BAG 2010 opens..sort of
I was awoken to the sound of clattering around our kitchen. Phil was up and preparing to make dinner for all of us. Phil likes to make a traditional dish and if I remember it correctly, it consisted of a delicious sausage spilt over mashed potatoes with gravy and eggs on the side. It was very tasty and filling. Thank You Phil! It was a grey foggy morning and by 7:30am a logging truck could be heard coming out of The Park interior. It was quite loud and as the truck passed by our lake gave out a blast of the horn twice. Our morning wake-up call I suppose.
Today was the day the "BAG" (Bo's Algonquin Gathering) was to open unofficially with the arrival of Bo. We hoped the coming day weather wise would cooperate. Miraculously, by 9:45am the sky started to clear up. What had looked to be a gloomy day, promised to be a beautiful one instead. By 10:30am the temperature had soared to near 20°C and with that Stainless and Scott set off, paddling over to Shall Lake. We followed about 5 minutes later as the sun emerged.
We passed through the narrows and emerged onto a glassy Shall Lake. It is a very pretty lake in my mind with one glaring exception; Hydro transmission lines cross the lake about a third of the way down. The hydro lines are in a terrible spot, they divide the lake view…which has lovely hills at the South end of the lake. What an annoying place to put the hydro lines!
By 10:45am we passed 'under' the hydro lines which almost felt like you could stand up and touch them..they really do hang low over the water. We could also hear the crackle and sizzle of the hydro lines as we passed under them. Sigh.
Shall Lake is very shallow and weedy as we discovered as we paddled onto the widest part of the lake. I'm no fishing expert but the lake stuck me a seeing a pike lake. Unfortunately, fishing opportunities would have to wait as the wind kicked up and pretty soon we had strong gusts in excess of probably 25km/h pushing us down the lake through the shallows loaded with weeds. We reached the far shore which was rocky and dangerous looking in the choppy waves.
We skirted the shoreline and headed to the end of the lake where it narrows and becomes rocky. Sheltered from the wind, I threw out my line as did Stainless who was ahead of us by a few minutes. I had no luck and pretty soon gave up, more out of necessity as there was a current pushing us along and I had to steer us clear of a shoal.
By 11:30am we landed at the portage to Depot Lake. The take-out was tricky as it was rocky with very little room to put two canoes. There was also a current here as close by were rapids as Shall Lake emptied into Depot Lake. The trail is fairly flat and smooth, with a few side trails, one of which Stainless and I descended and tried our luck in the rapids. After about 10 minutes we gave up and headed down to the end of the trail at Depot Lake. We found a unlabelled campsite as it was outside the Algonquin Park border, so it was a crown-land campsite. There was also a trail that ran off the campsite back towards the nearby rapids.
We couldn't see much of Depot Lake for it twisted out of view, but from what we could see was that there was a current there, not much, even a solo paddler pass through the waters easily. There was a few loons on the lake and that was it. We turned around and headed back to our canoes. I did not look forward to the paddle back, knowing the winds were quite strong.
By 12:15pm we started our run into the insane windstorm of Shall Lake. Scott and Stainless were halfway up the lake paddling close to the South shore. Like us their progress was slow but relentless and after about 35 minutes of anon-stop windstorm, we reached the hydro lines again and sought protection in the wind shadow of the West shoreline. Whew, what a workout!
By 1:15pm we reached camp and settled in for lunch and relaxation. 4:30pm arrived and the temperature was very warm and humid and the sun shone brilliantly. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the winds had died down too. We all sat down on the beach enjoying what felt like mid-July weather in Late September, we were so blessed. By late afternoon, a new AA'er by the name of Stephen arrived and he set-up camp with Phil on his site. Stephen is a young fellow full of energy and very enthusiastic about Algonquin Park. We knew Stephen would fit in nicely. Bo and others were expected to show up soon after. The "BAG" was shaping up!
Not soon after, another new AA'er by the name of Martin arrived along with Bo and his partner Louise for the trip. To my astonishment, it was reported to me that Bo mumbled something about "Too crowded" and paddled away. Taking Martin with him, the trio headed for the opposite shore to make camp. I didn't know what to say, that I was surprised was an understatement.
"Too Crowded"?? This is exactly what Bo wanted..twenty people total were expected. Joan & I, along with Stainless and Scott had specifically come in early to help set-up camp and make sure we had a string of campsites together to accommodate all of us, this is exactly how Bo had planned it.
Among the group of us there were murmurings of disappointment. We watched as Martin headed back to the access point to ferry another long time AA'er “CLS” and her son back to Bo's camp away from the rest of us. Later on, we saw Mark Scarlett (Who came from New York State) paddle onto the lake who was then promptly shouted down by Bo and company. The resentment built-up, it was turning out to be two small separate gatherings as opposed to the epic one that Bo had organized - We felt shunned.
As evening fell, several canoes landed as Bo and company paid our group a visit. They did not stay long, perhaps an hour but the mood felt forced, the occasion was overshadowed by what had occurred. We were asked if we would come and visit the next day, where Bo planned a party. Of course we would visit, but the joy was gone.
Around 10:30pm Bryce & Jeffrey McMurtrie showed up, setting up camp on our site. It was good to see Jeffrey and Bryce again and we had our own little party on our campsite.