To really experience the ‘interior’ of Algonquin by canoe means portaging is inevitable. So our criteria when trip planning are pretty simple, the fewest number, and the shortest portages possible to get us away from the ‘crowds’ and the sounds of civilization. The days of five day trips with 24 portages that vary in length but included two over 2,000m long are over. We are more ‘the one 295m portage’ kind of trippers now. Our destination was Tom Thomson Lake, a 12 km paddle and one short portage from our starting point. Perfect!
The wind was in our favour as we paddled up Canoe Lake, and a good thing it was, as our arms, butts and knees started to protest as we approached the portage. The portage was busy with several canoes on the shore when we arrived and four more came in shortly after we did. And that didn’t include those heading out, back to Canoe Lake. As we waited for our turn to land on the shore and unpack the canoe, I noticed a sign with a large black bear head. Apparently none of my fellow canoe trippers seemed bothered that we were entering black bear territory. The caution sign also warned not to approach or feed the bears (seriously?).
The portage is a relatively flat 295 m long gravel/dirt wide pathway that passes the Joe Lake damn. Easy peasy! We made three trips back and forth: one with packs, one with the canoe, and the last with paddles and the food pack. Ok so most groups did one trip, maybe two, so what, we aren’t in a race. It was during our third and final crossing that we realized that maybe all these folks were also headed to Tom Thomson Lake and would reach it first and select the best campsites. Suddenly I felt a little like I was on the “Amazing Race” heading to the last check point where your team may be eliminated. I picked up my pace.
We paddled into Tom Thomson Lake a couple of hours later and had no problem finding a great campsite. Each campsite offers the basic amenities (campfire pit, tent site(s) and a thunder box) but can also include benches or tables made by a previous occupant.
Our site included a pully and rope attached to a wire affixed to two trees that is used to hang the food pack so it is out of reach of bears. I guess they weren’t kidding, we are in bear territory.
As I set out on a fall canoe camping trip in Algonquin Park, I received a facebook memory from Patio Girlz Tracey showing the Girlz in Quebec City, one of our many stops on our 2018 road trip. I may not be travelling with my Girlz on this trip to Algonquin Park, but they are certainly in my thoughts. I wonder how they would make out on a three day canoe trip…we will probably never know!
My canoe trip started in Algonquin Park at Access 5 on iconic Canoe Lake. A starting point for a number of interior canoe trips in the park. It is also famous as the site of the mysterious death of Tom Thomson, Canadian painter in 1917. There are several theories as to why an accomplished outdoors man and canoeist would be found drowned in the lake and this mystery is certainly a part of park lore. There is a memorial cairn on the lake that we paddled to on our way back..more on that later.
It started out as a “wouldn’t it be fun if…” and soon it became let’s do it! So, the Patio Girlz are hitting the road and heading to the East Coast of Canada this September. There was certainly lots of banter around the table during our Friday patios about where to go, when, what to see, until finally, we decided on our destination of Nova Scotia and specifically the Cabot Trail.
Maps and Tour books from CAA were picked up and spread out on the patio table. Anchored down with Gin and Tonics we mapped out a rough itinerary and confirmed our dates: September 14th to 24th. Friday night patios took on a whole new focus as we explored options for accommodations and other logistics.
Love you Girlz but I am not sharing a bed…thank goodness for AirBnB with options for multiple rooms and beds!
During one of these Patio nights, I decided a Blog would be fun to document our trip. But I didn’t stop there, next came the magnetic sign for the car and matching hoodies.
Coming soon, the Patio Girlz on the Road… get ready Nova Scotia!
I’m not sure how long we have known each other, but it spans close to 20 years. We all met, as many do, through our daughters, or in Pat’s case, granddaughter.
I met Kathy first at play group when our children were toddlers. Fast forward several years and our girls started playing competitive soccer together with Kathy as the team manager.
I think I met Pat next. Her granddaughter and my daughter shared the same passion for ballet and all things ‘dance’. This lead to years of dance lessons, ballet exams and dance competitions. Fondly called Granny P, Pat owned a dance and soccer store in the community thus bringing together the soccer moms and dance moms.
Our third Patio Girl, Tracey, was both a soccer mom and a dance mom. Our daughters danced at the same studio and played on the same soccer team. We travelled to various dance competitions switching girls when it was time to do hair and makeup, as our own daughters didn’t raise quite the same fuss if a mother, other than their own was pulling their hair into a bun.
Our girls eventually moved on from soccer and dance, but the four of us continued getting together for coffee and a gab from time to time. This eventually led to Friday drinks at Pat’s between May 24th and October. It didn’t take long before the tradition of “Pat’s Patio” took on a life of its own and the “Patio Girlz” were born.