Want to read part one? It’s available here.
The morning of day three was glorious. The clouds started to break and the lake was a lot calmer than the previous two days.
I decided to change my route. My third night was to be spent on Tom Thomson Lake, so I decided to paddle up through Teepee Lake, up the Little Oxtongue River and into Tom Thomson Lake. After breakfast, I loaded the canoe and pushed off from shore.
I could see the clouds above moving pretty fast from my campsite before I left, but the lake was pretty calm. When I rounded the corner of Joe Lake into Teepee Lake I was hit with a harsh northwest wind. The distance to paddle across Teepee Lake into a more sheltered Little Oxtongue River wasn’t that far, but it was my first time out and I haven’t built up my paddling muscles. Paddling against a strong headwind, and paddling close to shore wasn’t going to work. The water was more rough closer to shore from the waves bouncing back. I had to land my canoe. I didn’t feel safe paddling. It’s too early in the season to be taking chances.
So, I paddled to the campsite on the peninsula at the south end of Teepee Lake. Waves were crashing in from all sides and I paddled around trying to find a good place to land. Water was very high and the whole site was exposed to the waves. I managed to back my stern in, but couldn’t get my bow close enough to the shoreline because of a bush. I waited for several minutes as my bow kept getting blow away from shore and decided that I had to just stand up quickly and step to shore. I tried this but when I stepped on shore, the wind blew the bow out and I was still half in it, and swamped my canoe! I went completely in and when adrenaline kicked in, I super powered out of the lake and onto shore pulling the canoe with me.
I was shaken up for sure, because I knew that if I wasn’t wearing a dry suit, I would have been in serious trouble with hypothermia, no doubt. But I would have never gone on this trip if I wasn’t wearing a dry suit. The water is way too cold to even consider not bringing one. This incident would have happened spring, summer or fall. So, I’m glad I was prepared.
Once I pulled everything out of the canoe and dumped the water out, I got out of the dry suit and noticed only a very small patch at the base of my back that got wet. I changed into a dry shirt and made myself a stiff, hot drink.
Even though the sun was out, the wind blowing from the northwest was cold. Standing in the shade was unbearable, so I followed the sun patches around my campsite for the rest of the day.
I loved this day. It was day three and I was really settling into the canoe trip. The sun lifted my spirits, and perhaps the stiff drink did too. I spent the day reading and tying one on.
I cut lots of wood because I was determined to have a campfire! It was day three and I hadn’t yet had a campfire because of rain, snow and wind.
I realized how much I love being on a canoe trip with my husband and our dog, Banjo. But, I also realized that I can do it on my own. As a photographer, my pace is often a lot slower than my husband would like, and I need this personal time to be creative and just be out in nature with my own thoughts and experiences.
I braved the terrible weather I had, but I enjoyed it. It was up to me to do all the camp chores and get myself from point A to B to C. Nights were cold. I woke up shivering many times, but I just put more layers on. I will say that it was harder to get up in the morning when it is cold on my own. Usually my husband will have a nice warming fire on in the morning, hot oatmeal made and a hot drink. I had to get my own engine going.
The wind eventually died down and I had a beautiful sunset on a lake that was like glass. I knew the temperatures would go below freezing this night.
I decided that if the water was calm on day four, then I’d head up Little Oxtonque River or Little Doe Lake to make camp, but I would also paddle into Tom Thomson Lake to check it out.
Up super early again, the water was like glass, but the clouds were giving me a different vibe. I bought this awesome weather pocket field guide from Algonquin Outfitters that gave me all the information I needed to make a decision on what I would do on day four.
I already know the weather lore saying “Red sky in morning, sailor take warning.” But I could also tell what kind of clouds rolled in in the morning. They were cirrocumulus clouds:
So not only did I have a red sky in the morning, but I also had a mackerel sky. Because I had been faced with rain, wind and snow during my trip, and I had to change my route and just do what I could, it was probably a good idea for me to decide to head out of the park. The last thing I wanted was to be stranded because of windy conditions, but I also didn’t want to pack up all my gear wet and deal with drying it out later. So, I made the decision to break camp and head back.
I felt disappointed. I really wanted to be out for five days. But, I knew that I had nothing to prove to anyone and that I did this trip solely for myself. Four days vs. five days? Nothing. The point is that I did it.
The water stayed like glass as I padded down Teepee Lake and Joe Lake and I wondered if the sky spirits were on my side.
I figured that wind would pick up on Canoe Lake, but it didn’t. It stayed like glass. I couldn’t help but feel like I made the right decision. I also thought about what this trip meant to me and why I hadn’t felt anything since that huge grin on my face when I finished my first portage on day one and paddled down Joe Lake. But, as I paddled around a point on Canoe Lake and saw the permit office, I broke down in tears.
I didn’t even sense that reaction coming on. But, I guess in the back of my mind I had been rooting for myself the whole time and knew that I had the capability to embark on a few days in the park on my own during the cold and freezing temperatures of spring. Not only did I go out on my own, but I did it in a shoulder season. I feel pretty proud of myself and can’t wait to get back out there.
What an adventure and accomplishment!
When the canoe landed, I jumped out and yelled a “WOOHOO!” There were 6 guys packing 3 canoes to head out on a trip and they replied with a quiet “woohoo?” So I said, “Yeah! I just finished my first solo trip!” They told me to take a bow and asked if I wanted to join them on their trip!
When I got back into civilization, the first thing I did was check the weather. Another rainfall warning and snow forecasted. I started and ended my trip with a rainfall warning.
So why did I go out alone into Algonquin Park? Because I can.
Here’s part two of my solo canoe trip. Unfortunately with the cold temperatures, the battery life in the 3 cameras I brought didn’t last. I wanted to film more with the DSLR, but was hoping to save battery power for night shots. But the battery drained before then. I had a handheld video camera, and the wearable camera that I managed to get a bit of battery life out of. So there are a lot of awesome scenery shots!