Itinerary - Two Nights Canoe Camping
Please contact us if you need transportation from Ottawa. It takes about 3 hr 40 min to drive.
6:00 PM Gather at Achray Station in Algonquin Provincial Park in Eastern Ontario. We will start by applying sun screen and insect repellent, as needed. We will stay at the Achray Campground tonight before we embark in the canoes tomorrow. After introductions, some people will set up the tents while others prepare the evening meal, cooked on a portable camp stove. After supper, you can try fishing from the dock or maybe go for an evening swim. We will have a camp fire and share stories as we watch the stars appear over Grand Lake.
Meals included: D
7:00 AM Some people might want to have an early morning swim, before breakfast. Others might want to stay in bed until they smell the coffee percolating. After breakfast and clean-up, we will pack up the tents and camping gear. Any gear that we are not taking in the canoes will be left in the cars.
10:00 AM Let's head to the canoes on the beach. We will organize partners in the canoes, and discuss some basic safety rules. Then there will be some detailed canoeing instruction. Each participant will wear a PFD (personal flotation device) while in the canoe. Some swimming skills are recommended but not compulsory. You will learn how to get in and out of the boat and how to sit and maintain your balance. You'll learn the "bow" stroke, the "J" stroke (for the stern), and how to "draw". We'll show you how to change positions (from bow to stern) and we'll demonstrate how to get back into the canoe if you capsize, working as a team with your partner. You'll have a chance to learn proper technique for portaging, or carrying the canoe.
12:00 NOON We will have a light lunch before we load the canoes with all our gear (tents, packs, food etc.) and head out across Grand Lake to a point on the distant shore, using our new skills to make the canoe go in a straight line. We will follow the Barron River out of Grand Lake into Stratton Lake where we will choose a campsite on the north shore (about 6 km).
2:30-3:00 PM We arrive at our campsite on Stratton Lake. We will first set up our tents (and maybe test our sleeping arrangements with a short nap!). Grabbing our swim suits and towels, it is a short paddle to High Falls, with its natural water slide! Drinks and snacks will be served as we play in the water and relax on the rocks, before paddling back to our campsite.
5:00 PM Some people will gather wood for cooking and others might help by purifying drinking water, chopping vegetables, or preparing some back country recipes. There will be lessons on how to light a campfire, both in our portable "firebox" and in the pit found at the campsite. After eating, we will share the clean-up duties.
7:30 PM While some people prepare stories, skits, jokes, or songs for tonight's campfire, others might go fishing to find bass or pickerel. As we watch the sunset and absorb the peaceful sounds and smells, we will light the campfire and break out the marshmallows and entertainment. After dark, we might see fire-flies, the Milky Way, or maybe even the Northern Lights. Before bed, we must be careful to pack all the food in a "bear canister" to protect it from animals.
If you want to fish, you need a license. Regulations are different for Ontario residents, Canadian residents, and non-residents. Please contact us if you want help arranging the necessary Outdoors Card and fishing license tag.
Meals included: B, L, D
6:00 AM If you can pull yourself out of your warm sleeping bag, you'll experience the most beautiful time of the day. Even amateur photographers will want to experience a golden sunrise and the mist on the lake. People will get up at their own pace. There's no hurry today. We can build a fire to heat water for washing or some people might have an early morning swim before breakfast. Slowly you will smell coffee brewing and breakfast cooking. People will share stories about noises they heard during the night or possible sightings of nocturnal animals.
9:00 AM After breakfast, we will wash the dishes, pack the sleeping bags and tents, clean up the campsite, and pack the canoes. Today, we have some options. Depending on the ambitions of the group, we could make a short portage (75m) into St. Andrews Lake, with all our gear, and paddle across to an old Ranger cabin, near the retired railway line. Alternatively, we can stay at our campsite and get some instruction and practice with a map and compass (provided). The ability to use a compass is an important skill for any canoeist, especially on little-used portages.
10:30 AM It's time re-trace our steps and head back to Achray Station, with the chance to stop for a swim on the way.
12:30 PM A light lunch will be provided at Achray and there will be a final meeting to discuss equipment choices, future camping needs and lessons learned.
2:00 PM You can head home or spend the rest of the day at the beach on Grand Lake.
Meals included: B, L