Why I Went Out Alone in Algonquin [video] – Part Two

Want to read part one? It’s available here.

Day Three

Snow on my pack from Tuesday night. Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.

The morning of day three was glorious. The clouds started to break and the lake was a lot calmer than the previous two days.

An early morning on day three. Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 35-100mm f2.8 lens.
Clouds starting to break on day three. Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.

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.

What I wanted to accomplish on day three.

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.

Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.

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.

Finally, a sunny (but very windy) day! Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 35-100mm f2.8 lens.

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.

Wine, a good book and a heart for my paddling partner (my husband) and dog, Banjo, who I was missing!
Here I am, by myself in Algonquin Park on my first solo canoe trip! What a feeling of accomplishment! Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.

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.

Should be enough wood for my campfire.

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.

Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 45mm f2.8 macro lens.

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.

Finally! A campfire! Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.

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.

Sunset on Teepee Lake.
Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 camera and 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens.
A very short, but fun day three shown on Jeff’s Map.

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.

Paddling my own canoe.

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!

My red canoe strapped to Bo Bo Ska Diddle’s racks.

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!


  1. Wow great job as I knew you would put your all in it you are good Cobi I see u in future taking kids on canoe trip your nefiew nieces and other kids teaching them survival and to have fun in life your lucky puppy to bet he missed going thanks for the great read and Always waiting for more love you lots Aunt Jane xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved it, Cobi!! You did awesome!! What a feeling you must of had, out there! The pic’s and video were wonderful!! Can’t wait until your next adventure!


  3. Cobi! this was awesome! I felt the end of trip pain with you buddy. On the other hand though your stick stomping abilities are on point!! I am tempted to make it a gif 🙂 Tremendous job on the solo and adventure and thank you very much for sharing with those of us who love to stay rooted in the joy of the outdoors and the adventures of our friends and the community.


  4. I can relate to so much of your story although never on my own. We once did a trip in Algonquin in late November. We had to break ice on the trip out. The risk of falling in is huge and in those days we had no dry suits. I am so happy to know that there are young people coming behind us seniors who will forever enjoy the Wilderness. You should try the Albany to the Bay.


    • I just love canoe tripping! My husband would love to do the Albany to the Bay, but I would need to build up more skill before attempting that! We do talk about doing a trip in NWT.


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