Algonquin Canoe Trip Journal — Part 3
After a good night’s sleep, we ate a hearty breakfast of freeze-dried eggs, freeze-dried toast and freeze-dried coffee. Ken suggested that, next time, maybe I should rehydrate the stuff before cooking it.
We headed out for Clydegale Lake, paddling the length of Penn Lake, so named because it shaped like a pen. Not to be confused with the term “peninsula,” which — as I explained to Steve — is named after a part of the male anatomy.
He did not know that. Which is the only thing he didn’t know. The man’s a walking encyclopedia on the wonders of nature, the cosmos and moose scat. For instance, he told me that loons have five distinct calls: The wail to communicate with other loons across the lake; the tremolo to alert others of danger; the yodel for mating or establishing territory; the hoot, which is sort of an all-clear; and the moo, which is reserved for when they are flying over cows.
The beauty of Algonquin is that each lake is higher and more remote than the next. Someone with a lot of ambition could get far enough into the chains of lakes to lose all signs of civilization, such as the 30 grills people had left at our Penn Lake campsite.
Also, as you progress into the various lakes, there are fewer designated campsites.
Having two experienced guides was a tremendous advantage here. They know how to set up an itinerary so we could get the best campsites. For example, when we returned to Penn Lake for the last two days of the trip, we had to get there early enough in the morning to beat any newcomers working their way into the chain of lakes.
Our first portage was about 270 meters. The second was about 370. Unfortunately, when it comes to perception, meters don’t work out like kilometers. When you’re driving in Canada and covering, say, 100 kilometers, it seems to go pretty quickly because you’re used to seeing these measurements in miles. But, it’s the opposite with meters. You see the sign at the head of the portage trail that says 376 meters and, automatically, you’re thinking, “Oh, just short of three football fields.”
But no. It’s more like five or maybe 10. Trying to estimate it — to get some sort of perspective — I did the math in my mind, which only works on the right side. I figured that would be like walking from Mansfield to Akron. While carrying a canoe and backpack. Uphill. Over rocks. While wearing muck boots.
The least the Ontario Ministry of Portages could do is post sherpas at the trailheads.