The barren Barron

Barron Canyon, Algonquin Park, November 5-7, 2004

stripslashes(Catherine and I loading up El Tigray before heading off into the night.)

Catherine and I loading up El Tigray before heading off into the night. Lester's photo

stripslashes(There\'s a shore out there somewhere, right? Catherine looks out into nothing: Grand Lake, midnight.)

There's a shore out there somewhere, right? Catherine looks out into nothing: Grand Lake, midnight.

stripslashes(Midnight at Grand Lake: Hang the food? But the bears are all hibernating now.)

Midnight at Grand Lake: Hang the food? But the bears are all hibernating now.

Friday

Grand Lake, 12:13am, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2004

We're here. We arrived in darkness around 7pm. We portaged, launched, paddled and set up camp under cloudy (I imagine) skies, sprinkled with light snow.

I reckon as I lie here in my tent, under down and holofil, it's a few degrees above zero. But it's comfortable enough to write barehanded. I imagined I'd title this report Icebound in Achray to hear Lester talk at the trip meeting, but thusfar, a smattering of snow along the road to Achray is all we've seen of serious winter.

Lester billed this as a single-pass portage trip, which means, in club parlance, not bringing your brick collection or your collapsible hot tub. So I went over to my paddling partner Catherine's place about 4pm Friday to pack. We squeezed our gear and food into two packs and headed out for Renfrew by 5pm.

We had a "meal" and planned the shuttle: Catherine and I would stop at the Squirrel Rapids parking lot, just inside the Sand Lake gate. The other two cars would continue on to the gate outside the Achray campground. They would unload and start the 1km portage from the gate to the put-in. Then Martin would drive back, leave his empty car and come to Achray with us.

Rewind that. Did I say "1km portage from the gate to the Achray Campground?" Why yes, I certainly did. The campground is closed for the winter, see, and apparently they need to block the road a full 1km out. (They also still need to charge us the $9 per person per night, naturally). In return for our fees, the park staff put a yellow portage sign on the gate indicating, Grand Lake: 1000m.

So we got to Squirrel Rapids I reckon around 9:15pm or so. We sat in the car and waited. Some time after 10pm, Martin and Dot showed up, and off we went.

Apparently while the rest of the crew was waiting for the shuttle, there was much singing and warmth-inducing levity. Father Abraham and vegetable charades figured highly in this ritual. Don't ask me to explain it.

We decided to take advantage of the calm and paddle across Grand Lake to our campsite. The prevailing wind, which had been a tad nasty of late, would likely have meant taking the waves broadside all across Grand Lake had we camped at Achray.

It was a brief paddle, and a touch spooky, but for Lester's rear bike light beckoning us from the back of his PFD.

We found a campsite and put up our tents around 23h30. And now we sleep. Peace and hope for open water.