The first of what hopefully will become an annual trip for me and some friends. This year we ended up in Algonquin Park to conquer the Highland Backpacking trail. With the departure day approaching the weather wasn't looking good and so there were some last minute wet weather additions to the already large pack of goods that were coming on the trip.Day 1:Fresh as daisies we started on our epic journey across the Canadian Shield. The trail certainly proved to be full of ups and downs in what would prove to be some of the best trails that we were to trek the entire time. Overall the weather held up, with only a few sprinkles. At the end of the journey around the southern tip of the East Provoking Lake a great feast of plenty ensued with our band merry men hopeful that they next day's weather would hold.Day 2:Bleary eyed, we struck out on day 2. Slightly cooler than Day 1, the rain held off once again. The trail struck hard however and even with some load shifting by kilometer 8, and 3 hours, in MulderX was looking pretty bad. Even a short stop for sustenance proved little benefit to him with another 2 hours and 5 kms to go. Once at camp however all was forgotten, the site was certainly the most picturesque of the trip, if not the most sheltered as our band of merry men, spent the evening keeping a fire going with a stiff cool breeze coming of the water straight through the camp site.Day 3:With spirit anew and cool night behind them the band set out once again on the trails of Highland. Day 3 would prove to be a bit of everything. Trails, although the most level of the trip were easily offset by extremely slippery bridges and river crossings which caused several tense moments. Crazy Horse was the casualty of the day audibly groaning for each uphill trek that was encountered. However our now weary band of travelers still made it to a handsome camp site with plenty of time to spare. The evening however was the beginning of the rain which had so far been unexpectedly absent from our trip. By 9:30 pm it was beginning to come down in a full pour and the group filed away for the night, dubious of what tomorrow would bringDay 4:A restless sleep the night before due to the rain that had washed though that night brought our band to its feet a little later than usual. Crazy Horse getting the worst of the water in his tent, but with Sicilian also a little worse for wear. Our band had breakfast both light and heavyhearted as today they go back to warmth and their families, but must leave this scenic paradise behind. With a single stop at the Starling Lake Lookout the band made double time down the trail to the cars in silence. Where to go next year? Machu Picchu
One note for everybody. Pay special attention to the permit that you get from the park office at Mew Lake. When I checked in the woman on staff didn't seem to be fully knowledgeable on what to do and in the end our group had 2 parking tickets to show for it. If nothing else pay special attention to the dates that show on the park permit to ensure you don't get a parking ticket for being "over your time".The other note for others, if you are going going for a "day hike" the only lookout really worth it, is the Starling Lake Lookout (way point on the map). The other 2 are nice, but the view tends to be restrictive.Weight, weight, weight. I now realize that I shouldn't have packed more than 40 lbs, however that would have necessitated that I purchase several new items like a tent and sleeping bag, which would have pushed the cost of the trip overboard. I have scrapped a couple of things for next time though, which I will get to in a minute.Hatchet - I have always had a hatchet while camping. Not sure when I picked this up, however I noticed one thing on the trip, which I didn't realize before. Back country camping you don't have big sawed wood which you need to split, you have trees which need to be cut. Unless you have a special need for a hatchet or ax, leave it at home.Saw - Of the 2 others with me one had a folding saw and one had a wire saw, I am now a full supporter of the folding saw, seeing how effectively it will just mo through woodTent - Okay, I now definitely need a new tent, and one that weighs less than 8 lbs. Yes the Canadian Tire special has served me well and held up in the rain, but a tent that is lighter and has a vestibule for a backpack is necessary.Sleeping Bag - Again the Canadian tire special has served me well, but a bag that is: lighter, warmer and packs smaller is necessary for the next trip.Distance - If I were to do it again, I would have planned the days differently. The Highland Trail makes this difficult since the stretch on the east side is devoid of any camp sites for over 10km. In any case try to split the days short, long, short, long... That will give you 2 days to recover. We basically ended up with. Short, Long, Long, Short.