12 August 2023

Into Algonquin Provincial Park

The humans were up at Sparrow Fart to leave for Achray in Algonquin Provincial Park and it was still dark. The plan was to drive into Brockville and have a quick breakfast and coffee in MacDonalds. We Bears and our BBF traveled with Gwen and Glenn. After only a few kilometres the strut on Dan’s canoe failed and dropped the lashings at the front. He pulled over and secured his canoe so we could drive on.

In the MacDonalds car park he made a more secure fitting while the rest of the humans went and got breakfast. Then it was decided to take the backroads and not the motorway. In the end we all got there with only a 20 minute delay over the original plan.

The plan called for the humans to launch their canoes at Grand Lake Achray and paddle to the Barron river portage. Then paddle down Stratton Lake and the portage at the southeastern end of it and go into St Andrews Lake. The campsite aimed for was the top one on the western side.

Canoes were unloaded and placed on the beach then the packs and camp kit were loaded into them. We bears first traveled in the yellow
Waterproof bag you see on the red pack. It has a window in the other side so we could look out. Alan was to travel with Gwen and Glenn as Pat and Dan had most of the camp kit and food in their canoe. 

For five humans and two Bears in the wilderness for five days one needs a fair  amount of grub. Pat planned it all beautifully and produced a brochure telling the humans what to expect.

Once every thing was loaded our BBF got in the bow of Gwen and Glenn’s canoe first then Gwenn and Glenn shoved us all of stepping in last.
As the humans paddled across Grand Lake it started to rain, a little at first, but then it poured, so by the time we all got to the first portage, everyone was soaked to the skin, except us Bears of course!

Here on the other side of the lake the canoes were unloaded and everything carried to the other side where they were relaunched for the longer paddle down Stratton Lake.

The portage at the end of Stratton Lake was a difficult out and in one as it was very rocky and slippery underfoot in the rain. Gwen and Glenn took particular care of our BBF as he had difficulty unfolding and getting out of the canoe, but with their help he got out of the canoe only to fall flat on his arse when returning form portaging kit to the other side! Gwen rushed to help him up and only his ego was damaged. Glenn then set off with the canoe and we all followed on behind with the rest of the gear.

On the other side getting in was particularly difficult.

Here you can see Pat and Dan starting to load their canoe. Pat who sits in the front attempted to step into it from the rocks on  left side of the photo but slipped and rather than fall on the rocks and hurt herself chose the braver and better option of diving head first into the water. From henceforth falling into water is called “doing a Pat”! Fortunately the water was warm, but if Pat wasn’t wet before she was soaked now.

The camp site the humans wanted on the north eastern shore was  occupied so they had to paddle back to the first one on the small peninsular. This is in fact where the picture was taken in Pat’s brochure, so you see these Canadians have experience and know what they are doing.
 A large Tarp was set up first, so that they had somewhere to sit out of the rain. Then individual tents were put up. Dan helped put our tent up and when our BBF said it leaked both Pat and Dan put Dan’s poncho over it.

Once all tents were up the humans had a late lunch still wet through they began to shiver a bit. It was said that Dan in his poncho looked like Gandalf, “you shall not pass!” Our human now retired to our tent and got into some dry clothing when he came out again wearing his poncho Gwen said he looked like a Hobbit and which one was he? He answered if anyone he was Bilbo Baggins.

The Tarp collected water which Gwen using a paddle pushed off frequently. The humans sat around amiably chatting about this and that and about nothing in particular and drinking whiskey. The camaraderie was good despite the awful weather. Pat now gave Alan an additional air mattress which needed blowing up. It had a small foot pump and as Alan began Glenn sang a funny country song the beat of which helped pump it up quickly. 

“I had a little chicken which wouldn’t lay an egg,
So I ran hot water up and down its leg.
It cried and begged and the poor little chicken 
Layer a hard boiled egg!”

Everyone laughed with amusement but by the end of the ditty the mattress was pumped up.

The rain stopped for awhile and clothes were brought out to dry.

Dan’s Canoe was set up under another Tarp to act as the Galley and this was a brilliant idea we thought. Pat prepared an evening meal of Arctic Char with seasoned rice and a mixed salad. The food was delicious and helped lift tired and wet spirits even more than the whiskey did.

After more whiskey everyone retired to bed. 


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