16 Sep Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #2 Found and Claimed!
This year, we had a number of really determined paddlers who were set on finding a PITPC paddle and all the rewards that come with it. One, who stands out, is Andrew Turcotte. Andrew had his sights set on a least a couple of the PITPC paddles this season with a few attempts at finding one. In the end, his perseverance led him to the reward he was seeking and he finally found and claimed the Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #2 that was hidden along a portage trail just off of Cedar Lake in Algonquin Park. Here is how Andrew tells it….
Hello, I am Andrew Turcotte, the finder of the AO #2 paddle on Cedar Lake! 🙂 My girlfriend and I are so happy to have finally found a paddle! We have had all of our maps scattered across the living room as well as notebooks containing the clues and research we have done since the contest started!
Our first attempt at finding a paddle actually happened to be on Cedar Lake in the middle of August. After going through the clues we decided that would be our best bet, we knew it was on this lake and it also happens to be the closest to home. We were up by 5:30am and were on our way, only to figure out the permit office doesn’t open until 8am and it happens to be right off highway 17, which means we had to nap in the car for an hour before we could drive the last 40km. When we arrived at Cedar the first thing we noticed is the white caps out on the lake, second was how big the lake is! We unloaded the canoe and off we went.. only to realize about 45 minutes later that this just wasn’t practical.. we had well over 10km of paddling to do and we were getting nowhere! Not to mention the fact that I cant swim and the waves were throwing our 16ft Kevlar around pretty good. We then turned around and headed for Algonquin Outfitters to rent a motor boat as we had no other option. $75 later and once again we were off! We headed for the far east side of the lake and checked all of the portages on that side before giving up. Feeling defeated we heading back to AO to drop off the boat and back home we went to do some more research and wait for more clues!
One week later they released another clue! This one was for the AO Girls Portage paddle on rock lake. The clue basically gave away the paddles location so it was a full-on race! My girlfriend had to work so I was actually prepared to go with a guy I work with. At first I didn’t want to go for this one but after our Cedar lake attempt I was feeling far too determined! I loaded the canoe on the car Thursday night prepared to head to Rock lake after work Friday evening. When I got off work Friday evening I headed straight home and the first thing I did was check the PITP Facebook page… I couldn’t believe it! Just a few minutes earlier they posted that the paddle was found! Oh well, still 3 more out there! My friend from work and I had a nice fishing trip on the Mattawa river that Saturday morning instead!
Attempt number 3 was by far the best and the worst at the same time! One of the clues for the Killarney outfitters paddle was one of the first to be posted. My girlfriend did a ton of research while I was working one night and she came to the conclusion it was definitely on Grace lake. We knew this even before searching the first time for the Cedar lake paddle, but unfortunately Killarney is a very long drive and were not familiar with the area. When they released the next clue saying “you will find these two girls hiding a paddle” I knew it was either on the Grace to Nellie portage or the Nellie to Helen portage. For some reason I had a feeling it was on the Nellie to Helen one because the portage from Grace lake ends on a small bay on Nellie lake but on my map it calls the bay Carmichael lake. I called my brother up immediately to ask if he wanted to go on an adventure with me, thankfully he was able to rearrange his work schedule to get the next Saturday off so we could go! We left North Bay at 4:30 AM and arrived at Frood lake shortly after 7. We had a long day of paddling and portaging ahead of us (25KM paddling and 13KM portaging!!). We quickly set off and arrived at the first portage into Grace lake about 1.5 hours later which was 1.6km. Grace lake was only about a 15 minute paddle before we arrived at the 2km portage into Nellie lake.
When we started this portage I told Mike (my brother) to keep a close eye out while I have the canoe on my back because there is a good chance it would be on this portage. About halfway through we met up with a couple who seemed very cheerful. As we passed we exchanged greetings. About 100 feet after we passed them I put my canoe on the ground for a small break. I told Mike that we need to hurry up because I had a gut feeling that those people were also looking for the paddle. We quickly went on our way again, now almost at a jogging pace because we were sure it would be hidden on the next portage. We got to the 2.4km portage from Nellie to Helen lake a short while later… we scoured the trail up and down but found nothing! Feeling defeated once again I finally gave up, it was time to go home.
We quickly started to backtrack, as we approached the Nellie to Grace portage we seen the couple just loading up there canoe on the Nellie lake side. We took our time approaching so they could have more time at the small landing to get organised. When we were about 50 feet away from them I noticed it, the guy was loading what looked like a long black sock into their canoe!! We then approached them and they asked if we were just doing a day trip.. We told them we were hunting for a PITP paddle. They both immediately looked at each other in disbelief, then the guy held it up for us to see. There it was, the Killarney Outfitters paddle, unfortunately not in our hands! We chatted for a bit and congratulated them for their accomplishment. Turns out when we passed them originally on the portage they were thinking the same thing as us “its a race now!”. When we were practically jogging the rest of the portage we passed right by it! They on the other hand decided to walk the portage slower and more carefully without the canoe and found it just moments after we walked right by! We paddled back to Frood lake in by far the strongest wind either of us have ever paddled in before.. when we actually go back on Frood my canoe was taking on water with every wave. 1.5 hour paddle in to Grace lake, 3 hour paddle out! I am very thankful to the PITP contest because if it wasn’t for the contest I still would have yet to visit Killarney and all its beauty.
As soon as I got home from that trip I was already planning my next trip to Cedar lake. The plan was to go Monday morning with Gracie (my girlfriend). Sunday evening while at work another clue was posted. We knew it had to be on the 715m portage to the Petewawa river! I had a feeling we wouldn’t be the only ones searching so we woke up at 3:30am Monday morning and arrived at Cedar around 6. We couldn’t buy our permit yet so we left a note on the dash with our intentions hoping we wouldn’t get a ticket. The lake was smooth as glass this time (thank god!). It only took us about 20 minutes to paddle the 2km across the lake to the portage. We quickly got out of the canoe and started searching. We walked very slow as I scanned the bush to the left of the trail and Gracie scanned the right. Only about 100 meters in Gracie yells “There it is! I see it! It’s ours!”. I ran over and there it was, all you could see is the white rope holding it to the tree, the paddle itself was facing the river. Yes! We got back into the canoe and right away we both had to try it out, it was our first time ever using such a high-end paddle and boy is it ever amazing. We arrived back at the access point about 30-40 minutes later and loaded up the canoe. We bought a day use permit on the way out and back home we went!
Again I would like to thank the Paddle in the Park Contest for giving us such a great excuse to ‘get out there’.
Written by Andrew Turcotte. See all of Andrew’s PITPC trip pictures in his Facebook album.
Thanks to Andrew for such a great story of persistence – a trait that is quite useful in the backwoods. We are happy we inspired you to get “Out There” as often as you did. We hope you continue to spend more time in nature!
See what Andrew won below, besides the paddle he found and claimed from Algonquin Outfitters:
Prize package for Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #2 claimed by Andrew:
Prize package for Algonquin Outfitters Paddle #2 Draw: