We snagged a campsite at Kearney Lake and were lucky to get one on the water. We set up our tent lickety-split and headed down the road to while away the afternoon on Cache Lake. Historically, this was the hub of activity in the park, so it made sense that we would start our activity there. We launched amid the water-taxi shuttling people to and from the lodge.
We meandered back to Cache lake to weave around islands on the southern part of the lake. It gave us a scope of the size of this wilderness since we had spent all afternoon paddling on a tiny blue area on the map….sheesh!
The next day we scarfed some muffins at our campsite and embarked on the rail-trail heading south. We were afforded some excellent views of Whitefish Lake but had to turn around due to wet conditions on the trail. Chris saw a bear cross the trail, Lisa thankfully did not see it.
In the afternoon we headed to Opeongo Lake which gave us another feeling of the massive nature of this park. We paddled for ten miles and covered about a third of the lake, not even dipping into the North or East arms. We scouted campsites and soaked up the sunshine in the middle of Jones’ Bay - our northernmost point travelled on this trip (by kayak!). I got to show off a slick maneuver when landing by propelling my kayak onto a submerged dock where I stepped out keeping my shoes relatively dry.
Hankering for some fried food, we went to the cafeteria at the visitors centre for poutine! After enjoying our grease covered with fat and topped with melted cheese, we whiled away the evening trying to burn green campfire wood at our campsite and playing tunes around the smoke. At least the smudge fire helped keep the bugs down…
The next morning, we headed on bicycles on the northern section of the rail trail. Despite the fact that we were constantly pursued by swarms of deer flies, we managed to keep ahead of them and had a very nice ride. We just couldn’t stop for long. The scenery changed from lake front to wetland to meadow and ended at the dam on Cache Lake.
On the return trip, we grabbed a lunch at Lake of Two Rivers before bringing the kayaks to canoe lake - it seemed deliciously sacrilegious to the lakes’ handle. The launch site was busy; it was full of adult campers and members of child camps on the lake. After some entertaining people-watching, we sailed in the wind around some northern islands before turning around to follow rivers into Bonita and Tea lakes. On the return we were pushed by the gusty winds back to the launch, which had become much less congested in the late afternoon.
With showers forecasted for the evening, we packed the car for sleeping and spent the evening trying to burn the firewood for the second time. It smoldered about as well as a wet sponge. We played some tunes and ate some pea-soup, but not at the same time. Luckily we only had a few sprinkles that night and got to pack up dry bikes in the morning.
Before we left the park, we finally stopped at the visitor centre to get a feel for the ecological and human history of the area. I inquired to the ranger about acquiring backcountry permits and how the system worked for our next trip.
Our impression of Algonquin Provincial Park is of a wilderness area that would rival that of Yellowstone. However, with so many lakes it is a paddler’s paradise. It is amazingly massive and so much of it is wild…they have wolves for Pete’s sake! We will be returning someday with pack boats and backpacking gear to get further into the backcountry.