Friday, August 22, 2008

Hardcore staff trips

Not looking totally into night paddling, our heroes depart the Opeongo dock.

A few of the many perks of working at Algonquin Outfitters are access to canoes and tripping gear, proximity to Algonquin Park and the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors at your doorstep. Trouble is, we all still work five days a week like the rest of the world, so some of our staff try to cram a lot of paddling into their limited time off. Chris Bosworth and Brad Coultes went off the scale this week with an unprecedented (to my knowledge) circuit of the "Opeongo - Lavielle loop" in 16.5 hours, without using the Water Taxi. To put this in perspective, I would generally recommend that the average canoe tripper take 5 days for this trip.

Hardcore tripping is not for the average paddler. This type of paddling adventure requires commitment, experience, teamwork and a willingness to put up with a little hardship. Both fellows have previous experience with Hardcore tripping. A few years ago, Chris paddled the Meanest Link route from our Brent Store to Opeongo (via Cedar, Radiant, Francis, the Crow River, Lavielle and Dickson) in 18 hours, with colleague Rob Finkbeiner. Travelling with Jon Wilke, Brad recently completed the Opeongo-Oxtongue Lake-Huntsville leg of the Meanest Link in under 30 hours, including one camping night.

Hardcore tripping is not a new thing in Algonquin Park. Back when he was a Camp Pathfinder trip leader, AO founder, Bill Swift, AKA the Mean Dude, claimed he did the Dickson-Bonfield portage in 41 minutes, fully loaded. Back in the early 50s, "fully loaded" meant carrying a canvas tripping pack and waterlogged cedar-canvas canoe, not modern lightweight gear. Paddling solo, our Opeongo Store manager did the Smoke Lake loop in 8 hours (a few years ago...). Many other hardcore trips by AO staff, park staff, camp trippers and others have gone unrecorded over the years.

Here is Brad's account of the trip (for those not familiar with the route, Dickson-Bonfield is a 5 km portage):

Bos and I completed another Hardcore trip yesterday........leaving Ope at 4:10 AM paddling up Opeongo in a meteor shower.......up through Proulx, down the Crow River to Lavielle and Dickson, back to Ope (Dickson-Bonfield took one hour exactly), then met up with Andy and Adrianne where Opeongo's three arms meet and back to the was a 16.5 hr trip! Thank God for the wind!
Photographic proof - they were there!

Yes, you are allowed to take a rest.

OK, one night paddle a day is enough...

Cruising with friends down Opeongo in Sawyer Cruisers .
We still have a few Cruisers in the fleet and they
are our fastest rental canoe.

Back at the Opeongo Store by dusk!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

High water and bugs on the Petawawa

Surf's up, on rare sunny day for this summer.

Our friends from the Canpaddle expedition sent some pictures and one of the trip members created a great blog (which, for some reason, is spelled blogg across the pond) with photos, captions and some much appreciated comments about how nice the people at Algonquin Outfitters are.

Uisdean M. sneaking around the big water. Most of this group paddled solo.
Note the bug shirts being worn by all three paddlers in the picture!

Portaging along the old rail line.

Rollway Rapid in mid-June. Woo hoo!

Uisdean running Rollway in fine style.