Algonquin Park

Daisy lake, Algonquin park May 5th-8th 2017

Leading up to this trip, my friends and I knew we were in for a wet one. With record rain fall predicted for the planned weekend and the possibility of snow on the Sunday, we threw caution to the wind and went for it anyway. It’s just under a 4 hour drive from Burlington to the Magnetawan lake access where we would begin our paddle through 3 lakes and potentially 3 portages to arrive at Daisy Lake.

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This brought back memories of my previous encounter with Daisy Lake 2 seasons ago. My friend and I had paddled in during the late fall season only to end up having to ditch the canoe and bushwak out due to ice trapping us (I will recount that story in another article).

After a short pit stop in Kearney to pick up our permit, and a brief encounter with a juvenile moose, clumsily bounding down the logging road in front of us, we arrived at the lake access. The rain we had encountered on the journey up had subsided giving us a nice window with which to launch our canoes and load up our gear. We were travelling heavier than I usually would on a trip into the woods, but it’s nice to have a weekend every now and then with more food, gear and maybe a little (or a lot of) booze.

(crazy legs in action)

We powered down on relatively calm lakes, the rain was fighting to pour and the occasional gust of wind tried to slow our progress. It took us just over an hour to check out a couple of potential campsites and decide on a location. When choosing a campsite you have to take into account the weather direction to minimize your exposure to the elements. We found the perfect site with two low spots to land the canoes and in the center a sloped piece of exposed rock, great for fishing. We also had a good covering of trees, which helped keep the rain off, but this meant it would seem to carry on raining for a while ever after the rain had stopped. Having lots of flat ground wasn’t to much of an issue because three of us were using Hennessy hammocks and one constructed a simple tarp shelter.

Once our main shelters were up, it was time to concentrate on getting fire wood, getting a fire lit and constructing additional tarps around the fire for a living area. Up turning one of the canoes, we had a table set up to use as a kitchen area and store a little wood under.

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(Our site set up – Picture taken after snow fall on the Sunday)

Getting a fire started was going to be an interesting task as the amount of rain fall over the week had made everything extremely damp. My fire kit ended up consisting of a finely roughed up birch and cedar bark tinder bundle. Using a light my fire fero rod, which throws nicely concentrated sparks, the fire was quickly lit. In wetter conditions I find a tee pee style fire lay is a great way to keep your fire burning hot, even in a down pour. With the camp set up, we settled in to chopping wood, staying dry and relaxing for the rest of the day.

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(our wood tools for the weekend)

Saturday began with no rain, a nice bowl of porridge and coffee cooked over the open fire. Much needed, as I had been a little restless trying to get my feet comfortable inside my hammock. I ended up having to lower my head side down so I wasn’t sleeping on such an angle. I wasn’t the only one. One of my buddies spent the night consistently adjusting because he kept falling through the velcro of his older generation Hennessy hammock. After breakfast and chopping more wood, it was time to get moving and do some exploring.

Bushwaking. I found beautiful streams with smalls raging waterfalls of crystal clear water. I climbed to the highest point in those woods, sat down and inhaled the aroma of fresh untouched air. Then after listening to the crackle of the rain on the trees as it began to fall again, I went in search of open marsh land. I hoped to quietly see some of the larger wildlife of the area, but no luck, just lots of animal sign.

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(tons of foot prints and scat around this area but no animals to be seen)

I got back to camp 3 hours later, appearing out of the bush as one of my buddies was about to come and look for me. He Informed me, that I had almost missed the cookies that his dad had baked in his new Reflector oven. That weekend he also baked cookies, biscuits and bannock bread, they tasted amazing and didn’t take long to bake at all. Talk about being spoiled in the woods, we ate like kings the whole trip which is something I am not used to as I tend to travel lightly and rough it.

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(The Reflector oven in action)

That night we settled down to some rum and tang (good for preventing hangovers, has added electrolytes) and I made a start on a mug I wanted to burn/carve out of a piece of cedar. I had never attempted this before so it was a great time to try something new.

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(I started this by carving a rough shape with my ax then by adding and blowing on hot embers, I gradually burned out the hollow of the mug.)

That night we heard something large run through our campsite and the snow we were expecting blew in. Hilariously from a direction that would half cover my friends father under his tarp,  prompting a change in shelter design for his final night in the woods.

(Pleasant surprise to wake up to)

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(The hennessy hammocks)

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(The unpredictability of mother nature)

Sunday, because of the snow (which is a lot nicer than rain) morale was a lot better, we could move around the campsite and not get drenched. The morning was spent baking, fishing the shore (to no avail) and finishing the mug ready to drink beers from it that night. The day went by quickly and the snow had melted. Myself and one of the guys went on a hike to look for a cabin that was at the end of a 2.5 km bushwak and portage. We were loosing light but it was worth it to see the dead still lake at the end of the hike. No cabin though just pieces of metal sticking up from the ground where one used to be. That evening when sunset came we were treated to a beautiful colour show. I figured it would be a great time to take a dip into the recently thawed lake, to christen the start of the camping season.

(Casey lake)

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(Took a minute to pluck up the courage)

When the darkness came we sat by a raging fire, finished the booze and the food and reveled in the treat of a dry evening that finished off a wet and cold weekend in the woods.

Thank you for reading! A lot more adventures to come.

Nick

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