I didn’t drive nearly 600 miles just to be insulted and run over by a bus

Algonquin Canoe Trip Journal — Part Ten

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

As mentioned in previous posts, Algonquin canoe camping differs in many ways from what I’ve done on Ohio streams for the past 32 years.

The itinerary is one of main differences. On river trips, you put on at point A, drift or paddle for as many days as you can, and end up at point B. Or at point C, as we have done on occasion and had to hitch a ride back to our designated take-out at point B.

When you paddle Algonquin, you move from lake to lake to lake, as far as your time and ambition will take you. The way Steve and Ken do it is to spend several days on each lake, set up a base camp and explore the lake by day. Or, in Steve’s case, by night.

That was one of the many mysteries of our Algonquin adventure. Steve would grab a canoe and slip off into the night, usually returning before dawn.

Ken and I suspected he might have a campsite secreted away where he could get away from us and our snoring — where there were coolers full of steaks and fresh vegetables and probably a home entertainment center.

But, Steve would always come back with tales of wild adventures, like antagonizing sleeping beavers so they’d come out of their lodges and splash him with their tails, or sneaking up on campsites in the darkness and using his ventriloquism talents to make one camper say something rude to a fellow camper.

I really enjoyed the day trips, checking out islands and hiking nearly two kilometers to Little Canoe Lake, which has a 1,970-meter portage. Apparently a lot of people make the trip because the trail is well-worn. But I can’t see the point of hauling a canoe all that way to a lake that has no designated campsites. And besides, the lake is so small, you could spit to the shore from the middle of it.

Part of a cast iron stove we found at the head of the portage trail to Little Canoe Lake

But it was a great hike. At the head of the portage trail, we found part of an old iron stove. There were logging camps there and this probably was left behind after the trees were decimated and hockey was invented, which gave loggers something else to do.

Halfway down the trail, we came upon a dirt road. Not wanting to be the first person ever to drive 570 miles to the Algonquin wilderness only to get run over by a bus, I sprinted across the road both times we crossed it.

It was a great hike. We examined the flora and fauna along the way, Steve identifying the plants and crawling things and Ken contributing his knowledge. I also chimed in with my newly acquired knowledge of moose poop and they were kind enough to wait for me while I cleaned it off my hiking shoes.

We paused for lunch at Little Canoe Lake. As we set out to return, a couple of young  guys from Toronto emerged from the woods. They had arrived after we did and made their way to the lake.

Little Canoe Lake. If I were 20 years younger, I could have jumped across it. Or tossed one of those upstarts from Toronto halfway across.

I think they found us stranger than any of the flora and fauna they encountered on their hike. We exchanged pleasantries. Except one of them insulted me by saying that, when he saw Steve and Ken’s sleek kevlar tandem canoe next to my Old Town Pack solo boat, he assumed that whoever had the tandem boat had brought along the Old Town for their dog.

We parted company. As we got nearly out of sight of our Toronto friends, I lifted my leg and peed on a tree to register my displeasure.

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