A four day canoe trip in the heart of Algonquin Park: Sept. 21 – 24, 2018.
I’d been watching the forecast for two weeks. And every day showed the same grim picture. It’s true that more than a few days away, weather forecasters might as well be throwing darts. But when a hurricane travels towards America’s eastern seaboard, as Florence did, late September weather up here can get downright nasty.
And there it it was. Unmoving. Implacable. Cloud, wind and rain icons across the board. Not seeming to give a tinker’s cuss about the tenth annual Martin-Chris trip. Biblical rainfall. Wind that could get a canoe airborne. It’s like the weather website graphics people had gone out and found scarier icons, just for the four days we’d planned to look for wildlife deep in the centre of Algonquin Park.
But there was no postponing. Both of us had had our calendars fill up since I booked the trip in July. It was now or never.
Day 1: Wherein we arrive to a warm, pleasant sunny late morning on Cedar Lake and end up sobbing, pulling our arms out of our sockets, desperate to get to shore on Catfish Lake.
Day 2: Wherein we tour several of central Algonquin’s more majestic lakes, buoyed by sunny, calm skies and convinced that the heavy weather is behind us.
Day 3: Wherein our optimism is crushed under the weight of clothes made soggy by constant drizzle and wind-driven showers as we motor along the Nipissing River, which has suddenly become a moose free zone.
Day 4: Wherein we make a short Hawaii 5-0-esque crossing of Cedar Lake under sunny skies and get back to Ottawa to learn what real heavy weather is.
Note of thanks
I would like to thank my dear and lovely partner Irene who’s agreed to look after house, child and all other things for these four days in each of the last ten years. It is an act of great generosity and I love you all the more for it.
Admonition against risk
I think on this trip we encountered some weather that was dangerous to us as two adults paddling an open canoe. We made a decision about our limits and got off the water before we found out just where those limits were. Your limits might not be my limits. Your luck might not be mine. So don’t take this as a recipe or a how-to guide for your weekend canoe trip. It’s not. It’s a story. Canoe tripping is an enormously enjoyable thing to do in my opinion, but not without skill and experience. Please go find some before you set out. Outdoor clubs, outfitters, guides are all good places to start.
Martin and I left for Algonquin Park on the day six tornados touched down in our town and the surrounding region. A dozen people were hospitalized and many many more lost their homes. Consider donating to the Red Cross to give them some support. I have. I bloody well better have, after grousing at length about a mere windstorm.