This story was written by my best bro. He’s a pretty good writer and summed up our.. Hell, very well. We went portaging and WARNING, there is some harsh language used. Will probably be the only time but I wanted to leave this as he wrote it. Enjoy.
So… Where to begin?
It all started when two city-dwelling gamers decided it would be fun to go to Algonquin Provincial Park for a weekend of portaging, camping, and fishing. Sounds like a pretty good idea for a long-weekend doesn’t it. Well…Mother Nature, and random bullshit didn’t seem to think so.
The chain of events began with our departure. We had spent most of Friday prepping, and procuring supplies for the journey. (food rations, canned goods, portable cooking gear, fishing equipment, etc) We had all our kit packed and ready that night.
We left Kingston around 4:45 AM and it was when we arrived in Napanee to gas-up that I realized I had forgotten my flashlight and Smith & Wesson tactical knife. We doubled back to Kingston (because seeing in the dark is pretty key) and after 1/2 hour or so of searching the house I found it hanging from the hanndlebars of a bike.
We got back on the road, and gassed up in Napanee.. We proceeded to the Tweed exit where I insisted we head north. Then after traveling THE WRONG WAY for close to a half hour we turned back and jumped West on the 401 to the correct route. To be sure, Shaun ran quickly into a gas station and purchased the road map we should have had all along, returned to the truck and continued driving Northbound on the 62 Highway.
Which brings us to the next incident. As we were driving we noticed a huge black Ford Super-Duty following rather closely behind us. We didn’t think anything of it until it turned on it’s lights and flashers revealing itself as an OPP vehicle. We thought he was after someone in front of us so we pulled off to the side…followed by the nice officer.
“Good morning guys. ” Said the officer as he addressed Shaun. “Any reason why your seatbelt is not on?”
I checked my own seatbelt and confirmed it was on, then looked to Shaun and noticed he was not in fact wearing it.
$240.00 later we were back on the road to Algonquin. The remainder of the trip went off without a hitch. We made it to the park by 10:00 and proceeded to secure our canoe and gear. We looked pretty pro as we left the dock…
We got close to 10Km out on the lake before I realized our canoe was “malfunctioning.” It seemed that even though we were paddling on opposite sides we were going in circles constantly.
After 2+ hours of going in unending circles in a bay, and swearing at one another, challenging one anothers masculinty, and borderline threats to intentionally flip the “Pice of Shit Canoe”..someone yelled from a nearby dock.
“Do you guys need some help?” The older man asked as he stood up from his chair.
“I think this hunk of junk is defective!” I yelled. “We just keep going in circles.”
“Well..don’t take this the wrong way..but it would help if the canoe was not backwards.” He said in as diplomatic a tone as possible. Hanging on to his dock we righted ourselves so we were facing the correct way.
Luckily his wife was a master canoe(ist)? and gave us a crash course on paddling…Which helped us little, as Shaun is not the greatest at steering the canoe. it took us another 6 hours to reach our destination. (it took only 3 on the return trip..but we’ll get to that.)
By the time we selected a camp-site we were losing light, and the winds were picking up. We made landfall at 6:30 PM and proceeded to set up our campsite. Setting up the tent which was purchased from Canadian Tire was easy enough, but when the rain-fly was installed..the increacingly high-winds grabbed a hold of the “pride of China” tent, straining the plastic sockets for the rods… which tore in half like a wet napkin, causing the elite-wilderness tent to collapse like a deflating balloon. (In the images you can’t really tell but the tent was fucked.)
Add another two hours of swearing and cursing, and “rigging” the tent to some trees, we cooked our freeze-dried Pad Thai (which actually went off without incident..except Shaun pinched his fingers when unfolding the grill)
Sometime after eating Shaun decided to make the best of things and go fishing. (I was not in the mood and was simply sitting in my camping chair glaring at the lake). Shaun opened up my cap, and somehow my tacklebox exploded open like a frag-grenade of hooks, and luers, one of which imbedded itself in shauns ring finger. More swearing, screaming and iodine was to follow.
As the evening progressed a father and his son came paddling along, (I had joked with them about our Wal-Mart tent a couple of hours earlier as they passed our site.) The gentleman informed me there were no available campsites on the lake. He had a permit for the lake, but some campers had hop-scotched over to this one.
Without hesitation we invited them to set up with us. The sun was fading and he had a young child. Besides, with our luck we could use the good karma. “Pay it forward” you know?
If only things were that simple.
After dark we crawled into the dishevled ruin that was our tent and attempted to get some sleep. Roughly two hours in, we noticed lightning flashes, followed by thunder, which was then accompanied by sheets of drenching rain. So, we spent the majority of the night with our gear pulled into the center of the half-collapsed tent, holding up the “walls” with our hands as the rain pounded us throughout the night without pity, nor mercy.
All we had was soggy sleeping-bags to keep warm, and when dawn finally arrived we crawled back out of the ruinous mess we spent the night in, and simultaneously said. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
We packed our gear up before we went to “sleep” so getting mobilized was no issue. we stuffed the tent-carcass in it’s bag for safe disposal back at the launch-site. The dark brooding clouds gathered above us as we slowly slipped out from our campsite and began the return journey hoping to evade the harsh weather looming overhead.
The waters were rough, and no matter what we were paddling directly into rough choppy water, and harassing winds that often assaulted us with rain, and strong gusts that at times shifted us off course, or simply made the b-lines between islands and channels more precarious and cumbersome.
Determined to escape this nonsense we managed to make landfall at the launch point in only three hours…of unending rowing, and carrying damp sopping wet gear and the boat over-land. At one point as we returned through a scenic creek, I recall Shaun saying: “Whoah, check it out dude. A beaver! It just swam under the boat!”
In an icy tone I recall responding with. “The only beaver I am interested in is the one waiting for me at home. Shut the fuck up and row douche.”
We had a quick meal at the restaraunt where during a reflective conversation came to the conclusion that Mother Nature donned bare knuckles, and pummelled our groin in to oblivian. After I scarfed back a club sandwich and drank the best tasting Pepsi I had ever tasted we headed South. Everything was finally back to normal. We were on our way home, everything was over.
By the time we reached Belleville our mood was imroving so we put on some System of a Down, and were singing along as I entered the on-ramp for the 401 Eastbound at Belleville. As I came around the curve I “straightened” my wheel and applied the gas…Only to have the rear-end of the truck kick out into some kind of horrific “Tokyo Drift” as we hydroplaned on the wet pavement from the rains.
As we slid down the grassy shoulder I knew I had 3 choices.
1) Fight the drift, and risk over-correcting and ending up upside down in the ditch.
2) Fight the drift, over-correct and fly into the busy Highway.
3) Hold her steady while gently braking, allowing the truck to come to a safe and controlled “crash” in the ditch which caused no damage. At all.
I chose option 3.
Now, surprisingly enough, I did not have a nervous breakdown and lose sanity. Shaun got out and we attempted to back it out along the ditch, and get a run at the slope. I came close to re-gaining the road, but the wet crabgrass was like a fish-net, and my 2-wheel drive F-150 was the catch of the day.
In backing the truck I somebow bent my tailpile around my axle like a pipe-cleaner. As I was looking up to make another attempt, I notice not one. but THREE OPP cruisers arrive on scene. (Some nice citizen had likely reported a couple of dumbasses off the road at the on-ramp)
“Man, I’m glad to see you guys” I exclaimed as I approached the OPP Constable.
“How much have you had to drink sir?” Asked the cop.
“Not a drop, sir…and I would happily volunteer for a sobriety test. I’m not drunk..just having a really shitty weekend.”
I proceeded to tell the entire story to the trio of Ontarios Finest, who errupted into laughter, and (thank god) sympathy. They called me a tow-truck and I preparred to once again have my ass stretched out by a tow-truck company.
The tow truck operator deemed my truck driveable, we managed to detach the tail-pipe and 175.00 on the Master Card later we were back on the road.
So there’s my weekend. Holy Fuck. We got back alive…but WOW. So many ways this already disasterous weekend could have ended up even worse.
Has it deterred me from wanting to do this again? Not really. We learned some valuable lessons ranging from “If you don’t click it, you’ll get a ticket.” , and: “Buy a good tent.” to “Wet pavement is slippery.”
Truth be told, it was the best, worst weekend I’ve had.
Good times bro.
Here are a few nice pictures of the canoe out to our campsite: