View topic - Advice needed for a trip with novices May 26-27 or June 2-3

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PostPosted: April 29th, 2012, 6:52 pm 
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Relatives of my wife from Europe are visiting us this year. These 14, 16 and 42 y.o. ladies without any paddling experience want to see Canadian wilderness and paddle a Canadian canoe. Right now I am trying to plan this event, struggling with logistical challenges and would appreciate an advice.

I have two time slots for this trip: May 26-27 or June 2-3 and I am thinking about the following three options a. a day trip, b. 3 days/2 nights trip with a backcountry campsite(s) and c. 3 days trip with 2 nights on a campground.

Two main planning constraints are:
1) ability (inability) to bring two canoes on my car
2) their paddling skills

Right now I plan renting two canoes. However I do not have a roof rack for my car and I doubt that I can load two canoes. In this case I would have preferred to rent a canoe at an access point.

Considering that one canoe would not have any experienced paddler I am concerned about big lakes because of a possibility of a strong wind and big waves.

It seems that Killarney George Lake campground with a day trip to OSA Lake meets almost all my needs (although I would have preferred smaller lakes :( ).

Q1.I am concerned that they may not fully appreciate a national Canadian animal blackly. Do you believe that black flies should be gone by that time? What dates May 26-27 or June 2-3 could provide less exposure to black flies/mosquitoes? BTW, are black flies already out there?

Q2. Is there another access point near Toronto with rental canoes available (I can think only of George Lake and Canoe Lake).

Q3. One more crazy question. Do you have any experience loading four adults/teens into a single canoe for a day trip? I doubt that all of them would fit into Souris River Quetico 18.5 or similar large canoe, but I still want to hear your opinion.

Q4. Algonquin Outfitters provide a rental rack to load two canoes on a vehicle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TY2L7ZCzro. Do all outfitters provide such racks? How convenient are they and how much time is required to load canoes with a help of such rack? BTW, are such racks legal in Ontario? I just found out that in some places crossbars should not be wider than a car. :(


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PostPosted: April 29th, 2012, 7:25 pm 
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Interesting challenge - but quite doable. Some thoughts:
* if they come from Europe, give them a back-country trip - and make it as easy as possible. Small waters are more fun that lakes.
* Algonquin would be the best since Algonquin is well-known over there and they can tell friends of their adventure without having to explain too much. Algonquin also has the best chance for animal encounters - they'd be thrilled to see a moose. Someone else will have to recommend a good starting point that rents canoes. Maybe Canoe Lake at this time of the year is not so busy...
* the Kawartha Park north of Peterborough would be great as well, and Long Lake Lodge rents boats - a bit clumsy ones, but just give yourselves time and don't rush the portages. Long Lake to Cox for the first night, then south into maybe Compass for another night last day back out would be easily doable for novices. And the drive from TO is short.
* you could take one canoe (on foam pads) from home (if you own one) and rent the other one, to keep the cost down.
* It's hard to say what will happen with bugs - blackflies may still be there and if not, the mosquitos might have started. Bug juice, hat, gloves, long sleeves and pants are a must - and if you can convince them to buy bug shirts before you head out there won't be a problem. And hopefully no one has allergies...

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PostPosted: April 29th, 2012, 8:31 pm 
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I don't know of any law stating that the cross bars must not be wider than the car. I have transported two canoes side by side for years on 7 ft wide cross bars which were wider than my vehicle. The legal max width on highways is 102" before a wide load permit is required.

This thread has a discussion on roof racks which may be of interest.

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 99&start=0


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PostPosted: April 29th, 2012, 8:51 pm 
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Yury wrote:
Relatives of my wife from Europe are visiting us this year. These 14, 16 and 42 y.o. ladies without any paddling experience want to see Canadian wilderness and paddle a Canadian canoe. Right now I am trying to plan this event, struggling with logistical challenges and would appreciate an advice.

I have two time slots for this trip: May 26-27 or June 2-3 and I am thinking about the following three options a. a day trip, b. 3 days/2 nights trip with a backcountry campsite(s) and c. 3 days trip with 2 nights on a campground.

Two main planning constraints are:
1) ability (inability) to bring two canoes on my car
2) their paddling skills

Right now I plan renting two canoes. However I do not have a roof rack for my car and I doubt that I can load two canoes. In this case I would have preferred to rent a canoe at an access point.

Considering that one canoe would not have any experienced paddler I am concerned about big lakes because of a possibility of a strong wind and big waves.

It seems that Killarney George Lake campground with a day trip to OSA Lake meets almost all my needs (although I would have preferred smaller lakes :( ).

Q1.I am concerned that they may not fully appreciate a national Canadian animal blackly. Do you believe that black flies should be gone by that time? What dates May 26-27 or June 2-3 could provide less exposure to black flies/mosquitoes? BTW, are black flies already out there?

Q2. Is there another access point near Toronto with rental canoes available (I can think only of George Lake and Canoe Lake).

Q3. One more crazy question. Do you have any experience loading four adults/teens into a single canoe for a day trip? I doubt that all of them would fit into Souris River Quetico 18.5 or similar large canoe, but I still want to hear your opinion.

Q4. Algonquin Outfitters provide a rental rack to load two canoes on a vehicle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TY2L7ZCzro. Do all outfitters provide such racks? How convenient are they and how much time is required to load canoes with a help of such rack? BTW, are such racks legal in Ontario? I just found out that in some places crossbars should not be wider than a car. :(


I've been chewed alive by blackflies as late as the last week of June.

Take a look at Jeff's excellent map:
http://www.algonquinmap.com/online.html

All 29 access points in Algonquin will have "local" outfitters that will have canoes at the access point. "Delivery" to the access point might cost more, but it's convenience and ease that you're paying for.

Go to this page on the Algonquin Park website and search for "canoe rental" or "outfitters"
http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/se ... tabase.php

For example, Access Points 2, 3, and 4 all require a trip to the town of Kearney to pick up permits. Just outside of town is Canoe Algonquin:
http://www.canoealgonquin.com/

Over at Access Point 17, are:

Algonquin Bound http://www.algonquinbound.com/ right at the intersection of Highway 60 and Major Lake Road, where you need to turn to get to the access office.

And Opeongo Outfitters http://www.opeongooutfitters.com/ is in the town of Whitney.

A bug tent might be a wise investment, perhaps one of the outfitters rents them?

I guess you could squeeze everyone into one canoe, but if you're going to camp for 2 nights, where will the gear and food go? Even on a daytrip, being crammed into a canoe wouldn't be much fun.

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PostPosted: April 30th, 2012, 2:31 am 
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Go as early as possible to avoid the worst of the bugs.

Killarney good choice in my opinion, either George Lake with day trips and hiking and/or overnight to Killarney Lake (OSA might be too far for an no experience group). The other advantage with Killarney Lake is that you can grab a campsite just after the portage in or paddle as far as the east end.

Algonquin is ok but the scenery at Killarney is outstanding and the hiking is very nice, canoes are normally available for rental right at the beach.

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PostPosted: April 30th, 2012, 9:02 am 
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I wouldn't even consider putting 4 in a canoe, experienced or not, with the water temps as they will be at that time of year.

Erhard's advice is good---put 1 on top with foam blocks and rent the other.

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PostPosted: April 30th, 2012, 9:12 am 
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Since you are thinking about Killarney, Bell Lake is another good option and if you spend one of the days doing the Silver Peak hike, then you will get some awesome scenery. You will also spend less time on the water but still get a real canoe trip in.

For Algonquin, you might want to try the Shall Lake Access point. I'm pretty sure that it's Algonquin Bound that keeps canoes there, so I expect there won't be much of a delivery fee. Crotch, Farm and Kitty lakes are all relatively small which helps with the novice canoeists. Add in a day trip up to Booth and you probably have your 3 day weekend covered.

Now, the downside is that you are almost definitely into bug season. The earlier weekend *might* be better but you will definitely have to count on blackflies being out.

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PostPosted: April 30th, 2012, 3:22 pm 
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Killarney is an extremely busy park however you may get a site on George in May or very early June because the black flies will be so thick, they will carry you away :-) George has some pretty strong headwinds - and if your group has no paddling experience, they may really find it difficult - I don't know. I think the temperament of the group is something only you can gauge. The wind picks up after 7 am so if you are early risers you may avoid the worst of it.

A better option may be access at Bell lake and paddle to Balsam. Its pretty easy - no portages to speak of (save 30M which is more of a rock throw than a port) and you can rent a decent canoe from Killarney Canoes - accessing right on Bell Lake. Balsam is a beautiful lake with no winds to speak of and you can opt to spend a night on Little belle - if its available. Its a short port and very pretty lake.

Bell has a nice head wind coming back...so in that regard I guess it doesn't matter.

The problem with Killarney in May and early June is weather - you may have a nice couple days - or you may have a dip in temps, strong winds and be stuck.

You must bring gear for extreme weather shifts - we had snow there on the May 24th weekend some years ago. Bring a toque, warm gloves and woolies (layers) just in case.

Personally, I think if your group has no skills and lacks proper equipment in the event they are dumped (the lake will be VERY cold in May and if the wind picks up you can get some white caps and chop) - I would choose another park.

Consider Rain Lake in APP or Magnetewan - you can putter around there and have a day trip to other lakes. Rock Lake campground is another nice spot - and while it will be buggy, it is a very pretty lake and early in the year less busy .

Or try Haliburton Highlands if you are closer to southern Ontario - the lakes are small, and you will port as much as paddle but it will be much safer for newcomers and even in bad weather, you wont be far from the put-in.

You will still have bugs - how bad or how many is anyone's guess but historically this is the absolute worst time of year for black flies. A bug tent is a good idea .

Add: Usually the black fly season kicks off around Mother's Day and it continues through to mid June. What affects it is temps and rain - as the weather heats up the water the black flies move into the bush - so while you might be OK sitting out on the water with a breeze - once you go 30 feet into the bush they will attack you.

Sometimes eating lunch in the canoe in the middle of the lake is the only way to have peace. :roll:

http://www.trailsandtours.com/trail/99


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PostPosted: April 30th, 2012, 7:50 pm 
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Thank you for your advices,

I think that I understand all of them except this:
recped wrote:
Go as early as possible to avoid the worst of the bugs.

recped,

I have only two weekends available for this trip: May 26-27 or June 2-3.
Do you mean that May26-27 is better than June 2-3?

I hoped that in case of a warm May, black flies should be mostly gone by June 2nd. Is it a reasonable expectation?

Otherwise in case there are a lot of black flies out there I would limit canoeing just to a single day trip. I do not believe that I can outfit this team for a peak of black fly season.

I should have mentioned in my first post that I am from Toronto and I do not own a canoe. So I need to rent two canoes.


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PostPosted: April 30th, 2012, 9:40 pm 
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I hoped that in case of a warm May, black flies should be mostly gone by June 2nd. Is it a reasonable expectation?


I doubt it very much. In a normal year in that area the bugs usually appear around mid-May, are brutal by June 1st and then taper off after mid-June (to be replaced by swarms of mosquitoes at dusk and dawn). They might be a bit early this year bit no way will they be gone or even much diminished around June 1st.

Base camping from George Lake is my choice, if you want a sort of back country experience there are four or five sites on George Lake that are within 30 - 60 minutes of paddling, there is a nice loop trail or you can hike in/out on the main trail.

Ten minute drive to the town of Killarney for fish and chips next to the liquor store or if the weather really sucks dinner at the lodge.

I doubt you would have any problem getting sites, even the paddle in ones on George Lake are rarely occupied except at peak season. The main campground is pretty nice, On a non holiday weekend at that time of year you should be able to get a site that's reasonably secluded.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012, 6:51 am 
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Thank you recped,

Do you imply that black flies appear/disappear in Killarney later than near Toronto?

The only time I paddled in a black fly season (and was eaten alive) it was mid-May in Massassauga. Since then I try avoiding these nice animals at any cost.

We will make a decision later on based on a black fly updates from the field.


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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012, 7:39 am 
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I posted a similar question last year, slightly different criteria, but the responses I got may also be helpful for you:
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 07&t=38705

For Algonquin, I'm pretty sure you can find an outfitter to deliver to any access point, and I believe it's a fixed fee regardless the number of canoes, somewhere in the range of $30. At the end of your trip, you just leave the canoes, paddles, life jackets and safety kits at the access point. Simple as that. You can call Algonquin Park information, and they can tell you which outfitter delivers to which access point.

Be sure to reserve your trip and canoe rental early, because sometimes the outfitters run out of canoes to rent.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012, 12:22 pm 
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If the flies are bad, a way to avoid them at fly time up north and still go canoing may be to canoe the Grand river... most likely there will be fewer biting flies.

Google grand river canoe and there will be outfitters that could recommend overnight routes and provide rentals. There's canoe info in a booklet published by the Grand River Conservation Authority as well.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012, 7:51 pm 
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Brant Conservation Area can be a good option on the Grand River offering the potential to do a day trip starting upstream and finishing at the conservation area, then another trip starting at the conservation area and heading downstream. That said, it is not going to have anything like the feel of Killarney or Algonquin.

Does anyone have experience with Frontenac PP at that time of year? I'm expecting the blackflies to be just as bad as Algonquin, but it is further south so they *might* be done sooner.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012, 8:17 pm 
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Madkanuist's post of today...blackflies are out in Burk's Falls....

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 07&t=39777

Who knows, with this crazy weather, they might be done by the end of May.

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