Algonquin Park

Paddling up the Petawawa

We’ve just returned from three nights of canoe camping in Algonquin Park. What a great trip! We had a little bit of everything this trip, including two very long portages, one moose, several loons, a couple of beautiful campsites, sun, wind, waves, and a couple of incredible storms. We always try to take at least one canoe trip per year around this time with Mike and Sarah. This year it was just the four of us, so we decided to tackle a slightly more challenging route.

Algonquin route

We started out on Thursday night from Brent in the north of Algonquin park. Our first leg was a relatively calm paddle across Cedar Lake to our first campsite. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, and tried our hand at fishing, but only managed to catch a handful of fish no bigger than 4 inches long. We threw them back, obviously.

On day two we started up the Petawawa River. This was a very challenging day. We had five separate portages, one of which was over 2300 meters long, and we were paddling into a headwind all day. We made it all the way to the middle section of Catfish lake, where we set up camp on an elevated site with panoramic views of the lake. We all promptly fell asleep in hammocks and tents for a few hours.

In the middle of the night we were hit by a couple of storms, one of which came right over top of us. The thunder and lighting were almost simultaneous, and the crack of the thunder was loud! You could hear the thunder rolling down the lake for a good twenty seconds after the initial boom. Luckily the rain had stopped by morning.

We spent day three in camp. We had intentions of paddling around Catfish Lake and perhaps exploring some neighboring lakes, but the wind was fierce all day, and the thought of more upwind paddling didn’t appeal to any of us. We filled the day with reading, relaxing, and bridge, and we also discovered that it was tons of fun to jump off a rock and take pictures of ourselves doing it!


We left camp on day four and headed across Catfish Lake to the Nipissing River. We had a 2800 meter portage to get to the river, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it was relatively flat and wide. The paddle down the Nipissing was beautiful. We finally had both the wind and the current at our backs, and we floated leisurely along the narrow river enjoying the scenery. I tried fishing again, but only managed to catch one fish, and he was only slightly bigger than the tiny ones we’d thrown back previously. He went back too. As we got to the end of the Nipissing we saw a moose in the marshes. He had a full rack and was a beautiful healthy-looking dark brown colour. We finally arrived back at Cedar lake, just as the winds decided to kick it up another notch. The paddling went from relaxing to frantic as we took on huge waves and crosswinds. We had to alter course drastically in order to keep our canoes pointing into the wind and waves, to avoid taking the big swells broadside and risking capsizing. It was exhausting and nerve-racking, but we eventually made it across and safely back to the car.

It was great to spend a few days in the backcountry with good friends. It was a reminder of how truly spectacular Canada is. Check out more pictures on our photos page.


    The moose was 80% cocoa.

    I can’t decide if I LOVE or HATE this picture of Mike. I guess I love it… who other than Mike would think to pose topless while standing on a cliff side in Algonquin Park in his hospital pants?

  1. G.R. Brown

  2. What a fantastic trip guys. It looks like you all had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing your blog and photos.


    It’s a classic. Isn’t this exactly the reason you married him?

  3. Swiss Franc

  4. Fishing without a license? I’m afraid there’s going to be a surcharge for that…

    That picture of davis is unreal. It looks like he didn’t know it was being taken and you caught him getting down with his bad self.

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