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September 27, 2003

Barron Canyon

The Campblog writes on Lake Algonquin in riposte to my Lake Iroquois post.

The Flea's post also reminds me of Barron Canyon, a beautiful area of Ontario's Algonquin Park, which I paddled through once in the early '90s. The high walls of the canyon were formed as ancient waters drained from Lake Algonquin into the Champlain Sea.

Mike links to a great map of the Canyon. An adventure in the life of the Flea as a Young Man was a trip into the Algonquin Park starting at Squirrel Rapids at the east end of the Barron Canyon and ending five days and a number of portages, including a 1800m portage, later on the north side of Grand Lake at Achray Station. It is an established route. We took it backwards so as not to get stuck with other travellers the whole trip but in the event did not see anybody until we left Carcajou Bay on the last leg. Nobody, that is, except the racoon who ate most of our food the first night. He stuck around until morning to get a look at our faces as we emerged from the tent. We had all done a lot of camping and knew enough to keep the food away so as to discourage rummaging bears. The rucksack was a good 10m off the ground and we were at a loss to figure out how the racoon got at it. This left us with the food we could catch, a meagre supply of cigarettes and half a packet of lemon crystals to be split three ways on our last night in the Park.

The trip was unbelievable. Carcajou Bay is the site of Tom Thomson's famous The Jack Pine. It turned out every tree in sight shared its majestic wind-swept look. That last night was also the first time I heard wolves howling.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 27, 2003 10:22 AM


I had a similar raccoon-raiding experience on the last night of a canoe trip to Algonquin. I think that they have developed the capability to strike the hoisted food packs at any time or place of their choosing, but for tactical reasons resist striking until the last night.

After all, if every camper's food packs were being raided on the first night out, then the complaints would pile up, campers would go to other parks, and the authorities would have to get involved. Raccoons by the hundreds would be trapped and dealt with summarily. But by limiting the food raids to the last night, the raccoons do not do mortal damage to the camping expeditions, ensuring that the campers will return to the same park next year.

Posted by: Chris Taylor at September 27, 2003 06:37 PM