Wednesday, November 13, 2013

End of Another Season

It is now mid-November, there is a skiff of snow covering the ground and the little lake nearby froze over last night.  This past year's tripping season was another excellent one with some great highlights.  I was able to squeeze in five trips this past season, one shy of last year but only because I combined the trip with my wife with the trip with my boys.

My fishing trip was one of the best ever not only because of the fish but also because of the weather.  It was touch-and-go whether or not we'd be going right up to 10pm the night before we left.  Ice had persisted on the lakes right up until April 30th but a couple of hot days with some wind had broken things up enough that the Park officially opened on May 1st, our day of departure.  This year we headed into the McKaskill Cabin.  It had been a while since we stayed at a cabin for one of our fishing trips and we knew it would be nice to have a warm, dry place in the event of inclement weather.  Instead we were blessed with five days of the some of the best weather of the spring, sunny and temperatures in the mid to high 20's every day.  The fishing was also some of the best we've had, catching some nice Lake Trout and Speckled Trout in all the lakes we fished.

The weather for my solo trip at the end of May was completely the opposite.  The day I departed it was 5 degrees and with light rain/snow mix.  The temperatures the rest of the trip were below seasonal but that was actually to my advantage as the bugs this past year were some of the worst in 30 years and the cool temperatures made the bugs non-existent.  I didn't encounter any bugs until late on my last day when I was in a sunny, sheltered area and the temperature had reached close to 20 degrees for the day.

For my solo trip I did the series of little lakes north-west of Canoe Lake that crisscross through the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail.  Despite all the portages being low maintenance they were all good and I really enjoyed my travels through that area.  There are some great little lakes and campsites through that stretch with Clara and Brown being my two favorite.  I had complete solitude on the trip not seeing another party until my last day as I headed down Potter Lake.

 The Geek trip this year for work was another good one.  We headed into Big Crow Lake to check out the virgin pines then headed into Hogan to explore the marsh and cliffs and then into La Muir and out through Merchant and Happy Isle.  The bugs were terrible for the time of year but the wildlife viewing was great with some huge Bull Moose, a wolf, Arctic Terns and  a Bald Eagle.  Amazingly this year we didn't lose or forget anything along the way.

This year's trip with the boys and my Dad also included my Mom and Wife joining us for a big family trip which I hadn't done in years with my parents.  This year marked the boys first trip with doing a portage as we headed into Shirley Lake.  Outfitted with their little packs they did great over the 1000m portage.

We were fortunate to get the amazing beach site on the east side of the lake and the boys had a great time swimming and exploring all over the place.  The lake was quiet as there ended up being only a couple of other parties camped on the lake.  The nice thing about Shirley Lake is that the sites are spread out enough that you really don't see any body else even if the lake is busy.

My last trip of the year was the highlight of the season.  It was 30 years ago this past August that my Dad and I did our first trip in Algonquin Park which ended with me saying, "I never want to see Algonquin Park again as long as I live!".  It had been a hard, eight day trip as we took everything but the kitchen sink and had long 10-12 hour days. 

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of our first trip we retraced the the same route of that first trip, with the slight modification of going downstream on the Nipissing Rive rather than upstream and doing the trip in seven instead of eight days.  Although I didn't cover any new territory on the trip it was one of the best trips ever with great sites, scenery and of course, company.

So as I sit here on this chilly November day I already have four trips planned for next year.  Three will be in the Park and the family trip this year will be to Temagami, which I haven't done in 9 years so I'm looking forward to getting back to there.

Over the next few months I'll be working on getting my trip logs up from this past season, updating my lake list and posting a map with all the areas of Algonquin that I've traveled.  Until then, happy paddling!

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