Algonquin Park: Shall – Dickson – Booth

“Oh my,” the park ranger at Shall Lake said as I showed her our route. “I’ve never seen anyone do a trip like that before.” It was 10:00 am, on Friday, Sept. 6. Martin and I had just arrived, having set out from Ottawa just before 7am.

She dragged her finger along the first leg of our trip, up from Shall/Farm to McKaskill. “That part alone takes seven hours,” she said sternly.

I told her we could do it. And in that moment I recalled something Martin had said to me in one of our planning-over-beer-at-Irene’s sessions in the spring: “I think I’d have to say my limit for portages is about 2000 metres.” Doubts crept in through my peripheral vision.

“And then you’ve got this,” she continued, pointing at the Dickson-Bonfield portage — at 5300 metres — the longest on the park map.

“Oh my indeed,” I thought. What was I thinking?

The fifth annual Chris and Martin fall trip. A closer destination, a walk in the woods with canoes.

Reader’s digest version:

  • Day 1: Stern words from the ranger at Shall Lake. An energetic jaunt to McKaskill Lake
  • Day 2: A cold, cloudy day and the park’s longest portage. And several others as well. We land on Annie Bay
  • Day 3: A short, warm and sunny day lands us on the south end’s gem, Booth Lake.
  • Day 4: An even shorter day gets us back to the car, which gets us to Wilno, which takes us home.

Offering of gratitude and appreciation

My loving partner, Irene, has been putting up with these outings for five years now and has been putting up with me even longer. I am enormously appreciative of her indulgence and support.

Standard warning of impending doom

This is not an advice site. I am not an expert. I’m some dude somewhere who thought it would be fun to schlep a canoe and 20 kilos of gear across 67km of wilderness park. For all you know I listen to Katy Perry and bash my head repeatedly against the wall while doing it. So why on earth would you take my advice? You wouldn’t because you’re too smart. Hire a guide, join a club or stay safe within the confines of your normal life.