake, Crow Lake, Lake Lavieille, Dickson Lake, Bonfield Lake, Wright Lake and Opeongo Lake. Most of the sides I looked at described this trip as 4-5 day long. As I like to challenge myself I took Friday off with a clear goal to make the trip in three days.
I left Toronto on Thursday late evening and arrived in Algonquin at 2 o'clock in the morning. As the West Gate office was closed I parked the car and within few minutes fell asleep. I must have slept pretty well as I woke up later than I intended which meant I started my canoe trip by two hours later than I planned.
Upon arrival to Algonquin Outfitters on Lake Opeongo I checked in the Park office and went to Outfitter for a canoe. I booked a solo canoe hoping the canoe would be smaller and lighter. When I saw it the only difference I noticed was just one seat in the middle - I always thought when I saw drawing of native Canadians from the 19th century with men sitting in the middle that it was a mistake but apparently it wasn't. When I was choosing the paddle a guy behind the counter advised me to go for a chin long one - there was just one which was so long. A shaft of the paddle was slightly bent but the guy assured me it would be okay. “Will you portage?”, he asked. Yees, I answered with uncertain voice without having a clue what portage means. Fortunately the good man answered himself “oh ye, you go to the lakes north off Opeongo” and went back to the store. In a second he came back with a piece of wood looking like a medieval torture instrument. When he saw my puzzled look he showed me what it was for and how to mount it on the canoe. Near future showed my first impression was not too far from the truth. The only difference between the torture instrument and this piece was that with the former someone helped you to put it on while with the latter I had to do everything by myself. Otherwise I believe the pain was comparable. “Will you need a water taxi?”. “No”, I replied this time with a confidence in my voice as I read somewhere on internet that hard core paddlers never take the water taxi. I was not sure if I was the hard core paddler but from the tone of the article I read I figured out that only total losers take the taxi.
Just few minutes after I set off and left the wind protected bay it turned out very clear that I was the only loser as I crashed into headwind with waves 30 centimeters high while non-hard core paddlers passed by smiling in water taxis. One group even cheered my up. “Is this boat sea-worthy” as I was trying to reach the shore of North Arm. The itinerary I followed said this trip usually takes three hours. After 4.5 hours when I finally reached the shore I realized another advantage of the water taxi. It disembarks you directly at the entrance to portage. My letter sized print out of the map was not the most detailed map I ever used - somewhere there in front of me was the entrance to the portage but it was all I was able to read from the map. After 1.5 hours of paddling back and forth along the shore I finally found the portage to Proulx Lake. The weather was beautiful and despite the delay everything seems great. I landed and began preparation to portage the boat. As soon as my feet touched the ground herds of mosquitoes appeared as if they were waiting just for me. As a hard core paddler I packed all my stuff into a water proof sack and to be really sure nothing gets wet I put everything inside the sack into plastic bags. But into which one I put the bug spray I obviously did not remember. I was desperately going through the sack with mosquitoes in my mouse, nose, ears and under sunglasses. I was eaten alive. Finally at the very bottom of the sack I found it - Off with a new Summer Meadow scent. It worked. Mosquitoes still flew around but did not bite. At least for some time. As I portaged - which means I carried the heavy sack with all my stuff for three days including tent and food on my back, 17 kilos “light” canoe on my shoulders and a paddle in my hand, my sweat washed away some of the bugs spray and some mosquitoes were not repelled by Summer Meadow scent any more. One bite, two bites, three bites. There is not much you can with the heavy load on your back. How many bites can I bear? After more than ten I gave up, dropped everything and sprayed myself from head to toes again. Finally I got to the end of the portage. Out of this mosquitoes land, and fast went through my mind I was loading the boat. First stroke, second stroke, third stroke and whoops the paddle broke exactly in the place where in was bent. Instead of a chin long paddle I had a waist long - a right size for my three year old son. “What should I do? Should I return?” My desire to deliver on the goal I set myself prevailed. I paddled to the nearest camp site with a clear plan to somehow fix the paddle and carry on in the trip early morning following day.
Stay tuned for part two, wherein Tomas fixes his paddle, in true "McGyver" style, and presses on to Lake Lavielle.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Some folks claim there are no big fish left in Algonquin Park. Well, they are out there and responsible anglers are catching and releasing them. Our "secret lake" policy applies to this and all other fish pictures we post but I can reveal the following details, supplied by AO customer, Jeff B., who took the picture:
Per our conversation earlier today here is the picture. As we said, it was a big fish, especially for 8lb test. "Lake X" is fantastic. We'll be back next year. Thanks for all your help and the great way you present your organization. Looking forward to seeing you next year.
1. Date caught May 18 2006
2. Fish caught by Daryl M. - Toronto Firefighter
3. Fish was released with pride to be caught again another time.
4. Lure was a red devil with cheese dipped in rum - you can fish this high
or you can fish it low.
5. Fish was weighed, but digital scale only went to 16 lbs, and then
errored out. No measurements were made, but fish was an easy 20+ lbs.
Daryl would not have landed this fish if he didn't have the help from Mike W., his fishing partner that day. Mike got his line in quickly and started to paddle just before the Laker spooled Daryl. Thanks again to Mike.
(Another note about the whole week our party was in the interior. Five
of us spent four full days fishing. We fished an average of seven hours each day (5 X 7 = 35 per day X 4 days = 140 hours, give or take) and caught a total
of 131 fish, including nine Specks. Not bad for using Red Devils and Cheese.
As Daryl says, you can fish this lure high or you can fish it low, either
way, you need to fish it slow.)
Sunday, May 28, 2006
- travel to an region known for Black Fly populations
- get out of the car and step into a wooded area, preferably in a wilderness setting
- do not apply any repellant or wear bug netting
- remain still until you are surrounded by a cloud of hungry insects
- wave your arms about your head, in an effort to fend off the bugs
- shuffle your feet to maintain the rythym with your arms
- you're doing the Bug Dance!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
We received a nice e-mail and photo from Ryan S. after his trip this past weekend. Pats-on-the-back are always appreciated! He has kindly given us permission to post his note and picture.
Just wanted to quickly say thanks for the prompt, courteous service provided by your staff this past weekend. My girlfriend and I did a short trip out of Canoe Lake staying at Burnt Island, Sunbeam, and Teepee respectively. Only got 15 minutes of fishing in on the trip on Sunbeam, but landed this beauty on a 1/4 oz Silver and Orange Little Cleo.
We will be using Algonquin Outfitters again.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
I've a number of requests for blog reorts on the black fly hatch. Here's the first one. Along with early ice-out and warm weather come early spring flowers, dropping water levels, and yes folks, black flies. They have emerged at my house, just outside of Huntsville, but we've had no reports of bugs in Algonquin Park yet. I'd give them a week or so, unless the weather turns cold, which could delay things a bit. The good news is that they don't bite for the first few days, even though they are quite annoying. Several days later they start looking for their blood meal.
For more Black Fly information:
- The Maine Nature News has some great information and FAQs on black flies. I wholeheartedly agree with the "personal philosophy" expressed by editor Frank Wihbey (near the bottom of the page). Substitute "Algonquin Park" for "Maine" and the philosphy will work up here.
- Hardcore black fly enthusiasts should enter the annual Black Fly Hunt in South River, Ontario
- Keep your spirits up by singing the Black Fly Song by Wade Hemsworth. His niece is our book-keeper!
Monday, May 01, 2006
Photo by Steve Baker, long time AO customer
The fish in the picture was taken on a Mickey Finn trolled on sinking line and 6 pound tippet about 90 feet behind the canoe in a lake somewhere in Algonquin Park.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Fortunately there are a few places, like the interior of Algonquin Park, where the native fishery remains more or less undisturbed and naturally reproducing. This is why dedicated anglers, particularly those interested in trout fishing, will leave their motor boats at home and fish from a canoe in Algonquin Park.
Trout fishing season opens Saturday, April 29.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Opeongo Lake opened up on Friday, April 21. This is the earliest ice-out in several years and we are ready to go!
If Opeongo is open, it is pretty safe to assume that all other lakes in Algonquin Park are open or will be in a day or so. As you can see from the picture of Ragged Falls above, water levels are extremely high, so be careful out there.
Friday, April 21, 2006
A quick important ice update:
- Smoke Lake is open, with some ice floating around.
- Lake of Two Rivers completely open.
- Source Lake is open according to Camp Pathfinder staff
- Canoe Lake is still mostly iced over and not passable.
- Opeongo Lake is still mostly iced over and not passable.