Planning Needed for a Canoeing and Camping Trip in Algonquin Park

There is a lot of planning that needs to be done for a camping trip, at least one into the backcountry. I have to consider everything: reservations, fishing licenses, food, regulations, travel, supplies, the route planning and more.

Here is a laundry list of items I have had to prepare, in no particular order:

Ensure my fishing license is up to date. I have to renew it each year, I can do this at Walmart or Canadian Tire - 'Let's Fish Ontario' has details. I just have to renew my outdoors card, and ensure I have the additional fishing license attached to it (a sticker). Get caught fishing without a license and you are in trouble: The penalties for fishing offences can be up to $1,000,000 or three years imprisonment, or both, depending on the Act and the severity of the offence. But I'm sure for just catching a fish or two without a license, the penalty would be a $150 fine or something. I think the license probably costs about $20.

Ensure I have made backcountry reservations at Algonquin Park. To do this, I phoned the Park officials at 1-888-ONT-PARK and found more information at their web site. It costs me $10 per night to stay in the backcountry, plus a small reservation fee of $12.50 - and a backcountry site can have up to 9 adults on it. So for me, the fee was $62.50, and if I have 2 others with me, they'll pay $50 each. Reserving allows me to book a spot on a given backcountry lake, so that they won't overbook folks. It doesn't commit me to a particular spot - if you are going on a big portaging trip, you just indicate the lakes and the nights on which you will be staying at the various lakes. It's also good insurance in the event that you lose your canoe or get injured... they can figure out where you planned to go (i.e. to recover your sodden corpse from the deep lake, or extract you from the jaws of a hungry bear, or remove your limp body from the prongs of an angry moose's antlers).

Ensure my trip mates join me at the right time. Because I like to leave at dawn, in order to make the best of the day, and of the traffic going up there, they can either pack the night before and sleep over - or simply leave early enough to figure out where they'll park their cars and depart en masse at the right time.

Ensure I have reserved a canoe. I always reserve it at Algonquin Outfitters, located just a few miles west of the main west gate entrance of Alqonquin Park. When I go by myself (and the pooch) I rent a 16' prospector - a good in-between canoe - stable, but maneuverable too. I am not an expert canoe paddler yet, but I like a canoe which I can carry easily on a portage. But with 2 others joining me, I'd get a larger canoe obviously, but ensure it is still light enough for a portage. Ideally I would move all my gear in one go, along with the canoe - for this trip especially because I don't want Monty to gallop through the woods with me for three times the distance due to his knee which is still recovering...

There is more to plan - including the gear list for me and others, the grocery list, and the menu planning. Things like medical concerns need to be addressed, along with personal arrangements for being away from work and home and family for nearly a week.... but that'll be covered in the next post.



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