Hello, new to forum, after some quick but DETAILED info, please!!!
Im planing a sept labor day weekend algonquin portage trip with 3 other friends.
We are all physically fit, 28 years old and ready for a decent portage challenge. We have done it before, all of us, all years ago so it has been a while. We live close to toronto and gettin to hwy400 is nothing, however my questions are:
**We have gear, but need to rent canoes and large back packs**
Where and how is the closest entrance to the park?
Where do we rent the canoes/recomendations of rental places...
What the hell do we do when we get there?
Also very important, we are lookin to go back country, I mean go paddlin for 5 or 8 hours, protage a few trails, paddle some more find a nice camp area and set camp for the night, then continue the next day. I dont want a set site, I want to be able to just go free. How do I go about this?
Maybe I am way off, but any info- as many details as possible is great.
The first thing you have to do i decide where. you want to stay each night. You need to know where you're going. Labour day weekend, this has to happen soon. ROute for that weekend have been open for booking for two months.
Strong paddlers, you guys should be able to make 3-6 km per hour depending on wind. Easy. SO count on 6 hours paddling 20km of padding per day should tucker you out real good. But if you're really energetic 25 or 30 km is possible. Even 40 on a really great day. My group all over 60 have gone from planning 15m a day to 12.
Start from an access point you'd think you'd like, cut a piece of cardboard approx. 10km long in the scale you are using and start laying out your days. Remember, the features on maps are not straight line. If you've measured 20km straight line, it could be as much as 30 by the time you've factored in all the curves.
This is one of the most important parts of the trip.. you cannot reserve your trip, or even find out if it's possible to do it in the time frame you have in mind until you know where you want to go. Its also often the most time consuming. Hopefully someone in your group will enjoy maps. Tess and I explore the maps all winter, so we're ready to go in the spring. You're going to need a keener.
If you ask, people will suggest all kinds of routes for you, some of the younger guys maybe, myself, I can't even remember what it's like being 29. From the sound of your group, anything I'd suggest probably wouldn't be challenging enough. I was into my 30's before I even started canoeing.
Step one... pick a route you can physically handle, or if you want to push yourselves one that will keep you on the edge.. ir start another thread asking for route suggestions and then pick one of those, after checking it out on the map.
Once you know where you are going, come back and we can help out out with your other questions.
Try and have this done in a day or two.. leaving it this late, you may have to alter your selected route.
First, when you make a reservation you have to reserve a spot on the lake you wish to camp at each night. Meaning you have to know which lake you will be staying on each night and then when you arrive on said lake the sites on each lake are first come first serve. I've always wanted to do a "free to go where the wind blows you trip" myself, but it is simply against the rules and will cause problems finding campsites especially on the labour day weekend. Also, as Norm already mentioned you need to sort out your route and make a reservation as soon as possible since the popular routes will be booked up soon for that weekend.
Second, preparation for portaging will go a long way to improving the enjoyment of your experience. A few things I've learned along the way are:
-Size packs appropriately to the individual who will carry them.
-Make sure everything you bring will fit into a pack. If you have to carry something in your hands (especially heavy items like coolers, stoves, camp chairs, etc.) your portage experience will be painful. Get compression straps to attach large items to the packs.
-Assess your pile of gear (and food) and decide how many trips you will make through each portage. I do 2 trips across each portage maily because my canoe is a beastly 76lbs and I can't carry a pack and canoe for more than 300m or so without freaking out. Some do single trips and some do multiple trips... I depends on how much you bring and how much weight you can bear.
-Evenly distribute loads for each trip.
-It should take about 15 min per 1000m to portage nothwithstanding big climbs and breaks. (If you do 2 trips, a 1000m portage should take about 45 minutes)
Third, please ignore the response from KanuBoots. I've lurked here for more than 5 years and it is responses like his that make me reluctant to post more often.
To answer your questions access points 2,3,4,5 and 6 are the closest to Toronto.
You can rent canoes directly at access 5 http://www.portagestore.com/) and access 6 is 300m across the highway. For access points 2,3 and 4 you can rent canoes in Kearny http://canoealgonquin.com/) , where you pick up your permits, you can either strap them to the roof of your car or have them delivered to your drop in point($50 delivery charge).
Both, The Portage Store and Canoe Algonquin also rent all kinds gear including packs.
Have a look at the trip log section on this website for an idea on times, distances and routes from these access points.
When you have decided on your route, before you book you canoes call Ontario Parks Call Centre at 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275)
to see if all the the lakes you chose are available on the nights you need.
Once you are all good with Ontario Parks, book your canoe and whatever else you may need to rent and short of food shopping and packing you are ready to go.
Please post any more questions you have and will do my best to answer.
If you want no restrictions, look at crown land. To be able to just pick a point and let the wind take you to where ever it wants to isn't going to happen with a Provincial Park. With crown land though, you are on your own. You'll likely need to bring everything with you.
Hi .. i made my first trip in the late spring ... and learned a lot .. lessons learned ...
- Bank on a wind bound day and have some back up plans in case its more ... we were wind bound 1.5 days out of a 4.5 day trip.
- If you fish and like to what you catch then bring worms ... we caught fish almost everywhere with worms so you can at least eat perch every night!
- Plan the meals well ... taking only the food you need cuts down on weight.
- Don't be too aggessive on your route and portages ... we did a long route including a 5K portage and it simply was too much for 4.5 days. We spent most time paddling when we wanted to fish and explore more .. we made it to the water taxi with only 1/2 hr to spare.
Final point and its the most important ... take the advice from the experienced folks here ... I did for the most part and it made the trip a heck of a lot more successful and enjoyable. People like Marc, Marcus, Bo, SM, Stainless, Bary, Guncho, etc. all have countless trips under their belt and are always quick to help out.
You've picked a nice time of year in a great park ... you'll love it.
I read your post and KanuBoots response and fully agreed with it. I did not post viewing your post as either a troll or someone I would really not want to have in the park.
What are your real abilities and experiences at canoe camping?
If someone asks where the closest access point is to Toronto, my first thought is they don't know much about Algonquin. That's OK for some one seriously posting. For a first timer to the park I would advise concentrating on the highway 60 access points. They are very popular and quite busy on holiday weekends however.
Here in the US, labor day weekend is a really bad weekend to go camping without early reservations and planning.
If you are relatively new to canoe camping (and that would include not doing any for a long time) I would not be too ambitious on what you can do. Maybe consider base camping. By this I mean setting up camp at a single site and taking day trips from there.
Perhaps you could provide what you are looking for in camping experiences. Do you want to have success at fishing? Do you want to take pictures? Do you want to find solitude?
Reading past posts here will give you a lot of information for sure. I hope you have a good trip, and post a report of it when you can.