Paddling Your Way to Wilderness
Discover the lakes of Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada
Text: Jillian Macdonald
Everything is at a standstill. There is total silence. Not a ripple on the water. The only movement is mist rising from the lake’s surface, drifting slowly on it’s morning mission to gently lift the cloak of night as the sun begins to wake the weary. A loon calls out in the distance. A sweet warm wind breaths through the trees along the shore. My Dutch friend has been wide awake since before first light and still needs convincing that we really do have just a little wildlife in Canada. He whispers, “wake up, it’s almost moose o’clock”! I can’t believe it. I came to explore the wilderness, see the wildlife and just enjoy nature far away from my computer and city chaos. Yet I don’t recall agreeing to emerge from the tent at 04h00 to paddle in search of moose! Nevertheless, the experts say very early morning and again around dusk is the best time to find these enormous creatures feeding in the shallow marshes. We tried yesterday evening with no luck and this Dutchman is determined to see a moose. It is my duty to instill belief in this man from the flat wetlands of cows and rabbits. So ‘moose o’clock it is.
We arrive in Ontario from Holland, for a full week of back country canoeing, Canadian style. By Canadian it actually means the unique style of the canoe itself added to exquisite scenery, real down to earth people and a whole lot of open space. About 2 ½ hours northeast of Toronto is Algonquin Provincial Park. This is not the kind of park that you would regularly conjure up in your mind. This is 7725 square kilometers of one of the world’s most famous areas for back country canoeing. The park is a vast network of lakes located on the southern edge of the great Canadian Shield between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River. A spider’s web of streams and rivers connect most of the lakes with portaging the only means to make connections at some points. The portaging is definitely going to be the challenge.
Entering the park by the west gates, close to Huntsville and the very small town of Dwight, we head directly to Algonquin Outfitters to collect all necessary gear. Not just canoe and paddles though. These outfitters provided us with absolutely everything! This is our special treat to one another; no carting of outdoor gear all the way from Holland, no shopping for dry goods and trekking food. This was to be our ‘no hassle fly and paddle’ trip! While the guys at the shop were sorting o