Algonquin Park: Camping Trip Logs: 011 - Meanest Link Part One
Trip Log: July 9 - July 24, 2011 Meanest Link Part One.
The Meanest Link was an exciting canoe trip and the best Algonquin Park adventure I have been on to date. The epic scale of the trip, along with a great collection of companions made it an outing that will be remembered. The fact that it all happened during the worst heat wave anybody can recall only enhanced the feeling of being on a wilderness voyage that had real meaning.
Before beginning the story of the actual trip some history and an explanation of how I got involved is required.
The Meanest Link was created in 2004 by Algonquin Outfitters staff to commemorate the memory of Bill Swift Sr., one of the founders of the store. It is a route that 'links' four of the AO stores: Huntsville, Brent, Opeongo and Oxtongue. It is not a race and there are very few rules. For more about the Meanest Link and all the requirements you should go to the AO Meanest Link page. They also have a Facebook page.
While researching another area of Algonquin Park for a possible trip I accidentally learned that Mark and John Scarlett, Jeffrey McMurtrie and Mark Rubino were planning a Meanest Link trip - I immediately asked if I could join them of course! Since it is a lengthy and demanding paddling excursion, and the rules discourage solo paddlers, I could not go alone and we started looking for a sixth person. After a short search we found Jim Black who was eager to try his first canoe excursion in the Canadian wilderness.
We spent several months e-mailing itineraries, meal plans and gear recommendations but eventually we had our plans made and were ready to begin our journey through the back-country wilderness of Algonquin Park.
This is a rather lengthy report, covering 15 days of travelling. It was difficult to not make it too long and yet still include each days events. I have broken the report into 15 pages, one day per page with the hope that it will be easily navigatable.
July 9, 2011 - Preparation
There were many logistical things to organize before we could even begin paddling. It had been arranged to stay with friends in Kearney the Saturday night to allow for an early start Sunday morning. But before we could relax and enjoy the hospitality of Iain & Sylvia we had to arrange permits in Kearney and Lake Opeongo, drop off vehicles at Lake Opeongo, pick up canoes at Oxtongue Lake and get last minute supplies in Huntsville.
But it was all taken care of in good time and we even had the good luck to run into Leah, who is on the staff at AO Oxtongue. She was part of a group of four young ladies that had completed the entire Meanest Link in 2005. She gave us valuable advice and information about what we were getting ourselves into. But since they were a young and healthy group and we were older and less vigorous we did not take her advice on canoes - 40 pound ultralights for us, rocks be damned!
It was a pleasure meeting and staying with Iain & Sylvia, off-grid enthusiasts, the night before our departure. After last minute packing we were able to relax, tour their homestead, have some dinner and spin a few stories of Algonquin Park memories.
Trip Log 011
A grueling 280 km trip that starts outside of Algonquin Park in Huntsville, travels up to the northern border at Cedar Lake before returning down the center to Lake Opeongo.
Six on Six, is the name we gave to our expedition as there were six guys traveling on six of the rivers in Algonquin.
As an added bonus, we re-established a portage between Hood Lake and McCraney Lake. This involved bushwhacking 1.4 km over a hill with packs and canoes. It's not likely many people will use this portage but I hope it gets maintained in some manner after our hard work.
Read about the
history of the