The barren Barron

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

stripslashes(Sun over Opalescence Lake)

Sun over Opalescence Lake

stripslashes(This one is Cecilia\'s screen saver. Barron Canyon)

This one is Cecilia's screen saver. Barron Canyon

stripslashes(Sartorial splendour to match the natural)

Sartorial splendour to match the natural


Monday, Nov. 8th 11:20pm, Ottawa

I just finished taking out the garbage and couldn't help but notice a little snow had accumulated around some cardboard boxes queued up to go out to the curb. The cold seemed ferocious.

I can't believe I woke up in a tent yesterday. What was I thinking?

We were up Sunday, shortly after 7am, watching the sun rise in blue sky, albeit with clouds moving in. Catherine and I were on breakfast so we hopped to it. No bacon, no eggs. Thank goodness for the Catherine's decision to bring Bread and Roses banana bread.

Politely the group choked it back and we packed up. We were to load up and head down our longest portage, a 730m between Opalescent Lake and Brigham Lake, by around 9:30am.

We saw sun flitting in and out of clouds all morning, with the wind relatively benign - at our backs if ever it arose - as we paddled and carried from Brigham Lake to the Barron River, through two more portages: 100m and 440m.

The Barron Canyon must be one of Algonquin's most picturesque places. I don't know how high its walls are, but they rise up sharply from the river bank, in some places, and in others the rock walls are buried by boulder slopes. And all topped by gnarled spruce and pine.

This corner of Algonquin is steeped in history too: Tom Thomson painted extensively around Achray. And in the summertime it's steeped in campers. I paddled through here almost ten years ago in August, and was aghast at the hordes.

But we saw no other paddlers as we coasted through the canyon today. Only the subdued hues of granite and green, occasionally lit up as the sun broke through to bring a particular cliff into startling relief against the November sky.

We paused for lunch after our last portage, a 420m around an impassable rapid. We took a short nap. We had only one kilometre to go before the take out, but we simply couldn't waste the warmth of a sun-drenched river bank.

On the last segment, Lester let me use his nifty carbon fibre racing paddle. It's like waving your arms around in the air it's so light. Very nifty but I was still getting used to it when we got to the end of our trip.

We arrived at the Squirrel Rapids take-out at around 1:30pm. Martin drove us back to get the other cars at Achray, and we were on the road before we knew it. We stopped in Renfrew at around 3:30pm to settle accounts and eat junk food.

Catherine and I dropped off the tarp and El Tigray and headed home for 6pm.