Trip Reports

Booth Lake Canoe Trip Report

Booth Lake Canoe Trip Report Sept. 2-5, 2011


On Labour Day weekend, I joined Paul H, Don H & Catherine J and headed to Booth Lake in Algonquin Park.  Our group consisted of seventeen people!  I had only been to Algonquin Park once before, on the previous weekend and that was car-camping.  This was canoe-camping.  I was signing up for the trip late & hadn't even bought a map to figure out where we were going.  I put a great deal of trust in our trip leaders & they didn't let me down.

I spent Friday preparing my pack.  I wanted my pack to only contain the things that I would use.  Various items were added but mostly things were removed to be left at home.  I made some muffins, cookies and cinnamon buns.  When I was finished I had a 30 pound pack with food, tent, sleeping bag and clothes.  The real test was to see what happened when I took it canoe-camping.

Early on Saturday we met at Paul's house, loaded gear and canoes and left the city by 8.  Some of our group had left the previous day and were already enjoying the great outdoors and a hike to the Chipmunk Lake portage.  We were carpooling and I enjoyed the scenery since I didn't need to drive.  After a brief stop along the way, we arrived at the Algonquin park check-in known as Shall Lake.  Here we registered license plates and became official interior campers.   After unloading our gear from the cars we sat down to lunch at the shore of the put-in.  Being eager to set out, it wasn't long before we were on the water and headed toward Booth Lake.

On our way we expected two portages.  At the first portage the water was so low that it was decided that we could walk up the rapids with our loaded canoes instead of portaging.  Those expecting to arrive with dry feet had to think again!  This was something that I had never done.  The water was about mid-calf level and not strong enough to bother us.  What fun!  After the rapids, we climbed back into the canoes and paddled on.  The second portage was not quite so easy.  It was about 500 metres.  I crossed the portage twice, once with an ultralight canoe and once with my pack.  Gotta love those great YCCC ultralights... sure beats my 75 pounder on the portage.  This too was a relatively new experience.  When everything was back into the canoe on the other side I was content to know that I could manage such a portage.  I was also glad that I hadn't brought an extra 20 pounds of things I didn't need.  We paddled through Booth Lake and arrived at two large campsites already occupied by other members of our group.

Upon arrival everyone made quick work of finding tent-mates and setting up tents.  We did our best to put ours on higher ground since the forecast said we were expecting rain.  Some also collected wood and set up tarps over it. Some went for a swim and found the water warm.  I started filtering water using a GravityWorks system while others prepared and cleaned up from supper.  It was an early-to-bed night.

Sunday lived up to the forecasts.  We made good use of our tarps!  Some of us hunkered back into our tents after our crepes for breakfast, while others braved the elements.  When the rain let up we dug out our trowels and made ditches to drain the water away from our tents!  Some of us went for a hike to Mykiss lake.  Some went swimming. We had planned a paddle to McCarthy Creek but the wind was too strong to set out.  I learned how to play Euchre with three other patient players.  Fortunately it is a lot like Bridge so it wasn't too hard.  When Happy Hour arrived Paul was busy cooking.  Everyone took turns making meals or cleaning up from the meals.  The sunset was beautiful and some of us took a short paddle.  Chantal and I were eager for marshmallows so a campfire was made and lit.  We sang twice as many campfire songs as I could possibly remember and then we started into camp stories.  At a much later hour than on Saturday, we headed for our tents and another peaceful sleep in the outdoors.

On Monday morning we got up and packed in short order. Breakfast was quickly eaten, water filtered, the thunderbox visited and we headed towards home.  There was still some wind but it had settled a bit from the previous day.  Some of us paddled over by McCarthy Creek but found the water level too low to go up it.  We spotted a group of otters that really didn't want their photos taken.  We stopped at a campsite for a quick lunch before getting to the cars.   I assessed my pack which was now considerably lighter because the food had been eaten.  I had used most items.  Another time I should consider bringing two sets of footwear.  By the afternoon we were driving home, dropping off people and gear as we went.  Everyone had enjoyed the time spent together. What a fun way to spend a long weekend.  Thanks to all who helped out!

Here is a sample campfire story:

When I was about 10 years old I was asked by another Girl Guide to be one of her campers while she earned her camp leader badge.  This meant that we would camp together on a field for a weekend and a 12 year old was in charge of 3 or 4 girls.  Each girl brought some food to contribute.  I brought a frozen chocolate cake.  We put up our tents, had supper & headed for bed.  There was one tent for sleeping and one tent for food.  The food was arranged on top of card tables in the food tent.  A storm began and our sleeping tent would not stay up properly. Every few minutes we would have to go out in the rain to fix it.  In the middle of the night, after many futile attempts to fix it we decided to move and sleep in the food tent between the table legs.  When we were settled, someone announced that they were hungry!  Of course I knew where the food was and offered my cake for consumption. It was dark and we couldn't find any plates or silverware.  I used my hand to serve a "scoop" of chocolate cake to each girl.  We licked our fingers clean and went happily off to sleep.  The next morning we looked at the remains of the cake on the table and it was full of ants.  We have no idea if they were there when we had our midnight snack or not.


Photo Credits (all) Don Haines