In what has become a somewhat regular thing for us, May of 2016 saw us once again invited to the Hyndman et al. Algonquin season-opener canoe trip. This year - as in most years - the plan was to go on the first nice weekend after the official opening of the canoe season by the Algonquin Provincial Park authorities. This year, that weekend fell on May 7th and 8th.
The chosen route was located in the far southern end of Algonquin, in the narrow strip of parkland that juts south from the main park area. Starting and ending from the town of Whitney along highway 60, access to the route was easy: a relatively short, fully paved drive, all the way from Ottawa.
Whitney Put-in Point
Leaving Ottawa on Friday (the 6th) around 2:30pm, the nine of us (myself, Jenn, Arn, Gosia, Nel, Kai, Dave, Nancy and Emma) arrived at the boat ramp in the town of Whitney (along highway 60), at around 5pm. We had secured two rental canoes in advance from the Algonquin Bound outlet in nearby Madawaska, and they [the canoes] were waiting for us off to the side of the boat ramp.
The weather was perfect for early May: sunny, calm, warm. The plan for the evening? paddle west along Galeairy Lake (also known as Long Lake in the vicinity of Whitney) for about an hour and a half, and camp on a secluded island campsite.
After getting packed up at the boat ramp / dock at Whitney, we pushed off at about 5:30pm - but not before Jenn dropped her Nexus phone into the lake. Dave quickly hopped in to retrieve it, but not before it had spent a good thirty seconds to a minute sitting on the bottom of the lake. Surprisingly, it was still functioning, and we immediately powered it down. Ideally I would have dissassembled it right then and there, but our trip was about to start and we didn't have the proper tools. Instead, we towelled it off as best we could and put it in a spot to dry out over the next few days.
We glided out past the lakeside homes of Whitney into the wide waters of Galeairy Lake. With good conditions and a slight tailwind, we settled into an easy rhythm and made good time.
The desired campsite for the night was located on a small island in Galeairy Lake, at the western end of a narrow constriction that separates the "Long" part of the lake from the "Aubrey" part of the lake (confusing naming scheme, I know). As we approached the island, the slight tailwind disappeared entirely, and the lake's waters became glass-smooth. We glided up to the island's southern campsite, which was bathed in the warm glow of the late-day sun. Arn disembarked to check it out.
Approaching first possible site
Although the campsite was idyllic, we felt we should exercise due diligence and check out the island's other campsite, located only a few hundred metres away. Upon inspection, Arn proclaimed it to be "at least 10% better than the first campsite". Gosia and Nancy, who had already began to mentally bond with the first campsite, needed a bit of prying to move on to the second.
After setting up our tents in the very spacious (and spread-out) tentsites of the second campsite, we set about getting out a few pre-dinner snacks, setting up a fire, and in relaxing in general. Based on the forecast, we realized that this was probably going to be the most pleasant weather of the entire weekend. So... best to enjoy it.
The lazy day slowly wound down to a gentle nightfall, with a rare "twin-sun" sunset over the Aubrey section of Galeairy Lake. With the relatively mild temperatures and clear conditions, we stayed up fairly late, chatting around the fire. Emma and Nel, as has become customary, had some fun with long exposure photography.
Starry vault - above and below
The Tangle and The Dipper