13 Aug Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #1 Has Been Found
The third paddle found in this year’s Paddle in the Park Contest has been discovered in Algonquin Provincial Park!
Marian and Duane Sonntag set out with their three kids to find a paddle. They found out Kevin Callan was off to Killarney and was pretty sure he was going to be hiding a paddle while there, so they decided to try and follow him as best they could. Sadly, Kevin was on a longer trip than they could be on, so they came back from Killarney full of memories of great family time – a rewarding experience, no doubt – but without the coveted hidden paddle.
But of course the Sonntags are not quitters. Turns out, they’re detectives.
They kept watching for clues and updates and when they were certain they had enough information, they decided to head out for a day trip to comb several portages where they were certain they would find the Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #1.
Turns out, Kevin hid a second paddle and the Sonntags searched through their collective memory (and probably a bit of the internet) for where Kevin might have been when he hid that other paddle. Kevin thought of an interesting idea for a hiding spot, in an area that would be obscure and rarely used, but cleverly where hundreds of people would pass by every day.
“The unmaintained portage (195 m) between the Oxtonque River and Park (Long) Lake. The one that crosses the highway to loop back to the park. It would be great for anyone wanting to do a weekend outing on the Oxtonque River.”
And that’s exactly where Duane, Summer, Chase and Bree found their new Cherry 60″ varnished “Classic Tripper” BADGER® paddle. Where was Marian? Well she couldn’t go on this trip, having to drive their eldest daughter to work on that day. That isn’t to say she wasn’t involved though.
“They set off first to check Ragged Falls park while I cleaned at home, then it came to me that would be too obvious and could be found by a tourist so I double checked the map and called them. My husband and I agreed that they should check another spot further up the highway that made more sense with the clue and JACKPOT!! They found the Algonquin outfitters paddle.”
So congrats to the Sonntags for their great detective work. They’ve won themselves a paddle, plus a bunch of other prizes (see below). I wonder how they’ll divvy up the prizes? 🙂
Anyway, here is how the Sonntags tell it (including who gets to keep the paddle!):
It all started when my wife read a clue, she figured that the paddle was located in/near the Ragged Falls provincial park and Algonquin Park area. Our most likely guess was at or near the falls. We had planned to go up on Saturday as a family to look but learned that our eldest daughter Hailey (15) had to work. We decided late Friday night that the search just wasn’t going to happen as that would leave her to find her way both to work and home while we drove a couple hundred kilometers away. Then late Saturday morning while having coffee on the deck our son Chase (10) came out and asked very convincingly when we were leaving…soon followed by our other 2 kids who REALLY wanted to go find it. We decided that I would take the 3 younger kids, while my wife stayed home to clean and drive our daughter to and from work.
I quickly threw some snacks and drinks in cooler, filled up the gas tank and left our North Brampton home with kids, Summer 12, Chase 10 and Bree 8. Traffic was very heavy and at one point I thought about turning around. Then I thought, it’s an adventure on a great sunny summer weekend when better to have one and kept going. We arrived at a very busy parking lot at Ragged Falls Provincial Park finally at 3pm and headed up to the top of the trail to begin searching. We had been looking for a few minutes when I received a phone call from my wife saying she had gone back over the maps and clue. She didn’t think it was there but instead thought the paddle was a few more kilometers up the highway at another portage location that made more sense with the clue, I agreed as I checked my Jeff’s map. We checked the bottom of the portage just in case before heading out to the second location. As I pulled back out on to the highway I turned to my daughter Summer and said “I have a good feeling it’s going to be there, we’re going to find the paddle”.
Upon pulling up to portage at (Park Lake or Long lake depending on the map) which is just pull off on the side of the highway 60. There was a vehicle already there, with nobody around. All of our initial thoughts were “oh no they’re looking for the paddle too!” We quickly checked the south side portage first, nothing. Then crossed the highway to check the portage on the other side. The path was very overgrown with raspberry canes and long grass. The trail opened into the woods and we had gone a few more meters when my youngest daughter, Bree (8) spotted the sock at the side of the tree. Several shouts and cheers later we gathered around the paddle and couldn’t believe our luck. We had found an Algonquin Outfitters paddle in the park! I called my wife and the kids all screamed into the phone that they had found it! I quickly took some pics to send to her, as she was estatic for our good fortune and confirmation that she had been correct in figuring out the clue. My kids thought that the adventure was “awesome” and that the contest was a great treasure hunt!
We took a great many pics (some of which are blurry because my hand was shaking in excitement) We stopped in at Algonquin Outfitters to let them know we had found a paddle and then we headed back to Ragged Falls for a celebratory cool down in the water and brief rest. It was a fantastic feeling to know that we had found a paddle after following the contest last year and this year. Last year’s Killarney paddle was found just a few days before our trip and a couple days before this year’s canoe trip in July we learned Kevin would also be tripping with his family at the same time in Killarney as us. We were quite hopeful that we would cross paths and perhaps find a paddle Kevin hid but later learned that he was doing a bigger loop than us. All the while the kids were checking each portage with high hopes and had even begun looking for his red nova craft canoe and waving madly at passing canoes just in case it was Kevin and family. It’s funny how we looked for the one he hid in Killarney but instead found the one he hid in Algonquin!
While I’m little saddened that my wife, Marian and daughter Hailey couldn’t come, I got to spend a great day with my other 3 kids and took them on an epic road trip that neither them nor I will ever forget. We arrived back home 10 hours and 515km after leaving tired but elated with our reward for “getting out there”.
So who gets the paddle?
After surprisingly little deliberation, my wife and I decided that the paddle to should go to one of the kids. Summer(12) is currently using an old spare paddle after outgrowing her youth sized one which got passed on to Chase. We decided that in choosing Summer she would be rewarded for her persistent paddle searching on our last trip, her all around excellent canoe paddling and fantastic portage skills(cause girls portage too!), good camp and trip ethics and lastly her passion for all things camping. While all of our kids were raised from a very young age to backcountry and car camp, we have tried to teach them to appreciate and enjoy the wilderness as a lifelong passion. We think that Summer will enjoy and use the paddle for many years to come and will be able to look back on that day every time the paddle touches the water.
Many thanks for such a great reward and contest!
The Sonntag Family
Of course you still have a chance at 5 more paddles hidden somewhere in Ontario Parks, so make sure to keep coming back for more hints and clues to their location. (Like this one, posted on Explore Magazine by Kevin Callan where he discusses this paddle and the other not yet found.)
Oh, and of course since a new paddle has been found we are drawing a winner for the Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #1 at 12:00PM on Friday August 15th! Make sure you get your name in the draw (you can do so once per day)! We’ll announce the winner shortly after we’ve been contacted by them.
Good luck everyone!!!
Here is what the Sonntags have won, and below what is up for grabs on Friday: