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Tom Thomson Lake, Algonquin Park (September 21-22, 2000)

The following description of this trip is from my cousin, John Porges.  It was his first canoe trip and travelling with him was like reliving the new experience through his eyes.  So I asked him to write about it.  Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures.

This past September I was visiting Toronto and my cousin, Tom, offered to take me on an overnight canoe trip. It sounded a little dull but the idea was to spend some time with a person who I hadnít seen in nine years so I enthusiastically agreed.

Being an individual who enjoys the outdoors and has spent the majority of his adult life on the west coast I have developed an affinity for mountains. I like looking at mountains, hiking up mountains and skiing down mountains. Nothing compares to the exhilaration of reaching the top.

I did spend five years working in Toronto but I didnít get beyond the downtown core very often and one of the reasons I left was because I missed my mountains.

Tom told me we were going to Tom Thompson Lake in Algonquin Park. I had no idea what to expect, having never spent more than fifteen minutes in a canoe and having never been to Algonquin Park.

I immediately noted one very significant advantage to canoeing versus hiking, you can bring a lot of stuff. Although we packed very efficiently we were able to bring enough gear so that I would not be cold or wet and enough food so that I would not be hungry.

Within ten minutes of being in the water I realized that canoeing was a very unique mode of transportation. It is not physically strenuous, yet it is not easy. It is smooth. Your body is in tune with the rhythm of the lake. The canoe is silent and efficient. You are exerting yourself enough so that your sense of awareness is heightened yet not so much that you cannot focus on your surroundings.

Hiking up a mountain can be an extreme physical challenge and the hiker is often focused on his physiology and the immediate terrain as opposed to the general surroundings. I found that as I canoed I was able to enjoy the scenery and the sounds and the smells of nature. We saw a moose in the water no more that thirty metres from us and then listened to it crashing through the forest; we were able to canoe very close to a mother loon with her offspring before they dove; we were able to marvel at the industry of the beaver as we crossed an immense beaver dam. I was also able to catch up on nine years with Tom.

Periods of very choppy water provided a challenge and a soaking. Even the downpour at night was no problem due to my ski jacket which had fit so conveniently into our packing barrel.

All in all it was a fabulous experience and I am looking forward to my next canoe trip.

John Porges