Algonquin Provincial Park - June 29 to July 4, 2019

Algonquin  - June 29 to July 4, 2019

I wanted to explore western Algonquin Park, and introduce Kylah, Dylan and Riley to more serious portaging. I had hoped this would also be an opportunity for experienced families or with older kids, but it turned out to just be our family. This was definitely one of our most difficult and ambitious trips. I’m very proud of how well the boys did on the portages, and kept good spirits through some of the worst bugs I’ve seen!

Saturday after picking up a second canoe we were on the road by 8:45am. We picked up lunch in Mattawa, then stopped at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park for a picnic on Moore Lake. We stopped at the visitors centre on our way out, and the boys had fun guessing which fir belongs to which animals with one of the park staff.

We got on the water around 2:45pm, with some whitecaps on Kioshkokwi (Kiosk) Lake, but with the wind to our back it made for an easier paddle. We headed under the old train bridge, hoping to find a site on the island at the north end near the portage to Lauder Lake. After checking out sites we ended up taking the second site past the train bridge. The bugs were very bad and a storm was coming in, so we quickly setup shelters. As we were reheating a pre-made chili a strong storm came in with heavy rain, lightning and thunder.

Sunday breakfast was yummy pre-made breakfast burritos. We relaxed, read books, the boys played lots of cribbage (crib) and we played a good game of Uno. For dinner we made a dutch oven lasagna, which turned out great as my first time using a dutch oven. We enjoyed what would turn out to be our only campfire of the week, with s’mores for dessert.

 

Monday after breakfast and preparing lunch, Dylan and I paddled back to the park office to drop off some excess gear, and buy an extra roll of toilet paper. We paddled to our first portage to Little Mink Lake, a short paddle across Little Mink Lake, then a stop for lunch before the portage to Mink Lake. The first 635m portage took us four passes (4.5km total), which was long a hot. We re-arranged some gear and did the second 450m portage in three passes (2.3km total), which was very bad because of the bugs. After almost 7km of hard, hot and buggy portaging, we were excited to get the best site on the lake at the point!

We quickly learned the bugs were horrendous (even with bug jackets and long clothes), so we quickly setup shelters and took refuge in the bug shelter. We had a yummy dinner of Jambalaya with chorizo sausage. We weren’t able to find the thunderbox, so the boys got to learn how to do their business backcountry style. This made for some hilarious discussion in the morning!

Tuesday I woke up pretty depressed with guilt about how bad the bugs were. Our tent (which is mostly mesh) was covered in mosquitos, and the hum of them was so loud it sounded like a busy highway in the distance! We all discussed at breakfast and decided to stay at least one more day to rest and decide tomorrow whether to stay. There was a small point surrounded by 300 degrees of water, which was just big enough to fit our bug shelter. We decided to move everything except our tents to the point.

Everyone came together to move to the point, which had a nice breeze and a beautiful view. Kylah also found the thunderbox! After a nice swim to cool off, soothe bug bites and sore muscles, my spirits were drastically lifted. The boys taught Kylah and me to play crib, and we also played a game of Five Crowns. There was lots of swimming, reading books and relaxing. We enjoyed a yummy dinner of sweet potato and chicken chili, with rice pudding for dessert as the sun set over a beautifully calm lake.

After such a great day, we decided to stay until Thursday. There was a potential for bad weather Friday afternoon and Saturday, so we decided to hedge our bets and leave Thursday. This turned out to be a very wise move!

Wednesday the guys slept into 10am, and we enjoyed a very relaxing day with lots of games, reading and swimming. There was a large rock about 50m from shore, which we nicknamed couples rock, because it was big enough for Kylah and I to sit on with our shoulders just below the water. While relaxing on couples rock I had a nice chat with a couple paddling past on their way out.

While Kylah cooked dinner, the guys tried their luck at fishing, with Cory catching and releasing a 10in Brook Trout. We discussed having a campfire, but because of the bugs, we decided to roast marshmallows for s’mores over candles, which was a cool experience for everyone.

Thursday morning we packed up and were on the water for by 10am. Riley got his first experience paddling in the stern under load, which he did great. The bugs weren’t as bad on the portages, but were still long due to the heat. We got back to the park office at 2pm, and had a delicious lunch of brie, salmon, crackers and dehydrated mangoes for dessert before packing up. We were able to get a refund for our last day, and the park office said we were the third group that day that were leaving because of the bugs!

I liked the trip and all but, THE BUGS WERE HORRIBLE!!! I think Riley counted the mosquito bites on my arm, and he counted 61 bites just on my arm. If the bugs weren't there, than it would have been an awesome trip.(although I didn’t like that portaging.)
I also liked most of the meals that were made. I think that if the bugs weren’t there, than it would have been a great camping experience for all of us! - Dylan

It was ok. with all the bugs it was pretty bad though.If it wasn't for the bugs it would have been a lot better. I liked all the food though. We had a bug shelter so it got us some time without rain or bugs. That made us stay in the bug shelter the whole time. On the second campsite there was a nice other place and we stayed there the whole time. Dad went swimming a lot “to soothe the mosquito bites” I went swimming once but dylan didn't go at all.It took us a long time to find the thunder box so that was pretty hard on us.Also the portages were pretty tough and that's where we got the most mosquito bites. But other than those it was ok. I hope everybody else had an ok time together on the trip! - Riley

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