From far away we heard the initial howl then moments later a lone wolf responded, then another, and another, as wolf after wolf joined in a five minute long communal howl that spread in glorious stereo throughout the forest”
The further north you drive in Ontario from Toronto the more you realise just how important outdoor life is to Canadians. Practically every second car carried a canoe on the roof.
As the landscape opened up we glimpsed great lakes through the trees and we resisted the temptation to follow the directions to Horseshoe Valley and Big Chief Road.
Signs for bait, tackle, leeches, minnows and frogs, left us in no doubt that we were in huntin' and fishin' country.
The smooth dual carriageway runs up to North Bay, but just three hours after leaving the airport I turned on to Route 60 towards the Algonquin Park and soon encountered a sign that warned of "Moose Crossing Area" ahead.
The highway cuts through The Algonquin for some 35 miles and along that corridor there is access to camp grounds and modern day amenities. Beyond lay lakes with canoe routes and back-packing trails leading to more than 3000 square miles of unspoiled wilderness
It was the call of the wild, or rather the call of the wolves that drew me there. At dusk, as the dragonflies took to the air for their evening bug hunt we gathered at a clearing in the pine trees to hear the park rangers' plan for a 'wolf howl.'
We sat on great log benches and learned why wolves deserved a better reputation and listened to a 'human howl' being demonstrated, to which it was hoped the wolves would respond. And so it was, later that night, that we stood silent under a vast starry waiting for the call.
It was an eerie experience, far away we heard the initial call then moments later a lone wolf responded, then another, and another, as wolf after wolf joined in a five minute long communal howl that spread in glorious stereo throughout the forest.
Can you canoe?
The next day I visited the Portage Store at Canoe Lake. It has been there since 1937 and is now an extremely well stocked wilderness outfitters.
The guy in charge gives advice, rents out canoes and supplies everything that you would need to explore 1600km of rivers streams and lakes.
You can hire a basic canoe for four hours or by the the day. A full package includes food, tent, canoe, matches, rope and even loo paper.
We poured over the map and I located 'Whisky Rapids’ but the illusion was spoiled when it was explained that it got its name because some one lost a case of whisky overboard. " It seems that most people take four or five day trips, paddling off to quieter lakes and places only accessible by canoe, you get a large map showing camping places. These are little more than a clearing with a fire pit and a privy back in the trees.
It is all very simple, you gather wood for the fire and take drinking water from the lake and make sure that before you retire for the night that you hang your food from a tree where the bears cant get at it. (That’s what the rope's for!)
By way of introduction I tried the a one-day guided canoe trip and at 9.30 am we paddled up the lake with four other canoes
We paused every now and then while our guide pointed out items of interest, like the large totem pole built as a monument John Thompson who died in mysterious circumstances. We were told how he was fished out of the water with a hole in his head after an argument over a woman.
CANOEING WITH WOLVES.
WE GO WILD IN ONTARIO.
Report by Allan Rogers
Check out the Portage Store's attractive website at
http://www.portagestore.com/index.html It contains maps, sample canoe routes and lots more.
If you want to step off the plane, drive up to the Algonquin, and get back, to nature their Standard package might interest you.
Canoe: Grumman 15' Aluminium or 17' Super Aluminium canoe with paddles and life jackets.
Equipment: Lightweight, free standing Eureka timberline tent - canoe packs - sleeping bag with liner - sleeping pad - lightweight cook kit (pots, pans, plates, cups and utensils) - rain poncho - axe - first aid kit - water bottles - rope, compass, map, supply bag (matches, garbage bags, bio-degradable soap, toilet paper, dish cloth, reusable scouring pads).
Standard Menu: Choose from a wide variety of items. Fresh foods featured for the first few days, followed by non-perishable, lightweight trekking foods. Three meals a day, beverages, snacks and condiments included. Generous portions.