Flatwater

Brent to Kiosk (Algonquin North) July 2012

              

 For the sunny July 13/14/15th weekend, a dozen of us recreated a trip Paul adored from years yore, crossing the North of Algonquin Park from Kiosk on Lake Kioshkokwi to Brent on Cedar Lake. To make this happen was a logistical feat in itself as it required a last-minute trip change by another group of paddlers led by Suzanne Chalifour (Group A) to begin the same trip as ourselves a day earlier and in the reverse direction. This allowed us to meet halfway, at Cauchon Lake, exchange car keys and have our cars shuttled down to Brent, where our chauffeurs’ rides were awaiting

 

While group A managed to coordinate and ride out in convoy Friday morning, thereby getting in an extra day of paddling, Group B staggered their exit from Ottawa to allow for varied work schedules, but all arrived to their respective destinations without mishap and with a nice dip awaiting upon arrival.

With a swarm of mosquitoes on the attack and an anticipated early departure in the morning, we attached our ‘attitude’ pins, supplied by fearless trip-leader, Paul, and dreamt of the breakfast extravaganza to be supplied to us by Martin and Judith. With bellies full of our daily rations, we made our way down to the water to receive our last minute flight orders and pile into our trusty fighter aircraft to depart on the day’s mission:

After departing only a few minutes behind schedule, we paddled out over the calm waters of Kioshkokwi Lake and under a now-defunct railroad bridge to spot the first portage only a half-hour from the put-in. While Paul and Anne made a bee-line to the goat-path, the remainder of the group were alerted to the presence of a bogie at 3 o’clock by the watchful eye of Helen, and we pulled in for a closer look of Mr. Moose enjoying his breakfast:

All three Portages of day one were on the slightly longer side (450-650m), but the group pulled together and helped each other out with humping equipment down the portage trails, to be rewarded by a sandy beach and delicious lunch of pitas with various accoutrements. After putting into Mink Lake, our newest canoeist, Emmanuel, was given a little lesson on jay-strokes and paddling in the stern with a patient Judith at the bow. With some interesting trajectories across the lake, he straightened-out his stern abilities by day two and his impressive progress was noted by all.

Upon completion of portage #3 of the day, a young group of paddlers on a 3-week trip, with 3 per boat, blew past our group of leisure paddlers, but that didn’t stop one boat consisting of first-mate Jeanette and skipper Rick from trying to blow to the finish line in their own manner:

Upon arrival and meeting up with Group A, tents were set up, wood gathered, water filtered, and wine poured in short order while Paul prepared an exquisite meal of Salmon Mornay (a blend of cheese, pasta and salmon).  And the natural recourse after wining and dining, is, of course, to dance! Instructor Scott and his faithful protégé, Tara-Lea, demonstrated their own skills and then led a group lesson in swing-dancing on pinecones:

Other performances in belly-dancing, loon-calling, and story-telling all ensued as part of the evening’s entertainment, and a satisfied, but tired, group of paddlers slept soundly under the stars.

The next morning started off with a hearty breakfast of Red River with all the fixings and Jeanette’s homemade blueberry muffins, before getting out on the lake ahead of schedule. Pre-lunch sightings on day 2 of windless, speedy paddling included a family of loons, a baby loon following along its mother, two laughably-short portages and a seagull attack upon Anne and Paul. Here they are visibly still in shock:

A delicious lunch of falafel on pitas was prepared by chef Tara-Lea and her faithful protégé, Scott on a formerly-habited island on Cedar Lake, surrounded by superb swimming grounds:

Post lunch and swim, we required only another hour of paddling straight down the lake to reach our destination at Brent, but a small head-to-head canoe race and yet-another swim had to occur before arriving back on dry land.

With a small lesson in re-entering a boat from the water and quick day’s paddle completed, the group curled up on the grass with cold cokes, a round of Banana-grams, and Paul wisely reflecting that: “the saddest aspect for […him] is in realizing that just as we were starting to excel as a team, instead of staying "out there" for another week, we were all compelled to return to the city.  Oh well, maybe another time ;- )“

PS: while most of us made it back to town speedily and easily, Jeanette and I decided that was too easy for us. After noting over-heated brakes and a low-tire at Brent, we blew-out said tire after 10k back on the main road. Luckily, a friendly priest (a modern-day Good Samaritan complete with all the tools!) stopped to give a helpful hand with putting on a spare and chopping through a stubborn cross-threaded bolt with an axe (!). The ‘donut’ carried us to Deep River and a dinner-time meet-up with Group A, but we were forced to stay the night to await the opening of Canadian Tire the next morning.  We put on a new replacement tire and rolled in to Ottawa by early that afternoon, a little late but safe and satisfied by the creation of a few memorable moments.