Introduction

This was supposed to be the tiny perfect canoe trip. I had a free weekend with both Mallory and Irene out of town. First time. Ever. So I pulled out my maps and looked for something simple.

I settled on Algonquin and picked out this loop trip from Cedar Lake, to Carl Wilson Lake and around the other way.

I booked it. I booked a canoe from Algonquin Outfitters. I got my gear ready, planned menus, wrote lists etc. Then a day or so before I left, I checked out the route's myccr review and read this:

I have completed about 20 canoe trips in my life ranging from very easy to extremely difficult. The portages from Gull lake to Cedar Lake were among the most difficult I have ever encountered. Had the conditions been wet, we would have had injuries. There are no easy portages on this route.

And in fact, when I reserved the sites for this trip the customer service agent seemed surprised. "I don't book many people onto that Lake, she explained.

Uh oh. Too late to back out now.

Standard disclaimer:

Whatever you end up thinking about the “extremely difficult” portages on this trip, there is always risk involved in going places where you’re alone or nearly alone amid ways to hurt yourself. I’m writing this to tell a story, not to show you how to do the same thing or encourage you to do it. Join a club. Get a guide, or go with a group. Much safer.

The tree: It's pretty no?

The tree

Lilies by the lake: Lilies, Carl Wilson Lake

Lilies by the lake

Self-portrait: Don't wear a tank top when carrying a canoe pack.

Self-portrait