Algonquin - A Perfect Weekend
Holly, one of our camping buddies, is the type of person you don’t make idle promises to. If you start to throw out ideas from off the top of your head, be prepared. She’ll remember every one, and if you commit she’ll hold you to them. So almost a year after discussing a weekend in Algonquin with Holly, we were on our way, as promised.

Coming from Quebec, we had a great opportunity to take advantage of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday weekend. In addition, we turned a long weekend into a longer one by taking an extra day off work. We make a point each year on the Quebec holidays, which aren’t shared by our neighboring provinces, to travel to Ontario or New Brunswick to avoid the crowds.

When we arrived at Algonquin, the park was almost empty. The first night we stayed at a front country site where we were meeting Holly and Johnny, her husband, to do the last minute planning.

We got there early, just as the weather was clearing, and used the time for some exploring along the Lookout trail. This is a great little hike up to a broad ridge that’s accessible from the main corridor. The ridge provides you with an excellent view of the park. The trail is a relatively easy climb that loops back down a slightly steeper section. The path is somewhat rocky and has a lot of roots, so watch your footing and be sure you have appropriate footwear.

Not long after we got back to camp, Johnny and Holly arrived, and we finalized our route and itinerary. After our planning session, we climbed into our tents and enjoyed a pleasant first night out.

The next morning the weather was perfect; we woke up early enough to catch the last of the mist rising from the lake. In the surrounding forest, the sun was breaking through the trees. Dana and Cameron, the final members of the group, were coming in from Toronto. We were to meet them at Canoe Lake. We were soon packed up and eagerly on our way.

Since the majority of the group had never been to the park, we decided to take an easy route to ensure that everyone enjoyed the experience, rather than doing to much portaging.

(Personally, we like portages but not everybody shares our feelings.) With so few people in the park, we didn’t have to worry about crowds, even on a nearby lake. We paddled the length of Canoe Lake and, like so many times before, we couldn’t remember which side of the point to take to get to our portage. (Now what happened to that damn map?)  
We finally asked a camper on shore whether we were going the right way. Of course we weren’t. We didn’t feel so bad when he added, "You’re about the eight billionth group to make the same mistake." Back we went around the point and as we approached the shore, we were greeted by the sight of five small ducklings sleeping on a log, with the mother nowhere in site.

They didn’t seem concerned when we approached with a camera and it struck us that this is very much typical of Algonquin, where the animals and people live in something akin to harmony. (We could make the obvious biblical reference, but we’ll spare you.)

The portage to Little Joe Lake is short and flat and only took us a few minutes. As we were packing the gear back into the canoes at the far end, we helped another party with small children land their crafts. They rewarded us with the directions to the site they just left, which they described as perfect.  
So we headed out around the island to have a look. They were exaggerating only a little; the site was awesome, with three good spots for the tents, a central common area for cooking and easy lake access. Two of the tent sites were up the hill, which gave us a great view of the lake through the pines. The neighboring campsite wasn’t occupied, so we had access to a great diving rock on the point.  
Algonquin - A Perfect Weekend Continued / Page #2


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