It’s always a bit bittersweet when the last paddle is found and claimed, but found and claimed it was! So paddles up and a special congratulations to Jeffrey Beer! Jeffrey deciphered the clues and solved the perplexing mystery of the AO Tom Thomson paddle of 2017. You may also remember Jeffrey won a t-shirt this summer for his “Orignal” (moose) #TripDiaryTuesday photo. Clearly this was Jeffrey’s year! See how and where Jeffrey found his paddle, in his own words, and what he won below.

I first learned of the Paddle In The Park Contest in August of 2016. Solving puzzles, going paddling and possibly finding prizes, what could be better?! (And where had I been for the previous 3 years while this was going on?) It didn’t take long before I was hooked!

AO Tom Thomson Paddle hiding trip photo courtesy of Badger Paddles

In 2016 the contest encouraged me to get out on a few extra paddling adventures. I spent a day solo paddling past Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park. I was after the 2016 Happy Camper paddle but found out when I got home that it had been found the night before. My Dad and I also went on a road trip north to the Pickerel River and Noganosh Provincial Park to search for the 2016 Nova Craft paddle. We were too late to find this paddle as well. The paddle was gone and we were sorry to pass along the bad news to Preston that Miss Moss was just not herself anymore. [Editor’s note: Yes, that was a tree-mendously sad time. To honour her memory, we have included some of the aftermath and Preston’s tribute to her below.] In the end, the time spent traveling and paddling with my Dad was more than enough reward for both of us. #RewardsAreOutThere. The Paddle Points Contest was also a great excuse to take lots of pictures on family trips to Bon Echo, Ferris, and Arrowhead Provincial Parks.

Paddle-finding trip photo by Jeffrey Beer.

As the 2017 PITPC has unfolded my commitment to finding a hidden paddle has reached new levels. There have been many late nights spent pouring over clues and maps and dreaming of where to go paddling next. The contest has sparked some memorable outings again this summer. One highlight was a day trip with my Dad and 3-year old son to the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands on a hunch that the Happy Camper & Canadian Canoe Museum paddle might be hiding there. It was a long shot based on a map that mentioned a large white pine marking a portage (clue #1). Of course, with the event of “Beaver Eye Technology” in clue #2, I saw that we were way off base. We had a great day just being “out there” together and I smile when I think of how my son was as happy spending the day canoeing as he would have been at home with his toys. I also took a solo paddle along the north side of Four Mile Island on the French River in the late days of August, searching for the Portageur.ca & COEC paddle, but discovering a hidden paddle was also not in the cards that day either.

The “bonus paddles” added late in the game this year gave me one last hope that I might realize my PITPC dream of a beautiful new Badger of my very own! I wasn’t however jumping off my couch and into my canoe after either of the first two paddle clues. Clue #1 just confirmed for me that it was in Algonquin Park somewhere other than Canoe Lake (that really narrows it down). I had a few theories after Clue #2. One was that it was on a portage that split into multiple paths, and I found a handful of these across the park. Another was that it could be on one of the paths leading to Three Mile Lake. When Clue #3 finally came out, some friends and I texted ideas back and forth that evening. It was about midnight that night when I saw it… Lost and Dog were the only two words capitalized. With a quick Google search I found that there was a Lost Dog Lake in Algonquin near North Tea Lake, and yes there was a split in the portage trail, so it fit with Clue #2. But I was busy for the next couple of days… I couldn’t go… Someone else would surely solve the clues and beat me to the paddle.

Paddle-finding trip photo by Jeffrey Beer.

A couple of days passed and no one had reported finding the paddle. PITPC fever had set in (you know what I mean), and I knew I had to go and see for myself if it was really there! With only one day where I could go, I made a very early morning start on the long drive to South River, ON and Algonquin Access #1, Kawawaymog Lake. As I drove through South River, I saw a sign that said Tom Thomson Park, which was on Tom Thomson Lane, and the logo for the park was the tree from Tom Thomson’s famous painting The West Wind. It didn’t feel like a coincidence that this same tree is featured on the PITPC Tom Thomson Paddle logo, and the excitement began to build.The paddle in took about 2.5 hours at a medium pace and included only two short portages on the Amable du Fond River on the way to North Tea Lake. The route is very scenic and has good potential for spotting wildlife. There were not many others out paddling that day.

Paddle-finding trip photo by Jeffrey Beer.

When I arrived at the portage to Lost Dog Lake, I left my canoe and headed up the trail towards the place “where one path leads to three”, the fork in the trail. I spend quite a while searching the trail in all directions and on both sides. I was looking for a large tree with black rope tied around it as seen in clue #2. I also had a copy of the photo from clue #3 with me and I tried to match what I saw in the picture with what I saw at the side of the portage trail. I wasn’t having any luck as I searched farther and farther out from the fork in the trail. I decided to be thorough and paddle across the small unnamed pond that splits the portage trail to Lost Dog Lake and search the rest of the trail to the shores of the lake. I even searched the campsite where the portage meets the lake, but it just didn’t seem right. Finally, I returned back to the edge of North Tea Lake, discouraged and suspecting that someone had beat me to it. I was about ready to admit defeat and head back, but I felt I should give the forest around the fork in the trail one last and very thorough search. I headed off the trail and deep into the trees to the west of the fork and then something caught my eye, black rope was tied around a large tree far back from the trail where the ground slopes away. The location was “quite discrete”. My pulse began to quicken as I approached the tree and there on the back side of the tree was the black paddle sock and the plaque. I’m sure I let out a few OMGs and a big WoooHooooo, and then read “Congrats! You have just won a Badger canoe paddle! Yes, you. Really!”

Paddle-finding trip #selfie by Jeffrey Beer.

To celebrate, I took a few photos with the Lost Dog Lake portage sign, sat to relax and eat a little lunch, and then I settled back into my canoe for the paddle back. North Tea Lake is a beautiful paddling destination bordered by hills filled with trees that were beginning to change colour for the fall. It has many sites but is a large lake so the sites are spread out, and a few of the sites have a nice sandy shoreline. The highlight is the paddle in along Amable du Fond River which is quiet and scenic, and the portages pass waterfalls and a historic monument dedicated to two park rangers. I made a mental note to return one day soon to camp with my family. I may not have ventured to this far northwest corner of Algonquin Park if it had not been for the Paddle In The Park Contest!

Once again congrats and paddles up to Jeffrey Beer! This paddle was hidden quite well, just barely perceptible through the trees when travelling towards the fork in the trail (when coming from the Lost Dog side). So, really, well done Jeffrey! I don’t know about you, but this story brought back lots of great memories of last year for me, as well as the devastating memory of the news of Miss Moss’ untimely demise. Oh how Preston pined for her, remember?! (The poor sap! 🙁  😉  ) What a great read! Plus, one of the things we love to hear (and I know I can speak for Preston as well when I say this) can be found in the last sentence of Jeffery’s story. Thanks, Jeffrey!

Photo taken from the Lost Dog side of the portage trail; can you see the paddle hidden amongst the trees?
Click on the above forest photo for the answer!

And with that, our PADDLE SEEKING portion of the contest ends – but there are still lots of PADDLE POINTS prize packages up for grabs, full of thousands of dollars worth of gear and prizes. So get your PADDLE POINTS game on and get “Out There”! You’ll be rewarded if you do!

See more of Jeffrey’s paddle finding trip photos and everything he won below:

The Algonquin Outfitters – Tom Thomson Paddle and Prize Pack:

This oiled, cherry Algonquin Outfitters BadgerTail Canoe Paddle with custom laser engraving honouring Canadian painter (and inspiration for the Group of Seven) Tom Thomson, and one-sided grip, comes with a Badger Paddle Sock and a wood PITPC collector’s tag.

 

60″ Cherry, BadgerTail, Oiled, with Badger Paddle Sock and Custom Laser Engraving honouring Canadian artist, and inspiration for the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson

Total MSRP $239.00 CAD from Badger Paddles

The AO – Tom Thomson Paddle and Prize Pack:

Once you lay official claim to the paddle, you will also be awarded the following gear and prizes from our generous sponsors (minus the paddle already found and claimed!):

 

AO – TOM THOMSON PADDLE (Algonquin Outfitters) Prize Pack Full List:

Badger Hidden Badger Paddle $ 239.00
Rapid Media 1 YR PADDLING Magazine Print/Digital Subscription $ 20.00
AO $250 Gift Card Algonquin Outfitters $ 250.00
Portgeur.ca Portageur.ca Decal $8.00
 TOTAL  AO-TOM THOMSON PADDLE PRIZE PACK  $517.00

 

 


The hidden paddle!


Other Algonquin Outfitters & Tom Thomson Inspired Contests and Events

This year Algonquin Outfitters is working closely with the Town of Huntsville to celebrate the life of Tom Thomson, as 2017 marks the 100th anniversary and mystery of his untimely passing. For more information on this and other great things you can see and do in the area, visit the Tom Thomson 100 event page and explore their website from there. Also, in honour of Tom Thomson’s life and contribution to Canadian art, AO is hosting a rather unique event. If you love art and paddling, then you will want to see more at the Algonquin Outfitters website.

 

Written by Fiona
Mother, wife, friend, artist, paddler, and owner of Badger Paddles. As co-founder and title sponsor of the PITPC, I'm not eligible to win. But I still wanted to get "Out There" too, and help advocate to get lots of people to spend more time in nature. So I'm really only in it for the fun, and not for the prizes!