Group of Seven: Canoeing Through Algonquin Park

James WerbCamping, Canoeing6 Comments

Group of Seven: Canoeing Through Algonquin Park

The water sparkled and danced in the shimmering light of the sun as I dipped my wooden paddle into its depths for the first time. A long-awaited dream of paddling in Canada, Algonquin Park no less was finally being realised as we pushed away from the wooden jetty to start our journey.

Meeting everyone the previous morning, some for the first time was less picturesque as we shook hands amongst a pile of duffel bags and rucksacks on a busy Toronto sidewalk (pavement to us Brits).

There were seven of us in total – me, Stuart, Alan, Rich, Paul, Dave (and Matt who we’d meet up with later on). We would be spending the next 16 days with each other on a canoe trip with little to no contact with the outside world. I hoped we’d all get along.

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Incredible Journey Through the Scottish Wilderness by Canoe

James WerbCanoeing4 Comments

Canoe on the edge of Cam-Loch

I turned sharply to see what had hit the water with such force. An unmistakeable splash made us all stop the process of loading canoes and watch as Paul clambered out of the water where he’d been neck deep only seconds before.

He misjudged the depth of the water having taken one step too many from the shore. Cold and wet he stood on the bank and quickly swapped clothes to keep warm. We hadn’t even set off yet but it marked what was going to be a challenging trip for the next week.

Boats finally loaded and cars set up ready for the shuttle at the end, we headed off down onto Cam-Loch and our first camp site. Suilvan loomed in the distance. An imposing peak that rose from the craggy landscape and would feature on our trip for the next few days.

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Finland, an Archipelago Odyssey: Canoeing Lake Saimaa (Part 2 of 2)

James WerbCanoeing0 Comments

The water was pure calm when we woke, with a layer of mist hovering mystically above it. The air was cool and still as we loaded up the canoe. After half an hour on the water we made it to the portage that we’d missed the day before. Fighting through a dense wall of reeds we made it to the shore and were soon hauling our packs and boat across the road and into the water on the other side.

I could see how we’d missed the portage the first time around. It’s so sparsely populated that other than one lorry, no other vehicle used the road at all while we were there. So much for listening out for the traffic noise.

It was another beautiful day and being back on the water heading in the right direction made me relax back into the trip. We weaved between small islands lined with birch and spruce, drifting across the sparkling lake as if in another world.

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Finland, an Archipelago Odyssey: Canoeing Lake Saimaa (Part 1 of 2)

James WerbCanoeing0 Comments

The waves were breaking over the front of our canoe. Marie was noticeably quiet. We paddled hard for what seemed like hours towards our destination along the shore of the largest lake in Finland. The wind attacked us from one side, waves bouncing off the towering granite rock on the other.

Though I kept it to myself, I was thinking how we might get ashore should we capsize. The fear was especially great knowing that everything we needed for our trip was in the canoe with us. Tent, sleeping bags, clothes and various equipment. Let’s just get there as quickly as possible I thought.

Lake Saimaa is a huge archipelago. A labyrinth of over 3,500 islands and a drainage basin the size of Belgium. We’d not experienced anything like it and out first paddle made us briefly doubt our decision to take the trip.

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