A TRIP INTO ALGONQUIN’S BACKCOUNTRY
A refund (or flight credit) will be issued to your original payment method.
Yup. That is the reality for many around the world given the current travel climate centered around COVID-19 travel restrictions. But a cancelled international vacation doesn’t mean cancelled fun. As a matter of fact, international vacations being delayed for a while is the perfect opportunity to explore close to home.
You know, “Good things grow in Ontario”, so put some respect on it.
I’m sure you know this by now, but I live for the outdoors. Give me an activity that consists of a tent, an intense campfire, sleeping under the stars and I am sold. That’s why when Ayana suggested a backcountry camping trip to the north of Algonquin park, my only question was “When do we leave?” I have a deep love for our parks, an obsession some might say. So when the opportunity to venture into Algonquin Park’s north side for a backcountry camping trip was presented to me, I jumped at it. No, I literally jumped at the idea.
With our plans in place, meaning overpacked bags and way too much food in the food barrel, we woke up early on Friday morning to set off on our drive into the Great Wild North. About halfway into Algonquin Park, along Highway 60 (the south side) we realized we were entering the park at the wrong entrance.
The drive we needed to make would take us along Highway 11 toward Northeastern Ontario and whole 2.5 hours North of where we were. Oops – key bit of information missed there. We quickly turned around, gawked at a beautiful whitetail deer standing at the side of the road and only five minutes later ran over an already dead racoon on the highway (I’m sure you heard me scream from wherever you were).
After that series of somewhat unfortunate events, we made one last stop before continuing our journey to “Campsite Remote” for the weekend. See, I’m on a mission to collect all the badges offered by Ontario Parks, and with contactless transactions, we were able to stop in at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, grab our badges, plan a trip to visit the park next year and be on our way.
The dirt road drive to the launch was adventurous to say the least. Deep corners and quick drops brought an almost rollercoaster-like feel to the drive. We dodged potholes, swerved around large rocks and before you knew it, the view of Cedar Lake made me forget all about the lengthy and somewhat daring drive.
Gear pick-up was easy. No contact and perfectly sanitized gear from a spot that brought on instant jealousy from this city dweller. We were so pumped to get into the backcountry we failed to realize how heavy everything was. But believe me, there was no way I was leaving my fishing rods and camera gear on a trip that almost guaranteed me fish and picture-perfect landscapes.
So, after 5 lakes, 14 kms of paddling, 3 short portages, overpacked bags, wading through rivers (because low water levels), me constantly pointing out birds to Ayana, we arrived at our home for the weekend. A beautifully isolated lake, brimming with bass, lake trout and catfish, who all found my line interesting enough for a quick bite, before they were released in hopes of them growing enough for next years catch. Let’s just say my fishing standards have been elevated.
We would spend the next 3 days, eating meals that rivaled top chefs (none of that dry stuff), fishing and having some deep conversations about everything. Oh and lots of laughs. Our nights were made for star gazing, with the sounds of artists like Erykah Badu, Common, Rhye and a crackling fire serenading us under a blanket of what seemed like a billion stars.
We experienced nature’s magic so often on this adventure that choosing one single moment to highlight feels like I would be robbing you of the opportunity to imagine, as you would, the joy that captivated us on this backcountry experience. I will say though, mother nature definitely knew we were in town and wouldn’t let us leave without a few displays of her charm. Bald eagles landing on our site, a flock of birds flying over in the morning, in a perfect V formation, creating a sound so magical it can’t be compared to anything I’ve ever known and the hauntingly beautiful howl of wolves in the distance.
The hardest part of this trip was easily identified as we woke up on the final morning of our adventure, realizing that we must now begin the journey back to the city. We reluctantly packed our bags, making sure no trace of our presence in this little bit of heaven was left behind. We loaded the canoe, to the splash of fish breaking the water’s surface to carry on with their feast, and under the watchful eye of a beautiful juvenile bald eagle, perched atop a giant pine tree on our site, seemingly there to wish us well on our journey out of its home.
The journey back to the car left us craving more time in this beautiful place. Though the rain bathed our faces and the storm clouds rolled above us, we paddled onward, to a place neither of us was willing to go – back to where this epic adventure began and toward what feels like a city where the streets know our names.
Until next time mother nature…