Monday, August 22, 2016

Trip Log: Algonquin Park: Rock Lake, May 4-6, 2015

May the Force Be With You!  I guess the Force was with us, because things fell into place for us on this trip.  We thought we were going to be delayed on departure day (May 4th) because Bubbie's school concert band was supposed to have an event all day and she couldn't miss it.  Luckily for us, something got messed up and at the last minute, it got delayed 2 weeks!  Yay!

We'd planned to eat lunch at the campsite but we were all hungry, so when we stopped at Two Rivers Store for drinks, we handed out the sandwiches/pizza buns and ate on the way.  The weather was a bit grim looking, with grey skies and the odd sprinkle of rain but we were hopeful we'd get set up before it got really wet.

We managed to get up to our campsite at around 1pm, and it was just starting to spit rain.  We put the tent trailer up by throwing a tarp over it so we could then stay dry while we raised the roof and pulled out the ends.  At one point after everything was raised, Dad realized he couldn't find the keys so he could get into the little storage area so he could get the two support bars he'd forgotten to get out at the start.  We searched everywhere and eventually started to wonder if they'd been on the roof of the trailer before we cranked it up.  Turned out they were in his back pocket the whole time.

We retreated inside to play Star Wars games to celebrate.  Mum had bought the kids Star War's Day gifts…Bubbie made a comment about not understanding the big deal, because it wasn't like Christmas.  I nearly kicked her out into the rain.

Biscuit was so excited to be there, he was driving us nuts with his need to get out and explore.  We ended up walking him around in the rain (a steady moderately heavy rain now) so we could see how many other sites were in use.  There weren't many, maybe a dozen, if that, at least in the electrical section.  Everyone was spread out, so even though Rock Lake doesn't offer the best privacy, we didn't feel crowded at all.

Mum and I started supper around 4:30.  In honour of this special day we had Bobba Fett-agetti, Endor Salad (caesar salad,) Sarlacc Bread (garlic bread) and Yoda Soda (Mountain Dew.)  For dessert we had Wookie Cookies,  and Exploding Deathstar Cookies.  Mum and Dad offered to do the dishes while Chris and I took the kids out for a paddle.

Now, this is our first time really paddling so early after the ice is out.  The lake was mostly calm, and the wind was minimal, but I still had horrible thoughts of us tipping, and kept trying to get Chris to take us closer to shore.  Chris kept us going straight down the middle of the lake.  And here's where Chris and I have our only canoe difference.  We work really well together in the canoe.  He prefers to paddle on the left, I prefer the right.  We share the load pretty evenly on portages.  We just canoe well together, but he is very much about getting to the end destination and therefore it's straight down the middle of the lake, every time.  Where as I like to go fairly close to the shore.  Not only can we maybe see wildlife, but you actually feel like you're moving, where as out in the middle of the lake it can often feel like you're expending a lot of effort for very little reward.  When we were coming back from High Falls, trying to get back to our site at Achray, paddling into the wind, it might have felt less like we were standing still if we were twenty feet closer to shore.  Just saying.    I know there are times when you are trying to make your distances, or there's a limited amount of time, but when there isn't (like this time) why can't we just explore?  Ugh!

Anyway, when we turned around, we realized the wind had picked up a bit and was now in our faces.  Not bad, but the waves were just at the point where the tops collapse, not quite white caps though.  We made it home without incident and then decided to drive West on Highway 60 and look for moose.  It was about 7:30.  We saw 2 before we even got off Rock Lake Road, and a total of 8 more that night (for a total of 10 that day.  We saw 2 just before we got to the West gate on our way into the park)  After a quick stop at Fisherman's Point for pictures, we headed back to camp.

Since the campground office closed at 4:30 we didn't get any wood, but everyone was pretty tired anyway so we just went to bed.  Our only fairly close neighbours stayed up late talking but it was pretty quiet.  Lots of spring peepers could be heard as well as the odd loon call.  Just a relaxing night in Algonquin Park.

Day 2

Breakfast time at Rock Lake
I was up pretty early, but I didn't check my phone to see the actual time.  I'd been up to go to the bathroom at around 4 and the moon was brilliant, shining on the water.  By the time it got light out, there was lots of fog on the lake.  Biscuit and I walked…a lot.  All around the camp ground, to the boat launch (a quick detour to the garbages to dispose of his morning business) then down to the non-electrical sites.  There were hardly any people there, maybe 3 sites in use?  We got back and still nobody was up, so we walked some more.  I don't think the others got up until 9:30.

Coffee was the first priority, then breakfast.  One-Eyed Buffalos, bacon, potato and pepper hash and maple baked beans (we forgot to cook the beans…again.  That can has been in my mum's camp food bin for like 3 years now.)  After cleaning up, we headed to the East gate looking for moose.  We only saw one.  Chris and I had planned to hike the portage trail into Pinetree Lake but he also wanted to do the Booth's Rock Trail again, and we wanted to go canoeing.  We opted to wait on the portage trail.  Actually we were all originally supposed to hike to Pinetree, but mum had hurt her ankle and was having enough trouble walking around the campground.

Chris and Biscuit on top of Booth's Rock
While the kids went with my parents looking for more moose, Chris and I headed back to Rock Lake to hike Booth's Rock.  There was a tour bus at the office and we thought we should get on the trail quick before a load of people headed out on it too.  Biscuit is a little unpredictable in his desire to protect us, and having to stay ahead of a bunch of people when there's that much tough up hill would have killed me.  As it was, I thought I was going to have a stroke trying to keep up with Chris.  I finally let him carry my camera bag (which he later claimed to barely notice he was carrying…it weighs like 30lbs!  Jerk.)

Time for a rest - Booth's Rock Trail
As it turned out, we only saw 2 other people on the trail, two men at the very top.  We explored the remains of the estate, and ventured a little further along the shore to check out the back country canoe campsite near the ruins.  It doesn't look like a bad site, a big fairly level spot near the fire pit, but the landing looked quite rocky.  That being said, it would probably be a good site for those very late season trips where you might wake up to an iced over lake and have to hike out.
Very glad we were going down these

Biscuit was pretty good about not dragging Chris along, until we got within sight of the car then he nearly decapitated himself pulling so hard on the leash.  He loves the car, if you couldn't guess.

We got back to camp, had a quick lunch of crackers, cheese, meat, apples, a fruit tray and leftover cookies. Mum offered to take the kids out for a little paddle, to check out the river.  While Chris was helping push them off, Biscuit, who hates water, ran right in trying to get into the canoe!  I guess he likes canoeing more than he hates being wet.

I walked the garbage down, taking Biscuit with me, and we detoured to the boat launch.  I figured we could wait for mum and the kids then drop off the bag.  When they pulled up to the little dock, Biscuit again tried to get in the boat, and when I kept him back, he retaliated by peeing on the garbage bag.  I almost got caught with it too but I managed to jump up quickly.

When we got back to camp, we relaxed while waiting for mum to return.  They'd headed out with Squatch in the middle, mum in stern and Bubbie in the bow.  I kind a figured the kids would tire easily and mum would be left paddling alone, but when they came into view we realized Bubbie was in the stern, Squatch was in the bow and Mum was in the middle getting a free ride!

Mum getting a free ride
After that we didn't leave camp until it was time to go home.  The kids pretty much just paddled on their own.  Mum had showed them how to j-stroke and do some other things.  They stayed close to shore but they were out there almost all night except for a break for dinner  and to let Chris take biscuit for a little paddle.

Dinner tonight was in honour of Cinqo de Mayo.  Tacos, quesadillas, southwest salad, and two types of tex-mex rice.  We were all stuffed afterward…okay, the kids still had room in their dessert stomach (kids have a second stomach like cows do…but kids use theirs for desserts)  We had a fire going so they toasted marshmallows, and tried toasting strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff.  It worked out okay, not as pretty as the pictures online, but they tasted good.

As we made dinner, we kept seeing this odd group of canoes.  Two people would paddle from the non-electrical section, to the river and then return a few minutes later with 2 canoes each pulling another canoe, so four in total.  This happened 3 or 4 times.  We finally realized that when Chris and I came back from our hike earlier and saw lots and lots of tents in the non-electrical section, it was probably a school group and they would likely be departing from there for a canoe trip, hence bringing the canoes to the campground rather than hauling all the group with their gear (and no cars) to the boat launch.  They were a bit rowdy, but not bad.  We heard a few excited shouts as we sat around the fire that night but if it was a school group, I'm actually glad to know they were so excited to be there.  And I admit, I was really jealous.  Why didn't our high school have an outers club or wilderness skills class when I was a teen?  My mum did in high school, and the school our kids will be going to has things like that.  Ugh!

Mum had brought the game Ultimate Werewolf: One Night.  The kids love this game, and were really excited to play, so after the fire was put out, everyone else played while I lay down with Biscuit.  He was pretty wiped out from all the hiking and walking around the camp ground he'd done.  Squatch had also run around the campground roads with him quite a bit, and while we'd gone looking for moose, he ran from side to side in the back seat, popping his head out the window on each side for a minute. (As I'm typing this, he's passed out on the couch.)

While mum and the kids were waiting for us to go in to play Werewolf, mum gave the kids each a scratch ticket.  We always play a "how many moose do you think we'll see" game when we go to Algonquin, and Bubbie won the first day's game. The ticket was her prize.  She won $75!  While Chris and I had been hiking, they'd stopped at Tea Lake Dam for snacks, and a bird had pooped on her hand…you know how people say that's supposed to be good luck?  Apparently it's true.  Squatch was not impressed.

We all slept better the second night, and yet again I got up before everyone else.  Biscuit and I walked some more, but this time, he put is paw down after an hour or so and just sat in the middle of the road, so we headed back to camp and sat for a while.  He desperately wanted back in the trailer to sleep but I didn't want to wake everyone up.  Mum got up shortly after that so I let Biscuit have his way, and mum and I took the canoe out for a paddle.  We checked out some of the cottages on Rock Lake, went up the river but detoured off to where the river passed right by the campground near the outhouses.  We tried to go further but there was a beaver dam and neither of us felt like getting our feet wet when the water was so cold, so we headed back.

Dad had the coffee on by then, and Chris, Biscuit and the kids had walked down to the boat launch hoping to see us but we hadn't gone that far.  We kept breakfast simple, just bagels and coffee/hot chocolate.

While me and mum and dad were packing up, The kids took Biscuit for a little paddle, then brought him back and went out alone again.  Chris took the GoPro and filmed them, when they explored the river section mum and I had gone to earlier.

Nobody wanted to leave.  Other than a bit of rain the first day, we'd had a great trip, but as always it was far too short.

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