First Canoe Trip Of 2016! -Prologue

It’s currently January of 2017, I’m sitting in my dining room staring through the window into the thick hardwood forest behind my house. As I sit here the temperature is -24 degrees Celsius outside (I wrote this on January 10), causing ice to form on the edge of the glass separating me from the frigid temperatures of Northern Ontario. I can’t help myself; I can’t get the thoughts of the first fishing trip that I have planned for this upcoming spring out of my mind. I know I still have quite some time to wait, but to pass the time I am reminiscing the memories from the first trip I did last year, the spring of 2016.

The winter of 2015-2016 was very strange, nothing I’d ever experienced in my lifetime (not that I can remember, anyways). Ice didn’t even form on most of the major bodies of water in Ontario until January of 2016, meanwhile a typical year could have you confidently snowshoeing on a frozen lake in mid-December. As a matter of fact, my last canoe trip in 2015 had me starting on Kiosk Lake in Algonquin on Boxing Day, yes that’s right, I was canoeing on December 26!


Sunrise on Kiosk Lake, Algonquin – December 26th 2015


Launching my canoe on Kiosk Lake, Algonquin – December 26th 2015

My brother Mike would be joining me for this trip, typically we do one trip together every year, usually in the fall. This year was different however, Mike was expecting his second child in October so we decided an early spring trout fishing trip in Algonquin was on order.

We planned to embark on our journey on May 1st which fell on a Sunday. Our planned route would have us starting at Cache Lake, and then down through a series of small lakes which are apparently great for brook and lake trout fishing. We had everything planned, sorted, packed, and ready to go a few days before our trip, nothing could stop us now.. except one thing! Ice!

Sometime near the end of April Algonquin Park issued a statement stating that no back country permits will be issued until further notice. No exceptions. For you see that late start we had to winter turned into a late start to spring! The average ice-out date for Algonquin is April 23rd, which is slightly later than most of Ontario due to the higher elevation. This year however, the experts predicted ice out to be into the second week of May. At this point we decided if we can’t get a permit for Algonquin we might have to head somewhere further South where there is a higher possibility of open water, or as a last resort cancel our trip all together. Unfortunately due to our work schedules neither of us could reschedule our holidays.


Canadian Goose on Kiosk Lake, Algonquin – April 28th 2016

On Thursday, April 28th (three days before we start our trip) I decided I would take a drive to the Kiosk Access point to assess the ice conditions,  for since the Algonquin website still states that all lakes are ice covered and no permits are being issued at this time. When I pulled into the large parking area at the campground I was surprised to see numerous vehicles and people. When I looked out onto the lake it appeared to be fully open, as a matter of fact I can recall seeing a few motor boats on the water, presumably fellow fisherman looking to catch some trout for dinner. I went into the campground office and asked Carmen (she runs the campground here) about the permit situation. She politely told me that even though some lakes were ice free she was advised to not issue permits until further notice, again with no exceptions. Apparently most of the lakes in the more southern areas of the park still have a solid layer of ice. Park management had a helicopter flight booked for May 1st so they could fully assess the conditions throughout the entire park and make a decision from there.


An *almost* ice-free Kiosk lake, Algonquin – April 28th 2016


An *almost* ice-free Kiosk lake, Algonquin – April 28th 2016

It is now Saturday, April 30th. There is still no signs of Algonquin’s back-country permit restrictions being lifted. Mike and I had to come up with a new game plan, and fast! I was determined to find somewhere with open water, and I didn’t really care where! At this point I didn’t even care if our fishing opportunities would be limited!

Below is the first photo I took on our trip, where do you think we ended up? Stay tuned for Part 1 of the series…!


Where could this be?

A Late Fall Canoe Trip To Remember. Part 3

By the time I found my headlamp it was too late; the damage was already done. Luckily he picked a spot close to the side wall of the tent by my feet which was clear of my sleeping bag and any gear. I sure was happy at this point that my tent was setup on a nice flat section of the campsite!

I groggily crawled out of my sleeping bag and opened my tent, at least it wasn’t raining any more! I grabbed an extra roll of toilet paper from my pack and cleaned up the mess in my tent while Zeus ran around the campsite trying to find any patch of grass he could to munch on. After I finished cleaning out the inside of my tent we both crawled back inside to try and get a little bit more rest before the sun comes up…

It’s now close to 5am, I’m just starting to doze off when I hear and feel Zeus stand up again by my feet, then I heard it, he’s going to be sick again! This time instead of finding my headlamp I opened the tent as fast as I could and got him outside so he could do his business out there. No mess this time!

I decided it was now time to start my day, it would be pointless to crawl back into my sleeping bag for an hour. I quietly harvested a bit of firewood so I could ease the chill with a small fire.


Early morning campfire

While I was waiting for Tyler to wake up I decided to do some exploring around the campsite and take some pictures.


Beautiful morning on Opalescent Lake. Tyler is still sleeping away in his tent!

We didn’t get a very early start this morning, we got on the water around 10:30am. We made quick work of the 750m portage separating us from the Barron River. On this portage Tyler noticed very fresh wolf tracks in the snow on a boardwalk, which got Zeus (who is feeling much better now) very excited. It was a bit surprising to see how close they were to our camp the previous night, we heard them for a brief period before bed and wondered how far away they were. When we reached the end of the portage we were surprised to notice a few canoes on the far shore at a campsite. Turns out it was a small group of teens on a short trip as well.

We continued down the river so we could paddle through the impressive Barron Canyon. I have canoed this river a few times now, but it was a first for Tyler, who I think was pretty impressed with the size of the cliffs at the waters edge.


The Barron Canyon

Once we paddled to the far end of the canyon we had to backtrack down the river to reach the car. It was 3 portages totaling just over 800m but it didn’t take us long for since we were single carrying at this point. When reached the parking lot there was no more snow on the road, making the drive out much easier than the drive in. On our way out of the park we hiked the Barron Canyon Trail which takes you to the edge of the highest cliffs.


Taking in the view on the Barron Canyon Hiking Trail

It’s neat to see the river from two completely different vantage points in 1 day, I recommend both paddling and hiking the canyon to anyone in the area!

When we finished our hike we were back on the road and at home in North Bay before supper time.

Thanks for reading!

<–Part 2 | Home–>

A Late Fall Canoe Trip To Remember. Part 2

We weren’t overly ambitious this trip, we didn’t know what the portages would be like with all of the snow so we didn’t plan to travel more than a few hours per day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing , after all the whole point is to relax right? Our plan was to head down the Barron River through ‘The Cascades’ and on to High Falls Lake. Our original plan was to paddle to the south end of High Falls lake and try to bushwhack our way to the famous High Falls Rock Slide. We decided last minute to ditch that idea and head straight for Opalescent Lake where we spent the night.

When planning for this trip Tyler told me I was completely in charge of our route. Little did he know; out of all the distance we were covering in 3 days, half of it was portaging and the other half canoeing, although we weren’t covering a substantial distance it’s still not typical for a ‘canoe trip’! Luckily all of the portages were easy to navigate and fairly straight forward. We reached the end of the 640m portage from Ooze lake to Opalescent early in the afternoon.

Because we arrived at our destination a few hours before sun-down we took this opportunity to explore all of the campsites. We did this even though I knew exactly what site I wanted. As a matter of fact, I think anyone who has ever been to this lake knows exactly what site I’m talking about, but we’ll get to that later…

Tyler checking out an impressive site on Opalescent Lake.

After doing some exploring around the lake for probably close to an hour we made our way over to our home for the night, the famous Flintstone’s Site! This site has the most amazing fire pit and seating area I have ever seen at any interior camp site. Ever. The rock couch can potentially sit 12 people comfortably, it was almost a waste with only the two of us occupying it, but I think we were probably the only people canoe tripping in the area anyways.

We spent most of the afternoon collecting a small amount of firewood and relaxing with some sort of warm beverage or soup to try and stay warm. The temperature hovered around 2 degrees Celsius all day. Thankfully there wasn’t much wind at any point on this trip, but the steady drizzle sure made it feel cold! For a short period the drizzle escalated to a light rain, so we took the hint and setup our tents and tarp.  When the rain once again returned to a light drizzle we started a fire so we could get supper going. Tyler had brought along some frozen sausages which had some venison in them that he harvested in the fall hunt of 2015. He offered me one of them which I couldn’t refuse, I then repeatedly told him when he harvests his deer in 2016 I want to buy some sausages from him! They were delicious! (So Tyler, if you’re reading this… haha) For supper I had a Lipton SideKick with some pulled pork that I had leftover from supper 2 nights earlier at home. Although I would have preferred something grilled on the fire it was good nonetheless. My dog Zeus got lucky and had quite the feast of leftovers…

Taken from one of the many awesome campsites on Opalescent Lake.

We retired to our tents fairly early this night, probably around 9:30, which I guess isn’t that early considering it was completely dark before 5:30. The sun setting so early is one of the only downsides of late fall camping in my opinion. A good headlamp or flashlight is definitely a necessity!

Unfortunately to my dismay I awoke suddenly at around 3am to the sound of my dog Zeus vomiting in my tent!  (Good thing we didn’t share tents, eh Tyler?)

<–Part 1 | Part 3–>

A Late Fall Canoe Trip To Remember. Part 1


On October 28, 2016 a friend of mine named Tyler and I set off on a 3 day (2 night) journey through the East side of Algonquin Provincial Park. The access point we would be launching from was a 3 hour drive from our home town of North Bay. Tyler worked until 3pm on day 1 so we got a late start, arriving at the access after dark, around 7pm. The drive in was a little nerve-racking, as we had received close to 15cm of snow less than 24 hours earlier. I drive a compact car and at points we were pushing snow with the front bumper. It was slow going but we made it! As we unloaded the canoe we discussed the fact that if it were to snow any more while we were on our trip we probably wouldn’t be able to make it back to the main road, but luckily they were predicting above zero temperatures and rain for the next 3 days.

Because we arrived so late we setup our camp at the end of the 275m portage from the access (A38 Brigham Parking Lot) to the Barron River, where we would be starting the real adventure in the morning. Lucky for us the canopy of two large pine trees gave us enough snow-free ground to setup our tents. After our camp was setup we struggled to light a small campfire and shared a few stories as well as a few snacks before bed. The sound of the river flowing right beside my tent lulled me to sleep. The temperature hovered around 2 degrees Celsius overnight making for a comfortable sleep.

When we woke up in the morning there was considerably less snow then when when arrived the night before, mainly because of the steady drizzle overnight. This is what the River looked like from our campsite just before setting off on our journey for the day.

<–Home | Part 2–>


Last canoe trip for 2016!

On November 17 I went for my last canoe trip for 2016. With abnormally warm temperatures it was a great way to end the season! I spent the most part of two days outside in just a t-shirt soaking up the sun, temperatures were in the mid teens and the wind was virtually non-existent. Just two days after I finished this trip 10cm+ of snow fell in Algonquin.

I captured this photo from a campsite on Crotch Lake (Algonquin Park) in the early afternoon while I was relaxing by the water enjoying the stillness of my surroundings.


And here is a shot just after sun-down from the same location.


I can’t wait to get back in the canoe in April of 2017 (hopefully)!

Cow Moose

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this beautiful cow moose while she was feeding on the last bit of foliage before winter begins. I followed her around for close to an hour as she ate, she then proceeded trot down to the lake for a drink of water to wash her breakfast down.