Grand Entrance at Grand Lake – 2016 Algonquin Canoe Trip, Part 2

Chipmunks and Red Squirrels and Bears, Oh My!

Two-foot waves and high winds greeted us on Grand Lake at the beginning of our eight-day canoe trip into Barron River Canyon. To avoid starting our trip with a capsize and a swim, we tacked into the wind and paddled out far into the lake.


By evening, the wind died down and we were comforted by the sound of waves gently lapping at the shore.

The wind relented long enough for us to turn our two canoes around and ride the waves back toward our intended campsite along the east shore.

After turning around, I quickly realized the waves would push my 11-foot solo canoe off-target — north of the campsites that dot the shore. So I took another tack, putting it in a better position. Steve and Ken fared better with Steve’s tandem canoe. After their initial turn, they were in line to ride the waves into the campsites.

We didn’t realize then that a capsize probably wouldn’t have involved a swim. On the last day of our trip, after we returned to Grand Lake, Steve swam out a quarter-mile from our campsite — and stood up in chest-deep water.

Like the West Basin of Lake Erie, Grand Lake is shallow and a stiff wind can quickly whip it into a foaming frenzy.


Steve washes supper dishes.

I mentioned in the previous post that we started our trip at Grand Lake and wended our way to Barron Canyon through 10 boulder-strewn portages over two days — only to find another parking lot a short paddle and easy portage away.

However, it could well be that canoe campers are required to take the hard way in. The Canadians are funny that way. They like to weed out the wimps. After all, these are the folks who send us gun-happy Americans unarmed into bear-infested forests. To their credit, the Canadians do provide instructions on what to do if confronted by a predatory bear. The best thing to do, they say, is to make yourself look big as big as possible and make a lot of noise.

Defecating in your trousers apparently doesn’t deter an attacking bear. Neither does playing dead, according to the provided instructions. Instead, your best chance of convincing the bear to back off is to “fight it with everything you have.” It’s hard to fathom that, at that point, a pissed-off bear is going to be intimidated by a Swiss army knife and toenail clippers.

Imagine the scene at your autopsy: “Look here, eh. Poor fellow died with a pocket knife and nail clippers shoved up his rectum.”

Anyway, none of that happened. In fact, even the chipmunks and red squirrels were relatively well-behaved.

To be continued.




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