All Boyz Father’s Day Weekend 2014

All Boyz Our traditional canoeing and kayaking trip to Algonquin Provincial Park this year was switched up a little and we visited Arrowhead Provincial Park instead. My brother Red … aka Marcel, his son Josh, and our buddies Mitch, Kris, his son Andreas and of course myself and my two sons Tyler and Izaak were glad we tried a new place for our annual adventure.

The campsites at Arrowhead, just north of Huntsville are large and well-spaced out.  So many trees between each site you'd be hard pressed to see your neighbors- at least where we were. There are several small lakes in this park but the main waterbody is the Big East River that flows thru and empties into Vernon Lake in Huntsville. On day two of our trip, "All Boyz" would end up paddling this river from the park right into Vernon … however this was not necessarily our original intent.

Fathers and Sons just before they paddle the Big East River

We began by looking over maps and to do a little pre-trip planning that morning. "The guy at the gate said the current isn't bad and it would be easy to travel a couple hours, have a shore lunch, then head back to the park," said Kris. "What about paddling all the way to Vernon?" his son Andreas asks. "Well … it's about 8 or 9 km as the crow flies but look how the river winds here on this map - I heard from a buddy that it's about an 8 hour trip," Mitch quipped. "And then how do we get back - with all of our canoes and stuff", my red headed brother added. "We could bring a vehicle down there now so that we have a ride back to camp for the trucks to haul our boats back"? Tyler answered. We hummed and hawed - and collectively decided we'd just have a lazy paddle downstream and then paddle back to camp.

Andreas below a picturesque waterfall right in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Once we had our boats in the water, it didn't take us long to realize the current was much more significant than we anticipated. The water seemed awfully high and we could see many log jams, debris, the odd cooler and overturned canoes that had dislodged from shore. One cottage owner informed us that because of two days of heavy rains water levels were up a full ten feet!  This was after all the river known for major spring flooding in Huntsville a year ago. Not long afterwards, we discussed our options and decided to see exactly what it was like to try and paddle back to camp. Less than a minute in, the whining began … "Holy crap … this sucks!" "I can't do this all the way back!"  "No freakin way boyz!" That pretty well summed up what the fellas thought about our original plan.

Always fun to see how far up you can get!

"Ok … so let's have a look at the map and figure this out!" Izaak says. "Josh - you got the map … No, I thought you had it. Red- you? No, I thought Mitch did".  Crap- did anyone pick up the map from the picnic table?  Silence! "No sweat- let's see if we can pull a map up on one of our smart phones." One by one the response was … you guessed it: "Oh- I left mine back at camp!" Guess we paddle into Vernon then and hope we can figure something out to get back to camp." Well there ya go … despite the fact that we've been paddling for years and thought we knew our stuff, poo happens so we were without a map, without a cell and without a real plan to get back to camp.  It was however a bit of added excitement that none of us were really too concerned about.

Wil proudly showing off his kayak paddle with the Dutch emblem- the day after the Netherlands won their first game in the World Cup!

We turned our canoes and kayaks around and began paddling downstream again to Huntsville.  I am fairly familiar with the lake and area around the river mouth having fished several pike tournaments there over the years. "We could even paddle across to the beach, have shore lunch and then paddle into town- where we could call a cab to bring a couple of us up to Arrowhead, I said." That was the plan then so we dug in and paddled.  Some beautiful rock cliffs, cuts and scenery greeted us along the way … including the odd trailer park in the middle of nowhere that had some of the boyz reminiscing about the Deliverance movie.

Mitch in the stern with buddy Kris in the bow

Much to our delight, we reached the mouth of Lake Vernon in great time, in well under 4 hours. We made our way across the lake over to the public beach where we cooked up a shore lunch of fish tacos (from Lake Simcoe yellow perch I had caught the wknd before) and all the fixins. "How far to paddle into town from here uncle Wil? Josh asks me. "Well, it's quite a ways to get to the patio bar near the bridge but we might be able to do that in a couple of hours", I guessed.  "Be nice if we could get someone to drive us back to camp from here," was the response.  

While we were lazin around, Marcel and Mitch noticed a couple of young guys over near a roadway in their vehicle. They sauntered on over and struck up a conversation. Next thing we knew they were helping to load something big into the trunk and off they went along with their chauffeurs.  Forty five minutes later and back they come- with my truck and Mitch's. Seems that after telling them our sob-story, they offered them $20 bucks for a ride back to camp; which they gladly accepted as they were headed that way anyway. Mitch and Red would have to take the big old TV out of the back seat though and put it into the trunk first and would have to sit next to a baby in a car seat … which they did!  

Heading down river during high water periods after a major storm, means fallen trees become expected hazards that have to be overcome

Somehow we managed to fit all 3 canoes and 2 kayaks onto the vehicles and off we went. A huge mouth-watering Prime Rib made with Mitch's secret marinade was slow roasted overtop the campfire and All Boyz feasted that night.  A delicious breakfast of smoked salmon, hash brown patties over the grill was topped off by a hike to the local lookout the next day. 

Another wonderful Father's Day All Boyz weekend has come and gone but the memories, as always will last a lifetime.

Spectacular view from Lookout in the Park

From left foreground Josh, Kris, then Marcel (aka Red) then Wil ... background left-Mitch, Izaak, Tyler and Andreas.