I won’t bore you with the details of how we got to the park (it’s a story in itself), but in the end we crossed the boundary with a canoe on Steve’s car and a permit in our pockets.

Sign of things to come

We loaded up the canoe under an ominous sky and heavy winds, and prepared to set sail…

It begins

With whitecaps pushing our canoe, and with me TOTALLY misreading the map, we ended up taking a very long and tiring detour around the far side of the first lake in what felt like a gale (but was really just good kite-flying weather). After lots of hard paddling, and a few good soakings, we made shore at our first portage… the BIG ONE.

Now, 1.3 kilometres might not sound like much, but try doing it loaded down with packs or with a fibreglass canoe on your 5’9″ 155lb frame. Sure, it was tough going, but the terrain wasn’t going to make it easier on us. A few hundred metres into a relatively nice stroll in the woods, our trail disappeared into a dense bog. Awesome. We struggled through about 100 metres of this either by stepping on fallen logs that floated on the mire, or ducking through makeshift sidetrails in the trees on the side of a steep hill. This was our first lesson in perserverance.

This was Big Rock Lake and we only canoed for about 10 minutes before we hit the head of our much shorter and far easier portage. This one was 660 metres, but it had a long hill with a 30 degree grade at the beginning… and a fallen tree across the path. Awesome. We fought through it like troopers and were dreaming of hot food in our near future.

Once in Byers Lake, we found a site on a point looking north across the lake to beautiful ridge. The view from our shoreline was especially spectacular given how overcast it was that day.

Lake view

Whoever was there before us left quite a mess, and had tried to burn a bunch of tin, so we struck camp and then cleaned up our firepit and site a bit while we waited to see if the sky would come crashing in on our heads. I don’t know about Steve, but I was pretty beat by early evening, and it showed.


After a hearty pasta dinner and some attitude medication, we were both in good spirits and we enjoyed a short paddle to a beaver dam at the mouth of the nearby York River, and a hearty evening campfire.

The sky cleared in the evening, and the lake calmed considerably… just in time for the Nothern Lights to erupt over the northern ridge across the lake. Between the stars and the Lights, we were completely awestruck. That night, as I went to sleep in my tent on our little point, I had the ferocity and beauty of nature on my mind… and bears. I was also thinking about bears.

One Response to “Algonquin Trip: Day One”
  1. That looks and sounds like it was an AMAZING trip. OOOOH man i need to get away