Snakes and Rafts

We had an awesome canoe trip last week, as described about a week ago in this post. The weather was great, company was excellent, the wildlife behaved, the food…. ahhh, lets leave the food out of it for now.

For the impatient who don’t like to read more than a few words, pictures are available here. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and all that.

For the rest who can put up with a few words, here’s a brief trip log.

Wednesday July 28, 2004
We rose out of our warm cozy beds, only to face the pouring rain. Morale was low. The only thing that kept us going was Environment Canada’s promise of a sunny afternoon. After a slow start and a detour over Guelph to find an errant fishing rod, we arrived in sunny Parry Sound just after 13:00. Registration and payment is at Oastler Lake, and the launching point for Massasauga park is a 10 minute drive over the craziest road I’ve ever driven on. Thankfully by this time the sun was out in full force, and we saw no sign of rain until we were almost home on Friday.

We canoed for about 45 minutes, and arrived at the portage. For those experienced Algonquin canoers, this portage was a well-travelled highway, but with enough rocks and bridges to make it interesting. The first thing we noticed was the number of small children (with their parents of course) taking the same route. That was comforting, we weren’t the only crazy ones out there. After Ben just about died on the portage, we canoed another 45 minutes or so to arrive at site 007 (insert James Bond theme song here).

What a site! It had rocks for deep-water jumping, a shallow area with sandy bottom for Noah, a small table built into the rocks for cooking, and the requisite boom box out back. We quickly setup, swam, and attempted supper. Unfortunately this is where the food part comes in. The person who designed our single burner stove obviously never field tested it; the flame is far too close to the pan, and the lowest setting is “flame-thrower”. Let’s just say the fish ate a lot of burnt hamburger helper that night.

Thursday July 29, 2004
After a lovely sleep (did I mention we three slept in a three person tent, and that three person tents aren’t really three-person tents…) and a strong cup of tea (coffee was left on counter at home, morale low), we did a lot of fishing, swimming, and basically doing nothing. After burning our breakfast Ben decided to put his stone mason experience to good use, and found some stones that kept the pans a wee bit higher off the flame-thrower. Morale higher.

We were convinced that Spider lake was a dead lake, nary a nibble was found. I guess that’s what all fishermen will say, even after they find out that the lake is teeming with bass, pike and trout. We did see two snakes, a squirrel helping itself to our beer-nuts, a small painted turtle, and a rather largish snapping turtle. Needless to say we didn’t feel like swimming much after it swam by our rocks. Morale medium to high.

Noah had a blast, but decided we needed a raft. See the pictures for more details. No Noah, you can’t canoe fast enough to waterski with the raft, even if you’ve seen it in pictures.

Friday July 30, 2004
Sleep was non-existent. Turns out that Noah had a low fever which explains his tossing and turning and silly dreams (03:00: Daddy how did Mikaela get here to steal my water when she’s at home with Mommy?). Morale low. New stones on burner work great, excellent pancakes and tea. Morale climbing. Thought of Tim Horton’s coffee around the corner makes us pack and canoe faster. Morale high. Drive to Tim Hortons in Parry Sound only takes 10 minutes. Morale excellent.

We had a great time, I’d gladly do it again. It’s a great park, I’d highly recommend it for anyone taking smaller children, it’s closer and the good sites are closer to the access point than Algonquin.

Thanks to Ben for coming along, and holding my sanity together. Noah and I wouldn’t have made it without him.

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