Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A short canoe trip

So, as my nephew Iain turned 12, it was his turn to go visit my parents.  Kind of a tradition in our family.

While there, my dad wanted to take him on a canoe trip, and with my recent opportunity for scads of free time, I joined in.

Now, 3 people in my dad's canoe, was going to be tricky, but manageable.  So we figured.  But to be on the safe side we decided to just go into the pines at Quetico.

approximately 5.5km

Then we could just day trip it around Pickerel.

We were to go for 2 nights, but the first day apparently was just looking horrible, so we decided not to go.  We went the next day (thus we'd only be out for just 1 night).

So, we loaded up the canoe and gear the night before and then headed out about 7:30am the Wednesday morning.  I definitely needed some McDonald's for that early.

We got about as far as Santorelli's Truck Stop before I decided to take one of the straps off (it was humming madly -- pro tip I learned too late:  if you twist the strap, it won't hum).

After nearly 2 hours of driving we're setting up on the French for our paddle.  With the 3 of us, it was pretty weighed down.  Also forgot the tendonitis(?) that was flaring up after that past few parades in my right elbow... before we got across the first small lake, my arms was burning.  But, 'just keep paddling, just keep paddling'.  That's my mantra.  That and I count strokes.  First I count by 1's and go up to 100, then by 2's going up to 200, etc... 7s are a little hard, especially around the 462 mark.  I told it to Iain as a way to help pass the time and he mentioned something about 'not coming out here for math'.

After about an hour's paddle we make it to the Pines.  There's a ton of people there (well, like one large family, but about 3 other groups come in as well, luckily they all headed off tho' -- aah, silence).  Surprisingly there's a large number of young young kids with the groups; like younger than Dean.  Makes me really wish I had the opportunity to take him.  Next time (but then we'd have to be in a canoe ourselves.

Once on the island we set about putting our tents up, and I quickly realize how much I LOVE my old tent.  Little Summer Moon by Sierra Design.  One of the better purchases.  Perfect size for me and my stuff, fits a twin size mattress perfectly (but c'mon, we're camping), it's super light and dead easy to set up.  I brought it as I didn't want to bother my dad with my snoring.

Once set up we decided to relax for a bit and just enjoy the campsite and explore.  Iain played with every little bit of gear we had, really liked the hatchets and my knife... kinda disconcerting, but hey, he's 12.

Using my water purifier pump and Iain fishing at the shore

My dad and I decided to take a hike.  There's supposed to be a trail from the launch to the Pines so we investigated it.  In total, the hike should be about 5-6km from the launch, we only went as far as where a ski trail meets up (about 2.. 2.5km) then went back.  It rained and we got wet.

I can stand most kinds of weather, but I hate being wet.  Oh, well... just suffer and start a fire when we get back.  It wasn't terribly cold, just uncomfortable.  Then we really notice the winds kicking up, it was pretty fierce.  When it died down we went for a short canoe ride to let Iain fish (kid's gotta learn to watch where the hook is as he waves that rod around).  Too bad I accidentally broke off the tip of my dad's rod before we started paddling, but it still served its purpose.  We didn't catch anything, which Iain attributed to not having any worms.

After it was more relaxation time as well as start to look for firewood.  The camp a couple down had left half a bag of park wood, and then we found a ton of sticks and whatnot - just hopefully they'd dry before it was time to start the fire.

Dinner consisted of my dad's favourite, those HotPack meals (or MRE's).  I couldn't tell if mine had expired August 9th, 2010, or August 10th, 2009... either way, it wasn't great.  It was food, and somewhat warmed, but still.  Beats having to fire up a stove and whatnot.

With the fire going, it also meant s'mores (who brings smores on a canoe trip?  apparently my family does) and then I had my spider stove to fire up some hot chocolate.

By the time it was starting to get dark the wind was REALLY whipping up... you could just hear it howling most of the night.

It was a very cool night.  My tent kept the small space fairly well heated as it somewhat locked it in, but by about 3am it was pretty cool.  I love my sleeping bag too, a 'mummy' one, but as I'm getting bigger now it's starting to get a little claustrophobic.

Morning we had some breakfast (i wanted oatmeal, but dad brought cereal with powdered milk).  I had some more hot chocolate to warm myself up.  Then Iain got a solo canoe lesson and tried it out by himself.

He ended up tipping it once; everybody has to tip a canoe at least once.  Get it out of the way, because it was really REALLY starting to get choppy out on the lake.

With the white caps building we figured we would not be able even put out on the lake into the wind to be able to turn around.  Hrmm... so we 'portaged' all our stuff to the point facing east.  Even that was a bit treacherous as that point we still had to go across a bit of an open water space, and we were weighed down enough that the waves started to bring in water.  Ouch, so we stopped at the next point and landed and portaged to the east side of it (it would have been hard to try to go across the waves).

This point I now call 'moose point' because of the antlers we found.

We ran into some park rangers who wished us luck... just one small bay to get across and we'd be in the river system.  By this point it was pretty scary, some inexperienced canoers were shifting a fair bit, and it was not fun.

We got into the river system and it was clear sailing... err paddling.  Just as we got in, then it poured down on us.  Get the canoe on the car, and go visit the info station to dry out a bit before driving home.

Here's some other pictures from the trip:

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